Sunday, October 21, 2012

Short Train Ride Away

If you have read any of the guidebooks, you know they rant and rave about Florence, Italy.  We took the train to the station outside the center of the city so we had to walk about 45 min until we were finally among locals and tourists.  We were walking through alleyways looking at all the detailed buildings and window sills; when I thought this looks very similar to ALL the other Italian buildings I have seen.  I have been to Venice, Treviso, and Bologna where their old buildings are just as amazing.  I guess I wanted something more out of Florence.

I wish so badly someone would have been video taping my face when I turned that corner.  I had been looking down at my I phone navigating my crew through the streets to find the Duomo.  As I turned the corner, it felt like I ran into a wall and my jaw dropped wide open.  This was honestly one of THEEEEEE most beautiful things I have ever seen.  The pictures of course do not do it justice and I actually am hesitant to show my pictures and videos because I want you ALL to come and see it for yourself.  The detail put into making this cathedral is mind blowing. 

We actually got to go inside to pray while someone was playing the huge organ.  To finally be able to pray in an old Cathedral this size was truly a blessing.  I was very thankful to be able to see all of this history just an hour away from where I live! 

We went to the Uffizi Art Gallery where we all went our separate ways for over two hours.  There were a lot of famous paintings by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, but I also tried to find ones that I normally wouldn't know about.  I decided my favorite painters are the ones who get the eyes right.  This is a very difficult thing to do especially when this is sometimes not even accomplished by the most famous artists.  Since I am apparently an eye art expert, I would be willing to tell any new artists out there whether or not you draw good eyes :)

Of course my favorite part of the gallery was the collection of old books with painted pictures in them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE books and wanted to shatter the glass container and run out with one.  I couldn’t take pictures in there, but I did write notes all over my pamphlet as to the names of the painters and paintings I loved. 

I will be going to Florence for two more days in January, which is cool since there is still so more to see and do. 

Click to check out my videos from Florence HERE 

Last weekend Laura and I took a day trip to Pisa.  The center was a lot smaller than I expected.  There actually weren’t too many tourists there.  We took lots of pictures and found an antique fair that happened to be going on only that weekend.  I wanted to buy everything. If only I had a billion dollars. There is so much stuff that I wanted to give to my family, but instead I just took pictures… that’s the same right? 

 This iron made me think of you mom. Cool chess pieces.

 I am OBSESSED with that white teapot (It looks like the blanket you have Jess)  Remind me to make one when I get home. 

We had a fun little adventure with the trains.  That particular day the train drivers decided to go on strike so we waited 3 hours and 6 cancelled trains later to get back to Florence.  From there we ran to the small bus with 50 smelly people to the other station outside the center.  From the bus stop we RAN (I mean ran like I was in the Olympics) to finally not make the train.  So after all of that, we had an hour to spare and ate until we were finally able to catch a train back to Bologna.  Always a great adventure when traveling throughout Europe. 

I was supposed to head to Verona today with Felix, but I have come down with a nasty cold.  I guess being around two sick students and a bus full of coughers will do that to you :(

It has been a tough week for me here.  Plain in simple… I miss home.  My grandpa had a stroke this week and while I know he is in good hands, I can’t help but want to be there to give him a BIG hug from his favorite granddaughter.  See how I threw that in there.  Just kidding April, Jessi, Suzi, and Sarah.  Please send a special prayer for my grandpa and everyone taking care of him. 

The fact that my sister found her wedding dress without me (you look amazing Jess) is very hard. AND 
All I want is for my mom to take care of me when I’m sick!  Yes, I know I am 25 years old and still want my mom to take care of me.  Trust me… she has super powers… a special gene that I did not inherit.  Pray for my future children.

I am hanging in there and the pictures posted above are what keep me going.  There is still so much more that I want to see before I leave. 

I hope everyone is embracing their favorite Fall traditions.  Halloween and baking is not big here in Italy.  Finding the right ingredients to make my homemade pumpkin bread and pies is nearly impossible.  I finally was able to make homemade chocolate chip cookies (sort of).  Their butter is strange, their vanilla is not liquid, their cinnamon has salt in it, no electric mixer here at Aurelios, no measuring cups, and his oven has no thermometer.  Luckily, I am a genius when it comes to baking and tested enough of the dough to make sure the cookies would come out edible.  Laura, Aurelio, and his co-workers loved them!  Little did they know I can make much much better.

