The students sat down in their usual half circle in the classroom, leaving room for their professor to sit at the table in the front. There were only six of them, which certainly made the students feel as though they were closer to each other personally, than those they have met in other classes during their undergrad years. Some how the same seating arrangement that they had experienced in preschool came back around as a trend when they become graduate students.
One of the students, who wore her long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, looked up from the papers laid out on the desk in front of her as I walked into the room. “Hey, so how was your Thanksgiving?” Continue reading ““Y” is for Yams”→
The day before we left France was another cool and slightly gloomy day. It had poured and sprinkled off and on every day in Paris except for the first extremely hot day that we arrived. It didn’t really rain as we headed for the metro and onto a train to Versailles, however, it rained for a moment while we took shelter inside of a Parisian McDonalds.
After eating our beignets and macaroons from the French-ified restaurant, we walked down several blocks to visit Château de Versailles. It was slightly strange walking off the path of the suburban surroundings and onto the property, which once housed monarchs.
There the Palace of Versailles stood as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the “Ancien Régime” in the middle of a country village, and it continued to sit beautifully dripping gold in the wealthy modern suburbs of Paris. Continue reading ““V” is for Versailles”→
The last day of our adventures in Spain was flooded with a heavy downpour of rain. The small group of travelers that I was with at the time wanted to make one last stop before hoping a bus to the airport in Barcelona, despite any of us being prepared for the weather that waited outside for us.
We had walked against the cool winds that tried to push us away from our destination. We had called in and tried putting our names down for a reservation to enter the architectural feat that is La Sagrada Família, and were to told that we could walk in with other groups around 10am. We checked the time when we arrived in front of the gates surrounding the basilica, and were told by the guards at the front that we had to wait outside for bit before they could let us in.
The day before had been so sunny and warm, but as we looked up toward the gray skies our faces were dampened with misty sprinkles. A moment later led to an immediate cloudburst of heavy rain, and all of us travelers without hoods or an umbrella huddled together underneath a small awning in line. Continue reading ““U” is for Umbrella”→
We hit the ground running after we traveled by bus from Beauvais-Tillé Airport in to the heart of Paris. We snapped our pictures under the sparkling Eiffel Tower that stood proudly against the starry sky, seen all that Disneyland Paris had to offer, saw Parisian guards in a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, walked through the paths at Place des Vosges and Palais du Luxembourg, and gazed up at the gargoyles and beautiful stain glass window in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Between all the running around the group that I was traveling with, we had went from being completely confused by the Parisian metro, to mastering the city that resided underneath the surface. We were submerged in a crash course lesson of everything French. I didn’t know the language before traveling to France, but after what were most likely hours spent riding the metro; we had listened to the voice overhead announcing the stops to the point where we memorized the order of some of the places, and were taught how to pronounce them perfectly. However, for a few of us (including myself), learning how to navigate our way through the metro didn’t translate as well to the above ground city of Paris. Continue reading ““S” is for Saint-Germain-des-Prés”→
On the final weekend of my month long stay in Italy I decided to take off by myself to Cinque Terre. There I would explore the five towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore along the coast of the Italian Riviera.
I signed up for the Florence For Fun program event, which offered a day trip that included a round-trip transport from Florence where I was staying, a Cinque Terre National Park entrance ticket, a short boat ride between the fourth and fifth town, and tour guides. The trip details also promised amazing views that we would get to see on hikes through the hilly landscape, the ability to stop and eat local produce, focaccia, seafood and their famous pesto, and to hang out in the beautiful beaches in Vernazza and Monterosso.
That morning of the day trip I dressed in my outdoor hiking gear with my bathing suit underneath. I had heard from other travelers that the hike in between the last two towns would be excruciating and that I would want to immediately jump into the ocean afterward.
The group of students studying abroad from all over the world piled themselves onto a bus with two Italian tour guides who spoke English and who picked up another bilingual local along the way. I sat next to an American female student who wore a sun hat and offered me sunscreen to use. We chatted nearly the whole way to our destination, except for the quick stop to use the restroom at an Italian rest station, until we were greeted with the most beautiful sights of the colorful buildings sitting in the hills above the sparkling blue sea. Continue reading ““O” is for Ocean”→
I was absolutely nervous before my 17-hour flight to Italy from LAX. Watching my parents and my sister wave goodbye to me (for what very could have been the last time) nearly forced the tears welling up in my tear ducts to fall out onto my face. I couldn’t stand flying. Flying meant making deals with the Universe and praying the rosary a million times all why attempting to get drunk enough to knock out in case the plane I was on crashed.
I managed to pass out for almost the full 17 hours, thanks to the lifeblood that is red wine, and woke up in an entirely new country. I grabbed my bags off of the carousel in the luggage claim and made my way toward the exit. I didn’t really know any of the other students that I was traveling with, but realizing the fact that, for one, I hadn’t died on the plane, and two, that I was about to embark on an adventure in an entirely new place, calmed my nerves. It was later, right in front of the Florence airport exit doors, that we were divided into the several groups containing our fellow roommates. The fact that the four other girls in my group seemed nice erased any remaining nerves that I had about studying abroad.
After everyone was split up into their groups, what seemed like a never-ending line of taxis, came and picked us up to take us to our apartments located around various parts of the city. Two or three students along with their luggage were piled in taxis driven by men and women who barely spoke any English. One of my roommates and I had grabbed a taxis driven by a really sweat old man with a lead foot.
We spent the next several minutes swishing through the city of Florence passing cars, dodging very lucky pedestrians, and speeding by the famous architectural feats of the city. I grabbed a hold of the car door’s inner handle, peered out of the window at the slightly blurry sights, and thought to myself, oh shit I’m in Italy. Continue reading ““N” is for Napoletana”→
Loud noises consisting of people yelling in all different languages filled the Italian train station as I took cover from the excruciating heat. I had nothing but my ratty purse, well spent from traveling, and a backpack for my weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain. Written down on a piece of binder paper were walking directions from my Florence apartment to the train station, and from the train station in Bologna to the airport where I would meet up with a group of other traveling American students.
I was standing by myself with my backpack and purse held tight. I leaned up against the wall so that the zippers couldn’t be accessed without knocking me over. I was nervous and very concerned for my safety. Never in my life have I wandered off in a foreign country by myself, and I’m very sure it showed all over my face.
Then, from behind my overgrown side bangs, and out from the corner of my eye, I saw a young man approach me. He stood directly in my blind spot, and I started to quietly panic. Continue reading ““M” is for Milan”→
A loud crash of boxes startles me and my heart skips a beat. I notice that the alarming sound has come from the closet that I used while I was in high school. No really one goes into my old room unless I’m visiting my friends and family in Bakersfield, so I’m curious to see what has disturbed my untouched room.
I walk over to the door and slowly slide the rolling door of my closet open and peek inside. As suspected two boxes has crashed onto the floor. However, they are not just any boxes. These worn shoes boxes that have been decorated with brightly colored paper and wrapping were my memory boxes filled to the brim with small knick-knacks and trinkets that represented moments that have passed long ago. Continue reading ““J” is for Junk”→