Winter is Coming… for you at least

Remember me? I have found myself horrible at blogging which is apparent in the amount of time I dedicate to doing it.
Nevertheless, I will try and keep you updated!
After Italy we went to Croatia. Remember in my last post I mentioned that Turkey was cancelled and that we were rerouted to Croatia? No? Well I don’t blame you it was so long ago.
The port in Croatia was by far the most beautiful of the others we docked in. The blue sea, the green trees and the red houses were all blending together to create a beautiful Croatian countryside.
We got off the of ship and wandered to the old city of Dubrovnik which was about a mile from port. We checked in at the Air B&B and then went into the Old City. We walked the wall which was gorgeous. Game of Thrones is filmed right outside of the City so there was a lot of tourist-y options for fans of the show. We ate a seafood lunch and then my friend Alanna decided to climb up a hill to watch the sunset. At the top of the hill is the boarder of Bosnia and where the fort was located during the war. We watched the sun set over the old city which was gorgeous and then went back down and ate dinner. There is a lot of seafood consumption and the fish is very fresh. The next day I went to Lokrum Island with two friends. The island is known for its peacocks. We went swimming and had lunch and then headed back to mainland. That night I went with a field program to a woman’s house where she fed us a traditional Croatian dinner. Lots of wine, figs, meat and potatoes. The day after I went with SAS again to Medjugory which is in Bosnia. It was beautiful and a great experience, even though we did get held up at the boarder for an hour. We had a wonderful dinner of spaghetti and fried vegetables. We toured the are and learn all about the pilgrimage sight and the events that occur there.
On the fourth day my friends and I went on a biking tour of the Croatian countryside. I realized that all those years biking in Madison have really payed off and I am quite a fast biker. We had to go on dirt paths, through a stream and saw a old grain mill run by water. It was very relaxing and our guide was great. Plug: if you ever go to Dubrovnik, use Adventure Dalmatia for any tours.
The last day I spent my day at a cafe getting internet so I could share some pictures on Facebook with all of you!
We have to be back on the ship by 1800 so that they ship can leave at promptly 2000.
I’ll try to update my blog more as I have more time on the ship and less time in port!


Italia part dua

I have no idea how some people do this. I realize I am horrible at writing everyday about my life. Mostly because I am so tired by the end of the day that I just fall into my bed without a second thought of typing it all in a post. However, I will try.
Where was I? Oh yes! Italy! oh my goodness that was a while back.
So I stayed in a hostel the third night I was in Rome. It was my first hostel experience and it was pretty cool! I met a guy from Australia who was traveling my himself.
The next day we got up and rode a couple of trains to Sorento. We didn’t stay exactly in Sorento, but in a little town just outside of it. I met a guy on the train from Dublin who said that he goes to Sorento almost every year for vacation. Once we got there, we then went for a swim in the Mediterranean which was amazing considering all of the traveling on the trains we had to do earlier that day. The sea was so salty and wonderful and clear. I don’t know if I can go back to farm-runoff lakes in Minnesota/Wisconsin.
We ate dinner at the hostel. I, of course, had pizza. Which brought my total to 3 so far. We hung out in the hostel and walked through the small town. It was very charming and very relaxed which was great compared to the hustle and bustle of Rome.
The next day we took the train into Sorento and then took a ferry into Capri.
Man oh man.
Think of the most beautiful view you have ever seen and then multiply that by 100. That was Capri. we ate at a local restaurant where I had the most amazing pasta I have ever had in my life. Seriously, I almost cried.
We then just walked around and took it all in. If you go more inland away from the touristy shops, that’s where you get the more sophisticated, pricey shops. I’m talking Dolce and Gabonna, Chanel, Fendi… those places. They also had pictures of the owners of restaurants and business with celebrities such as Sylvester Stalone and Beyonce.
It really is a beautiful island and I wish I could’ve seen more of it. I will definitely go back to Anacapri which is more nature-y.
We then took a ferry to Naples to meet our ship, which had moved. After standing in line to get back onto the boat, I went to go get dinner in Naples.
My friend and I found a cute little restaurant which served salads which we were craving. After days of pasta and pizza, some roughage is always a must.
On the way back we got caught in a storm and got POURED on. Running through the rain in Naples is something I would recommend doing. It gets crazy and fun and a little risky. The drivers in Naples never stop.
Backing up, before I got on the ship, I decided that it would be a good idea to run a half-marathon. I did it, while injuring my knee in the process.
Since Italy consists of a LOT of walking, both of my knees were starting to really hurt.
So what do I do the next day?
Climb a volcano.
Of course.
It was totally worth it.
My friend and I took a train to Pompeii were we get tickets to go to the top of the volcano. They drove us in these military trucks about halfway up and then you climbed the rest. It started to rain just as we got there and by the time we got to a convenience shop it was full on storming complete with hail. It was only storming on the top of the volcano, though. You would look down and all of the towns were bright with the sun. It was quite the experience and I really enjoyed it. Once the storm let up we walked around the crater and enjoyed the view of Pompeii and Naples.
After that we went back to Naples and had real, authentic Naopoli pizza (pizza # 4).
Oh my.
It was well worth the hour wait.
After that I got back on the ship and accidentally fell asleep at 1800. I was out for the count. I woke up at 5:30 the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to go.
Italy was great!
Next, onto Croatia.


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!


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…)

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.


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.


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.

DSCN3794    DSCN3793



(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.

who am iiii?*

So I love the meyers-briggs test. Some people don’t, but hey, that’s them.I figured that if you are going to spend time reading about me, you might as well know how my brain works. So who am I? I took the test in high school and I was an INFJ. Of course, I have changed over time and have morphed into an ENFP. The following list is from another blog, but I figured I would post it because it is 25 things about ME.

