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Ali's Semester Abroad 2012

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1: FLORENCE | ITALY | ARRIVED 10 JAN 2012 | The most populous city in Tuscany and is the birthplace of the Renaissance.

3: I L C O R N O D I V I N O

4: florence | ITALY

6: January 9, 2012 DEPARTURE In just a few hours I’m headed to the airport! Florence is a tricky place to get to from the U.S. I’m taking flights from Chicago-Stockholm, Stockholm-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Florence. Only about one hour layover in between which will be nice, unless there’s a delay at some point! But I’ll figure it out :) For my last dinner we had tacos per my request. The next time I get mexican food will probably be when I get back to the U.S although I’m quite ok with italian food 3 meals a day! I hope all my study abroad friends get to their countries safely, and all my friends on Mizzou ski trip are having a blast! Ciao! | January 12, 2012 ARRIVAL Got internet late last night so I’m finally making my first post from across the pond! I got into Florence on Tuesday afternoon. After traveling through Scandinavia where there was snow, I was welcomed in Florence with sunny skies and temps in the 50s—gorgeous weather compared to the blizzard in Chicago right now! I got dropped off at my apartment which is HUGE! Just about everything in the apartment is from Ikea not mad about it. We’re in a great location too a few blocks from the Duomo and right by all the bars! I have three roommates (two single rooms and I’m in the double) all from different places in the U.S. still working on unpacking and getting settled in this humble abode.

7: January 12, 2012 DINNER ON NIGHT 1 After getting settled on Tuesday night we met the rest of our group for a “welcome dinner” from Arcadia studying at the Accademia Italiana at a restaurant called Bandolvino. The food was probably the best I’ve ever had in my life—no joke. Plate after plate of food came out from the kitchen for our table to share and we thought it would never end but it finally did. With a grand total of 5 appetizers, 2 pasta dishes, and a slice of cake per person. For you italian food lovers, here is what was on the menu: Appetizers: 1) pizza covered with juicy tomato chunks 2) focaccia bread dusted with mouth watering parmesan cheese 3) eggplant and zucchini grilled with incredible mozzarella cheese 4) sauteed onions with balsamic drizzled and parmesan cheese 5) fresh out of the oven pita and home made hummus Pasta: 1) pesto with potato chunks and pine nuts with lasagna shaped noodles 2) a red sauce with extra large rigatoni Desert: pear and almond pie To top it off we had champagne and all you can drink red wine. Delish!

8: S C H O O L

9: Zecchi | my favorite art supply store

10: January 12, 2012 ORIENTATION AT THE ACCADEMIA ITALIANA This semester I’ll be taking art and interior design courses at the Accademia Italiana—an art school in Florence. The school has about 400 students and about half are international students. At our orientation we got to tour the facilities. The classrooms are all quite small, but intimate. They all have wonderful views of the city, too. I’m excited to be taking classes alongside other Italians—hopefully it'll improve my speaking skills and will have a lasting impression on my time here. After checking out the classrooms in the main building across from the Pitti Palace we crossed the river to see the workshop classrooms. These facilities are used for photography, drawing, painting, and fashion. On top of this building there is a terrace overlooking entire city of Florence—spectacular views! | January 12, 2012 FIRST NIGHT OUT Last night two of my roommates went out to dinner at a restaurant on the Piazza delle Repubblica. Many restaurants have outdoor seating due to the nice weather most of the year. During with winter months the nicer restaurants put heated tents around their outdoor seating and still seat you outside. We sat on the piazza next to a heat lamp and enjoyed the musical stylings of a guy on a piano. He was pretty good—played some american classics mixed in with italian ones, too. Ordered a glass of wine at dinner that was fun considering I’m STILL not 21. Then headed over to our friends apartment to celebrate a girl on our program’s 21st birthday. Had some champagne and wine there, then went to the “shot cafe” to order her some shots-mizzou style. After we were sick of creepy 30 year old men hitting on us we went to a bar called Twice. The entrance had glitter walls so it was obviously going to be a good night. About 20 of us American girls strolled in and got the party started. Walked the two blocks back to my apartment at 2am—had a great night!

11: January 16, 2012 UNDER THE TUSCAN SUNRISE On Friday we had the rest of our Arcadia orientation at a wine estate just outside of Florence called il Corno di Vino. Here we had a 4 course meal and wine tasting on Friday night and a tour of the estate on Saturday. The property was absolutely beautiful and had a great view up in the hills over looking the city. I’ve always been a fan of white wine, but not so much red. Here I tried a chianti that was amazing I ended up buying their house white and chianti for a total of 8 euros! Saturday morning I continued to suffer from jet lag waking up at 4am and not being able to go to bed. After laying in bed for a few hours, a few other girls on the trip and I went to watch the sunrise. It was incredible and the pictures simply do not do it justice. | January 17, 2012 CLASSES THIS SEMESTER Today is our first day of classes at the Accademia Italiana. Here all the classes are much longer than in the states. I have Italian language Monday-Thursday for two hours. All my other classes (sketching florence, renaissance art history, and interior planning studio) are either 3 or 3 1/2 hours long, but only once a week. I had an architecture history course too, but it’s on Fridays so this week I get to check out a few other classes to see what I want to replace it with. I’m going to try photographing florence, accessories design, visual merchandising, and photography of interior & exterior architecture. I have no idea what to expect since I have never been to an art school, some of my classes will be taught in both italian and english, and the students come from around the world but I can’t wait for this exciting opportunity! Hope everyone at Mizzou has a great syllabus week!

12: January 17, 2012 MERCATO CENTRALE Today I got out of photographing florence so I made my first trip to the market! Florence has a handful of markets sprinkled throughout the city, but I hear the most authentic is the Mercato Centrale. Inside the market are tons of meat stands. This place was quite intimidating for me considering I know nothing about meat and have never cooked meat before, not even chicken! So after wandering aimlessly and slightly nauseous from seeing heads of animals chopped off before my eyes I made my way outside to the fresh produce. Outside there’s a tent with different vegetable and fruit vendors. Most speak very little english, but I made do with the minimal Italian I know and got a great deal. 12 clementines, 5 apples, 5 tomatoes, a head of romaine lettuce (finally found it), a zucchini, a pear, an onion, bananas and 10 euro later I was walking home with two full bags of food! Made myself some noodles with sauteed zucchini, onions and tomatoes delish! | January 24, 2012 ZECCHI I’ve had to make about 4 trips to the art supply store so far. Here they’re all about only buying what you need when you need it so I’ll probably be making many more trips throughout the semester. My favorite art store here is called Zecchi. It’s a mom & pop type art store which is why I love it so much. Not as fancy as all the other ones, but it has a quaint charm to it. The coolest thing is they make their own brand of just about every medium (pastels, ink, paints, papers, etc.) which is pretty rare these days.

