My first week in Rome.

Well, kinda. Day 6 in Rome and I am quickly beginning to understand why the study abroad experience is so important. This has been an amazing six days (arguably the best six days I’ve had in awhile). Besides the heat that nearly melts me 24 hours a day, Rome is a beautiful city with so much to see that it can be overwhelming. I have 4 months here and I almost feel like I won’t see it all. Since I landed, I still haven’t gotten a full night of sleep. When in Rome, right?

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The team in Campo de ‘Fiori the other night.

I’ve been lucky enough to make some amazing friends really quickly here in Rome. The scariest part of coming into this experience alone was wondering if I would find friends to travel and explore with. But luckily, most people coming into this experience felt the same way, and it made me put myself forward as much as possible. Most of the friends I’ve made live in my building and even across the hall from my apartment, and it’s been way too much fun already.

I’ve managed to find an amazing group of people who are up for having fun, traveling, and tackling this semester together. We’ve been doing nights on the Tiber River for Teverestate, which unfortunately ended tonight. Food and bar tents have been set up all along the Tiber River during August and it’s been an amazing way to start nights out.

Most of my week so far has been consumed by orientation activities, tours of the campus and train stations, and trying to find a comfortable pair of walking shoes. DCIM100GOPROTherefore not too much sightseeing has been done quite yet. But the other day while shopping on Via del Corso we took a little detour to see the Pantheon (woah) and today I finally got a chance to go into the Colosseum. It was absolutely amazing to be inside.

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Emily and I inside the Colosseum earlier today!

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Me looking out into the abyss that is the Colosseum.

Rome is an enchanting place. The cobblestone has quickly torn up my feet and run down my shoes. The graffiti adds a bit of color to the tiny streets of Trastevere. The shitty service at restaurants is actually kind of charming once the food comes out (mainly because you forget once you have the pasta). And the history and art on every corner is amazing. I am so blessed to be here and I hope to make the most of every second.

School starts tomorrow, so the late nights exploring Rome and having way too much fun might have to stall for a couple days. I almost forgot after 6 days here that I actually came to go to school and take classes for my major, and study! It’s easy to get side tracked when you’re living in the most beautiful city in the world.

On the bright side, it’s just the beginning. I’m currently in the midst of preparing a trip to Lucca, Pisa, and Florence, and I’ve got upcoming trips booked to the Amalfi Coast, Munich for Oktoberfest, and Amsterdam in October. Only 15 more weeks to go. This is gonna be fun.

xoxo

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Preparing for takeoff.

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Well, I’ve made it. Over a year of planning, months of anticipation, dozens of meetings, too many phone calls, more than a few tears shed, and I’ve finally made it. I’m sitting in SFO waiting to board my flight. I have a layover in North Carolina, and then will be getting on a flight to Rome for my semester abroad. The past few days have been incredibly hectic and surreal, filled will both anxiety and excitement; courage and fear; blurs of confusion and moments of serenity. For the next 16 weeks, I will be challenged to find the best in myself in a place unknown to me. At the end of this journey, I hope to have learned new things about myself and what I am truly capable of as a person. I want to share some thoughts as I prepare for takeoff. 

The business man in a perfectly tailored suit running by to barely catch his early morning flight to Los Angeles to report to his corporate job; The family of five juggling just as many carry-ons and two toddlers who won’t stop crying waiting for their flight to Florida that they seem to already be regretting; The newlyweds holding hands as they walk towards their gate for their celebration in Hawaii; The group of college students waiting patiently with coffee in hand for their first flight of two, heading across the world, for their semester abroad (okay, that’s me). The airport is figuratively (and very literally) a room full of wide open doors, each one directing different people to a different place. I usually like getting to my gate early, grabbing a snack (or in this case, a triple shot latte- it’s 5 am), putting on my earphones and watching people walk by. So many people in this airport and so many journeys that are about to begin. For some, the journeys are ending. Yet, airports are a good reminder of our place in this world. We are each just one passenger on one flight on one airline to one city. Just one of the on average 100,000 commercial flights scheduled each day worldwide. As we each wait to get on a plane, we see hundreds of strangers get off. We are one of many. It’s a real life translation of the principle that we don’t know what everyone around us is going through or where they are going. Each person is walking through a door. Through that door, the world gets much bigger and our perspective, wider. Every individual’s trip is a journey and we are simply extras in theirs as they are in ours.

Anywhere I go, there is always an incredible crowd that follows me. In Rome, as I land at the airport, even the men kiss me. I love Rome.

