29 Nov | Hannah Carloni | No Comments
As my sister’s graduation present, my parents flew her to Florence to spend nine days with me! Charlotte got in last Friday, and on Saturday we boarded the 4:25am train to Verona. I didn’t know much about it, except it was where Romeo and Juliet too place. We both love that play, so we figured it would be cool to check it out! After getting a little lost on the walk from the train station to our hostel, we finally settled down, took a power nap, and set out to explore the city.
Verona is beautiful, but unfortunately it was rainy and cold the two days we were there. That did not dampen our spirits–we still saw a lot of the sights! My favorite thing we went to was the Roman amphitheatre. It was amazing to think about how many people, though so many centuries, has sat in the exact spot I sat in. The unknown history blows my mind.
The next afternoon, we took a quick train to Venice–the city of lovers! As is normal in Italy in November, it was raining QUITE hard for the first day we got there. We walked around, got thoroughly soaked, and went back to the hostel early. The room we stayed in had a person from Australia, New Zealand, England, and South Korea. We spent the night talking with them–I love hostels because they allow you to make so many friends (even if you are only friends for 24 hours!).
The next day, the weather was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Charlotte and I walked around for most of the day, window-shopping and taking pictures. Because of the rain and the high tide, most of the streets were flooded! We had to walk on portable runways to stay dry. It was so cool to see Venetians walking right through the water with their thigh-high rain boots!
We took the fast train back to Florence that night. Over the next few days, I (unfortunately) had class, so Char just walked around and went to museums while I had to be at school. I had a blast showing her all my favorite places, and she really loved Florence. Most mornings we would walk to the café right near my apartment and drink cappucinos and write post cards!
On Thursday (Thanksgiving!) we took a train to Rome. The first day, we went to the Coliseum. It was so amazing that the structure I had seen in books my entire life was right in front of me! That night we went back to the hostel to have free Thanksgiving dinner! The owner of the hostel was American (his wife was Italian), and his baby daughter was there celebrating her first Thanksgiving! It was a very nice Thanksgiving away from home! The next couple days we walked and walked and WALKED! My friend Nicole came to join us, and we literally hit every big tourist spot in Rome. I figured it would be a good first trip, so next time I’m there I can focus on the less touristy stuff! All we did was bop around from the Pantheon, to the Spanish Steps, to the Roman Forum etc etc, and stumble into beautiful churches.
On Sunday, it was time for Charlotte to go home, and she took the train to the Rome Airport. Since it was the last Sunday of the month, Nicole and I went to the Vatican Museum for FREE!! The art inside was stunning, and the sheer size of the museum was astonishing! After we had museum-ed ourselves out, we hopped on a train back to Florence. What a great week!!
Having fun despite the water!
24 Nov | Kara Rutkin | No Comments
Last weekend, I embarked on what will be my last bus journey to another country (Bittersweet, to say the least). This trip was taken to the gorgeous Austria, and I was more than happy to be reunited with the German culture post-Oktoberfest.
The trip was hosted by my old pals at Bus2Alps, who I also did Cinque Terra and Oktoberfest with. After a 10.5 hour overnight bus ride (awesome, right?), we arrived in Vienna where we immediately headed to the city center. Vienna is a very modern city, and has a lot of great shopping spots and restaurants. The only downer was it that it POURED rain and my poor new boots got soaked through. Looks like I will be investing in some rain boots soon.
But anyways, some highlights from Vienna were:
That night, my friend/travel buddy Amy and I went to a traditional Bavarian restaurant where I was reunited with my precious Radler beer (half beer, half lemonade). I ordered meatballs and mashed potatoes, and the waitress told me I wasn’t being adventurous enough. I stuck with my guns, because this was the only thing that looked okay in English. However, this is what she brought me:
Someone please identify the “balls” in this meat (hehehe). But it was delicious, nonetheless. Salty as heck, though. The German’s love their deep-fried salty goodness!
That night, we headed to the Bermuda Triangle (not the tropical one, right Amy?) for a night on the town. They have some AWESOME bars and clubs down there, and there are a ton to choose from.
By the way…Austrians like their tequila shots with cinnamon and an orange slice. Weird, huh?
