Tag Archives: Color outside the lines

Better to see something once than to talk about it a thousand times

Wednesday July 6 -Thursday July 7-Friday July 8

On Wednesday we finally made it Venice. It’s a trip we’ve planned on our own. Our first trip without our class. We hoped on the train (a long train ride at that), burned skin from Via Reggio and all, we made it to Venice. The moment you walk out of the train station it was like you walked into a different world. It was beautiful!IMG_8216 So many peopled warned us that it was going to smell and it wasn’t as cool as they thought it would be, the streets would be dirty. With that information we were kind of nervous! Yet, in the moment we walked out of the station we knew that all the things that were said were so so wrong. It was gorgeous!

We had a simple plan for the day: walk around and see as much as we can, eat seafood, take a gondola ride, and find out if the city is really sinking. And that is what we did! We walked around and saw some beautiful churches, many stores filled with Vancian glass (one of the products they are known for) I got myself a Vancian glass ring J. The other product that they are known for is there homemade masks that all of Italy uses for a holiday/festival similar to Halloween. After walking around for a very long time in the crazy heat we found a restaurant that had tables overlooking a canal.IMG_3407 We had walked past it a couple times just from getting turned around and the plates coming out looked AWESOME. We were very very excited and didn’t hesitate to make this our “big” meal of the day. Olivia Jenna and I ordered the pasta with seafood. The menu didn’t elaborate much farther than it saying pasta with all kinds of seafood, which we assumed was whatever fresh they had in the kitchen and Angie ordered a salmon pasta. The food came out fast and the plates were beautiful! Not only did the sea food pasta have a big swirl of pasta decorated with tons of clams and mussels and a little octopus on top with shrimp and squid. It had a bright red already glazed (in something delicious not butter they don’t really do butter in Italy) sitting there for us to crack open.

IMG_3412
sorry I remembered to take the picture after i started eating…

Given we found out that out of the three of us really didn’t know how to crack open a lobster, myself have only two experiences. 1) At my mom’s birthday when I was in like 5th grade we cooked lobster for her party and I cracked one lobster and felt so bad, because I picked him out only earlier that day. Then the second time my family and I were in Maine of vacation where I got to again, pick out the dang lobster, listen to it hiss in a pot and then had to crack it open and try to forget that I had chosen its doom. Ok, yes I may be being a little dramatic, but all my memories with lobster, yes, delicious the cracking part was my least favorite. Yet, today I had no other choice to ask my dad to crack it for me (sorry about the lobster rant). Getting over the full lobster, and getting over that we were going to have to use our hands to be able to get the dish “all cracked open” before the cows came home (utensils made it to hard haha we were kind of a mess). After the prep phase of our dish we dug in and it was the most amazing dish I had yet eaten in Italy.

After dinner we only had two more things to do on our list: gondola, and find out if the city was sinking. We figured that the gondola was next. Right by the restaurant was a dock for the gondolas later finding gout that each boat is essentially its own family tradition gondola boat driver’s boats have family tradition. It all happening very fast we were on the boat and on our way!! The gondola driver guy was very nice and spoke English, which was very nice, because he pretty much gave us a tour telling us about all the different building and which historically famous person lived there and the ages of all the bridges and even confirming to us that not only is the ocean rising but the islands are actually sinking. They are sinking because the islands are made out of sand and they are putting/building up so much it is compressing the sand rock which is causing the island to shrink and go under water! The gondola ride was amazing and felt like a dream!

Afterward we walked around the more touristy places and realized we were even more burned than we were when we got there and we decided it would be in our best interest to now head back to Florence.

The next day Thursday July 9th we went to class where we had lecture and were taken to a Sicilian bakery where we learned about arenchini, cannoli, and granita. Arenchini, which is a cone like shape made with rice and stuff with anything from rague sauce, eggplant and mozzarella, squid, or cheese. Cannoli, a fried pastry dough filled with a ricotta filling! Granita is pretty much a shaved icy with flavors in it like lemon, strawberry, watermelon, and coffee. I got lemon it was very very good.

After class we headed home to take a nap the heat and sun we had gotten the past couple of days was hitting us hard and we hadn’t been drinking enough water. For some reason when we got into the apartment o couldn’t sleep, so I cleaned up the apartment and came to find that my burnt chest had little blisters ALL OVER IT!!! As I cleaned and sweat (freaking hot and no AC) the blisters grew. Let’s just say I don’t like it and I had to call my mother to double check. She confirmed to me that I would be all good and needed to just leave them alone, which was really hard!

That evening we had reservations at Ganzo our schools all students lead restaurant, to partake in a themed dinner. Themed dinners are a 6 course meal under a certain theme, tonight was traditional Tuscan dishes. Long story short the dinner was awesome and here are pictures from each course… we were spoiled.

