5.10.2012 The End

Wow, I can’t believe it. Seriously where has the time gone. I feel like it was just yesterday I was packing my bags and freaking out if my toiletries were going to be ok. Haha that was 4 months ago! Now here I am, 14 hours away from saying goodbye to Florence for who knows how long. It has been great, and all the critics are right, Italian food is really good! Just had to see for myself ;) 

The things I have learned and seen have been incredible. The people I have met and the ones I already knew have been great and made this trip what it was. I can see all my friends having a tough time accepting that it is at an end, but I feel like it is different for me. It is probably because I have been looking forward to that moment when I get to the airport that sets me apart from the rest. I am ready, I feel that closure of the trip. I love this city and I am so glad I could spend the past four months here. 

12 days from today I will be in Boston Logan Airport starting the next chapter of my life, one I am very excited to see what it has in store for me. 12 more days to New Hampshire, to green trees, to american food, to sunny weather where people actually wear shorts and flip flops instead of jackets and scarves, to having a dryer for clothing, to friends, to family, and 12 more days til Rachel! I am very excited to be home :)

I have a bit of a journey before I am home, and I will post one more time when I am home. Thank you all for everything, for taking time to read this! I hope you enjoyed it!imageimage 

4.26.2012

Missed posting last week so I knew I needed to put something else up this week. I have spent sometime thinking about what other lesson I have learned here. Now that my time is really winding down I really have considered all of the experiences I have been apart of as well as all of the life lessons I have learned, and I am more than happy to share those with all of you.

Well before that I can talk a little bit about what I did this past weekend. I went to the country of Croatia. I would have to say that there were some parts that were the most beautiful sites I have seen here in Europe. Krka National Park to be more specific. It was this great park with wonderful waterfalls. There was a group of six of us that took a dip and got a closer look, which I am so happy I did despite the temperature of the water. It is something that I may never get the opportunity to do again. The bus ride was a little rough, 13 hours from Florence to Split, Croatia. But beyond that everything was amazing! We went whitewater rafting, swam in the Adriatic Sea, and swam in the waterfalls. I would say that was a great trip! 

So now it is officially the home stretch. 16 more days remaining in Florence and 26 total days until I am back home in the USA. That is crazy to think about. It has been a super fast semester that is for sure. Unlike most I am at peace with the fact that it is time to come home, and I am sure you all know why that is! So the one lesson that has been on my mind a lot lately, is to never give up. There has been plenty of times in my life where I have been fighting a losing battle, but in the end I have never given up, I have always fought for what I knew was right. A lot of times it has been discouraging and difficult, but not giving up has given me the life I have. It is definitely something I think about everyday here. Anyway, something to think about.

Tonight I am off to Munich, Germany with Stefan. We are going to be gone until Sunday night! I will let you all know how it is next week. Until next time, I love you and miss you all. I’ll be home soon!imageimageimage

4.11.2012

I have to apologize for the wait, I know it has been forever since I have written and that isn’t fair because I am sure you all have been dying to hear what I have been up to. So I can start off my listing off the places I have been since my last post and go from there. I have been to San Gimignano and Lucca Italy, Genova and Torino Italy, Cinque Terre and Rome Italy, Greece for spring break, Malta, and Milan. I have seen two soccer games,  the beautiful beaches of Greece and Malta, some friends from college, old cities of Italy and some of the best sunsets I have ever seen in my life. Although this is supposed to be the time of my life one things is missing, Rachel. I wish she was here to experience all of this with me. It has been the hardest weeks of my life away from her. 40 days left until I am home. Only 40, we have come all this way. It has been hard, but I am sure it will be worth it when we are together again. I love you and miss you Rachel.

Beyond my travels, back in Florence, I have become great friends with my roommates in Via Torta Sette (our address) we spend a lot of time together which is nice. We started watching the TV show The Entourage. It is a funny and mindless show that is great to pass time, plus it is a bit of home for us, which we all miss. I can’t express how much this experience has helped me realize a lot of things about myself and about the world. It really has helped me appreciate the friendships I hold and how much my relationship truly means to me. I don’t have a ton to be thankful for but I am sure thankful for everything and everyone in my life. I hope they understand that as much as I do, and If you’re reading this you’re probably one of those people. It’s like in those movies when someone goes away for awhile and then returns and that person has a greater appreciation for everyone in there life, that is what I am going to be like. 

Pray for me, keep me in your thoughts, and I will be home soon. I am really looking forward to that day. Again I appreciate what everyone has done for me before and throughout my trip. Only 40 more days, everyday is one step closer. To everyone back home, I love you and miss you all.imageimage

2.23.2012

Another week full of exciting adventures and endless stories! I really wish I could tell you all everything that I have experienced but surely that would mean writing for hours and hours everyday which would be difficult! So as usual I will be giving the abbreviated version of my week! 

