Chocolate and Cantillion

My time abroad is coming to a close, and it’s so bitter sweet. I really miss home; if only I could ship my family, boyfriend, and friends over here. Europe is such a beautiful place and I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to spend two weeks in this amazing city.

Our first briefing for this morning was canceled, giving us the morning off. Myself and two other New Paltz students decided to check out the Chocolate Museum. We had the chance to watch one of the workers make chocolate – he even gave us a sample. It was delicious, to say the least.

This afternoon, our group took a trip to a nearby brewery. The owner of the brewery, Cantillion, was a man who was extremely passionate about his profession and his hatred for the European Union’s regulations. It was interesting to hear this perspective from a person who lives within the EU, especially because I’ve only heard positive things about it since I’ve been here.

These past two weeks have been extremely busy, so it was nice having a day to decompress! ☺

The Journey Continues

Hey everybody! Bonsoir from Brussels, the place I’ve been calling home for the past few days. During this short period of time, I’ve traveled to some amazing places throughout this amazing city. Along with discovering some really cool places, I have also discovered some of the ins and outs of Belgium’s culture – I’ve picked up on some basic French, tried some of their renowned, delicious drinks, and I’ve seen waffles displayed in places that I never thought I would see them displayed.

The only language I am fluent in is English, and I have a basic understanding of Italian because I took it for years in both middle and high school. French is something I’ve never been exposed to and never learned about, until now. I’ve learned how to ask questions like ‘Where is the Metro?’ and I’ve learned how to simply say ‘thank you’ to someone. At first I was extremely confused, but once I started hearing other people use the language (along with using Google Translate) I was able to quickly catch on.

Another aspect of Belgium that interests me is the type of beers they have. After our first day of the Model EU Simulation, all of the participating students went to a Student Mixer that was held at a bar. We were given two free drink slips by the women from Vesalius College who coordinated the entire event, so we all tried some of the drinks that they had. It was so crazy to me that their popular flavors were far different from the ones from the United States. They had Pecheresse, which is peach flavored, and Chocolate!

My favorite thing that I’ve seen on this trip so far has to be the waffle vending machine. I kid you not, there is a vending machine that actually sells waffles! It only costs .90 euro, too!  The machine was at Vesalius College, where the simulation is taking place, and I can honestly say that it was the most beautiful part about the school. It’s great location in the city of Brussels definitely is a close second…

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♥ The Waffle Vending Machine ♥

 

Save the Drama For Your Mama

Il Dottore Selfie

Il Dottore Selfie

So as most of you know I took a Dramaturgy course in Milan this semester.  Our class finished up on Monday, and we had our final on Tuesday.  This final was unlike any I have had in my four years at New Paltz.  We as a class had spent our semester writing a play, in true commedia dell’arte fashion.  We had two professors for this class: Laura & Stefano.  Laura spent the first half of the semester teaching us the history of commedia dell’arte.  Laura also helped us to write our scenes.  Luckily for me, someone who has never written a play before, we were able to work in groups.  With the help of Stefano we brought the words to life.

This was a long process.  We went through many drafts, many opportunities for editing.  Just when we thought we were done, there was always another change to be made.  Stefano made cast decisions, and then for the second half of the semester we blocked and staged our production.  I was cast as Il Dottore, the heavyset, old, know-it-all man.  This was quite the humorous role for me.  I have done a lot of theatre in the past, but I must say I have never done anything in the style of commedia dell’arte, so this was a first!

My mom actually sat in on the class a few weeks ago, so that she could see what I was up to.  Needless to say, seeing us all in the masks, she got quite a kick out of it.

Monday was our final run-through, and despite (poorly timed) illness on my part, Tuesday we performed for the last time.  The show: The Tooth Puller can be watched here on Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLKQ_gNPa20

And with this my friends, I am done with classes, and in full finals mode!  Tomorrow I have the end of year celebration and then I am actually off to watch Stefano perform in a commedia dell’arte play at Piccolo Teatro!

