Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hello, my name is Kelly, and I want to travel for the rest of my life.

I know it sounds clichè. I know I am probably falling into the typical twenty-something "travelbugged" American character, but its true. I have it. The difference between me and those people are that I have the drive to make it happen. I have grown up with the idea that if you want something, all you need is drive, endurance, and persistence to get it. I've got the trio.

I just got out of my travel writing class, a two plus hour lesson of reading, writing, and sharing experiences abroad. Though I was a bit envious of my classmates' destinations, I do not regret staying in Italy in the least. I think if anything, I would have regretted a three country ten day trip, because its like eating one potato chip from a huge bag. Instead of tasting all different potato chips, I like to finish one bag, then move onto the next one.

Once I leave Italy, I know the fact that I may never be back again is easier to swallow. My list of places I have been on the side of this blog will only grow and grow throughout April and May, so that once I'm back at home, there will not be a stone left unturned in Italy.

After this trip I want to see Amsterdam, I want to see Prague. I want to see Dublin and Berlin and Budapest. I want to explore the Canary Islands and Thailand and Croatia. I want to see China and Australia and New Zealand. I also want to travel around America. I'm going to California for next spring semester. I want to see Alaska and Hawaii at some point.

I hope my parents end up reading this at some point because I should probably let them know that I do have a plan in mind. They might not approve at first, but I'm legal now. Also, they felt the same way and said the same thing when I said I wanted to study abroad and I'm here, soooo

I will be graduating a semester early from college. I will finish my degree December 2012 leaving the spring of 2013 open. I know my job hunting will start early, as I looked for internships when I was only a freshman in college.

I want to either au pair or internship abroad in the spring. Fact is, travel writing is not all that it is cracked up to be. It a hard life to live as Tim Leffel explains (http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/travel_writing/seven_myths_of_being_a_travel_writer.shtml)

Being an Au Pair or interning abroad, I can be safe, travel, write, and job hunt all at the same time. I know I sound like I'm living in a dream world, and I admit that I am. The thing is, when I'm in America, traveling seems like it is put on such a high pedestal. It is so Romanticized. The fact is, my American dream is traveling.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

family name

My friend from Bologna's mother also retold me the story of the last name "Esposito." Her version was a lot more clear than what my grandpa told me.

She said that in Naples, orphaned child or child born out of wedlock would end up at a particular convent. The nuns would take them in and raise them. These nuns gave every child the last name "Esposito," which means to bring to the light, or exposure. It comes from the Latin word "expositus" meaning to place outside.

un fine settimana pazzo

One Crazy Weekend (Sorry, this post will be long)

I have been looking forward to this weekend my entire trip, the weekend I would go and meet up with my friend from Bologna then meet family members for the first time. What an experience. I learned so much.

Food.

Of course I'm going to talk about the food. I might as well do it now and get it over with.

I learned so much about food while I was gone: how to make ragu`, a traditional Bolognese sauce, with carrots, celery, and onions diced real small with tomato sauce, pork and beef. I learned that anytime someone says cupcake here, they really mean a more corn starchy muffin. I learned that even the thin bread sticks and salami that are put out to munch on are made fresh. There is a difference between tortolini and tortoloni, tortolini being smaller with meat inside and tortoloni being bigger and stuffed with cheese. I learned about their favorite restaurant which serves these fried bread squares that have air pockets that you break open and fill with gorgonzola and prosciutto and other meats. Also there are thin bread rounds that and opened and filled with the fat from a cow and parmegiano reggiano. The ravioli and gnocchi were freshly made. I can't describe the meal as anything but impeccable. I honestly do not remember what the dessert was called (that might have been because of the wine), but it was a hazelnut creamy, pudding-like texture. Amazing.

My friend that I was visiting lived in New Jersey for a year, which is how I met here. She said that she missed Italian food when she was in America. Its funny because you would think that there is Italian food everywhere, but Italian food and Italian American food are two very different things. The food here is all fresh, not Shoprite fresh but driving through the vineyards to get to the restaurant fresh. She said she missed pink lemonade, pop tarts and some other snacks though. We're planning on sending each other care packages from our hometowns.

I could go on about the food, but I think thats enough of that.

Childhood.

One thing I've realized about being here is how different people's childhoods are. I mean I always knew we grew up different, but studying abroad throws that lesson in your face over and over again. "You will meet a lot of different people in your life," as my mom said.

I have a friend from Alaska who grew up running through his neighbor's tall grass fields to get to his friend's house. To ease the disruption, he offered homemade cookies. I have another friend who lived in a house of siblings way out of town. They found some fun ways to stay entertained. My friend from Italy told me about her childhood, living on the outskirts of a city, getting the best of both worlds. I thought about my hometown and how I had the luxury of having a best friend who I could reach by running barefoot across the street. Also, there was a beach about 10 minutes away.

I talked with my friend from Bologna about some of the differences we had growing up. Both of us have experienced both places, but she was in Freehold for a year, while I was only visiting Bologna. She said that it seems like Freehold is fun, but Bologna there is more to do. Clubs are open until 6am, which is usually the time kids come home after being out. When we went to a dinner with her friends, we came back at 2am, another regularity.

Its funny because kids can drink at 14 here. They can get a tattoo at 16. They get their license at 18. In America, we can drive, carry firearms and fight for our country, but never have a legal glass of wine.

Also, we talked about maturity. Kids here seem a lot more mature. I think this is because families are more close-knit, and the values are enforced. She said that the money aspect is different though. In Italy, kids do not have part time jobs. They get, essentially, an allowance from their parents. Kids here though always clean, cook, and do their laundry. Its just a very different world over here. I like this aspect a lot (and the food of course). If you could take Italian culture, architecture, and food and ship it to America, the world would be a happier place.

We also talked about Europeans in general and how more of them travel than Americans. A lot more students study abroad from country to country than Americans. I think this also leads to more open minded people. (Plus, in Europe entirely different cultures are so close. European countries are a lot closer together. In America, we are a melting pot, but when you simmer a bunch of vegetables, they all blend together and a bit of the original flavor of that carrot or whatever is lost. We all hold our nationalities close and are proud, but unless first generation, it is hard to ever really understand, unless you visit the places your ancestors come from.) If you live in one place and never experience another, or at least people who travel or read about traveling, there is no way to open your eyes to their ways of life. Things can be done so differently. It is one thing to hear about it, but its another to experience it and really immerse yourself in another culture. Any one who is lucky enough, or works hard enough, for such an opportunity, should do it. I couldn't imagine not having this experience.

