29 April 2010

Ciao, Italia.

I honestly cannot believe that I’m sitting down to write my last blog article on the Italy blog. I’ve decided to continue blogging throughout the summer while I travel, but finishing my semester still feels like something of an end. And in just a few months it is—the end of my year abroad. I’m returning to Texas in July to catch up with my family before I head back to Washington, D.C. in the fall to complete my senior year of studies. Part of me is so ready to go home, and most of me just wants a week there before I head back here, to Europe. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never lived abroad, but in many ways it’s just like living at home—you get up, you go to school, you go to museums and spend time with friends. It’s just a different place. Just like living in DC is different than living in Texas. You can’t go home anytime you want to. So here I am—living out the end to my fabulous year abroad traveling for a few months. I leave in two days for Madrid, where I’ll set down my bags and promptly leave for Morocco with my near and dear (and only sometime frustrating ;) ) friend Christina. A few days in Madrid when we get back and then I am going with her on her end of semester trip to Northern Spain and Portugal, and then off on my own to Egypt and to explore the rest of Europe.

It’s not exactly my dream trip. I mean, yes, it is, in a way, but no, I never imagined doing it all on my own. I mean, here I am, in Europe, with the opportunity to spend the summer here—how can I turn that down? But I never imagined doing it alone. Don’t worry Mommy—I’ll be safe. And the last month of my trip I’ll be in France, something I’ve been dreaming about returning to since I first journeyed there with Madame Douglass many years ago. I’ve got a basic plan and I’ll be planning as I go as well, booking hostels a few days out, checking train schedules, reserving seats if necessary. I’m thrilled to get to know Europe better, and this is an amazing way to do it—seeing the countryside.

I’ve learned so much about myself during my year abroad. I knew that I wanted a break from justice going in, but having so much time to myself has given me a great deal of perspective. I’ve learned about myself, my goals, where I see myself going in the future, and while it’s not entirely shaped, I’ve learned that I am okay with not having a set plan. I know where I want to be, and that’s enough, for now. I have my fall schedule set: classes, internship, live-in nanny job, etc. It’ll be a busy time, but I’m looking forward to finishing my senior year. One of the things I am really anticipating is the opportunity to work on my novel for my capstone during the fall semester and then examine publishing options for the spring. Ideally, I’d like to end up splitting time abroad and in the states while publishing and possibly editing in the future. So it’s an ideal opportunity, really.

When I started college I wasn’t even sure I wanted to study abroad. Now, having done it, I can’t imagine not. I strongly encourage anyone considering studying abroad to take the jump. It’s entirely worth it. Don’t let money, fears, or other priorities take away from this amazing, amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Ciao, bellas. The summer blog is up and running at



I'll see you in a few months!

15 April 2010

An Italian Delight

Two posts in a day, because I've been delinquent about posting/ haven't done much recently/ am bored now that I'm essentially done with school. This weekend the lovely Emily Poor (who needs to update her blog, hint hint) came to visit! On Saturday the weather was lovelyyy so we daytripped to Cinque Terre, a collection of five coastal towns a few hours by train outside Florence. It. was. beautiful. Hidden treasure trove of Italy. Technically you can walk the whole thing, but it eventually progresses to a two hour hike at the end and we decided to pass on that one. The view was incredible. The first walk (lover's walk) starting at Riomaggiore was a nice little walk, relaxing, with amazing coastal views. Emily and I did the second walk as well but then opted to take the train the rest of the time.


The first view you get walking on to the path-- you know it's going to be great.


Beautiful water. Now if only it was warm!



Incredible.


One of the little towns. There's not a lot to do-- people go to look at the coastline, but it was cute.



Hello. Gorgeous. This town was probably my favorite scenic pic. Classic coastal Italy. It was beautiful-- I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who's ever in this area of Italy.


Croatian Coastline

Oh. my. God.

Croatia was GORGEOUS. I uploaded photos from the first day last week but waited til this weekend when I had taken more pictures to upload the ones from the second memory card. And was... stunned. GORGEOUS.


Above, the harbor at Split. Split was an adorable tiny little town on the coast, made up of old architecture and smooth tiled streets. We stayed near the fish market-- it smelled even after closing. Split used to have a huge palace in the middle of it, but now that area of town (and much of Split in general) doesn't exist in the same conditions because of the war and occupation. Shops now exist in the remaining buildings. So many people speak English, and it really is a beautiful country. We took the overnight ferry on Thursday night and arrived in Split early Friday morning.


Here I am outside of Dubrovnik. We took the bus down there Saturday morning-- a four hour ride, but all coastal, so not so bad! Dubrovnik is a fortress town-- literally everything is within a fortress on a hill.


See the sweet street? Much, much nicer than walking on Italian cobblestones.


Waterfront in Dubrovnik. We took a cruise around the city to fully experience the fortress.


