Italy Part 1 {Rome and Pompeii}

Many, many months late, here re a few thoughts and many pictures of this spring’s trip through Italy.

The biggest advantage of my trimester university schedule is month off in the spring, which has been spent trailing across Europe in the past years. This year, my sister Morgan and my Mom flew over to visit and check Italy off everyone’s bucket list.

Rome

I flew into Rome from Gatwick (s/o to Anna for getting up at 5am to drive me to the airport) and managed to bump into my travel weary family in passport control. We started the trip like we planned to continue it, seeing old things, eating gelato, and getting a little bit lost.

We learned how to use the public transport (thank you London for the practice) and went to see the Vatican. We fell in love with the Sistine Chapel, melted in line waiting for St. Paul’s Cathedral, and never really knew where we were.

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The colosseum, or labeled in my computer as ‘death pit’
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It’s pretty, it’s busy, I’m standing on a railing
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You can’t tell, but we were post-Vatican lost
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Inside the Vatican, not the photo you were expecting

Gelato in Rome was incredibly important, and good gelato is harder to find than you’d like. While we never got bad gelato, we did get better at finding the right shops, and getting opinions from locals. While I enjoyed it all, there is really only one place to go (and keep going back to) – Gelateria La Romana. I think my mouth is watering at the thought. With an incredible selection of flavours, shockingly low prices, local ingredients, and an insta- worthy shop, you wouldn’t think it could get better. But it does. When you order, you get to choose if you want melted chocolate in the bottom of your cone. You do, obviously, and choose from milk or white – I’d suggest white for the fruit flavours. Then, you choose 2 different scoops of gelato, and feel free to ask for suggestions on what goes together. The pistachio is a classic, but amazing. AND THEN, (yes, there is more) you get whipped cream on top. Included in the already amazing price, you can choose from plain, chocolate, or coffee. Do you see why I’m still dreaming of this gelato? Eat some for me, please.

Pompeii

With an early morning trip across the city to catch our day trip, we hoped on a bus out to the current city and ruins of Pompeii. While Morgan’s motion sickness caught up with us (pack some ginger, the hills and winding road will get to you), we had traditional pizza for lunch before heading up the looming side of the ‘mountain’ that caused it all. Off the bus we hiked up the rocky trail to the top of the smoking (but safe!) volcano. Sadly it was a bit too cloudy for what we were told is an incredible view of the area and sea. It was however, still amazing.

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Turns out volcanos aren’t great for your hair style
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smoky and mysterious

The ruins of the ancient city are too unique to ever describe. Its difficult to imagine how much of the city really remains, but you truly are walking through a thriving city frozen in time. From restaurants to brothels to homes, the city is truly a snapshot of a lively and busy time. I also met a really nice dog roaming the streets.

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Part 1

While incredible, Rome was not our favourite part of the trip. Stand outs were, of course the aforementioned gelato and seeing my favourite painting. Morgan and Mom ran off to see some skulls (unsurprising) and I headed off to Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberini. Housed in a palace tucked between bustling streets, this gallery was one of my favourites of the trip. Much quieter than the big ones, it was full of hidden jewels. I was there to see Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. Gritty and a bit brutal, it’s one of my favourite pieces of art and by far my favourite baroque or renaissance piece.

Italy Part 2 will be coming soon, filled with Tuscany and canals!

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Where did the time go

wow. It’s been a while. That resolution to write more went well, didn’t it. I’ve got a million excuses, mostly the complete lack of empty space on my calendar from January till now. I’ll try to backtrack and get something up, at least for some of the amazing travel that happened this spring, but for now a brief update.

I wasn’t kidding about the lack of empty space, because empty space was pretty much filled by doing things like reading for classes, and other silly things students have to do.

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I went to Italy! And Austria! And Hungary! There will be photos but I’m saving them all until I actually write about them.

Turns out photographing Europe’s biggest intervarsity sporting event is a great workout. And apparently, this is what I look like while working.

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I met some alpacas.

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I ate a lot of ice cream. Anna crashed a lot of photos.

 

I finished my second year of university! I don’t have any photos, because I went from my final exam to volunteering on a “Get Out and Vote” campaign as it was the day of the General Election.

Hopefully it won’t be months until the next one, but until then.

Alex

JANUARY

I didn’t wait two months to write this, shocking, I know.

January was an interesting month. I kicked it (and 2017) off with a very quiet New Year’s Eve featuring Planet Earth. It really was the best NYE I could have asked for.

The rest of my time in Texas was, busy, to say the least. It’s always a rush to get all the socializing in before leaving. This was also the first time my parents didn’t take me to the airport, as my flight was out of Houston so Morgan and I left the day before. It was interesting. One of the strange things is how different leaving feels every time. It’s not exactly easier, but it’s not harder. It’s a difficult thing to describe.

