It’s MAY?

It’s May. Did you know that? It’s already MAY. Which means my time abroad has reached its final month. Its final 26 days?? How is this possible? I have a feeling it has something to do with the month of April and how jam packed it was and how quickly it flew by… So, let us investigate the month of April further.

April 1-7: School. The 4th was my first test in my Sorbonne course on comparative literature, and I did well on it by the way! Most of this week was spent, however, running around in a frantic panic trying to prepare for spring break.

April 8: Leave for Italy– Arrive in Rome in the afternoon and meet my brother, Kevin at the huge train station. We drop our bags off in the hostel and take a whirlwind evening tour of the city. He drops quite a bit of impressive history on me, which is no doubt due to his job working at an abroad program in Tuscany. We hit all the monuments and ruins just as dusk has settled in on Rome and everything is beautiful. We had gelato before dinner, which ended up being pizza sold by the kilo. Perfection.

April 9: We checked out a museum of Roman history that was between our hostel and the train station to kill time before our train to Arezzo, the town in Tuscany where Kevin lives and works at the Academia Dell Arte.  It just so happens that one of my best friends from high school, Lucy, is studying dance there this semester. We arrived in the afternoon after a beautiful train ride through the Italian countryside and met Lucy and some other students in a ruin of an amphitheater, which is apparently very standard in those parts. That evening, we had an amazing dinner where I ate gnocchi with sage butter sauce and panna cotta and all sorts of other delicious things. I stayed up all night and watched the sun rise from the villa over the beautiful Tuscan landscape.

April 10: A lazy Sunday is the same thing  worldwide it seems. We lounged and eventually got supplies to cook a delicious dinner with Lucy and a few of her friends as well as my brother. Then we promptly passed out.

April 11: While everyone else had to go to class or work, I took a solo journey into Florence in the morning. One of my friends from elementary school, who lived down the street from me my entire life, happened to be studying there, so we met for lunch after I’d taken in the city. Amazing food. Amazing duomo. But, it was my last day, so I headed back to Arezzo to prepare to leave. It was really sad saying goodbye to my brother! I got a train back to Rome, and stayed in a hostel for the night before an early flight to Portugal!

April 12-15 Discovered that I’m in love with Portugal. Stayed at an incredible hostel, with dinners and free city tours and incredible staff. We saw the sights, went to the beach in Cascais, checked out the modern Oriente neighborhood. We were all really bummed out to leave to go to Spain, but headed to Madrid regardless, hoping to get back to Lisbon some day soon.

April 15-16: The afternoon in Lisbon was hot and beautiful; we went to the most lovely park and passed the afternoon sitting lake-side as Spanish people paddled around in boats in front of us. We were all feeling so great! Dinner was difficult as we ran into some language barriers– my friend Katy ended up receiving a plate full of raw salmon– definitely not what she expected. After dinner, disaster struck. We’d planned to buy our train tickets to Alicante the next day, but when we went to check the times online, everything was completely sold out. So were the buses. We spent 4 hours trying to figure something out but finally at 3 am we gave up, with the plan to wake up at 5 and get to the bus station when it opened, to try to get the last 4 spots on a 7am bus. Well, the bus was sold out, so we had to stick around until noon in the bus station, but we did eventually make it to our beach-side destination– though once we got there, it was cold. And windy.

April 17: Beach day, which was incredibly cold and windy but we made it work. We all ended up getting silly sunburns though, accidentally. We checked out the castle at the top of a hill in the center of the city and the views were incredible.

April 18-20: BARCELONA! The train to Barcelona was peaceful but we were all excited to get to what we’d heard was the most fun destination in Europe. Our hostel was very lively. We took a bike tour one day that was really fun; not what I was expecting seeing as I haven’t ridden a bike in years. It was a great way to see all the sights of the city quickly but thoroughly. I also ran into 6 different Batesies while I was in Barcelona– madness! Made me really excited for senior year!

April 21-22: Back in Paris, and my friend Liane from Bates happens to be visiting with her mom for April break. Liane and I went abroad opposite semesters so I hadn’t seen her in almost a year. We lounged in parks and had picnics and all sorts of other lovely french things.

April 23-27: PARENTS IN PARIS! My parents arrived and the weather was beautiful and we saw all sorts of sights and sat in cafes and ate THE MOST AMAZING FOOD! Since I’ve been here, I haven’t been eating out frequently because it’s so expensive, but with my parents I dined at all the most incredible restaurants. Lets just say I’ve never eaten so much “foie” or animal liver in my life..

.April 28-May 1: PROVENCE with my parents. We stayed in a beautiful “mas” or farmhouse in St Saturnin les Apt, in the Luberon region of Southern France. We spent the weekend exploring little towns with medieval ruins and old churches, and of course eating more incredible food. It was kind of stressful though, as I had to act as translator for all these people and that certainly put the pressure on. All in all, though, it was an incredible weekend.

See? Didn’t April go fast?? I hope May isn’t the same. Other than exams, the only thing on my calendar currently is a trip to BUDAPEST this weekend to visit the Bates short-term abroad class. Check back for a post on that!

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Spring Break in pictures

Where have  I been? Well..

Rome

Arezzo

Florence

Lisbon

Cascais

Madrid

Alicante

Barcelona

Too many adventures to count! Now my parents are here and that is also a blast. Time is flying these days!