ENFPs are passion-driven ‘ideas’ people. They gain energy from interacting with the world around them, and become quickly excited over new possibilities. Though ENFPs loves being around people, they crave alone time much more than the average extrovert. ENFPs search for a deeper meaning in just about everything, and use their much-coveted alone time to decide how their experiences fit in with their system of core values. To be frank, it’s an exhausting personality to have. Here are a few struggles most ENFPs face.

1. Getting your energy from social interaction, but disliking superficial conversations. Yes, I want to go to a party tonight. But a party full of contemplative people who want to alternate between taking shots and discussing the meaning of life.

2. Being very socially conscience but also fiercely individualistic. This means always wanting to fit in with a group, but never wanting to compromise your personality to do so.

3. The constant tug-of-war between ‘YES, I WANT TO GO EXPRIENCE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW’ and ‘Wow, I need a lot of time to process these experiences, can I take a breather?’

4.Having a thousand great ideas that you never follow through on.

5. Regularly forgetting that your physical needs exist.

6. Getting into the perfect job/relationship/groove and hearing that nagging voice in the back of your mind going “But maybe there’s something even BETTER out there…”

7. Constantly contradicting yourself because you genuinely see multiple sides to most situations.

8. Everyone thinking you’re flirting with them, all of the time.

9. Being a HUGE, UNSTOPPABLE FORCE of creativity and productivity… an hour before the deadline.

10. Getting bored 500 times faster than the average human being.

11. Constantly biting off more than you can chew… and then chewing it out of stubbornness.

12. Stressing out friends and acquaintances who don’t like straying from the original plan.

13. Working towards a constantly altering notion of your “ideal self.”

14. When you have to complete a task that you simply cannot find a way to make fun.

15. Begrudgingly identifying Peter Pan as your spirit animal.

16. People underestimating your intelligence because you lead with the fun, upbeat parts of your personality.

17. Needing significantly more alone time than other extraverts.

18. Others being surprised that you hold such strong opinions and beliefs, despite your easy-going nature.

19. Trying to explain to the people closest to you that yes you love pretty much everyone, but you love them the MOST.

20. People thinking you’re looking for advice when you simply need to process things out loud.

21. Staying in bad relationships because you focus on how things COULD be rather than how they are.

22. Wanting to be alone… but like, with other people nearby.

23. Appearing shallow because of your tendency to flit from topic to topic in conversation, with lightening speed.

24. Having a fiercely independent streak… but getting bored without company.

25. Being a walking contradiction in almost every way, but knowing that you wouldn’t change a thing, even if you could.


A coincidence and a follow up

So I consider myself a feminist. More on that later. I also consider myself a bit addicted to pinterest. I feel that each of these two attributes feeds one another. So here I was pinning away feminist type tins when I read one that really struck me. It read:

“We’ve been taught a woman’s body will cause men to sin. We’re told that if a woman shows too much of her body men will do stupid things. Let’s be clear: A woman’s body is not dangerous to you. Her body will not cause you harm. It will not make you do stupid things. If you do stupid things, it is because you chose to do stupid things.”   -Nate Pyle

And I was like HECK YEAH! This guy is great! I want to read more! So I looked him up and read the rest of the blog post. ( ) It’s really great. I was literally fist bumping the air in the library.

Then I hoped on over to his about me page. And I was like wait a minute…. this guy is a pastor who lives in Indiana. Tony, my boyfriend, has an uncle who is a pastor who lives in Indiana. They have the same last names: Pyle. After some facebook research, BOOM. This man who I stumbled upon on pinterest  is my boyfriend’s uncle.

I almost cried, this is so funny!

So this leads to my next thought.

A while back I posted a rant about the Indiana Bill. I feel that though I started some thoughts, I didnt get a chance to really dive deep into the issue and what it means. Of course, my new favorite uncle wrote a post on it that almost brought me to tears.

What I want to highlight from it:

For that reason, I’d bake the cake. If Jesus can make 120-180 gallons of wine for a wedding party that is already long underway and not be condoning or celebrating drunkenness, I can make a cake for a wedding that I may have some theological issues with. Truth is, we as Christians do this all the time. We bake cakes for Jewish weddings, weddings for people who divorced for non-Biblical reasons, atheist weddings, and maybe even a Wiccan wedding. To choose one lifestyle we disapprove of as the one we cannot offer services to is hypocritical.

Read it. He articulates my thoughts better than I can.


sssssss boom aaaahhhh *whistle* an ode to band

So this past weekend was my final spring concert. Final. As is no more. Done. Forever.

It’s hard to put into words what this feels like. I have been playing the piano since kindergarten. I started playing percussion in fifth grade. I joined the drumline in ninth grade. I started playing saxaphone in tenth grade. I joined the UW marching band and have marched all four years of my college career. And now, it’s done.

There were times that I really wanted to quit. The biggest time was before ninth grade. I hated concert band because it was all too easy. My dad forced me to go to band camp and if I didn’t like it there, then I would be allowed to quit. Well, I’m sure you now how the story turned out.

The drumline has given me many ups and downs in both high school and in college. I have never met a more eclectic group of people. I have gone through so much both physically and mentally to get where I am today. Being the only girl on the bass line throughout college has been a whirlwind of an adventure. We have this saying in the UW band “if it was easy, anybody could do it!”

I don’t know if i’ll ever play in a band again, and that scares me. However, my love and joy through music will never cease. My years in band have given me everything, and all I have to say is….

Thanks, Mike.