Thursday, July 28, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Hey everybody!

      I do believe Dorthy said it best when she said, "There's no place like home."  Unfortunately, I didn't have ruby red slippers to click three times...I had to travel approximately 23 hours to get back to my townhouse in Raleigh!  The flight home was crowded and too close for comfort.  I decided to take Benedryl (best thing to knock me out).  It worked like a charm and I slept the whole way home.  I woke up long enough to stretch and walk around the plane a few times.
    When we arrived back in Philadelphia, I couldn't believe how hot it was.  We arrived a few minutes early and had to go through customs and security again.  That took about an hour and then we decided it was time for an American snack.  We saw our favorite pretzel place and I ordered pretzel sticks with sugar and sweet icing. It was amazing!  We then had a short flight to RDU. When we landed in RDU, it was the greatest feeling in the world.  We stepped off the plane and Kelly, Kayla, and I expected our families to be right there.  When we couldn't find them, I called Eric and asked where they were.  Everyone was waiting where they dropped us off and once we got up the escalator, we saw the signs for us and Eric had a box of Krispy Kreme donuts waiting for me.  I ran over and squeezed my parents and Eric picked me up and spun me around (carefully balancing my bundles of joy--> the donuts, of course.)  I was so happy to see them.  There was no greater feeling.  We then went down to baggage claim and just like the true Murray fashion, my suitcase was the last one off the conveyor belt.  It was bulging and my parents and Eric got all my bags for me (they couldn't believe I had been carrying all three bags by myself.)
     We went to Outback to eat and it was so yummy!  I was so excited to see Packer Pierce.  He is not the little puppy I left.  He has grown so fast!  He is much heavier now and has gotten taller (and more mischievous, too.)  I went home to Wilson to see my grandma and Diva on Sunday and I was so excited to see everyone back home.  I've enjoyed this week at the townhouse.  I've slept in, eaten my American food, cooked, gone to the mall, the movies, gone out to dinner, well you get the picture.  I've had a week to do what I wanted to do and it's been LOVELY!  Unfortunately, summer is coming to a close quickly.  Summer school and Italy was my summer, but I can't least, not about the Italy part.  Junior year is going to keep me on the go...but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm so excited about having a lil sis and getting my ONYX ring.  It is starting to hit me I'm going to be a junior...that might take a little getting used to.  I feel like I just started college.  It's flying by.  These truly are the best days under the sun <3


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ciao, Italia

Hey everyone!

      I can't believe my time in Italy is almost over.  It's been such a fun experience and I will undoubtedly take these memories and lessons with me for the rest of my life.  I've learned so many new things and experienced places I have only read about and seen on movies.  I am not so sure the movies even do Italy justice.  There is so much culture here and it truly is a whole different world.  When you're in front of the Trevi Fountain, or climbing a hill that looks out on all of Tuscany, you can't help but lose your breath.  Italy is beautiful and something I will always treasure.  Sometimes, three weeks feels like forever.  Every time I talk to someone from home, I feel like I have so much to say and catch up on.  On the other hand, some days, I feel like I've just gotten here.
     Anyways, regardless of how it feels, tomorrow night (or I guess I should say morning) we are departing for the Rome airport at 4:00 A.M.  Most of us girls have decided there is no need to go to sleep since we never get to bed before 1:45 or 2 A.M. on most nights.  We will take a long nap tomorrow though.  We have a four hour bus ride to Rome.  We then have three hours at the airport and a ten hour flight back to America!  I'll fly into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and have about two more hours to kill before another two hour flight back to RDU.  All in all, we'll be traveling about 23 hours.  I can't describe the feeling I have in the pit of my stomach.  I am so excited to see my mom, dad, and Eric at RDU.  I have never been abroad before, much less for three weeks.  I can't wait to squeeze everyone.  You can better believe I'll be eating a snack in Philly to tie me over until I get to Outback with my family and Eric.  In fact, Kelly, Kayla, and I made a list of all the possible snack choices we can't wait to find in the airport!  We're hoping to find some good french fries!
     Tonight, Kelly, Kayla, and I ate Yummy's (pronounced Yoomies) one last time.  It is our favorite dinner around here.  We can get a huge slice of pizza and a "Coca Cola" for 3 euros.  Tomorrow night, our group of child development girls will be going out to dinner with our amazing professors for a final get together.  Kelly, Kayla, and I decided we wanted/needed a manicure and pedicure before returning home, so we went and got an Italian mani/pedi.  It was very different from the way we do it in America, but it was a neat experience.  The girls were so friendly and spoke very good English.  One girl said, "I want to visit America, I love it.  A little piece of my heart goes to America with you this weekend."  We thought that was super sweet.  We went and had a final yogurt date and that was yummy.  Frozen yogurt and white chocolate is my favorite little snack around here.
     Tomorrow morning we will have our presentations in class, clean up, have one last lunch at the Palazzo, and take a nap.  We'll have our final dinner tomorrow night and begin our adventure for home.  Everyone, keep us in your prayers as we have a lot of traveling to do!  I normally do not mind flying, however, a ten hour flight will quickly change ones mind.  I was beyond ready to step foot somewhere, anywhere, after the flight "across the pond."  Although, the view from the plane was truly breathtaking as we landed in Italy.  I will be very excited to see Raleigh, North Carolina Saturday night at 8:00 P.M.  I may be a little jet lagged, but I know where home is!  To anyone considering going abroad, do it.  It's a life changing experience.  I've grown as a person, grown closer to friends, and made some amazing new friends.  I've learned so much about myself, Italy, and child development.  These are truly memories I will never forget.  I'm so grateful to my parents for giving me such an amazing opportunity.  