Friday July 8 was another chill day after dinner at ganzo we explored the town till late. We woke up and found an American Diner for breakfast! I got an omlette that was amazing and an actual cafe americano!!IMG_3439

After breakfast we came back with plans to get our papers squared away and travel plans together for Switzerland. Instead we came back to a whole different adventure when I decided to change the outlet I was using…. long story short no more electricity nor wifi and that led to multiple flights being climbed (we live 6 flights of stairs up and box is down stairs) it wasn’t fun…we finally called and had someone come help us because nothing we were doing was working. The gentleman comes in looks at the box on the first floor looks at this random box at the very very top left corner unlabeled and flips it and the electricity came on…. of course right. I was just happy the lights were on. Only for time to pass a little longer and i tried a different socket and POP!!! I blew it again… had to walk the stairs AGAIN and climb to try and reach to box flipped it climbed upstairs and they weren’t on… went down and flipped it AGAIN!!!! and thank the lord they turned on… I threw away my adapter here’s the culprit….IMG_3441

Advertisements

Travel is the Ultimate Inspiration

Sunday July 3

The next big adventure came right the next day bright and early. This time it was specifically with the class we are taking. As a class we are headed to Pienza and Montepulciano. The focus of the trip was wine and cheese, awesome right?! Our first stop was Pienza. It is an adorable little town somewhat on top of IMG_2777a hill there were a few steep climbs but nothing extravagant. The architecture was mainly a gothic style with “a lot of symmetry” according to Giovanni our professor. One thing I thought was particularly interesting regarding the architecture wIMG_3277as that everything was measured from an individual’s body. Whether it was their wing span or the length of their foot, it wasn’t “set in stone” like it is now a day. So the arches and pillars had no exact measurements! The church was beautiful, but this tiny quaint little town was the start of another day of amazing views!! My group was responsible for doing a presentation of the landscaping of Pienza and Montepulciano. We had to observe and focus our trip on the landscaping, which was not a hard task what so ever. The buildings and towns are wonderful, but what truly takes my breath away are views, the hills with olive groves, vineyards, and golden wheat everywhere.IMG_3318 This area of Pienza and Montepulciano is known for its views, it is known to have been an inspiration to artists from the renaissance and still today in modern pIMG_3293hotography. With the temperatures and soil conditions perfect for growing olive trees and grapes for vino it makes for their label of having some of the best in Italy.

 

The main reason we were in Pienza was for pecorino cheese (sheep cheese). After walking around the very small town and looking in a bunch of cute little shops, looking the view, and getting the architectural and historical low down from Gioni. We had to meet him in the cheese store where we tried three types of pecorino cheese (more like different flavors and ageing locations). One that was aged in straw, one aged in a cave, and one aged in sun dried tomatoes. They were all surprisingly different. The location of the aging played into how dry it was how, salty, and how fast the cheese matured. My favorite was the cave cheese. It was soft of the outside rim and a dryer on the inside with some “pockets” they called it. Very yummy. We then headed to Montepulciano were we got to see the beautiful views the city on a “hill” (actually a mountain…), which felt like a mountain with a capital “M” MOUNTAIN to walk allllllllll the way to the very top in the crazy heat with plans to get to lunch at a wine cellar. Where after a wait we got to have a wine tasting!(my first wine tasting!).

IMG_2783 (1)
straw closed to you then cave them sun dried tomoato

We then headed to Montepulciano were we get to see the beautiful views the city on a “hill” , which felt like a mountain and walk allllllllll the way to the very top in the crazy heat to get to lunch at a wine cellar where we got to have a wine tasting!(my first wine tasting!).IMG_3284

 

IMG_3316

On the hike, other than the views and the fact that my thighs were burning from the climb, and my shoulders from the sun the views were stunning! On the way up the mountain  we found out that this city was were Eclipse from the Twilight saga was filmed!Even though the hike, literally, had just began. We continued to walked up and up and up and up and up some more. Then up again it was NUTS!!!! We visited a beautiful church and at the top (which we FINALLY made it to ) a castle with an adorable park on the outside.IMG_3348

 

 

 

After what felt like forever waiting in the park it was time to go to the wine cellar where we walk into this tiny little win shop. I’m thinking there is no way this wine tasting is going to work in here with 30 students! We walking in further and there is this tin spiral stair case that goes down and down and down. And as we go down further and further it gets chillier and chillier. Then all of a sudden BAM! It’s a wide open HUGE wine cellar with GIANT! barrels of Chianti wine (the DOCG wine they are famous for). The pictures truly explain how the lunch and wine tasting went. The room was amazing, the lunch was amazing (we got awesome lasagna), the barrels were amazing, there was also a tomb (random I know, but the owners of the tomb hid refugees and apparently a mother and a father from a high ranking family were buried there.)The whole experience in Pienza and Montepulciano was truly an unforgettable one.

IMG_3282

After what felt like forever waiting in the park it was time to go to the wine cellar where we walk into this tiny little win shop. I’m thinking there is no way this wine tasting is going to work in here with 30 students. We walking in further and there is this tin spiral stair case that goes down and down and down in the earth and it get chillier and chillier. Then all of a sudden BAM! It’s a wide open HUGE wine cellar with GIANT barrels of Chianti wine (the DOCG wine they are famous for). The pictures truly explain how the lunch and wine tasting went. The room was amazing, the lunch was amazing (we got awesome lasagna), the barrels were amazing, there was also a tomb (random I know but the owners of the tomb hide refugees and apparently a mother and a father from a high ranking family were buried there.

