London Bridge is Falling Down

It’s Friday night November 4th and I’m currently sitting on a plane waiting for it to take off and head to London (we got delayed an hour and a half, so annoying). I’m going to visit my friend Bailey who is in graduate school at Oxford University. We’re going to spend some time together and explore all the cool places in London. I’ve been in Italy for six weeks so far. I finished my first block of classes today and now I have a break until Thursday, which I’m using to travel. Which is crazy! I feel like I just got here but I’m already halfway through. This is my first trip out of Italy and I’m a little nervous to be traveling by myself but so far so good. I also have three more trips planned. My next trip is to Berlin, Germany on November 18 through November 21.Then two weeks after that I’m going to Paris, France and a week after that I’m going to Athens, Greece. I cannot express how excited I am to be going to all of these places but especially Paris. I’ve wanted to go to Paris since I was little but I wanted to go even more after taking four years of French.

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Berlin is going to be awesome. I’ve heard so many good things about Germany so I’m excited to see for myself. I’m also excited because I am German. At least part German anyways. My last name is German and my grandfather can trace my great (x5, I think) grandfather back to Germany so I can’t wait to see a country that I know for sure holds a piece of my ancestry. I’m also going to visit my friend Karlye. She was my roommate for my first block and also one of my closest friends here. The CIEE program is open-campus meaning students can travel to different locations for each block. A lot of students take advantage of the open-campus program and Karlye is one of them. She spent her first block in Paris, her second block in Rome and now she is spending her third block in Berlin. So it created the perfect opportunity for me to visit her and also have the chance to travel to a new place.

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I’m traveling to Paris with another roommate named Kendall. She’s always up for an adventure just like me so we found a pretty cheap flight and decided to go since we’re both free that weekend. I don’t know exactly what we are going to do yet but I know it will be fun. There is so much to see in Paris and I’m sure we won’t have time to see it all but as long as I get to see the Eiffel Tower I will be happy. Of course we’re going to take all the typical touristy pictures.

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My trip to Athens will be with my new roommate Chrissy and two other girls named Gracie and Haley. We have an Italian national holiday on December 8 so I will be traveling Thursday through Monday. I’m so excited to have five days to explore such a beautiful place. This will be my last trip before my finals and before I go home. I think it is going to be a wonderful way to end my experience here and make sure that I take home memories that I will never forget.

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By the time I leave to go home I will have visited five countries; Italy, France, England, Germany, and Greece. I will have traveled in Italy to Naples, Sicily, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Siena and maybe more. And I will have completely immersed myself in to the Italian culture and lived the way an Italian would for three months. I’m pretty satisfied with that. I will have had the opportunity to see a few other countries and travel throughout many areas of Italy. I will have a never ending collection of stories to tell and enough pictures to last me until I can plan another trip back. I can’t wait to come home and tell everyone all about it.

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Molto Bene!

Wow, has it been three weeks already? Time is flying by here in Rome. First let me apologize for being so late posting another blog. My feet have been running since they hit the ground here in Rome. But no fear, I’ll fill you in on what my first couple of weeks across the big blue have been like.

 

On Sunday, September 26 I left my family and boarded my first plane ever to leave the country for the first time ever. Guys that’s big! I tell that to people here and they’re like wow you’re just doing everything at once aren’t you? But I’m alive! My first two flights ever were absolutely amazing. The beauty of this amazing earth we live on was breathtaking from that high up. It was like riding the tallest rollercoaster in the world. I was glad that I had a short flight from Charlotte to JFK first. That way I could get a feel of what flying was like before I started the eight and a half hour flight from JFK to Rome. The first time taking off literally took my breath away. I stared out the window the whole entire ride. I don’t know exactly what states we passed over but I was so in awe. I could see huge fields and ponds and communities with a lot of houses. We even went out over the ocean at one point and flew up what I’m assuming was the New Jersey coast. I could see sediment flowing around in the water along the coast and this marine biology loving gal was super excited about it. We came in to JFK along Long Beach Island and the Rockaway Beaches and I could definitely see where it got its name. And I thought maybe, just maybe, I could even see the Statue of Liberty way off in the distance. I was hoping we would go by it but we didn’t. The landing was less exciting than take off but according to the lady next to me our pilot did an excellent job landing. I thanked him for a great first flight as I walked off the plane.

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Catching my next flight was a breeze. Thankfully the gate I needed to be at was three down from the gate I got off on so it was super easy. My second flight was even more amazing than the first. Sleeping on the plane was hard, especially considering there were three small children on the plane around me. But I got to see the sun set over the East coast of the United States and then rise over Italy. The orange glow of the setting sun over the top of the clouds was so beautiful. There was even a rainbow of colors over the horizon at one point. Don’t worry I posted pictures on Facebook. Go check them out. My absolute favorite part between both flights was looking out the window on the last little leg of my international flight just as we finally found land again and seeing the lights from the cities below me. The sun hadn’t started to come up yet so it was still dark and the lights were the only thing you could see. I felt so blessed to see such a beautiful sight. We landed in Rome just as the sun was coming up and I couldn’t imagine a better way to arrive in this beautiful country. It just set such a positive tone for my experience here.

