Tag Archives: it is what you make it

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.

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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

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Everybody needs a beach day

Monday July 4 and Tuesday July 5

The concept Fourth of July in Italy stumped us for a moment. I believe this is when the four of us really had our first bout of homesickness. As we got plenty of pictures of friends and family together at lakes and cottages, barbequing and enjoy each other’s company…all while we were here, in Florence, in our apartment with no air-conditioning, in the 100 degree weather, with no water but a river that is not at all a swimming river. SO with that we took it as a challenge. We’re going to the beach!

We asked around in our class and found out that Via Reggio was the best place for us to go. Train ticket was cheap, you get mountains in the background of the ocean, warm water, cute town, good gelato. Honestly all we needed to know was that there was a sand beach. We were very ready for the 4th knowing we would be on the beach but celebrating the birth of the United States of America on a beautiful beach in Italy. With that Olivia brought her American flag towel and we were off. The beach was beautiful a picture couldn’t capture it. And it was HOT! But with a perfect temperature ocean with some decent waves we needed nothing else. We walk up to the beach and it is just covered with tons and tons of umbrellas only making space for a little walk-way from the “club” to the water. The beach was divided into many clubs as you walk the shore each different color umbrella was a different beach club. So we went to the first one we saw and bought 4 chairs and an umbrella each item 5 euro. Then having to walk down to the life guard hand him the receipt and he showed us to our spot and made sure we “got what we ordered”. To all of us it was very weird… myself knowing New Jersey beaches, Jenna knowing California beaches and the other two knowing the lake routine this was very different. Finally getting settled we lay down to realize one we are melting and two we are starving. We jump into the water swam, which was like bath water the under tow was very strong but the water wasn’t deep at all maybe to my hips so we kneeled and jumped waves. We laughed the whole time. We left he water and went on our next hunt, time for food. We walked up to the club shack thing and all they had was a mini bar and some ice cream (no what we were looking for). Not knowing still to today if it was appropriate for us to do so we club hopped looking for some drinks and a sandwich. We found one after some walking and I had a delicious tuna sandwich (first time I’ve seen mayo since we’ve been here, I was pumped) with a mojito (it was like drinking the forest there was so much greenery in it). All in all it was pretty good. Heading back to the beach we were happy to find that nothing was stolen from our spot so we laid down now for a nap and for me my book :).

For the rest of the day we moved one more time to get in the water and cool down, and then for a walk where we saw a plethora of topless women and banana hammocks. We were having the Italian beach experience. Until the very end of the day we went to find some gelato to not only find gelato but to find that all of our skin was as red as red can be… IMG_3380All we could really do was laugh at this point. Jenna looked the worse later that night once we got home her red face and chest matched our red couch in the living room (it was hilarious). Until my slightly pink chest and stomach decided it wanted to blister (this was a day after I thought it was in the clear).IMG_3385

Also, the night we got home we were going to the back of the apartment to hanging our damp towels up on the line wen Angie screams and tells pretty much the whole neighborhood that there is a lizard on the screen (taking a solid three minutes to decide whether the weird flat looking lizard was inside or outside, it was on the inside). Olivia coming in for the lizard rescuer pulls out the Australian ascent and goes in with a bowl, nothing else. We’re all laughing and want the lizard out. Obviously the bowl didn’t work, then she tried to grab it with her fingers. This is when it went to extreme. She finally made contact with the fast lizard’s tail only for it to fall off! The lizard used it defense mechanism to allow Olivia to pull his tail off. She was devastated and we all squatted near the tail with no lizard attached squirm on the ground (for a solid 30 minutes it squirmed). The lizard after that was out of sight honestly we’re just hoping it went out the way it came in.

By then we were exhausted, sun drained, burned, and ready for bed. We woke up the morning of Tuesday July 5th to the burn of yesterday and the first cooking day in class!!! We got to whip out our aprons and print off our recipes and we made Pollo Con le Prugne (chicken with prunes), and Schiacciata Bianca Cappello (renaissance schiacciata with custard). Lorenzo our attractive Italian chef helping us cook this meal was extremely knowledgeable!!! Jenna and I were in charge of the custard for the Schiacciata Bianca Cappello. “This takes patience” Lorenzo said and is did he taught us the way to do it perfect and perfect it turned out!! It is a game with the heat Lorenzo states and that concept lead to him telling us all about how the temperature and timing of how we heat food makes all the difference. The chicken we cooked today was being cooked at a lower temperature to steadily bond the colognes making a moist but still fully cooked chicken breast. You don’t want to cook you meats on to high of a temperature ever or the colognes (proteins) will bond to fast and you will have dry chicken or over cooked meat. He taught us a trick to know when your meat is perfect, and gave us a tip and deep explanation on how never to preheat an oven when cooking cakes, and how to cook the perfect scrambled egg. I felt so filled with knowledge! The meal turned out unbelievable but not as filling as we had hoped.