Homes.

This weekend, I got to see a house in Bologna, an apartment in Bologna, and an apartment in Venice. My friend said that houses are not typical of Italians. If a family has a house, their whole family lives there, that being grandparents etc. Her house was beautiful. There staircases are closed and rooms are set up as if in an apartment building, which is different than American homes. It was very well decorated. They also had a huge porch and terrace which seemed like such a chill spot to relax, looking out onto the trees and mountains.

I also got to see an apartment in Bologna. It was all one floor, but very big and spacious. It was very well decorated, modern with some traditional Italian touches. For instance, the kitchen had low grey countertops, white everywhere, stainless steel everything, and an old Italian set of doors to open into the pantry. It was so cute.

The third home I saw was my mom's aunt and uncle's. They had a three room plus bathroom apartment, decorated old school Italian with frescos and chandeliers and Italian mementos. Again, gorgeous.

Music.

Italians my age listen to American rap and hip-hop mostly, at least the ones that I met did. My friend who was in America for a year also listened to other American music, but she said she did before the trip.

Its funny because at one point, I was listening to Empire State of Mind which is about New York City, a place that half of the people in the car have never been, but everyone seemed to relate to it. All of our music, I listened to from their point of view. It blew my mind.

I was also introduced to some Italian rap. I now have a new obsession with Fabri Fibra.

Timetable of the weekend.

Friday, I trained to Bologna and after exploring a bit, I met up with my friend. We went to her house, and she showed me around. After settling in, we went to her friends' apartment for a dinner with some of her friends from high school. It was an amazing experience being able to drink, eat, and talk to Italians my age. Their English was probably better than my Italian, but it did not come out too often, but I could understand a lot of their Italian. Them making fun of their english professor was hilarious: "paper or plastic," "did you justify yourself?" "I am getting a bit hostile..."

Saturday, my friend and I trained to Venice where I met my mother's uncle whom I have never met. He asked, "wana go for a walk?" (His english was very good). My friend and I expected a short passagiata, but he walked all over Venice with us, showing us his hometown. He and my aunt have lived in Rome, Naples, Salerno, Long Island, and New Jersey, so they speak both English and Italian. After the tour, he brought us to his apartment, where I met my aunt (the blood relative). She was so funny, "I have always gotten along with the younger generations. I get you guys, he doesn't..." pointing at her old-fashioned husband. She invited me to sleep over one weekend before I leave which I think I will take her up on. When else will I be able to visit this family? Plus, being at their apartment reminded me of sleeping over my grandparents' house in New Jersey, which I do every so often to get away from my hometown and my school. It is very relaxing and always nice to be around family.

That night, my friend and I met up with some of her friends and went to a big dinner. The restaurant was about 45 minutes away, so I really experienced how Italians drive. It is crazy. On the way home my friend from Bologna let her friend drive home. He hit 145 kph at least on a winding road (thats 90mph). Crazy.

The guys were so funny, running through typical topics. We talked about Jersey Shore and other American trash television, food, and partying mostly. They were really funny and flirty, just as expected.

Sunday, my friend and I woke up late which felt nice. We had a big lunch with her mom and cousin of flat spaghetti (I forget the name) and her mother's ragu` which was amazing. We had zuppa inglese for dessert which is very similar to our ice box cake. After, we talked for quite a while about the different between America and Italy. I showed my friend and her cousin some of my pictures from my trip.

We realized we never toured Bologna, but I knew that just talking with them, I learned more and had a more valuable experience than looking at churches and museums all day. The Bolognese Italian is a bit different, which was nice to listen to. Before going to the train station, my friend did take me around a bit, showing me the city center, a church that is really seven churches in one, her old high school, and the one of the best gelato places in Bologna. The gelato was delicious, and the guy that was working the shop...

I remember being in Bologna thinking:

I wish I could spend a week here.
I wish I could spend a month here.
I wish I could spend my life here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

vvvvrrrrroom

Thursday was Vespa day. We met Niccolo` and were off. He drove us up to the farm where we met a couple from Ohio also doing the vespa tour. I put a grey helmet on my head and sat on my first ever vespa. I've driven quads and waverunners before, so I didn't expect this to be too difficult. As Niccolo says, "If you could ride a bike, well, this is easier because you don't have to 'huh-huh-huh."

After a few laps around the dirt path, we made our way onto the street and through the rolling Chianti hills. It was amazing. I've seen this view before, on the horse, but today was a completely different experience.

We went to another little town, Castellina in Chianti, to check out the underground tunnels and to make wishes on the rocks. You are supposed to go to the fountain, drink the water, then kiss your hand and touch the rock. There are two fountains plus a statue which represents the feud between Siena and Florence. We made the same wish at both fountains, a tradition.

After a nice cappuccino, we were off again, zipping through the winding roads. Returning to the farm a few hours later, we got back in the van and headed up to the restaurant for a nice meal of bruschetta, prosciutto and cheese, sausage risotto, and gnocchi with ragu`, and of course lots of white wine, olive oil, and vinegar.

We tried different wines than I had on Tuesday and met the owner of the shop who let us try different wines. Oh and the grappa. Do you know how they make grappa? It is amazing. Grappa is essentially the alcohol that is in wine. Wow is that strong.

We couldn't have asked for a bluer sky, nicer weather, a better tour guide...

I never think that tomorrow can be a better day than today, then I'm proven wrong. Each day really is a new experience.

(Wow, I sound like such a naive and corny 20 year old, but at this point in my life, that is what I see.)

People and Culture

Half way through spring break, sad I know, I figured I would need a relaxing day in Florence. I definitely did. Today was about the people.

First, I ran into the British brother and sister I had met the day before at horseback riding. Of course this had to happen, right after I thought about how from the outside, I look like I am wearing the same thing: spring jacket, leggings, boots, scarf.

After a quick chat, I was off to meet a friend for a cocktail. We talked and talked to the bartenders as my friend was a local in this place.

Later in the day, I had my language exchange. I talk to a local Italian for an hour or so a week. I teach him English, and he teaches me Italian.

Today, we talked about how Florence is losing its culture. Because the economy is bad, Florence relies more and more on tourist money. Instead of realizing that most of us come here to experience their culture, they try to cater to us. They advertise in English. They build more Americanized menus. Their culture is slowly fading.

