Well 2014, it’s been one hell of year.
Studying abroad has brought a new meaning to the word independent. Before coming to Italy I thought I was pretty self sufficient, I mean there was the one time I went to the movies by myself. However, I never thought I would be cool with traveling the globe solo. But after watching the Lizzie McGuire Movie I was inspired and decided to head to Rome on my own. I booked a hostel for the weekend at 11pm Thursday night, bought a ticket to Rome at the station Friday morning, and was on my way.
The whole weekend was like something out of a movie. Everything just worked out so perfectly. The moment I got to the hostel I threw my bags in my room (which I shared with 7 other strangers) and went out exploring. I quickly walked down our street which was scattered with trendy shops and coffee bars, made my first left turn, and was standing directly face to face with the Colosseum. I was in complete and total awe so much so that I cried one single tear. Embarrassing. Everything was just so grand and unreal. I mean I have seen photographs of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain throughout the course of my entire life, but actually being there seeing these iconic monuments physically in front of me was a completely different experience. I walked around with my eyes wide open and mouth agape for a good 5 hours before I was interrupted by the rain and had to run back the the hostel. Once there I got freshened up and was welcomed with opened arms to hang with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever had the chance to meet. My roommates ranged from kids who just graduated college or even high school and are taking a whole year to travel on their own to other students studying abroad and taking a weekend trip like me and believe it or not, two of my sisters in Delta Gamma at Oregon. Can this world get any smaller?
The whole day Saturday I spent with some girls from the hostel, the DGs I met, and their friend who happens to be studying Art History abroad in Rome and gave us a private guided tour of the entire city and all of it’s ancient glory. I mean, this kid Erik, knew his stuff. He told us all about the different kinds of architecture and styles of columns, why all the Egyptian obelisks were on display pretty much every piazza, the artists and background of every single statue, and of course, all the best places to hang out and grab a bite to eat. After this long and tiring day we needed a good place to chow down, so we headed to a little place called Pimm’s Good where I enjoyed a glass of red and some bangin’ carbonara, a roman specialty. There we also made friends with an older German couple who gave my friend Sher and I passes for one of those double decker bus tours to use the next day. We thought why not?
On Sunday Sher and I got up bright and early, grabbed the usual cappuccino, and took the subway to a cute little part of town where there was an enormous local flea market full of garments for 1 euro, mink coats, books, and hundreds of thousands of old pictures and postcards. I even talked a vendor down 10 euros and bought a cute black floppy hat *sassy hair flicking girl emoji*. After our little local adventure we completely changed roles and sat on the top of a tourist double decker tour bus for the rest of the day. It really was great seeing the city from a birds eye view. Unfortunately, after the tour ended I had to run back to hostel, pick up my things, and head to the train station to catch my ride.
Overall, it was the best weekend I’ve had in Italy so far. I saw some pretty unreal things and made hella cool friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. If there is one thing I wish to teach people and it seems to be one thing that every single traveller I’ve met has in common, it’s that you can do things on your own. Don’t be a follower and get held back by others. Truly enjoy yourself and all that this big world has to offer
Gosh, everyday is a new crazy and totally random adventure. It feels as though the typical school day consists of getting a cappuccino stop at one of my many favorite bars, studying on the rooftop terrace at the library, then class which normally means group collaboration or going to a museum, followed by some sort of flashmob, blogger event, or aperitif to end the evening. You know, causal.
This Wednesday was no exception. For my PR Strategies class we took a field trip to gorgeous Gucci Museum where we took a gander at the world’s first Gucci handbag and the dress Blake Lively wore to the Gucci Premiere and in their perfume ad. Then between class went to our favorite shabby chic coffee, gelato, and crepe cafe, La Milkeria, where I made my own cafe latte. Honestly, one of these days I might just bring a sleeping bag and hide in the bathroom so I can live in that cute little cafe forever. As if the day couldn’t get any better, later that evening we went to a little event put on by The Florentine Newspaper and a local bedding store. It was a public pillow fight. Yes, you read that right. My friends and I participated in a giant pillow fight right in front of the Duomo with complete strangers just for the fun of it. The event was BYOP, face paint optional, and was being filmed for the news. We were immediately split up into teams and we sent into battle. Half way through the bell towers started ringing all around us. It was epic. I have never seen or heard of, let alone participated in anything so random in my entire life. Unfortunately, I can’t be certain which team won exactly, but when I was being interviewed for a YouTube channel documenting the entire event I claimed my team was the obvious victors.
Life is so unpredictable. Each and every day I wake up to a brand new adventure with absolutely no warning, let alone any sort of consistency. Florence was made for my somewhat creative tendencies and lack of attention span. Now I can’t image life any other way.
Some people are naturally talented musicians, some are born genius mathematicians, others can inspire a group of people to create a world-changing movement using the power of speech alone.
I, however, have found my true passion and gift in finding random local events and happenings, especially ones including yoga and food. This Sunday was a prime example of my sheer luck for finding miscellaneous adventures. It normally occurs in a series of events like this:
I woke up with no plans, laid in bed, checked my Twitter feed, saw a retweet by a Florentine blogger of another local blogger about an event at the pristine and very private Four Seasons Florence, remembered that’s the hotel George Clooney stayed in while he was here a few weeks ago for around 1,050 euros a night, called the hotel to make sure it was all inclusive, and boom. I gathered a couple of my roommates and we were there.