Till next time!  Keep practicing those lines, and those lazzi!

Tamara

The Cast & Crew of The Tooth Puller

The Cast & Crew of The Tooth Puller

Prove Yourself Wrong Everyday

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Ok, so I am sure you are all wondering about the significance of my blog title for this post.  Normally, you can count on Tam for a pun, joke, essentially any type of humor.  And don’t get me wrong, I did have a couple of silly titles in the works, but none of them seemed to reflect my true feelings towards Cinque Terre (my latest adventure).  So the truth is this post is a little less Tam the ham and a little more real life.

This trip was my last planned group trip.  Anything else I do from here on is either on my own, or will be a carpe diem with friends.  After visiting Cinque Terre, a place that I honestly had never heard about before arriving in Milan, I must say I am in awe.  First off I must suggest that those who visit should decide to embark on the hike through the towns.  In my opinion, and others can fee free to disagree, the beauty, the essence of Cinque Terre can only be found in the hiking.  Sure, you can take a train from town to town.  But these towns are super small, and they sort of blur together.  However, this is not the case if you hike.  The hiking unlocks the raw Cinque Terre, and unfolds some of the most incredible views I have ever seen in my life

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Brooke, Heidi, Taylor, MK, Madison, Alyssa and I mid hike

Brooke, Heidi, Taylor, MK, Madison, Alissa and I mid hike

This was the biggest group I have done a multiday trip with, there were seven of us, Brooke cleverly named us the Cinque Chicks.  Seven can be a difficult number to accommodate, it isn’t even, and it is quite large.  We lucked out, this really was never a problem!  These are some of my favorite ladies in Milan, and I probably couldn’t have accomplished as much as I did this weekend without them.  To be honest, at first I was kind of confused as to why we were going for a whole weekend, but upon leaving I wished we had left for Cinque Terre even one day sooner!

Cioppino at La Cantina di Miky

Cioppino at La Cantina di Miky

We arrived Friday in two groups.  Brooke & Heidi scouted out Monterosso earlier in the day, and the rest of us joined later.  Monterosso was probably my favorite of the towns.  It was on the larger side, as compared to the rest.  But most importantly to me was the beach.  My mother always jokes that she gave birth to water babies.  Although I disagree with my mother on many things, this is not one of them.  I love the water, it brings me joy, it brings me to life.  There is nothing more relaxing to me then soaking up some sun in between trips to the ocean/lake/pool/literally anything.  So to arrive Friday and see a beach really made me a happy camper.  Upon our arrival we walked around for a bit, and then Heidi and I dipped our toes in the crystal blue Mediterranean.  We grabbed dinner, I made sure to have seafood of course, and then we were off to our hostel.

View from 5 Terre Backpackers

View from 5 Terre Backpackers

Our hostel had the most amazing view, two cats roaming around, as well as hammocks.  Plus this was all for a relatively good price.  Definitely one of the nicer hostels I have stayed in.  I didn’t even realize but we had our own room, which was a nice change of pace.  I did not think there would be a room for seven!  One great thing about our hostel, was that because it wasn’t directly in Monterosso they provided daily, free shuttles.  Everyday I took the 9am shuttle to Monterosso, and the 6pm shuttle back to the hostel.

So Saturday morning we awoke early enough to enjoy our free breakfast of cornflakes and coffee, and then we were off!  I won’t lie, I felt like I was in over my head Friday when we got off the train to see how many people had walking sticks in hand.  I am not a nature girl.  I have lived in New York City for 22 years, and my ideal nature is Central Park.  Although hiking isn’t my forte, I knew I could not come to Italy without visiting Cinque Terre, so I figured I would suck it up for one day, and then Sunday, the beach would be my reward.

