Before You Go


Although I thought I had the best no-fees card for using in the ATMs over here, I am still charged 10 dollars per transaction of any size. Therefore, I’ve gotten used to having large amounts of cash stashed in various places to avoid those fees that can quickly add up to a plane ticket. Although it may seem a bit risky and strange to carry over $1,000 cash, I would recommend transferring over a large amount of money before you leave the U.S. and bringing it with you to avoid said fees.

Small Town Living

I have been living in Oestrich-Winkel now for exactly four months now. Depending on the weather outside you could find yourself outside walking near the Rhine, or in your room studying and passing by the time with your flat mates. There is very little to keep yourself entertained on a regular night here in the town. Maybe a few student parties from time to time or a German motorist trying to run you over with their car while you ride down the street. My stay here in Germany has been incredible and I have made some great new friends I will never forget. I respect and love the culture and this will definitely not be the last time I will come back to Germany. Ich habe einen stark liebe für das alte Deutschland, vielleicht sind es die frauen. The most people I have run into speak English, if you know English you can basically survive anywhere. Being in Germany I wanted to try out a little bit of my German. There were 2 occasions where I had asked simple questions in German to a couple of locals and gotten a response in English. I was a little disappointed and shocked at the same time. It is entertaining trying to understand the German student’s conversations and trying to have conversations in German with my friends here.
There have been interesting day-to-day events, but I do have to mention the store Rewe, if you are ever an exchange student here in Oestrich-Winkel you will come to love and know this store better than your own children. Compared to the United States, the food prices here are cheap and very affordable for a college student. I have also noticed it is quite the hangout for the local German teens who like to speed around the parking lot in the evening; this seems to be the hotspot for local life. It is quite different here, such as back in the states you would expect people to be out getting lunch at noon or one in the afternoon, but Oestrich-Winkel turns into a ghost town. The store shops are closed and maybe one sickly man is walking the streets. I have taken the trains outside of the Winkel for a bit of traveling. Taking the train towards Neuwied provides incredible scenery along the Rhine. You can spot several castles in the mountains on either side of the river and even one in the middle of the Rhine. The view is nothing like you could ever see in the United States. The architecture is beautiful, I especially like the stone streets and several centuries of different architectural designs. To say the least I love Germany and Europe. A three hour drive from Louisville could land you in Nashville or I can take a three hour drive from Oestrich-Winkel and stay in Paris, France for the weekend. Country music or the Louvre? What a tough decision.

Life in the OeWi, Germany

I have been living abroad in the small town of Oestrich-Winkel, Germany for three months now, and as fast as it has gone it feels like forever ago that I was on my Singapore Airlines from JFK to Frankfurt, not quite sure what to expect when I landed in Europe.  At first, the culture shock was even more enormous than I could have imagined.  As expected, accustoming to language has been a challenge. While the old adage that ‘everyone in Europe speaks English’ may hold true for the big international cities on the continent, it certainly does not hold true for this remote, ten thousand person town of Oestrich-Winkel. Additionally, adjusting to the German way of life – such as living without a freezer, minimizing use of heating, and adhering to the country’s five bin recycling system – was highly inconvenient at first. However, I have become more than accustomed to living as the Germans do (though my love for pork has not caught up to there’s yet). As far learning the German language, I have been able to pick up on a semi-impressive amount of vocabulary in just a two month span (mostly thanks to being enrolled in a course); alas, I am not able to have a conversation with someone past asking someone if he/she can speak English.

Overall, Oestrich-Winkel’s size can make life rather ‘underwhelming’ for the town’s couple hundred international students. Though the school’s website claims Frankfurt is just a short trip away, this is only true in distance. Realistically, exchange students like myself have to take the hour and a half, 10.50€ one way train to get to Frankfurt (for the traveling folks, the Main airport is just 7.40€ to reach, while the Ryan Air hub Frankfurt Hahn is a staggering 14.40€). Thus far, my impression of Oestrich-Winkel is that it is a quaint bedroom community on the Rhine, whose natives choose to commute to the nearby cities of Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Mainz so they can have a rural way of life at home in Oestrich-Winkel. As a result, the small town has the bare minimums in the ways of food and entertainment (though does manage to support three grocery stores). While Germany has perhaps the most extensive rail network in the world, Oestrich-Winkel only lies on a single rail line running east/west, limiting the ability for the international students to do much adventuring outside the Rhinegau to off-days and those with large budgets. On a more positive note, Oestrich-Winkel is about as safe of a place as you can find in Europe, and my cost of living is fairly lower than living in a major European city. At the same time, seeing friends abroad in London, Dublin, Seville, Milan and Athens always busy with various cultural activities can often leave something to be desired in this sleepy town.

