Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reflecting


I had a wonderful trip to end this journey.  Went back to Venice, Bologna, Florence, Dublin, Galway, and Rome! Wow a lot to see and many pictures were taken. I will be posting them once I am home in AMERICA!

Today is my last day in Bologna, and I can’t help but feel so blessed.  I am full of mixed emotions.  I am nervous and anxious to go back to my normal life. I have made memories here that will stay with me forever.  The best part about living abroad solo is that these memories are mine and only mine.  I am just sitting here soaking in the Italian scenery and can’t help but cry. 

These are some things I will miss about Italy the most…

- My students who have been some of my closest friends over here.  Will miss you all!
- The food that has officially ruined my future pasta and pizza dishes as home
- The delicious wine from all different regions of Italy
- The carefree lifestyle.  Italy appreciates the small things in life and has a more relaxed way of enjoying their day-to-day activities
- The art, history, and of course AMAZING buildings
- The ability to travel to nearby cities by a short train ride
- Looking at the old men in their nice outfits walking slowly down the street
- The live music being played by locals 7 days a week
- Aurelio and Laura- such good people
- The fresh produce at local markets on every corner
- The biggest thing I am going to miss is the freedom.  I have this at home as well, but it is different knowing no one knows where you are or what you are doing every single day. No phone calls, no lunch dates, no set work schedule, just me.

Here are some things I am most looking forward to coming home to…
Not in any particular order

- Drying machines
- A big bed
- Free water at restaurants
- Variety of food
- Target/ Starbucks
- My robe
- My car/driving (not riding the bus)
- Oscar Meyer
- My FAMILY AND FRIENDS!
- Garbage disposals
- Not living out of a suitcase
- Clean sidewalks with no poop!
- SPORTS! I get to be home for Superbowl!!! AHHHHH GO KAP!!
- People obeying lines and waiting their turn
- Getting drunk as a woman and not being judged. Bring on the Bud Light!
- Regular toilets everywhere instead of a hole in the ground, although I have perfected my balancing skills :)
- More Gentlemen! Americans- please always open doors for women.  It makes them smile.   
- Speaking ENGLISH!!!
- TV shows/ Movie theatre movies in English
- Jergens lotion
- Guaranteed hot showers 
- Easy phone plans
- Going back to school
- Less dramatic people
- Less mean old people (I guess they are everywhere but still)


I am in love with my life and thank god everyday for what he has given me. I can’t wait to be on American ground and get down and pray.

Beware: I may be a little emotional when I come home so if you see me cry the first time I see a 7-11 or Verizon don’t be scared.  I will just be so happy!

My goal for writing these blogs has been for my family and friends to know I am safe and see a little bit of my adventure.  I have readers from all around the world weirdly enough…sorry for writing with such horrific grammar, but happy you have followed Little Sister in Little Italy.  My goal has now changed to encourage people out there of all ages to go travel and have an adventure of their own. There is a big world out there and if you work hard enough you to can have memories just like me.  Also I know this may sound dangerous, but I urge each and every one of you to travel sometime alone.  I know many of you want your friends and spouses there with you, but it is a whole new experience being confident in being with only you and a suitcase.  Traveling is not IMPOSSIBLE! Financially you can make it work, I promise, I did it.

Thank you for my family and friends for the endless support.  Thank you Jessi and Shawn for coming to see my life over here.  Thank you Aurelio for allowing me to live here with you.  Thank you mom and B for letting your baby girl go abroad even though I KNOW it killed you. And especially thank you to the people who doubted me and thought I was crazy to do this on my own.  Because of you, I pushed even further to stay here when I thought there was no more hope.

Thank you God for being my main partner in this journey. I could not have been able to learn and teach without you. You have given me this wonderful life and I can’t wait to start my next adventure at home.  Bring on the blind dates! This single Italian girl is ready to meet an American boy!

PEACE OUT ITALY!!! I’M OUT!




