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Archive for March, 2010

SPRING BREAK BABY!!

Although it doesn’t really feel like it because I feel like here in Florence, I’m permanently on spring break…or summer break…haha What a change I’ll have when I have to go back to Elon and take real classes again…yuck…..we won’t think about that right now.

For the last 5 days I have been traveling from Florence to London to Rome and now back to Florence. After classes on Friday, Elizabeth and I packed up our stuff, cleaned for our parents arrival, and headed to the airport for the first part of our spring break adventure. We checked in and got through security really quickly and when we got to the gate we ran into the 3 Mattei–chatted with them and then heard that our flight was delayed and we were not happy but then literally 10 minutes later it was back on time so we were happy. We got to get our passports stamped and then made our way to the plane. It was a quick flight and we slept and had a good snack–rosemary crackers! When we got to London we walked what seemed 5 miles and then got our passports stamped again and then tried to figure out where to find a taxi. Fortunately there was a stand inside the airport that calls taxis for you–however—because we were an HOUR outside main London, the cab cost 95 POUNDS. That is nearly 150 dollars!! RIDICULOUS! Thankfully we could use a credit card because otherwise I’m not sure what would have happened. The guy that drove us was really nice and was cute but had a beard like he was an Amish man; that was a little weird. The ride was like an hour long and we got to the station around 9; on the ride I was a little creeped out by the amount of bad areas we seemed to drive through. It all seemed like it was a bad part of town but I just tried to let that slide so I could enjoy my time in London as much as possible. When we got there we met her Dad and brother and headed to a pub but her brother, Brian, wasn’t allowed in again because it was after 9 and no one under 18 is allowed in after 9–it was dumb and we were all pretty mad but we ate anyways and then went back and basically went to bed. We were all really tired.

On Saturday we got up, ate breakfast, and then started walking around. It was a long day because we did so much but I’m glad we did because we got to see everything that was worth seeing! We saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and it was a little disappointing actually; definitely not as exciting as I thought it would be. It resembled a parade in many ways. Then it started to rain but we continued to walk around and went into Westminster Abbey and had an audio guide and that was really interesting because I don’t think we saw that before. Then we got some lunch at a Diner and got the tickets for Avenue Q-the play we saw. Then we went to the London Tower and toured that and saw the Crown Jewels! They were beautiful!! But then it started raining and we were running around the place trying to find cover from the rain. We went back to the hotel by the tube–which was REALLY confusing at first but after a few times it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. We got ready and left to get a bite to eat before the show; we ended up at a little restaurant across from the theater and I had a chicken salad sandwich and it was actually really tasty! Avenue Q was really funny!! Really controversial and a little racy and inappropriate but the actors were really talented and I did a lot of laughing! It’s definitely worth seeing if you get the chance. Sunday was another busy day as we went on the London Eye and then had a bus tour of London! It was all very cool and the view of London from the “Eye” was wonderful!! The tour was also really good because we got hear about what we saw, although during the middle of it, I got really sleepy. :/ Oh well–I was tired from all the walking we did! We went back to the hotel, rested, and then headed to China town for dinner. I also made plans to meet up with Taylor later that night at the hotel so I could catch up with her for a while. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of Chinese, it tasted really good and perhaps that is another thing I can add to the list of things I like to eat now! πŸ™‚ Bananas, Oranges, peanut butter, and I guess all kinds of Chinese food!! πŸ™‚ But by the time we got back to the hotel it was 10:15 and Taylor HAD JUST LEFT. I was really upset that I wasn’t able to see her but it’s okay because I will see her in about 2 weeks. We had to get up by 5:45 on Monday to get to the airport in time–so we ate breakfast and squished into one taxi to the airport which was about 45 minutes away. We got there and checked in but I had a little trouble because I didn’t have an assigned seat so I thought I wasn’t going to get on the plane but no worries- I made it just fine. πŸ™‚ Heathrow was really nice and clean–refreshing from the airports in the United States! We made it to Rome on time and got our bags and before I knew it we were on a bus to our hotel. The rest of the day we just walked around and figured out where we were and had dinner at a really nice place and then played cards for a while and then went to bed. Another early day Tuesday as we took another bus tour of the city–not as nice as the one in London because it was automated and I don’t feel like they talked as much about the history–I think a lot of stuff was missing on that tour. We had lunch near the Vatican and before I knew it I was running–literally–onto a train to Florence! The ride was nice, I read and sat across from a smelly Indian man–:/

I really didn’t enjoy London that much in all honesty–it was the second time I’ve been there and I don’t know, just for some reason I didn’t feel comfortable or safe and it just wasn’t that great. I had a lot of fun with Elizabeth’s family and I’m really grateful they allowed me to come with them because I’m not sure where I would have gone otherwise. When I got to Florence and to my parent’s apartment…finally…it was WONDERFUL to see them!! I didn’t realize how much I missed them or how weird it was since I last saw them 2 months ago! It seems like just yesterday! πŸ™‚ We rested and went to get their luggage from the airport, walked to my apartment, and then went to Tijuana for dinner! SO GOOD. I really really like that place!!! Then I watched some of my shows and went to bed. Jeff and Lauren also got here today and it’s good to see them too!! I took them to Pino’s and to Grom for gelato and I think they really like it; especially my Dad so that’s wonderful for me to hear!

