What A Girl Wants

It’s been such a hectic week that I haven’t been able to post about my awesome trip to England last weekend! I instantly loved England. First of all, it was a relief to be in an English speaking country. When I arrived in Birmingham, I was on my own for most of the day so getting around and exploring was much easier knowing the language. Secondly, I found everyone I spoke to to be incredibly charming and sweet. It was awesome to see my friend from San Diego as well; seeing familiar faces in an unfamiliar place is a great feeling. Though it was a chilly night, we went out to eat and grabbed a beer at a British pub (eeep!) and went to bed for an early morning to London.

London has always been at the top of my list of places to see. Whether it’s my obsession with the Beatles, or the accent, or the fascination with double decker busses, I had to go. Arriving in London, I felt like Amanda Bynes in What A Girl Wants, one of my favorite movies. She was in awe of everything around her, and so was I. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace, where I felt, for lack of a better word- royal. It was gorgeous. And then it was full on tourist mode for the rest of the day. We hit the Big Ben, a photoshoot at a telephone booth, the London Eye, navigated the tube to Abbey Road Studios, to King’s Cross Station, and Platform 9 3/4, so I could take off to Hogwarts (but actually just back to the airport).

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Buckingham Palace!

A very special moment for me was going to Abbey Road Studios and walking across the iconic street that The Beatles walked across in 1969. My dad raised me on The Beatles’ music, and I have always dreamed of walking on the same spot that those 4 lads made so famous. It was a surreal moment.

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But even with all of that, what was my favorite part of the day you ask? Chipotle. IMG_4564

No, it is not a tourist attraction (though it might as well be with all the Americans in there), but with my struggle of getting sick of Italian food, the best lunch I could have ever asked for was my chicken burrito, chips, and guac. It was majestic (and yes, I will be making a stop at the Chipotle in Paris as well).

I spent the most lovely day in London, and I can not wait to make my way back to England some day. I’d love to explore Liverpool and Manchester, and enjoy the lovely city without being so rushed. Guess I’ll just have to go back to see Ben!

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Study Abroad Struggle: Detachment

Personally, one of the hardest parts of being abroad is being so detached from culture and news back in the U.S. When I’m in the States, a vital part of my day is watching the news, keeping up on current events, and during a presidential campaign, being more involved and aware. Yes, I still get my CNN updates, Twitter keeps me informed with short headlines from the Huffington Post, Associated Press, and more. But with no TV, many U.S. sites not working overseas, and the huge time difference when trying to watch a debate or a playoff game really contributes to a feeling of detachment. When my parents came to visit, the first thing I asked them was, “Okay, so what is happening back home?” They responded with, “Trust me, nothing important.” They emphasized that I was in Rome, and it shouldn’t be a concern of mine.

It goes further than just political news, national headlines, and the presidential campaign. Even things like entertainment; new music, new movies, keeping up with your favorite TV shows, and sports like the MLB Playoffs. I couldn’t tell you who has the #1 song right now, nor what major film is coming out next month. My sports updates are a few short clips and ESPN notifications. These things, back home, I was always aware of.

In retrospect, maybe I put too much effort into keeping up with the media’s view of the world around me, but really never look up and learn from what I actually see. Being in Europe has made me feel detached, but I have also learned to put my energy and passions into traveling and learning about the world from this side of the globe, meeting new people, having conversations with international students, and discussing the world with a new perspective. Detach, and learn something new. 

Falling in Love with Venice

They say that when you meet the person you’re meant to be with, you know. 

I feel like every city I’ve stepped into, I’ve fallen in love with. First, it was Rome. Then it was Positano. Then it was Munich, then Amsterdam. But now I know. I have fallen in love with the magical city of Venice. Why, you may ask?

  • I love being around water. And I can’t really avoid that even if I tried.
  • Gorgeous and detailed Venetian masks cover the city. I’d throw a masquerade every weekend.
  • Gondolas and attractive gondoliers. Enough said. (See below.)IMG_4357
  • Piazza San Marco. Well, because look at it.

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  • Boats, boats, boats.
  • And enough romantic vibes to make even the least admirable person, fall in love.

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Granted, I am not in love with any human being at the moment but Venice will have to do for now. I honestly did not know what to expect. I’ve always heard about Venezia’s beauty, but it was more than I could have ever imagined. A day and a half just wasn’t enough for me. We got lost about 45 times in the tiny alleyways and dead ends. We rode a gondola and the 30 minute ride felt like 30 seconds. And we visited an island (Burano) that was more colorful than anything I’ve ever seen. Nothing has instantly made me so happy to be alive.

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Burano, Venice; known for its lace.

I keep saying I will be back to every city I’ve visited. And I hope I get the chance to. But Venice, I know I will be back.