Thanks for the prayers everyone.  I'll end with a few of my favorite pictures.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When In Rome


     I cannot believe the weekend is over!  My time in Rome passed by all too quickly.  Let me start from VERY early Friday morning.  This will have to be a long post to even attempt to capture half of my Rome experience.

Friday morning: The three travel buddies, Kelly, Kayla, and I set off for Rome at 5 AM.  Sansepolcro has no train station so when we need to take a train, we take an hour bus ride to Arezzo.  We arrived in Arezzo and had a little breakfast at the cafe while we waited for our train to Rome.  Our train arrived a few minutes early and we boarded.  We assumed this was our train since we were scheduled to depart at 7:44 AM.  Rule number one: Never assume anything when you're with the three musketeers.  We were on the train rolling through the Tuscan countryside and we noticed the screen said we were scheduled to be in Rome at 8:45 AM.  We knew the trip to Rome was supposed to take about three we were puzzled.  We then concluded we were on the faster train (which makes no stops) that cost three times as much as the ticket we had paid for.  We all three dozed off to sleep and were woken up by someone who worked on the train.  Sometimes, they will come around and check your ticket..and of course, today was the day.  He informed us that we were on the wrong train.  We had gotten on the faster train that made no stops and costed more money.  All I could think was, "Great, I'm a stowaway on a train right now."  He told the three of us we each owed thirty euros.  We each gave him the money and he went on his way.  So basically, we made it to Rome in an hour...but we were stoaways in the process.  We were mad at first, but once we arrived in Rome, we decided it was worth the money to have a full day there.  We made it to Rome in exactly one hour instead of THREE.
    After we made it to Rome, we purchased a Roma pass that allowed us to get on the metro and buses whenever we wanted.  It was a three day ticket and totally worth it.  We got on the metro and found our hotel that was a three minute walk from the Vatican.  It was a super cute and cozy hotel.  We put away our luggage and set out to explore.  We went to the Trevi Fountain or (Fontana di Trevi) and I was completely blown away.  I was excited about everything in Rome...but I was looking forward to this the most.  I was not disappointed one bit.  It was amazing to see.  I've seen it in so many books, pictures, and movies, and finally, I was standing in front of it.  I was blown away.  We ate lunch at Hard Rock Cafe (American food, free refills, and air condition...what more could we ask for?)  We then decided to take a tour of the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.  There were lots of people advertising tours on the street, so we finally asked someone about it.  They led us over to the tour group and we signed up.  It costed us 35 euros a person (same as admission) and we got a headset and the best tour guide in all of Rome.  Her name was Cathy and she had eleven years of experience in Art History in Italy.  I was astonished as I walked through the Vatican tour.  I soaked up every moment.  I learned so much and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Kelly, Kayla, and I ate Subway for dinner (so excited to find something other than McDonald's.)  We then went back to see the Vatican at night (since it was so close to our hotel.)  I cannot explain how amazing it was to stand there and see.  We then went back to our hotel and crashed.  We were three very sleepy American girls.
Saturday:   We woke up and hit the ground running.  We had a lot of ground to cover, and when us three set a plan, watch out.  When Kelly Griffin has a map in her hand, watch out.  She is the best map reader and navigator.  We decided we wanted to see the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and Colosseum (and shop some, too.)  It was an ambitious plan; however, we did it.  We knew the metro stop to get off on...but we did not know where the Spanish Steps were.  We agreed we would walk along and hopefully stumble upon them.  Funny we said that, because that's exactly what we did.  We decided after a while of walking to ask someone where these steps were.  Kelly asked a lady, "Excuse me, could you tell us where the Spanish Steps are?"  The lady smiled and replied, "You're standing on them."  We had come to them from a different angle...and everyone gathers at the bottom of them.  