Italy

I couldn’t think of anything witty or clever to name this post. So it’s straight and to the point.
Italy was great! Though a little stressful at times, I really enjoyed myself. I ate 4 pizzas and drank 7 cappuccinos. I also had the best pasta I have ever had in my life and some really great wine. Of course, I took photos of all of these, but I cannot upload them while on the ship. I hope to do this while I am in Croatia!
OH! Speaking of which, we are no longer going to Istanbul.
A moment of silence.
Unfortunately with the migrant situation, ISE and the University of Virginia deemed it unsafe for us to travel there. So that means Hello, Croatia!
We are going to Dubrovnik, and for those of you who are keeping up with popular TV, that is where Game of Thrones is filmed. I have heard “winter is coming” so many times now, I am actually waiting for it to snow.
So back to Italy.
My first day I had a field lab with my Art History course. We took a bus into Rome where we visited Church de San Louis, the Pantheon, and Church de San Clements with a pizza and gelato lunch in between. I wont bore you with the history and art details, but if you want, I am now an expert on these places and would love to talk Roman architecture and art with you! (Emily…?) 🙂
The next day I met up with some friends and did a day trip to Florence! Unfortunately I spent a little bit more money than anticipated but it was well worth it. We took the fast train there and the Italian countryside is GORGEOUS. I took some gopro footage and hope to share it in the near future. I liked Florence more than I liked Rome. It was cleaner and not as touristy. I mostly just walked around and took it all in. The Duomo is incredible. I wasn’t able to go inside but the outside was unlike anything I had seen before. It was also really nice walking around Florence because you could always orient yourself from where the top of the church was. You could see it from almost anywhere in the city. We had a three hour dinner that night which was very Italian of us. I drank some delicious wine and got some much needed wifi.
I have a confession.
I think I am addicted to social media. I miss it on the boat. All I really want to do is check my facebook. This is terrible, but it is the truth. Now you know.
After dinner, I took the train back to Rome by myself while my friends stayed in Florence (sorry mom and dad).
Our boat actually docked in a port town called Citiaveccia, which was an hour outside of Rome. I met up with a lot of SASers on that train to our port and we all walked back to the ship together. I didn’t get into my bed until 2am; it was a long day.
The next day I had a field program called Highlights of Rome. I got up around 6am to meet the bus to take us back into Rome. Yes, I got 4 hours of sleep. Needless to say I was a little crabby. We got to the Vatican first. I was initially really excited for the Vatican. However, it didn’t live up to my expectations. Because I was in a tour group, I thankfully got to skip the line that wrapped around the city (country, actually) which was really nice. However, once they start to let people in, it becomes mad chaos. I was informed that around 20,000 people see it PER DAY. I can believe it. Touring the museum got, unfortunately, long and slow. We mostly just shuffled around for 2 hours while straining to listen to our tour guide with a thick Italian accent. The Sistine Chapel was phenomenal! I really enjoyed looking at the wall and the ceiling. I also really enjoyed watching people get yelled at by the guards by trying to sneak pictures. After we got to go into St. Peters Basilica. I was really disappointed we didn’t get a lot of time in there. I saw the Pieta, the body of Saint/Pope Paul (the some number), as well as the tomb of Saint/Pope John Paul II. The church itself was unreal and I would have loved to stay for mass. Of course the Pope was in the US at the time, so we could have planned that better.
After getting lunch we went to the Colosseum. This was really cool and was really nice to have a tour guide. He told us a lot of information that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Though it was really touristy, I would highly recommend going.
I left my field program then and went to go find WiFi. I had plans to meet up with a couple of friends to stay in a hostel.
Let me tell you something about Rome.
It makes absolutely NO SENSE.
Following a map is almost impossible because the streets are rarely marked, and there are these squares that have 7 streets going in all different directions. I played a game called “follow the native.” No one abides by traffic laws and people cross the street whenever and where ever they please. the cars will just swerve around you like nothing is happening. I didn’t dare cross unless I was with someone who knew what they were doing
I wandered around for a bit trying to find myself on the map as well as wifi to contact my friends. I finally ended up asking someone as well as sitting in a restaurant and ordering some bruschetta just to use their wifi. Of course I had wandered the wrong direction and was on the opposite side of town from where I needed to be. It took my another hour to treck through Rome again to find a mcdonalds in the train station to text my friends to come get me.
I was not a happy camper.
I finally got to the hostel with them and immediately went to get gelato. That night we stayed up, frank a bottle of wine and talked for hours. It was such a long day filled with lots of wandering but hey, thats what i’m doing: ROMEing around the world.
Days 3-6 to come!

