I have no idea if anyone still follows this, reads this, or even found this blog in the first place… but after practically falling off of the face of the earth, I decided to start writing again.
SO much has happened in the literal years I have not posted on here. Ups, downs, loops, twists of fate… Pretty much been through everything! But this is not the place for all of that nonsense… this is about GOING GLOBAL!
After 3 years of strictly stateside traveling, I finally got the chance to go back to Europe! My family and I took a lovely 10-day trip through Italy. Now, my family loves to travel… there’s just one problem. Dad really does not like to fly! Over the last few years, we have gotten him to get over his fear and trek to California, Vegas, and the Bahamas. We even convinced him to fly to Florida several times a year, instead of our usual 18 hour drive! So when planning this vacation, we definitely made it worth our while. First class plane tickets, 5 star hotels… we knew this was probably the only time Dad would fly overseas, so we did it big! Our base camp was in Rome at the Westin Excelsior. Highly recommended for its service, location, and proximity to major tourist attractions. During the time we visited, the Metro was being serviced, which made it a little difficult to get around. Add that to the over 100 degree weather, and you get a very cranky mother and father! Luckily, my dad is awesome and we were able to take taxis all around town.
Throughout the course of the trip, we took several mini-trips to different parts of Italy. Florence and Venice were the obvious must-sees. Florence is just so magical to me… as much as I love Rome and its history, I could see myself living in Florence. To be honest, Venice was as unenjoyable this time around as it was 3 years ago. It feels like such a tourist trap, almost as if Disney World claimed a part of Italy for itself.
We took a day trip to Pompeii - ended up being the hottest day of the trip. Let’s just say we decided not to return here in the future. From there, a winding drive along the Amalfi Coast truly was a beautiful sight. It reminded me of those 1950s beach movies! We then set off to a small town called Nusco - where my maternal grandmother (Nonna) was born. Although my mother had been there when she was a teenager, it was the first time for my dad, sisters, and I. We met up with relatives still living in the small farm town. A lot has changed there since my mother’s last trip, but it felt like an authentic Italian town, away from the busy city life. Prior to this trip, I really hadn’t given much thought to the fact that I had family on the other side of the world. But seeing them made them “real” - as silly as that sounds. It was very emotional on a deeper level to see these people and the home where my Nonna grew up.
After another day of sightseeing in Rome, we spent the weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland, with family. I don’t speak French and my Italian is VERY limited… so conversing with everyone was a challenge! A LOT of hand gestures were used. And yet, spending time with these people felt so natural that the language barrier seemed to disappear. I had only met some of them once in my life - and others not at all. It really struck me how the word “family” can mean so many different things. Some consider family to be those immediate members that you see everyday or on major holidays. This was not the case here. Maybe there is something in the crisp Swiss air, but it felt like home.
We did the requisite sightseeing in Lausanne; Cathedrals, shopping in Old Town, and the gorgeous view of Lake Geneva. If any of you have the chance to visit Lausanne - TAKE IT! It really was just a picturesque, beautiful place. The air is so clean that you feel like you can take deep breaths that never end. There were no clouds in the sky anywhere, and you could see for miles. At night, the stars shined brighter than I had ever seen anywhere in the world.
After tearful goodbyes, we returned “home” to Rome. The next day was spent souvenir shopping and revisiting the places we had fell in love with over the course of the week in Rome. While Rome has stayed the same, I had a completely different experience this time around. I realized how much I have changed as a person - more mature, bigger dreams, different wants, priorities, and desires. Three years ago, I was with strangers who became friends - who eventually became family. This time, I went with my family and we became even closer. While there are many benefits to traveling, there is one that is especially important to me and my family - time. The time we spend together, all together, without other obligations getting in the way is invaluable. Home in New York, we all have crazy busy lives. My one sister is a junior at Boston University, and my youngest sister is a junior in High School. Sometimes I go days without seeing my youngest sister - even though we live in the same house! As we all get older and start different chapters of our lives, travel will be something that gets harder to do together. And yet, making that time to see new places (or even familiar ones) with the people you love is what life is all about.
This past Saturday was the one year anniversary of my return to the States! After an entire year, I can honestly say it feels like I was in Europe just last week. I miss it more than ever. All of my videos, photos, and memories can’t even equate to the actual experience. It only takes one look at a random photo, or a video on Facebook, to bring back a whole new wave of memories and feelings. The best part of this Spring 2010 semester at St. John’s was all of the assignments and projects I centered around my Study abroad experience. Not only did my DTW experience provide me with an easy topic for projects, but it also forced me to create videos, scrapbooks, journal entries, advertisements, and mementos about studying abroad. Kind of like “killing two birds with one stone” ;)
So after a few more papers, and checking out the last of my residents (I’m an RA), I will be finished with my junior year of college. The one year mark flew by so quickly… I can’t imagine how much faster the years to come will go by. Hopefully I can continue to re-live my study abroad experience everyday, through my photos, videos, and best friends :)
My Commercial for Go Global! for my MCC class :)
When in Rome, take advantage of all of the local markets, shops, and fairs. Talk to locals, as they will be the ones that can direct you to the best shopping, sightseeing, and restaurants. Get off the beaten path; instead of spending ALL of your time doing touristy things, make sure you experience the Rome that the locals see everyday.
When at a market or even in small, family owned shops, you should try to bargain with the seller. Never pay full price for anything in these shops! They are often overpriced, and you can purchase your goods for much less than the original price. These shops are great for souvenirs for family and friends, but make sure the sellers don’t swindle you into purchasing something you really don’t need.
I highly recommend going to Campo d’Fiori during the daytime for a fresh food market. It is well known as a nighttime hot spot, but during the day it has fresh produce, fish stands, meat stands, and pasta stations. You can purchase homemade pasta sauce and olive oil infused with great herbs.
OK. Let’s get something straight. You haven’t had a proper croissant until you’ve had one in Paris. When my younger sister came to visit me in Paris for Valentine’s Day (a sweet Valentine’s Day present, right?!) she became obsessed with crepes and croissants. ”Pain au chocolat” is basically a “croissant with chocolate.” And if you haven’t had one, book a flight to Paris and get yourself a box of them STAT.
Pain au chocolat. Seriously you should try one of these. They’re simply delicious. And even tastier in France. Every morning they’d serve it with breakfast at the hotels we were staying at in Paris, and we would take a couple extra for the rest of the day!
I found this picture of “hot chocolate” in Spain. A common dessert is churros and chocolate, such as the chocolate pictured here. The churros aren’t like the cinnamon/sugar covered ones found in the states. They are just fried pieces of dough, and when dipped in chocolate, they are PHENOMENAL!
reblogged from florez… thanks :)