13: January 21, 2012 FIRST WEEK OF CLASSES Syllabus week down, 14 more weeks to go! So here’s how my classes went. 1) Sketching Florence. Basically we go out around Florence every day and draw (will use other mediums too) the things we see. The teacher is really open to creativity so I think it’ll be a great class. For our final we are going to be making a book of all our drawings. Sidenote, the teacher started as an artist in the streets of Florence and now currently works in the Uffizi gallery (very famous art museum here) so she’s a BFD. 2) Renaissance Art History. I love art history and the teacher seems extremely knowledgeable so it should be pretty interesting. We get to go to museums for a few of our classes and have our lectures there, too which is pretty cool. 3) Photographing Florence. Similar to sketching but taking pictures. The teacher is really laid back and awesome. I’m excited to get to know my camera more and have lots of pictures (as if i don’t already have enough) when I leave this beautiful city! 4) Interior Design 3-Design of Commercial Spaces. This class is going to be interesting 7 students in the class. Me and my roommate are the only Americans. The class is taught in english and italian which gets really confusing. We have one main project where we redesign a space (i’m doing an osteria trattoria) and create renderings through whichever medium you know (I’ll probably use 3ds max much to my dismay). It’ll be interesting because the professor doesn’t know how to use cinema 4d (the program they use here) or 3ds max. And he doesn’t teach how to hand render. Needless to say, it should be good for the portfolio! 5) Italian. When I took the language placement exam I told them to put me in level 1 so I can start over. Well, they didn’t listen and put me in the level 2 class. We have italian Monday-Thursday for two hours no fun. But most people in my class forget a lot of the italian they used to know too so we’ll get through it. Also, we have students from Dubai, Sweden, Iceland, and Greece in our class so it’s neat learning alongside them.

14: Cooking Time

18: These are a few of my favorite meals

20: Our first trip was to Interlaken, Switzerland. I skied the alps, went night sledding, and had a traditional swiss fondue dinner!


23: January 31, 2012 INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND DAY 1: SKIING THE ALPS Last Thursday night I went with bus2alps (a travel company) to Interlaken, Switzerland. After an 8hr bus ride cities began lighting up in the mountains. Because we arrived at 3am you couldn’t see much, but I could tell the town had recently been dumped on with snow. After missing all the snow in Chicago this winter, I was pretty excited! Friday morning after just a few hours of sleep my roommate Elizabeth and I headed out to ski the alps. Elizabeth is from Colorado and is actually a ski instructor at Vail. She had the misfortune of going skiing with me! I haven’t gone skiing with big skis and poles in about 10 years (I usually snowboard or mini ski). It took me a run or two to get back into the swing of things, and I was able to do the reds (intermediate runs-swiss style) all day long! Getting up into the mountains here is a bit harder than usual—we had to take a bus and two trains. The views from the train weaving in and out of the mountains and tiny towns were absolutely stunning though. It felt like we were on the polar express! Because the mountain is so big (Elizabeth described as Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, and Breckenridge combine) people really spread out. The trains were constantly dropping people off throughout the day to ski/board/sled/snowshoe, but the place felt empty. You would see maybe 5 other people on a run and you never had to wait in line for a chair lift. It was so peaceful and I felt like we had the entire place to ourselves! Crazy considering they had just gotten a ton of fresh powder. After skiing for a little while we stopped at a little hut to grab some drinks. This cafe, if you can call it that, only served shots of hard liquor, beer, and smirnoff ice. They don’t do mixed drinks. So we settled with smirnoff ices—high school style. After our break we took the ski lift that went to the highest part of the mountain. Once we got up there we stopped in our tracks at least a dozen times in awe of what we were looking at. It took me a while to finally pick up my jaw and ski down the mountain. These pictures do not do the swiss alps justice. We were so close to a ginormous rock face—it honestly didn’t feel like real life. It’s hard to put in words the emotions that overcome you when you are in this incredible place. Even if you aren’t a skiier, I would highly recommend going up to Kleine Scheidegg for the views alone! After about 7 runs we went back to the train area of the mountain to enjoy some soup in a bread bowl and beer while sitting outside soaking in the beauty of the alps—a great ending to a perfect day.

24: January 31, 2012 INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND DAY 2: NIGHTSLEDDING On Saturday 4 girls who I’m also studying abroad with signed their lives away to go canyon jumping. When I was here 3 years ago I went canyon jumping and to this day it is the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. I was planning on going again this year to get my adrenaline kick, but decided to ski the alps instead (i’m learning i can’t do everything). I knew if I went to watch I’d probably end up going to and as much as I would’ve loved that, my bank account would not have. So Elizabeth and I set out to check out the town. Along the way our super awesome bus2alps leader, Jenny, decided to join us. She’s been to Interlaken a bunch of times and showed us around. The town was very quaint and it was fun to see something different than Italian architecture. Jenny also took us to a chocolate shop where I had an incredible white chocolate truffle! After exploring around town we headed back to our hostel, Balmers, in hopes that our friends made it back alive. And indeed they did! All 4 of them survived the canyon jump and are nearly as obsessed with it as I am. We took a nap then bundled up to set out for night sledding! We went to another part of the mountain, Lauterbrunnen, for this adventure. The track is an old country road that’s drivable in the winter. Although I’ve grown up sledding, this was quite different. We kept referring to it as Mario Kart so just picture that plus snow and that’s what night sledding was like! Picking up high speeds and crashing—it was great. Afterwards we enjoyed a swiss fondue dinner with great company.