Traveling through Europe, casually

Lately, I’ve been making a lot of travel plans. I don’t often give myself reason to go on trips– I have trouble justifying the costs of a vacation when you could save money at home. BUT, I am abroad and I do have access to all these wonderful places, so this semester I’ve been putting my frugality on the back burner and embracing all the travel opportunities I can. At this moment, I have so many things to look forward to! My calendar looks packed from here on out and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve become such a whiz at finding cheap flights and scouring hostelworld.com to find the best places to stay, some might say it’s becoming obsessive. But, hey, I’m traveling, I might as well enjoy it as much as possible.

Here is a brief look into my upcoming trips:

March 11-13: Going to Zagreb, Croatia with two friends from my program. Have no idea about what we’re doing. Not familiar with the city, the country, or anything. It was, however, the cheapest flight on easyjet, and we were itching to get out of Paris for a weekend. Dispatches with news from this trip will follow.

March 26-27: Headed to Normandie for a night with my program. Signed up last minute, but it will definitely be worth it. If for no other reason than that it’s payed for by my program already… Mmmm, free things!

April 8-20: The EPIC Spring Break. Destinations include: Rome, Florence, Arezzo, Lisbon, Madrid, Alicante, and Barcelona. It was a genuine nightmare figuring it all out– getting from Lisbon to anywhere else in Spain was impossible unless you traveled through Madrid, which wasn’t on our original itinerary. We had hoped to go to Granada, but it was too difficult logistically. Alicante was a last minute decision, but it seems promising, mostly because there will be beaches! This is another mission with the same girls who I traveled to Copenhagen with, so we’re all looking forward to going on another trip.

Photos and updates when these trips happen, I promise!

Leaving by Airplanes on Trips Long and Short

T-minus two weeks until school. My house is an interesting place at the moment, strewn with belongings and suitcases, none of them mine. On Tuesday, both my newly graduated brother and myself will be taking trips. I, of course, am heading to New Orleans for 4 days for a quick visit before school. Kevin, however, is taking a giant, post-grad LEAP and moving to Italy for 14 months. Wait, what?? I know. You’re like, am I supposed to be sorry or something? THAT SOUNDS AMAZING!

So I’m just packing a duffel bag with clothes I hope will withstand the late August New Orleans heat, and this isn’t really about me. Sure, I’m getting a ride to the airport that day, too, but you have got to wonder what my parents are going to be feeling at the end of that day. Empty? Sad? Relieved? Hopefully they will be feeling at least a little bit satisfied, because tomorrow, the day before the day when everyone leaves, my mother is closing on the lake house of her dreams, and we all will be able to be there for the big moment when she signs the paper and all of her dreams come true (or at least the ones that exist in this realm of possibility).

Anyways: in my continuing and growing interest (obsessive fear?) regarding “the real world” and having a future after graduation, I will discuss the miraculous adventure my older brother will be setting off on come Tuesday. Kevin graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in May. He spent most of his time there studying theater (acting, directing, sound designing) and it is truly his passion. (Here you may see a family trend of theatrical interest, however, mine stays strictly in the extracurricular field while his became his main focus). His junior year, he went abroad to Arezzo, Italy to study Comedia Dell Arte. I would link to the program, because it’s really spectacular, but their website has recently been hacked. Instead, I will provide a silly photo of my brother while at said program. update: the site is back up. Check it out HERE.

Perhaps it had something to do with character work??

Fast forward to this spring, leading up to graduation, Kevin, like so many others in the class of 2010, didn’t have a clear idea of what his life would be after graduation, other than working (with ME!) for the summer at Creative Arts summer camp. So then, like, by some networking MIRACLE, in a WHIRLWIND, all of the sudden he got a job offer to return as an administrative assistant/director/general dude to help out AND HE GETS PAID, AND HE GETS TO LIVE IN ITALY. Needless to say, my parents are totally thrilled and Kevin, also, seems pleased. These days it seems like you’re incredibly lucky to find a paying gig, to find a job in a field relevant to your experience and your goals, or a job with a definite time period. To find all three of these for your first year out seems kind of like a dream.

So I’m not really sure of what all his responsibilities will be, (in fact I don’t know if he really knows) but this job is an example of using networking skills. Here is how the web of people was completed and the job was found. Try to follow. Graduation day, Sarah Lawrence College, a Saturday in May (and yes, I was there. I missed the last weekend of short term to fly to New York because I love my brother so much). The guy that runs the program in Arezzo has a son in the graduating class (this is convenient and AWESOME coincidence #1). This son happened to be in a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest that Kevin directed earlier that spring (#2!)  Upon running into his father, my parents were talking about (of course) what’s next for the newly graduated “adults” and my mom made a joke about giving him a job out in Italy. While she laughed, the program director didn’t, and said that Kevin should email him. (coincidence #3/ MIRACLE #1!!) So he did. And talks were had, and they were good!!

I guess what I’m trying to say is a) I’m very proud of my brother for getting a job in an environment that seems very difficult for post grads (especially those in theater) b) I’m thinking to my graduation day two years down the line, and wondering… Will I not have any plans when I walk at graduation? Somehow I think I’m too proactive (read: neurotic) to not have 78 billion back up plans, but it’s a very possible situation. Well if that is the case, then c) I hope I can take it as casually as Kevin did, because it was his ease and positive attitude that led to solving his no-plans situation in a timely and totally awesome way.

Check back next week for photos of me being a faux southern belle!