Overall, the school work at the European Business School has been more stressful than I imagined it to be when committing to this program, though it’s the EBS’ dynamic scheduling that has led to this more than the classes themselves.  The EBS’ school schedule was best described by the staff as ‘highly irregular’, as no classes consistently meet at the same time every week (or the same room/building/campus for that matter). For example, on one week you can have class on just Tuesday and Wednesday, but have it from Monday until Saturday the next. One consequence of this is EBS students can expect to have several conflicts throughout their semester, which means the school ironically forces students to skip one class for another. This frustration has been shared by fellow international students from Europe and elsewhere, as well as professors themselves, one of whom citied the nearby University of Mainz has having standardized scheduling and openly questioning why the EBS does not. Additionally, one may find class times and rooms changed without warning, while the irregular scheduling makes for nearly impossible travel planning. Overall, this has been the most stressful semester I have had school wise, though it is less due to the classes be challenging than it is to trying to keep up with the school’s sprint and stop pace.  

Despite this frustration on how the school is structured, the EBS does provide classes that offer unique opportunities to interact with international conglomerates that I would not have gotten otherwise. For example, one facet of my International Financial Management course is a case study prepared by local Deutsch Bank analysts, with a presentation to be given in Frankfurt to the very analysts who prepared it. Perhaps more impressively, I am also enrolled in a Consulting Workshop that will be run by consultants from Booz & Company, perhaps the most prestigious consulting company in the world. Good grades may not come easy over here (as it is quite normal for classes’ grades to be determined by one single one-hour final), but there is definitely some unique experiences to be gained by those that enroll in the right courses as I am in. 

On a non-business note, perhaps the largest asset the EBS can offer exchange students are the ability to come together with other exchange students like themselves. Though anyone in an exchange program will meet people from all six continents, Oestrich-Winkel’s remoteness along with none of the ‘Tauschies’ speaking German as a first language has naturally inspired an extremely close knit community of international students who do all their adventuring around the area together. For myself, I have particularly become very good friends with my roommates from Ireland, France, and Latvia in just a few short months, and who knows if we would be so close if we had a city of possibilities to escape to. Nevertheless, I do know that had it not been for other foreign students like myself, I would not look as fondly back on this semester as I will on my flight back home at the end of May.

Despite Oestrich-Winkel being fairly remote, it is indeed very easy to travel around the continent once you hit Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof at the end of the train line running east. From here, one can catch a train to either Frankfurt Hbf or Frankfurt Main, two of the continent’s busiest centers for train and airport transportation respectively. For me, the concentration of such distinct cultures within Europe has always been the largest draw for me to study abroad here versus any other continent in the world, and while not always the most convenient (it is must easier to get out of Oestrich-Winkel than it is to get back) it is certainly one of the best regions in Europe to do mass traveling. Outside of Frankfurt, I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit Amsterdam, Prague, Seville and Dublin (of which I will write more about when I get the chance), with future trips planned for London, Heidelberg, Paris, Italy, and Zurich. With so much travelling and school work left to be done, it is hard to imagine that I will be back in America in just seven short weeks. This semester has been one crazy ride through all the school work, traveling, my computer breaking halfway through, and overall adjusting to a whole other language and way of life in the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless, it has already been a very memorable ride, and I plan on doing the best to enjoy the rest of the time I have here in Oestrich-Winkel and Europe.

