Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Italy: Land of Pizza, Pasta, and Wine

Hi everyone!

So Sunday, after my dad and Tommy left, we headed back to bed as our flight to Florence didn't leave until 2 pm. We packed up and headed off for the airport for a week of traveling to Italy. Italy has somewhere that both of us have always wanted to go to, so why not do it for some quality mother/daughter bonding!

Our first stop was Florence. Many people back home had told my mom that we should go to Florence over Venice, so we took their advice and headed to Florence first. We got off the plane and as we were heading to get a taxi, we ran into three girls from my program. So funny! We arrived at our hotel and enjoyed a few drinks and appetizers at the hotel. We walked into town to of course find pizza! We found a cute place near our hotel and had the best pizza I have ever had. Sorry Davanni's! We ended up heading back to the hotel to plan the rest of our trip and book a few tours.

Monday morning, we slept until almost 11 am. Whoops! Well, it is my break from school so it was so nice. No alarm, nothing. We woke up and headed into the city to catch our bus for a tour of Tuscany and a wine tour. We couldn't go to Florence and not go on a wine tour/tasting. I still don't like wine, but I tried each of them. The bus ride through the Tuscany countryside was beautiful. After about an hour we arrived at an old castle that had been turned into a winery. We learned about how the wine was made and then had our tasting with some yummy snacks as well. We headed into a small town after the wine tasting and had some free time to walk around. We hopped back on the bus to head back to Florence to do some shopping and grab dinner. We found ourselves shopping and going into every shoe store. After some window shopping and taking mental notes of where we wanted to go, we grabbed some dinner and headed back to our hotel.

Tuesday morning, we actually made it to breakfast (which ended at 10:30 am). We headed off after breakfast to go on a hop on hop off tour of Florence. Seriously the best way to see any city in a short period of time is these bus tours! We got off at Michelangelo to see the famous statue and take in some of the beautiful views of the city from above. Ok, time to go shopping and find some new Italian leather boots! We ended up with 3 pairs, they were way too cute to pass up! We shopped and ended up with some gelato before we headed back to our hotel for a quick siesta. We ended up back at the same pizza place as the first night for a quick pizza and pasta before getting ready for our next adventure: Rome!

Next up: Rome!


Rome: More pizza & pasta!

Hi everyone.. almost done I promise!

So Wednesday morning, we took the train from Florence to Rome. It was only about an hour and twenty minutes so it was pretty quick. Once we arrived in Rome, we quickly noticed this is much different than Florence. In Rome, there are so many people, so many tourists, just another big city. But we were excited to experience Rome. We took the metro to our hotel which we thought was close. We ended up realizing that our hotel was near Vatican City. As we got off the metro, we were approached by a man trying to sell his Vatican City tour. He ended up being from California so we chatted for awhile. We ended up booking with him for a tour that afternoon.

We quickly headed to our hotel to drop our stuff and basically run back to meet for the tour. The tour was of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter's Basilica. We didn't have to wait in any lines, but the tour got pretty long. Vatican City has always on my bucket list and was so cool to see but it has become such a tourist attraction and almost takes away from what it is there for. The Sistine Chapel was packed and you could barely move which took away from the experience. But it was so cool to see where the Pope comes out to speak and somewhere we always see on TV but actually cool to see it in person. After the Vatican City tour we both needed a nap, so we headed back to our hotel. We ended up at a local spot for dinner.. you guessed it pizza. I actually ended up getting pasta because I needed a break from pizza.

Thursday morning, we made it to breakfast and were kind of sick of the same cereal we had been eating all week, but we managed. You could tell my mom was ready for her bagel and coffee from Bruegger's. Mom try three and a half months without it! Anyways, we headed off to go on the hop on hop off tour of Rome. We started at the Vatican City and saw all the major sites. We jumped off at the Trevi Fountain to channel my inner Lizzie McGuire and become an instant pop-star and meet my Paolo. We both threw our coin in and made a wish! The Trevi Fountain is so beautiful. We got back on and headed for the Colosseum. All I can say is, wow. The place is amazing. I found it so interesting how these buildings are in such good condition for being so old. We walked around and stopped at a local snack shop for a snack and a beer. You know it's totally normal to walk around with a beer in your hand. I wish I would have captured this moment.. oh wait it happened more than once. Momma was happy. All we needed was Lisa Kleindl with her and then it really would have been perfect!

After a day of sightseeing we headed to our hotel to eat there for dinner and get packed up because mid-term break was coming to an end. We packed up, and Friday morning came before we knew it. My mom's flight back home was before mine, so we said our goodbyes in the hotel as she got in her cab. It was hard to fight the tears back and there were some after I went back up to the room. It was sad to say good-bye but know that I will be home in no time and that it was so nice to spend a week together just the two of us. We created lasting memories and know I will be so excited to see everyone come December 14th!