Luckily, we came from the top so we walked DOWN the steps.  Ya'll know I would have died walking up.  We had our total tourist moment of pictures and they were awesome to see.  We decided to hit up McDonald's and get to the Pantheon.  We ate lunch and somehow managed to get to the Pantheon.  It was very cool to see, however, we could only go in one room.  Some people were taking tours, but we decided for one room, we could google the information ourselves.  We ended up finding another market and I bought a dress (hey, the man said, "Perfect for you."  I couldn't say no to that.  I kept thinking, "Brittany, you sucker, they'll say anything for you to buy one."  I talked a man down from 45 euros to 15 for a purse for Kelly!  I'm really polishing the bargaining skills.  We all got some great deals at the market.  We then decided it was time to get over to the Colosseum.  (Keep in mind we shop while we walk.)  By now, I've accumulated five purses and four pairs of shoes (along with every thing else.)
     We kept trying to find a bus to take us to the Colosseum, but we were sick of chasing buses.  We finally spotted some cabs and it was only 7 euros to get there.  It was 7 euros well spent because Pat and Charlie are about exhausted at this point.  We get to the Colosseum and you can't imagine how small you feel standing near this!  We thought since we had such a successful tour of the Vatican, we should do another tour.  The tours allow you to skip the we thought, sure, why not.  We met a girl from Australia (and if you know me,) you know I love Australia and I will be traveling there one day.  I probably talked her ears off about everything from the food to the weather.  Our tour totally sucked of the Colosseum.  We spent at least 45 minutes outside just staring at it before we even entered.  The tour guide was rambling on about action movies and Kelly, Kalya, and I left the group.  We took our pictures and peaced out of there.  We then went to Hard Rock Cafe again for dinner.  We sat beside a couple and the man proposed and we literally had the best seats in the house.  We all three shed a little tear.  It was too precious.  We decided we just had to see the Trevi Fountain at night and it was well worth the trip.  Kelly and I bought a dang rose stem for 2 euros and 50 cent.  The man said, "Just give some change."  We each gave him 2 euro and 50 cent and he acted disappointed but it was just one rose.  I'm sure he got over it.  We took some pictures..and we saw yet ANOTHER proposal at the Trevi Fountain.  I called Eric and my parents from there to let them hear the water.  I made several wishes each trip to the fountain.  We all three threw coins from far away last night since the police had chased everyone away from the bottom of the fountain.  I thought we would probably get fined or arrested for throwing the coins...but we didn't!  (Breathe a sigh of relief, Mom!)
  Sunday: I don't know how..but I managed to open my eyes at 10:24 AM and we had to be out of the hotel by 11.  We scrambled our stuff together and got out.  We didn't need any more fines.  We went all the way back towards the Trevi Fountain to the Pandora store and they were closed.  Bummer.  We went to the train station and had McDonald's again.  I swear I'm not eating anymore McDonalds or pasta once I'm back in America!  We had a three hour train ride back to Arezzo and a little girl screamed the ENTIRE way.  It was lovely.  It wasn't a was just shrill screams.  Thank goodness for earphones and ipods.  We made it back to Arezzo to catch the last bus to Sansepolcro at 5 p.m.  Our bus driver cannot drive (he drives like a maniac) and you all know I can't drive either, and he scared me.  We were flying on the mountain roads and I kept looking over the edge and thinking, "Any minute I'll be down there too."  Everyone on the bus was holding on for dear life.  I felt like I was on a ride...and I wanted to get off.  We then stopped beside the road at least 4 times because of some bike race.  I think the Tour De France took a wrong lasted forever.  We finally made it back to Sansepolcro and ate Yummy's Pizza for dinner.  (It's pronounced Yoomie's.)  We placed all our purchases from Italy on our beds and I'm not sure how I'm getting back to America with all my stuff...but I'll work on it all week.  I need to go try to upload these pictures and skype my Mom.  :)

Hope everyone had an amazing weekend!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Hey everybody!