It seems a little surreal that my parents are already in Florence because that means it’s almost my birthday and that my time here is coming to an end. :(( I don’t like thinking about it because it will be nice to be home but it will be weird because I don’t like being separated from my new friends here–especially from Elizabeth, Peter, and Jason. It’s not even been a week and I already miss Peter and Jason–I can’t imagine what will happen during the summer. I’m not looking forward to it…I’ll just say that. I love my family and friends from home but I’m sad to leave them.

As it goes for turning 20–I’m not looking forward to that day at all. For those of you who know me, know that I love my birthday. I love the attention and the gifts but turning 20 is just not exciting to me. It means that my teenage years are over and I’m growing up. 😦 I don’t like growing up Β because I like being young and living my life. I feel like I’m getting “old” because I realized that at 20, I’m halfway to 40 and that just freaks me out. I feel like I haven’t had that much life but 20 years is sort of a long time and a lot has happened in the past 20 but especially in the last 10 years. I got braces, survived middle school, graduated high school, learned to drive, got my first speeding ticket, had some wine, traveled to Europe 4 times now, lost all 4 of my grandparents, saw 4 nephews and 1 niece born, saw 2 of my brothers get married, and made it through almost 2 years of college. That’s a lot to happen to one person in 10 years and I’m honestly a little glad that the early teenage years are over but not the later ones. At about 17, I really started to like being that age but here I am, staring a new decade in my life. Who knows what will happen to me but I’m a little scared honestly because in the next 2 years I’ll be graduating from college and THEN WHAT?! It just makes me a little nervous and on edge but hey, I guess it’s part of life. Everyone gets older but finally realizing it is an overwhelming feeling. I can feel as old or as young as I want and I guess I’ll just focus on how young I really am compared to other people around me. I’m blessed because I’ve had a great 20 years so far; yes, thing have happened in my life but I learned something from all of them and I can’t even imagine what the next 10 or even 20 will teach me.

Thank you to all of my family and friends that have supported me throughout my life. I know that I couldn’t have gotten through it without your love and support. My parents and Di and Uncle have been there through absolutely everything as was my Gran; I love them all so much and am so grateful that despite my poor moods sometimes they still love and support me. And to my friends–thank you as well; you guys are truly the best and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends. Guess I’m feeling a little nostalgic since another decade on my life is coming quickly to a close…but seriously- thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All my love…

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Well hello on this finally Springy day here in Firenze, Italia!!

It is finally getting warm and the rain has stopped as well!! It’s finally feeling like SPRING. Something I think we’ve all been waiting for. Despite the fact that this week is crazy with mid-terms, we’ve managed to have some fun as well.

Yesterday, I studied for Art History for 3 and a half hours and then Peter made Eliz and me dinner–spaghetti and red sauce and then we seriously had a dance party for 2 hours. Eliz and I did our greek dance from last year while Peter just watched us like we were morons…but we were acting that way…hahaha then we did the Macrena and then the Cha-Cha Slide! It’s always so freeing to just dance and have fun. I needed it that is a definite.

Today I came back and talked with Sarah and started studying again but after class I got REAL distracted because I just was but then I started to focus and by the time I knew it we had to go to class. So after class we came back and went to Celestino’s for dinner because it’s delicious and then came back and laughed and took pictures and then decided to go to Neri to get gelato and we were laughing and having the best time ever–seriously. And to boot-Teddy came along with us for fun–and it was funny too. We took pictures in front of Neri and just had a good time–we needed it to say the least.

Yesterday though, was a little rough. After our mock test and our oral exam which all went really well, I came back home and told myself I’d buckle down and study all day and that is pretty much what I did. It wasn’t the best because I don’t feel like I have a place where I can just be by myself here and I haven’t been this stressed since December so it’s an unfamiliar feeling again. Needless to say, I needed to try and be more careful when talking to people. Well–that didn’t really work out to my advantage. I was studying on my bed and Eliz and I had been just listing names off to one another trying to remember and we were having fun and everything was okay. Well then Peter came over and started doing the same thing and I was at the point where I was really stressing out and I really needed to be myself so I could escape the little things that annoy me when I get stressed out about school. Well then something just set me off and I literally have not been that mad in a really long time and even though I wish I could not get that angry I do have to say that I was pretty proud of myself for handling as best as I could. Because when I got to the point where I was shaking I was so mad, I just left the apartment so I could be by myself and not have to worry about blowing up at my good friends. I tried and handled it the best way I knew how and I guess it wasn’t good enough because after I storm out I feel all embarrassed and then I cried and yuck–it was just a bad night!! :/ I hate being that way and I need to figure it out better!!! You would think I would have learned something from my last near explosion but I didn’t. I’ll continue to work on it; because it’s no one’s fault but my own.