Well now I am back in London for the second half our of semester. Again, so crazy that we are over half way done but have some pretty excited things coming up. This upcoming weekend we have a girls birthday, a firework show at the palace near our house. Next week, Marissa will be here! I am so excited to see her and catch and up and show her my home turf. The following week I will be heading to Prague to visit Lindsey Steer and cannot explain how excited I am to see her and have her show us around her home turf. Finally at the end of the month we have trips to Bath and Switzerland and then one final weekend in London and then we will be saying our goodbyes.... so weird to think!

Anyways that is all for now, but time for a few promised shout outs! First and foremost, happy 23rd birthday to my other half, twin, and best friend! Meghan, I hope you have the best day and hopefully will see you in London soon. Second shout out to Nora Phythian, miss you lots & can't wait for a much needed trip to Serenity when I am home.

A special good luck to the Raider football and volleyball teams as they battle through sections this week. I will be cheering from across the pond!

Miss you all!


Finally Reunited!

Hi everyone!

So sorry for not being caught up on blogs, but have been crazy busy since I last posted. I will try and keep you updated in a few different blog posts!

So Thursday before mid-term break, I had marketing and business ethics as usual. I took my marketing midterm and then headed off to find the Marriott Regent Park, because guess who had arrived? Yep, mom, dad, and Tommy. I couldn't control my excitement on the tube, I was so excited to see them.

I headed up to their room to be greeted with hugs (held the tears back). We relaxed in the hotel as they were all a bit exhausted and jet-lagged. Expect we needed to hit the ground running because my dad and brother were not here for very long. Thursday night, we headed up to Wood Green, where I live and we had dinner at The Gate (almost better than Punch) with my roommate Megan. I was happy she could meet them before heading off for her mid-term break vacation. After dinner, I went home to pack and they wandered around for a bit before coming to meet my host family!

They made it back to my house and met the family who I have been living with. We enjoyed great conversation and dessert. Anytime guests come, my family always has dessert and tea. It was so much fun and both families meshed so well! I showed them around the house and my room. We ended up staying much longer than anticipated but it was great.

Friday, we jumped on the hop on hop off bus tour for the day. We saw all the major sites including: Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Leciester Square, Piccadilly Circus, etc! After a day of sightseeing we had dinner before we went to Jersey Boys. If any of you know my dad, of course he couldn't come to London and not see Jersey Boys. I think it is like the 7th time he has seen it!

Saturday, we started off the day by heading to Wembley stadium. Then, we continued our bus tour and saw Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Globe Theater, Tower of London, London Eye. We went on the London Eye and was so cool to see the city from the top. Saturday night we ate dinner at a steakhouse in Piccadilly Circus followed with some Cinnabon for dessert. We ended the night by seeing the famous crosswalk at Abbey Road and headed back to the hotel as T and Dad had an early departure the next morning.

It was so great to see them and to be reunited for the weekend. It is hard to believe that we are halfway done with the incredible experience and will be home in no time! (My mom and Tommy has most of our pictures, will try and upload more).

Next post: Exploring Italy with mom!


Monday, 14 October 2013

A Relaxing Weekend

Well, it's Monday! That means it is time for a weekly update. There is not much to report on this past week, so I will make it short and sweet.

We had class all last week like normal and are diving into our coursework as mid-term is quickly approaching us. It is crazy to think that mid-term break is next week! Time really is flying by. For my art history class last week we went to the Tate Modern museum. I am not much of a museum person, but loved every minute at the Tate. The Tate is very modern and interactive, so it was very cool to explore and learn more about art. I love our art history professor. She is wonderful and lives, eats, and breaths art! 

This past weekend my roommate went to Ireland for the weekend, so I was home alone for the weekend. It was so quiet in our room but also nice to have my own space for the weekend! She said Ireland was a blast, so I am kind of jealous I didn't go. This weekend was all about homework. A lot of people are like "oh you don't get homework abroad", well that statement was false this weekend. Throughout the semester this far we hadn't had a lot of homework but it came down on us this weekend. I had a paper for Business Ethics, a COJO midterm today, and a marketing exam on Thursday. So Thursday and Saturday night I stayed in and caught up on homework. Sunday was also devoted to getting homework done.

On Friday night, we went out to a bar called Piccadilly Institute, which was an old mental hospital that has been converted into a bar/club. It was really fun as there were a lot of us from the group, but was very expensive. But hey, you only live in London once! That has been my motto of the trip!

Besides Friday, I spent time hanging out with my host family, by watching movies and playing Just Dance. I can't wait for my family to meet them this weekend.

So that brings me to the most exciting part of this week! Mom, Dad, and T arrive on Thursday afternoon. I am beyond excited to see them and show them around London. Dad and T will leave on Sunday so T can get back to school and swimming and then my mom and I will head off to Italy for the week for some quality mother/daughter bonding. I am excited to explore Italy with her. So I can't wait to update you all after mid-term break with many exciting stories and pictures!

So stay tuned for an update from Italy in a few weeks! 

All for now! 


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Wait, we are 1/3 done?

So we are officially one third of the way done with our program abroad. It is crazy to think that we have been here for over a month and that next week my family will be here. I am so excited to see them (have mom bring some clothes and food as well), but mainly excited to see them!