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Now I’m not so sure that there will be a big crowd welcoming me at the airport in Rome, nor do I expect Roman men to kiss me upon my landing (although a girl can dream), but I imagine the feeling will nonetheless be enthralling. I don’t want to expect anything- for I do not want to be disappointed. But I hope it truly is what I’ve been imagining in my dreams.

I met an older gentleman the other night at my dad’s restaurant. His name is George. George is originally from Great Britain, but just got back from a trip to Mongolia where he slept in tents with locals and studied the birds of the region. But don’t let me sell George short; He’s traveled to over 40 countries during his lifetime and for that reason, he claims that he is the luckiest man in the world and that traveling continues to award him with many answers he has been searching for his entire life. When I told him I was about to head off to Rome for 4 months, which for all intents and purposes is my first real independent venture of my life, he left me with an important note: “Just remember, life is what happens when you’re too busy planning it.” I’ve heard this before, but after months of planning 4 months in Italy, it hit me that in reality, I have been too busy thinking about what I’m going to do in Rome and all the other cities I plan to visit, that I’ve somehow missed the fact that I am simply moving to Europe for 4 months and that I know no one. I don’t know my way around. I won’t have a phone for a few days. I don’t even have the address to my apartment yet. And that is what makes my journey already so important. I’ll be living in a city that doubles as a free history and art museum, where on my walk to campus during the week I’ll most likely learn more about world history than I ever learned in a classroom. “Life”, as George told me, will be happening all around me, and it’s up to me to make sure as hell I don’t miss it.

Follow me for the next 16 weeks as I plan on sharing as much as I can about my experiences, my travels, my successes, and my trials (and also the FOOD!). In the meantime, I’ve got a flight to catch.

xoxo

Ready or not, here I come.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.               – Saint Augustine

The night before leaving on a trip or going back to school is always exciting and filled with anxiety. This time, it’s just a little different. I’m not just going on a weekend getaway or a two-week vacation with my family and friends. I’m not just returning to school in San Diego for another semester where I am comfortable, and if I’m missing something or craving a burrito I can literally walk across the street and my problems are easily solved- I’m heading off to Rome for 4 months. I don’t really know what to expect, except to expect the unexpected. This has been a dream of mine for years and am blessed to have an opportunity like this that will allow me to travel, see new places, meet new people, and experience a new world. Essentially, my whole life up until this point has prepared me for this moment. This isn’t a one hour plane ride to SoCal where after class we run over to the beach for smoothies and tanning. This won’t be the SDSU campus that I’ve become far too familiar with. This isn’t an apartment with my best friends that know way too much about me. This is unknown. This is Rome. This is Europe. And whether or not I am truly prepared for this moment, my flight leaves in 9 hours. Ready or not, here I come. 

Credit for the image featured: http://www.global-gallivanting.com/going-to-rome/

Lunch & Dinner in NYC // August 15, 2015

One of the best things about New York City (just like San Francisco) is the food. I had one day in New York and I had the opportunity to have some pretty amazing meals. For lunch, my cousin brought me to the Meatball Shop. Holy mole. It’s hard to describe the amazingness of these meatballs but they were awesome. I mixed and matched 3 different meatballs with 3 different sauces as sliders with a side salad. Sal got different variations as sliders but went for the “hold the buns” option, as well as some market vegetables all sautéed in yumminess.

For dinner, my cousin brought me to Blue Ribbon Sushi. Undoubtedly the most swanky sushi place I have ever walked into. Let’s just say it was a little pricey.

Pork belly (our first round), seaweed salad, and edamame as our appetizers for dinner.

Pork belly (our first round), seaweed salad, and edamame as our appetizers for dinner.

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Our amazing sushi. There is one piece in this photo that was $18. Just one piece. Can you guess which one? Hint: it’s the pink one on the top plate. http://www.blueribbonrestaurants.com/index.htm

Heart eyes all day & night because these were two amazing meals that I will continue to dream of forever.

Empire State of Mind

I’ve been MIA for a few days, but for a good reason I swear! I flew out to Washington D.C. last Thursday night to go visit my cousin Sal before I go off to Rome. When I landed on Friday morning I had the afternoon to myself in D.C. I was there a few years ago and had gotten the full dose of memorials and history then, so I hit some spots I didn’t get a chance to see in 2013. I walked from my cousin’s office to the Library of Congress, which was stunning. It is so breathtaking and it was great to explore it on my own. Then I walked by the Smithsonian to the United States Botanic Gardens, then by the Washington Monument to the Newseum, my favorite spot in D.C. The Newseum is a museum dedicated to, you guessed it, the news. As a journalism student, it is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing places on Earth. It includes thousands of famous front page articles, a truly touching 9/11 exhibit, a piece of the Berlin Wall, a dedication to journalists who have been killed while reporting at war or have been killed for things they wrote or said, and an FBI exhibit. It’s really cool even if you don’t like the news- I promise. My cousin took me out for an amazing Lebanese dinner that night, and then we went out to Georgetown and took a stroll. Seriously one of the cutest neighborhoods ever! D.C. is a beautiful city. We tried to get to bed as soon as we got home in order to wake up early for Saturday’s adventure…