       As always, when I update, we've had more adventures.  This week, we've been going to observations at a local Kindergarten and summer camp.  Going to the summer camp was my favorite....because we got to spend time with the children.  It was so much fun interacting with them.  One child gave Kelly, Gizem, and I flowers, fruit, and hugs and kisses.  She was so sweet and so loving.  Even though our Italian is limited, the children still wanted to talk to us and play. It was such a neat experience.  Watching them play games, run and chase one another, and engage in play was an experience I will never forget.
      We also observed at a local kindergarten (which is a little different than American kindergarten.)  We observed an infant class and got to watch them play in a kiddie pool.  It was so much fun to see the smiles and squeals of delight as the children played in the water.  I've been learning so much about children and their play and it's really been an eye opening experience.  I have so much to go back to America and share with everyone.
    Last night was interesting to say the least.  Kayla, Kelly, and I were in our room just chatting and laughing.  All of a sudden, the fan sparked and the power went off.  We all looked at each other and ran out of the room.  We're living in a 16th century we knew this was going to be a problem.  We went and got our professor and explained to her what happened.  We had to tell Ms. Noland, another faculty member on our trip.  She loves hearing our stories and no matter if we've missed a bus, took a wrong turn, or blown a fuse (in this case), she always finds it funny.  My favorite line to hear her say is, "It's an adventure."  She always turns our experiences into ones we can learn from and it is always so much fun to share our stories with her.  She busted out laughing when we told her and she said, "Well, congratulations."  Leave it to Kelly, Kayla, and I to provide everyone some late night entertainment.  We thought we were going to be without power for a few days; however, Sarah who works for Meredith and manages the palazzo came over (on her birthday might I add) to help fix the situation.  We were so grateful for her.  The laughs didn't stop there.  The palazzo does not have air conditioning...and until this week it was manageable.  This week the temperatures started climbing in the 90's and we didn't even have a fan in our room.  Last night, we got creative and Kelly, Kayla, Paige, and me pushed our beds to the middle of the room and had the fan blowing in our direction.  We laughed so hard until we fell asleep.  It was a smart idea on our part though.
     This week has flown by!  We are going to Reggio Emilia tomorrow to see the exhibits and that will be so exciting.  I love the Reggio Emilia approach and I can't wait to hear all about it.  It promises to be a long day, as we are departing for Reggio at 6:30 A.M.  We have to come back and pack tomorrow night because the Child Development girls decided to go to Rome on our independent travel.  I'm so excited to see all the sights Rome has to offer.  I'll update later with more entertainment for you all, I'm sure.

For now, Ciao everyone! 

<3 Brittany

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Traveled down the road and back again"

Hey everyone!

     I apologize for not blogging the last few days.  I promise this blog will be entertaining.  We've had some adventures to say the least.  This blog will probably be long, but it's nearly impossible to cram all the excursions into a few words.  Let me paint a picture for I go.