The next day, we spent our final hours in Vienna at the Schonbrunn Palace. However, we were able to participate in a very unique event that had just started in Austria that weekend: The Christmas Markets!!!
Yup, these markets feature everything CHRISTMAS!! You can find them all over Austria, and they have all your needs for the holiday season: nativity sets, ornaments, decorations, snowglobes, creepy stuffed woodland creatures…they’ve got it all! Austria is GORGEOUS with all the Christmas decorations up, and I felt so lucky to be a part of their holiday festivities!
Oh, and I am currently lucky enough to be in possession of a friend of the family’s Flat Stanley. He also enjoyed our visit to the Palace and its gardens 🙂
Our next stop for the weekend was Salzburg, home of the “Sound of Music,” Mozart, and Red Bull. Our Bus2Alps guide described Salzburg as looking like a birthday cake. I couldn’t agree more. The city is so dang charming, and you can’t help but feel giddy walking through it. The Christmas decorations and markets made the city look all the more magical. It made me completely forget that Christmas was more than a month away. (SUPER bummed I’m missing Thanksgiving, by the way.) I like how Christmas seems less commercialized in Europe, and more about making the city look awesome and spending time with the family. Could use a little more Jesus though 🙂
After some souvenir shopping at the Christmas markets (get excited, my loved ones backed home), we had dinner at the Augustiner Brewery. Oh, German beer halls…how I had missed you. And German beer…I missed you even more. Going back to Keystone and Bud Light is going to be impossible.
That night at the hostel, we participated in the strangest event I had ever been to. It was called “Demon Night.”
The next day, we took part in the world-famous Sound of Music tour! I was pretty much raised on this soundtrack, but was shocked when I realized I had never seen the movie in its entirety. I also forgot that the Von Trapps were a real family singing group. But alongside of the sing-a-long moments and seeing all the places that the movie was shot at, it was cool going into the countryside of Salzburg. Everything there is so lovely, and you feel like you have walked onto the Sound of Music movie set. Oh wait….we did 🙂
It is safe to say that I am officially in love with Austria. Better yet, I’m in love with Europe. Why must life separate me and my beloved in 4 short weeks? UGGGGGH I DON’T EVER WANT TO LEEEEAVE!
This weekend, I am off to Rome to reunite with Jenny Driver! Can’t wait to see what new adventures await me 🙂
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!
19 Nov | Nina Schoofs | No Comments
Two weeks until show time. Everyday I get up and bounce back and forth between the painting studio and darkroom. Everyone is starting to feel the time crunch. It is a little stressful knowing that we only have that long to make our work for the final show, but also exciting to work in the …READ MORE
17 Nov | Hannah Carloni | No Comments
These past two weeks have been school school school! Since I am in three geography classes and an art history class, each requires one big research paper. The deadlines for the papers are coming up, so I have been working my butt off in the library trying to get them done. My sister is coming to visit in a few days, so I don’t want to have to worry about papers while she is here!
This weekend I hung around Florence. Sometimes it’s nice to have a relaxing weekend without having to worry about transportation and sleeping arrangements and all of that. On Saturday night, a couple of my friends and I went to a Florentina soccer game! Soccer is HUGE in Italy, and Florentines have a lot of pride in their team. Florence ended up winning 1-0, and it was great to celebrate with the locals–jumping up and down, high-fiving, and screaming things you don’t know the meaning of!
On Sunday, my friends and I went to Piazza Michelangelo (an area set in the hills that overlooks downtown Florence). It was absolutely beautiful! Then, we ate dinner at GustaPizza–my personal favorite pizza place! It’s a tiny, unassuming restaurant with about 6 different options of pizza. A hint to all travelers: you know you’ve stumbled into some place good when everyone around you is a local!