Since last Thursday I have been a few different places. Most notable is Prague in the Czech Republic! I would have to say it is my favorite place I have been on my travels thus far! The city itself is considered by any as ‘the fairy tale city’ which I would have to agree with! I arrived there at about 9:30am on Friday morning after a brutal 12 hour bus ride, but it was honestly worth every minute! Got a chance to shower and then we hit the town for a great walking tour. The architecture of this city is unbelievable. Check out my pictures and you will see all the pictures I took of different buildings. There was one everywhere I looked. I got to explore a little on my own and soon discovered that I had a pretty good grasp on how to navigate the city. I tried some local food and brew and was satisfied with all that the Czech Republic had to offer. On Saturday I took another tour with the company that I was traveling with, bus2alps. I may have mentioned them in an earlier post, but they are great. I have become really good friends with a few of the leaders as well! I still have a few more trips with them so they will all get to know me really well. Saturday afternoon and evening I took a tour of the Prague Castle which was amazing and gave great views of the city!

I returned home late Sunday night and had to prepare for the week ahead (do a little homework). This week started off cold as usual for the time I have been here, but yesterday it decided it was time to give us a taste of warm weather. 

This week in classes I learned a lot! I took field trips to the church of Santa Croce. I got to pay my respects to the great Michelangelo and Galileo! I have to go back on Tuesday so I will bring my camera this time. My other class took a brief tour of the Santa Maria del Fiore (the duomo, or the florence cathedral) it has any names! and took a look at Dante’s home and place that he was wed. 

Today was hands down the most beautiful day in Florence by far! It was mid 60s and sunny, not to mention no breeze and not a cloud in the sky. So I knew I needed to take advantage of the day. Of course I have no classes on Thursdays so I go to sleep in a bit but I wanted to take a walk and check out a couple museums. I went to the Bargello and saw the statue of David by Donatello, and the submissions for the Sacrifice of Issac by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi. These were to determine the winner of the competition for the Baptistery doors (a project I did last week). I also checked out the Medici Chapel. Amazing! 

Everyday I learn something new, that is for sure. It is a great feeling. I have a long time left here so that means I will learn a lot of things! I miss a few things a lot! I am sure anyone who is reading this will know exactly what I mean. 

Til next time! I love and miss you all back home. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I love writing it :)image

2.16.2012

More time has passed now here in Florence. Three weeks of classes complete and it feels like I got here yesterday. It is very different having classes that only meet once a week. I kind of like it but it is a big change for sure. Now that we are done with all the intro stuff I have started getting actual work! I know actual work, I’m supposed to be on vacation!…haha I am just kidding. I can handle a little work. I had my first presentation this week. It was on the famous doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni, right by the Duomo. I feel like a did a good job! I was nervous before but of course that all went away when I started talking. One thing I love about that class is the students don’t present up at the front of the classroom with a powerpoint and the lights off. I got to present in front of the actual baptistery itself which was awesome! Other than that in my architecture class we went up the mountain to San Miniato al Monte..I am currently working on an essay about that so I don’t feel like talking about that building right now, but it was beautiful!

I have found my favorite place in Florence so far! It is Piazza Michelangelo for sure. I have been up a few times now, during the day and at night and it literally takes your breath away how beautiful it is! and only about a twenty minute walk up the hill, I feel like it’s going to get a bit more crowded once the tourists come but now it is nice and peaceful so I love it, I will be up there a lot for sure. I got my museum card this week, now I have access to all the state run museums for the rest of my stay here so I will be checking them out a lot in my free time.

I have been in Europe one month today..Crazy right? That’s what I thought. I can’t believe its been this long already. I love it here, but I do miss home a bit. I really look forward to all the things I have planned for the rest of this semester, but it will be very nice to come home. This weekend I am heading up to Prague in the Czech Republic. It’s one of the places that I really wanted to see before I came here so I am really excited to check it out! and I get to see Europe’s largest medieval castle! that sounds pretty sweet to me. I hope the weather cooperates.

The weather here in Florence is starting to get nicer so that is a major plus because it has been one of the coldest recorded winters in Italy in a long time, I am glad that it is starting to get nice so I can really get my explorer on without worrying about getting frostbite! Until next time, everyone back home..I love you and miss you!image

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." -St. Augustine

2.7.2012 

It has been almost two weeks now that I have been in Florence. I cannot believe where the time goes. It has been quite an adventure thus far, the is for sure. When I arrived here it was if a burden was off my shoulders, I don’t know why but I felt at ease because I was finally not always on the go. It just so happened that it was a beautiful day when I arrived and it was warm! A nice welcome. I found my apartment and met my roommates. With a new city at your fingertips it is very difficult to stay put for too long. I was walking hour after hour trying to see as much as possible, but a lot of that time was spent being lost of course. Days past and it’s like the seasons changed! It became very very cold here making it difficult to stay outside for longs periods of time, it will warm up soon I am sure.