25: January 31, 2012 INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND DAY 3: HIKING TO LAKE BRIENZ Sunday morning we woke up early to pack our bags and check out. We weren’t leaving until 3pm so we decided to wander around Interlaken a bit more before we had to head back to Italy. Anna and I decided to walk to Lake Brienz. Iterlaken is situated between two lakes and this one is a bit further to get to. The other bus2alps guide from Florence, Kelley, hadn’t been to that lake yet either and decided to join us. He was a broadcast journalism major who went to Colorado State so we had a grand time discussing journalism #somizzou. After following a path adjacent to a tributary we finally found ourselves at the lake. Not quite as blue as the other one, but still gorgeous.

26: February 9, 2012 WEEKEND WITH THE BF Sorry for the delayed post!! Last weekend David had a field trip in Florence for his food and culture class so he came early to check out Florence. Thursday night we went to a potluck with my friends and made a salad to share. It was about 15-20 girls and David that’s what happens when you’re in an art study abroad program (there are only 2 guys on it)! haha Then we went out on the town. Friday we wandered around the leather market in search of leather jackets. Some of the “salesmen,” if you will, were hysterical. At one of the shops the workers kept referring to me as Jennifer Lopez. They wanted me to try on a size 40 jacket, but I told them it wouldn’t fit. This had already happened at all the previous stores I went to.. they think I’m a size 40 but my hips are too big for a 40. So I tried to explain to the man I needed a 42 and he was so insistent I finally had to show with my hands what hips were and why it wouldn’t fit. Then he understood and his response was this: “From here to here (pointing to the top of head to chin) you are Jessica Alba. From here to here (pointing to my shoulders then belly button) you are Pamela Anderson. From here to here (pointing to my hips to my mid thigh) you are Jennifer Lopez.” David and I were dying laughing and sad that we couldn’t provide this hilarious guy with our business. So after freezing our butts off we decided to think more about the purchase and go back this weekend to invest in a leather jacket. After that we hiked to Piazzale Michelangelo for the sunset (terrible idea it was 15 degrees) and proceeded to freeze again but it was a great view! Saturday & Sunday David had field trip stuff, but he’s coming back this weekend to hopefully see more of Florence and go to Venice for Carnivale!

27: February 9, 2012 SIENA Last Saturday I went on a trip through my school to the Tuscan town of Siena. This town is known for its Medieval architecture, but it also has Rococo, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture, too. We were supposed to go to San Gimignano as well but the roads were too icey. This is the coldest year in Italy in 25 years! That would happen the semester I come and don’t bring a winter coat. Oh well, it should be warming up soon! Anyway, my Italian teacher took us on a walking tour of Siena. The main Duomo/Cathedral is incredible and the interior totally outshines the one in Florence. It is a medieval cathedral and was completed around the year 1260. Below is my favorite picture of the day taken inside the Siena basilica. The tiny heads you can see are some of the 127 pope busts dating from the 15th and 16th centuries starting with St. Peter and ending with Lucius III. Pretty incredible. One unique thing about Siena is that it is very hilly. The streets are very windy and are often on an incline, which is partially why this town is so charming. If you’re ever in Tuscany you should definitely check out Siena!

28: February 12, 2012 MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME My gift from David for christmas was to pick out a leather jacket in Florence (the leather capital of the world). After searching all over last weekend and again this past Friday I finally found “the one.” It’s a beautiful natural brown, hand-made in Italy, out of antelope skin (sorry vegan friends)! | February 12, 2012 THURSDAY NIGHT-BALDOVINO & KIKUYA Thursday night I took David to the restaurant where my program took me on my first night—Baldovino. The meal I had that first night was the best meal I’ve ever had still to this day! We ordered a liter of red wine, mixed crostinis with different kinds of toppings (including some sort of liver & pears), a ginormous tomato covered foccacia, the baldovino pizza, and amatriciana (a traditional italian pasta). David was quite impressed (and that means a lot coming from a Sicilian family!) After that we met my friends at an awesome english pub called Kikuya. Famous for their dragoons, a beer with 10% alcohol. The place was tiny/extremely crowded and we were standing in the hallway for a while but we finally snagged ourselves two tables in the back. They were bumping some classic American beats and girl power songs, much to David’s dismay. We saw the table next to us get this huge fish bowl type thing filled with passion fruit juice and vodka so we decided to get one too. See the pictures below. We slurped it up in approximately 30 seconds—delish!

29: February 13, 2012 VENEZIA PER CARNIVALE Saturday morning a group of us took the train (with our brand new Eurail passes one of my greatest investments so far) to Venice for the day. After a minor mishap of David and I getting off at the wrong stop we finally ended up in Venice. It was EXTREMELY freezing and what is normally a 45min walk from the train station to San Marco Square took us about 2 hours. Mainly because we were cold, and had to stop in every mask store to warm up/purchase our Carnivale apparel. My friend Yana showed us this really awesome mask store she goes to every year. Made me want to start a mask collection when I’m older out of the unique ones from that store! I ended up not buying one because all the ones I liked were pretty pricey. The walk to Piazza San Marco was an interesting one. The closer you got the more narrow the streets were. We also began to run into people dressed up like Marie Antoinette with ridiculously large skirts—a sight to see. It felt like we were in the movie Halloweentown! Everything felt pretty fairytale-like due to the festivities. Next to The San Marco Cathedral was a fountain of red wine.. that was pretty cool. However, we heard there was a free wine fountain but nothing in Venice is free or even close to it! On the square there was a big stage with commercials playing on a big screen TV and dressed up people speaking Italian into a microphone not sure what that was about. The best part of the day was the walk back to the train station. All the string lights above the streets began to turn on and seeing the glorious Rialto bridge shining in all its grandeur was the icing on the cake!