Before You Go

I think as soon as I started to learn and research the Netherlands, I heard “Oh don’t worry, everybody speaks English”. This gave me a somewhat false sense of confidence that I want to dispel for future students. Yes, your classes are in perfect English (sometimes better than what I’ve had at UofL). Yes, all of your classmates will speak English at varying skill levels. Yes, most Dutch people our age and even up to 40, and many times older, can speak perfect English. Almost everyone in a government or professional career has great English.
However, this does not mean that signs, packaging, letters from the government, the old sandwich-shop keeper, the lady at the cigarette counter in the grocery, the old crazy man who you buy your second-hand bike from, vendors at street markets, or just friendly strangers can communicate with you in flawless English. While this is perfectly normal, books and other sources can give a false impression.
If you are a tourist in the Netherlands, no problem, but if you want to live here for 6 months and somewhat integrate into the culture, a little Dutch will be helpful. I can’t recommend a “top ten” of phrases to learn before you come, but “please”, “thank you”, and a general understanding of numbers up to 20 can be helpful for spoken prices, etc. The Survival Dutch course is helpful for everyday phrases, but you’ll have to go to a few classes before you have any command of them.
The grocery is where I’ve learned many of the written words I know, through trial and error of different kinds of “vlees”/meat- kip, rundvlees, varkenvlees, etc. and vegetables. It’s easy to pick up instructing signs about things that are “verboden”/forbidden and it takes only one time of looking silly to learn which doors to push and which to pull. Practicing spoken Dutch in public is a test to both your will and the Dutch person’s patience. Because so many Dutch speak English, it becomes very easy to just ask them to speak English and in public settings, they almost always can. Additionally, some Dutch people have told me that they have 8 years of English education, so they are ready and sometimes eager to speak English with you. In other words, the Dutch are very accommodating of your lack of language knowledge if they can be and aren’t so proud of their language to force you to learn it to communicate. If you practice, though, it makes the non-English speaking situations go much smoother.

Biglietto a Ovunque

Monday, March 7, 2011

Biglietto a Ovunque

This past weekend was only the second time since I’ve been in Florence that I didn’t have much of anything to do, and really nowhere to go. Sometime earlier this week Jen and I were talking about wanting to go somewhere for a short day trip, but had no idea where exactly we wanted to take off to. The plan started out as maybe taking the day to see Bologna which is a small town a little north, and right outside of Tuscany.
Chelsea met us at our apartment at 10:30 on Saturday morning and we left soon after. We hadn’t checked train times but since most trains run every hour, we didn’t think it would be much of a problem. On the walk to Santa Maria Novella (the Firenze train station) we couldn’t help but talk about how beautiful a day it was. Honestly the nicest day we’ve seen here yet. The idea of heading north on such a warm day didn’t make much sense so we decided the best thing to do was look at the departures on the board once we got to the station and head anywhere that seemed inviting.
So it was decided then. We would get to the station and get a ticket to anywhere. But not before we picked up a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant on the way.
Ok. Beautiful day, check. Great friends, check. Perfect cappuccino, check. Now all we had to do was figure out where we were going.
“How about Lucca?” Nah, Jen is going there with her parents when they visit.
“What about Pisa?” No thanks, already been.
“Oh! Maybe we should head back to Venice and see it in the sun.” Ok, Ok, to expensive.
“Wait, what about that place? What does that say? Livorno? Never heard of it…” Well based on the cartoon picture on that cheap little tourist survivor, it looked to me like it was by the water, and the train left in exactly eight minutes so if we hurried we could leave right away. So it was decided. Livorno it was. Perfect. And we’re off.
The train ride there was about an hour and a half but the three off us managed to keep the conversation going so it wasn’t a bad ride at all.  Once we got there we realized we had no idea where to go or what to see so we thought it might be best to get a map. The maps at the train station were €7! Good joke, There is no way I was spending $10 on a map that I needed for a day. So we vetoed the map and just started walking.
It was deffinaintly much less of a walking city than Florence, but the weather was so beautiful, we didn’t seem to care. After walking for about 15 minutes we saw a cute little park.

The sun was shining through the trees and there were fountains and animals all throughout the park. We decided to stop and take a look around. After all we didn’t have much else to do. It was the cutest little quiet place with chicken coups and playgrounds. There were turtles in the ponds and dad’s kicking soccer balls with their kids. There were even a few people playing guitar.


If I could have stayed there all day I would have, but we still wanted to find the ocean. So after I convinced Chelsea that it was a little awkward to creep on the 14 year old boys playing guitar in the park, we moved on toward the beach. Well at least that is what we though.

We walked for probably another 20 minutes before stopping to ask if we were even going the right way. Sure enough we were only about 15 minutes shy of reaching the water. Ok, so a pretty far walk for the beach on a day that isn’t even warm enough to get in the water, but who cares. I’m in Italy with nothing better to do that take in the day!

We finally reached the water at a boat port with sail boats, fishing boats, and yachts. Absolutely beautiful! But wait, where in the world was the beach?

Well come to find out there was no beach. So what did we do instead? Oh you know, just climbed through some broken down fences by an old abandoned hotel so we could walk out on the rocks by the water.

Once the obstacle course was defeated the view was absolutely breathtaking.


We spent the rest of the day playing on the rocks and taking it all in. I never could have imagined that buying a ticket to nowhere would turn in to pretty much the perfect day.

