I’ve read quite a few of the B-School Blogs in order to figure out which ones I liked the best and which model to follow for my own. My favorites are the ones that offer specific travel advice that I can use and that can help students plan a for study abroad semester. As such, I will try to offer my best advice about travel in Europe and living and studying in The Hague and leave the storytelling up to the more interesting and accomplished writers. As a marketing student, some of my business observations will probably come through, as well.
Before you go


I bought a big backpack both for my trips in Europe and hiking when I get home. It was nice to have a big bag to get over here, but it’s been useless ever since. Most of my trips are for 5 days or less, so a 90L pack is way too large (at least for a guy). Even the budget airlines allow a carry-on that measures around 55X35X20 cm and can weigh up to 10kg, so a soft, 4 euro duffel is what I’ve been using. It can cram into most spaces and 5 days of clothes and even a laptop and books, chargers, etc. can easily fit into those size constraints. In the summer, I expect that my bag will be more useful on longer excursions, though.

As far as clothing goes, it can be tricky. Being here from January to July ensures that I will see the entire range of weather, from really cold to mildly warm. However, I brought clothes for all situations, planning to spend time in Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal. I think it is important to remember, though, that even if you plan on being an ultimate traveler, you will probably still spend 75% of your time in the Netherlands while school is in session. I am averaging 1 or 2 inter-country trips per month and I think I am traveling about as much as anyone else here. Trips within the Netherlands are much more frequent, but weather doesn’t change too much within the country. 75% of the time in a cool climate- keep that in mind.

Though it may be tough, I would recommend to leave your fashion at home. The basics will suffice, and the Dutch aren’t known for being particularly snooty or fashionable themselves. Packing the most practical items (Jeans, walking shoes, and a sturdy jacket) will save you on luggage when flying and allow you to do some shopping here and take some things home. That being said, I’ve yet to see a pair of sweatpants or flip-flops and socks out in public and there are a couple clubs that prefer a collar and dark jeans. Besides, your focus while studying abroad is less about looking great than having a great time.

Mia Nuova Vita

So many things to catch you up on. I don’t even know that I can remember all that has happened since I last wrote but I will try my best.
First of all the reality is finally setting in that this is home, at least for now. The first couple weeks felt more like a vacation but the other day I said I was going home, and that’s when it hit me, my quaint little apartment in Firenze is my home right now. An exciting, exhausting, comforting, and scary feeling all at the same time. I have begun to make more friends here and recognize the same random people on the streets each day. The cashiers at the grocery on our street know our faces now.
I also met a man outside the Duomo named Alfredo who was selling his artwork of the city in the piazza like so many others do here as well. He is a man probably in his early 40’s who studied art in England but came back to Florence to marry his wife. After I had picked out the small picture I wanted to buy, I asked for it in Italian, and of course because of my lack of experience with the language, not to mention my very blond hair and American appearance, he started asking where I was from and why I was in Florence. Now I did not tell him my address of course, or even the general direction, but we did have a very easy conversation. The next thing I knew we had been talking, he in his broken English, and I in my broken Italian, for close to a half an hour. I mentioned that I should get going, because I was going to Sunday Mass at the Duomo and it was starting soon. He mentioned that if I needed help with my Italian he would be willing to help if I happened to walk by his work again. It was nice. He didn’t judge or laugh at my horrible attempts at speaking to him, in fact he praised my attempts, and was willing to help. Because I walk through the Piazza every day I have seem him a couple more times since, and every time we briefly say hi and I move on with my day. I am so excited to meet more people, and create simple connections like this that just make the day a little better and this place feel a little more like home.
Later that Sunday afternoon I decided to go to Mass at the Duomo. The Priest asked if I was lost, because the mass was in Italian, and I obviously am not Italian. But I smiled, said no and that if I was welcome to stay for the Italian mass I would like to. It was cold because the church is all marble and is massive with no heating system. All I could think about was me and Grandma keeping each other warm when we get cold at Sacred Heart. I tried my best to fallow the readings and the songs. It was beautiful, and I plan to go back on most Sundays in hopes of being able to understand a mass by the time I leave Firenze.
After mass, I had the whole day to do pretty much nothing, so I decided I would climb the 414 steps to the top of the Bell Tower to see what the city looked like from up there. I was exhausted by the time I reached the top but it was absolutely worth it. I took my time and stopped at each level. Squeezing past the ridiculous amounts on Asian tourists on the steep and narrow stairs all the way to the top.
If you look just past the dome on the left side, you can see my street, and exactly where my apartment is. I wanted to stay up there all day but after a group of Asian boys asked me to be in one of their pictures with them I decided it was time to head back down.
By the time that Tuesday rolled around I had almost forgotten that I have classes to go to. But once I got over my “But I don’t wanna go to school!!!!”, I actually learned a lot this week.
In Whine Marketing we are learning more about the differences in the different wines produced and why they are produced that way based on the changing market and the variations of target audiences. Once I realized I knew absolutely nothing about wine other than what I learned at the Kappa Delta/Phi Sigma Kappa “Catalina Wine Mixer” social freshman year of college, I decided that I needed to do something to learn fast if I hoped to be able to market the product. So I went and added a course called “Tuscany and It’s Wines” and it is so interesting. On Thursday we started learning about the Sangiovese grape and how and where it is harvested and the different types of wines that it is used to make. During the lecture on Thursday, the professor started getting excited about what he was teaching, and it was obvious that he was very passionate about what he was teaching. Then he said something that I hope I never forget, He said “To me, Wine is not just a drink. It is an emotion. It is passion. And it is a way of life!”. Now as dumb as that may sound I got goosebumps. I hope that someday I can have that much passion behind something in my life. His words were so sincere and so passionate, that I actually felt was he was saying rather than just hearing words.
As for Italian, I am so lost! Not very surprising at all really. I do not know the difference between adverbs and helping verbs in English, so how in the world am I supposed to in Italian. And anyone who knows me knows that I am quite possibly the absolute worst speller in the entire world too. It’s all foreign to me!
But enough about class. There has been a Chocolate festival in Piazza Santa Croche all week, and it just so happens to be on the walk to and from school! I would be lying if I said I didn’t go at least three times this week, but who can blame me really? There were so many little truffles and candies that I just couldn’t help myself.
As much as I loved the little chocolate shoes, and the chocolate animals, I fell in love with the chocolate covered fruit. The strawberries were so fresh and the chocolate was phenomenal. Ummm, My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Aside from that Anna, Jen, Melissa, and I decided to go to Pisa on Friday. It’s so crazy that we can decided one day and just go the next. Pisa is a €5 train ride from Firenze so we thought, why not go. The city was dead, noting was going on there and the streets were basically empty. We did find the best gelato in all if Italy though! It was the cute little place in a square on the walk to the Tower. I got Nutella and Cookie, and I can’t even attempt to describe it’s fabulousness because I could never do it justice.