15 Nov | Kara Rutkin | No Comments
As of Thursday, I only have a month left. Holy CRAP. Where did the time go?!? My emotions are so mixed right now. I seriously have about 42149 million thoughts spinning through my brain. Allow me to let you in on some of them…
First of all, there are sooo many places I want to travel to, but time is not allowing it. I don’t want to leave here with any regrets, but I don’t want to leave with bad grades either. I already know I’m leaving with no money (more on that later)! I’m extremely bummed cause my friend Amy and I were planning a trip to Paris our very last weekend here, but then we found out that we have to be in Florence for the final class project for event planning. So we are going to do our darndest to just go for a few days the weekend before. I NEED TO SEE PARIS! Also, I HAVE to go to Rome. It would be so pathetic if I didn’t! Hopefully that will be happening over Thanksgiving weekend. I’m sad because I don’t think I will be making it over to Venice or Milan. Both places are really expensive to travel to from Florence, and I’d want to spend more than a day there. Sign 🙁
If I could turn back time, I would have made a budget sheet for the semester. Cause seriously, money is going so fast. I still have three more trips to supply money for, two that still have to be booked, Christmas presents/souvenirs to buy, my leather jacket to purchase (maybe), and oh yeah, I might want to eat here and there. It sucks, but I’ve had to force myself not to go out to bars and restaraunts as much anymore. I will be honest…a lot of my money was blown on drinks and nice dinners within my first few months here. So I’m doing my best to cut down on that kind of stuff because A) It’s what’s making me fat and B) It will help me dwindle down on bad habits I’ve developed. Plus, partying in Florence is kind of getting old. I’d rather save my money for going out in cool cities, like Vienna and Salzburg. Did I mention I’m going there this weekend? 🙂
After my parents left, I developed major homesickness. It was hard seeing them, only to have them leave again. Also, I’m really starting to miss home, my friends, and my family. But I had to promise myself something…I CANNOT be counting down the days til I fly home. I will regret it otherwise. Cause let’s face it…all the stuff I miss is going to be there for a very long time when I get back. When will I ever get too live in Florence again? Probably never. So I’m sucking it up, and just saying NO to homesickness.
I’m about to register for my final semester of college. Ever. Next semester is going to suck sooooo bad, and I need to cure any signs of senioritis I may see. The homework habits I’ve developed over here are NOT good ones. And even though I got A’s on all my midterms, this behavior will NOT FLY next semester. I gotta step up my game, cause believe it or not, I have a ton of final projects and papers to do within the next few weeks.
Other reasons to dread coming home: No job, no internship, no money. Cool!
This entry is really whiny, I know. But it just goes to show that life isn’t always glamorous for the study abroad student. There’s so much to think about! I just wish I could stay here forever, and have all the money in the world.
I will give a quick shout-out to the weekend’s events. I stayed in Italy, cause my bank account and I needed a travel break. I decided to hang out with people that I wanted to get to know better. So on Saturday, I went to the adorable city of Lucca with my friends Ayla and Kassie. We rented bikes and rode around the walled city. It was really fun, and these two ladies were excellent day trip buddies 🙂
On Sunday, my friend Carissa invited me to go to Bologna with her roommates. And Bologna really lived up to its name…it was pure bologna. I was REALLY underwhelmed by the city. We knew that it was a college town, and supposedly had the “best food in Italy.” Umm, okay says who? I guess if we would’ve done an olive oil tasting or something like that it would’ve been better, but we spent too much money on the train ride there. The only cool things were an archaelogical museum, complete with a real Egyptian mummy, and this outdoor market that, I kid you not, did not sell anything over 20 euro. It was MAGICAL. I got two pairs of earrings for 2 euro!!
But note to other study abroad students: Bologna is not worth the travel cost, unless you are going on a field trip or something along those lines.
I know that this entry was simply me rambling and complaining. But hey, I’m entitled to an entry like that, aren’t I? But do not let that detere you from the fact that I am having the time of my life here, and am going to live this last month to the fullest!
Hopefully, my Austira entry will compensate for this one 😉
Ciao for now!
12 Nov | Nina Schoofs | No Comments
In some ways everything has slowed down, but it may just be the calm before the storm. Last weekend was my first weekend on Paros without some kind of trip to another island. With friends in Rome for a long weekend, I finally had a chance to relax.
I spent my weekend switching from the darkroom to the painting studio. It may be “work” but it is what I want to do. That is what is so amazing about being here. I “have” to do exactly what I want to do anyway, so it never really seems like work and I never dread class or what we have to do for it.
Although things are pretty calm right now, it is time to begin working on our pieces for the final show. I hope I can look back and see progress in my work here, so I started documenting my work. Since I am in painting and photography I have two projects to do. Let the fun begin!