First off you have to pay to hike, which I found odd.  Why must I pay to be at one with mother nature?  Oh well, no big deal.  We also had to make sure to use the bathrooms in the towns, because there were no bathrooms on the trails.  This hike truly is and was meant to be a whole day affair.  We were told the first part of the hike was the roughest.  In my opinion, we were lied to…

Don’t get me wrong, the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza was without a doubt nearly impossible for me, but I actually found part two of the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia to be the real beast.  Maybe most people find the first part of the hike the roughest because it is longer, but man oh man did I struggle.  Europe has faced me with lots of opportunities where I have had to push my physical abilities in order to take in all that is around me.  I am used to walking, we walk a lot in New York City, heck I don’t even have a driver’s license, but the walking I have done abroad is far more grueling then anything I have ever experienced.  Hands down though Cinque Terre was my Everest.

I am overweight, out of shape, and have eaten my fair share of pizzas in Italy.  Never, do I think I have doubted myself more so then I did on this hike.  I was embarrassed, and disappointed in myself.  It did make me feel better to see five of the others struggling just as much as I was (not Heidi, this was a walk in the park for her).  But I’m not sure if the other girls were as close to giving up as I was.  I just felt like my body could not do what I was asking of it.  Which is why this hike truly tested not only my physical limits, but my emotional limits as well.  If I was alone, there is NO doubt in my mind that I would have waisted the 7.50 euro, and headed back down to give up.  But being with these other girls, all of us motivating each other, stopping for breaks, water, and pictures in between, gave me hope.  I just wanted to be able to do what my friends were doing.  And spoiler alert, if you have not already gaged this from the title of this blog post, I was able to do it.  All seven of us successfully survived a full day of hiking, mostly uphill, on unpaved stairs.

Prove yourself wrong everyday.  Because this is what I did in Cinque Terre, and it truly impacted me far beyond what I could have imagined would come from a weekend trip.

Selfie time for Heidi, Alissa, and I

Selfie time for Heidi, Alissa, and I

And that is the thing, if I was unable to do this hike, I would have never been able to view Cinque Terre with the essential bird’s eye view.  I am proud of myself for pushing myself past my limits and completing what I nearly gave up on.  Proving yourself wrong is one of the most rewarding experiences you can face.  Truth is because of the shuttle we only had time for tre terre, however Sunday before our beach day, and before our train home, Alissa, Heidi and I trained to the other due terre.  So I indeed was able to see all cinque!

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

I think I was on a high from the hike, so this weekend really was just what the doctor ordered.  The towns were adorable, the gelato, delicious, and the beach relaxing.  Dear readers, please keep in mind all that I have said in this post.  Never give up on yourself, you are capable of anything and everything.

XO
Tamara

Beach day in Monterosso, in the Mediterranean Sea!

Beach day in Monterosso, in the Mediterranean Sea!

PS.

To all of those students (both New Paltz and elsewhere) who graduated this weekend, conGRADS!  I am technically a member of the class of 2015, so I guess this makes me a college grad!  I do believe this will all hit me a bit more, once I am done with finals.  Sure, I may never get to walk across the stage and collect my “diploma,” but I’m pretty sure Cinque Terre was an adequate alternative!

Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the flowers!  Greetings from Corniglia, Cinque Terre

Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the flowers! Greetings from Corniglia, Cinque Terre

TAMsterdam

I AMsterdam

I AMsterdam

Hello all!

I have returned from my most recent adventure, Amsterdam, or as I have been referring to it as: TAMsterdam.  Amsterdam was very pretty, I must say that.  There was a ton of water, there are canals everywhere.  Our tour guide assured us that it was the Venice away from Venice.  There were also a ton of bikes.  Our tour guide told us that there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam.  Although this fact sounds crazy, I must believe it to be true.  There were bikes everywhere!  You had to make sure not to get struck by one, while crossing the busy streets.  Amsterdam is relatively small as well.  You can take busses, or trams around, but walking is just as simple.  Plus with walking, you really can take in all of the sights!