A lot has happened since my last post, sorry for getting a bit behind. Monday was a busy day!

Last week we had class all week as usual, but I swear the weeks go by so much faster here than they do at home. On Thursday after marketing, we quickly traveled to King's Cross to meet our group to take the train to Scotland for the weekend. Before I left home, many LBS alumni have said that Scotland was the best trip and the group gets really close. I had been looking forward to Scotland since I got here. It is weird to think that it is here and gone!

We arrived to Edinburgh on Thursday night and made our way to our first hostel. We settled into our room and some of us decided to go look at this castle, I don't remember the name. Our guides told us that not seeing this castle was like not seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. So a large number of us headed out in the pouring rain to see the castle. We made it, of course, it was closed and couldn't get super close to take pictures. It was still cool to see this beautiful castle. By the time we made it back to the hostel, Bissa and I were soaked, we thought who needs rain boots and an umbrella? After a quick change and made ourselves look presentable again, we headed down to the bar for dinner and a few drinks. I had chicken fajitas which were out of this world. SO good to finally find good Mexican food. Majority of our group made their way down to the bar and we all enjoyed ourselves and the bonding has begun. There was even some yoga being done at the bar that night. We won't go into details.

Friday morning we had to be on the bus at 8:30, so 7:00 am came way too fast, after it took me half the night to fall asleep. We enjoyed a simple breakfast and headed out for our journey of Scotland. We met our tour guide and driver for the weekend, who were unreal. I can't even describe Dave our tour guide. Oh wait I can, long curly red hair, longest beard I have ever seen, and of course a kilt! He was great and had so much information to share with us. Friday we stopped several times to get out, enjoy the scenery, and to take pictures. I probably took about four naps on the bus, but seemed to be awake for every major stop! After about eight hours on the bus, we made it to the hostel. Ok, the name of the hostel was "Saucy Mary's". Enough said about that. We enjoyed a dinner provided by the hostel. I chose salmon, potatoes, and a salad. Dad, aren't you proud, that after 4 years of working at the Campfire Grill, I finally tried salmon and actually loved it! I know you would be proud. There was live music at the bar that night, so of course, we all hung at the bar and enjoyed ourselves. We spent some time down by the water, which was so cool and beautiful at night.

Saturday was another early morning. We had to be back on the bus at 8:30 so after we scrambled to get out of bed and get to breakfast, we made it just on time to be on the bus. Saturday was pretty much similar to Friday, where we were on the bus all day seeing major sites. I can't even describe the Scotland Highlands. So beautiful! It was so refreshing to be in the countryside for the weekend, and get out of the busy, crazy London. It even reminded us a lot of home, or being up north at the cabin with all the lakes and green! Saturday night we arrived at our last hostel and enjoyed an Italian meal. We met the bartender Neil, who said we were in for a good night! We were all excited and many people dressed up in traditional Scottish clothing which made the night so much fun. Saturday night, I was stuck rooming with Bissa, Michaela, and Rosey... just kidding I was beyond excited that the four of us were put together.

Bissa, Michaela, Rosey, and I have gotten so close since being here in London and so glad to call them some of my best friends. We had so much fun rooming together, maybe a little too much fun, and maybe a little loud, but hey you are only in Scotland once! Scotland brought our entire group together and I feel like I can honestly say I have made fifty new best friends. Today, Rosey and Michaela left for Prague and we literally stood in the middle of the sidewalk and hugged each other and our entire program thought we were crazy, but it will be weird not to see them for the weekend!

Tomorrow, as a group (or the ones who aren't traveling for the weekend) will have a ride on the London Eye and a tour of Greenwich. I am excited to finally go on the London Eye! Bissa and I have a few things we want to accomplish this weekend, yes, shopping. We have a lot of homework for next week so it's a good weekend to be here in London and I think some host sibling bonding is in store for this weekend as well.

Next week, we have class, but the most exciting part will be at 2 pm on Thursday afternoon. I will make my way to the Marriott Regent Park and finally see my family. 6 weeks ago when we arrived, this seemed like so far away and now it's only a week away. Since some of my goodbyes were hard when I left, I am excited to see everyone.

That's all for now, expect a post next week when they arrive! Off to finish homework!


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

So I Caved...

So today on my ride home from school, I caved and finally got my nails done. It had been a whole month, which for those of you who know me is a long time. They needed to be done and I said to myself it's been a month, so why not? It was nice and reminded me of home! I decided I will do one in November and then when I get home!

By the way, I have been here for a month which is crazy! Time flies when you are having fun. It's really hard to believe that we are off to Scotland for the weekend tomorrow. I am so excited to see the countryside and be out of the city for a few days.

Expect a Monday update with new pictures and exciting stories!

Countdown to family here: 15 days! Can you tell I am excited?

Enough for now, time to finish some last minute homework. By the way mom you would be so proud, I packed for the weekend in just a backpack.

Hope all is well back at home!