Buona Sera Miei Amori

Tutti i Giorni

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tutti i Giorni


At the end of my last post I had to leave in a hurry and can not imagine forgetting to tell you about some of the amazing things that are happening to me every day here in Florence. 
Only having class three days a week and no other jobs to keep me occupied means that I have some time to actually enjoy life. It is beautiful all the things you can experience when you just let life happen. Like last week in my Tuscany and Its wine course, my professor and another student in the class (I think you would consider him a student but he is not there to get a degree but rather his wine certification) were talking as Melissa and I were getting our bags together to leave. They mentioned something about later that evening and going to share a bottle of wine with a mutual acquaintance. Somehow during their conversation Melissa and I got included in making the plans and the next thing I know we are meeting at a school building later that night to go for a glass of wine with our professor and Chase (the other student). Melissa and I had just anticipated a short walk to a small local bar, and a casual good bye not long after we arrived. As we started walking, we get to his car and go roughly 10 minutes outside of the “city center” to an elaborate hotel that I never would have considered walking into for fear that I might be charged just to look at it. I wish I knew the name, I honestly just tried searching the internet for an hour to find it and no such luck. So I guess you will just have to believe me when I say it was absolutely breathtaking. When we walked in there were not only one but two men holding both doors for us so we were comfortable and not cramped. Our coats were immediately taken to be checked, and we were guided to their restaurant for drinks. This place can hardly be considered a restaurant in my opinion because it felt more like your own private dining area if you were royalty.  The lights were dimmed, classical music was being played, there were vases of different nuts to eat while we waited, and the chairs were more like love seats. Chase and Mossimo (my professor) ordered their drinks but when they asked what Melissa and I would like, we said no thank you (again I could not barely afford to breath in this place, let alone drink.) They insisted that we have a drink and ordered us the closest thing to an Italian cocktail as you can get, a Negroni. Negroni when translated means Big Black. Now, I am not at all knowledgeable about many, if any liquors, so obviously if I don’t know liquors, I don’t know what would go well with them. So before I go on, the recipe for this drink is…

-1 oz gin
-1 oz sweet vermouth
-1 oz Campari® bitters

    * Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass 3/4 filled with cracked ice. Add a splash of soda    water if desired. Garnish with a half slice of orange. 

So I ask, “what is Gin anyway?” Heck I don’t know these things. All three just laughed at me and insisted that I would just have to find out for myself. I wasn’t even about to attempt to ask about the other two things. So anyway the drink comes and…

Looks pretty good right? Wrong! It tasted just a Christmas tree in a cup, and had a smell that made me want to gag. But me being the polite young lady that I am, spied it, smiled, and thanked them for suggesting such a good drink. It would have been torturous to finish it but luckily the room itself was so beautiful, I could not be anything but content. When we finished our drinks we got a tour of the hotel from the manager. Every room was perfect in its own way. There was not a single thing out of place. It was with out a doubt an experiences that I will remember forever. We were also invited back to tour the rest if we would like and I fully intend to take them up on that.

The very next day as I was just wandering around, I convinced Jen to go into a paper shop, Il Paprio with me so that I could pick up more stationary to write letters on. We were greeted by a very friendly older man who stuck up conversation with us like we had been old friends. This paper shop, along with many others in Florence, is full of marbleized paper. Very pretty and colorful papers that are created by using wallpaper glue and water based paints to create a design that can be then copied onto paper.

Video on how to make the paper.


The old man, Gianni, took us over to his little station and insisted that Jen and I make a design to have a hand made souvenir of our time here. The pictures above are of the paper that her and I created together. The only thing was, he said if he gave us out work we were not allowed to fight over it, so to respect what he said we have decided to cut it in half before we leave so we both have a little bit to take back with us.

It is a beautiful thing to have experiences like these without ever even expecting to. There are nice people in the world, and I have been lucky enough to meet  a few of them right here in Florence.

Vi Amo e Buona Sera.