Today I had my Italian test and my Art History Mid-term and I was SO nervous for Art History. I could hardly eat I was so nervous and after the Italian test, which went really well, I went to buy myself a book for Spring Break and had some more time to myself and that was really nice. Corey and I had lunch at a place close to our apartment and we just talked about all kinds of stuff and it was really needed and I found Β a lot of advice and confidence after talking with her. I came back and studied until I couldn’t study anymore and then went to my test and 2 hours later I’m done and I think I did decent and that is ALL THAT MATTERS BECAUSE NOW I’M ON SPRING BREAK AND I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SO I won’t be blogging for a while–I’ll be in London tomorrow night and then Rome and then back here for a couple of days and then Milan and back again!! I CANNOT WAIT!!!! It will be awesome and PLUS- MY PARENTS COME ON TUESDAY!!!! SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you all for your continued prayers and thoughts and words of encouragement–I really appreciate all of them. πŸ™‚

All my love….

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We’ll Just Stay Forever

I LOVE GERMANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to stay SO much longer than I was able to and it was quite disappointing when we had to leave the wonderful apartment and home we stayed in this weekend. I’m not sure if I liked it so much because I was comfortable around Dr. Hofmeister or if I really was comfortable in Germany but nonetheless I had a fabulous weekend!

After class on Friday we went to the train station immediately and bought our tickets to and from Pisa Aeroporto then we sat and ate some very tasty MCD’s. I just can’t figure out why it’s so much better than in the U.S.A. Anyways, we had about a half hour before our train left to Pisa so when we were finished we hopped on the train and were on our way! It was rather easy and I’m glad for that since Taylor will have to do that when she comes to see me in about 3 weeks! Made it to the airport with 2 hours to spare so we waited, checked in and then went through security- which was the easiest thing of my life. Absolutely NOTHING like the United States!! We still had an hour and a half at the gate after we made it through security. So we sat and people watched and tried to figure out what nationality people were. That was a really fun game because we saw this older man and his wife and son and daughter-in-law and we knew from the older man’s hat that he was American. And then we were in line to get on the plane and there was an Italian man speaking German with this German girl- it was odd. It’s funny because people really are sheep but with just a little more intelligence. Seriously- after our tickets were checked we were all thrown into this room like a herd and then when the security people opened the doors to go the plane we all filed out like we were being led by a shepherd. I now know why God used this comparison- it works. The plane ride was very easy and despite the bumpiness I felt safe and for most of the time the ride was pretty smooth. I was thankful because I had been really worried about how safe RyanAir really is. We made it to Frankfurt-Hahn on time despite our late start- apparently being on time is one of RyanAir’s goals and something they pride themselves on so they had this little announcement when we landed on time; it was pretty hilarious.

Once off the plane and collected our bag, we go through the exit and see Dr. Hofmeister and Bern waiting for us. I had never met Bern before but he was very quiet compared to Frank. Nonetheless, it was good to finally meet him and of course to see Dr. Hof again! πŸ™‚ He’s always so happy to see “Kathy” (what he calls me because I’m not sure he was ever corrected in that my name is Katie). But it’s really okay I don’t mind–it’s kind of cute. So we started for the car when they asked both of us if we wanted something to eat or drink because we had a 2 hour drive ahead and I felt so guilty that we were so far away from his house!! He’s always so happy to pay for and do everything for us and neither of us were real hungry or thirsty so we passed and I’m sure he felt bad that we didn’t want any food or drink. Well, I knew that a Mercedes S500 was waiting and that he would drive fast but I’m not sure I was prepared for how fast. At one point on our journey to his house we were going 125-140 mph….200 km/hr!! I think Eliz was quite surprised but I’m so used to my Dad driving so fast that it didn’t really bother me.

Dr. Hof and Bern had to stop and use the restroom (or toliette as they like to call it) so Dr. Hof handed Eliz and I 50 euro cents each and we both looked at him confused and he told us we needed that to go to the bathroom. So we find our way to the bathroom and we see this thing blocking our way and we realize we have to put this money in this machine and when we did we got a ticket and had to put that in a machine so we could get in to use the bathroom. It’s like when you go to a museum and buy a ticket and then go through those bars–very strange for a bathroom I think. However, it was the nicest restroom I’ve ever seen!! It was so clean and smelled so good! It was quite an enjoyable experience! Dr. Hof also forced to buy me a Sprite so that helped quench my thirst and it was a cool bottle- a double advantage I’d say.

We finally made it to his house around 8:15 and it looked on the outside just as I remembered it! The driveway was steep and the house was smaller but it was in a very ideal location. We first took our bags to our apartment and by the word- he meant a literal apartment. When we walked in I think my mouth dropped to the ground- it was one of the nicest apartments I’ve seen ever in my life. It was very modern but I really liked it; my favorite part was the bathroom with the sink and the shower and then our bed comforters! It was just bright and cheery and it made me happy! We went upstairs right after because we were hungry and before our eyes we saw this feast ready for us! It had EVERYTHING: salami, turkey, proscuitto, like 4 different kinds of cheeses, olives, sweet bread, American bread, German bread, salad, and about 1000 other things that I ate. It was SO DELICIOUS. Even though it wasn’t a lot of food we ate a lot of it and it really tasted good! We met Gabi- Dr. Hof’s girlfriend- and she is really sweet and did a lot to help prepare for us coming. She was a lot of fun to talk with and we answered her questions and had good conversation. I was extra chatty because I was so happy to be there and had a lot to share with them about what I’d been doing for the past 3 years of my life! After we finished eating, Dr. Hof and I decided that we would climb that mountain of over 1200 steps that we climbed when I was there before in 2001. We decided on a time of 9:00 AM and so Eliz and I went back to our new lavish lifestyle downstairs and started to explore. We seriously could NOT get over the amount and the luxury of this apartment. Everything was new and top of the line; I should be used to places like this but after living in Italy it’s a totally different world! The beds were SO comfortable that we fell RIGHT to sleep.

