Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One City, Different Lives

Centrale Station

First, I want to talk about is friends.  As we know we all worry about this aspect. Well I thought I was doing well and then the friends I made started to not include me into trips or dinner or whatever.  Then I met some friends in my language classes and we hung out after class and on the weekend, but now that classes have started its like no one has time for me.  I was at this low point after I asked 4 people to go to dinner last night and no one wanted to go with me. I went by myself. Though today as I was running my errands and going to the market. I ran into a girl that is here doing a master’s program and lives in my building (we met once before very quickly). We talked and walked back from the market together.
Centrale Station
She was asking me about my friends and hall mates. I told her about them ignoring me and she said that it happens to everyone and she just really started making friends herself.  So it helps and all I can say is if you don’t come with someone which a lot of people do come like 2 people from a school.  Making friends can be hard and take time. Don’t be afraid to go out on adventures by yourself.  Have fun and people will see you having fun and want to join you. 

Flare Aftermath
Flare Aftermath

Next point is that if people tell you that a sport is a big deal in the country you are visiting please listen to them.  I knew Italy was big on Soccer (futbol, calcio), but I didn’t imagine how big.  Apparently there was a fairly large match today in Italy or on TV one,
but the fans of the winning team were out in hoards to celebrate even though I heard they lost later that night.  After my class I walked to the metro station and got on then I transferred underground lines to get home at Cadorna F.N. station. Walking to where I had to hop on the metro home I didn’t notice much until I reached the stairs and chanting could be heard.  As I neared the bottom I noticed fans of some team with green in the colors (later found out it was a Celtic team) chanting and rocking the metro at the station at the time. Not wanting to ruin the party I decided to skip that metro for the next one.  Well that was one of my mistakes for the day.  I got on the next metro which was not rocking or loud chants coming out from it at the time.  As it started moving chants started and fans cheering and drinking.  Only to set a green flare off in the metro (train) luckily enough we were pulling into a station at that time.  As the smoke grew and spread throughout the metro people were running, jumping, cussing (in Italian of course), and Cheering (if you’re a drunk fan). I was not going to ride in the smoke infested metro so I walked home from that station which is about a ten minute walk (at least it was nice out). So soccer is a big deal, don’t dis soccer (Got it). That was my interesting event this week.

Oh, also Milan Fashion Week has started here and it is something to see the crazies it draws out into the daily life of a Milanese.  I hope to make it to one of the public events since I’m not important enough to actually get a ticket or invite to it.  Maybe I will make it.

Classes have started and the differences are crazy.  All of my professors dress like the students and they are very informal with names.  One of my professors even said to call him by his given name. Then one picks on the Irish and German students in class (his wife is half Irish and half German).  Also group work is the only way these courses go.  I’ve had to assignments within groups and even on class with a group term paper.  Then there is the books, get this I only had to buy one book thus far.  It is wonderful! Also field trips are a given part of some classes. In my Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship class we are visiting a winery and a brewing company to see how they manage their businesses (plus free drinks).  So far so good on my classes I have one that is sort of a review of 4 classes I have had in the past, but its fun to see the professor baffled.  
My Schedule minus one class

Adventures await. They don’t wait for anyone but you.  Also traveling is way cheaper over here I was mapping out a spring break trip and I could visit Rome, Florence, and Venice for less than a flight to New York would be from Knoxville.  Plus I was looking into weekend trips since I don’t Friday classes or Monday or Wednesday classes as of now. But I will not have Friday classes all semester.  Can anyone say travel?   It’s a wonderful thing travel is.  It makes you a better and more knowledgeable person.  It’s amazing. 
As my friends and family are suffering with cold and snowy weather I feel I should report that it’s been sunny and beautiful here with a few days of rain to refresh everything. 
Sunglasses doing everything = Italian way

Ciao amici!

