September 26, 2009

The Most Perfect Day

If someone asked you what the best day of your life was, what would you say? Up until this point I don't know that I would have an answer, but yesterday supplied me with one 24 hour period that I can truly say was the best day of my life.At 7:30 in the morning, nine college students left the convent and took a bus to the train station. None of us had traveled in Italy before, and none of us knew how to buy train tickets....and we
quickly learned that no one knew how to read them we missed our train

After hopping on another, we reached our destination and all was well when we arrived in Sperlonga, until we looked around and couldn't find the beach! Chris went and questioned a taxi driver who informed us of just exactly how far away from the beach we were: 17 Kilometers

Just as we were wondering what to do, a bus drove up with "Sperlonga" displayed on the
front...soooo we got in.

There was a jolt of excitement that went through the group when
we finally saw the ocean ahead of us. Running onto that beach and letting the warm waves of the Mediterranean was immediately calming.

For the rest of the day we did a whole lot of nothing...swimming, walking on the beach, and collecting sea shells. After a long, active week, it was wonderful to sit on the beach and just take in the beauty around me.

In the afternoon the whole group came together and this video will give you an idea of what we did:

It was also Erik's first time to the sea, so we had to give him a memorable experience:

For dinner we decided to have a picnic on the beach so a few of us
girls found a local grocery store. The
owner, a little old Italian man, spoke no English, but was so pleased to serve us. After quite a while we left with fresh bread, tomatoes, ham, and fresh mosarella. As we were leaving, the man gave us a gift of fresh basil to go with our meal.

Blankets spread out on the beach, we said a prayed and began our meal. We all were talking and laughing while eating some of the best food I've ever tasted.

The sun was setting in the distance. Friends were all around me. And I was at the Mediterranean sea.

The day ended with two of my friends and I
standing the the sea, holding hands and thanking our amazing God for the wonders he has given us.

This truly was the most wonderful day of my life. It was one of those rare experiences where everything is just as it should be. Even when you find out the bus stops running at eight - you learn something new, like you really can fit 10 people in a taxi!

These are the experiences I can for, and I praise God everyday that I am fortunate enough to be here.

September 24, 2009

A Day at Pompeii

The rest of the day was alright. Lisa and I got very lost in the enormous city and somehow ended up outside of the city walls lol Please don't ask me how we got there.

In the end we made it out alive, and although our feet were sore, it was really amazing to be able to walk in that city think about what it would have been like 2,700 years ago. I got to walk where the citizens of that town walked. To sit where they sat, enter their homes, and see the remains of amazing works of art.

When you are seeing and touching something so old, it is hard to explain the rush on emotions. In America, there is nothing to compares this too. Our nation is simply only a few hundred year old...

Sooo, all of this to say that just being here opens up a whole new set of emotions. It hard to sort myself out because I've never experienced or felt anything like this and I am wondering if I'll ever get used to it.

Well, I gotta run and pack for the weekend...
....Did I mention I'm going camping on the Mediterranean?

September 21, 2009

Family Dinner

Tonights cooking group not only prepared an excellent meal, but also a great venue for community building.

They pushed our three separate tables into one large one. The meal was spread out and the table set all lit by candle light. For the first time, the entire group was able to sit all together and share a meal.

We talked and ate and felt like one big happy family :)

My First Weekend in Rome

For those of you who faithfully check my blog, I must beg your forgiveness. I have not been updating as much as I would like to due to the craziness of this past week. However - I am going to do my best to post updates every day or two for you reading pleasure ;)

So, this last weekend was my first in Rome and it was absolutely AMAZING!

First of all, my weekend started on Friday (hurray for three day weekends!) and I was able to do some homework and then that night went out with some friends for a wonderful dinner at a local pizzeria. The owner, who sported some very black eyebrows that contrasted with his very white hair, spoke to us completely in Italian. In response, we attempted to express our immense approval of the meal.

Then topped it off with some amazing gelato. Strawberry and melon are my new favorite flavors.

Saturday was going to be a homework day....yeah that doesn't work out so well when you're in Rome. I frittered the day away and went exploring in the afternoon. Lisa and I found the Piazza Navona - oh was it beautiful. Musician playing, beautiful architecture, artists displaying their works...this was Italy!

Then, Saturday night was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went with one of the girls in my group to meet her Italian relatives. She's never met them before, so it was an exciting experience for all! We met up with her two cousins (one of which is an Italian rock star) their wives and friends and sat down to eat a meal together.

But this was no ordinary meal. The first course entailed a large basket of various sausages and about 15 other appetizer dishes that were passed around the table. Cheeses and zucchini, and eggplant, and sausage....mmmmm was it good. The second course was pasta with sausage and spinaches raviole. We topped off the meal with a final course of two meats: "Lamb and very young pork"

It was amazing to talk with them and hear stories about their travels and their everyday lives. They were extremely hospitable, and I have the feeling that we will be seeing more of each other.