I feel like that is where I hit my wine knowledge mile stone, where I actually know how to “properly” taste wine and finally having red wine that is good! To top it off when we returned to Florence we adventured to a new part of town finding a restaurant with enormous margaritas and great quesadillas ( i know weird fod choice when in Italy but it was a nice change). Then to end the night sitting at the Duomo at night still awe struck by IMG_3353its beauty. (PS, Florence at night is like Florence  at 8 am, people are all out walking around with friends and strollers, at like 12:30pm kids are still out walking with their parents no big deal because they could be walking home from dinner it’s super bizarre.) All the streets and squares are completely lit, it’s very safe which is AMAZING so going to the Duomo at 12:30pm from dinner is completely safe and wonderful, because it’s not packed with tourists and blazing hot. (Yes, I’m cool enough to be annoyed by the tourist, because I now know my way aroundish and totally live there haha)

 

 

 

 

Because when you stop and look around this life is pretty amazing. -Dr. Suess

6/28/16

Well…. My feet are so swollen!!! We have walked and average of 8 miles a day while we have been here and 20 flights of stairs… Just let those numbers sink in 18,450 steps… but i burned off this beautiful breakfast.IMG_2939Today was our first day of class and it was awesome. It’s going to be a lot of work but we are going to learn a crazy amount of information about food wine a the culture of Italy thats for sure. Yes, pinch me it is exactly like it sounds we have lecture and a lab every day.

IMG_7832
First day of school picture!!

For example today we had lecture and he took us to the market and taught us all about different foods and how we are going to be learning about seasonality (what foods are in season is very important knowledge in Italy as it is healthier and cheaper). He showed us the famous lampredotto “lamp-ray-doe-toe” stand (a sandwich filled with the fourth stomach of a cow!!) Lampredotto is the most tender stomach of the cow as it is the last stomach that digest their food.  They cook it in a broth and put it in a sandwich like a pulled pork sandwich and they put a spicy oil sauce and a sweet oil sauce on it with lots of salt on the best ciabatta bread I’ve ever tasted. I ate it! And it was pretty good!!IMG_7840

We then walked to the second floor of the market where they had a bunch of little “kiosks” as they called it, but really they are just a bunch of little store fronts (like a mall food court with some of the best freshest food in Florence. We walked around and got to taste fresh mozzarella (nothing can compare). We then went to the school facilities and set up everything we needed for class and booked our first mini trip (educational field trip not with our class) to Modena and Parma for this Saturday we are very excited!! Afterward we went back to the market to actually shop for our first meal to make at home! We walked around and tried to piece together a good meal.

We deciding to get a chicken breast and these beans which we ended up not really knowing how to cook and we wanted the get a zucchini ( I messed up and grabbed a cucumber/ cetriolo in Italian, I totally had no idea) but we found out that cucumbers where in season and they were bomb!! We also bought a bottle of sparkling red wine (sparkling wine is very popular we even met a man eating the lampredotto stand who showed us/recommended sparkling water with a regular red wine to stay hydrated in the crazy heat we decided he was genius!! The other popular white sparkling wine is called prosecco). We walked home and made dinner which turned out very good. We still don’t know what kind of bean we ate but we tried baking them, then sautéing them and even boiling them and they like wouldn’t cook! We figured out we think we have to take the very tough waxy outside off and just cook the inside bean. We just ate them like edamame and it worked out great. The chicken also turned out great with the fresh olive oil and herb salt mixture we also bought.

IMG_7870
First dinner made at home was successful!

After a successful dinner we got the news that Olivia’s luggage had made it and we went to pick it up!! After bringing her luggage home we though I was necessary to celebrate so we got gelato and then walked to one of the bridges to watch the sunset which was beautiful. IMG_7886At this point were exhausted but went home and tried a famous drink called lemoncello, which is like a lemonade liquor that is very very sweet and strong. Along with that I learned how to play eurcher!!! It was another huge and long day!

Ciao!!!

I’m living in a movie

6/27/16

Well today it has almost been a week since I left last Wednesday and it was my first full day in Florence Italy. Yesterday we got here around 4:30pm after two not bad flights. The first flight from Dublin to Munich wasn’t too bad but we started to notice English was no longer the first language. There was a group of middle aged German speaking, what seemed like they all traveled together to Ireland and were going home They seemed absolutely fascinated by us three English speaking girls… who knows. Then arriving a little late into Munich and slightly panicked that we were going to miss our flight to Florence we got off the plane as fast as we could only to find a very kind gentleman holding a sign that said florenz (we at first though it was a last name but realized nope he was here for us) he was from there our little babysitter through our tour of the Munich flight runway as we got into a large van and were driven across the runway (meeting some wonderful Irish women going to Florence) to be directed through customs then back out to the van to be driven to the runway to get on the plane early like a celebrity  it was pretty cool.

We then made it to Florence and got off the plane to find it wasn’t just hot it was HOT!!!  And it wasn’t planning on getting any cooler for as long as the forecast would show.

We got inside to find Olivia’s luggage got lost and then to find FUA (Florence University of the Arts) booth right there we filled out some info got a backup emergency phone and filled some paperwork out then they drove us straight to our apartment and carried our luggage up which we found out was all the way up 6 flights of stairs!!! Not just any stairs like super steep cement stairs that never end (I no longer have to worry about gaining weight here). Our apartment key is an old 1800’s looking key with a tiny body and a big intricate head that opened our 4 pronged dead bolted door (which was very comforting) to find an awesome apartment! It is huge two large bedrooms 5 beds and living room a kitchen and a large bathroom. You could literally raise comfortably a family of 5 and it is beautiful!!