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11208675_10153329129773921_6733189024393518330_nWe arrived late Thursday night, and just hung out.  But we awoke extra early Friday morning in order to visit Anne Frank House.  I tried to book tickets in advanced online, however the first available tickets were for July 4th!!  Needless to say that would’t work.  I will be back in the US then!  Luckily for me, my friends are troopers.  So Friday morning Heidi, MK, and I headed off to the long line that would await us.  We rose early enough though, so the line really wasn’t too bad!  I was very pleased that we got to the museum, and still had plenty of the day left to explore Amsterdam.

Patatje Oorlog with Heidi & MK

Patatje Oorlog with Heidi & MK

Ok I know I always go on and on about food in my blogs.  But hey can you blame me?  Food is a big part of travel!  Amsterdam was no exception.  I found it similar to London, in the sense that it had such a mixed bag culinarily, something I did not expect.  First off we had to have the fries.  Why oh why must sauce cost extra?  Of course I am going to buy sauce, because what are fries without it?  So why must I be charged extra for this necessity?  I must say I prefer Belgian fries from Brussels to Amsterdam fries (mostly because the ones I had in Amsterdam were frozen), but the sauce is better in Amsterdam.  It may sound weird but the Patatje Oorlog is a must try!  This concoction consists of peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and onions.  It is super unique and super yummy!

Red Velvet cake twinning with MK

Red Velvet cake twinning with MK

Beyond fries, one must have Stroopwafel, cheese, Indonesian food, and Poffertjes.  Stroopwafel is incredible, not only do we need it in the United States, I am also kicking myself for not bringing some back to Milan.  We bought a package of these thin wafer like waffles, sandwiched with caramel in the middle.  The bag was surprisingly heavy!  They are sweet, but not too sweet, and just an overall satisfying snack.  Indonesian food is very popular in Amsterdam.  Although I spent more on it then I would have preferred, it truly was one of the best meals I have had abroad.  We all shared a bunch of small dishes, with a big bowl of rice.  This is one of my favorite ways to eat, so you can try everything.  As for the Poffertjes, they are tiny dutch pancakes.  We dipped them in butter and mugs of hot chocolate.  There were other culinary gems, including my fave RED VELVET CAKE.  But that is not as exotic.

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

We ventured to the I amsterdam sign to take some touristy pictures, and then we were off to the Van Gogh museum.  These tickets we had booked online in advanced, so we got them for less money, which is always a good thing!  The museum was actually really big.  I was quite tired, so I felt I could not take it in, to the best of my ability.  But I powered through as best I could.  Not being a huge art, or museum fan, I liked how interactive the museum was.

Skinny Bridge with MK & Heidi

Skinny Bridge with MK & Heidi

The next day we decided to sleep in, and walk around.  We went to the Skinny bride, because I had heard a lot about it.  Amsterdam was one of the places where I really just compiled tips from everywhere.  We got some food tips from Buzzfeed, some tips from Kara (who visited during spring break), as well as some tips from a guy named Alex we met at a club in Milan a few weeks prior.  Fun fact, Alex too is a SUNY student, a Binghamton Bearcat studying abroad in Amsterdam.  The world is a tiny place!

The big flaw I must point out has to be the amount I spent on bathrooms.  I should not have to pay to pee.  But Amsterdam was after my pockets, more so than any other destination.  So make sure to carry extra change with you!

We embarked on a lengthy but entertaining walking tour.  Our night ended shortly after dinner.  And we woke up the next day to head back to Milan.  Lucky for me, our bus was running behind schedule so I could get my touristy I amsterdam photo, alone.  This was the greatest pro of flying so early in the morning.  Although after how early we flew from Dublin to Milan, any flight after 8pm seems like a piece of cake, mmmmm like that red velvet cake I had in Amsterdam 😉  Till next time readers!

Tamara

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The Luck of the Irish

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Ireland gave me life.  No really it did.  I can’t even explain it.  But this enchanting place truly gave me a new outlook on the world.