Bienvenidos a Argentina, FINALLY! (long post a lot has happened in the last 48 hours)

This trip has been nothing but eventful. I mean why would anything go smoothly when leaving the country anyways?
Heres a summary of my 24 hours of travel (it seems more like a series of unfortunate events)
  • For once in my life I was actually early, and even early to the airport!! but of course the airline was on Monica time and our 9pm flight was delayed until 3am
  • IMG_0117_2
    This is our new itinerary. 3 flights, a taxi, and a bus, we made it to Cordoba!
  • For the most part the 8 hour flight was okay. I sat in between 2 old men, and one stole my blanket while i was sleeping. We arrived in Santiago Chile around 1pm. When we got to chile, we attempted to go to immigration (aka enter the country when we didn't need to.) My lady instructed me just go to the connecting flight area to wait at our gate... but Paula was stamped into the country. So, when i found her we had to convince the immigration officer that we were just passing through waiting to go to Buenos Aires and he literally crossed out her stamped and wrote "NO" on it.
  • I got some Starbucks in the Santiago airport and we boarded shortly after (S/o to Sierra i got a caramel Machiatto). I guess with all the inconvenience of travel the airline upgraded us to 1st class. we were living large. Paula got Champagne #cla$$y.                                          
  • Leg room for dayzz
    Leg room for dayzz
  • Our flight to Santiago was only 2 hours but it was literally perfect. It felt like we were in cocoons!
  • The from Santiago
    the view from the Santiago Airport- the mountains were beautiful
  • Once we arrived in Buenos Aires at EZE (international airport) we had to get our luggage ASAP and then rush to the LAN counter to collect our taxi voucher. 
    here's our nice taxi driver carrying my 65 pound suticase
    Next up was our 45 min drive to AEP (domestic airport)
  • We made it to the airport, checked our baggage and had 20 min to spare before boarding!
  • Our host mother greeted us at the airport and took us to our new home and gave us dinner. by this time it was 11pm... it was a long journey (in jeans i may add.)


Here is where we live! I live with 2 other girls, Paula from St. Louis and Alison from California. Our host mother Myriam also rents 2 rooms to 2 other women. one speaks english and the other is extremely nice and helpful. Myriam is awesome and the sweetest, she runs an art gallery on the 2nd floor  and teaches lessons throughout the week. we live on the 3rd floor so my calves will get the workout.
  • my bed!! thank the lord baby jesus it isn't a twin size!!
  • the Next is a little table i have to eat breakfast and drink coffee
  • he 3rd picture is the view when i open my door to the hallway
  • i guess you could call that my closet? i kinda just unpacked everything and we'll see how it works.
Today we had to go to the university fo orientation at 9:30 Arg time,which is 7:30 US time. I was exhausted and even the coffee/ espresso break didn't help. the school is like a 10 min walk from our home so its perfect! Later on we are going to adventure out and make copies for school, get some pesos and buy phones hopefully! Tomorrow we have orientation again, and we will begin picking classes. What is school? I havent been in class since J-Term.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Wheeling Right Along

Have you even been a wheel?  Like an odd wheel?  Like...third wheel...fifth wheel...seventh wheel?

Usually, I'm perfectly okay with being a wheel.  I revel in being the wheel.  It's a lot of fun, especially when you're in good company!  You poke fun at those you're wheeling along with, and you all have a great time.  It's great!

Lately, though, I've been struggling with being a wheel.  As you guys know from a previous blog post, I just got out of a relationship.  Okay...just might be the wrong word...it's been two month-ish.  It didn't JUST happen, but it still feels new and fresh okay? I dunno.

ANYWAY, time line aside, the whole wheeling thing has been getting under my skin.  My group of close friends have been pairing off with one another, with other international, or with Moroccan students, which is FINE!  I'm totally happy for them!  This post is not about how I wish they were all single like me, blah blah blah.  Some days it's just hard, you know?

Sometimes it's hard to not feel out of place.  Everyone has a partner or whatever you wanna call it, and I'm over here like: "Rigatti, party of one".  Haha!

I'm trying really hard not to feel so out of place, but some days my thoughts get the better of me, and I have to go be alone and either run, write, or cry it out, which works and is a pretty healthy way of dealing with it! I dunno.

I also don't want to bring it up to people here, you know?  Like, what am I supposed to say?  "Hey guys, I'm feeling a lot like a wheel, could we not hang out with your significant others?"  I dunno.  AWKWARD!  Haha!  I also don't want to seem like I'm not having a good time here because I AM!  I'm enjoying myself so much!  I wouldn't trade this experience for ANYTHING!

It's a weird subject to bring up.  I dunno.  I don't want to be the downer of the group that always has to talk about her problems...her 'boy problems' nonetheless.  I also just don't like talking about it much anyway because...I dunno.  It's personal.  I dunno.  How many times have I said that now?  Like...five or six?  Weird...