After walking down a few more sketchy streets, we finally got to the leaning tower. It was pretty, but that was literally all that was in Pisa. The tower itself was so pretty though. It was made entirely of white marble. And I couldn’t help myself, I had to be “that girl” who was a total tourist and take a ton of pictures holding up the tower. I feel like it has to be done, so I took at least 10.

Needless to say, I am settling into Firenze and starting to realize that my life really is changing. I have so much going for me, and this is such an amazing opportunity that I hope to be able to take advantage of every moment. I am falling in love with my life here,and if I am really lucky, Firenze will fall in love with me too.

Buona Sara!

Primo giorno in Firenze

I have officially been a resident of the city of Firenze, Italia for nine days and roughly twelve hours, but who is counting really? The city is amazing. Much bigger than I am used to in good ol’ Charlestown/Jeffersonville, IN/Louisville, KY that is for sure. Most of the other students in my program are from Jersey or somewhere in Cali. When people ask me where I go to school I have to repeat myself more than a couple times until I realize that I have to enunciate Louis-ville before they have any idea where I am talking about. But with mostly East/West coasters, the idea of a “country” town in the mid-west is more foreign to them than the fact that we are in Italy. To people that don’t know my name yet, I’m “that girl with the really bad accent.” I don’t mind though, at least I have some distinguishing factor.
But enough about that. I want to be able to tell you everything there is to know about Firenze, but I’m still not even sure what different things are at the grocery store right down the street. There are piazza on almost every other street, and each one has their own historical significance. I feel a little silly that I am in a city that I know very little about, but I have a while to learn I guess.
There are very few places to go to have any privacy in the city, but there are beautiful hillside landscapes in the distance. I live a block and a half from piazza del Duomo and the city center, so needless to say there is always something going on.
I have had he chance to see so many places that I don’t even know that I could tell you everywhere but…
Pizza del Duomo

This picture is not even a good visual of the Duomo’s real size. It is massive. The entire building is made of marble and looks like a 3-D puzzle. Almost like if you were to touch is it would collapse. When I walk out my front door i can see the dome and a significant section of the side. I love when I am walking through the city and the bells go off. I’m not sure there has been a time that the bells from the tower haven’t made me smile.