We all passed out after getting settled and walking around the city. Which we got our first Italian dinner and glass of wine IMG_3163 (1)our waiter was very nice and really was helpful in learning the hot to appropriately handle dining in Italy. After we walked around had my breath taken away by the Duomo (not to mention I can see the top of it from our Apartment bedroom window)

and starting to figure out our baring in a very confusing city (road wise). Then on our way back to our apartment we found a gelato shop right close to our apartment the Marco Ottaviano il Gelato Gourmet all I can say is WOW ice cream has not a standing chance against gourmet gelato it was unbelievable. All four our us (Olivia Jenna and Angie our new roommate from CMU) had a little moment as we walked out of the show each with two flavors of gelato for let me mention only 1,50 euros! (so, like $2) and all starting trying each other’s and geeking out about how good they were.

We then made it back to our apartment and found out we only have scalding hot water in our shower which was a little adventure trying to cool down and clean up. We then settled in and got ready for today lol.

So now that I am caught up I’ll tell you about today we woke up early to try and find our way to our FUA Orientation which took a little while and we got kind of lost but we made it there and we were still on time! Orientation was very informative and made me realize how tired I was. The orientation continued as the “coach” for the fitness course showed us around the city to all the FUA facilities. They don’t have a campus like CMU their colleges (fashion, journalism, cooking, culture, and food wine and culture/pastry school which is us called apicious) and of course our class building is the farthest FUA building but hey a good morning walk is good we decided burn off the expresso and pastry breakfast. But this coach guy walked crazy fast and expected a huge group of college students trying to remember where they were going and look at this city we just got to, to keep up. It didn’t goes to well.  All the facilities looked awesome and the culinary school and restaurant look ligit and top of the line. After we took the tour we were set free.

We walked around and peeked in some shops and looking for lunch food, we stumbled across an awesome shop sat outside and ate a delicious pizza right across from the central market.IMG_3173 After our first Italian gourmet oven baked pizza our waiter was a very nice Italian gentleman who was very helpful in our attempts to learn Italian. The owner liked to keep saying monto bella, and chaio bella. We then came across a very nice leather jacket store. The guy standing there was so not just nice like please buy something but truly kind and wanted us to just try things on “for fun for fun” understood it had to be the right jacket and the right fit he even said at any time he’d give us a 70% student discount!! He picked out and perfectly fit us on his first try it was quite impressive. We then quick walked through the market (a different one was recommended to us so we didn’t shop)

IMG_7789.JPG
more pictures to come this market is AMAZING!!!

is was crazy the amount of fresh food and meats was mind blowing I’m not even sure if I would know where to start to figure out how to figure the place out to make a dinner it was slightly intimidating. We walked back to our apartment all the way up the crazy stairs to our apartment cooled off (it is crazy hot here and it was supposed to be the coolest day all week) and laid down we all passed out in our little siesta (some stores close between 1 and 3 they don’t really call it a siesta and not all shops close) we decided that siestas are awesome and necessary in the heat. Once we all woke up and got our heads together we walked to the student life building to figure some logistics out with the Olivia loosing luggage thing, got that all taken care of and set off to see the river that separates Florence the north side and the south side. We live on the north side and we were quick to find out that the south side has more money. We crossed the bridge and walked through the same close buildings of a town it was just soo quiet the whole part of the south side we explored it was so quiet.

IMG_3175.JPG
it is hard to see in the picture but the art on the walls are beautiful paintings

We kept walking and the incline started. We came across the famous steps that we haven’t learned the name of and started to climb part of this mountain now as we are profusely

IMG_3177.JPG
This is the very very beginning of many more stairs

sweating and tired from these stairs we made it to the top and the most beautiful view of Florence appeared and it made all of us speechless we stood there and stared at if for a very long time before deciding we were hungry again. IMG_2616IMG_3182IMG_3184IMG_7809We found a very authentic Italian restraint which let us use our English to Italian dictionary!! I order an amazing pasta dish and had the best red wine I may have ever tasted it was a Merlot and was heaven IMG_3185(I thought of my dad the whole glass and how much I knew he’d love it but dad don’t worry I got the name and I’m making a list of my favorites to bring home to you. I enjoyed it for the both of us) the day was starting to where on all of us so gelato was in order at our new favorite little shop that we are now owners of our for gelato punch card!!! Since we are living here now (super crazy to say!) We walked back all the ay up to our beautiful bird nest apartment and took our way to hot showers and are ready to take on tomorrow our first day of class!!!! Were all way to excited!!

Chaio

Dublin Ireland

So today technically is my 4th day abroad and damn has it been crazy I am currently on a plane on my way to Munich with an hour layover then on a plane to Florence Italy! This journal is kind of my recap of Ireland, but I may work backwards and as I comes to my brains so I’m going to apologize before I get going (we all know my brain goes fast and in many directions sometimes. hehe oops )

I’m going to start off with yesterday. We went to the Cliffs of Moher (5/25/16) and it was truly breath taking you couldn’t take a photo that captured how beautiful it actually was…IMG_7602

The bus ride from Dublin left early in the morning and took 4 hours! The one positive thing about the four hour drive was that I got to see a ton of the country side. Once we got out of the city it was green like bright beautiful green (like when you put polarized sunglasses on an every color gets richer, but this time you didn’t need the sunglasses it just was).IMG_3035 Farms with walls made of tons of stones that were stacked and magically fitting together. They would be around homes and gating in cows and horses and sheep and a lama (I only saw one though). The hills were rolling and beautiful you would look around and see tons of squares all up and down the hills everywhere of different color rich green marking off different farm properties. Then all of a sudden you would see a random castle ruin standing in the middle of a field with cows IMG_3037around it like it was no big deal (id geek out and take a picture  J ). Another thing you really notice not just on this bus ride but all through Ireland they roads are super narrow with no shoulder at all it was either the edge of a cliff our bushes or trees. The busses and cars sometimes have to take turns going through some spaces because they would hit if they went side by side. These huge charter bus drivers and city bus driver were all masters at the Ireland bus driving craft it blew my mind. Turning and backing up and all around, maneuvering massive buses in small crowded fast pace cities, country roads, and little ocean towns where I literally could touch the little stores if I would of stuck my hand out the window. It was NUTS!!!