Meliss
 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Learning


While traveling, you learn a lot about yourself, other cultures, about your own culture, simply a lot.

You learn about eating habits, your luxuries, things that you think are luxuries, your faith, your cleanliness, your language, your safety, your temperament, your friends, your family, your goals, your purpose just to name a few. 

I can’t help comparing the way I live my life in America and the way Italian’s live theirs.  I try to fit in as much as possible and have changed my life drastically.  These are some things I think about daily. 

What I eat in Italy is nothing like I eat in the US.  I try to eat healthy or organic as we call it in the states.  I try to eat small portions and take my vitamins.  That was all thrown out the window once I got to Italy.  I usually drink an American cup of coffee or tea in the mornings and only water the rest of the day.  Here they drink coffee or espresso, ALL DAY LONG. These people can drink coffee after dinner and still get a good nights rest.  I am now seeing that I too can drink coffee a lot more.  I eat pasta almost every single day (bad I know), but it is so good! I eat the freshest fruits and veggies imaginable.  I eat fried potatoes, pizza, eggs, cheese, cheese, cheese, brodo (soup), and meat (no sliced turkey over here). I eat almost as unhealthy here as I ever have before BUT for some reason have not gained THAT much weight.  I have thought about why this is for a while and the only solution I have is that everything is organic and I walk a lot.  When I go back to the US I def. will be going back to my organic eating lifestyle, with pasta of course.  I think I am addicted to it now.  To be honest, with all these carbs I don’t feel that good. I need to change that.  I will however, continue my walking.  We drive everywhere in America.  Our country has a lot of land and many miles between locations.  You get up, go to your car, drive, get out, go to the store, and go back in your car.  You go to your car to go to work, to drop your kids off, to go to the park and play, to go to a bar, to go to the dog park! That is a lot of driving! Now I do use the bus over here sometimes, but I usually use nothing but my two legs.  I will try to continue that when I go home.  If you need something from the store a mile away then WALK! If you are going to take your kids or dogs to the park, then WALK! It doesn’t take long and I promise all that chocolate you eat will disappear from your belly. People here are generally not as overweight as Americans.  We have a big problem with not using our two legs to get us to where we need to go. 

I am a girl and therefore need a lot of things to get ready in the morning. Confession- I do not get all prettied up over here.  I rarely wear makeup, I rarely do my hair, and I definitely do not ever wear heels.  This is probably because nobody knows me here and I have no one to dress up for, but also because I realized while traveling it weighs more in my backpack to pack that bronzer, that mascara, that specific face lotion that I can’t find anywhere.  I sleep on a small bed in a small room.  I have been living out of suitcase for 5 months! The only time I have hung up my clothes was to dry because there are no dryers.  Now I am not complaining (sort of) but seriously whenever I feel sorry for myself over here, I just think about other countries that have it way worse than me.  There are people in countries that wish they had a bed to sleep on or a simple washing machine.  Americans have this idea that bigger is better.  Bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger diamonds, bigger portions of food! That is not a good thing in my eyes.  I am here to tell all you ladies first hand, that you do not need these luxurious items you think you do. I appreciate all the simple things that give me comfort and hope I will remember to remain grateful and ALWAYS give to others. Now I am not going to be a hypocrite and say that I can’t wait to get into my big bed, or buy new boots (I have been wearing the same two pairs EVERY SINGLE DAY), take a hot shower, or do a cartwheel in my living room just because it is big enough! The point I am trying to make is that these are not necessities, but luxuries. Just remember to be grateful for what you have and the moment you are about to buy $400 pair of shoes, just know that is what it cost me to live in Italy for over A MONTH! Go travel, open your mind, go see things that are so beautiful you can’t explain it. Go LEARN!!!!!