So Much Traveling

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So Much Traveling


I can not believe that I have been here for five weeks now and that it has been two weeks since my last post. I am falling more and more in love by the second. I can’t even begin to do this amazing country justice just through my poor attempt at blogging, but I will try my best.
Although it is still pretty chilly here, I find something new every day that makes me forget all about the fact that I am frozen 80% of the time and reminded me of how lucky I am to be here. Just like anywhere though, some days are better than others. Living with four girls you don’t know very well can get rough, but so far we’ve all managed to talk it out, and we continue to get closer every day. And of course realizing that life back in the states is still happening without me having the chance to be a part of it puts a bit of a knot in my stomach anytime the though crosses my mind. Who is thinking of me… Who is missing me… Who wishes I were there when something happens that reminds them of me? I wonder if Grandpa is lonely, or if Grandma needs my help. If Jaxon and Ella have forgotten about me,  if my divers needed me there for them during the biggest meets of their season, if Kelly is stealing all of my scarfs, if Andrea is sad with me for missing her birthday, or if I am letting down my KappaDelta sisters for not being there with them through Fryberger and Shamrock. But I think these are normal emotions for someone to have when they leave the life they know for the opportunity to experience something more. All I can do is remind myself that I have to live my own life and have my own experiences. But most of all remember how insanely blessed I am to have so much to miss and the opportunity to do all of the things that I want to do.
Ok, Enough about that, and more about Italy, which is, after all, the whole point in my blog!
After weeks of having no idea what to do for Spring break, because everyone wanted to go to places like Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Germany which I have been lucky enough to already have visited, I have officially booked my trip! Taylor, another girl from the program was stressing too because her friend from home is coming to visit so she wont be ready to leave until Sunday while most everyone else is leaving on Thursday, and I got together and came up with what I think is going to be a pretty amazing break. We will be leaving from Pisa on Sunday, and visiting Madrid, Paris, Luxembourg, and Brussels. We booked our flights and hostels, and as far as I’m concerned, we are ready to go!
Since I last posted, I have been to Verona, Milan, Siena, San Giamangio, Orvieto, and Venice, not to mention all the new things I’ve done in Florence. So needless to say I have lots to fill you in on.
But first lets start in order with Friday, February 18th, which was, in my oppinion, the most beautiful day here so far. Because schooling is so different over here, me and my roommates only have class 3 days a week, so Mondays and Fridays are our days to explore Florence. So that Friday Jen, Melissa, Anna, and I decided to walk to a little pizzeria down by school and get us each a €1 pizza for lunch. Now a pizza here isn’t like it is there with 8 thick crusted greasy pieces in a box, it is a single square piece of pizza, usually with fairly thin crust. Once we got them we walked down by the river to take in the sun because it was such a beautiful day. We had no idea where we were walking, or why, but it didn’t matter. After walking for about 10 minutes we decided to get Gelato, of course. The Gelato here is phenomenal and I have a strong suspicion that it is filled with crack because it is so addicting. There are so many flavors to choose from that you are forced to get at least 2 different flavors, if not 3 or 4, at a time. So far my favorite combinations are Hazelnut and chocolate-chip, Caramel with Hazelnut and Coffee, or Strawberry with Lemon. But of course I could never choose just one. Once we had finished out Gelato, we thought it might be fun to walk toe 450+ stairs to the top of the Duomo. After Pizza and Gelato you can imagine that anything that could be considered exercise might be a little rough, but the narrow and steep stairs leading to the top were just short of torturous. Despite the side cramps and the lack of ability to catch my breath, every step was worth it when I saw the view.

There were a ton of people at the top but for the most part it was silent. It felt almost rude or disrespectful to say anything and take away from the beautiful surroundings. The entire city is visible from up there and I wanted to sit there forever.


The day before Valentines Day, what better place to go than Verona. The city of love and the home of Romeo and Juliet. To be honest I have never been a fan of Valentines day but this year I was determined to be positive. There was a love fest in the city in honor of the holiday, and as busy and rainy as it was, the whole place was filled with love.


A plate on the well reads: Getta nel pozzo un solo soldino pensa un momento al tuo destino non ti distrarre non far rumore eccolo… eccolo… arriva l’ amore…(Toss a single coin into the well, and as you do think only of your destiny. Do not make a sound. Do not be distracted. And alas, you will find your true love.) The story goes that there was once a young boy who was in love with a girl (go figure) and as much as he tried he was never able to convince her that his feelings were true and that she should love him in return. He finely came to his breaking point and was about to give up on his love for her. “You are as cold as the icy stream that runs through the bottom of the well!” he exclaimed. Finding humor in this she told the boy that if he would jump in the well to prove that the water was in fact icy, she would believe that his feelings were true and that she might then love him as well. Once the boy jumped into the well,there was no way of getting out. The girl felt so awful for what she had just done and had a surge of emotions that filled her with love for him. In an act of desperation she then jumped down the well to die with her love, because she couldn’t imagine living a life without him. A pretty dramatic act if you ask me, but then again that kind of passion and love that he felt for her, made him willing to sacrifice himself for her love. And as for her delayed devotion, she felt so overwhelmed by his love that she too was willing to sacrifice herself for love. Now I am not saying that death is a good way to prove your love, or even a way to at all, but that story struck me. The idea that two people in love can be so willing to do anything for the other, even something so extreme, is not something we see very often in the world today. Or as sad as it sounds, not something we see at all. Instead of worrying about everything else and letting love fit into that, is it so crazy to believe that if we are open to true love, the rest can/will just fall into place.