Going through this breakup has definitely given me a lot to reflect on since I've been abroad.  I'm acutely aware of how men and women interact, especially on campus.  People are very forward about touching and do not hesitate to use PDA, which is actually a bit uncomfortable for me at times, but not for reasons that you would think!

PDA just isn't really my thing.  I didn't like while I was in a relationship, and people aren't quite so forward in public spaces back home, at least I've never noticed it this much before.  Students make out in open areas and sit in each others laps and what not.  It's a bit odd for me.

We like Hagrid's bike A LOT!
I also notice how men treat women in public.  The catcalling and harassment gets on my nerves very quickly because my inner-feminist comes out.  I just want to look at these men and say: "How would you feel if your girlfriend/sister/mother was treated this way?" of "Is this how you treat your mother or sister?"  It honestly just boggles my mind.  Then I have to remind myself that I'm in a different country with a completely different set of values and culture, so I grit my teeth, laugh it off with friends, and ignore the nonsense.  (One day, I promise, I'll post a blog of all the different things my friends and I have heard while walking off campus...it's pretty entertaining after the fact.)

Needless to say, I'm very excited that Spring Break is just around the corner because that means that my mother is coming!  I get to see her and my Auntie T, and vent to them about all my 'boy troubles'!  Haha!  Moms just always know how to make everything better, and getting a hug from mine will just make the world a more beautiful and bearable place.  I'm also going to Europe where I can FINALLY have a glass of wine with my dinner.  I'm pretty excited about that!

Still in the U.S, Miami to be exact

The day had finally come..March 1!!!! En route to the airport, I check my app for my flight schedule and I say that my flight was delayed. Delayed until 3am. All travel plans we had were shot to hell and new ones were made over the counter at the airport. I originally avoided flying through Buenos Aires because they have 2 airports, international and domestic, and I wanted to avoid the airport transfer.

SIKE !!!  Our flight from Santiago gets in around 1pm but then we have to conect to fly to buenos aires and then take a taxi to the other airport and then fly to Córdoba. Our flight intineraries don't match our originals but Atleast we aren't alone. This we I speak of is myself and Paula. Paula is from st.louis and her and I plus another girl from California will all be living together in the same house.

The airline gave us a meal voucher for 20$ and will give us a taxi voucher once in buenos aires. But there's a catch , we have to hassle for it when we get there so SPANISH TIME!!!!!

Our eta in Córdoba is 10:30 pm tomorrow night, so for the next 24 hours we are international travelers with backpacks the size of us.

but good things so far: I went thought the TSA pre security line and didn't have to take off my shoes or empty my backpack. 

Bad besides the flight: I cried like a small child before security and met Paula with a red face. She accepted my anyways !

We begin board our flight at 2am, and Starbucks is closed so we're trying to stay awake!! 

Until next time!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Scotland Week 6: Finally catchin' up on all that sleep Maryville College has stolen from me.

As I attempt to begin an essay for my wine studies class, it occurs to me I should most definitely write a blog about the structure of the academic system in Scotland. I’m still piecing the differences together, but I can give a solid over view.
First off, college and university are not interchangeable. I learned this through unimpressed reactions from classmates upon reveling I come from Maryville College. Over here, many time students will attend college for two years before moving on to university if their grades aren't up to par or to save some money. College here is roughly equivalent to community college back in the States.
And next, if a student progresses directly from high school to university, they can be super young. I live in a building that seems to be a majority of first year students around the age 17. It’s been strange being invited to birthday parties on the weekends only to find out that you’ve been hanging out with kids (literally) almost 4 years younger than you. And these kids party. Just as in America, freshman year is the easiest here and many times students only have class 3 or so days a week, which leaves much time for late nights. I’ve picked up the longer you’ve been in school, the more responsibilities stack up on you, and so the less you party (pretty similar to back home).
Wine Studies Diary
On a micro scale, I can describe my schedule. I was amazed upon arriving to discover I would only have classes two days a week (granted, I’ve been planning on studying abroad since I applied to Maryville College, and thus have worked my class schedules back home around this semester abroad.) I am enrolled in three modules this trimester, which is about normal here and considered full time. Wednesday at 11 I have Scottish Culture and Society for two hours with 90 other foreign exchanged students. Thursday I begin with Spanish 1 at 12 for three hours then have a break until Wine Studies (an actual class where half of the time is spend drinking wine) for another two hours. Scottish Culture and Wine Studies are both lecture style classes. We are presented with basic PowerPoints then expected to finish pre-assigned work on our own through much self-taught material. Spanish is more of a workshop style because the class is allotted three whole long hours. Over all, there is much more emphasis on self-disciplined learning over here. I don’t have nearly as many assignments as I would back home, but the ones assigned are weighted very heavily.

