I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do…

… I’m gonna start blogging again. I haven’t in forever and I think it’s important to go through your work. I take so many pictures that if they don’t wind up on social media, I never see them again- which is just plain sad. So I’m going through my archives and I’m going to start editing a bit. I mean editing is a part of the job isn’t it? So a cheers ‘to editing’!

Here is a couple images from my Spring break in Florida, California and Laguna Beach. It was beach season. I’ll leave it at that. 

Greece, Florence, France and the Amalfi Coast

I’m heading into my last week in Rome, sad to say goodbye but also excited to trek around Europe with Ryan.
I realize I haven’t updated for a little bit and wanted to share some photos from my weekend trips! I went to Greece a couple weeks ago with a few girls to an island called Corfu. Rated one of the clearest waters in the world, it didn’t disappoint. It was incredibly relaxing and the hostel treated us like family. All the food for breakfast and dinner was grown at their far…did I mention greek salads with every meal! Staying at hostels are always fun because you meet so many people from all over the world in the middle of their journey. They were surprised we were only here for 3 months. Some had been traveling for over a year while others 6 months, and they considered that to be a short time abroad! Did I mention I got burnt? The weeks that ensued made me regret not going out of my way for sunscreen.
Florence! Spur of the moment, Megan and I decided the night before to get our tickets and go with Sarah and Dawn. We left at 6am and only a two hour train ride, we arrived at 8am to wander. The town is more quaint and renaissance feeling than I expected. Compared to Rome, it had less locals and more tourists. I got to see the famous jewelry bridge, Il Duomo di Firenze (the big cathedral), statue of David, and some of the leather works. Heard some familiar names I recognized from my high school history class such as the Medici family and Dante. I picked up some street art and checked out all the handmade leather, it was a trip you must do if you visit Italy.

France. Got to visit my favorite family:) Spent the weekend with Sybille, my international sister. I was glad I was able to finally understand something from another language….I was able to watch France play in the World Cup, and also watch the French go crazy, well just Sybille’s family;) One day we ventured to Marseille and drove our way to the top to overlook the massive city. It was incredibly huge. Then another day we went to a lake, but compared to American standards, this lake was pristine. The south of France is spectacular with rolling hills of lavender and little castle towns nestled in. Loved visiting my other family!

Now, the Amalfi Coast. You’ve read this far, and I saved the best for last. I went there to assist a wedding with my internship, but it almost didn’t happen because the photographer had a little bit of a bike accident. She ended up not making it there. Instead I went alone, but another photographer stepped in to cover for her and said it would be okay if I helped. The people there were kind to me, some of the kindest I’ve met. They took me, a lone traveler and young girl, under their wing and went out of their way to assist me and get me settled. This trip was also visual overload. I was staying at the peak town of Ravello, outlooking two bays and Salerno in the distance. How to describe this view! The cliffs are terraced with scented lemon groves and mazed streets leading to eloquent villas and perfectly cut gardens. I wandered for hours in the mornings and evenings, always planning a way to sit and rest with this view in front of me.
The wedding was one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced. They were an Australian and Irish couple, with about 30 people in all. The Amalfi coast is a very popular wedding destination, I mean very, very popular. I would say it’s their main commerce, and with that view I understand why. After the service, the couple walked the streets and square followed by two guitarists and a line of their friends and family. The wife kept exclaiming “it still hasn’t hit me yet!” And I could see why in place like that, with the man she loved, and her closest family celebrating with her. I was happy because they were happy. Happy and in love. As the newly married couple entered the party, the melodies of the my favorite classic “At Last” started to play, it was a dream that I never wanted to wake up from. So happy for this couple and that I was able to get this opportunity to assist on this wedding. I’ll never forget it. Well, if I could forget the amount of stairs I had to walk up for that wedding, I might sleep a little better at night!

I’ll blog soon about the end of my stay in Italy, before Ryan and I take off to conquer Europe!

xoxo Panda in Roma

Living in Beauty

I’m entering my third week here in Rome and I’m finally accustomed to day-to-day life. I have to get my cappuccino everyday, eat my extra serving of bread and pasta, and do my hour commute on a stuffed bus. The weather has perked up to about 90 degrees today and doesn’t look like it will go down anytime soon. Hopefully I start seeing some Italians wearing shorts so I know it’s socially acceptable to put them on too. I don’t know how these women dress in black and wear pants,and the men dress in suits. I’ve debated taking my clothes off and jumping in a fountain, thinking I could pull off the “it’s ok, she’s just a crazy tourist doing crazy things,” but then I realized I actually live here and I could be arrested. (Amanda Knox part II?)