This was the trip I was most excited for, hands down.  I actually almost studied abroad in Ireland.  Although Italy was my top choice, I almost didn’t end up here.  Everything happens for a reason and Milan is where I belong.  Studying abroad through a SUNY really is one of the greatest reasons to pick SUNY for your undergrad experience.  When you look into study abroad, you can study abroad through any SUNY.  However, as a last semester Senior, I did not have the same privileges.  I had to study through New Paltz.  I wanted to study abroad regardless though, so this was no major set back.  Years ago when I originally started looking through study abroad options, my dream program was nowhere to be found.  I wasn’t asking much except to come anywhere in Italy, the catch being I needed an English speaking program.  So when New Paltz didn’t offer such a program, I was forced to look elsewhere.  For some reason I have always been enamored with I countries.  It is a coincidence, but for some reason I love the I.  I have visited Israel already.  So from there I have always wanted to visit Italy, Ireland, and India in that order.  So when Italy was a bust, I looked toward Ireland.  This obviously wasn’t a setback, I mean come on it’s Ireland!  It just wasn’t my dream.

I refrained from looking again until it neared closer to the application date, and sure enough this time when I looked again, there was an Italian program that wasn’t there before.  I emailed The Center for International Programs, and sure enough New Paltz had a new program to Milan, in which you didn’t have to speak Italian.  They had only sent 2 students before, but I didn’t care, this was going to be my study abroad program.  They got me in contact with one of the students, and the rest is history.

So that is just kind of my little background story for how I ended up in Milan.  I will say though once I had settled on Milan, I was set to make it my mission to visit Ireland.  I didn’t care who with, where to, or what for, I just knew it and Milan are in Europe, so I was going to get there.  I had wanted to go for St. Patrick’s day but alas it was during the week, so I couldn’t miss class.  My friends and I looked into the weekend before but it was a pretty penny.  We did however book our trip there for April, so it’s safe to say I was beyond excited.  Besides Spring Break Ireland is the longest trip I have taken.  We typically go just for the weekend, but being my lack of classes Friday, we flew out Thursday April 23rd & returned Monday April 27th.  I wanted Ireland to be one of my biggest trips, so I could really spend some time there, and my wish came true.

We found a rainbow!

We found a rainbow, but no pot of gold

We did a lot of planning for this trip.  My friends really wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, and I was striving to reach the Blarney Stone, for my kiss!  Most of our study abroad friends that went to Ireland were only able to make one, typically the Cliffs.  The problem being that these sights are so spread apart.  We were staying in Dublin, and the Cliffs & The Blarney were in complete opposite directions.  I feel like these were the tourist sites I was told about in Ireland, and it seemed a shame to have to pick and choose.  Luckily for us though we were able to create an itinerary where we could do both.  Leaving Monday makes such a huge difference, because it means you have all of Sunday.  I did this first in Barcelona, and it felt like you were given a gift of an extra day.  Yes, there is nothing more exhausting then flying out Monday morning to make it back in time for class, but believe me it is worth it!

I made sure to buy some chocolate here, of course!

I made sure to buy some chocolate here, of course!

So Friday we embarked early in the morning for a day trip to The Blarney Stone.  The Blarney Castle is right near Cork, Ireland.  These day trips are long, you leave early in the morning and return late at night.  So not making major plans Saturday was a great call on our part.  Also both of our day trips (through different companies) made stops, which was a relief.  First off you get a little stir crazy on the bus, but also there were no bathrooms on the buses!  Our first stop on Friday was in Cork, which was so picturesque.  It was so beautiful.  The weather was a little wacky, it would rain and then it would stop.  But hey that’s better then straight up rain.  Ireland is very rainy.  Our bus driver informed us that it rains 300 days a year!

Best meal in Ireland!!!!!

Best meal in Ireland!!!!!