Sunday I visited an international church and it was so amazing to see people of every color, age, and background coming together to worship the Lord. Definitely a moving experience.

God has really been faithful to me...this last week was a struggle just adjusting to this new lifestyle and figuring out what God has planned for me. I am determined not to settle for mediocrity this semester. I know that I am here for a reason, and that He is going to make this the most amazing three months of my life.

How exciting is that?!!

September 16, 2009

Getting Lost in Rome

The last few days have been taken up with unpacking, settling in, and group outings - but yesterday Lisa and I managed to do some exploring on our own! We pretty much have the best professor ever. In her syllabus, Dr Szabo wrote, "GET LOST WITH A FRIEND" and that is exactly what Lisa and I did.

We grabbed our cameras, stashed a few Euros, and made out way to the bus stop. The Public Transportation system is pretty easy...when you know what your doing. We managed to get on the right bus, but just got off a stop to early. This however, was all part of the plan to get lost.

We could see the Victor Emanuel I monument in the distance, but the li
ttle side streets caught our attention even more. We wondered through cobblestone streets, found little "ristorantes" tucked in the nooks and crannies.

We also found an open air market. It was touristy stuff, but we just enjoyed waltzing through the people and taking in the sights and sounds.

Then we turned a street - and knew where we were! It was a weird sensation. We'd been heading for that area, and actually found it. More turns and side streets led us past shops, pizzerias, and gelato bars!

Then it happened...the street opened up onto this piazza with an enormous fountain. What was this? "Is this the Trevi?" Lisa and I asked eachother. It most certainly was. We had just stumbled upon the Trevi was amazing

We succeed in catching a bus and navigating to the Spanish Steps where shops like Gucci and Prada literally lined the streets.

Our journey did end well though. We made it back home safe and sound to the convent.

It was an amazing day. Getting lost is Rome with your best this is what I signed up for :)

September 11, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Jet-Lagged Student

So, this is going to be a short one because I've now been up for about 42 hours straight.

Everything with our flights on Thursday went beautifully. When we actually boarded for Rome I had a brief spazz out moment with one of the other students seated next to me. All through take off and the first few hours we just kept coming back to Rome, all we wanted to do there, and all we would be able to see, do, and learn. It didn’t seem possible.

Over the 8.5 hour flight I slept a totally 45 minutes. The rest of my time was spent watching cheesy movies, chit chat, and gazing out over the France and seeing Paris totally lit up at about 5am. Then I witnessed a beautiful sunrise, and got an incredible view of the Swiss Alps! It was so beautiful.

When we landed in Rome we bustled through the airport. Everyone got their luggage and we headed to the convent. Lisa and I dumped our bags in our fabulous little room and ran off to explore. The grounds are gorgeous!

Jet lag caught the whole group and we were quite a solemn bunch during the afternoon and dinner. But the night turned out well. Dr Zabo taught us how to order Gelato in Italian and I was served by a very handsome waiter ;)

Its finally hitting me how long I am going to be here, and I'm not going to lie, I was already homesick today. I have not clue what tomorrow holds, but I know that its going to be amazing. For now I'm putting all my stress aside and trying to focus on what HE has planned!
P.S. My life is so amazing right now. Thank you Lord!

September 10, 2009

Day 1: On the Moon - I mean....

I got up ready for my flight. Bags were packed. Last minute details taken care of. All was as it should be.

Bolts of excitement shot through the group as we gathered for final farewells. Dr. Cole gave us a lot of encouragement and with misty eyes said goodbye to this first group entering the Rome program. We were pumped!

After everyone got through security we rejoiced to find our flight on time...then there was a slight delay...then we were flying to Paris....then - canceled.

I filmed a super great video telling you the whole story...but due to technical difficulties, you'll have to get the low down the old fashioned way ;)

Everything turned out really well. All sixteen of us got our own room is the super posh hotel. As we checked in the attendants gave us each a chocolate chip cookie (the shmoosing was great!) Each member of our party also got vouchers for dinner, breakfast, and lunch. So all looking up.

Our all American hamburger dinner was outstanding. Then we got a surprise visit from Brian and Brenna. Supposedly, Brian had came to "say good-bye to me" but I think I know better ;) Girlfriend + scoring points with the best friend!

Anyways, Mr Wright took up for milkshakes and then we had a wonderful, good old fashioned pillow fight! It lasted on and off for about an hour haha
If we had to spend another night in thr USA that was the way to go.

Please check out the other pics from the trip on my Facebook page!!!

September 9, 2009

Today is the Day!

This is my last blog post from the USA for quite a while! I can't believe this day is finally doesn't seem real. I am excited...but it all still seems pretty sureal.

I think I'm still waiting for someone to pinch me so I wake up.

But here goes nothing...I'm off to the airport.

Will send updates soon :)

September 7, 2009

1 Day to Go...

Time is a really strange phenomenon. Five seconds of silence can take a lifetime to pass when you're in a really awkward situation, or five hours can fly by when you're having fun.