Saturday was quite the eventful day and this post is already really long so I’ll try and be more concise- we will see. I got up around 8:30 I think and just put on the same clothes I had on the previous day because I knew I would be sweating climbing. So we go upstairs and Dr. Hof invites us in and offers us hot tea and we sit for a few minutes and then we get back in the wonderful S500 and make our way to the climbing spot. I realized how great his car is when he went quickly around a curb really quickly and the seat did something to protect me from sliding out of the seat. It was a weird sensation yet really cool! He drives really fast around those curbs, but somehow I’m not surprised. Β We made it finally to where we would start climbing and he just went up like it was no big deal. I couldn’t believe how in shape this man is and especially since he’s at least 70. Elizabeth and I stopped frequently yet it hardly seemed like he stopped! I couldn’t believe it but I’m really glad we did it because we got to see the scenery and entertain him. I’m sure he found that we were funny because we kept stopping and every so often he’d tell us how much more we had to go and say “Want me to make a photo?” We laughed and also his English is just humorous anyways because at times it’s nowhere near what he means. We finally made it to the top and then rushed to get on this 103 year old train that takes us down. I remembered doing that before and I’m glad we did because we got to see more of Heidelberg. Once we got down we headed for the car and then stopped at the small bakery they go to and picked out all kinds of breads, pretzels, muffins, and other sweets. He just kept saying, in German, “oh we’ll have 4 of those and 2 of those and 3 of those”. It was wonderful especially because we were hungry! We made plans to go get ready and then go eat.

So Eliz and I head back to our luxurious apartment and just start snapping pictures of it- all angles and in every room. We then were starving and just started chowing down on all the food that was left for us! Fruits, chocolate, juices, coffee, hot tea, espresso, and more fruit. I seriously just kept eating the grapes and strawberries!! I made hot tea and an espresso and I did not enjoy the espresso; I picked the kind I made because I liked the color of it- it was dark purple. haha So after an hour of eating and getting ready we finally made it upstairs and yet again- we had this entire feast set for us. The same meats, all those breads we bought, cheeses, fruit, hard boiled eggs, and I’m sure more I just can’t remember all of it! I downed nearly everything again because for one I was hungry and two I felt rude if I didn’t eat it or at least put a dent in it. I think they were all amazed at how much bread Eliz and I ate; what can we say? We like bread!! haha After an hour of eating, Dr. Hof, Bern, and Gabi talked in German to plan our day and then the plan became that Dr. Hof and Bern would take us to the castle and the old bridge and then we’d go to Mannheim to shop and then back to Heidelberg for dinner at a traditional German restaurant. So we got our stuff ready and headed to the castle. Dr. Hof parked far away and we walked and I didn’t mind because I got to see different views of this grand castle- it’s so old and pretty!! We went inside and walked around for like 10 minutes, took our pictures, saw the main things, and then left. He was on a mission because normally he likes to look at every single thing- NOT THIS TIME. He then bought us information books on Heidelberg in English so we could have them- it was very kind of him. He’s such a great man! He got the car and I took some more pictures and I think Bern wanted to talk to us but he didn’t know what to say so he just didn’t talk. It was strange and I felt bad for him….oh well….

We then headed to the main area of old Heidelberg and we parked and then started walking around the streets. I love the old part a lot; you can just feel the history and all that that area has seen. It’s quite something! Dr. Hof showed us different important places like an old Lutheran church, the place where the Mayor lives, side streets that have some importance and then the old bridge. The old bridge is really neat to walk on because you can see for a long time on it and we could see the castle and the spot that we climbed to the top of! It was quite impressive. Of course there were some funny moments; a few are captured on pictures on my facebook while others are simply going to be remembered in my mind. We then headed back to his house and then I got realllllllyyyyyyyy tired.

We sat and waited for Gabi to finish getting ready and it was that time in the afternoon when I get tired and my eyes would NOT stay open at all so I had a serious struggle to try and keep them open. She was finally ready and we drove to Mannheim. He drove really fast again and it was raining so I was a little more nervous but I feel he does that often so I wasn’t TOO concerned. We talked with Gabi some and then the three of them spoke German to each other- it’s easier for them and so Eliz and I laughed a lot and talked about random stuff. When we got to Mannheim we were walking away from the car and then Dr. Hof hands us this huge ass golf umbrella and I don’t like to curse but this umbrella was more than half of Eliz’s height!! It was GINORMOUS!!!!! Then Gabi explained what would happen and we would go shop by ourselves and they would go in the high class stores and shop and wait for us. OH! Dr. Hof gave each of us 50 euro to help “fund” our shopping trip. It was too much and was very kind of him and I’m 19 and wasn’t going to refuse it. So Eliz and I started roaming these streets by ourselves. With this umbrella. NOT knowing where to go or what to do. It was overwhelming. BUT we managed just fine because we knew we could buy something. πŸ™‚ I ended up buying a pair of black sandal flip flop type shoes and then a Tommy pink dress that will be great for the summer and especially for Kiawah! It is very very cute and I’m excited to wear it! We went into some other stores and it was nice to shop in a nicer area. There was one trendhouse that had all different types of clothes in one place and we almost bought stuff there but decided to go for the brand name- haha it was cute and bright for the spring. We then went and found them and Gabi was trying on clothes so we sat in the entrance to this restaurant awkwardly with Dr. Hof and Bern waiting for her to be done. She came out with this dress on that I didn’t think flattered her that much and then she didn’t end up buying it. Then we left and headed to dinner…..