Next up thank goodness they took us to a longer stop where we could get food.  We were beyond hunger.  One of my biggest tips for those visiting Ireland, would have to be eating in pubs as much as you can.  Pub food is amazing.  It is cheap, hearty, and all around delicious.  I didn’t really think much about the culinary experience in Ireland, beforehand.  But man oh man our first meal was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe hands down. All of my friends ordered sandwiches, but I was ordering thinking with my stomach, therefor I figured a sandwich wouldn’t cut it.  I ordered an Irish stew, which was certainly pricier then the sandwich, but I must say this was the greatest decision ever.  This stew was the best food I had in Ireland.  The meat was so tender, the broth was flavorful, and it came with Irish soda bread.  It was nice to use butter on my bread, instead of olive oil, just for a change of pace.  (My mouth is literally watering right now, thinking about this stew).

Soft Serve Ice Cream!

Soft Serve Ice Cream!

Next we had some soft serve ice cream, because of course this huge bowl of soup wasn’t enough haha.  I wanted to get the soft serve, because a friend from high school recommended dairy in Ireland because of all the cows, man oh man was she right.  There was some flavor in the soft serve which I could’t even really detect but it added this floral note to the soft serve, which kept us eating more and more.  The soft serve was creamy, sweet, and a nice alternative to the heavy (but obviously delicious) gelato we eat in Italy.  Safe to say I was not hungry for dinner, even hours later.  Dinner that night was a salad.

I won’t write much more about food (although I could).  Sunday I did have some memorable seafood chowder, and some even more memorable fudge!  But I will recommend anyone going to Ireland should certainly get some meat & dairy because the surplus of cows & lambs really do make a difference in the culinary experience there.  You also should get some Irish Breakfast, and of course potatoes!!  The one thing I didn’t have time to eat there, which I wish I did was the Corned Beef.  Oh well, I guess this gives me an excuse to go back!

Kissing The Blarney Stone

Kissing The Blarney Stone

I can’t lie, as much as I was excited to go to The Blarney Stone, I must say I was not disappointed, but certainly underwhelmed.  I was picturing this large rock in the middle of a field, which you could kiss it and take cutesy touristy pictures.  The real Blarney Stone, located in Blarney Castle could not be anything further from my vision.  You hang upside down at the top of the castle, lowering yourself down to kiss the stone.  I did kiss the stone, because come on you must!  But this was not really what I had imagined.  Hopefully I did indeed get the gift of the gab.  I’d say by looking at the length of this blog post, it worked!

Blarney Castle with MK, Heidi, Brooke, and Taylor!

Blarney Castle with MK, Heidi, Brooke, and Taylor!

The grounds at Blarney Castle are so beautiful.  We even saw a Bride & Groom taking wedding photos there!  We got some great pictures on the ground, and the weather held up, which was a major plus.  We returned to the bus, headed back to Dublin, where we did indeed see a rainbow!  Also sure enough, there were two other New Paltz students, studying abroad in Spain on the bus.  It is indeed a small world, after all.

Saturday was rainy to say the least.  We mostly hit up museums (including the Kilmainham Gaol), which is the ideal thing to do in the rain.

Galway!

Galway!

Sunday, we woke up even earlier than we had done on on Friday and headed off to on a day trip to The Cliffs of Moher.  Our first stop was in Galway, which I was very excited about because that is where one of my closest friends studied abroad when she was in Ireland.  Galway is a very small town, but it was so cute.  We took a brief walking tour, and then explored for a short time.  I wish we had more time there, I would have loved to roam even more!