Learning is not just going to school, listening to a professor, taking a test, and BAM you have learned about Anatomy and Physiology.  I mean yes, I’m sure you have learned about the human body, but to me learning is so much more. I miss school, I miss doing something towards my future, but the knowledge I have gained over here is momentous.  I can now understand about 70% of Italian.  For me, that is awesome!!! I still cannot speak it, but can get around just fine.  I still make mistakes and then get nervous when someone laughs because I think I said a cuss word. BUT I can easdrop on a convo like nobody’s business.

I have learned that this country’s politics are beyond sad.  There is so much corruption among their so called “leaders” with no one to trust.  Instead they take 75% of their checks and use it to buy a new house in the mountains.  Now I know America is not perfect, but guess what? Not one person has control of our country.  Not the President (which most people think over here), not congress, no one.  We have a system so no single man or woman can’t take advantage of the whole country because they have all the power.  That is exactly what these people are faced with every single day. 

There is no such thing as the “Italian” dream.  It is difficult for people to become well off here, and wealthy… forget about it.  To me, living somewhere where you know you can’t ever be something special in this world makes me sad.  I will say, that with this life you realize that the simple things are what matters.  If we had no competition then maybe our lives would be more peaceful and without violence? They don’t have the kind of violence we do over in America.  Something to think about. 

I learned that Italians are poetic thinkers.  Dreamers if you will.  Most of them.  Somewhat like myself. I give my students an article with a question and they seriously analyze the thought process about what that person was thinking. Maybe they were in love, maybe they wanted to eat a glorious meal, maybe they wanted to take care of their children.  All I wanted was simple answer! haha This can be annoying at times, but their poetic thoughts are refreshing.  They LOVE their family and friends more than anything else.  They love food more than the time it takes to make it. They love art, nature, wine, and shoes. I of course, let them talk to me about their history of art, love, and family with open ears, but sometimes want a simple short conversation. I want that superficial attitude we all have when we ask someone how they are doing without really caring how they are doing.  This is bad, but they genuinely love hearing about what happened to you that day or every single thing you saw in Paris and HOW it made you feel. Lesson to be learned- Now I know why my friends and family are sometimes annoyed with me when I talk too much about my feelings.  Now I know why my stories are too long, and that sometimes the details should only remain in my mind simply because Americans are generally not poetic thinkers. 

I have learned things about myself.  While I may be bossy, dramatic (at times), compassionate, clean, FUNNY, silly, smart, and much more :) I NEVER thought I would describe myself as a patient person until now.  When you move to another country and have some of the craziest, rudest, and out of the ordinary experiences weekly that you learn to be patient.  I tell people what I think about them if they hurt me and have a passion for people who do wrong in this world.  That is just me.  I know what you are thinking, “Who the hell are you to tell someone how they should live their lives.”  My response would be, “You are absolutely right, and you do not have to listen to a word I am saying.”  I have NO patience for rude and crude people.  I am a nice person. I pick up trash on the ground if it is lying next to a garbage can, I always open the door for both men and women, I believe karma has helped me through my life, and I LOVE people! Now this country can definitely bring your spirit down in many ways.  I have been challenged and I have listened.  I have learned that all people are not good. This literally breaks my heart to say, but some people are selfish and mean. I have lived my life thinking that if I am nice to everyone then I will have niceness in return.  That is where the patience come in.  This is not always true. I have learned not to speak my mind, but to simply watch people in silence.  I have been silent when men have never ONCE opened a door for me here in 6 months, I am silent when an older person feels they are more significant in this world and therefore can literally push me aside to pay for their groceries first, I have been silent when I have 5 people pushing their way onto the bus when I have been standing there 30 min longer.  These are just three small examples of my growing patience. This is a work in progress, but hopefully this will continue to grow when I return home.

I hope you all had a good week.  Today is my last day of teaching here and can I hear a Hallelujah! I will miss these students sooooooo much. I am not an English teacher and this subject simply bores me to tears, but so glad I did it because as I have said before… while I teach, I learn.  Let’s hear it for learning!! I’m a dork.  OK I will stop typing now. 