 Give the trick-or-treaters extra candy on my behalf and drink a soy pumpkin latte or soy egg nog latte for me from Starbucks (hands down the number one thing I miss about America).  Yes I just said that. 

Ciao Ciao,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The "P" Word

Some people would call me a talker and I would agree, some would call me a pretty deep person and I would agree, and some could call me even a bit nosy which I would also agree!  Ms. “chatter box” over here can talk to anyone about anything.  This could be both a strength and a weakness in my personality.  I have always wished I could be that girl that was a mystery. People would look at me and say, “I wonder what she’s thinking?”


You can read me like a book and if not, then all you have to do is ask.  

The ONE subject, although, that I avoid is… can you guess?  

Yep, the "P" word… Politics.  I have probably had less than five political discussions in all my life about my political beliefs.

Growing up, politics was not a topic of discussion in my house.  I don’t know if it was because my parents may have opposing views, or may have wanted to avoid these intense convos, but whatever the reason was/is we simply did/do not talk about it.  I honestly am not even sure where Brett, my mom, and Jessi sit on some issues! 


My parents did teach me a couple valuable things…  They taught me the importance of voting and to always be proud of your country no matter what political party you are apart of (if any). 

I want to give you all a little insight on what people think about The United States Presidential Election in this neck of the woods.  It’s ALL they talk about!  As soon as I say I'm from America, people ask me “who are you going to vote for?” or “who do you think is going to win?”  I'm having to be reminded by Italians to watch the debate or latest speech on You Tube. This election is NOT just impacting American citizens but the whole world! 

We don’t watch the news in America to see an election going on in other countries, or depend on another country to help THEIR economic crisis that some say is worse than ours. They are just as antsy about this election as we are.  I guess I just didn’t fully understand how important the United States is to this world.  I know we all learn this in school, but to be all the way in Italy and see their reaction everyday when I say where I’m from … pride overwhelms me.   

People on Facebook have been writing about their views/beliefs. About which President they would like to win. Some people are becoming pretty upset about others pushing their beliefs on the internet for everyone to see.  At times, I am sick of it too, BUT then I thought about it… freedom of beliefs, freedom of speech....What a glorious thing!

No matter whether you talk about the “P” word or not, just realize what a PRIVILIDGE it is to vote.  My friend Felix always jokes with me when he says my passport is “a hot ticket” :)  There are people dying to get their hands on one.

I am SO proud to be an American… maybe more than ever before.  Like I said, the whole world is watching this election, except WE have the power to vote.  If I'm doing it from way over here then you sure as heck can do it at home. 

God Bless. Thank you and goodnight.

Speech from,
Melissa Wilson

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Busy Bee!!

Busy Teacher, Busy Explorer, Busy Bee

Finally Blogging!

I have so much to write! 

Quick update on work.  I told you before I was hired from a company that was going to give me a work visa.  Unfortunately, I would have to go back home for at least a month and then return.  For me, this was not an option.  I was very excited to learn Italian for free, but decided it was time to start working on my own private lessons in Bologna.  I don’t know if it because I am an American, a girl, or from Las Vegas (probably the main reason), but I have had absolutely NO PROBLEM getting students.  I have been here for a little over two weeks, and am now having to turn people away. 

This is FANTASTIC news!

This is also why I have been so busy.  I have students of all different ages and all different levels.  You may think teaching English should be easy enough since I speak the language right?


All of my students have a purpose to learn English as a Second Language.  It may be for school, to move to America, to transfer jobs, their company trades with the UK or America, their parents are forcing them to, or they simply think an American accent is sexy.  This can sometimes be pretty stressful.  Firstly, this is a lot of pressure!  These people are coming to me to help pass an interview or test that determines whether or not they can be hired at a company that could potentially change their lives.  I have had students seriously beg me to help them pass a test in a matter of months.  They truly want to learn and rely on me.  Wow, talk about making a difference in someone’s life! Secondly, every one of my students is at a different level.  This means that I sometimes have to prepare 5 different lessons each day. Lastly, every one of my students has different interests.  I try to base my lessons around subjects they like… such as health, music, engineering, sports, movies, etc.  English is not the most interesting subject to learn, and I want my students to actually enjoy spending hours beyond hours with me :)  


I LOVE TEACHING!  While I am teaching, I am learning.  I learn about their culture, their language, their country. 