It is funny because being here four years ago, I can see the difference. All of the locals I have talked to would agree.

You always want what you can't have. Americans romanticize the European lifestyle and the Europeans are trying to become more and more Westernized. We always think the grass is greener. I think we need to stop and check out the brown spots.

Il Giorno di Sole

I woke up today in a whole new city. No, I'm not talking about how my friend and I missed our stop and ended up in the middle of nowhere and the conductors had to steam up the whole train just for us (yes, that happened). What I mean though is that the sun is shining, the air is warm, and the people are out. It is as if you bought a flower and gave it sunlight and water and waited and waited. Well, today is the day it bloomed.

Living in the city, or village as they call is, is different from when this happens at home. At home, you look out the window and see how bright the sun is. In my apartment, the buildings across the street are very close. Because of the shadows, I am unsure if it is cloudy or if I am just in a shadow. We only get an hour or so of bright sunshine until the shadows come. We'll have to get our Vitamin D by actually going outside.

And who could resist on such a gorgeous day? As I walked, the people broke out of their shells, thawing their icy moods, melting away their stress, baking their skin in the sun.

I love days like today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

proud to be american

My tour guide for the horseback riding tour said that his mother was half American. I had a strange moment, thinking about how I never hear Americans say that they are Americans. I always only hear us talk about our nationalities or where we are from but never, "I am American." Strange concept.

my butt hurts.

Horseback riding day today. I'm exhausted so I'll keep this short.

I met a lot of people again today, some my age studying abroad, some families. They were from all over, Australia, Paris, Midwest of the States.

Horseback riding through the hills of Tuscany really is exactly how you picture it: hills, vineyards, sun, breeze... My horse, Sami, was a former race horse (they knew I had riding experience). After the trail, which got muddy and a little scary when my horse got spooked by a car, I got to do what I always wanted. Me, a horse, a ring, and the beautiful scenery. I took an easier horse out, Emily. She was so smooth.

A glass of red wine, or two, or three later (kidding, just one), we went to Montereggione, a castle medieval town for a lunch of bruschetta, prosciutto, cheese, peppery four cheese gnocchi, spaghetti and spinach and cheese, more wine, and bread, all of which olive oil was drizzled on. This was followed by a wine and honey tasting. You can't scream yum any louder.

Smelling like a horse, I relaxed after the long day in yoga class. Seriously, walking around Florence like that, with my eye pink from the dust of the farm in my contact, with my old leggings ripped from riding, my hair a mess, I thought about what I would think if I saw me on a street. Wow.

A hot meal and a shower later, all I want is to sleep. Good night world.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

viareggio.

Time seems to be disappearing. How is it passed midnight? How is it March 21st?

Anyway today I saw dancing jelly fish, wackadoos in costumes, and the beach. I danced, I sang, I ate, I relaxed, I smoked (just a tiny cigar, its a culture experience).

Each day is an adventure.

I need to remember to live the rest of my life how I do now. When I'm thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years old, I will think back to my nineteen- wow I'm still a teenager year-old self and remember how I lived for four months. When I walk in the streets here, I realize that I am passing all of the Italians and think to myself, why am I in a rush? I make plans here, but also roll with the punches. I feel like yes man, never saying no to explore different places with my friends. I eat guilt-free. I work out because I enjoy it, plus its a great way to explore. I talk to everyone, like my dad does, and meet all sorts of people. I learn about them, their lifestyles, their culture, which is all really interesting to me. I can't wait for my interviewing class for journalism. Anyway, I ensure that I smile genuinely everyday. Thats not such a hard task being in Italy.

One of my friends asked the other day, "You really make sure each day is an adventure don't you?" Honestly, I couldn't imagine any other way.





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Heaven is here, Where Juliet lives

I know when I come back home, I'll be hit with the question "Kelly, How was your trip?" How am I supposed to answer that? When overwhelmed with information like that, you have to answer a question with a question: Do you want the real answer, or should I just tell you it was amazing?

I was hit with this concept today. I had such a great day and came home to video chat with my mom, and I froze. I didn't know how to begin. I'll try to describe my day yesterday. Chances are, this will be a long post, and I will be telling a story then interrupt myself with an earlier detail I forgot. I'm okay with that if you are.

When I was waiting for my train from Bologna back to Florence, I had paper and a pen, so I started making a list of events for the day. Between that and the pictures, I hope I can remember it all:

One of my friends and I decided to go to Verona. Verona is a place I have been before and is probably number one on my list of places to be in Italy. After landing in Italy four years ago, this was the first place we had to really explore so when I think of my first real trip to Italy, Verona's arena is the first image that comes to mind.

Unfortunately, my friend, like the rest of her suite, got sick with the flu. It was 6:30, and I couldn't get in touch with her. I didn't think twice about not going, being that it is my favorite place I had ever been. My train was set to leave at 7am, so I had just enough time to run home and grab my book for the train, and I was off.

Most people would think, how sad, she went herself, but honestly, yesterday I realized that traveling alone (during the day of course, safely) is an amazing way to travel. You get to see what you want, without running it past if thats what someone else wants to do. You can go at your pace, how ever fast or slow that is. You eat when your hungry. I mean don't get me wrong, I love traveling with my friends, but yesterday was my first time traveling like that alone. I loved it.

To get to Verona from Florence, you have to first go to Bologna. I knew I had 20 minutes in between, so I went to the bar for un café. To be on the safe side, I just waited by the platform after that, platform 3. I was waiting and waiting. I realized it was getting late, and the train was no where to be found. Suddenly, the flashing dot says that the train is boarding. Where do I go?! I realized I was at platform 3 at the piazzale not the centrale platform 3! I run across the train station in my flats, scarf dancing behind me. Its gone. I missed it.

Whatever, this is why I wanted to go early (that and because it was 15 euros cheaper) I thought to myself. I go to customer services and ask when the next train to Verona leaves, wondering if I could still use my ticket. Because Bologna to Verona is a regional train, I could, but the next train leaves in... two hours? Well, I guess I better go explore Bologna.

And thats what I did. I knew that I would be coming back on Friday, to visit my Italian friend who will show me around, so there was no pressure to hit anything major. (This is the point where it is nice to be traveling alone. Most people, I could picture my father, getting agitated and upset that the train was missed. I figure, me getting upset about it isn't going to change the fact that I am in Bologna instead of Verona for a couple hours. Might as well make the best of it.) I browsed an outdoor book market and found a perfect gift for a friend. I went into a local crowded bakery and got two pizzettes. Yum. I visited a church and then off I was to Verona.