     Friday, we left very early for Florence.  We took a bus to Arezzo and a train from Arezzo to Florence.  It was a fairly short trip (about two hours total) and when I stepped off the train, I knew it was going to be a great day.  Florence was a very busy city, filled with many people.  Our group walked over to the Dumo and took a few pictures.  Then, we had an appointment at a museum and after was time for lunch and shopping.  Kelly, Kayla, and I have become travel buddies.  Those girls keep me going.  We undoubtedly have the best times and I'm so grateful their here with me.  We saw someone with a Hard Rock Cafe bag and we knew if there was American food around, we weren't missing our chance. We found Hard Rock and had a yummy lunch.  I was able to eat chicken tenders (favorite food ever) and fries!
     After lunch, it was time to explore the shopping.  We wanted to shop and see some some of the statues and bridge..and when the three of us make a plan, you better believe we're going to accomplish it.  We went to the market which was the most awesome shopping.  Kelly, Kayla, and I bargained with the vendors and had so many laughs.  Kelly would say, "Sorry, we saw those shoes for 25 back there.  Or, just forget it."  One vendor even offered her five euros of his own money since she found a ring cheaper somewhere else.  I bought a pair of shoes, a purse, a new rolling bag (to get all my shopping items back to America), a painting, a T-Shirt for Eric, a purse for mom, and a tie for Daddy.  I got more than that...but if I listed blog would go on for days.  Finally, we decided we wanted to see the famous bridge and we took a cab to get there.  It was hot and totally worth the seven Euros.  The bridge was beautiful.  We also saw the Neptune and David statues (not the real David) but it was still cool.  Florence was an amazing city and I was so glad we went.
    Saturday, we got to sleep in.  I was excited to sleep until 9:30.  We had class and then lunch.  After lunch, both Kelly's, Kayla, and myself decided to go see the infamous leaning tower of Pisa.  I'm not sure that words can do this adventure justice..but I'll try.  We took the bus Sansepolcro to Arezzo where we boarded a train to Florence. When we got to the train station in Florence, we realized the next train we needed was on the opposite side of the station.  Please picture four Meredith women running across a train station.  The train was boarding and literally as soon as we ran up to it and pressed the button to get took off.  We all laughed so hard and managed to find another train in minutes.  We got on another train and realized it was going to Reggio Emelia (which is four hours away.)  We hopped off the train immediately and thank goodness we did because it was pulling away as we hopped off.  We then found a train to Pisa and had to sit where people get on and off the train because no seats were open.  We finally made it to Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower.  It was totally worth the adventures.  I somehow managed to buy a purse there and a coffee mug for my mom that leans like the tower.  I also got Eric a shot glass.  Kelly had to get ugly with the vendor because he tried to tell her it was 19 euros for her purchase and then he tried to spike it to 23.  She said, "Give me back my twenty."  He just stared...and it was comical.  Kelly was hilarious and walked away with her purchases for 20 euro.
     After we left Pisa, we thought we had a successful day.  Too bad we thought wrong.  We were on the train on the way back (or so we thought) and then the train comes to a stop.  The conductor motions for us to get off.  We're terrified as we literally see we're in no wheresville.  It was a train depot.  This lady speaks minimum English and says over and over, "You've made a mistake."  Well, duh.  Finally, she tells us another train will be coming to get us..that we were going in the opposite direction.  While we are waiting in this sketch train depot, a fight breaks out across the tracks from us.  We heard all this yelling and are watching the whole thing go down from behind an M&M sign.  One of the girls with me looked at me and said, "Lady Gaga, get it together."  They said my face turned completely white and I was shaking.  I thought I was going to die in a train depot.  We kept inching farther away and realized the man who was yelling was bleeding terribly from his arm.  By this point, I considered running down the tracks.  Thank GOD a train came fairly soon and my tail hopped right on.  At that point, I didn't care where I was going as long as it was away from the fight.  We finally got back to Florence and then back to Arezzo.  Arezzo is an hour away from where I stay in Sansepolcro by bus.  Well, we arrived back at approximately 12:40 A.M. (my time) and no buses were going.  No cabs were in sight.
     Imagine four Meredith women standing outside the train station without a cab or bus.  I knew Pat and Charlie weren't walking 38 kilometers back to Sansepolcro.  Kelly and Kayla were calling taxi numbers and I was waiting to flag any cab down I saw.  Finally, I began waving my arms around like a crazy person when I saw a cab.  Thank goodness he stopped and said he would make the drive back.  We literally were going 180 kilometers (90 mph approximately.)  I thought, I've made it through a fight and now I'll die in a taxi cab.  We were laughing so hard.  Kelly kept saying, "I feel like we're flying."  We weren't even in a lane...we were driving down the middle of the road and Tuscany is has VERY curvy roads.  I still can't believe I woke up this morning.  Yesterday was hilarious with all the adventures...but my blood pressure had to be off the charts.  I am so glad I have Kelly and Kayla to experience all the adventures with.  I skyped Eric last night and my mom, daddy, Packer and Diva.  Diva was so excited to see my face and wagged her tail the whole time.  Packer was sleeping...couldn't care less!  I was so happy to see my Mom and Dad's faces!  I've missed them so much.
     I'm going to Rome this coming that is something to look forward to.  I'll leave you all with a few pictures.  I hope my near death experiences give a laugh or two to you all.

Kelly and I in Florence!

Dr. Clark, Kayla, me, and Kelly in Florence.

The famous bridge in Florence.  Totally worth the 7 euros for a cab.

Kelly, me, and Kayla at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  

The train depot where I thought we were going to die.  

<3 Brittany

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Chillin' on a dirt road." Lost in Assissi