I told you about my friend from Mexico staying here with me, but I haven’t told you about my new bff here in Italy.  Her name is Laura and she is from Spain.  She is also staying at the house with us.  Me and her just clicked.  We have a lot in common… we both love exploring, love reading, love movies, love art, love yoga, and she speaks very good English, which helps her understand my sarcastic attitude. 
Not that I have an attitude or anything hahahahahaha 
She is going to school here for Cinema through the Erasmus program.  She lived in both Mexico and Brazil before Italy.  We were trying to find a place together, but luckily Aurelio (the man I have been living with) is going to let us stay here until we leave!!!  We are now able to afford to travel EVERY SINGLE weekend.  Can you say Lucky ducky’s.  I have decided that I am leaving Italy in February to go home.  I will have traveled, taught, and learned enough about this wonderful Italian culture by then.  I think 6 months is my limit.  While I enjoy it here I have some Maid of Honor duties to attend to at home :) 
Miss these two.  Wedding planning in the works:)
 Me and Laura with a little treat.

Me and Laura have been trying to fill our schedules up with activities whenever she isn’t studying and I am not preparing or having lessons.  We go to every single FREE class imaginable.  We have been to several different yoga classes, belly dancing, Tai Chi, and next we will try salsa dancing Italian style.  The classes are free the first time you go so we just research a new free class to go to every other day haha  You can call us cheap or genius, but honestly it has been a blast.  I have done yoga off and on for almost 7 years now and lets just say I finally found a woman who knew what she was talking about.  The classes are all in Italian of course, but I know most of the terminology to follow.  Pretty interesting when they speak to me directly though, I just turn and look at Laura with puppy eyes for her to translate.  She speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and therefore can understand 70 percent of Italian. 

I’m still learning where everything is here in Bologna.  I walk or ride the bus for hours and hours to find new spots to give lessons.  I swear one time we walked over 8 miles trying to learn different streets.  My little legs were pretty sore.  We have officially found the best gelato and pizza here in town.  A whole pizza is 4 euros… SCORE!  Speaking of exercise, there is a church on the top of hill next to our house called San Luca.  Approximately 600 steps and an hour later to reach the top.  I try to wake up early 3 times a week to walk to the top.  Talk about a workout!  It overlooks the entire city… gorgeous views.

 Just a little taste of how many stairs there actually are!

Soccer Stadium

We tried to get a smoothie at a Vegetarian CafĂ©.  NOT a traditional smoothie :) blahhhhh

So my little cousin Taylor gave me this little red bear to keep before I left for Italy.  It was so sweet. I have now named this little guy Taybolt.  Get it, Taylor + Bologna.  Sounds like a super hero name.  Anyway, this little bear is exploring Europe with me so be prepared for Taybolt to be in several pictures.  I love my family.

I start my Italian lessons next week with my British friend Felix.  Be prepared for me to speak very passionately when I get home :)

This weekend I go to Florence for the first time.  Super stoked. I have Interlakin, Prague, Ireland, Rome, Naples, Pisa, Paris, and other small Italian cities in the works.  Oh, and I am also going in a couple weeks to visit the town where my family came from on my Nana’s side.  It is only a little over an hour away in this same Emilia Romagna region.  Basically my family probably helped invent Parmesan Cheese…. You’re Welcome.  Blog to come.  I seriously have so much more to write, but I think this is long enough.  I will try to write in a couple days.

This experience is more than I could have imagined.  I advise people to not just stop by the big cities here in Italy, but come to the little ones and learn about the REAL Italian culture.  Hard to explain how DIFFERENT (but good) the Italian lifestyle is. 

 Movie in English... YES!

 I miss my baby Bradi Boo.

Maria had a fight with some stairs after yoga... the stairs won :(

We love our Library!!

Happy Birthday week Best Friend!!!!!!  I love and miss you Ashley Bean!  Wish I could celebrate with you, but don’t worry I drank a bottle of wine on your behalf. JK… sort of!!!!!

Ciao Ciao,