This being said, I love my schedule so much. While I am taking school seriously over here, it is wonderful having free time to relax and travel as much as possible. Classes only two day a week (and not even in the morning really) means I’m catching up on all the sleep I’ve lost the past two years studying at Maryville, and because I’m not constantly bogged down with school work, I’m much more proactive about material. Like I stated at the beginning, I am starting a wine studies essay this evening which is not due for another three weeks. If I’m being honest with myself, that would never happen back home. I enjoy the material being covered in my classes, I never have to wake up early, and I have a wonderful amount of spare time. I can physically feel residual stress from previous semesters melting away more and more every day.

Craiglockhart Campus is one of three campuses composing Edinburgh Napier
University. All three of my classes are located here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

It's Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies...

This post will be fairly short because its just a small one about some of the difficulties that I have faced here in Spain (It's a list much shorter than that of Taylor Swift's ex-lovers). 

When you head to a new place you expect a little bit of turbulence, a lack of easy, and a period needed for adjustment but you never know when these things are going to come. I have been so lucky to have had such a smooth sailing time in Spain so far. Finding my flat, easy, making friends, super easy. Its been a month of joy, fun, and excitement.

This about sums up my experience with Los Correos 
Its funny how frustration can hit you out of no where. Over a month ago, my aunt sent me a package and I still have not received it, because the Spanish postal service thinks that its imported goods for resale (of course this would happen to me!). I have been diligent in trying to work this situation out and today, I am frustrated. The directions have been so unclear, I have been told different things by every person I have talked to and finally today the woman on the phone was so rude that when I hung up with her I cried. Those of you who know me well will not be shocked by this, let's be honest, I cry all the time haha. But this was different. These tears were tears of anger.

The thing is, in situations like these, you can be upset, you can mope around, or you can just keep going and do your best to make it all work out. That's what I decided to do. And yes, maybe the bureaucratic system is different here, and maybe I will be frustrated sometimes, but its all part of the experience and I know that I will be better for it. Besides, moments like this give me the opportunity to practice Spanish in a new way, to say new things that I may not know how to say, but to express what I need to because really, there isn't another choice.

Anyway, moral of the story is that I had my first real turbulence, but I'm making it through, and hopefully within the next two weeks I'll have my care package and a little more piece of mind!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Never Ending Struggle of New Classes

In the wake of midterms being next week, I've decided that this post will be dedicated solely to my classes and 'university life' at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.
Who wants to study when you can travel?

As many of you read in my previous post, NOTHING HERE IS ORGANIZED!  It's all go-with-the-flow and do whatever, whenever...for the most part.

Professors here are sticklers about attendance...more so than at Maryville College, which I was VERY shocked to find out.  In one of my classes, if you're late, you're absent.  Ouch.  In another of my classes, you can't leave the classroom to get a drink of water or use the restroom. (Something I might add that was not discussed in the syllabus, so the professor basically embarrassed this poor kid because he got up to go to the restroom...poor kid couldn't come back to class.  Oops.)  In yet another class, you can only have two missed classes before it starts affecting your grade...at Maryville it's between three to five.  Welp...NOT MISSING CLASS! (Not that I would anyway!)
Snowed in...class not cancelled!

Now I'm going to give you a breakdown of the classes that I'm taking.  I'm currently in five classes, which in the grand scheme isn't that much, but I'm here to travel and experience travel, so some days I regret taking this many classes.  Ha!