30: V E N I C E

32: February 17, 2012 "REMEBER THAT TIME I SURPRISED YOU IN ROME FOR VALENTINE'S DAY?" Not sure if we’ll ever be able to top this Valentines Day! So I decided at the last minute to surprise David and come to Rome for Valentine’s Day. I haven’t been to Rome yet and I got out of class at 2:30 so I figured, why not? If you know me, you know I’m not the sensitive/romantic type AT ALL and we usually don’t do much for Valentine’s Day, but I took the when in Rome approach! I skyped David right before I left to catch my train and told him he had to “pick up a present” at the train station took him a little bit to figure out I was coming but he was definitely surprised. I got in at 5:15pm and the last train back to Florence left at 8:45pm so we only had a few hours to work with. We hopped on the metro and got off at the Trevi Fountain stop. We had an early dinner at a really charming restaurant then were off to explore. We saw the Trevi, went inside the Pantheon, went to the Piazza Navona, and saw the Victor Emmanuel Monument all in approximately 2 hours.. pretty impressive! Rome was full of love on this holiday (apparently Valentine’s Day is big in Rome but not in Florence) and it is definitely one of the best places to be for a romantic evening with your man. And no, I did not allow David to buy me flowers or chocolate couldn’t allow myself to be that mushy gushy. And I hate roses. I’ve never heard many good things about Rome so I really didn’t have much interest in going other than to see David. Within my three hours of being there I fell in love with this city and I’m so glad I will be going two more times this semester and to check out other parts of the city! Rome is MUCH bigger than Florence and it was refreshing to be in an actual city.

33: Rome

35: Sorrento & Pompeii

37: February 20, 2012 SORRENTO & POMPEII Or as I like to call it, the land of BMWs and Audis (normal sized cars). Saturday and Sunday I went on a trip my school to Sorrento & Pompeii. For those who don’t know, Sorrento is known for its beaches and being on the Amalfi Coast. Pompeii is famous for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which buried the city and was rediscovered in 1749 (almost 1700 years later). On Saturday we explored the tiny town of Sorrento and the beach. It’s a very charming place that I can’t wait to go back to when it’s warmer! Also, they are known for their orange and lemon trees all over the place. My italian teacher said the best limoncello (an Italian liquor) comes from Sorrento and is usually shipped to other parts of Italy. On Sunday we had a hilarious guide show us the highlights of Pompeii. Like I said, the city was rediscovered in the 18th century and is still constantly undergoing excavation providing new discoveries every day. I finally got to put my 6 years of latin knowledge to use when we toured one of the biggest houses in Pompeii. Whattup Mrs. Anderson’s Roman House Game of Clue (Julius Caesar, in the triclinium, with the trident). Yes, I still remember what a triclinium is—proud of it. The most interesting aspect to the Pompeii culture was how open they were about sexual interactions. They had many brothels (i think the guide said 23) in this small town of about 20,000 people. Inside these brothels were frescoes on the walls of different sex positions. This helped to avoid the language barrier for sailors stopping in Pompeii for a night of fun. They would point to the one they wanted and you know the rest. There were also penis sculptures coming out of the buildings and in the stones on the ground pointing you to the nearest brothel. Weird. There are many other interesting historical aspects to this ancient city, but I won’t bore you any longer. Next weekend—Rome!

38: February 29, 2012 ROME DAY 1 Last Thursday I took the train to Rome and this time I actually stayed the entire weekend. We made dinner at David's apartment then went out for drinks at one of his favorite bars called Scholar's (an irish pub). A lot of his friends had just left for the weekend so it was just the two of us. After hanging out at the bar for a little while we ran into one of my neighbors from home who is actually studying abroad in Florence too--small world! Friday we had a packed day visiting ancient Rome. We went to the Roman Forum and up on top of Palatine Hill. Again, it was fun to put my latin knowledge to use and see the things I had learned about. The whole ancient area is HUGE and I was so impressed with how much is still standing. Two things I found pretty awesome about this place were the Basilica of Maxentius and the Arch of Semptimius Severus. The basilica is absolutely GINORMOUS and is the largest building in the Roman Forum. The only part left of it is the north side niches/little inlets on the side of the main aisle of the basilica. The Arch of Septimius Severus I thought was particularly cool for a few reasons. One being the view you get when standing at this little balcony right up next to it, the second being in the movie "Roman Holiday" Audrey Hepburn passed out on a bench next to the arch and it was just a really cool scene. After the Roman Forum we went to the Colosseum. It was pretty cool to compare THE Colosseum to the one I saw in Verona a few years back. One major difference is that all the seats are still in the Verona one so they can still have events in there. The Colosseum was pretty awesome overall though and it was so cool to see how it's eroded over the years (like how half of the top on one side is gone). After the Colosseum we went back and got ready for dinner. We ate at this super nice restaurant on Piazza Navona (known for the many artists who paint all day long in this very quaint piazza) and got a delicious Italian meal. Complimentary champagne and a bottle of their house wine topped it off. Afterwards we got some drinks in Trastevere and sat on the steps of a fountain in another piazza while listening to an awesome band.

39: February 29, 2012 ROME DAY 2 On Saturday we decided to have more of a relaxing day so we slept in, made some hearty omelets (one thing I really miss about the states!) and went to check out some other places in Rome. First, we went to St. Paul’s Basilica (one of the four main churches in Rome). This church is right by David’s apartment and he actually saw the Pope here a few weeks ago preside over mass. It was SUCH a beautiful day and the palm trees in the front courtyard really put me in a good mood. This church didn’t have very many tourists in it, which might have been why I enjoyed it so much. I really loved this church and the atmosphere inside. Next, we went to the Vatican. It’s free to get in so we just walked around St. Peter’s on our own. When my parents come in a few weeks we’ll go back and do a full Vatican Tour. St. Peter’s Basilica was really pretty, but to be honest I’m a little churched-out right now and wasn’t extremely impressed. I can’t wait to check out the Sistine Chapel next time though! Here’s a picture from inside the Basilica. After that we got the BEST gelato we’ve both had so far! Coconut and carmel. You could taste the fresh coconut flakes—so delicious!! Then we went to see the Spanish Steps. Which are quite literally a bunch of steps filled with tourists basking in the sun. To end the day we went to see the sunset over Rome at the top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument. I love the way the orange sunset light hit the buildings. Next up: SPRING BREAK 2012!! Headed to Ireland (Cork, Galway Dublin), London, and Brussels!