DINNER WAS INCREDIBLE. It took nearly an hour to get there because there was a traffic jam and he ended up going all the way around through the forest and the roads were REAL winding this time but I was still okay in terms of feeling nauseous. We arrived and went up these steps to this small, cozy, restaurant. The menu was in total 100 percent German so it ALL had to be translated and Gabi and Bern helped us. We kind of just took their word for what was good and I ordered rumpsteak and a house/regular salad. They also spoke German during most of the meal–so that was interesting. The bread kept coming out and it was really hot and fresh and then the salad came and the dressing was homemade and was TO DIE FOR. I loved it so much!!! And then my rumpsteak came out with fresh mashed potatoes that were fried- I’m not really sure what it was but whatever it was SO FREAKING GOOD. I LOVE GERMAN FOOD; probably because I’m mostly German! πŸ™‚ Then I had a raspberry sundae with some chocolate sauce- a perfect end to a wonderful meal! Many funny things happened but this post is long enough and you get the idea–there was a language barrier so Eliz and I just started speaking Italian to practice and then laugh about how weird everyone thought we were in that restaurant.

After we got back, we put on our PJs and then went back upstairs and talked with Gabi and Dr. Hof for a while and had a really enjoyable time. Dr. Hof told us stories and we chatted with Gabi some more about the difference of where Eliz and I are from and America in general. Then I painted my nails because she had stuff there and she offered and I really needed to. Then Dr. Hof and I reminisced about our times in Spain and in Germany and then he played the piano for us from memory- it was very impressive. Then we went back downstairs and just soaked up that apartment one last time by sitting INSIDE the bathtub because it was huge and it was really really nice. We love the bathroom the most I think. πŸ™‚ We finally went to bed and I woke up again sweating so I had to take my pants off AGAIN- which I did the first night too because I was so hot… 😦

My alarm went off at 6:45 this morning and I got up and got ready and we said goodbye to our apartment, had breakfast, and then made our way to the airport. Dr. Hof was trying to be all fancy and then he turned off the GPS a few times but he did figure out how to give me a massage through the seat–now this sounds weird but his S500 can give massages in the front seats. It was very enjoyable despite that it felt weird that I was being massaged IN A CAR. The scenery was beautiful even though it was hard to see at 200 km/hr, which is what he was going at one time!! Made it to the airport without problems and it finally stopped raining. I love Germany and I was really kind of sad when we had to say goodbye to him. :/ We made it back to Florence without a problem and even studied on the plane!

It’s such a different life compared to the life we live here. Germany is so much more advanced and technological than Italy. People are “classier” which sounds bad but I think they use their money in different ways or they have more money in general than the Italians that I come in contact with. I felt extremely safe in Mannheim and in Bammental and would love to go back whenever I have the chance again. I just loved it so much!! I enjoyed the company and the food the most of course because those 2 things make any trip.

This week will be crazy because we have mid-terms and then Spring break starts Friday!! SO EXCITED!!!!!!! Going to London and Rome and then my parents and Jeff and Lauren come!! I can’t wait to see them and show them around! It will be a lot of fun! So this is now a 3200 word post and I apologize but I had quite the weekend. Off to chat with my parents and then to bed so I’m fully ready for this week!!

All my love…

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Guttentag, Germany!

Well….this week has been another fast one here in Firenze, Italia!! These weeks fly by so quickly it’s unreal and I know that before I realize it, I will be on a plane back to the United States…still having mixed reviews on THAT realization.

The only thing of real interest this week is that we had a cooking class on Wednesday and then went out for Jonesy’s 21st birthday on St. Pat’s day AND he’s Irish–use your imagination on that one. It was tons of fun though and despite the aggravations and frustrations I felt from the cooking class, it was still great fun! I will update on the specifics later but right now- I have to finish packing and get ready for class!!

Also another highlight is that we ate at my favorite restaurant TWICE this week!!! Il Celistino and it was delicious both times! I had gnocchi the first time and spaghetti alla carbonara the second. All delicious and all fairly economical!

After class today Eliz and I are traveling to Germany to visit Dr. Hofmeister! SO EXCITED to see him, Germany, and to get out of Italy for a while. NOT that I don’t LOVE it but still–we’re here to travel and I’m excited to start doing it. We’re only there for about 36 hours but it’s okay; we’ll see some things, eat well, and be welcomed by him. I’m really excited to go back because the last time I was there, I was 11! YIKES.

Well off to finish up the last minute details- please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we travel and I will update as soon as I get a chance! Spring Break in ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!!!! YES!

All my love…

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I LOVE FLORENCE.