Conflict in Contemporary Africa (MOST DIFFICULT CLASS I'VE EVER TAKEN): This class is looking into the 'more fragile' states of Africa and what makes them that way and human security issues of Africa.  VERY INTERESTING.  I really am enjoying the class.  It's probably my favorite.  HOWEVER, I do not have a working knowledge of Africa.  PERIOD.  I don't know which African states were colonized by which European states; the different tribes/ethnicities that reside in each country; or anything about their political or economic standings.  This class is basically me googling everything and anything my professor says after class...which can get hard because I don't know how to spell half the words that comes out of my professor's mouth.  Oops.
Example of Islamic Architecture

Islamic Art and Architecture (very interesting...most days):  This is another really great class.  It's probably one of my more organized class, and I know that my professor is obviously very passionate about the subject.  I'm learning a lot about architecture during the times of the Islamic Empire that expanded across the Maghreb, parts of Europe, the Middle East, and into East Asia.  It can get confusing sometimes though because my professor will randomly start talking in Arabic or French, and I'm just sitting there like... "¿Como?"

Beginning Arabic I (UGH...NEW ALPHABET THAT I STILL DON'T KNOW): This is the class I get frustrated in most for obvious reasons.  We still don't know the entire alphabet and half the letters sound the exact same (to my ears) as other letters.  There are three letters that make the 'th' sound, two or three that make the 'k' sound, and two that make the 't', 'd', and 's' sounds.  UGH.  However, I would like to point out, that I can now write my name in Arabic, which is a pretty big accomplishment if you ask me!  Haha!
Attempting to learn Arabic

History of the Arab World (NO ONE KNOWS WHAT'S GOING ON!):  So this is a class that we are about two to three weeks behind in because the professor just randomly doesn't show up for class.  The school will be open, the roads will be clear, there won't be a sign on the door, there won't be an email in our inbox, and he won't show up to class...RUDE.  He's missed more classes than students are allowed to with no excuses.  Grr.  I'm so upset about it.  How inconsiderate!  But then I think about how different the culture is and how maybe that's a normal thing...but I don't know.  You're in a professional setting.  UGH.
Who studies when this is your view while studying?

Comparative Political Systems (Aka let's ask the Americans everything about everything): This is a really great class!  We've covered the UK and the US so far in class, so whenever students have questions about the US political system, the professor says, "Let's ask the American students."  Um...I'm not an expert on the political system of the United States.  We also talked about how democratic the electoral college is...that was an interesting conversation because no one thought t was  democratic...oops.  The United States is apparently undemocratic and shouldn't be promoting democracy when we're not democratic.  Odd.  Oh well!  I do love the new perspectives that I'm getting to experience here.  I knew that I would run into such thoughts, so it wasn't unexpected, just new really.

There are days when I really miss my MC classes
Now that you know what classes I'm taking, you have a better idea of what I'm dealing with here in Morocco.  I also have midterms next week, and I only know the dates and times of three out of five classes.  Well...hopefully, I'll know what the rest are before I have to take them!  OH! One more quick fact!  All of my classes only have like two or three grades: a midterm, a final, and one paper (or no paper at all).  So...these exams are worth 35% to 45% of my grade...AHHHH!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thanks for the Memories, They Continue to be Great!

I know its been a long time, but there has been so much going on here in Spain! I am still loving life and enjoying every moment! Part of studying abroad is getting to know a new place, a new culture, etc., but the best part of studying abroad that no on really talks about is all of the new people. Maybe I'm a corny cheese-ball, or maybe I am just lucky to be surrounded by the people that I have met here; but honestly, I can say that all of the good times that I have had during my time in Pamplona and in travelling have been made 1,000 times better by the great people that I have got to share them with.

Valentine's Brunch
Brunch Bunch
Valentine's Day is a day dedicated to love and mine was so full of love and friendship that it will honestly be one that I will look to fondly for the rest of my life. I started the day with brunch at the piso of one of my good friends. All of us brought different things. We sat around, preparing the food, eating, and laughing for hours before deciding to watch Bridget Jones' Diary (in Spanish, of course). We laughed, oohhed, and awwed together through the whole thing and after sat around and listened and sang to some of our favorite songs that they play in all of the clubs here. You haven't lived until you've jammed to El Taxi, Bialando, Travesuras, and Si No Te Quisiera! Really... look them up, listen to them, love them. Back to my Valentine's Day, for Valentine's Evening, I had some other friends over to my piso to hangout before going out for the night, we played games and laughed and giggled, maybe a bit too loudly because Maria, my flatmate didn't seem too pleased! Anyway when the time came we headed to meet all of the other Erasmus students for a Carnival party. They gave us free masks, which was great until I realized that my sensitive skin wasn't a fan. Needless to say, I had a VERY pink face for the rest of the night (and for 3 days to come....). Even pink face and all, it was still a great night! One to remember for sure because when you are Erasmus you don't simply go to one place for the night! We headed to a few other places and finally made it home in the hours of the next morning (I was quite proud of this accomplishment for myself, I usually bail early).
Me and my pink face!