42: March 1, 2012 SB '12 ITINERARY Just finished my last midterm and life is good. As much as I hate to leave the absolutely gorgeous almost-70-degree weather in Florence, I can't wait to embark on my Spring Break journey! It's going to be one whirlwind of a week but I cannot wait! See below for my "itinerary": --Thursday, March 1--Train to Rome and stay the night. --Friday, March 2--Fly from Rome to Cork, Ireland. Spend a few hours in Cork then take a bus up to Galway, Ireland. Spend the night in Galway. --Saturday, March 3--Day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. Spend the night in Galway. --Sunday, March 4--Bus from Galway to Dublin in the morning. --Monday, March 5--Dublin --Tuesday, March 6--Fly from Dublin to London. --Wednesday, March 7--London --Thursday, March 8--London. Take a train in the evening to Brussels. --Friday, March 9--Brussels --Saturday, March 10--Fly back to Rome in the afternoon. Spend the night in Rome --Sunday, March 11--Train from Rome back to Florence. | March 12, 2012 IRELAND Ireland, my homeland, I love you. We had a flight from Rome early Friday morning and took a flight to Cork, Ireland. I knew next to nothing about Cork, but a family friend studied there a few years ago so we decided to check it out for a few hours, and I am so glad I did! Cork was a very charming town with so much character. The streets were filled with locals ending their work day early and beginning to gather at the pubs. Signs for live music were everywhere! We got some pub food at a pub called Al Spain Fnac, wandered around a bit more then got some irish coffee at another local pub. The crowd was a bit older (30-60 year olds) but still seemed like a fun bunch. Then we took a bus from Cork to Galway. We checked into our hostel then decided to scope out the town. We'd heard a bar called the King's Head was the best in town so when we stumbled upon it naturally we had to see for ourselves. The bar was huge and packed with locals. One of the most interesting crowds of I've seen. People of all ages, the most dressed up people and some of the least. The band totally killed it and had a great set. American rock tunes as well as some Irish ones. And the best version of Galway Girl I've ever heard!

43: March 12, 2012 IRELAND Saturday we went on a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher (a MUST do) which were incredible!! It reminded me of the cliffs from the movie shutter island. The cliffs rise about 390 feet above the ocean. At the top you can even feel mist from the waves crashing below! Our bus tour also took us around the County Clare/Burren region which was really awesome too. We got to see a ton of wildlife and the beautiful Irish countryside. You really can't make a trip to Ireland without seeing the countryside. We also saw some surfers... they are nuts. The waves in this region can get up to 50-70ft high! Needless to say, seeing them crash against the cliff walls is pretty spectacular. Saturday night we went out to the King's Head again and to a pub we happened to walk into on the other side of the river called Monroe's. We were definitely the only foreigners there which is what made it awesome. A great irish folk band jammed the night away. Every bar/pub we went to had mostly 30-50 year olds and yes they still know how to have a pretty good time. I was impressed and can only hope to be like them! Sidenote, we saw about 8 "hens" aka bachelorette parties... there must be something about Galway that makes people want to get married! Sunday morning we went to Dublin. We did the guinness tour which was awesome and another must do! Ireland has made me fall in love with not only the country itself but also guinness (never thought id like a dark beer let alone beer itself), bulmers (a cider), and jameson. I didn't like Dublin as much as Galway and Cork (because they were more charming and had more character) but it was still a great time because the Irish are such a great breed of people! We also saw the sites and after David left us girls hit up TK Maxx (yep the UK version) and Top Shop. Came out with a few good finds. Overall, I love Ireland and I now believe it's a sin to go to a bar/pub without live music and an irish drink in your hand. Everyone who's seen PS I Love You... yes, I heard the song Galway Girl live every night in Ireland. Be jealous. Every night out in Ireland is like a TL party.. what more could be better? Now when can I get the Burgoon clan to make a family trip out here?

44: The Cliffs | of Moher

46: March 12, 2012 LONDON Tuesday morning Anna, Allie, and I took a flight from Dublin to London. My friend from growing up, Lauren Miller, is studying abroad there for the year and she was kind enough to let us crash at her place. We met her at her dorm (which btw she has a STELLAR location next to London Bridge) to drop off our packs. After that we took the tube to Camden Market (another must do) which was AWESOME!! There were a ton of different stands offering all kinds of different goods, from clothing to jewelry to home goods. I would've bought the whole place if pounds didn't have the worst exchange rate on the planet! It also had the coolest vintage shops I have ever seen (they don't allow pictures inside so I don't have any) so we easily spent hours there. They had food from literally all over the world which was interesting since we only get italian food here. Wednesday we went on the London Eye, which is definitely the best way to see London! We got caught in a torrential downpour right before so we look like wet dogs in my pics, but the background is cool. The pods on the Eye had water droplets on them from the rain in case you were wondering what that is on my pictures. My Pi Phi friend from Mizzou, Carlie McGuire, is studying in London went on the Eye with us too--it was great seeing her! Afterwards we took a bus tour of London, which is also another great way to get some history and your bearings on London. We got indian food for dinner (which I've never had before and surprisingly really liked) then went to see the musical "We Will Rock You," which is a tribute to the band Queen. The show had a weak plot and weak writing but the music was AWESOME and it was so fun to hear Queen's greatest hits. Thursday we went to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels exhibit (another must see). The exhibit had crowns from multiple kings and queens and some are still being used. It was incredible seeing the detail and the hundreds of gems studded all over the crowns. I ran into another friend from growing up, Lindsay Peterson, in the Tower of London too... such a small world! Afterwards we went to Abbey Road, which was one of the highlights of the trip. It was funny seeing all the tourists walking back and forth trying to get a good picture and avoid being hit by the many cars that traveled this road (and yes we were included in being "those" tourists). We also got to sign the wall in front of Abbey Studios. Then it was time to say goodbye to london and hello to brussels... via chunnel!

47: March 12, 2012 BRUSSELS Last Thursday Allie took a train from London to Brussels, thanks to the chunnel! We took the metro to our hostel, got some tastey thai food, then settled in for the night. Friday we got up early to explore Brussels. First we ate belgian waffles on the Grand Place, then saw Manneken Pis, got frites (belgian fries), wandered the streets for a bit then decided to take the metro out to the Parc du Cinquantaire. We didn’t realize how quickly you can see Brussels! In retrospect I would’ve taken a day trip to Bruges on that Friday but oh well. I was also surprised by how large Brussels is and by how much “new city” there is. Only the main area has old and very unique architecture. Friday night we went to a place called Delerium. There they sell 2,004 beers! I was sipping on Floris Cactus all night a beer made out of cactus juice! It was actually quite tastey. Allie and I ended up having quite the wild night, including getting a free pot of mussels and drinking 2,200 euro champagne. High rollers over here. No, I just know who to make friends with :) Saturday we got a bit of a late start. Our goals were to get belgian chocolate and that we did! Before we knew spring break was over and we had to catch our shuttle to the airport to fly back to Rome!