I was reading on the train when someone sat next to me. After some time had passed he asks, are you from New York, as he sees I am reading in English and the title of the section is Seven Seconds in the Bronx.

We get to talking. He is a 36 year old man from Naples. It was funny because when I gave him the last name Esposito, he called me family. We talked about Italy and America, and their differences as he has a friend in New Jersey who he has visited a few times. He, Gennaro, talked about how bad Italy is, saying that everything south of Rome is like Baghdad. He said that Italy will soon be Africa, politically. Gennaro talked about how he loved USA and if it weren't so hard to get a green card, he would move. His mother lives in Naples still, but he lives in Modena because thats where he found a good job. I am an immigrant here, because Italians can tell I am from Naples. What is the difference if I am an immigrant here or in America? He said. I told him that that's what I like about America, you can walk down the street and people don't know if you are a resident or a traveller, unless your rocking the fanny pack.

Once we got off the train and said our goodbyes, I went to a little stand and got a map and a bus ticket to the center of town. It was only a 10 or 15 minute bus ride, and I figured I would start there and work my way back to the station. My first stop was of course, Casa di Guilietta. I met an Irish couple who were willing to take my picture. It was amazing, being back to where I fell in love with Italy. I took the classic picture of me with the statue, which brings good luck to every person who holds her breast (its true).

I walked around the museum with a British couple who were in Italy for the first time.

My next stop was the tower. I always go to the highest point of the town that I am visiting so I can make sure that I see it all. Plus, I'm a sucker for a nice view. At the top of the tower, I had another British couple take my picture. The bell rang, and it scared me and the woman so badly.

Walking around the outdoor market, I got a big cup of all different fruits. Yum. Right around there is one of my favorite fountains, then I explored and found the arena.

The arena, like I said, was my first Italian memory, aside from the time I was in France with my family, and we stopped into a small Italian town. There was a woman sitting down with her newborn wrapped around her. Her mother was taking her picture. They asked me if I could take a picture of them, all three generations. They were American, from Connecticut.

I took pictures all around the Arena and listened to the two young boys speaking Dutch, what a strange language. Then met a group of guys. There were six of them: two from Florida, two from Finland, and two from Indiana. They were all studying abroad in Austria and were visiting Verona for the day. They were so cool. I took a picture of them all, with all six cameras, and they took one for me. We actually had a lot in common, it was funny. I gave them some advice about the rest of their stay in Verona, and again I was on my way.

I went to Urban Café and got served my cappuccino by the hottest Italian I have seen in Italy, hands down. It was funny because he was wearing a shirt that said Sunset Blvd.

After flirting with him, I looped around back to the city center, and there was a parade forming. There were tons of people holding flags and getting sweatshirts, and I just had to be one of them. I convinced a man I was Italian, and succeeded in my free goodies. I made some friends, nervous about my Italian being believable and walked (with the second cutest guy I befriended that day). There was chanting and singing and music and, hopping? It was fun.

I knew I couldn't spend forever here, and I had one last stop to make before heading back. I wanted to see Juliet's tomb, which was included in the price of the Casa di Guilietta museum pass. I loved it. The gardens, the history, the art, it was all amazing.

Finally, I was on my way back. I grabbed a panino con pollo e un bomboloni con nutella.

My train rides back were a lot less dramatic, and I was finally back home. Going back to my favorite Italian town, meeting so many people I had things in common with, and getting some free gifts. What a perfect day.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Free Day

This morning I went for a run. I actually thought it would a little more difficult being that the night before was St. Patricks Day, the 150 Year Anniversary of Italy being United, and it was the last day of classes before spring break. I love the park I go to with it's carnival rides and green grass that lines the Arno. I ran across the bridge and found the cutest wedding dress in a little shop. It was strapless and had a pretty swirling stitched bodice with a creamy silk band then a shirt that fell above mid calf. It was gorgeous.

Anyway... after I got back to my room and relaxed a bit, I set off for Mama's Bakery with a friend. Its my little piece of home in Florence where I can get an endless cup of american coffee and a scope of tuna with bagel chips (and of course a little cupcake or cookie for dessert).

We had a nice little walk after, and finished planning our trips for spring break, which I am really excited about. Tomorrow, I will be in Verona with another friend. I remember being there when I was just 15 years old. I only had a few hours there the first time, and I can't wait to return and hopefully have some flashbacks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

new media

Someone in my public, a student from my Social Media class, presented about Memolane. Its a new site that essentially acts like a scrapbook connecting your blog, facebook, twitter, rss feed, and more. It is a really interesting place to look back and remember old memories as well as connect with other people.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

un altro giorno a Firenze

After waking up, studying, taking my midterm, finishing a presentation, and getting course scheduling out of the way, I got a call from a friend asking me to go to Gusta Pizza, the infamous pizza place across the river. The owner himself pulled up a chair and had dinner with us. Looking for something sweet, we roamed the streets and ended up next to my friend's apartment. After dropping in for a hello, my friend and I were in search of something sweet. We landed on banana and peanut butter gelato. Yum. Walking back to our apartments, we would have to cut through Santa Croce. Usually, the square is empty, but today is the day before the 150 year anniversary of Italy being united. There was a big screen with old pictures of what the square used to look like years ago. There were flags floating around in small children's hands. Right in the center, there was a hot air balloon. The man inside let out some fire blasts, and he was right off the ground. The top and sides of the hot air balloon were tied down, and he only went up a few stories in the air. He then let out a long banner then three big nets of green, white, and red balloons. What a nice day. It was just another day in Florence.





Tuesday, March 15, 2011

happy for now, happy for whats to come

I officially have less than two months left, and I still have so much to look forward to: Sorrento, Capri, Naples, Pompeii, All over Sicily, Verona, Bologna, Venice...

I am anticipating Thursday, which will start spring break off with a bang with fireworks. Aside from being St. Patrick's day, that is the 150th anniversary of Italy being unified, a new national holiday here.

After that is Spring Break, which I am excited about.

Then there are only four days left of March, and April is when the weather gets warm, and I go to more beachy areas and to southern Italy.