Ponte Veccio
The bride behind me is the oldest bridge in Italy that was originally a meat market until the beginning of the Medici dynasty when the family decided to turn it into a common place for goldsmiths. Now the only shops allowed on the bridge are that of goldsmiths and jewelers.
I saw this ring my very first day in Firenze on the bridge. I fell in love and three days later I went back and got it. It is 18k white gold with white and black diamonds. Not a purchase that I expected to make but I don’t regret it one bit. It didn’t need to be sized, I think this ring was mad for me.

As for my room mates, we get along much better than I expected. Lets be serious, putting five girls in an apartment about the size of three “average” sized guest bedrooms is a recipe for disaster. So far though I can say that I truly enjoy each and every one of the other girls. But only time will tell…
From Left to Right: Shelbi, Jen, Anna, Melissa, Me, Chels

Shelbi is from Jersey but she goes to Pit. She is crazy! With out a doubt, a free spirit. She hasn’t meet a stranger yet. Everyone she meets loves her. She is majoring in religious studies and psychology, is fluent in Hebrew, and is obsessed with her Chi Omega sisters.
Jen is from Cali and is the definition of a California girl. She is a Tri Delt so it gives us things to talk about. She claims she “used to be blond” but I’m not entirely convinced that shes not still. Her and I were roomies in Rome so she was the first girl in the house that I really got to know.
Anna and Melissa were best friends before coming abroad which scared me coming into this but it has turned out that I just adore these girls! It took me until a couple days ago to figure out how to relate to them and read them because they are both from Jersey also and are very honest with each other and like true Jersey Girls, are very set in there ways. Which I think can end up being kind of perfect considering I am pretty similar, just with a different accent.
Chels doesn’t live with us but is doing a “home stay” here so we adopted her. So she is pretty much always with someone from out apartment.

I am taking four classes while I am here, and for the first time since… well, ever, I am excited to learn this semester. I am taking Wine Marketing and Communications, Intermediate Italian, Hospitality Marketing, and Global Ethics. The first day in each of my classes was a pleasant surprise.
Wine Marketing
The first thing that my professor said after she passed out the syllabus was that “textbooks were optional, but wine glasses are mandatory.” Now I could tell you that I was disappointed about this but I’d rather not lie to you. This doesn’t mean that I will be spending my entire semester abroad drinking wine and not learning. But she has a good point in that it would be hard to market a product that I am not familiar with. So I went and bought the “optional” textbook and have already started reading because I want to know more about it. Did you know that Italy has over 300 different vines growing throughout the country, most of them coming from Tuscany, while France only has roughly 30, and 7 in the States? We will be required to visit small and large vineyards throughout Tuscany and create an “throughout and effective” marketing strategy for them. I can’t even tell you how much I am looking forward to this opportunity.
Intermediate Italian
After one semester of Italian I am nowhere near at the level I’d like to for living here. I hope, by the end of this experience, to become more comfortable in confidant in my ability to carry on conversations in Italian. It is such a beautiful language and one day I plan to be fluent.
Hospitality Marketing
The teacher for this class seems intense but it should be a good leaning experience. We are going to Milan for an international Hospitality conference so I feel like it has the potential to be a great networking opportunity.
Global Ethics
The professor for this class has the potential to be my absolute favorite. I get to read three books that I am looking forward to believe it or not.

It is officially 3am here and I am getting up early to walk up a hill across the river to go to church. I just hope that is as beautiful a day as today.

Buona Sera.

Roaming in Roma

I am officially nine days into my adventures abroad and already have so much to tell everyone. I have already seen so many amazing places, encountered so many different situations, and met so many fabulous people, that I don’t even know where to start!
So due to my lack of creativity, I will start at the beginning, because I have been told that the beginning is the best place to start…
Making the decision to study in Florence.

As a sophomore in high school I took AP European History with Mr. Hawkins. Aside from the fact that I found my teacher to be positively dreamy in my 15 year old mind, I loved the class. I left every class wanting to know more, but lets be honest, I rarely actually made the effort to find out on my own though. But I can say that I did find out that Santa Clause is real, and his alias in the off season is Scott Hawkins. He likes to write letters to his students to let them know that Santa is always watching. Especially when my friend Kaylea and I got caught cheating on quizzes together… Oops!
About half way through the year he announced that he along with my swim coach, Mr. Gast, would be taking a group of students on a “European Adventure” and he would be handing out more information if anyone might be interested. To make a long story short I ended up going on the trip with a few of my friends, Mary Catherine, Mallory, Ellie, and a few more. We visited Germany, Amsterdam, Belgium, France, England, and Scotland. The entire experience was phenomenal.