I LOVE FLORENCE.Β JUST LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. I WILL SHOUT IT FROM EVERY ROOF TOP! I LOVE THIS CITY!!!!!!

Phewww glad I got that out of my system!!

Okay I should clarify…I love this city but the government of this country is a little aggravating. I will give my quick rant and then back to loving Florence.

My wonderful and generous Momma sent me a package and included in this said package was some nyquil that I will need soon since I keep taking one at night to help with this cold thing. Anyways….so the package was sent on Tuesday and should have been here by either Friday or today. I get into class this morning and Fede walks in and hands me all these papers and I must have had this look on my face because I was worried what happened. It turns out that customs decided to keep my package because on the list of things included was Nyquil Gel caps…well those cannot be allowed into the country!! And unfortunately, that’s what my Mom said was in the package. SO. I had to pay 40 euro to get the package and then that does not even insure that I will get it!! And on top of all that- I only had 3 days to get it paid so I had to go today RIGHT AWAY because it got there on Friday!! AHHH I was SO BEYOND STRESSED OUT. SO STRESSED. I had no idea what to do at the post office and I was just really flustered. So I asked Enrico if he’d go with me so he could help me and I’m so grateful he did because otherwise I would have just been standing there looking like an idiot because I really had no idea what was going on. We stood there and talked until our number was called and then he just spoke to the man and I paid and was out of there! I rushed back to Isabelle at the school and I finished filling out the paperwork with her help and she said she’d send it to them and hopefully we’d hear back from them soon! She said that customs had a Japanese girl’s package for a month. ONE WHOLE MONTH. I’m not TOO concerned about it but I really don’t want to lose the dresses in there because they’re cute and one is from J. Crew and I just don’t want to lose that one. My mom felt really bad and I don’t want her to feel that bad but I am a little aggravated at customs- take out the nyquil and let me be. Whatever. I’ll try and stay positive. πŸ™‚

NOW! BACK TO LOVING FLORENCE.

The original plan for today was to climb the Duomo right after class so Pietro, Jasas, and Elizabeth went back to our apartment and then I met them and we headed to the Duomo. The angleholic- aka Pietro- was out in full force today. We’ve been here for a month and a half and he’s already taken over 3300 pictures! RIDICULOUS. It’s okay I love to make fun of him for it. πŸ™‚ So we get in line and of course all the people in line are American and they had those dang EF Tour Backpacks and they were loud and obnoxious as American teenagers are so I felt really embarrassed to be seen near them….which I guess means I’m feeling a part of the culture now since I was that teenager with the backpack not too ago? WELL GOOD. So we pay our EIGHT EURO (they rob you blind) to climb and we start our ascent. It was fun, not too steep, and we were taking pictures along the way. We made it to the view of the Duomo from inside first and this random weird-o American girl told me to shoosh…and I wasn’t even talking…whatever….so we took many pictures because it’s so cool to be high to see around and above near the cupola. We get through that part and head to the more challenging set of stairs. THEY WERE SO WINDING. OH MY GOODNESS. It was intense, I wasn’t as worn out as I thought I would be but legs hurt definitely. Then the higher we got, the more steep stairs we were climbing. And by the last set of stairs, we were practically climbing at a 90 degree angle. A little ridiculous but totally worth it when we got to the top outside. THE VIEW WAS ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT. ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT. Make sure to see my pictures on facebook when you get a chance but even those won’t do it justice. We were SO high up! It was crazy!!!! I think that is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in all seriousness. You could literally see everything that we have ever seen or been to and actually know what the places were. It was so incredible. I am SO THANKFUL THAT I AM IN FLORENCE. I would pick NO other place to study abroad. I love it here so much and feel so blessed. I know I keep saying that but I really do because it’s just wonderful. If you EVER come to Florence, YOU HAVE TO CLIMB THE DUOMO. YOU HAVE TO. My only request…. πŸ™‚

Thank you Florence for giving me such a wonderful experience, I owe you one! πŸ™‚

All my love from the greatest city in Italy….

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Another Beautiful Weekend

I love that I always post at the end of weekends- like nothing else happens during the week, so not true!! I will give a brief description of my week from Wednesday through Sunday…we’ll see how brief I can be because after all…it is me….and we all know how wordy I get! So here we go and thank you for bearing with me. πŸ™‚

Wednesday: Class as normal and it was a nasty, cold day again so we stayed in the rest of the day until our cooking class. I was really excited for the cooking class because we always have so much fun and learn so much. So we arrive at the cooking class and I cooked with Eliz, Corey, Caroline, Kelly, and Peter. We made crepes stuffed with ricotta cheese and roasted eggplant and then we rolled turkey, ham, cheese, and sage and put that all in fresh cabbage and for dessert- we enjoyed pane cotta. The rolled meat thing in cabbage sounds interesting to you all I’m sure and it was very very interesting. We fried it in a pan with some butter and more sage and the crepes were baked…I think…..well anyways we were starving as usual so we went downstairs to eat and IT WAS SO AMAZING. I like the crepes the best because they tasted unbelievable but the texture of the turkey/cabbage combination was so interesting and different that it was good too. And the pane cotta was TO DIE FOR!! It was like a cheesecake and jello combination, I don’t even know but when the strawberry sauce was added this most wonderful taste in my mouth. The meal was fantastic and I can’t wait to go back this Wednesday for lasagna, April 1st for gnocchi, and my birthday for some other delicious treat!! It will be amazing!!