Then I have my last bittersweet days here before I go home and see my family and friends and sleep in my bed that I miss so much. I know home will have my attention for about three days until I want to come back to Italy, but I will have summer beach days to look forward to in between working (hopefully in Belmar again) and a co-op and an online class (not too bad).

Then in the fall, I will be excited for my field hockey season and to catch up with who ever I didn't over the summer.

Then in the spring, I go off to Monterey Bay for a semester, hopefully spring breaking in either Alaska or Hawaii.

Then I get a summer of fun and one last semester at Ramapo before I enter the real world as an aspiring journalist.

Its scary how this is all planned out. I am a little more spontaneous in everyday life, but looking at the big picture, its nice to have things to look forward to.

language barrier

There are some things in life that a person does not need language for. Everyone is on the same page, no matter the language you are fluent in like watching a soccer player kick a nice goal. In "Mean Girls," Cady says that she likes math because its the same in every language ("That's beautiful.") A dog yelped in the Piazza today, and everyone turned.

Unfortunately, midterms are like that. No matter what language you speak, around March, the libraries seem to overcrowd like the gyms after New Years.

I won't lie I balanced out the hours of studying with some shopping, getting gifts for friends and family I knew I would need to get eventually. Spreading my gift buying over the weeks was definitely the right way to go.

Kind of abrupt, but I need to get back to studying.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday, Monday

Monday was good to me. I had one midterm today, Introduction to Mass Communication, which I think I aced. I was surprised it only took 30 minutes. Having a noon class is perfect, waking up slow but still getting out early enough to enjoy the day.

After my favorite salad, I went to my favorite study spot. The sun was out, my feet were up, the Duomo was in sight. After some studying and a gelato and, oh wait, more studying (its midterm time), I went to a friends flat to catch up. It seems so old school for me to yell up to her opened window to let me in.

Then, I was off to yoga. I was walking and walking, thinking and thinking, and looked up. Uh oh. Where am I? A good fifteen minutes of backtracking later, I finally entered into my yoga class, which just started.

Yoga is a nice, relaxing activity to recoup from the weekend and empty my brain before the school week. Well, maybe empty isn't the word with midterms coming up; I'm always so scared I will end up blanking out.

A late dinner and a shower and the day is done.

I can't believe there's only two months left.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I'm feeling, no filter

Viareggio: Rainy, Wandering the city, Cafe`, Festive, Costumes, Music, Nut stand, Beach, Nostalgia, Talking on trains with friends about where we're from and what were getting out of studying abroad.

Day trips are perfect. I like being in Florence because its truly the heart of Italy. Other cities and towns are very accessible. Plus, they are not very expensive, and you don't need to waste money on a hotel.

I have realized that travel-wise, I'm making the best decision for me. I have a lot of friends who are going to Amsterdam, Prague, Dublin, and London the week that we have spring break. I understand that for a lot of us, this might be our only time in Europe. Chances are, we won't be back, or at least anytime soon, so why not see all you can see?

In high school, I went on a trip around Italy for a few weeks. We saw almost 20 towns and cities. We were always traveling. For me, this trip is the opportunity to spend more time in one place. Some friends have the cities they have their hearts set on. My heart is set on Sicily, which I am happy is booked. But when else will I be able to be a regular customer in shops in Florence? When can I be almost considered a local in Europe? When/If I come back to Europe, I will go to Amsterdam, Paris, Prague... I won't be going back to Capri, Assisi, and Naples.

I just don't want to be a tourist anymore. I hate that feeling.

This is nothing against the people going on big trips. This isn't coming from someone who is bitter that I am not going on one of those trips. I know I could have. I'm just saying its not for me, and I am happy I am doing what is making me happy and what suits me best.

That is a big part of being here. You meet a lot of people from all different parts of the state with all different backgrounds, histories. They come from a different upbringing with different values, different morals. It can be very easy to smile, nod, and agree, but as the Beach Boys said, "Stay true to your school."

Seeing how you react to those different personalities help you learn about yourself more. Also, it can help prepare you for the future. Now you will know how to better deal with those personalities and those difficult situations.

I know this might all sound like a 20 year old epiphany, (but I'm 19) and honestly, this is when we're supposed to learn these lessons. Plus, this is nothing I've never thought of before, nothing new to me. Its just something to be reminded of.

Sometimes we need those reminders.




Friday, March 11, 2011

Yesterday

I have realized I have used this line way too much. That stops now. So yesterday...

I was under the impression that I was going to go to San Gimignano again then to Pienza and do some wine tasting. What really happened is I went on a bus and went to San Gimignano then to a winery. It was still pretty interesting, seeing a wine cellar and listening to the history of the business. We then had a big meal with of course, a few glasses of wine. On the way home, we stopped in another town "citta di colle di val d'elsa." I guess I'll have to go to Pienza on my own so I can write my 2 page history essay.

noises

I have never lived in a city before. Florentines consider Florence a village whereas "Rome, now that's a city." There are a few spots by the Arno that I can sit, listen to the baby waterfalls, and drown out the city sounds. The library is another obvious spot, but that doesn't seem to count. Ambulances have been driving passed my apartment building every hour on the hour, or at least thats what it seems. I haven't really realized that if you cut out all your other senses and just listened, this is where most of the culture shock is. I never thought of it that way before today. I guess this might be a little more comfortable, well I am comfortable here... I guess the way to say it is that this might be more similar if I lived in New York for eighteen years instead of a town in Jersey. I couldn't imagine going to another "village" than this one at this point in my life. Heres to making good decisions.

media ports

I just read an email from my father informing me of what happened in Japan today. I checked out CNN.com for a live stream. Then I went to twitter and hash tagged (#) Japan for further research. I got live videos along with first hand pictures. The media outlets we have can do some amazing things.

I realized that here and on Facebook, I upload pictures from my day. These are pictures from the rest of the world:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/pictures-of-the-day-japan-and-elsewhere/

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

mio compito

Mio Compito in Italian means My Homework. Unfortunately, studying abroad isn't just a vacation.

Tara Parker-Pope, a well known writer and health columnist, published a piece in the New York Times recently entitled, Rethinking 'Normal' Blood Pressure. The article talks about how "Millions of people who have been told they are on the path to hypertension may never develop life-threatening problems," and that maybe high blood pressure is the new norm.

To back up this argument, the article says:

"The findings, from researchers at the Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, suggest that as many as 100 million Americans who have been told they have a condition called prehypertension may face no added mortality risk and therefore could reasonably be considered to have normal blood pressure."