We went home and all took a siesta, which ended up being way longer than planned, woke up starving and on the search for some lunch. We had a hard time finding a restauIMG_3387rant that was open, because they eat lunch and then close at like 3 and don’t open till like 7:30pm for dinner. We could only find a place in a piazza (tourist are always in the piazza=open on tourist times). We got our first spaghetti and sauce (meatballs aren’t really a thing here). The lunch was delicious. We walked around and shopped now in a way better mood after finally getting food!!

We met very nice restaurant owners one evening as we were walking around and decided tonight would be a great night to go and actually tryout their food. They are known for their La Bisteaka Florintine. Which is basically this huge cut of steak that gets taken our raw raw and weighed in front of us then to only be cook for 12 minutes coming out still pretty raw. We had no idea how to go about eating this thing us four looked at each other and decided it would be best to ask. They covered the meat with olive oil and told us to squeeze our lemon on it. Weirded out a little by the whole thing I was the first one to put the very raw chunk for meat bathed in olive oil and lemon in my mouth and it was AMAZING!!! Nothing else needs to be said about that dinner the steak was the highlight and I’m not sure if I can eat steak any other way.

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!).

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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

 

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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.

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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)

 

 

 

 

“And then I realized ADVENTURES are the best way to learn”

6/29/16

Well the tired is sinking in we’ve been so go go go. I haven’t really realized how much we’ve done till today. We woke up and went to class where we learned all about Tuscany food wine and culture (shocker right) it was fascinating! We start the class with some Italian. We worked on introduction conversation today: How are you?–> Come stai?, goodà bene, and you?–> E tu?, not bad/so soà casi casi, what is your nameà come ti chiami?, my name is_____–> Mi chiamo Kate. Then we talked about the Tuscan Estrusans history and their impact on Italy they were the start of the mediteranian diet of mainly wine, fish, oil, and grain. In the frescas on the walls they were able to figure out what they ate (old paintings on walls). We also talked about the main cooking traditions of both north and south Italy and what they are known for! He paired each with a fascinating story which made things so clear. Then we talked about the best and most appreciated wine in Italy called Montalcino. Then we went into the history and impact of the Medici “mea-di-chi” family on Italian culture and society. We shaped up to days lecture with conversation on how Italian cuisine has effected French cuisine, the renaissance (rinascimento) of Italy, and the resurrection (Risorgimento) of Italy. It was the period were cooks and artist worked to inspire Italians to come together and fight against invaders and become one. Where in 1861 they became a country!!

Then we moved into the next part of class going over seasonality and taking our new knowledge to the market

to take pictures as well as visit a bakery were we tasted three kinds of breads. 1. Tuscan bread, which is bread with no salt (made to make crispy and put bruschetta on, or a salty meat. Oil and spices like you get at Italian oven isn’t a thing here it’s like something Americans decided was Italian) 2. Schiacciata, which is a very salty bread, 3. Coccoli fritti (its fried salty bread that you cut in half and put prochutto (a thinly sliced meat) and cheese it was awesome!!. After Jenna and I went to the market and went to get fruit and I ate the best peach I have ever eaten!!!IMG_3247 After we went to get lunch and sat and had a great time. The pictures say enough…

Later we ventured to the Ponte Vecchio, which means Old Bridge” in Italian – it is the most famous bridge in Florence and undoubtedly one of the city’s most illustrious landmarks. It was beautiful and nothing of what I expected. The bridge is know for its high high end jewelry. To actually stand there and realize that there were stores lining both sides of the bridge that were selling jewelry so expensive i could pay for almost a full semester of my college education with. Let that fact sink in for a second…IMG_3221IMG_7943

We than stumbled upon the Uffizi Gallery (we decided not to go in yet so when we go we can spend more time) The plaza center of the Uffitzi had tons of crazy talented artist everywhere. You continue to walk and this is what we found.

We all started to hit the wall tired and were regretting not taking a siesta we tried to get to Gonzo (the school restaurant were we have tokens for) for dinner but they were closed. So instead we found this sweet restaurant called.

Not feeling great after today. It was a long hot one we are realizing we need to drink A LOT MORE WATER!!!!

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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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

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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!!!