Cliffs of Moher with MK, Taylor, Heidi, and Brooke

Cliffs of Moher with MK, Taylor, Heidi, and Brooke

The Cliffs of Moher were so breathtaking.  It is hard to describe it, write about it, talk about it, because I feel I can’t do it justice.  It was one of my greatest days not only of study abroad, but of my life.  The weather was freezing, but no rain for us!  The sky was so blue.  Sure it is very windy, so you must be careful around the edge of the cliffs.  But the sight of the cliffs was just so incredible, I have seen nothing like it.  It was so powerful to be there.  Also for Princess Bride fans, like myself, The Cliffs of Moher are The Cliffs of Insanity from the film!  That was a fun little piece of trivia for me to learn.  Anyone who goes to Ireland, NEEDS to go to the Cliffs.

11204980_10153304386633921_4008538265041883987_nWe made a few more stops before heading home.  This was the greatest day of the trip, but also the most exhausting.  We stopped at another cool spot, where they filmed a scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  For anyone who remembers my Spring Break blog post, I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so I was exstatic about being there!  We returned to Dublin, slept a few hours and took a 6:15am flight home back to Milan.

This trip was life changing.  I can’t wait to someday return to Ireland.  Thanks for reading! Till next time beannacht!

Tamara

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle!

Spring Break VS. Spring Vacation

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SPRING BREAK BABY!  As I write this post my spring break unfortunately comes to an end.  No, I am not bummed to be back in Milan.  However, who would say no to more time off?

Ano Poli, Thessaloniki with Dyeemah

Ano Poli, Thessaloniki with Dyeemah

I had probably the greatest spring break of my life.  My spring break started in Thessaloniki, Greece.  Now I know what you’re thinking, why Thessaloniki?  Lucky for me I have always wanted to go to Greece, and I have a friend from high school, Dyeemah, living there for the year!  It was pretty much fate that our spring breaks collided and I could visit her and truly see her world.  Greece to say the least is truly breathtaking.  I love Milan, but it is a city through & through.  To be able to spend my time along the Mediterranean, gazing upon the gorgeous skyline was something I made sure not to take for granted.

Dyeemah and I infront of the White Tower in Thessaloniki

Dyeemah and I in front of the White Tower in Thessaloniki

The food in Greece was SO good!  The best meal I had was my first night in Greece, where I tagged along to a dinner with Dyeemah, her students, and her colleagues.  We all ordered multiple dishes, and just kind of split everything.  Everything was so delicious, and authentic I can’t really pick a favorite!  That meal really was unfair because of how high it set the bar so early on in my trip.  But I did eat many, many yummy things while there, including a pork hero.  Street food in Europe is one of my favorite things ever, we need more in the US.  Street food is cheap, yummy, and a total comfort.

Pork Hero = yum yum

Pork Hero = Yum Yum

Greece was very relaxing, and serene.  It was nice for once to go on a trip and not have to plan anything.  I was just able to go with the flow.  Plus I got to use Dyeemah’s dryer for my clothes, so that pretty much made the trip worth it just on that note alone.  I was in Thessaloniki for 6 days before heading off to London.  While I have already been to London before, I needed to go back.  I truly mean need, this was far beyond my wants.  Having not been overwhelmed with excitement from my prior visit to London, I was determined to return in order to visit the Harry Potter studio tour.  During my study abroad adventures I really am trying not to double dip on past trips, London so far being my only exception.  My camp friend, Nina, is spending her semester studying in Copenhagen.  Nina and I are huge HP fans, having once even been to the Quidditch world cup in NYC.  Once we both decided on Europe for our Spring 2015 study abroad destinations, we knew it was fate.  We booked our tickets for the attraction months in advanced because it is popular beyond belief, selling out constantly.

Butterbeer with Nina!

Butterbeer with Nina!

The Harry Potter studio tour was beyond what I could have ever imagined.  However, I must say just in general, London really was the real MVP of spring break.  While our stay in London was brief, it was jam packed.  We did a free walking tour, caught up with another camp friend over dinner, spent the day in Camden (which was perfection), and lastly but most essentially left the muggle world behind for bigger and better things.