I don't think this is enough information for an argument. Yes, the author continues into how blood pressure data was tracked and many new and old findings would agree, I do not think that because so many people have high blood pressure should be reason enough for us to change original standards.

I think the author is leaving out the effect this could have longterm. If they have found that high blood pressure is no necessarily an issue, and people become less concerned about lowering their blood pressure, it will only get higher. Eventually, a person will have such high blood pressure that this is a problem.

The author also leaves out the benefits of lowering ones blood pressure. I personally have low blood pressure. Sometimes, it can be dangerous getting too low, which is cause for me to drink more water and get a side of fries with extra salt, but low blood pressure that is not chronically low can be beneficial.

Before I was diagnosed, my worried Italian mother had me to every specialist under the sun. I remember hearing over and over that chances are, I had low blood pressure which on the whole is a good thing.

It can reduce a person's risk of strokes, heart attacks, kidney stones, osteoporosis and many other complications later in life.

I understand the logic of the study, though I do not think it holds true enough for us to change our standards.


http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/rethinking-normal-blood-pressure/

Ash Wednesday

I just got back from church at the Duomo. The ceremony was completely in Italian. It was a great experience. They gave ashes on top of the head not on the forehead like in America. The woman sitting next to me had a beautiful voice. She kept looking at the choir like she belonged. I thought she did.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

postcards

I just sent out 16 postcards. Of course, there was a line I used in all of them. I personalized each one because that is the point of sending a postcard. To share an experience, relating it to whom you are sending it to.

As a journalism major, I feel the pressure of writing so very eloquently and describing this experience as Julia Roberts would in Eat Pray Love. I'm not planning on pulling a Diane Lane of Under the Tuscan Sun and writing, "Ding Dong Ding goes the bell." But I have been here for over a month. Thats a lot to fit into one little postcard, along with inside jokes and personalization. Plus, I will admit, most of them were written under the table in class today.

This trip for me is not about proof, but I know thats what postcards can seem to represent. Postcards, pictures, gifts from overseas... its all proof to show our friends and family that we saw something, learned something, and experienced something.

I mean, I'm all for taking pictures for my own personal memories. I will also continue to send postcards and buy a few small gifts for friends and family because it is a way to show people that I am thinking about them, and that is genuine. But, I feel like sometimes, the meaning behind it all is to prove that you've been somewhere.

I hope my friends and family see it more as sharing an experience rather than proving where I have been.

concept of home

I will always remember being at school in the States, and telling my roommate, "I'll see you at home," meaning our dorm room. It was a strange idea. This little box I sleep in I just called home?

Now, I find myself doing that with Florence. In the middle of the day I catch myself thinking, "I can't wait to go home and cook dinner tonight."

In my travel writing class, we read a piece called "Defining Travel," and there is a subheading "Home." The essay talks about how our first homes are the houses we grew up in, but over time, that changes. We connect home with our mothers, shelter, comfort, security. I think I've found that here, not necessarily in my actual apartment, well maybe a little, but just Florence in general. Now that it has been over a month, and I am comfortable, but still always aware, I have come to call Florence home.

Thinking back, if you told me a year ago that I would be saying this, I wouldn't take it seriously. It sounds so fantastic, so Romanticized, but it is true. Everyday, I remember this trip as the wonderful opportunity it is.

The chance to call another place home is empowering. Some feel unsettled, but I feel more excited and confident than unsettled. The ability to go somewhere and in a matter of weeks, be adapted enough to call a place home is an amazing quality to have. I think its a great skill. After this experience, I won't be so nervous in a couple short years from now, looking for a job. I won't need to dwell on the place as much, the proximity to home, because home could be anywhere. The major three F's, food, family and friends, can be brought anywhere. Nowadays, we can talk face-to-face with our loved ones online, which is a decent way to stay connected when apart. We can cook home-cooked meals, using recipes our families have given us. Yes, these ideas aren't perfect replicas of home, but they do help us connect. Thats how you build into loving a place, finding some happiness about something unique about the place, and finding some connection to home. For now, that's what I'm living on, and you know what? I truly am having the time of my life, no matter how cliché that sounds.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

treating yourself well

Saturday, I woke up early even after that prosciutto lunch, and I will admit a fun legal night. I went for a nice long run, which I am remembering now I described. I'm sore today, which is a beautiful feeling. Last night, I went out for a nice meal with a friend at a local place across the river: insalata di pomodoro e spaghetti con pesto. After the delicious meal, we needed a change of surroundings so we went to a little place for tea and dessert where I had torta ciocolatta. It was just what I needed. There was a jazz band playing upstairs; it was very relaxing. Today, I let the sun warm my face. My friends and I met up with our program coordinators, and we walked for about 40 minutes to the stadium. Walking and talking, talking and laughing, laughing and walking, it did not seem that long at all. ISA did us well getting us some prime seats pretty cheap. It was a great Florentina game, matched with some great Florence weather. I stopped for a moment and held my face to the sun, smiling. Today was the first warm day in quite a while, and I ensured to enjoy it.

This weekend, I ran and worked out. I let loose a little bit (don't worry, not too much). I enjoyed two beautiful well prepared meals. I cooked for myself. I slept in. I enjoyed a nice day outside watching athletes in their element (I've been itching for my field hockey stick ever since). I cooked for myself. I had some nice conversations with some good friends.

One moment that sticks out to me from today was when we were leaving the stadium and a guy turns to my friend and I and says, "English? Where ya'll from?" Having moments like that, and talking about American culture whether it be 90's cartoons, the Jackass movies, Viva la Bam episodes, different bands, whatever, its funny how people can come together.




I thought of my friend working at Disney for the semester because "its a small world after all." (I'm corny, I know, but its true)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

runners report

I just came back from a few mile work out (I'm not counting). My destination was a park that all of my program leaders recommended. It was beautiful. This morning, it was nice and warm out. I ran alongside the Arno for miles. It was nice to feel soft ground beneath my feet instead the same old, same old pavement. I found a nice patch of grass to do my floor workout. I learned the names of 3 dogs and played with all of them, one of which was a Jack lookalike (a Border Collie). I ran through a carnival complete with nuts, hot dogs, bumper cards, and bounce houses. There is so much to see, so much to do in this "village" as they call it ("Now Rome, Rome is a city..." my professor says). I couldn't picture myself anywhere else.