This week I did a couple of fun things such as seeing the Trevi at night, passing by the Coliseum and going out to an Italian bar. As you might have seen on my Facebook, I wished for everyone to get a donut ;) Just trying to fight world hungry, ya know? I enjoy these little adventures, I’m determined not to stay in ever. Why would I when I could see Rome?

On an exciting note, I did book a flight to Greece next weekend for some beautiful beach time! I’m predicting a relaxing weekend for me. I’ve never seen clear and blue water before so I’m excited for this adventure! Photos will be put up of course.

As cheesy as it sounds, I still cannot believe I’m walking the streets of Rome. It’s a city of beauty. From speaking and interacting with locals, I’ve really noticed the Italians’ affinity towards beauty and life. They enjoy loving their land and people, and they understand how lucky they are to live where they do. My professor described it as “you don’t have to have agreat career in Italy to have a great quality of life…you walk 20 minutes to see the Coliseum while others pay 2,000 dollars to see it for a couple hours.”I see this appreciation in every aspect of their living. I believe they love deeper, observe longer and smile wider. I find myself looking at some of the buildings thinking “this is not practical or sustainable,” but then I realize they don’t care what so ever. It’s how that building looks, the aesthetic beauty of it that matters most because they have to stand to see it everyday. Italians extend those precious and rare moments like walking by an old vined building,enjoying a marvelous cappuccino, conversing under a Roman fountain, moments people like me try to cling on to, into a type of lifestyle. I think I could stand to be here my whole life if just to learn to live these moments forever as they do.

Until next time,

Manda in Roma

Wine, Pasta and Italiano

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:”“; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}Chao! I made it to Rome and I’m so excited to spend the nextthree months in Europe. I’m staying in an apartment with five other girls in aneighborhood called Prati, which is about a 20 minute walk to the Vatican. Niceeh? Speaking of walking….let’s just say I’ve been lost every single time I’vewalked out my front door. And it’s more than just a few blocks, try about amile sometimes. Oh and did I mention I don’t speak Italian? Hopefully that paints a little picture of the struggle it’s been getting around this place.

Nonethless, it’s beautiful here. So I don’t mind getting lost. The first day I was walking around our school in the heart of Rome when BOOM! I’m at Piazza de Navona. And then BOOM!I’m at the Pantheon. And then I hear our tour guide nonchalantly say “ah yes,Michelangelo did the trim on this building right there….” It’s one thing toread about these places and people, but seeing it leaves me speechless. I need to get better at my street photography (photos above!)
Little things I’ve learned:
-Don’t take a rose from street vendors or they WILL stalk you
-Is that the building names? Nope, try the street name
- Close your eyes and cross the road and basically commit suicide.
-I haven’t seen overly obese Italiana, they must be doing something right
-Warning: Cheap wine is poisonous, but good wine is only 5 euros!
-The buses are always late
- Gelato makes me cry, there is no going back to ice cream. (especially froyo)

  • Men whistle, yell, stare and grope you, but only onspecial occasion does the groping happen
  • Coffee breaks in class are a regular thing. I’m definitelyokay with that
    -The bill is never split, and don’t ask
    -Park wherever you feel like it
    -Dogs can go wherever. And where dogs go, poop will be sure to follow.

I’ve also learned not to walk alone and I made this mistake the other night. Ithought oh the river will have people walking by it and I started down the roadnext to it. Then I found myself on a stretch where there weren’t many peoplearound and this biker comes by. He slows down and starts speaking Italian,which I have no clue what he is saying. I return by saying “No thank you!”
“Ahhh you American?! You from Miami?” Seriously, Miami dude?
“Ahh no,” I say.
Silence follows for a bit in which he breaks by randomly pointing forward andsaying “Me, you, Cappuccino?”
I believe he is now hitting on me and I’m sorry to say a Cappuccino is notgoing to win me over.
“No, grazie.”
He continues, not kidding, to ask me seven more times in different variations.
“Cappuccino, you like? Me, you go?”
“No, grazie”
“You American, me, you go there Cappuccino.”
“No, grazie”
He even wanted me to get on his front handle bars and ride on them. Lets pauseand think about how awkward that would be for me to attempt to do that……Ok now letsstop thinking about it.
How did I get out of this sticky situation? Well, I heard some American’sspeaking ahead of me and I yelled “Samantha!” and ran after them like I knewthem. Obviously confused, they just went along with it and ended up beingreally nice New York girls. Crisis averted. So that’s my story of meeting mysoul mate here in Italy. I know you all are jealous because lets face it, everyone wants to be asked to go out out for a Cappuccino with a guy that knows fourwords in the English language. More stories to come I’m sure. For now, Chao!

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