Nina & I with our camp friend Nicole

Nina & I with our camp friend Nicole =)

IMG_2604If you have the chance to visit the Harry Potter studio tour in London I really do recommend it.  Being a die hard fan of the books, films, and everything in between, this experience really did provide us with an insight into the intricate details of this world we have learned to love with all of our hearts.  Harry Potter is universal, teaching messages including love, determination, friendship, imagination, and so much more.  Harry Potter was such a big part of my childhood, it had become a ritual for my mother to read the books to me at night.  Seeing the world come to life in front of my own eyes was the cherry on top of my London sundae (or the Cadbury egg McFlurry I had while in London).

Hogwarts!

Hogwarts!

It is safe to assume that after my spring break I will be leaving Italy, in search for my new study abroad destination aka Hogwarts.

Thanks for reading, until next time keep practicing your spells!

This proud Slytherin is off to her next adventure

This proud Slytherin is off to her next adventure

Weekend In Luxembourg And Metz

When registering for this program, we were told that we would get two excursions throughout the semester with lodging and transportation paid for. I’m not too sure what’s going on, but we keep getting free trips thrown at us.

This past weekend we enjoyed our third excursion, a trip to Luxembourg, Luxembourg and Metz, France. Saturday was a long bus ride to Luxembourg. We stopped along the way at a truck rest stop to have some lunch. Since the Europeans love their meal times, we had over an hour to relax. We hopped back on the bus and were soon at our hostel.

After we unpacked in our rooms we jumped back on the bus for a tour around the town, the first half on the bus, the second walking around the breathtaking scenery.

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After the tour, we were off on our own for free time and discovered Centre Ville. I was told that Luxembourg was a rich country and, boy, did I believe it. The architecture was incredible and the views were unimaginable.

One of my best friends fro Michigan, Tyler!

One of my best friends from Michigan, Tyler!

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We all met back at the hostel for a dinner of salad, chicken, potatoes and vegetable stew. They spoil us. Soon after, we headed back out into the city to enjoy the clubs. They were everything you would imagine a wild European club would be. We tired ourselves out dancing the night away and returned to our rooms for some sleep before our next busy day.

The next morning, they served us breakfast and we were off to Metz, France. Our first stop was Le Centre de Pompidou. At first I did not expect to enjoy this modern museum because I am the last one to find meaning out of abstract shapes, but to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Reading the captions and absorbing the atmosphere helped me enjoy the artwork.

You have to stand back far enough in order to see the figure

You have to stand back far enough in order to see the figure

Gillan and Diva in front of what looked like a very texturized wall

Gillan and Diva in front of what looked like a very texturized wall

Illuminated Trish

Illuminated Trish

We then went to the fourth floor for the “Paparazzi” exhibit. Upon entering, you have many cameras flashing at you, microphones moving, and a recording of a crowd nagging you. It was a simulation of the red carpet that I’m sure is not nearly as bad as real life. They then had tons of racy photos of female celebrities, which I learned that the Paparazzi follow some of these women for years before getting a truly suggestive and inappropriate picture. Though this exhibit made me extremely angry and disgusted, I really enjoyed the experience.

After the museum was free time in Centre Ville. I found myself in La Cathèdrale Saint-Étienne de Metz on Palm Sunday, the cathedral with one of the largest expanse of stained glass in the world. The only way to truly appreciate it is to see it in person, photos don’t do any justice.

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Trish, Gissel and I enjoyed lunch at an Italian restaurant afterwards where they ate tortellinis and I had pizza and fries, which I did not think went together until I arrived in France. The meal was extremely delicious and satisfying and afterwords, we walked around the town seeing the park, games in the street, and Le Graoully, the legendary dragon of Metz. Unfortunately when we saw him, a leg was missing.

Le Graoully

Le Graoully

Soon after, we had to catch the bus back home. The day went by extremely quickly but we were definitely exhausted and ready to go back home. It was a great weekend and us New Paltz students were told we have another prepaid trip for the day to Germany. So many things to look forward to!