Thursday: Class as usual again…we’re learning the imperfect tense and it’s a little more complicated than the past prossimo but we’ve been practicing since we learned it so hopefully it’ll get easier as we go. In art history we talked about the midterm and it kind of freaked me out but hopefully with a lot of studying it won’t be too horrible. It’ll be harder than usual because I have never taken a class like this before so I’ll study as much as I can! Next week is it! YIKES. And I still have to learn the future tense before our next tense….oh boy! πŸ™‚ On Thursday night we went to an apertivo with Fede for charity and that was really neat to be able to support a charity over here. The money goes to a country in Africa where really young girls are forced to marry older men and then when they die, the girls are forced to marry another relative and they have no choice because they don’t know a trade. So this money helped build a soap shop last year and they want to get as much money as possible so we were all more than happy to support the cause. After that, we went to the boys apartment and I talked to Emily AND Carlee and earlier after class I talked to Taylor!! It was such a great day because I got to talk to all my closest friends from home on the same day! I felt so blessed!! They are all doing great and Taylor planned a trip and is coming HERE right AFTER my birthday!! πŸ˜€ I’m SO happy!! Anyways, we went back to my apartment and got ready then we went to Florence Pub and hung out there for a while and then we were all tired and I didn’t feel well so we walked back home. I spilt a drink all over my dress and coat so that aggravated me too and so I was just ready to go home.

Friday: When I woke up Friday morning I felt like DEATH. I could tell I had had a fever because I was REALLY hot and sweaty and when I went to bed I was freezing so I know I had a fever and my throat hurt really bad and I felt really achey. I emailed Dr. Morgan and she suggested that I just stay in and sleep so that is what I did- slept ALL DAY LONG. I watched nearly 5 movies and didn’t get out of my pajamas until 7 at night when I took a shower. It was actually really needed because after I laid around all day I felt nearly 100 percent again. Eliz and I invited Jasas and Pietro over for spaghetti alla carbonara and she cooked and it was delicious!! I will HAVE to make that sometime! Then we just hung out and talked and then they went home and I started watching another movie…ah yes…love movies when you’re sick.

Saturday: Woke up feeling really refreshed and rested. I knew after how much better I felt that I needed that day of relaxation. Got up at 9:15 and got ready for our day in Siena. We met Marissa at 10:30 and headed to the train station to meet up with Peter. The train ride was about an hour and a half and it was a gorgeous day for traveling!! We made it to Siena by 12:40 and by the help of a map and the lady in the train station, we bought bus tickets so we could get to the city center! We got off and started walking towards the Duomo and the Piazza del Campo. As we were walking we were hungry and I stopped in front of a restaurant and the menu looked really good so I suggested that we eat there. I got ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese with butter and sage sauce and it was delicious!! We even got bread with our meal!! πŸ™‚ It was definite one of the best meals I’ve had yet here!! Then we went to the Piazza del Campo and there was a market set up so there were so many people!! But it was a beautiful area; it was so open and the tall bell tower and the building attached was just so old and pretty!! We walked around there for a while and then went to the Duomo and went in and spent almost an hour in there. It reminds me a lot of Pisa and Florence by the outside facade but is much more detailed than Florence. The inside though was really intricate and beautiful. It was so beautiful I was in complete awe. I sat in front of the high altar for nearly 30 minutes just staring at this church and just in awe of what God creates and how He uses what He creates to do His will. It’s awesome in my opinion and I just feel so thankful to be able to see it for myself. We then just headed back to the train station and got some gelato on the way. We got back to the train station early and there was like this random mall across the street so we wasted time in there. It was an odd mall but made for some memories!! After we got back we just relaxed and watched the Hannah Montana Movie, it was fun and I felt like I was 13 again. Elizabeth and I had a great day and I am so thankful how well we’re getting along; we’re kind of becoming the same person. It’s great.

Sunday: We enjoyed a nice slow day in Florence. We got up around noon and ate breakfast and lunch in one sitting- no big deal. haha Then we decided to go walk around Florence and our walking around led us to go into H&M. We both tried stuff on and each bought a few items…probably not needed but we felt that we hadn’t bought things in a while so we treated ourselves. Then we went to get Neri and then back to our apartment, and then met Jasas at the end of the Ponte alle Grazie to go to the Piazzale Michelangelo. It was another beautiful day and we wanted to enjoy as much of it as we could. Jasas was in an extra sassy mood so we enjoyed making fun of him. We got up there took 100os of pictures as usual- Pietro leading us in that task- and then we sat and just watched the beautiful city and the sun set. Then we saw this either American or English man fall and roll down a few steps on the Piazzale. It was really scary but a bunch of really nice Italian guys helped him down the rest of the stairs. I felt so bad for him but thankfully he was okay! We then decided that we wanted the American Diner so we got up and headed that way. I was SO grateful to eat there! I needed some French toast and french fries and that’s what I got! It really hit the spot!! After we got home, we relaxed and uploaded pictures and then I talked to my parents and spent an hour trying to get the Rosetta stone on their computer. That was a challenge but we got it done. Then I decided to make Teddy a facebook page so now Teddy is on facebook as Ted E. Franklin. πŸ™‚ Friend him if you like. I was really wired from that so I didn’t fall asleep until after 1, oh well…today hasn’t been awful! YAY. πŸ™‚

Another post about today will be coming to you soon!