A few things I have learned about this city:

Everything is very old! there are no new buildings.

People are generally very friendly and are happy to help you practice your Italian

The panini place literally ten steps out of my front door is AMAZING!

Via Torta (the street I live on) was once the home of the Florence Colosseum, and also means cake street in Italian

and a whole bunch of architecture stuff that I will spare you from!

My classes are great and I have learned a lot! I have two classes that are about Florence, one about the architectural history, and the other about the history of the city. Both classes consist of part lecture but also field trips around the city every class. My other classes are Italian and Drawing. Italian is good, but review so far because I have already taken one semester, I am looking forward to later in the semester when it picks up a bit. Drawing is great. We have had two classes and I have learned more in those two classes about drawing than I have in all of my life! I feel that the classes I chose are a great fit for me. 

A bit about culture:

Florence was born in the year 59 BC by Roman soldiers. But really what makes this city so famous is the fact that it was the birthplace of the Renaissance. Some of the greatest minds that this world has seen have resided and worked in Florence. To name a few (maybe you have heard of them) Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Lorenzo (the magnificent) Medici, Raffaello, Machiavelli, and the great Filippo Brunelleschi! 

Along with great minds this city was a city, and still is, a city full of artists and shop owners. Its major industry in textiles and clothing, as well as jewelry. Brands like Dolce and Gabbana, and Giorgio Armani, and Gucci all over the place. Of course money as well. The Medici family basically ruling over the entire city being in control of most banks and being responsible for a major currency  throughout Europe, the Florin. I could go on but that is just a bit of background of what I have been learning!

This past weekend I took a trip with one of my roomates Tommy. We went up to Switzerland to the Alps! I was in awe when I saw how incredible those mountains were. So we decided to go for a hike…to the top of Europe! Yup, that’s right with a little help from a gondola, we made it to the top in about 2 Hours. At the top we got a chance to descend the mountain by sled, and let me tell you that was incredible! We also got to see the lakes of Interlaken and polished off trip with a little about olympic curling! An amazing sport that is a lot of fun to play. 

I miss and love you all at home. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do writing it for you!image

1.29.2012 Welcome to Europe

Just under two weeks I’ve been here in Europe and let me tell you it has been an adventure! I could easily write a book about my adventure so far, but for this post I will only cover the main parts!

I started my trip in Boston. It was a very unique feeling for me. I knew I would really miss home but on the other hand I was very excited to go! I got through security and then it hit me that I was really on my own now, that was tough. My flight wasn’t too bad, it was just under 6 hours and I got lots of food on it! I didn’t really get a chance to sleep on the flight because it was a pretty bumpy ride. I got to Heathrow at about 5am local time. I walked around a bit and found my hostel. I couldn’t check in until 2 so I needed to drop my stuff off and hit the town. I ended up doing a bus tour which was a great idea! I saw everything from my seat on the bus! Which was a good thing considering how exhausted I was from being awake so long! I made it back to the hostel around 3 and passed out! That night I met my roommates Dylan, Jose, and Diego! They were great. The next day I went with Dylan and we did the same bus tour but hopped off and did a lot of walking as well. We saw a lot for one day! On my third day, my last day, we went and checked out the British Museum before I needed to catch my train to Paris. On the train I met a very nice older British lady who helped me a lot with helping me how to get to where I needed to in Paris, and also bought me a cranberry juice!

Paris was different. A beautiful city with so so many things to see, but overall a very tough place to be. My first full day I hit the town and did a LOT of walking, like 8 hours worth! I bought the Paris Museum Pass so it gave me entry into a lot of the sites and the ability to skip the line! That was a good idea for sure. The hostel was a lot bigger and less personable so I didn’t get to have conversations with as many people as I did in London. Over the three days there I saw all the sites and I would say I was ready to go! It was difficult because Parisians hate Americans. There is no doubt about that. It was easy to tell. It was a good experience and I loved the Eiffel Tower! Highlight of the city for me.

I was very worried about my flight from Paris (Beauvais) to Pisa. I was thinking I would have to pay a ton because my bags were wrong, but it worked out and ended up being a lot less intimidating than I was expecting.

I arrived in Pisa and right away saw what I was there for, the tower and baptistery of course! I found my hostel and got settled in. The next day I hit the town and did a lot of walking. It was a beautiful day of almost 60F which was like summer compared to Paris (cold and rainy everyday). But it was my first taste of Italy and I really enjoyed it. I decided to do it right and order a pizza for my first Italian meal! It did not disappoint. The next day had me very excited! it was to be my first day in my new home! Florence.

Overall I learned so so many things from my first time as a European backpacker. I learned how to rely on a map. I took train, plane, bus, car, metro, and of course my feet! I learned I don’t love museums, and that France makes amazing pastries! But most importantly I learned that I have a lot to learn in this world!

Everyone at home that read this, I miss you and I love you. I will post again about my first week in Florence!