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Bonjourno!

So by now y’all might have realized that I am not good good with words. Some people (ahem ahem) have been emailing me back pointing out all of my errors. I would just like to say this…
be happy this blog is even happening at all.
But in all seriousness, yes I know, I make errors. Please try to ignore them, I know I do.
So where did we leave off?
Ah, yes! I got on the ship!
It was great to get on early because on 70 of us had to go through security instead of 500. They check EVERYTHING. Security is real tight on the ship.
I got to know a lot of the work study students which was great. Dad also came on the ship that night and I gave him a tour. Seeing as I had only been on for a few hours, it was a very rough tour (hey dad, yes they do have a movie theatre! I just had no idea where it was)
The next day all of the students came and I got to check them in. It was a long day and the boat seemed really crowded afterwards. We left earlier than schedule that night because there was a storm coming towards us.
The next day was probably one of the worst days of my existence.
I woke up at 4:30am convinced that the ship was going to break in half. It would pitch into a wave and then roll back up and the front would then come back down and slap the water. The whole boat would shake and creak. It was miserable. Almost everyone on the ship was sick. They gave us all medicine that made everyone super drowsy. All I did was sleep and throw up that day. Thankfully is was only orientation so I missed it all and just made it up one of the following days.
The next wasn’t much better, but I did go to classes. In between them, though, I slept. It would a rough day trying to stay awake and not let nausea get the best of you.
The day after that the seas were calm and people could finally walk the ship without falling or running into things.
The professors here are all super interesting and engaging. Honestly, I would take all of the classes if I could. The courses I am taking are: Intro to World Art, Ethics and Human Rights, Philosophy of Religion, and Multiculturalism and Women’s RIghts.
The food on the ship is okay. You can tell that each day the food gets more and more “nonperishable.” There is a LOT of pasta, potatoes and rice. People are actually asking to borrow some of my benefiber (thanks, Grandma!)
There are lectures at night that talk about different subjects and I have been going to a lot of them. Some of the subjects are: the geography of the Mediterranean, Sight, Sounds and Tastes of Italy, why there are different languages etc etc etc.
Up next is Italy!

I AM ALIVE!!! (I was worried for a bit…)

Hello!
Long time, no talk. The internet on the ship is super scattered and slow so blogging has been a bit of a struggle. I also cannot post pictures because the email server that I am using doesn’t allow that. So, when I get WiFi, I can post pictures. Trust me, there are a lot.
So, London.
The day after Harry Potter dad and I went on a grand tour of London on one of those double decker tour buses. It was great to see all of London and learn about its history and different areas. I think the coolest thing that I saw was Speakers Corner. Unfortunately it wasn’t Sunday, so the event wasn’t taking place. Speakers Corner is where anyone can go and talk about anything they want. Be it religion, politics, comedy, philosophy… save for anything against the monarch (people love their queen). However, if you are to participate, you must stand on a ladder, or box, and have your feet a certain amount off the ground (I don’t remember how much). In the old times, they used soap boxes. It was really cool to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Eye, London and Tower Bridge, as well as a lot more. I would love to go back sometime and actually dive deep into the history and buildings. Due to time constraints we weren’t able to go in any of the places.
Dad and I also went on a boat tour on the Thames River. I will admit that I did take a little nap on the boat, but it was cool to see London from the river! We then ate dinner (pizza… with an egg on top!) and went back to the hotel.
London was amazing. If given the chance, I would definitely move there. I would compare it to Washington D.C. in that it is very busy with the hustle and bustle but there are no tall sky scrapers everywhere.
So yeah London was great!
Some observations:
I didn’t see anyone begging! It was very different than the US where in larger cities there are people who are homeless and/or begging.
No one honked their horn. Like the US again, in larger cities comes a lot of traffic noise. Even though people drove like crazy over there, there was little honking and road rage.
The driving there confused me. Driving on the left side while steering on the right side and the lines are going all over the place. I couldn’t understand.
In fact, it is so crazy that at every single cross walk, there were directions to tell you which way to look for oncoming traffic.
Everyone wore blue somewhere. The clothing was very natural, deep earthy tones. Also, NO ONE wore sandals. Everyone had closed toed shoes.
There were buses EVERYWHERE. I have no idea how they drove because they are big and there were so many of them.