The entry way to Juliet’s house is covered with the names of lovers who have passed through. In the picture you can only see a tiny piece of it but the entire way is covered with names on top of names on top of names. It was so insanely cute!

The city itself was exactly what I had imagined Italy to be. It was the perfect little small town with small alleyways covered in vines and bright flowers on the balconies. A beautiful city of love that was so easy to fall in love with, and make me believe that maybe true love really does exist.


For my Hospitality Marketing class I was “strongly advised” to attend the BIT. It is an international hospitality conference held in Milan once a year that gives hotels and travel agencies a chance to display their services. I had no idea what to expect going into it but I thought it could be a good opportunity to meet some important people, but I was very wrong. To be honest nothing about seemed to hospitable to me. So I left there and headed to the main piazza in Milan where their Duomo is located. 

The Duomo was an amazing Gothic inspired cathedral. Everything on it was so detailed and elaborate, but then again pretty much everything here is that way. It was somewhere I am glad I got to see, but definitely not a place I would ever feel the desire to go back to.
Siena/ San Giamangio were both cute little hillside towns. And as for Orvieto, I loved it. The town was built on volcanic ash and was where the Pope resided before the Vatican and even where he would go in times of trouble in Rome after the Vatican came to be. There was only one entrance to the city at the time, and the rest was a natural fortress, which made it a safe place to be when trying to avoid enemies.

Because the natural platform it was built on is remains of a volcanic eruption it used to be very hard for anything to grow in the ground there, and with there only being one entrance and exit  it was hard to get any type of food supply from elsewhere either. So whats the solution? How in the world do they get food? Oh ya know just what anyone else anywhere in the world would do… Dig holes in the rock that lead outside so that pigeons can come nest there and eventually become food! It makes me laugh to think of all of the things we find to be so odd and in some cases disgusting were, and still are, completely normal and accepted in other cultures all over the world.
I got the chance to go to Venice for Carnival and let me just say that it was absolutely breathtaking. The crazy masks and elaborate costumes are something that could never truly be appreciated through just pictures. Which is a great thing for me considering that my camera so conveniently died during the fairy ride into the main island. I did get a few of the ride in but I will so be bumming lots more from my roommates, so I’m not to concerned.

This was obviously taken in front of a Gondola canal  that I found to be so stinkin cute I couldn’t hardly stand it. I can only imagine what this city is like in the summer. I only wish I were able to experience this city back in the day with when true Venetians roamed the streets instead of thousands and thousands of tourist in a single day. Either way it was everything that I had expected, and more. Walking down the street we almost walked straight into the water without even realizing because all of the streets end in water. Luckily there was no swimming that day, but the idea of it is definitely entertaining.

Now in case you didn’t know, Venice Carnival is known for it’s masks. The idea is with the proper costume and suitable mask, you have the chance to be something other than yourself. The half masks we are all wearing are typical of young unmarried woman. There are also full face masks appropriate for more modest women. Also the veiled masks are for men who want to maintain a secret identity. So much goes into it that you would never even think. Everything is based around history and tradition.

Venice to me was a place of imagination. But of course that may have to do with the fact that I was there during Carnival, who knows. I can say it is a place I will hopefully get the chance to see again one day.

Apart from traveling throughout Italy, and soon to be the rest of Europe, I still have my everyday life here in Florence. I go to class T-Th, and find new fun little things to do and see seriously every day.

A few weeks ago I interviewed for an “Italian Family Club” at my university. It is a program that sets students up with “host families” for the duration of their study abroad experience. Unlike most host families I will not be living with them and will just go to dinner with them and learn about their life and hopefully gain a better grasp of Italian  culture. So last Tuesday I met my family and I there is so much I can learn from them. The dad is a Doctor and runs a political group here in Florence, and the Mom is some big shot over at the hospital too. They have four children, two sons that are 28 and 31, and  a daughter who is 15 as well as an adopted son who is 11. I have only spent a minimal amount of time with them so far but I can’t wait to learn more.

There are also two more specific experiences that I want to share and will very soon but for now I have some serious readings for class to catch up on. Hope all is well and a new post is to come soon.

Troppo di mi amore!