World Expo 2015 // Milano

With an opportunity to go to an event in which 150 countries are represented and talking about their food, resources, and global contributions, it’s no shocker it was one of my priorities to go to Milan for the World Expo. It was nearly impossible to experience everything the World Expo had to offer in just one day, but we did our best! We explored the pavilions of Vietnam, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Israel, Greece, Egypt, Sicily, Lebanon, and of course America. We had some awesome food like Vietnamese noodles, Nutella gelato, my favorite German bratwurst, and the American food trucks even offered pulled pork sandwiches & kale salads which was a yummy and much needed piece of home! All in all, my Expo experience was great and it was so awesome to say that I went to an event this globally inclusive that only happens every few years! Might have to make a trip to the next one… Any excuse to travel!

Israel’s pavilion was one of my favorites. It actually taught me a lot of Israel’s contributions globally through agriculture and production. It really hit the mark in regards to the theme of this Expo!

It was really nice seeing a piece of home in Italy. The BBQ trucks made me pretty happy as well.

The next morning, on our way out of Milan, we had to make a pit stop at the Duomo. The Milan Cathedral is the most beautiful building I have ever seen! It’s jawdropping, and to top it off, the fam finally got a decent picture together!  

Milano, you are beautiful. I wish I could have seen more of you, but I will be back someday!

Our next stop? Venezia.

Why through it all, my dad is my saving grace.

We fight a lot. My mom says it’s because we’re practically the same person. Most conversations end in a bickering match about who is right and who is wrong. But today, when I called him, freaking out because my card wasn’t working online, and stressing about school, and begging the universe to let something go right, he just told me to stop. He said “I’ll do anything for you.” And just like that, I put all my trust into him. Because as crazy as he drives me, he constantly reminds me that there is a resolution to everything, and to just let it be. 

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Speaking of let it be…. Guess who’s going to Abbey Road in London in 2 weeks?! THIS GIRL!

Life is still life, even while abroad.

From the outside, studying abroad seems very magical. Traveling to different countries every weekend, barely going to school, eating all the food you want, and not a single struggle in the world. I know because that’s how I always saw it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m having the greatest experience of my life here. I’ve honestly never been happier. But life is still life. Things happen. Your card will probably stop working and you have to figure out how to get into contact with your bank. You will have bad days where it seems like everything that can go wrong, will, and sometimes you will want to cry. You will run out of money, at least for a weekend. You will stay up all night studying for midterms because you didn’t have the motivation to keep up with school for the first month and a half, and half way through your semester, you will start feeling homesick. These are all things that happen to me when I’m at school in San Diego, and it happens here too. Because life is still life, even while in Rome.

I am so happy here even if it has been stressful balancing my parents coming to visit, going to Sicily and missing some school, traveling, midterms, and taking advantage of the incredible city I’m living in. It’s important to remember that studying abroad is not all glitter and gold. We still have school, and responsibilities. We still have to do our laundry, and buy groceries, and keep up with every crazy plan we’ve made. And it’ll all work out because it always does.

I Amster-damn happy to be alive.

I had an amazing weekend exploring Amsterdam.

It is such a beautiful city. It is incredibly unique, and unlike any place I’ve ever visited. Besides the obvious fact that prostitution and the use of drugs is legal, Amsterdam is full of incredibly nice and helpful people and it is stunning. It’s also very cold, so I’ll be investing in a coat.

Our hostel was located right in the middle of the Red Light District. Prime location, huh? But it really was. Everything in Amsterdam is walking distance and the walk, in any direction you go, is beautiful. Over the weekend we did some exploring, took a tour through the canals, visited Anne Frank’s house, went to the Heineken Experience, and checked out the Sex Museum- and THAT was interesting. There isn’t a city quite like Amsterdam. I amster-damn sure going back. Check out some pictures from this weekend!

I love you and all your waffles, Holland. I will be back for you someday.

Blessed Is an Understatement

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that I am very blessed to be in Rome. For me, it’s the little things. The tiny, narrow, cobblestone streets, the cars that almost hit you, the vines hanging across medieval buildings, the shitty service, and the delicious wine. Sure, the Colosseum is great, the Trevi Fountain will make your jaw drop, and the Vatican is a piece of art. The pasta, the pizza, the wine. It’s all great. But the little things, the things I see everyday going to school, each time I trip on the streets that aren’t paved, every time I stop for gelato even though I say I shouldn’t. That’s why I love Rome. It isn’t the tourist attractions, it’s living in Rome and taking the tram home at night and trying to keep your balance on roads that haven’t been paved since the 15th century.

Tonight I was sitting outside of a little restaurant, having a drink with my friend Emily. We grabbed some drinks and a cheese platter (if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is), and sat, and talked, and watched, as Vespas hurried by and groups of kids were going out starting their night. It’s in simple moments like that, which seem straight out of a movie, when I remind myself of just how lucky I am.

It’s an early night tonight. I’m gonna be up at 4 am to catch a flight to Amsterdam, the city I’ve been dreaming of seeing since I knew I was coming abroad. Blessed is an understatement.