IMG_2976
Not even close to showing how tight things were
I had to close my eyes a few times. I watched the country side for a long time to the cliffs before I completely crashed. The night before Day 2 Friday (24th) Night (Thursday being the first day) we went on a pub crawl after a long rainy day of a hop on hop off tour. The hop on hop off tour was essentially a perfect gig. We bought a ticket that would allow us to go to any stops on a loop that covered both the old and the new parts of the city. From trinity college, Guinness factory, an operating whiskey distillery, non-active Jameson whiskey distillery, all the churches, and parks, statues, the zoo, museums, the famous jail (Gaul they call it, which tripped me up), and so much more.

IMG_3022

IMG_3015
Gravity Bar on the 7th floor of the Guinness Factory. Happy to find out i do enjoy Guinness beer! the tour had a 360 view overlooking Dublin and the  Mountains

 

 

 

The tickets were good for a 48 hour period. It rained really hard and since we walked such a huge chunk of the city the first day (we were there getting lost and turned around a lot but we learned where we were going) so we rode the bus for a while were all the drivers had an active talking role to tell us all about the history of the homes buildings, parks and everything in between while we were dry and sitting, it was super cool! IMG_7304IMG_2979Some fun facts that stuck with me were like the famous man who said the best one liner “women just need to be loved not understood” was born there. Trinity College is known for its famous writers. They have had 2 people win the noble peace prizes and one other person in something sciency I can’t remember. All I can say is that it is very impressive. Beside their famous writers Trinity holds the book of kells (one of the oldest religious books, written on presses dried pig skin). Unfortunately when we wanted to go see it the library and the book of kells exhibit were closed 😦 so I didn’t get to learn as much as I wanted to about the books of kells and the library (which they add a half mile of shelving every year!) That was one things that I really wanted to see that I wasn’t able to. Funny enough though was the reason it was closed was because Joe Biden our vice president was in Dublin speaking they were have some reception for him in there… the city was crazy (Joe Biden and they were prepping for a gay pride parade). But that and the Wickilow Mountains will bring me back there for sure! That night we met up with our new friend Daniel who has been essentially traveling the world by himself and is doing his first pub crawl!! Dublin (Temple Bar Area) is like Nashville full of music and a great time!

IMG_3029
The Famous Temple Bar
Now that I’ve already decided to just write how my brain is absorbing all that happened the past few days. Now I’ll give you the scoop on the Cliffs of Moher. So after crashing for two hours I woke up to be welcomed by a gas station in Moneygall called the Barack Obama! Like What?! Jenna Olivia and I were so confused.IMG_3033 Goes to show though that Obamas ancestors lived there in Moneygall with the name O’bama and he himself went there to visit a couple years back so obviously that means they get to have a Obama themed gas station hahaha so weird.

We had two hours left of the drive with more beautiful scenery. The houses were very interesting to me some were brick some were painted concrete but most had little round sun rooms off the the sides, and a front stoop the projected form the home and some of the wealthier homes had decorative white trick forming the front of the house and these wall/arch type things like a façade that would connect the house to a garage separate from the house. The newer styles had lots and lots of windows which I though was also very neat and beautiful. We finally arrive in a town called Claire next to Doolin where the Cliffs were at. It was a very busy place people from all across the world! We started our climb and when you first see the cliff it takes your breath away, it looks like a photo/postcard or painting. We stood there and stared over the stone wall for a few minutes to take it in then started our adventure!IMG_3060 We trekked up a paved walk way to a point with a castle then we came to the point where there would no longer be a wall protecting us from the edge of the cliff. We looked at the warning sign and trekked on!IMG_3097
We said a little prayer that none of us would slip to our death in this majestic place (Jenna and Olivia did slip but caught themselves). We took in everything it was unbelievable. Then we moved back to the bus and went to the small beach town of Doolin where we boarded a Ferry Cruiser that took us on an hour long cruise to see the cliffs!!!!

if you look close a few of my pictures feature the rocks from the movie in the pivitl scene of the fonding of the first holcroucx!!

Waking up early the next day we headed to the airport for our next adventure Florence Italy!! Ireland I Love You more than I thought I would! I will see you again soon, but Italy here I come!!!

PS I am in Florence  now as i send this post sitting in my apartment on the the fifth floor looking at the peak of the Duomo!!!! Ill post tomorrow about how cool this place is!!! Look at my first meal in Florence!!IMG_3163 (1)

Ciao!!