The entire day was literally out of a dream. The largest and most elegant private garden in Florence owned by the Four Seasons opened it’s door to the public for one day only and was our very own spa/playground for the day. For a measly 15 euros we spent the day getting facials, eating only the best gluten free organic local foods, sipping on italian espressos, and taking multiple yoga classes in the garden with a view of the Duomo, all within the confines of this luxury resort. Seriously, how did I get so lucky? It was by far the best and most relaxing day I’ve spent in Florence so far and the perfect way to unwind in this beautiful foreign country I get to call home.
Two words. Italian. Fashion. Need I say more?
Milan Fashion Week is a once in a lifetime experience and there was no chance I would be in Italy and miss this glamorous affair.
I strolled around wishfully window shopping all of my favorite italian designers; Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Gucci, Prada, & Mischino. It was torture. sweet, beautiful, couture torture.
We got our hair styled to look like actual runway models by the world’s hottest Italian men, which is a very high standard over here. Everyone’s face looks as though it was chiseled by the god’s themselves. But seriously, Krystina’s hair looked like a piece of art, a weird, bizarre, pretentious piece of art. We took it out the moment we left the popup hair salon. Oops..
I ate like a true Milanese and had my first ever risotto. I could have easily had five more plates if I wasn’t super self-conscious and surrounded by stick-thin models, literally.
We explored different MFW expos featuring award winning student designs, watched live fashion shows projected on every wall, saw a man hand making leather shoes, peaked in at a Canon dress up blogger photo shoot, and admired a spectacular Sophia Loren exhibition.
Everything took a very weird and not to glamourous turn when we decided to head to the fabulous Duomo to have ourselves a little photo shoot. There I was minding my own business taking some shots of the amazing architecture and next thing I know I have a handful of corn kernels in my hand. Half a second and an ear-piercing scream later, I had around 3-7 dirty rat birds all across the length of my arm. (I know I say I’m fearless and all, but the pigeons here are actually terrifying). This was probably the most scarring event to occur in my twenty-one years of life on this planet.
However the highlight and best part about the entire day was the fact that I spent it doing my favorite hobby. People watching. From seeing real models out running from show to show to noticing people wearing new outfits that just debuted on the runway the night before, the street fashion was surreal. If you ever get the chance and happen to be in NYC, Milan, or Paris around the time of Fashion Week, for the love of everything aesthetically pleasing and right in the world, GO PEOPLE WATCH.
As I am sitting here in seat 10B on the train from Milan to Florence I have actual time to reflect on my trip so far. It’s been a whirlwind adventure and I’ve only been on the go for 48 hours, or something, actually I have no idea with the time change.
It all started with my loving family dropping me off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport then sitting on a ten hour plane ride with a couple who met while they were studying abroad 5 years ago who were generous enough to give me 4 hours worth of advice on the whole study abroad experience. After landing things seemed to go downhill, I almost got bumped off my connecting flight subsequently l lost my luggage. Once in Milan, frustrated and tired, I hung around the airport for a few hours dealing with my baggage trying to keep calm and not lose my cool and potentially stand out as a lost American and manage to get ‘taken’. Thankfully I was welcomed with open arms to stay in a hotel room in Milan with one of my sorority sisters and her boyfriend who now live in Italy. This morning I found the train station on my own and early in a strange city, got a little tour of a gorgeous city, and drank my first Italian espresso.
Basically, I have never felt more emotions in such a short period of time. It has been extremely stressful to say the least, which was expected. I mean I’m 21, on my own, and in a completely different culture with total strangers. However, the people I have met along this journey so far don’t feel like strangers. They have been overwhelmingly helpful, give detailed directions, and most importantly take their time in wanting to get to know me. I know this 4-month experience will teach me more than I can ever imagine, especially at this point. I am just so thankful for everything right now. It still seems unreal that I am even in Italy. Like, what?! What a beautiful life this is. I just want to open myself up to whatever experiences seem to come my way with an clear mind and truly fall in love with this city I’ve only seen in pictures in my textbooks and online. I have no doubt in my mind it will be the time of my life, but with that comes ups and downs, hopefully I get my luggage soon. This is a once in a lifetime chance to really test my limits and live life to the fullest.
I want to thank all of the people in my life that have made this trip a reality. I love you so much and wouldn’t be the adventurous person I am today without your guidance. Thanks.
This year has been an interesting one to say the least.
As I entered my twentieth year of life on this planet in 2013 I have struggled with facing the realization that I am in fact an adult. In the short span of 365 days I have made many mistakes and somehow learned to stand back up on my own. The pessimist in me feels as though this last year could be summed up as the year of trips to the airport, all-nighters in the library, diets, and anxiety attacks.
Despite a slightly higher stress level 2013 may have been one of the best years of my existence. My year has consisted of countless adventures, a plethora of selfies, and way too many food pictures for my own good.
There was that one time I spent two weeks with dear old dad in DC this summer. The entire two weeks consisted of the museums, antique shows, and realizing I am way too much like my dad for my own good.
Then there was that camping trip to upstate New York with my mom where I stayed in a trailer, got chauffeured by a 13 year old with a truck, and worked at a motorcycle convention.
And of course all of those little adventures throughout the year on weekends and afternoons
How could I not include all the doodles, food pictures, and selfies in between?
Thanks to all of my beautiful family and friends for a pretty badass year.