48: London

49: Brussels

50: March 15, 2012 BACK HOME IN FIRENZE and couldn't be happier :) I haven't really ever been homesick before, but I was SO very homesick for Italy during the second half of my spring break!! As much as I loved getting to see Ireland, London, and Brussels, it made me realize how Americanized they are (probably because they are big cities) and that I do NOT want to go back to the U.S.!! I didn't realize how I've grown to love all the things about Italy that used to be frustrating at first. Mostly I missed attempting to speak in italian when ordering food and the history/architecture of Florence! I love how much of a cultural experience I am getting living in Florence and traveling over spring break made me realize how grateful I am for the program I chose. When I got off the plane in Rome I couldn't have been more excited... I truly felt at home in this country. This entire week I have been feeling so grateful for my surroundings and the amazing opportunity I've had to live here. So many things made me feel so blessed this week... even something as simple as the gorgeous walk to my 8:30am class! I was so eager to see my group of new found friends and hear about their breaks, too! It's amazing how close we've all gotten. We're all starting to freak out anytime someone brings up the fact that we only have two months left, so we've banned that from all conversations. I'm so glad I will be in Italy for most of my weekends left--gotta live it up while you can! After all, how many times do you live in Italy? Hope it's not just once for me :)

51: April 2, 2012 ROMA & FIRENZE WITH THE FAM My parents and brothers flew out to Italy to visit and travel the country for 10 days! Steven got in a bit earlier than Ryan and my parents so we found a nice Irish Pub and hung out there for a few hours. The weekend in Rome was filled with tastey Italian dinners (and making Italian friends who gave us one too many free shots of limoncello) and seeing the sights of Rome. I'd already been there twice before so it all kinda blended in to me, but it was fun to do it with my brothers and parents. The weekend was pretty jam packed then they were off to Assisi and Venice on Sunday evening while I headed back to Florence for class. Last Tuesday Ryan, Steven, and my parents got to Florence. I took them to a fun family style restaurant called Il Gatto e La Volpe then gave them a little tour of the city. Wednesday I took them to the leather & food markets. We had a field day at the food market! I went to my favorite vendor and we got Steven 1/2 kg. of pecorino cheese, 1/2kg. of parmesan cheese, and 1/2 kg. of milano salami. They offered free vaccuum packaging so it was his lucky day! He doesn't have any form of a refrigerator in Ghana so hopefully they can last! After that the boys tried on some Venetian masks in the market and both got one. We went to the Boboli gardens and saw the Apartments in the Pitti Palace which definitely rivaled Versailles in France! I was amazed by how lavishly decorated they were. After that we went up in the Dome of the Duomo. Quite the claustrophobic hike, but there were great views at the top! Wednesday night we were walking to the other side of the river to get dinner and happened to run into my neighbor at home, Jack Rigali... small world. He joined the us for dinner and we had fun catching up. Thursday morning I took them to Piazzale Michelangelo (known for its exceptional view of the city). We happened to see FOUR wedding parties... on a Thursday morning... weird. None of them were Italian so we came to the conclusion it was a quadruple destination wedding. I had class after that so my brothers and parents went to the Accademia to see the David statue and went in the Santa Croce church (where Dante, Galileo, and Michelangelo's tombs are). Later that afternoon we left for Cinque Terre!

52: R O M E

53: F L O R E N C E

54: April 2, 2012 CINQUE TERRE Cinque Terre means "5 lands" in Italian. These 5 villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso and they are known for being seaside towns in the Italian Riviera with brightly colored buildings and great hiking. You can actually hike to each of the 5 towns (or take the train). For those of you who don't know, this past October the towns of Vernazza and Monterosso had a major land slide We got into the town of Monterosso, where we stayed, in the evening on Thursday. We read of a fabulous restaurant recommendation (courtesy of Rick Steve's) and it happened to be the only restaurant on the water in Monterosso that was open. According to his recommendation we tried the seafood soup which was INCREDIBLE! On Friday we set out for a hiking day. Due to the mudslides all of the trails except one (Via Dell'Amore, from Riomaggiore to Manarola) were closed. The lady at the front desk of our hotel told us she did Monterosso to Vernazza a few weeks ago and it was fine so we pushed aside the sign that said it was closed and went along our merry way. After a little while we realized the path we were on wasn't exactly "fine." We were on the edge of a cliff, 400 meters above the sea, and grabbing onto weeds while the rocks were falling beneath our feet. After checking the map we discovered we weren't on the main path and had to head back if we wanted to make it home alive. The real path was quite charming, despite the zillions of stairs. It felt like the Secret Garden meets Inca Trail. The hike took us about 2 hours once we reached Vernazza. After that we took the train to Riomaggiore and did the Via Dell'Amore (Lover's Lane in english) hike which was all flat and only took about 20 minutes. Each town had so much character and I cannot wait to get back at the end of the month! | April 2, 2012 AMALFI COAST The Amalfi Coast in Italy includes the towns of Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Salerno. After Cinque Terre we took the train down to Naples and then took a ferry over to Sorrento. Chrissy B just HAD to take a ferry so we waited 3 hours for it after getting misleading information from multiple uncooperative Italians. The ferry was pretty cool looked kinda like an airplane on the inside! I got really excited when I saw everyone got a blanket under their seat, but then Ryan informed me they were actually life vests lame.