Ciao everyone,

     These last two days have been quite an adventure.  When Kelly got up yesterday, she said, "You know what song has been stuck in my head?  Dirt Road Anthem.  Keep this in mind as you read this blog entry.  I should have known it was an omen.  Yesterday, we got on a bus to Perugia and Assissi.  We were going to a Montessori Program, Casa Di Bambini (Children's House) and we got lost.  We almost took out every car on the street.  If you could imagine a one lane road with cars parked all on the side and a large bus..well, on second thought...don't picture it.  We were lost for about 20 minutes before arriving at the school..and this was only the beginning.  We clapped when we finally arrived...and observed at the Montessori School.  It was an awesome experience.  The way they teach the children is truly amazing.  I got some great ideas of things I want to incorporate into my classroom one day.
      After leaving the Montessori School, we went to Assissi.  We were told it was a long, long walk and everything was uphill.  This was the understatement of the century.  Luckily, Meredith girls always come prepared with t-shirts.  We dressed comfortably for the journey.  We visited the most beautiful cathedrals that gave you chill bumps as soon as you walked in the door.  It's amazing how detailed everything here is.  I was so thankful for the experience.  I was able to see St. Francis's tomb and churches I've only seen in pictures.  Seeing it with your own two eyes is totally worth the visit to Italy.
      After the cathedral visits, we had time to shop.  Kelly and I ventured out into Assissi and were having so much fun looking around.  I should have known with Kelly and I together, an adventure was just around the corner...literally.  We were walking along and we thought we would take a shortcut to street with a man hand drawing pictures.  We wanted one for the townhouse...but ended up lost in Assissi.  We walked and walked and finally had to take a little rest.  We were sitting on private property (someone's house was right behind us) and we were in the road.  We had found PEPSI'S (the best part of the visit) so we were enjoying sitting down and drinking the Pepsi.  We began walking again..and saw an elevator.  Well, we were very high up on the mountain, and we figured there had to be more than one way we assumed the elevator would get us back.  WRONG!  The locals asked us which floor and we said, 0.  Well, we got off the elevator and we were in a parking deck.  We fell to the floor laughing and all of a sudden...the lights went off.  We scedattled out of there.  We saw a sign that said, "Thank you for visiting Assissi," so we figured we were heading out of the city...on PAT AND CHARLIE.  We began hiking again...and ended up at a dirt road.  Kelly had been thinking of the song, "Dirt Road Anthem" and now we were at a dirt road.  We hiked up yet another hill and finally managed to find our way back.  We were SO thankful to see the bottom...although, it will be a story to tell the rest of our lives.  Our group found it hilarious and entertaining...but they weren't surprised.  On the way home, our bus went over a speed bump and went air born. It was such an adventurous day.
     Today, we went to another school.  We actually got to see children today and it was so much fun.  They were precious and the school was very neat.  After we left the school, we had lunch and class.  We had the opportunity to talk with an older man who moved to Italy from Australia.  It was another good experience.  After that, Kelly, Kayla, and I decided to be adventurous and get on a bus to Arezzo, a nearby town.  We got on the bus and surprisingly made it to Arezzo (which was a big deal for us.)  What an accomplishment.  Kelly informed me there was a McDonald's and we made it a mission to get there.  We stopped at some shops along the way and I got a cute pair of black flats.  I can't wait to wear them!  We started walking to McDonald's...but of course, we got lost.  Little did we know, it was only the beginning.  We walked for SEVEN miles (at least) to get our food.  Kelly asked everyone, "McDonald's" and they looked at us like we were crazy.  We laughed so hard..but finally, we found some nice Italian girls to guide us in the right direction. Kelly said, "You know, we mix Italian, Spanish, English, and French to talk to these folks."  We really do.
     We finally arrived at McDonald's and I think my eyes filled up with tears.  I've never been so happy to see American food.    We ate our food and let me mention we all had 8 nuggets and a cheeseburger.  We ate like men and we were so proud.  We surprisingly got back easily to the center of town.  We shopped around and got back on the bus without a problem.  The trip was and MCDONALD'S!  My two favorite and food!  It was a nice trip with my two wonderful friends.  Tomorrow, (or I should say today since I have to be up at 5 am and that is in a few hours) we are going to FLORENCE.  I'm very excited.  We are taking a bus and train.  I am excited about seeing the city and shopping of course.  I'm sure we aren't getting any sleep tonight because theres a group of old people sitting at the bar singing to the top of their lungs right now.  I've yelled "Silencio" out the window and they only get louder.  Fools.  Anyways, goodnight America!  

Yep, told ya'll we were lost.  North Carolina meets Assissi.  One thing is for certain, Kelly and I never have a dull moment, ever.

<3 Brittany 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Yeah, Nicole Kidman stayed here."

Hey everybody!

     Today was a super busy day.  We woke up early and met our groups downstairs.  We got on a bus and headed for Anghiari.  I posted pictures on my Facebook..but those could not even do it justice.  It was beautiful. The view was amazing and I was so happy to be walking in the warm sunshine surrounded by the beauty of Italy.
     We toured the Bussati looms today and that was extremely exciting.  It's a textile place and I had no idea the fun we were in for.  Mr. Bussati himself invited the Meredith group up to his house and office for a drink of wine and a snack. The view on his balcony was breathtaking. We drank wine with the whole group of Interior Design students and Child Development ladies. It was amazing. We had the best time.  He shared with us that the author of Under the Tuscan Sun was a frequent customer and friend.  He also told us that Nicole Kidman stayed at his house and we got to see the room where she stayed. We thought that was pretty awesome.  He was so sweet and we enjoyed our visit.  Kelly and I also climbed to the top of the huge hill and went to the cathedral.  It was beautiful. Kelly and I lit candles, which was an awesome experience. I wish everyone could have seen the view today. Truly amazing.
       I had some FRENCH FRIES at dinner tonight and I was so excited.  All the Child Development girls went to dinner together and it was hilarious. We were talking about all our school experiences and I've not laughed so hard since I've been here. I'm really starting to miss my American food.  I had Ravioli tonight at dinner (it had spinach in there.)  