Crunch Time! T-Minus 60 hours and 10 minutes

Well…. The adventure is about to begin. In 60 hours and 10 minutes my plane to Dublin Ireland will take off! Dublin is my first stop on a 45 day adventure of a life time! 4 days will be spent in Dublin then, me and two of my friends Jenna and Olivia (I’m sure you will hear about and see them in pictures)  we will be headed to Florence Italy to begin our 6 week Food Wine and Culture class! (pretty crazy hu!)florence

Long story short right now, and for the past couple of days I am trying to figure out what kind emotions I’m feeling. Nervous/sad for leaving the US and my family, boyfriend and friends, excited out of my brains for the trip that I know will change my life. The trip that is still so serial the it is even happening!

For the most part I feel ready. Ready to be there! I’m somewhat packed… (I’ll finish tonight), but I have everything I need (I’m a major pre-planner). All I really have to do is the hardest thing, and that saying goodbye. So many  mixed feelings!!dublin-ireland

From here out this is the blog that will be one of many many more!! If you’re reading this you’re probably family or friends that want to share this life changing experience with me and I can’t thank you enough for supporting me and joining me on this life changing experience. I will take you through Dublin and all across Italy sharing as much as I can (I’m a talker so brace yourself!) If you want to be notified when I post on the home page on the left hand side if you scroll down there will be a button that says follow press that and you will be able to receive emails when I post!!

Ciao!

 

Mentor Reflection

mentor 6

The mentor workshop really reinforced all my feelings and thoughts about being a mentor. My mentor has talked to me a lot about the purpose of being a mentor and the process of selection. So, I would say I felt pretty prepared regarding the process. What really resonated with me was when they asked the difference between a mentor and a role model. mentor 2 mentor 1In my head all I could see was a mentor being someone standing next to you and a role model is someone you look up too. I then thought to myself how I want to be both those things to my mentee. A point the Mentor Workshop pointed out was how to grow a relationship. How we will start as strangers, which will be awkward but how are we going to grow that relationship. That brings me to all my thoughts on how/ what kind of mentor do I want to be. My mentor focused very hard on helping us (me and my twin megan) finding us as leaders and the person we want to be. He did it through many deeper talks and some self-reflecting letters, which I now appreciate. He took a more philosophical approach to our relationships.IMG_0981

The way he went about growing our relationship turned out to work fine but I don’t believe would be the process in which I want to grow mine and my mentees relationship.

I am a very “relationshipy” kind of person. I love giving hugs, and asking about their day went, being the shoulder to cry on. My friends since Jr. High have always called me mom. Now I’ve been really thinking hard about what kind of relationship I want with my mentee. I don’t want that mom relationship. I want to grow from my mentee as much as I hope he/she grows from me. I want to establish trust and loyalty, and positive communication, which is the strong foundation that needs to be made.mentor 4 mentor 3 From that I believe a strong mutual friendship can be made. We can go to each other in the good times and the bad time. For me to be an effective mentor I strongly believe from the beginning we need to have that strong foundation of trust and loyalty, and positive communication. That will be built through spending time together where we feel on equal ground. No one trying to feel more or less than one other. We learn about each other’s past, present goals and goals for the future. Go on adventures together, those times you learn about their personality something that you can’t necessarily explain. All those things build trust, respect, and a care for someone whether we have something in common or not. Those things will make your mentor mentee relationship thrive. Together we will help find who we are as leaders and I will share my experiences since I have already gone through them. I strongly believe putting these into practice will make for a positive mentor and mentee experience. I look forward most to the relationship that we will build and to be that person that he/she knows will always be by their side and there to help them, share the good times, and get through the bad times together. All while helping each other grow our leadership and push ourselves to go outside our comfort zone and open our minds.

mentor 5

LAS in the D Post Trip: We RISE by Lifting OTHERS

I had the opportunity to go on a service learning trip with my Leader Advancement Scholarship cohort members, a trip we call LAS to the D 2015. The Leadership Institute (LI) supports all 40 some of us on a weekend that changes our life. We leave that Friday afternoon all packed up on the charter bus in our Khakis and colored t-shirts, excited and ready to rock and roll. Our first stop was to Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

las in the d 5 las in the d 19

A Charter school that is supported by our University Central Michigan University. We were going to them to meet with their freshman and sophomore advisories to lead them in leadership activities. Activities such as a game called gutter ball, which each students gets a wooded gutter, they only can hold it with their thumb and pinky. The goal is to work as a team and get a marble all the way across the room to the facilitator’s hands. With the hope that these students grasp some concepts of leadership, like: communication, teamwork, adaptation, open mindedness. Then later that afternoon we worked with two clubs/groups within the school PIOLT and BUTTA students, which were essentially mentors to younger students and trained to lead by example. We worked with them in hopes to train them to facilitate leadership activities as we did.