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

Shaping People Shaping Business

The beginning of my sophomore year was the beginning of a new chapter I had decided. I changed my major and enter in to the business school and was ready to get involved in an organization that would enhance my professionalism to be better prepared for the business world. Human resources being my chosen major I looked into SHRM the Human resources group on campus and every time I tried to make it to a meeting it would never work. The pieces weren’t falling in to place. Then one day as I walked through Grawn the Business College building there was a student booth setting up handing out lanyards, sunglasses, and handing out candy (honestly the original reason I stopped was for a jolly rancher). The poster board they were presenting said on the top in big bold letters ALPHA KAPPA PSI- Professional Business Fraternity – Next Generation of Principled Business Leaders. It really caught my eye, I wanted to be a part of the next generation of principled business leaders, and that started it all.cest akp

Next thing I knew I was in full swing of the AKP pledging process. Learning their traditions, resume critiques, presentation skills, interviewing skills ect. AAKP girlsll preparing me to be more prepared for the business world. The process was long and a lot of work but right in front of my very own eyes I saw change in myself. I was learning more and figuring out more what I want to do for the rest of my life, my values, how the organizations alumni base and collection membership experiences will benefit me, and how I wanted to make a difference in the organization. Not even mentioning the friends I have met through this process and akp made itbeing able to have the best Big ever, I am never short of people to ask for help and advice.

This Spring being my first active semester as a member I was given one of the most important positions in the fraternity. I was corporate relations co-chair, I worked with my chair and CMU Career Services to put on the Alpha Kappa Psi Career Fair.jump start your career Where this year we hosed 145 companies and over 1500 students. This opportunity to plan an event of such magnitude, and to work with employers was an experience of a life time. Now as I was a co-chair this coming Fall of 2016, it will be my turn to head up the event, which I am very excited about.

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Alpha Kappa Psi Career Day in Finch Fieldhouse

Another area within the fraternity that I am very excited to be heading is implementing actual leadership development practices into the fraternity. Leadership education is an area as a leader advancement scholar and in my everyday life that I am very passionate about. We, AKP say we develop principled business leaders, which we do with business etiquette and experience, but with no formal leadership training and education. As I make head way with this implementation and partnering with the Leadership Institute it has sparked my passion in Human Resources as I want to pursue employee training and development.

Alpha Kappa Psi is another very exciting family that I have joined and am very excited for the opportunities and doors that it will provide me in the years to come.

Mentor /Mentee Reflection

The day I chose my mentee on mentor mentee selection day I had vowed to be the best mentor, role model, friend and support system I could be, whether she wanted me sometimes or all the time. Luckily she became, and is now one of my very good friends. Our relationship is a little different than others. We not only are bonded together through a family of Leader Advancement Scholars, but we are bonded together through another family, the CMU cheer team. So, I got a different opportunity to spend a large chunk of thekatekelly summer getting to know Kelly (my mentee 🙂 ). As we worked tirelessly through two-a-days, running through the heat, stunting in the elements and laughing as we attempted to walk up the stairs and ended up crawling to bed at night. We bonded as friends and teammates first. I never tried to force my “wisdom” upon her, I continuously reminded her I am always here for you and if I don’t know the answer I will find it for you. This happened all before many of my fellow cohort even have met their mentees. When my cohort and all of our mentees got to spend that quality time getting to know each other Kelly and I had been solidifying our relationship as we went on a mentor/mentee bonding trip to eagle village. We got very lucky in the process in which we got to know each other. retreat k an kkate and kelly

To be a mentor can be hard though, it isn’t like a Greek Life Big, Little relationship. We are mentors, someone for them to come to for advice and to share their experience and knowledge of how to be a campus leader, even to learn to get through college. I could go on and on about Kelly and I’s relationship and on how I’ve been blessed with a great friend and team mate, how proud I am of her and how she has done in her school work, and pursued getting involved on campus, but that’s not the purpose of this blog.

As a mentor I really scollage k an ktrived to make sure we first had mutual respect, we don’t have a large age gap and we are going through very similar things even though I’m a year older. By having mutual respect, we both are “allowed” to confide in each other. This is a two-way relationship in which my role is to help her get acclimated, understand the ways of the LI, the introductory way to get involved on campus. With mutual respect, I can look at her as a role model, as I hope she looks at me as a role model. We learn from each of our actions as leaders as we strive to figure out who we are as leaders. I am lucky enough that we can do this together and that in the quickly passing first year I have made a great friend that I know I’ll have for many year, but someone who I have taught to not be afraid to ask questions and find answers, to be confident in herself and her leadership learning process, and she has taught me that I am still in the learning process myself and that she has my back too. This is just the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship with a girl who I am blessed to have in my life that shares some of my passions, but is open to join me on our journey together to be the next generation of ethical leaders.