I have always dreamed of going to New York. More so than any other city in the world (yes, I realize I am saying this as I’m about to move to Rome for 4 and a half months..). My cousin brought me to New York City, and it was an amazing experience. We only had 24 hours but we managed to somehow pack in a LOT. We went up to the Top of the Rock, saw Grand Central Station, lunch on the Upper West Side, went to Strawberry Fields in Central Park and walked through to the Upper East Side, rode the Subway (eeeep!) to the Brooklyn Bridge, walked to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial, made our way over to Battery Park where we grabbed the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, grabbed dinner in Midtown at Blue Ribbon Sushi (holy shit!), went to Times Square, and ended the day with some gelato in Little Italy. What did I miss? Okay, a lot but it was still fucking awesome.

The Top of the Rock was spectacular. It’s a 360 degree view of New York City. Central Park, the Empire State, the Freedom Tower- it’s all there.

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The most touching event of the day was by far seeing the One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) and the 9/11 Memorial. The feeling I had standing there was indescribable. I was emotional and heartbroken, realizing that the spot I was standing in was the exact spot so many people lost their lives. But I was also inspired and hopeful, looking up at the Freedom Tower (standing at 1,776 ft.- notice the coincidence) and seeing the rays beat off of it’s shining surface. It’s kinda like NYC is saying, “well take THAT. We’re better and stronger than ever.” It was a beautiful moment. #NeverForget

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New York City has an indescribable vibe. It was everything I had ever imagined it to be.IMG_2488 The buildings, the houses, the brick everywhere, the food, the lights. I’ve always had a dream of just standing in the middle of Times Square at night and taking it all in- and I did just that. It didn’t disappoint. There were thousands of people around me and each one had a look on their face like they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. And it makes sense, because Times Square is just unreal. I wouldn’t want to see that electricity bill. I also saw the New York Times building. Um, can you say journalist goals or what?

The Upper West Side stole my heart. I can definitely see myself here someday. It made my soul happy.

The Upper West Side stole my heart. I can definitely see myself here someday. It made my soul happy.

What I enjoyed most about NYC were the little things. Seeing the actual Sak’s 5th Ave. Seeing the Tiffany’s & Co. building. My first NYC cab ride. My first Subway ride. Walking by Trump Tower and letting out a little giggle. Crossing the street with the red light and the cops not caring (okay, that was just cool). The brick homes. Those were the things I’ll never forget. I will continue to post pictures and memories from this amazing trip!

Now it’s time to get ready for my next adventure- Rome in ONE week! Gah! xoxo

The Perfect Hookup Buddy Contract

I actually love this.

the hoe handbook

I, ______________, in signing this contract agree, until otherwise decided by both parties, that I will be the Hookup Buddy to _______________. In making this agreement I am committing myself to the following terms and am fully aware that I cannot break these rules for risk of forfeiting the current arrangement. The requirements stand as follows:

  • I agree to always provide back tickles/rubs when requested
  • I agree that as a Hookup Buddy I will like every Instagram picture that my buddy posts
  • I agree to never speak of any strange or kinky sexual things that my buddy does
  • I agree to always sleep over post-hookup
  • I agree to never stay past 10 o’clock in the morning post-hookup
  • I agree to always provide orgasm for my buddy
  • I agree to always provide breakfast, in the form of pancakes, for my buddy in the morning post-hookup
  • I agree to always listen to my…

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It’s not goodbye, just see you later.

Last night I had to say see you later to one of my best friends. To the one who got me through high school, made the decision to attend the same college as me, blessed me as her roommate this past year, and has been my rock through everything that tore me down. We have never spent more than a few weeks apart from each other, let alone being across the world. We couldn’t bring it to ourselves to say the word goodbye. I can’t wait to FaceTime this girl way too much from every damn coffee shop in Rome.

My upcoming trip to Rome makes it seem like I’m saying goodbye to so much. I keep telling myself I’ll be leaving so much behind, for the better. But good things don’t have to end. For somethings, it’ll be like I never left.

It ain’t goodbye, girl. Love ya, sista frand. xoxo #kassannz

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