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My whole trip up until I landed in Rome was so great. My flights were easy to find and board and I had enough time to eat and look around. And going through security was a breeze. Honestly I think I’m pretty lucky to have such a great first trip. Getting to Rome and finding my way through the airport was a little more challenging. Thank goodness that I met some really nice people on the plane that were so helpful. One woman named Sarah was sitting behind me and she was flying to Rome to meet up with some friends to celebrate her 40th birthday. She also had baggage to pick up so I asked her if I could tag along since it was my first time. It was a good thing that she said yes because honestly I’m not sure that I would have made it through the airport without her. Monday mornings are one of the busiest times at the Fiumicino airport so there were a lot of people. It was very overwhelming to get here and not understand a word that anyone was saying. It was very uncomfortable but thanks to Sarah I made it through. We went through customs and got our luggage and she helped me find the place where I was supposed to meet my group. I told her that my mother would thank her immensely and she said that she hoped someone would do the same for her children.

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She was my hero that day and I can’t express how much I appreciated her help. I’d finally arrived in Rome! I was exhausted and overwhelmed but excited. It was a memory I’ll never forget but it was just the first with many more to come!

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T-2 Days!!

A few weeks ago I helped move my baby sister into college. She began her journey at Lander University with a little nervousness and a lot of excitement. We helped her move her things in and get her room set up and then we had to leave her there and come back home. It was hard but I know she is strong and will find her way. She aspires to join their nursing school with the hopes of working in pediatrics one day. Words can’t describe how proud I am of her and I can’t wait to see what her future holds. I know she can accomplish anything she sets her mind too.

 

Helping her move in reminded me of my freshman year at Wofford. It reminded me of that feeling of the unknown. Of not knowing your surroundings or the way things work. What time does the dining hall close? Where is the admissions office? My schedule says my class is in RMSC, what does that even mean? There is so much to learn and it can be so overwhelming. But after a while, without even noticing it, you begin to figure things out. You lose that feeling of being uncomfortable and you ease into a familiar routine. Wofford has become a second home to me and I’m so proud to be a Terrier. There is nothing better than walking around campus and recognizing just about every face you see. I also love the sense of safety and comfort that Wofford provides. But it’s time to step out of my comfort zone.

 

In two days I will be flying out to spend my fall semester in Rome, Italy. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions that I’m feeling. To be honest it really doesn’t feel real yet. I’m not sure that it will until I’m actually on the plane. I’m very excited, a little nervous and sad, and maybe slightly afraid. I’m once again feeling that sense of the unknown and it’s really strong this time. I’ve never been out of the country or flown on a plane before and I’ve never really been away from home either. I don’t know where I will be living in Rome or who I will be living with. I don’t know anything about the city or what’s there. I honestly won’t know much until I get there and that is a little unsettling. Thankfully I do know that there are a few people from Wofford that are in my program so it will be comforting to see a few familiar faces.

 

It’s scary to think about how I’m going to be alone in a different country where the native language is not English. The fact that I’m going to be the one out of place and the one who doesn’t belong is very intimidating. I won’t be able to go home for dinner or visit my family when I want to and that is new to me. I’ve always been a family oriented person and I went home as often as I could. But for three months I’m going to be across the ocean in a different country that’s a 10 hour flight away from home. That fact alone makes my family worry because they can’t get to me very easily if something happened. It’s enough to make anyone nervous but this trip is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s something I decided to do for myself. After having a difficult junior year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and live a little. I want to try new things and see new places and have those experiences that are going to change me for the better.

 

I’m currently in the process of packing. It’s hard to pack for three months. I’m having a hard time deciding what to take and how much to take. I’ve always been that person who over packs but I can’t do that this time. I’m just trying to pick very versatile clothing that will work for all types of occasions and weather. The good thing is that I can always buy things in Rome if I need to. I think I’ve pretty much got just about everything ready to go except for those last few things I can’t pack until the morning I leave.

 

All summer I’ve been shopping and gathering all the things I thought I might need to take with me. Picking clothes and getting a few hygiene products and things I use everyday has been pretty easy. The hardest thing I’ve come across is getting all my formal documents together and everything I need to take my medications into the country. The first thing I had to do was get my passport and I had no idea that it took so long to get it. I had to wait four weeks just to get an appointment at the post office to turn in my paperwork. But thankfully I got started on that early enough that I got it in plenty of time. Getting prescriptions for my medications was a little harder. When I go to the doctor they usually just email the prescription straight to the pharmacy and I never get a physical copy. So when I went to the doctor I had to make sure that I asked for printed copy of my prescriptions. I forgot to ask for a few of them and had to go back later and get one. I also had to check all of my electronics and make sure that they are dual voltage and I had to buy plug adapters. I’ve packed all of my important things in my carry-on bag and I checked to make sure I was allowed to take everything. I followed the instructions of my program and I’ve packed a couple extra pairs of clothing and travel size shampoo and conditioner. So I really feel like I’m mostly ready to go which is very nice. Now I can spend the little bit of time I have left with my family and friends.

 

I think I’m most worried about finding my way through the airports by myself. Since I’ve never been in one it’s very intimidating. I feel confident that I will be able to read signs and find my way around. It just makes me a little nervous. I’m also a little sad to be away from my family. I know I’m going to miss them a lot but thankfully I can call and text and talk to them whenever I want to.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I’m going to try to post as often as I can while I’m in Rome. I love the idea of sharing my experience with all of my family and friends. It will be easy for everyone to read my blogs and keep up with how my semester is going without having to always contact me directly. I apologize for this post being kind of jumpy. I think it accurately represents how my mind is right now. There is so much to do and so many things are unknown. I’m just trying to make sense of all of it as best as I can.

 

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way and has made this trip possible. You know who you are. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to share every part of my journey with you. I love you all so much and I’m going to miss you terribly but I’ll see you when I get back. The best is yet to come!

 

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