Only 1600 words! Not too bad I’d say…..:) thanks for reading.

All my love…..

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Realizing That It All Counts

I know I just wrote a blog yesterday but I feel the need to write another one…and I guess I should mention it’s snowing here…yes life is crazy in Firenze.

Yesterday I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t do much other than watch different movies and eat- my apparent new calling in life. We went over and hung out with Peter and Jason for a while and then we came back and ate dinner and hung out here for a while. Peter left and then Sarah and I sat down and had a really good and deep life chat. I missed the life chats I had with Taylor back in Danieley K from the past semester and I needed to connect again with someone on a deeper level. We talked about pretty much everything and it was truly a blessing for me. Not only could I get things off my chest that had been building up but I also got to share some things about myself and she got to share things about herself that I think helped us build our friendship. We talked about how we both like to connect with people on a deeper level and talk with and learn as much as we can about other people. I really appreciate that someone else shares the same views as me regarding people and knowing them on a deeper level. I was talking about how Taylor and I first met and how I told her “I don’t really like small talk so tell me about yourself” and our friendship has only grown since that day in September of 2008. Anyways, the point of this paragraph was to say that I’m glad I found someone that I can talk about “deeper” stuff with; it helps keep me balanced emotionally because I’m able to emote more like I’m used to. Sarah is a great person and friend and I’m really thankful that I’m living with her in Florence. She makes a lot of fun and always keeps me upbeat!

Today after class I came back to the apartment and made some lunch. Sarah took a nap so I was just sitting around and for some strange reason I felt compelled to watch the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Now, yes I am aware of the fact that I’m in ITALY and shouldn’t be watching tv, let alone that movie but I really wanted to watch it. I should also mention that I haven’t watched that movie since I was probably 11 (I know that’s pretty old but it was Gran and my favorite movie to watch). So I start it and a whole bunch of memories flood my mind and all of them have to do with my Gran. I guess being here Gran has not been on the forefront of my mind the way she is at home and school but when I started watching it I could hear us singing along and knowing the words because we watched it so many times. I even remembered some of the words and the storyline of the movie.I had flashbacks of when I was little and we would eat dinner on the tv trays and she’d let me sit in her chair, which was a huge thing. While watching it, I could without a doubt feel Gran sitting there with me laughing at me for watching it at my age, but still enjoying it as we did when I was a little kid. It made me miss her like crazy and I got a little sad that she wasn’t at home waiting for me to return to tell her all about my adventures. I never will ever forget her but I wish that she could have seen me grow up more. Of course I’m thankful for the time I spent with her and I’ll always have those memories I just don’t ever want to forget them.

Also today we went to the Duomo Museum and to see Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia. The sculptures that we looked at in the Museum were incredible because I try and picture myself carving these magnificent and detailed statues from a huge piece of marble; which would be impossible for me to do. So needless to say I’m always amazed at these things. And then I was thinking about how these sculptures are still, for the most part, in great condition! They have survived over 400-500 years and people now know the stories about the art work and about the sculptor! It’s crazy for my mind to comprehend at times. Then we went and saw the David. I have seen it before, but I was 11 and honestly I had no interest in knowing anything about it except for that it was David from the Bible and that the famous artist- Michelangelo sculpted it. But today when we saw it again I was in sheer, complete and utter amazement. I literally stood there for 10 minutes just staring at it and all I could think about was, “HOW COULD ONE MAN CREATE THIS PERFECT SCULPTURE”. I hope you can tell from this how amazed I was because I was in complete astonishment. The amount of detail in the body and hands is so realistic that it’s hard for me to comprehend. Elizabeth (our professor) told us how Michelangelo was allowed to dissect and examine dead bodies to learn about anatomy. So he created this David with the information he had; he basically created it from an image inside his head. If you haven’t seen this, you all should make the effort to see it because it is truly one of the greatest sculptures and artwork I have ever seen. Even though it is not realistic in the least, it doesn’t even matter because that is the kind of body and shape that ANY man would want to have. As you can probably gather, I’m still in awe from seeing it today. And to think that this wonderful artist lived and walked on the streets that I walk just puts everything into perspective. Sometimes I have a hard time realizing I’m living in a city that was occupied by some of the greatest minds that ever lived. It is filled with such wonder and magic and history that I will never be able to understand all of it- ever.

With that being said, I have officially written another book of a blog but hey- I had a lot to say about today and yesterday! Life is wonderful and even though I’m sick I’m trying to not let it ruin my day. Hopefully it will be getting warmer soon and then we can go outside and explore a little more than we have been able to. In conclusion I would like to say that I’m really thankful for the friends I’ve made here because I know I will be friends with some of them for life; I can just tell. And that art is truly wonderful and I feel really fortunate that I am in this class so I can learn more about its purpose and the history behind it because it makes me appreciate art SO much more than I ever have. Everything counts no matter if it happened in the past, is happening right now, or will happen in the future- it all counts.

All my love….

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