Sometimes the time difference between here and home really sucks but this was one time when it did not, because as I was ending my Valentine's on the phone with some of my favorite people in the world, because thousands of miles can't hinder the love I have for my friends back home!

Last week. I finally got settled into my courses at the university and again I can't help but to be thankful for people I meet! In my courses, I am lost sometimes and sometimes the language barrier is hard, but there have been so many students who have taken time to make sure that I am on the same page and I have even been approached after class a few times by people who wanted to let me know that if I need help they are willing to help out. This makes being in a new setting, surrounded by a language that I am not a master in a lot easier! I think that I will make a lot of good relationships through this aspect of my time here too.

Another great experience I have had has been in an intercambio that I have with a girl here in Spain, we meet once a week and I help her with verbs, word structure, and pronunciation in English and she practices my Spanish with me! This is great, not only because we both get to practice, but also because we are getting to know each other and spend time together. It is amazing the power that language can have and  how important sharing and exchange is in improving.

Thursdays are better
 at Singular! Roommate and
Private Uni Friend!
We had another "Crazy Wednesday" and this brings me to another instance where people have made my experience here that much better. The Erasmus mentors have been nothing but helpful and nice from day 1. I don't think that I would be nearly as settled into my life here in Pamplona without Laura, Gabby, Pablo Simpático, and all of the other mentors who make sure that we have every opportunity to have fun and to have great cultural experiences. I have felt so welcomed and cared for by them.

I also have met students from the Private University here in Pamplona which is awesome since we are all here in one city studying abroad.

We really were their #1 fans
View in Bilbao
I ended the week and spent the weekend in Bilbao with a few friends. We took a 2 hour bus ride and spent the weekend exploring, shopping, and taking a much needed relaxing weekend. During our weekend, we encountered rain, an empty club, and an interesting hostel roommate, but those things were made up for by some delicious meals, great days of shopping, a free concerts, and nights spent giggling and having fun. We happened in to discotecca that our hostel gave us free admission into and it turned out there was a rock concert going on. By the end of the second song, we were the biggest fans in the room and we knew all of the words! "Don't go, don't go! Fallin' in love!". The next day another friend met us in town and we walked around and did some serious shopping! By the afternoon we were tired and headed in for the night. Although we had a creepy hostel mate, we made the best of it and I laughed more than I have in ages. We prepared an excellent dinner and dubbed ourselves the Bilbao Cookers, tacos are our specialty, and we will be in a city near you soon! After an interesting night, we headed out to the Guggenheim Museum the next morning and then back to Pamplona it was! The Guggenheim was quite impressive and some of the pieces were really beautiful and made me reflect.

I think that is all for now but back to my original point... the one thing I've learned on this journey so far is that any boring day or seemingly unimportant day can be made by amazing people and the life-long memories that you make with them! Laugh, smile, and appreciate every second, because time is flying!