las inthe d 13

After Facilitating with Jalen Rose Leadership Academy we drove to Ford Field were connected was and advertising company called Lowe Campbell Ewald. They’re a Michigan based company that came back to Detroit after leaving to come and support the local economy. They only purchase Michigan products, and only hire Michigan employees as well. We went to Lowe Campbell Ewald to experience the other spectrum of Detroit (the higher end). It represented hope and a future for the Detroit economy. las in the d 7 las in the d 3We then had the amazing opportunity to get a behind the scene tour of Ford Field. One of the large icons in Detroit. After the Ford Field tour and having dinner we went to The Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA). An opportunity for myself and my classmates to experience one of the best art museums in the country. Looking in all kinds of exhibits everything from Edgar Degas’s sketch exhibit to a photography exhibit lAS IN THE D 10of Detroit citizens and they’re stories. We then went in stayed on the center of downtown Detroit at the CMU Global Campus outreach center. Where all 40+ of us crawled into our sleeping bags on the floor getting ready for another big day. We woke up bright and early and got ready to volunteer with a Detroit founded non-profit organization called the Motor City Blight Busters. A non-profit organization that was started by a local man of the town who took charge. With some help of a few who saw the same goal and some passion. Together they made an organization that works for the betterment of the community. Whether it be tearing a house down, boarding a house up, planting flowers, starting gardens, helping local citizens reach their dreams, helping local las in the d 2kids either give back or have a place to go. Blight Busters are definitely not short of giving back. We went and worked with them on the next step of a big project. They tore down some drug houses and wanted to make a farm. We worked on the step of putting the mulch down. You have to do that before you can put the manure down then another layer of mulch and then one layer of manure then vwa-la a farm! Blight Busters promo video with LAS 2014. Here is also the University Communications Press Release of our trip LAS in the D 2015.

las in the d 25 las in the d 24 las in the d 23

las in the d 8 las in the d 6

 

The most eye opening part of the trip for me was working with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy Students. I personally had no idea what to expect. Many thoughts were going through my mind. Once we got there the first thing I noticed were small flags on the walls with Ivy League schools names and crest on them. These flags lined the hallways. I was kind of taken back, not really sure why they would put such prestigious schools flags in their hallways. I was quick to find out that these students didn’t expect anything but their best in what they did. Students were actually attending these universities. We then got with our groups and headed to the advisory class we were assigned. The advisories were divided male and female and then by grade. Those advisory classes would be with the exact same people for the rest of their high school career. My group and I were assigned a freshman male advisory. I was sort of nervous not knowing what to expect walking into that classroom. We introduced ourselves and began with community standards. Essentially rules for our group today. I usually encourage students to think of things along the lines of “RESPECT” they want everyone to be respectful while we go through our activities. They caught on very quick and took it very seriously, which I wasn’t expecting. A lot of times you get group who want to say silly things. They were spitting out standards like open mindedness, challenge yourself, courage, teamwork and more. They taking in what us as facilitators had to say as well as their peers.

The first activity we did was, an ice breaker. We had a beach ball with questions on it everything from what is your leadership style, to Pepsi or Coke. This is when I started to become truly blown away. These students who seemed apprehensive at the start were choosing to open up to their peers and answer deeper questions. We weren’t expecting the students to know their leadership style. One saying “I don’t want to bet e leader in the front but I want to be standing next to everyone as a role model.” Even to the question to what is on your bucket list. las in the d 17One student didn’t understand what that was, once we explained he told us her wanted to see his dad before he graduates high school. Students wanting to be like their older sister, get good grades, graduate high school. Things they were truly sincere about. They worked HARD to be where they’re at and are ready to work hard for where they want to go. Breaking into two smaller groups we started the next activity of gutter ball. Giving them the rules and objective they got started. They were all in, talking together as I gave subtle suggestions which they would dissect and try to figure out how to implement. They were growing right in front of my eyes. But then to debrief and guide the conversation of “WHAT”, what just happened, “SO WHAT” so what about this activity was important to leadership growth, “NOW WHAT” how can you implement what this activity taught you to your everyday life. That stumped them and they talked about team work and communication, the in your face answers. The lights even going out in the middle of our debrief. They didn’t even hesitate “oh that happens once a week” they kept on with our debrief. But I got to ask them about how they had to be open minded and how when faced with a challenge you had to adapt. I have never been able to facilitate such a group where they were so intrigued and absorbing my every word. They changed and grew right in front of my eyes and if we could have had just a couple more hours it would have been amazing.

las in the d 15

My whole LAS cohort and all involved with our LAS in the D Service learning trip displayed leadership throughout our service. Each and every one of us displayed servant leadership through our work with Jalen Rose and the Blight Busters. Focusing in specifically on one leader within our group our advisor Jesi Parker is a specific example of displaying leadership. She was guiding the rest of the group and being a role model for us to model our actions on. She is the ideal servant leader. She worked side by side with us when we were mulching for the Blight Busters leading by example and encouraging us to work hard.

las in the d 22las in the d 20Blight busters

My opinion about Detroit has completely changed. In all honesty Detroit made me nervous. All the hype about how I should be on guard, which you should be in any city. After going on this trip all the stereotypes and truths about Detroit were brought up and addressed.  I was inspired to make a difference. Being there and being around meeting the students and seeing the art and the potential, you feel the love and the hope for not only a new beginning but a rebirth. They want to restore what Detroit once was and there are so many passionate people who and working to do so. Being there just ignited my passion for Detroit and all that it has to offer. I went from being apprehensive of Detroit, to wanting to embrace the beauty of all that it had to offer. I want to make positive change.las in the d 11

After this experience I feel passionate about making positive change. Being in Detroit inspires me to make positive change not just for Detroit, but also to make positive change for my own community. By volunteering for local organizations, schools, and making my home better place, by being a role model and servant leader. Blight Busters motto “think globally act locally” really hit home with me. Not only did the service trip give me an itch to volunteer and make a difference it revealed a passion of mine. After working with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy students I was reflecting to myself about how much that changed my life. How teaching/facilitating makes me so happy. I got to watch them learn about themselves as leaders through my guidance.las inthe d 14 Through just their facial expressions and body language I could see the change. Those activities and debriefing changed those students’ lives. I taught them how to bring out their inner leader, showed them confidence some didn’t know they had. I helped them grow and invaluable attribute that will only mean positive things for them. Coming to that realization I knew that I want to do this for forever!