     I was able to talk to Brooke (my cousin) tonight and that made me smile. I also skyped with Eric today which made me smile from ear to ear. The smallest things like skype and Facebook messaging mean so much when you're away from everyone you love. Tomorrow promises to be extremely busy...we're going to Perugia and Assissi.  I'll update then.

<3 Brittany

Monday, July 4, 2011

"The biggest challenge is getting out of the Palazzo."

Hey everybody!

      It's 6:18 p.m. here.  We are all about to shower and go out to dinner and go to Happy Bar.  (We decided it was 4th of July in America and a drink was in order!  The last 24 hours have been so interesting and entertaining.  Last night, we decided we would go out to dinner and "stroll" the streets like the locals do every evening.  We tried to get out of the Palazzo for a good ten minutes last night.  Kelly, Kayla, Paige, and I could not figure out how to open the doors (they are more complicated over here.)  Paige said, "The biggest challenge is going to be getting out of the palazzo."  When we finally made it out, there was a festival going on in Sansepolcro.  People were out and about in the town and we looked around until we found somewhere to eat.
      We did not know how complicated and hilarious dinner would be.  People spend a great deal of time outside, so we decided since it felt so nice, we would eat outside too.  We stood at this table for a long time (we didn't know if we should just sit down) so finally we sat down.  The waiter came and pointed and instructed us we had to sit at the table in the back.  We did not know we were supposed to make reservations there.  We had no idea how difficult ordering would be.  I asked for a Coca Cola and to my delight they had this. Kelly and I decided to order a pizza and the waiter spoke no English.  We looked at the menu and decided we wanted cheese pizza which was Margarita Pizze.  Who knew?  That was so comical and I'm sure we provided some serious entertainment for the locals.
     After dinner, we strolled through the town.  We noticed some guys sitting on a bench and they started playing "Firework" by Katy Perry.  I busted out laughing and Paige said, "Maybe they know tomorrow is Fourth of July." We decided they probably just wanted some attention, so we laughed, and kept walking.  After our stroll, we were all very tired and went to sleep.
     Today has been busy but very good.  We went to a Catholic Elementary School this morning which was great.  Although we're in another country, we saw many similarities in the school.  I got extremely hot in the school and had to step outside towards the end.  We came back to the Palazzo and had a delicious lunch.  I ate some pasta, zucchini, potatoes, a few bites of chicken, and some ice cream.  It was very good!  We had class for about an hour and that was fun.  We talked about our visit to the school and we all shared our favorite childhood memories.  Then, we went to the Italian grocery store.  Kelly and I were happy Americans to find Pringles, Coca Cola, chocolate, and yogurt.  We purchased our little American items and checking out was comical.  Kelly and I set the alarm off in the store...and the cashier spoke no English.  We finally figured out that it was our baskets setting the alarm off. Again, another comical adventure to add to the list.
       Tomorrow, we're going to the looms in the morning.  We have class in the afternoon and a teacher coming to speak with us at 5 p.m.  We're going to Perugia, Assisi, and Florence this week.  We are going to be very busy but it's better to be busy.  Today made me miss home  because it's Fourth of July and I've always spent time at the beach with family and friends.  Although I won't be seeing fireworks, Italy is amazing with so much to see.  It is truly another world over here and I can't wait to share all my adventures and stories with everyone when I get home.


Brittany <3

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"We're outsiders now!"