Until next time,


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Royal in Italy for a day

Well I have finished my first class in Italy! I took a two portion test for my Italian language class and feel as if I am a natural.  With this new knowledge I have gotten around much better in Italy so I can ask questions and figure out main concepts.  Thank you! Life is a little easier.  Besides that my latest struggle is my Italian sim card not working in my Verizon phone.  I have been to the wireless store here and they say its Verizon’s problem, Verizon says it’s not their fault.  Ugh. Come on I can tell its Verizon’s issue.  So I am in the process of figuring all of that out.  Other than that it has been an interesting week and weekend. I went shopping for a purse and found a great place having a 50-70 % off sale on half the store.  So I got 2 bags, a wallet, and some gifts for my mom.  I love sales.  Then came my recent experience to Castello Sforzesco.  Which is a real life castle
which has been turned into a museum for the public to view the history of Milano.  It was very interesting.  I learned about the guy who the street I live on is named after. Via Michelangelo Buonarroti. I saw amazing ceiling paintings (apparently a huge trend in Italy).  As well as just the structure of the castle which is amazing.  Outside of the walls not even
500 feet is where the EXPO Gate stands.  In preparing for Expo 2015 which is in Milano.  Everything is happening, renovations, building, decorating, and placing
 of events.  After eating a late lunch or early dinner I guess we went walking just following the crowd through the city center and shopping strips. To realize that Saturday February 21st was the last day of Carnevale for Milano so the citizens were out in the City center to celebrate despite the rain.  They were out in
costumes, masks, throwing confetti, spraying silly string, and even shaving creaming each other.  After making it through the masses into the Duomo (which yes I have been to before), but never like this. From the masses of people we walked into a Mass in the Duomo.  That was a very interesting experience. It is a different world all together. It was amazing to see though. 
After listening for a while we headed back out to navigate the masses in the square.  After making it to the metro station I ran into some friends from my building that were out fighting the masses as well.  Only to end the night with a 4 cheese pizza that would make anybody hungry (including the dog I passed in the street).  As I look at my experiences so far I realize that this wouldn’t be possible without some people.  To start I want to thank my Mom from the bottom of my heart in believing in me with all my choices and supporting me wholeheartly.  Next would be my Dad and Grandparents for all the help and support they gave me. My dad for just letting me experience this.  Next is my friends especially my two best friends (Emily and Brad) for celebrating with me and putting up with me through the stress and supporting me.  Then now to the people who helped me actually get here. First Maryville College in general for my acceptance into the school which gave me the chance to experience this. As well as the opportunity they supplied me after accepting me into the study abroad program and scholarship opportunities.  Next is Dr. Gallagher for the last minute (at Christmas) Re-do of my approved course list for this semester.  Last but not least is Brittany Coats and Kirsten Sheppard who as the International Director and International House Intern at the time of my application.  For reading re-reading, helping me, distressing me, and just for the good vibes they gave me about this experience.  I appreciate each and every one of you like you don’t know. Without you I may have been a different person without this opportunity.  Now enough of the sapping stuff.  Back to the good stuff.  Italy is a dream come true so far and as my classes start on Tuesday and it’s a crazy schedule (classes from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm) seriously not kidding.  We will see how that goes on Tuesday.  I hope everyone is bearing the weather in Tennessee well. Luckily no snow here just rain and wind.  Sending love and sunshine y’all’s way. 

L’invio di amore!

Ciao Amici!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scotland week 5: Now We're Cookin'

Before we were sent off to schools all around the world, Maryville College made sure that we did pretty in-depth research on our host country. We were made to find out the cultural differences whether it be food, language, spatial expectations, modes of transportation, body language, school expectations, or politics. Thus, most of us had an idea of what we would be exposed to and in turn what we might learn. This being said, I have fortunately run into an unforeseen benefit of studying away from Maryville College and Pearson's Dining Hall. I'm learning how to cook! Before departing, I knew Edinburgh Napier University would be allotting a stipend for food, and I did not expect I would become tired of microwave meals this quickly. Thankfully, my roommates have an idea of what they’re doing in the kitchen, so it hasn’t been too bad catching on. We’ve adopted a system of making healthy dinners in bulk for the whole flat in order to save a bit of money too. Each week we chip in so many pounds and make a huge load of food to last us through to next week. Vegetable stir fry with salmon on a bed of coconut rice, mushroom spaghetti, lemon chicken soup, avocado chicken raps, and baked fish have all been on the menu. Our food boards on Pinterest are being put to more use than I ever thought I would muster the motivation for. On top of saving money and eating healthy, delicious foods, cooking as a group is a really great way to unwind. We all get to hang around with a glass of wine and pitch in cleaning afterwards (which is so much better than doing all the dishes by yourself.) Last week we put together a make shift, pot-luck breakfast dinner for our flat and a few other guests, which was a huge success, now were planning a giant floor pot-luck in the near future.

 In short, eating dinner with my family back home was a normal occurrence, so I never quite realized how much it can bring a group together AND I CAN COOK STUFF NOW.

I cooked this! Salmon with lemon, stir fried vegetables,
 avacado and rice. 
I baked this! Banana nut bread completely
from scratch.