Friday, March 4, 2011

triple threat

Oggi, I discovered how Parmigiano Reggiano is made, how Proscuitto is aged, and how they get Balsamic Vinegar from grapes.

First up is the cheese factory. The first thing we entered was a dressing room where we needed to put plastic on our feet, a plastic apron on, a paper hat, and a mask on. Then we smelled it. The fermented milk. It was a mix of sour milk and delicious Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in the air (the name by the way comes from the two towns, Parma and Reggio which are the two places the cheese is traditionally made).

We saw where the fresh raw milk sets out overnight. Then they skim it, warm it, add yesterdays whey, add natural rennet which is a natural enzyme from the stomach of suckling calves. They break up the curds, heat it up, and there ya go. It was a pretty cool experience.







video


Then onto the bus we go to the Prosciutto factory. We went to a "modest" farmer who had 52,000 pigs legs in one room. They are worth 130 euros each. He also feeds 20,000 guests a year. Anyway... We learned that no longer than 5 days can pass before the process of making the leg into Prosciutto starts. The pigs are tattooed when they are born so we know where the legs come from and when. They are salted and aged and salted and aged and glazed with sugna, which is a mix of a liquid from the heart and lung then a little salt and pepper and rice wheat, and there you have it.

Oh yea, and we had lunch.


First came out bread and walnuts and wine. Then the pasta came around in the fresh prosciutto tomato sauce. In our brochures, it said pasta lunch, so we all filled up and relaxed when they took our trays away.

Then the prosciutto came out, a plate for each of us. Then the salad came out. Then the tray of all different kinds of desserts.

It was delicious.







We all rolled ourselves out to the bus, took a picture of the snow-covered rolling hills, and on we went to Modena (pronounced Moden-A not mo-den`-a).

The building was built in 1700, but the family has been there since the 1800s. They are the oldest and largest family that produces balsamic vinegar in Modena out of the 120 families. All balsamic vinegar is bottled in Modena, but only 120 families produce the traditional balsamic vinegar. The rest is all processed and made with chemicals. The Acetaia Malpighi family has three locations, but this building is the oldest. There were only 500 barrels in the attic of this building, but their other locations have 2,500 barrels which total 3,000 barrels.

Pure grape juice is cooked outside over a wood burning fire for 48 hours and put into a barrel. The barrels are kept upstairs because that is the hottest place in the summer and the coldest in the winter. In the summer 10% from each barrel evaporates. There are 5 different barrel sizes, which uses 5 different kinds of wood. Each barrel made of one kind of wood. Every winter they cook a new batch. Before they put it anywhere, they go to the smallest and add 10% from the next slightly bigger one. Then the 2nd smallest is filled by the middle one. Then the middle one is filled by the 2nd largest. Then the new one is filled with the new batch. Thus the ingredients are grape juice made from fresh pressed black and white grapes and age.

After 12 years, it can be bottled into a bottle with a yellow top. If it is aged 25 years or more, it gets a gold top.







The only place in the US that sells this stuff is William Sonoma. For traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena in the traditional small bottle is 50 euros at the production location or $120 at home. Crazy.



To put it simply, today was delicious.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

sharing a site

The Huffington Post's Mark Juddery just published an article about the most overrated travel experiences.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-juddery/overrated-travel-experiencecs_b_830600.html#s248319&title=1_SevenStar_Hotels

I will admit I am guilty of a couple pictures with landmarks...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ca-me-chu-AHHHHH

My history class met at the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza Della Signora today instead of in the classroom. As my classmates and I shivered with our teeth chattering, we noticed a big group of Italian kids yammering by. Italian children are known as brats to all of my professors, but in comparison to American kids, they should be anointed sainthood. Anyway, one of the Italian kids went up to one of my peers who is Asian and bowed saying, "Konnichiwa."

The public opinion of travelers are mixed. There is graffiti next to one of my classmates' apartment buildings saying something along the lines of, "Americans, go home!"

The mix of cultures here is very different.

For instance, at home, if I walked into my local chinese restaurant, the owner would be able to speak enough English to take my order, but then they would turn and speak to their co-workers in chinese. Here, I walk into a Chinese Restaurant and all I would hear is perfect Italian.

"Diversity" is different to every person, every place. I think its so interesting.

Wow, this post is all over the place. I'll clean it up one of these days.

nutella

I realized I should probably create a list of things I put Nutella on that the "average" person might not think of:

Peaches (suggested by Taylor)
Whipped into read wine
Bananas
Island Bagels at Belmar Bagel
Pineapple
Coconut
Nutella Jelly Sandwich
Nutella Peanut butter Sandwich


Then theres the obvious:

Mixed w/ Rice Krispies - a favorite
Muffin
On Tiramisu
Pizzelles
Between two shortbread cookies
bread
those little toasts that italians love
icecream cone
crepes
waffles
strawberries
cupcake
this list goes on and on

Quora: "What should I be when I grow up?"

As an aspiring journalist, I have been trying to utilize social media to get ahead. One site which is particularly interesting is Quora, which is essentially a more substantial version of Yahoo Answers. I am addicted. I have been writing and answering questions about my own common knowledge, sharing bits of information here and there.

As you know I'm reading the book Blink, which I know is not the most concrete source for psychology information, I have been learning about snap judgements. On Quora, you will be given a list of topics to choose from to build your interest base. I thought I would take this opportunity as a test, and I clicked the words I liked the most as quickly as possible. I have realized afterwards that most of the topics were about health, fitness, and wellbeing. Throughout the week, I would answer questions mostly about such topics, and I have realized my dream job.

I am a communications major with a concentration in journalism and need to pick a minor. I have always been interested in the sciences and was thinking of something in that, but I wasn't sure what specifically.

I've found it. Health News here I come.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

un giorno bello

Today was especially a great day. In less that 12 hours, I ate a sweet grapefruit, went to my travel writing class, presented my favorite writing piece (though I printed my 2nd draft not my final), bumped into a friend on my way to a new bakery that's been recommended, ate a breakfast that I've been dreaming of, had a mini cupcake, a small cookie and an endless cup of coffee, appreciated a nice conversation with my friend who I convinced to tag along with one word, "cupcake;" I went to my program's office and blogged oh after discovering a yoga place next to the bakery, then I went to italian class and learned that my Italian could use some work... but then I went to the Uffizi to analyze a painting with a friend which turned into a deep conversation then a crazy one at a bar for some cafe` (none for me obviously) and then I ordered a delicious chicken panini at a bar I went into a few times and then I pulled off getting a waffle with nutella for over a euro less than the asking price on my way to the computer lab where I finished some online things and bumped into the friend I went to the bakery again, and we decided to grab a small slice of pizza so I led her to a little place where I have been before that I like because I talk to the shop owner in Italian and had another great conversation, then we said goodbye, and here I am.