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The difficult thing about second semester (or term) is that there is no slow build up to life. It’s a head first dive into a very deep pool of work. Which, in short, is what my January back at uni felt like. While I ended my time at Enactus last term, I also became Women+ Officer for the university. It’s a job that I love, but is also a bit life-consuming. January had a steep learning curve adjusting to the meetings and committees I now sit on, as well as planning campaigns.

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Highlights of January included some really lovely friend and family time back in Texas, my first academic research trip, and University Court, which wouldn’t have been exciting except I was able to question the Vice Chancellor about his commitment to diversifying the top levels of university administration in public when he had to admit he hadn’t done what he had promised. Wild times in the life of a Student Politics nerd! I also attended a Women’s March on Lancaster, which was a wonderful time of protest but also positivity. There were also great dogs.

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I’ve also decided to try something a little fun and new, and make a monthly playlist of what I listened to, loved, and really summed up my month. So enjoy January!

Alex

2016 – in review

In 2016 I (in no particular order)..

  • saw “Gardens That Speak”, a piece of theatre that still has me thinking a year later
  • performed in my first Vagina Monologues
  • went to Romania
  • taught art to small children
  • planned a conference
  • went to Edinburg
  • spent my birthday in Portugal
  • had a phone interview in an art museum
  • went to Madrid, and spent a day in museums
  • then 24 hours later went to London for a conference
  • then Brighton a week later for another conference
  • and a week later spent 24 hours in Brussels for yet another conference
  • attempted to write about sports at Roses
  • celebrated orthodox easter at a Romanian Orthodox church
  • taught children to dance like bees
  • passed my first year of uni
  • got my first job connected to my degree
  • went on a sister roadtrip 
  • took another trip to Dallas
  • went to a lot of doctors appointments
  • flew back to England
  • missed a lecture on the first week for another conference and a trip to London
  • cast a show, while knowing nothing about theatre
  • did a lot of interviews for SCAN
  • took a weekend off in Scotland 
  • watched, liveblogged, and spoke on radio for 7 hours for the US election
  • did not process the US election, and stayed awake for 40+ hours
  • saw more great theatre
  • went to a political party conference as a media delegate
  • ran for a student government officer position (in an avocado sweater)
  • quit Enactus
  • got 2 jobs
  • got the officer position
  • raised a lot of money for domestic violence charity
  • saw my sister graduate
  • made it another year around the sun

DECEMBER

I should write these on time.

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The beginning of December flew by in a whirlwind of essays, cold, and stress. I turned in around 12,000 words in essays before flying home a few days before term ended to catch Morgan’s graduation from nursing school.

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She is officially old. And brilliant, and responsible, and the coolest sister I could ask for. But the only new part is old.

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When you live far away, you have to cram the coming 6 months of being away into a month of time with friends

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And family.

December was good. The time off was very needed, as was the time with people. The food was a nice addition as well.

Alex

NOVEMBER

It’s December 31st. I’m not sure I remember November. This has been on my to-do list for a month. I’m really bad a blogging, I know.

November was a train wreck, to be honest. I’m looking back at my calendar now and I’m not sure how it all happened. I think I say that a lot.

I got a research internship with our Peace Studies Research Institute, working on a project about refugee literacy programs. I went to Scottland. Anna made me come out of debate retirement for a day. I liveblogged and talked on radio for 7+ hours for the US election, and stayed up over 40 because of the time difference.I got a job working for our International Student office as our International Student Ambassador for the US & Canada. I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and fell in love with the Harry Potter universe all over again. I went to the Women’s Equality Party Conference as a press delegate, which was inspiring and exciting. I gave a speech for an election, in an avocado sweater. I quit Enactus. I got another job working for our Arts organization on International Outreach.

Then I slept for a weekend before essays started.

Well, that was November?

 

Alex

 

 

 

 

A Weekend in St. Andrews

When I moved to England, I knew one person in the hemisphere. Harris has been down to visit Lancaster, we went to Copenhagen last fall, but I hadn’t managed to make it up to St. Andrews until November. Wrapping up an incredibly busy week, I took a quick 3.5 hour trip up and across the UK to enjoy a weekend off.

Priorities are food, no matter where I am. Highlights included some tacos (not the best, not the worst, but you take what you can get over here) and some incredible ice cream.

   

  

Because we’re the kind of students who don’t really have time off, Harris had to run off for most of Saturday so I took advantage of a new city to explore. Beaches are a little different when you’re wearing 4 layers and a wool coat, but still pretty. I don’t know anything about golf, but I can say I’ve stomped on the Old Course, a must do in the Home of Golf.

   

And because my life is a bit non-stop, I took a few hours out to work through my to do list in an incredible coffee shop I would really like to transport to Lancaster. My life is really just this view, changing ever so slightly.

  

 Saturday also happened to be Bonfire night, so I was dragged out to West Sands (the aforementioned beach that happens to be right on the Old Course) for some fireworks. I will own up and say I gave up early, after losing the feeling in my hands, face, and feet. I’m just not meant for freezing weather and ocean wind.

Scotland is gorgeous, and the weekend was a great break from the chaos of uni life.

 

Alex