I should be posting about the first few days on the ship in a little bit! (warning: graphic content to come*)

*not really, I just threw up a lot…

Harry Potter References Galore!

All I want to do is get on a broom and fly around London.

We woke up around 8am (2am CST) and had breakfast. The hotel had their traditional breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon (which is more like a ham) fruit, fried tomatoes, baked beans and fried bread. I wanted dad to try blood pudding, but unfortunately they didn’t have it.

We left and took the underground to go into London. It took everything I had not to ask information about how to catch the knight bus. I pulled an Arthur Weasley and ran into the gates because my card didn’t register. I didn’t know if I was more happy or embarrassed…

I have taken many different subways in many different countries and cities but I have now found myself unable to look at oncoming trains for fear that Zoey Barnes may just pop out of nowhere and “trip”

I may be scarred for life.

Anyways, after a few turn arounds and misreading of the map, we finally made it to the station to catch the bus to Warner Brothers… a half hour late.

Oops!

Thankfully they let us get on the next bus. It was another double decker that played HP1 on the way there (score!). It took about an hour and a half to get out to the studio.

To say I was excited was an understatement.

They put us in a theatre and gave us an introduction from the magnificent three (Dan, Rupert and Emma on a video unfortunately). By then I was shaking with excitement. We got to walk through the actual great hall they used for filming (I almost wet myself) as well as sets from: the common room, potions classroom, the burrow, Dumbledoor’s office and the Hogwarts Express. They also had props and costumes from just about everything. They had stuff from the effect and art department which was amazing. I also had true butterbeer for the first time. I took approximately 7,000 pictures.

We stayed there for about 4 hours. Of course, I could have been there for longer.

We got back to London around 6pm and walked around for a bit. We found Buckingham palace and walked around the outside of that which was cool.

All I want to do know is re-read the books…. good thing I have time before grad school starts.

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I’ll post all of the pictures sometime later.

Iceland really lived up to its name

No, it wasn’t covered in ice, but it might as well be. It was FA-REEZING. Okay so it wasn’t that bad, but my body is used to the heat and humidity, so I have a right to complain.

Me, being the intelligent person that I am, didn’t research the weather before I left so I showed up in very thin leggings and sandals. I got looks.

The airport looked like an Ikea; it was maze like and we had to go through a lot of stores to get where we needed to go. To me, it could have been Ikea for all I knew; I didn’t sleep at all on the plane. We got off the plane around 8am Iceland time (3am CST) and I hadn’t shut my eyes yet.

We waited a couple of hours and walking around aimlessly we got on a bus to go to the blue lagoon. It was extremely windy which didn’t add well to the chill (see picture, my hair is standing up). I ended up wearing my JE SUIS AMERICAINE rain jacket and drew even more attention to the fact that I wasn’t prepared. Everyone had heavy jackets, pants and closed toed shoes. Nice.

The blue lagoon was very posh and very european. The water (was it water? more like a salt / mineral concoction) was really nice and warm (they claimed 100 degrees, but I doubt it) The workers standing out in the elements were wearing snow jumpsuits. Yeah, it was that cold. There were steam rooms, a swim-up bar and a mud/salt mask you could put on your face. Everyone looked like they were second graders with Elmers glue on their face.

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DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO
(don’t worry, I have a swimsuit on!)

The concoction was supposed to be super great for your skin and supposed to leave it feeling great, but I just felt like my skin had a lot of salt on it. It was smooth, yet salty.

On the bus ride back I tried really hard to stay awake but could not for the life of me keep my eyes open. Following came the biggest struggle of my life to stay awake. I was quite literally falling asleep on the airport floor while I was waiting for customs to open. By the time we got on our plane I have been up for 24 hours. It was around 4pm in Iceland (11am CST). I fell asleep on the plane and don’t remember any of it.

We got to London around 8pm and waited or an hour to go through customs, and eventually got to our hotel around 11pm. Heathrow airport is HUGE and there was a lot of walking in winding hallways. We went promptly to sleep once we got to the hotel.

Observations on Iceland:

1.Everyone was white; I did not see one person of color there. However,

2. Nobody lives there! We drove through a town and it looked completely empty! It was so weird! After further review I found out that the population is around 360,000 which is about the size of Minneapolis. Around 40% of the people live in the Capitol.

3. There is no grass! Everywhere is volcanic rock and moss. It kind of made Iceland look like a barren wasteland. I later found out that more inland there is grass and fertile soil. However, on the coast it looked like a different planet.