The fallowing year I met Frazi. She was the foreign exchange student that I had U.S. History with and conveniently lived next to the boy I was dating at the time. Over that year her and I became very close and I hated to see her leave. We kept in touch, and still do, so Sarah and I planned spring break of my senior year to go visit her in Germany. I love the fact that after having visited her twice, spring break and then again this past May, I have made friends abroad.
I thought it was amazing that while I speak absolutely zero German, and most of her friends and family spoke little to no English, I was still able to build a relationship with these people.

I have had such amazing experiences abroad, one day I decided that I am going to travel to every country in Europe before I die. I am fully aware that this is a very ambitious and probably unrealistic goal, but a girl can always dream, right?
I believe that learning from other cultures and diverse people is much more effective that sitting in a classroom. Reading about the experiences and adventures of others is great, but I wanted/want to have my own personal experiences.
For a little over a year I have been talking with the international office at my school trying to plan my semester abroad. There were so many options of places to go. So why Italy?
To be honest, no reason in particular. Mainly because it was somewhere new and different. And the though of Italian men with creamy deep brown eyes and romantic accents didn’t hurt either.
So after a year of preparation, a fair amount of stress, a semester of Italian, and tons of expectations, I have finally made it to Italy!!
January 22-27. 2011
I left on Saturday from a swim/dive meet and headed straight to the airport to catch my flight. I left from Louisville with a connecting flight in Philly and then on Sunday morning at 9:00 am (3:00 am back home) I got off the plane in Roma.
I got a shuttle to Grand Hotel Palitino where I had booked a room for the night, and once I was all checked in I went to the room for a short nap that turned into 5 hours. (Thank you jet-lag)
Once I finally drug myself out of bed, It was time to explore…
The Colosseum

As soon as I saw the Colisseum, all I wanted to do was go fight a lion in the middle of a fully packed arena. But then I realized that would be absolutely humiliating and not to mention fatal.
To walk by this a remember learning about all the events that took place inside was unreal. An amphitheater with the capacity to hold 50,000+ people that was able to be filled and emptied in less than an hour, that serious business.
The idea of the place is interesting. In ancient Roma it was said that all Roman citizens were entitled to tow things: ‘pane e intrattenimento’ Bead and entertainment. Therefore all citizens, nobles and peasants were all allowed to attend events at the Colisseum for free. Maybe America needs to take a little lesson from the Ancient Romans, but of course not all of their practices!
Fontana di Trevi
This was by far my favorite place in Roma. I wanted to just sit and stare for hours! I only saw it at night when it was lit up, but I can’t imagine it having the same breathtaking effect during the day. The first night I visited I threw a penny in the fountain and made my wish. I wanted so badly to use a € instead but I didn’t have any change yet, which you would think would make me incredibly sad, but not at all. It gave me an excuse to go back the fallowing night and toss in my €.01coin.
Something about the lights and the idea of simply tossing a coin over my shoulder so that I can return to Roma, that makes the Trevi Fountain magical.
Italian Forum

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…”

In the old city forum there are columns and ruins. Without a guide I would have had no idea what anything was. I took all kinds of pictures and then realized I had no idea what they were of exactly. But I can tell you that the city forum buildings were rectangular and held up by columns. Not very exciting and innovative information, but something I learned.
“E tu, Brute?” -Ceasar
Julius Ceasar’s grave in the city forum. How happy do you think Brutus and the other guys that plotted his death were that he was still buried right in front of where they went to work every day? Flowers still grow right behind that wall.
Arch of Constantine
Vatican City
Vatican city almost needs no explanation but because I found it to be so amazing I have to write about it.
Because it is privately governed by the Pope it is considered the smallest country in the world. Completely contradicts the idea of separation of church and state, don’t you think? The walls surrounding the Basilica and Chapel are big, but not nearly as big as I had imagined considering that it is its own country.

There was not a single inch of the city that was not absolutely beautiful. I felt like it was sacrilegious to talk to loudly or even walk to quickly. The hall of hand woven tapestries with scriptures is indescribable, and because they do not want camera flashes to fade the fabric I wasn’t able to get a good picture. The Sistine Chapel was equally as breathtaking. I had anticipated it being a disappointment because I have heard about it so much and seen so many attempted replicas of the images. When I walked into the chapel though I was in awe. I wanted to lay on the floor and admire all of the intricate work. I wish I could see the area during a mass, that to me would be the ultimate experience.
After hours of typing today to document my travels thus far for everyone, I am exhausted, and should probably get some sleep so I can stay awake and attentive in my classes tomorrow.
Sorry that I didn’t get to Firenze or all of my amazing room mates, but it gives you something to look forward to.
Buona Sera e tropo mi amore!