las in the d 16las in the D 1las in the d 18

Book Review “The Element” By. Ken Robinson

element

The Element

Introduction

The Element by Ken Robinson published in 2009 is a book that goes in depth on his view that creativity at an early ages is killed. Children are brainwashed into the “square” that the school systems have created. Leaving no room for children to stretch their creative, independent legs. School systems are not staying up to pace with society, as society– specifically the professional world are harnessing and thirsty for people who have embraced their unique, creativity and ability to think independently. Robinson talks about his beliefs on how kids aren’t finding their passions in school. How they completely miss the mark and make it actually less likely that students will fulfill their “element”/passion. The argument that Ken Robinson puts forth is more than the woulda shoulda coulda’s of the school systems, it’s about having lives that have purpose and meaning, in and beyond whatever work we do.

Ken Robinson an educationalist has a broad background. Being and English author, speaker (many Ted Talks), international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He was a director of the arts in Schools Project, a Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick. Aside his experiences his occupation entails being an author, speaker, expert on education, creativity and innovation, as well as holding a Ph.D.

Before starting this book I thought I knew what it was going to talk about: telling me how to find my passion. I was very curious on what it would tell me and how the little stories of other people’s experiences were going to help me find my own passion.  Of course I hoped it would answer my question of “what is my passion”, “is the passion I have right now really my passion?” Obviously it didn’t blatantly tell me what my passion was. Yet, it did walk me through on how not to close any doors, to open up my mind. That I am unique and I don’t have to fit into a box. I can be many different things and no matter what, there is something to help harness my passion as long as I open and accept that door.  As I first started reading with the perspective of leadership I didn’t quite understand how this could help me as leader. Once I got into the book more I realized why I was very wrong. The moment I came to the realization is when Robinson says, “The only way to prepare for the future is to make the most out of ourselves on the assumption that doing so will make us as flexible and productive as possible.” Which he explains is the finding of our element “the place where our natural aptitude meets our personal passion.  Furthermore, it depends on our attitudes and opportunities”, he sums it up as, “I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity).” As a leader the more you know about yourself the better you can lead. To be able to know how to find your passion and harness it only makes you stronger. To not only find it in yourself but to help others find there’s, is a leadership skills I consider not typical but very beneficial. It is a leadership I strive to have. Reading this book will get you one step closer to finding and understanding your own element, which gets you closer to helping others do the same.

Key concepts

This book is very elaborate. It talks very much in depth about “The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.” How when you find your element you’ll feel the most yourself, most inspired and achieve at your highest levels. The take away from this book can be broken done into four sections. I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity).

  1. Intelligence and creativity are not limited. Instead of asking how intelligent we should be asking how is that person intelligent. Also how everyone is creative in different ways, finding creativity sometimes is finding our medium to help us find our element. Robinson also gives examples of people who have harnessed and pursued their intelligence and creativity. (I get it (Aptitude))
  2. Then to find support groups who share the same element as you. How obstacles may come in our way, we have to hurdle them to pursue our element. We also have to keep an open mind to allow us to see the opportunities available to us every day and it’s ok to ask for help. (I love it (Passions)), (I want it (Attitude))
  3. Coming to the end, he showed how it is never too late “while our bodies definitely will age, our minds do not have to.” He gives examples of people that took years to find their element ad pursue them. Then even goes to talk and give examples how some may find passion in things that they don’t get paid to do. (I want it (Attitude)), (Where is it(Opportnity))
  4. Bringing it full circle he talks about how standardized testing isn’t the way. We shouldn’t be having standardized education, we should have individualized education. His lasting print he wants to make is his idea of Elemental Education.  “In fact, the real challenges for education will only be met by empowering passionate and creative teachers and by firing up the imaginations and motivations of the students.” So future generations can find their element earlier. They can pursue and grow their passions to their full potential. (I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity)).

These four components are walking you through the whole journey of finding your passion/ “element” how to pursue it and grow it, how no matter how long it takes you if you don’t get paid you should pursue it and then it ends wanting you to be aware and take action for future generations and their journey to find and grow their element.

Application to student leaders (three paragraphs)

This book has broadened my leadership frame. Not only is their specific leadership philosophies and “ways” but the pursuit of finding how your true element can change everything. Whether your find a hub with people who share the same passion. Where you together can make a huge difference, or you help others find and grow their own element. It has prepared me as a CMU leader to know everyone has their own element whether they have found it or they haven’t and to be aware of that. Understanding that can only make you a stronger leader.

This book wasn’t easy to read it takes a bit too fully grasp the content of the story. The mini stories do get redundant, which made it hard for me to get in the rhythm of the book. As I worked my way through it was easier for me to put the full puzzle together. If you’re looking for a book to help guide you to help others and yourself find their element the book is a great tool. So with that for me it depends on the person if I would recommend it to them or not. It heavily talks about the wrongs of the education system which I feel strongly towards but could be very dry and boring to others.

After reading this book I will approach many things differently. The way I looked at it is I want to encourage others to color outside the lines. Find your element “color” and scribble that sh** everywhere and to love every second, because finding your passion changes everything.