55: Once we got to Sorrento we checked into our hotel which was right on the main street in Sorrento. The interior was super quaint and had a Colorado yet tropical feel. I was a big fan. We also had a loft in our room so naturally Ryan called that immediately. The town had completely transformed from the last time I was there in February. The place was totally hopping with people everywhere. Sorrento seems a lot like Naples, Florida to mean. Fun, upscale, family vacation type feel. Saturday we waited for almost 2 hours in bus lines awesome. The Italians aren’t big on waiting in line. They’re the big bad people who cut you in line. Luckily, Big Steve stood up to a few of them and motioned where the end of the line is. He showed them! When the bus finally came, naturally only half of us were let on while the other half would have to wait for the next bus. The bus ride was interesting to say the least. We just missed crashing into another bus by a hair and the bus driver had to honk before going around every sea-cliff curve to be sure no cars hit him. Oh and I can’t believe no one barfed from motion sickness. Words of the wise: DO NOT go on this bus ride hungover! Anyway, we arrived in Positano shortly after. No buses can access the city so we meandered our way down the narrow streets and staircases. This town is known for its many shops, boutiques, and of course art (like the rest of Italy). But that’s pretty much about it. The appearance of it seemed a bit dingey and not as pretty as I had expected. Maybe it’s because it’s not tourist season yet? I’m not sure. But I did notice all the artists who were painting Positano used much brighter colors for the building and completely over-exaggerated what it actually looked like. We wanted to go to Amalfi, too, but we wouldn’t have been able to explore Sorrento so we decided to head back, much to Chrissy B’s dismay (she wanted to look at the single sight seeing attraction in Amalfi according to Rick Steve’s a cathedral, surprise surprise). We had seafood almost every night the past week and let me tell you, I don’t think I could ever get sick of seafood! mmm mmm mm delish. The five of us (to clarify, Dani and Jacquie were not in attendance—they were dearly missed) had a wonderful time and I’m so glad they could all make it out here to see this lovely country I live in! I’ll see Ryan and my parents again at the end of May and Steven not until next Winter Break (if all goes well). Next up—Croatia this weekend for Easter. Cross your fingers for me that it won’t rain every day like the forecast currently says it will!

56: C I N Q U E T E R R E

57: A M A L F I C O A S T

58: April 17, 2012 SPLIT CROATIA For Easter weekend I went to Split, Croatia with my roommate along with hundreds of other study abroad kids with the company Bus2Alps. All of my other good friends on my program went to Crete, Greece, but for the past few years I've really been wanting to go to Croatia... it was the one trip I really wanted to make sure I do! We left Thursday night at 9pm and arrived Friday morning at 9am... 12 hour bus ride of awesomeness. On Friday we checked into the hostel then set out with 10 other girls to the island of Brac, where the famous Golden Horn beach is located. We took an hour long ferry to the island. The beach was actually on the other side of the island so we crammed 11 girls into a taxi to go to the beach. We ate lunch at a quaint restaurant on the water then went to find the beach. We finally saw it but didn't have enough time to actually go there an lay out since we had to catch the ferry back. Next time I go to Croatia I am definitely making a whole day out of going to the Golden Horn beach! Saturday I went with a few other girls to the market and got food to picnic on the beach. The weather was not in our favor. It was ~50 degrees and a storm was rolling in. We left just before the storm hit. That night I went with a few other girls to a nearby Medieval town called Trogir and got dinner there. Croatian cuisine is pretty similar to Italian food and there's lots of seafood! It was really fun to get to meet other girls also studying in Florence from around the country. Sunday morning two girls in my room and I went on a hike to get a view of the town of Split and nearby islands. The views were incredible and it was nice to be out in nature. It's officially rainy season in the entire Mediterranean--it started to pour when we got back. Sunday night we had a classic Croatian meal which was delicious! Then a group of about 8 of us went to see the Hunger Games. I read all the books and the movie was pretty good. Monday morning we started our journey back to Italy at 8:30am. Stopped in the Krka Waterfalls National Park for a few hours then passed through Slovenia and Italy (with tons Easter weekend traffic) arriving in Florence at 11:30pm! Overall a great weekend spent with amazing new friends. Wish the weather had been better for us, but I guess I'll have to go back!

59: C R O A T I A

60: Amsterdam

62: April 17, 2012 AMSTERDAM This past weekend I went to Amsterdam with my good friend from home, Stef Tollefsen, David & his friends from Rome, and 2 friends on my program. Stef's studying in Copenhagen for the semester but she was in Italy for her spring break. She stayed with me Wednesday night then we headed out on Thursday morning. Arrived after a long travel day to the St. Christopher's at the Winston Hostel (where we were for 25% of the trip... great bar). Went to the infamous Burger Bar to have the greatest burger of my life. David however had a different experience eating slightly undercooked chicken. He's still bitter. We then went out to shoot some cue and chill. At one of the bars we saw our friends in David's fraternity Nick Howard & Trace Loptein passing by. They joined us for the rest of the night and it was fun catching up. They're both studying in Spain. Friday we went to the Heineken brewery tour then met up with my friends from my program, Anna & Kim. After that we just wandered the city going in and out of coffee shops and bars playing pool. Ate wok to walk for dinner... great wok right there. Amsterdam doesn't have much authentic dutch food but it was nice to eat something different than italian! Saturday we all rented bikes. Us girls went to the Anne Frank House which was great. Wish I got to do/see more WWII related things this semester but I'm glad I at least got to see that! Went to the Pancake Bakery (best pancakes in europe) for lunch then rode our bikes to the "iamsterdam" sign and took some touristy pics. Had an intense bike ride through the city back to drop off our bikes. I almost nailed a few people but luckily i veered into a moving car instead. Win. Sunday we got some Mexican food for lunch then headed back to Italy! | April 24, 2012 A LOVELY FLORENTINE WEEKEND This past weekend I stayed in Florence. As much as I wanted to go to Springfest in Munich, Germany I knew I would want another weekend here and would need the time to work on my finals projects for interior design, art history, and drawing. On Friday I went to my friends apartment and worked on homework for a total of 14 hours... Stan Fam style. I would be ok with never having to use google sketchup and 3Ds max again... WOOO for 3D renderings!