My program advisors said is is not socially acceptable to smile when walking down the street but I can't help it; its plastered on like a Venetian mask I can't take off.

That was actually a harder task than I thought, trying to write one long sentence, but I wanted to parallel my writing with my sentence. Today was a crazy mess going in every which direction, just like that sentence. Nothing was planned, and it might have gone on forever, but I loved every minute of it.

my first blog in italian

Invence di pasta fagiole al mio ristorante speciale, ho avuto un panino con pollo alla ristorante con un... non lo so in italiano "awkward mirror." Dopo, ho chiesto un signor al un panifico vicino, quante costa per questo con nutella come ho sottolineato in una cialda. Lui ha risposto 3.50. Mi allontanai, e poi lui ha risposto, "tre tre tre." Tornai e ho guarato alla mia borsa per tre euro. Ho trovato uno euro, un altro euro, 20cents, 10 cents, 1cent, 1cent, ... ha riduta e ha detto va bene grazie! ecconomici dolci! punteggio!

Improv

Drink more coffee, do stupid things faster with more energy. I just stumbled across this sign this morning, and I feel like it really relates to me trying to spill all of my thoughts onto this blog before my 3pm class, which is in twenty minutes. Let us just take advantage of the time we have.

Anyway, I am reading the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell- yes, I am a little late I know but better late than never. He talks about improv in one of his sections, and how improve only works succesffully when accepting every motion. A person needs to run with whatever thought, idea and question their partner is throwing at them, every aspect of whatever is coming your way. If not, frustration will settle in and the scene will quickly come to a halt.

I feel like this directly relates to studying abroad. When traveling, there are so many options, so many turns you can make, just as a improv scene could go in many different directions. One is exposed to countless opportunities, and getting lost and overwhelmed seems the norm. Not to reference Yes Man, which is essentially what I am getting at in the most extereme of ways, living this experience like an actor or actress performing improv could open your eyes to something new.

Some may seem this as fake, and relate it to when a young girl agrees with whatever a boy is saying. "Do you like to fish?" "Yes!" "Me too. Do you like horror films?"... This is not what I am talking about. Simply staying open to new ideas, thoughts, experiences, accepting others interests and trying out new things, getting out of my comfort zone, even within a foreign city, has really opened my eyes. It also can really help a person get to know themselves better (observing how you react to situations you normally would not be in).

Yesterday, I found my favorite Italian word, sorriso, and now I have found my new favorite motto: Live like improv.

I feel like I should have a sign above head blinking in bright green lights: I have discovered the endless 2 euro cup of coffee.

Travel Writing

In class, I had to go to one place three times and write about my experience. This is what I came up with:

Giorno Uno

You know when you go somewhere and a romance randomly develops? Today, I walked into something, quite literally. It was love at first sight, the market and I. Our eyes met across Via di Macci, and we have been in love ever since.

I won't speak of the swirling colors, the hustle and bustle of Italians, and the constant contrast of sweet fruit and crisp vegetables that mix in the air. Though I find these all here, I fear you as my diary will yawn, and the unexpected is what keeps things interesting.

Giorno Due

I’ve realized that there is this relationship Italians have with their food. In America, we have one night stands. We're just down for a quick something, then push it out of our brains as soon as humanly possible. Here, its different. Here, there is a romance. There might have been many romances, affairs and such; nobody is perfect. But there seems to be a connection, not just physicality. That might be reason as to why I appreciate the market so much. It’s refreshing.

I wonder how the market sees me not just how I see the market. Sometimes, the market shows me something new, something disgusting, something different, but do I ever give it something to marvel at? Am I just another exchange student who speaks a little broken Italian to the venders looking for that perfect meal? This is probably so. I mean the market must be getting offers all the time, probably from students who speak even better Italian. I'll admit my jealousy. I will try to trust you, diary, just please do not go spilling my business to every book on the shelf.

Anyway, I myself have seen many markets in my day. I've also heard some rumors about its love for all Italians, and more importantly their wallets. What gold diggers. I’ll keep my guard up, but I mean I am willing to give this place a chance, that is if I get such an opportunity.

I don't want to force a connection that isn't there, but I hope something will happen before I go back to power walking through Shoprite on the regular, cheating with Wegmans, and lets not forget my affair with Delicious Orchards. We all have messy pasts; I hope the market can overlook mine.

Giorno Tre

Today was one of those days. As I walked through the aisles, and saw chopped heads, cow brains, pictures of cute furry rabbits then next to it some not so furry not so cute rabbits. I mean, everyone shows their true colors eventually. I'm just happy that I saw these aspects of the market's personality early on, and now three months down the road. I think that would have hit me harder then. I’ve learned to take it for what it is.

Students

When traveling abroad, a person does not only come across a different place, but also different people. We, as studying abroad students, are encouraged to meet and interact with locals, which I do whenever possible. One group I do not wish to cast off too quickly, however, is the other students who are studying abroad.

Before I left, my father told me, "You are going to meet some really cool people on this trip. Not only locals, and you better talk Italian to them, but also all the kids who study abroad must have some guts." He was right.

Not only do I meet students who have done community service projects, but some have written books, others seem earn the title professional traveler. I hope I can fit in.

These students are from all over: California, Alaska, Texas, Virginia, every nook and crany of America. I love it. I am so interested with how their mindsets are, their lifestyles, what their home school is like, what culture they come from. I feel like when you get to know someone in this sense, you can not only experience traveling abroad in the location you are at (and the surrounding area where ever that may be), but also you experience another person's culture. Sometimes, sitting down and having a cup of coffee with someone who is from another place could be just as interesting and eye-opening than going to a museum or taking a day trip.

Too Many Thoughts, Too Little Time

You know how some days you have writers block? Today's not one of those days.

Today there is not enough paper, enough ink, or enough time to get all of my thoughts out.



I have about 40 minutes until my next class, and I plan on getting out a few posts before that. This is my disclaimer for any run on sentences and grammer mistakes. I plan on fixing them some other time. Maybe one of those days I have writers block.