Peace,
Meliss

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Paris for Christmas


When I first came to Italy I knew I would be here for Christmas. I have never been away from my family during the holidays, and the thought alone made me cringe. I think you can tell by reading my posts that I am very close with my family.  Christmas is my mom’s favorite holiday, therefore, has now become my sister and mine as well.  Growing up, my mom went CRAZY decorating our entire home.  She even takes pictures of the house so that we know where every single decoration goes the following year.  My dad and I literally spend hours looking at photos and going through 15 bins of stuffed animals, little shiny balls, and peppermint sticks to put inside candle containers. You can just smell Christmas with my cookies baking and brandy mixed creations flowing. 

Every year on Christmas Eve, my whole family stands around our table holding hands and says their Christmas wish. Every year we all shed tears and laughs, grateful to be with each other around a beautifully decorated table with little elf nametags.  EVERY year my mom has the same wish, “That my girls always find their way home for Christmas no matter what.” 

Man am I an “a** hole” or what! I have broken the only wish my mom ever has! I knew I needed to go somewhere spectacular for Christmas so I wouldn’t think about the fact that my family would all be crying and simply not having ANY fun while I was away.  That’s what happened right mom?  Just kidding!!!!!

I booked my flight to Paris weeks after landing here Italy.  I planned my Paris itinerary with fun things to see and do to keep my mind busy.  I even uploaded my iPod with all the classic Christmas songs so I could sing and dance in my hotel room.

The trip started off not so jolly.  It took me 32 hours to get from Bologna, Italy to my hotel in Paris, France. I had to go back to Treviso to fly out of their airport and the Venice fog caused our flight to be cancelled after hours and hours of waiting. I was living in a Christmas movie where everyone is trying to get to Paris for Christmas and we all speak different languages, all have different reasons to go, but we need to get there somehow.  There was an American woman who missed her $1,500 non-refundable connecting flight to Mexico.  There was a French boy who missed his cruise with his family!! I just simply wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. Luckily after being at the airport for 10 hours they got us a hotel room and we had to start all over again the next day.  Guess what happened then? Yep, there was even more fog Christmas Eve than the day before! After awhile everyone on the flight knew who spoke English, French, Italian, Italian and English, French and English. hahahaha It was also funny when I had a huge backpack on my back and a broken purse :) After awhile they put us on three big VIP buses to take us to Venice where we would fly out of their airport. We finally got to Paris and I was off to find my hotel.  Did you know Paris is huge? I didn’t know how big it WAS!  Their metro system is freaking awesome; seriously, the easiest metro system to understand ever.

First stop after buying a new purse was to eat dinner and drink some wine.  I had a really good dinner, but the French fries and bread were my favorite.  Their bread is out of this world. Then the man made me a wonderful French coffee for desert. Feeling a little tipsy, it was now time to go to church! Just kidding.  I did go to the Notre Dame to watch the choir sing some Christmas Carols!  Notre Dame was beautiful. There were a lot of people there and they actually sang some American Christmas carols.  I loved it.  At that point it truly felt like Christmas.  On Christmas day I walked and walked all over.  I also went to a ballet at the Old Opera house that evening.  Wow!!!!!! The Opera house is just like the one in Phantom of the Opera.  It has the most beautiful chandelier and the marble stairs are gorgeous. The ballet was nice, but the music was really weird.  There was a stupid American family behind me though.  The daughter was a teenager and was complaining they were too far away and he eyes were hurting.  After the first act she didn’t even come back in! Her parents just let her complain and complain.  I wanted to turn around and tell her that she is in one of the most beautiful Opera houses in the world! You’re in Paris watching the Opera on Christmas WITH your family!! I now know why some people hate Americans. 