When I was accepted into the Rome program it seemed so extremely distant. I spent a semester looking forward to this trip, three month of summer seemed like they would never end, and now I've just spent my last weekend at home for quite a while. One more day in the USA

I'm not going to lie, this last week has been hard. During orientation I once again realized how much I love my college. I met so many new people and deepened past friendships, so coming home to pack was really difficult. One day I even told my mom "What the heck was I thinking going away for a whole semester!?" And now I'm facing the reality of saying goodbye to my family for three months.

Its pretty mind blowing. I am feeling very overwhelmed...but I know that everything is really going to be okay. The Lord worked everything out so perfectly for this trip. I know I am supposed to go, and that He has amazing things in store for me!

I am going to get to do what many people dream about doing. Living in another culture, traveling, meeting people, and growing into the person that God would have me to be.

This is going to be an amazing three months and it will be good just to get over there and begin my journey!

September 4, 2009

5 Day Update

The clock is ticking and I am feeling pretty good about my 'To Do' list. I've spent the last few days running errand and getting organized...hopefully it will all pay off when I get to Rome!

So here is the progress I've made on the list:
  • Buy School Books – Done! And the best part is I got all my books, for the whole semester, for a whopping $40. Now that is economy my friend.
  • Plan Plan Plan – Lets just say I have a three ring binder filled with amazingness! Now I have to powwow with Lisa for final arrangements on our 10 day adventure.
  • Budget – Tuition paid, Credit Card received, Debit Card renewed, companies notified of my travels

  • Research and Purchase Electronics – Finally decided on this Panasonic Lumix and I'm loving it!

  • Knock Out My Killer Shopping List – Well, after the longest shopping trip of my life, I though I had everything, but today I managed to make up another list *sigh*

  • Dealing With My #1 Problem – I have one suitcase packed! Now I have to tackle fitting all the rest of my stuff in the other one!

* Secret Coding: (Strikethrough – completed) (Italic – Waiting) (Bold – Working on it!)

I spent a good part of this afternoon packing my large suitcase and I think its finally starting to sink in how long I am going to be gone. We are supposed to bring enough clothing for 2-3 week...and it has to be warm clothing...and weigh under 50 pounds too. So I'll keep you updated oh how that goes haha

The clock is ticking and I still can't believe this is happening!

September 3, 2009

6 Days...Lets Just Take a Moment to Think About This Shall We?

So, in less than one week I will be boarding a plane to spend three months of my life in Europe. (I'm sure by now you're tired of hearing this, but then again, you could go read someone else's blog ;) Anyways, to make a long story short, I was thinking about all of the things in my life that are going to change as I embark on this new adventure. For example:

In 6 days I'll be in a totally new country and culture

By September 16 I will have been in school one week - Geneva students will be at 2.5 weeks

In two months I will have visited five European countries. I'll have spent the night on a train, stayed in multiple hostels, experienced couch surfing, sang "Do Ra Me" on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, seen a fashion show in Paris, and stood before the glimmering lights of the Eiffel Tower.

And within the next three months I will have traveled through Italy, ridden a gonadal, been lost on the metro, learned how to cook, see the Coliseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, studied a foreign language, lived with the locals, and made new friends.

There will be tough times to. I know that I'll get homesick and have to deal with problems just like any other time in my life. But I hope this will be such an incredible opportunity for me just to grow into the person that God wants me to be.

Its hard to take it all in. So much is going to happen to me in a mere 90 days and I am looking forward to ebracing this new experience with all of the joy and enthusiasm I can must. The Lord has given me such an amazing opportunity to learn and I cannot wait to find out what He has planned. This truly will be a life changing experience....I'm not sure you'll recognize the Sarah who comes back!

And it all starts in 6 days...

September 1, 2009

8 Days...This is Really Happening

I think every inexperienced blogger suffers from a drought every now and again. For me, these last two weeks have been crazy busy and An Optimist's Alcove has suffered. But hopefully this week I will be able to get things back on track.

What have I been doing that could have possibly been more important than blogging? How about freshman orientation!

This year I was a part of Orientation Leadership Staff - and boy was it a blast. I semi-moved back to school for two weeks. The first week was filled with planning and running errands until the new students arrived.

Move in day was the outrageous. I stood on the curb outside of the girl's dorm and directed traffic all while greeting families, finding out what room the girl was in, and then yelling at football players so they knew where to take the stuff!

But it didn't stop there. The next few days were filled with a trip to Pittsburgh, picnicking, tug-of-war, water balloons, sleep deprivation, student panels, ice cream, the O-Show, and finger paints.

It was an incredible two weeks! Definitely not void of frustrations, but having the opportunity to form deeper friendships and begin new relationships with the incoming class was so amazing...

...and then I came home.

Yesterday was the first day of classes for everyone else on campus - except me. I have 8 more days of summer. 8 more days to pack, 8 more days in the USA, 8 more days until ROME!

This is really happening