Croatian beach. One thing I recommend: don't go to Croatia solely for the beach unless you enjoy walking on rocks. But overall it was a BEAUTIFUL country-- hands down, I would go back.

No, to all of you asking, I still haven't figured out my summer. You'll be the first to know. I'm headed to Spain on April 29 for a little over two weeks, that's all that is set. And congrats to Christina, who just accepted an offer for grad school in Spain! Guess who will totally be hitting you up for free housing next year.... ???? <333

08 April 2010

Arrezzo Sunset

Beautiful.


07 April 2010

Roman Holiday

No, sadly, I did not zip around on a scooter followed by a gorgeous man a la Gregory Peck. Rather, I spent my time in Rome taking the GRE and running around the city on my own. My apologies for taking so long to update; I had about 30 shots left on my memory card and wanted to use it up before I uploaded photos and switched cards. Not to mention the fact  that I have been insanely busy. As I start this I'm supposed to be making progress on my art history paper, in addition to the fact that finals are upcoming and that I have to compose a yearbook budget tonight... from what, I have no idea. But Rome. Rome was.. interesting. Nice, in a way, but the GRE somewhat overshadowed the weekend. However, here are some pics I snapped. Highlight of the weekend? Catching a few cherry blossoms & feeling a bit of DC. Yes, yes, I know, the picture below is from Bologna but I had to include it for my fabs roomie Lauren Frail, who's headed abroad next year :) I mean, come on, they're LORAX TREES! If I could have figured out how to get it home to you, dear, I would have bought you one on the spot.


Cuuuute. Anyway, on to the actual photos from Rome.


Beautiful blossoms.


Quintessential Roman monument.


St. Peter's.

I spent Saturday morning at the Vatican. I highly recommend prebooking tickets... I did the morning session, skipped the entire line and was in the empty hallways of the Vatican around 8:30. Also, the Vatican museums are not a bunch of church history. I mean, they have cool stuff there! Some popes were serious collectors. And the Sistine Chapel is rectangular. Just for anyone who was confused and thought it was circular like I did...

Up next, a quick photo from Arrezzo and then CROATIA. Get excited, people.

And you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men... Not too sure what this summer holds. Rest assured, you'll be the first to know when I figure it out.



10 March 2010

Ne Pasa Nada

The last two days of break were spent in Barcelona, where I switched currency for the fourth time over the week. Morgan and I flew into Girona airport and met up with Christina and then took the bus into the city, caught the Metro (much cheaper than the tube!) and checked into our hostel, and then grabbed some dinner. Next morning we headed out after breakfast to see the city. Below, a view of Barcelona from the waterfront.


Above: yay, beach! The weather was warm enough that we even went without our coats at some points. Although clearly not at this moment...


Afterwards we took the tram/ lift/ thing to the top of the hill. The view was incredible!


Above, the Sagrada Familia, an incredible piece of architecture. After that, we decided to go to the Gaudi park. The guidebook. described it as 'metro and then an uphill walk.' HA! Do not be deceived, dear friends. Welcome back to the hills! Never before have I taken an ESCALATOR to get up the hill, but here it began...


The park was cool, but what a walk! After a week of walking all day we were all glad to sit down to tapas, paella, and sangria. MM! The next morning we hit the Picasso museum. So cool! The museum was the only Picasso museum opened during his lifetime, and was opened by one of his good friends who donated his collection of art that Picasso had given him. Then Picasso donated another 1, 000 or so works to the museum. It's arranged chronologically, so you really see his progression from classical training to his cubist work. 

Ne pasa nada is a Spanish phrase that essentially means, no worries. And that was spring break in a nutshell-- other than making sure we got on our flights, we had a week's worth of fun. I can't believe that the semester is halfway over. I'm not quite ready to get back to real life just yet.

09 March 2010

Mind the Gap, Please

Midway through spring break I headed off to London to see the sights and visit Yoojin, one of my good friends from high school. Morgan and I got in mid-morning and took the (gasp!) 20 pound train into town, and then split up so she could drop her stuff off before our tour of Stonehenge. We ended up walking for AGES trying to find the meeting spot and eventually got picked up somewhere else, but moral of the story, we got on the bus and headed out to the countryside to see the monument.



^^^Look guys, I'm back in New Zealand!!!

Afterwards we grabbed dinner (where we wondered whether we should tip or not) and then much later I met up with Yoodj. The next day we spent going around London. We started with a trip to the British Museum. Seriously cool place.  We saw tons of Egyptian mummies and some other cool stuff. Then we went on our open-top bus tour, where we FROZE but experienced a lot of London!
Big Ben!


The London Eye (aka big ferris wheel that takes half an hour and looks like it is standing still).


Above, the Tower Bridge referred to in the popular children's song 'London Bridge is Falling Down.' That night I met up with Yoodj and we went for Chinese food... finally got the wonton soup I've been craving!!


Changing of the guard that we saw Friday morning before we left. A capitol time!