I stayed at a hotel 10 min from the Eiffel Tower and 2 min from a Starbucks! I had a chai tea soy latte every single day. Heaven.  The Eiffel Tower was one of the coolest things I have seen on this trip so far.  I just stared and stared at it forever.  It lights up during Christmas… That was my favorite part.  I went to the top which was cool, but I liked being at the bottom looking up at it more.  There were lights hung and booths selling food all over the city.  I went and hiked up this hill that has a church at the top where you can overlook the entire city.  They also have painters set up selling their work.  I ate the most delicious raspberry pie/pastry thing. France really does make desserts into art.  I think about that raspberry pie very frequently :)

Here is a video below of Notre Dame

Now, I am not going to tell you that I wasn’t a little sad on Christmas because that would be a lie. No matter where you are in the world, there is nothing like being with family.  I missed them so much.  Christmas day was a hard day for me, especially seeing everyone walking around Paris with their family and friends.  I was able to skype with my parents and sister and so fortunate for this experience.

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story, because honestly I don’t really feel like writing today.  My student made me dinner last night and we had a little too much wine.  My head is killing me!


Long trip :) 

Yahoo I'm here!

Love you 
Opera house on Christmas Day









Yes, I know I wore the same hat.  Lazy hair person.

It was a little windy on the top of the tower







Our family-friend, Shawn comes to Italy in 8 days!!! I will be ending my journey here, traveling to Ireland and finally get to see Rome! YES YES YES!!

Ciao,
Meliss

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Current Events


Being away, it is hard keeping in touch with reality. I have to schedule appointments to talk to my mom or sister and even those don’t always work out with our work schedules.  I barely talk to my friends who I usually call every other day at home. I see people’s lives moving forward via Facebook and feel so out of the loop sometimes. 

What is equally as bad as not communicating with fam and friends is trying to find out what is going on in the US.  My roommate Aurelio watches Politics EVERY single night.  I can tell you all about what is going on in Italy with Berlusconi, their economy, everything. 

Just in case you were wondering, all of our wonderful, glorious websites in America do not allow people outside of our country to participate.  Yes, I soon found out when I moved here that I would no longer be able to use Pandora, ABC.com, some sports networks, HULU, and many, many more.  I learned right away that I would no longer be watching television this year unless I use a Spanish or Italian website that may show some movies, if the website feels like it that day.

I would, however, like to thank a couple websites that have really done a good job making me feel like I have not completely disappeared. 

First, and foremost, is Mark and Mercedes podcast from Mix 94.1.  People who don’t know, let me tell you who they are.  They are a local Las Vegas morning radio show, which I am obsessed with.  I think they are hilarious and usually listen to their podcasts via Facebook while I’m in America too.  They don’t post them every single day and let me tell you… it simply breaks my heart.  Everyday I turn excitedly to the podcast page to hope there is a new recording.  They have kept me informed on all the celebrity gossip, the new music I should listen to, and just a good laugh while I ride in the stinky bus.

Also, is You Tube where I was able to follow the Election, Hurricane Sandy, and Sports Interviews with Kaepernick!  Woohoo GO PACK, GO KAP!!  I am so proud of him!  See, I am not TOTALLY out of the loop.  And of course the endless videos regarding the Connecticut shooting.  Those families have prayers being sent to them from all over the world.  I was able to see my President shed tears right there with me.

Lastly, I would like to thank my favorite TV network show, Ellen DeGeneres.  I am able to go to her website and watch all the previous episodes.  Ellen, if you are reading this right now.  You have kept a smile on my face when I feel so alone over here.  You show me that the world has many good people in it, and for that I thank you.

There are still a lot of things I would normally listen to or watch that I have no idea about, but at least I can avoid some culture shock coming back home.

If anyone has any important things I may have missed let me know!

I have heard some of you are having trouble leaving me comments on here.  I monitor all my comments so if they are not up right away don’t panic.  All you have to do is click on Comment.  Write your comment in the box under Post a Comment.  Below this box click Comment as:  Choose Name/URL.  Insert your name only and push Continue.  Hit publish when you are finished with your comment. Voila! They will be sent for me to approve.

Hope you had a great Christmas.  I was in Paris!!!!!!  Blog coming soon.

Meliss