63: Saturday I again worked all day long and it finally hit me. I'm only here for 3 more weeks and I just need to pass these classes. Who cares about my portfolio. It was a beautiful day and I was regretting sitting inside on a beautiful day like this doing homework.. it's not worth it. So we went to dinner at Quattro Leoni and got the most amazing pear filled tortellini. I haven't even gone out for italian food since my parents were here! The life of a poor study abroad student. Afterwards we got gelato and hung out on the bridge across from the Ponte Vecchio just chatting and soaking up the night lights along the Arno. We walked around Florence checking out all the hoppin' squares--felt like our first week again! We've been so busy lately we haven't gotten to enjoy Florence. Then we wrapped up the night at our favorite bar, Kikuya and got a few Dragoons. Sunday I really needed to get work done but again, it was a beautiful day and I decided I was not going to waste it like I did yesterday. So a few of my friends and I made chicken salad then went to the Bardini gardens, located next to the Boboli gardens but are 10x better, for a picnic. It was absolutely beautiful and so peaceful--the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but the best way to celebrate Earth Day! It was so nice to relax after all this traveling and see more of our home base, Florence. I'm truly going to miss everything about this city. Yesterday morning my drawing teacher took us to a rose garden (after getting coffee with her of course, my favorite) to try our hand at watercolor. She gave us the materials we needed then set us free, without any direction on how to do watercolor... it's is something I've always wanted to try so I was really excited. It was the best way to start a Monday morning even if it was 8:30am. A nice sunny day, the smell of fresh cut grass, overlooking Florence and water-coloring in the garden. One thing I love about Florence is everyone treats you as a real artist. They come watch you for a few minutes then leave saying "bellissimo!" with a smile on their face. So neat seeing people stop to enjoy the simple things in life. On Thursday we have our schools fashion show (a HUGE deal) then Friday morning David and I are leaving for Cinque Terre.. can't wait to go back and spend more time in the lovely sea towns!

64: May 3, 2012 CINQUE TERRE ROUND 2 Last weekend David and I went to Cinque Terre. I went last month with my family, but it's easily my favorite place so I was down to go again! We had an awesome weekend filled with beautiful weather, hiking, laying on the beach, swimming in the Adriatic sea (i'm pretty sure it's saltiest water on the planet), and eating lots of delicious seafood accompanied by wonderful white wine and limoncello. Heaven on Earth? Yes. We stayed in the town of Monterosso, the only one with a beach, then hiked to Vernazza, trained it to Riomaggiore, and hiked back to Manarola. The only one of the 5 towns I have yet to see is Corniglia. Friday we had dinner at Ristorante Belvedere in Monterosso (this restaurant kills it) and got lots of mussels with homemade pasta! SUPER good. Saturday we ate at a restaurant right next to the water in Manarola and got to catch the sunset over the sea. David got pasta with clams and mussels while I got homemade tagliatelle with crab. Once again a fantastic meal in an incredible place. I think Manarola was my favorite of the 4 towns I've been to. Next stop: the Amalfi Coast! This will be the last weekend that all my study abroad friends will be together... hope we don't shed too many drunken tears!

65: C I N Q U E | T E R R E

68: May 10, 2012 AMALFI COAST ROUND 3 Last weekend I went to the Amalfi Coast with about 15 people from my program and met up with a bunch from David's, too. On Friday we spent the day on the island of Capri--a short boat ride from where we stayed in Sorrento. We started off with a boat tour around the island and got to check out the Blue Grotto. I was surprised how small is--you squeeze 4 people into a row boat and have to lay down as you pass through the tiny hole to get into the grotto. The water was magnificently blue, but that was pretty all there was to the blue grotto! The terrain on the island was awesome... everyone agreed that it resembled something from Jurassic Park or Avatar. After the boat tour we took a chair lift to the top of the island and hung out up there enjoying some brews and the spectacular view. That night we went out in Sorrento to a super fun beer garden and got our dance on! Saturday we went to the town of Positano for the day. It was chilly and cloudy in the morning so we all hibernated under towels until the sun came out. We took a boat to go cliff jumping in the afternoon. The water was FREEZING but cliff jumping was awesome and being out on the sea was a great time. I'm not a huge fan of Positano but we still had a great day. Saturday night we hung out at our hostel's bar, which was actually pretty hoppin' with plenty of locals for the live music. Near the end of the night we hung out on the rooftop terrace chatting under the moonlight. Overall we had an awesome weekend and a great way to spend my last weekend with my study abroad friends. On Saturday everyone is flying back to the States and our 4 month long European adventure will come to a close. Luckily, I get to stay an extra week in Cinque Terre & Florence with my sister, Jacquie, and David's parents--there's no other way I'd like to spend it!

69: P O S I T A N O & C A P R I

72: H O M E S W E E T H O M E

73: F L O R E N C E

74: Visitors: Jacquie, Big D & Little N

75: “A funny thing about traveling is in retrospect it seems so glamorous. That photo of you in front of the let's say London Eye is so fabulous and surreal; you were actually there! When in all actuality, you were just caught in a torrential downpour and look like a wet dog (true story). Traveling the world seems as glamorous as a magazine page, but its life. It's real. And it can be a reality for you, too.” --Me | “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” --Miriam Beard | “Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore some dark alleys. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.” --Lawrence K. Fish | “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” - St. Augustine

76: May 31, 2012 LONG OVERDUE REFLECTION... I've been back in the states for 10 days now. The first few days were weird, but everything fell back into place pretty quickly. It was like the past semester was a dream; like I was a different person. Now I'm back to the life I left. It's easy to fall back into my old habits-ones my study abroad self wasn't fond of-and I'm trying my best to fight them. I was really nervous about leaving Italy--I felt like I could live there for the next few years and be totally fine with it (so maybe I'll have to get a home in Cinque Terre... who wants to visit?) I thought I would hate being in the U.S. but much to my surprise, I'm actually really enjoying being here, and only a few little things bother me (like grocery stores--we don't need that many options!) Obviously I do miss Italy, but I've realized that all good things must come to an end, and it's time to make some cash money because let's face it, I'll be in debt to my parents for the better part of the next decade. This past semester taught me so many life lessons that no person or class can ever teach. I learned so much about life and how I want to live mine. For the first time in years I actually reflected on my day to day life and gave some good thought to the person I want to be. It's crazy how fast-paced life is over here and it's important to slow down every once in a while to make time for yourself. It was also really nice to give school the middle finger every now and then and have a good time with good company (shout out to my Florence girls!) So to those of you thinking about studying abroad... "I regret studying abroad"--said no one EVER. Get out there and do it--it'll be worth your while. And to the majority of people in this world who don't have the opportunity to study abroad... take a stay-cation and make time for yourself to reflect on where you are in this journey of life and who you want to be. Or if you have the means to travel abroad do it. Experience other cultures. Soak it all in and learn about the amazing people and places on this Earth. Thanks for your continued support this semester and reading about my travels!

77: Tangible memories

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  • By: Ali B.
  • Joined: over 7 years ago
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  • Title: Ali's Semester Abroad 2012
  • Pictures from my time abroad in Florence, Italy and around Europe.
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  • Published: about 6 years ago