     I finally made it to Sansepolcro, Italy.  Yesterday, Saturday, was a long day of airports and traveling.  Kelly and I arrived at RDU about 10:30 AM.  We met our group and went through security, grabbed lunch, and waited for our flight to Charlotte.  I have never been on such a fast flight before.  The first five minutes I spent laughing a great deal with Kelly because turbulance was so bad.  Everyone's faces were priceless.  It didn't take 30 minutes before we landed in Charlotte.  We then found our gate for our international flight to Rome, had Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt, and grabbed dinner to take on the plane with us.
         I'm not sure what I was envisioning, (don't get me wrong) the plane was huge.  There were two seats, four seats, then two more.  Luckily, I had an aisle seat and could still see very clearly out the window.  I ate my dinner and was asleep before the passengers on the plane were served dinner.  After about a two hour nap, I woke up and watched, Just Go With It.  I love that movie.  I watched the entire movie and tried to sleep.  I got about 3 hours of sleep total..trying to sleep on a plane=epic fail/miserable.  The seats were close together and the flight was completely full.  I especially loved when they started speaking Italian and I had no idea what was being said.  The plane ride was approximately 8 hours.  We then arrived in Rome.  We went to baggage claim, and of course, I was the last one to get my luggage.  Murray luck? Even in Italy? Making my parents proud.  Once we were navigating through the airport, Kelly looked at me and said, "I don't like being the outsider."  It is very obvious we are not from here; but that is okay with me.  People enjoyed watching our group struggle with all our luggage I think.  After providing the locals some entertainment as we trudged on with our bags, we had a 3 hour bus ride to Sansepolcro, where Meredith College has the Palazzo, where I'm staying.
       Kelly and I enjoyed the scenery as we drove along.  We took a few pictures, listened to our ipods, and fell asleep.  I was so thankful for a little rest.  Our professors woke us up when we got to Sansepolcro, and we got off the bus and headed for the Palazzo.  Luckily, the walk was not far and there's an elevator.  If not, I would have died with my suitcase.  I'm not even sure how it was under 50 pounds.  I'm staying in a bedroom with Kelly, Paige, and Kayla.  Our bedroom is gorgeous (I love the natural light.)  It feels AMAZING outside (it's probably in the low eighties right now.)  We have the windows open.  Our view is amazing.  People in Italy believe in being outside.  When we arrived, it was afternoon siesta time.  However, things quickly changed as people are out roaming the streets now.  We are unpacked, settled in, and now everyone is taking showers.  

     Saying goodbye to my Mom and Eric was so heartbreaking.  They were both so encouraging and I've talked to Mom since I've been here.  I called her to say I was safe and here.  Eric I've texted!  He sent me the sweetest message last night; I'm so lucky to have such an amazing boyfriend.  I love you all so much and thanks for all the prayers.

<3 Brittany

Friday, July 1, 2011

"There are no goodbyes, just see you laters!"

I leave for Italy TOMORROW.  While I am super excited, goodbyes totally suck.  I am so close with my family, friends, and boyfriend.  I've tried to soak up all my fun times this week with everyone I could possibly see.  I was able to spend time with my cousin Brooke, who is always full of encouraging words.  She always makes me smile and I'm so grateful I have her. It's pretty awesome we go to the same school.  I was also able to eat dinner with Brittany and Morgan, two of my close friends from Meredith.  I am going to miss them all so much...but I can't wait to see everyone when I get back.
     I should probably be concerned that I have not packed a single thing...luckily, my mom is coming up to Raleigh today to help with all the trip preparations.  Kelly and her mom are also on the way to Raleigh so we're all going to get our nails done and go to our last dinner in America.  There are so many things to pack..and RDU must not know what is about to hit them. I've never attempted to pack my life for three weeks...but I can tell you the fifty pound weight limit and I are not going to be friends.  It'll be a struggle, but somehow, it will all work. 
     I spent as much time with Eric and Packer as I possibly could.  Poor Eric, he's had to deal with tears a lot this week.  Everyone knows I'm a sucker!  It's hard leaving the people that mean the most to you.  Knowing you can't just pick up a phone and call them and text them whenever you want is not easy. Eric has been such a blessing to me for almost five months.  He's my shoulder to cry on, he always makes me laugh, and he gives the best hugs!  Being away from him will be difficult, but I know he'll be waiting to see me when I get off the plane in three weeks.
      Now, being away from my Mom and Dad will be a challenge.  I'm an only child so, we're all extremely close.  My parents have been so encouraging and supportive of this study abroad experience, and I'm so grateful they've given me this opportunity. My mom called me last night and was telling me how I should take in every moment because some people never get to experience or see what I'm about to have at my fingertips.  She is so right and I intend on enjoying every minute.  I have the best family for allowing me to take such a trip.
     Yesterday, I went to RDU to exchange my money for Euros.  As I walked into the airport, I felt the nervous feeling I felt before leaving home for college.  It was a happy, yet scared feeling.  My cousin Amanda said it best yesterday in a text..."Change is always good for a period of time."  She's always there to give me good advice.  How lucky am I to have such a supporting group of family and friends.  I have to mention my church family.  They have been nothing but supportive and encouraging since I told them of the trip.  Last Sunday, they said a special prayer that I would have safe travels and enjoy my time in Italy.  I know the power of prayer is so powerful and my church family no doubt is praying for me and my group as we travel.
     Now that I've had my little meltdown, I better get to packing.  My mom and I have lots of errands to run before I'm ready to go to RDU.  I'll update my blog over there!  I can't wait to see what this trip has in store for me!  I hope God does great things for me while I'm there!  It promises to be the trip of a lifetime!

‎"Sometimes you have to be apart from people you love, but that doesn't make you love them any less. Sometimes you love them more." -The Last Song ♥

<3 Brittany