Monday, September 27, 2010

Beautiful View, Beautiful Weather, Italy is just Beautiful!

Ciao! Ciao! Ciao!

Well, it has been a while. However, the schedule here at the villa is absolutely crazy! I actually got to take a 2 and a half hour nap today which was much needed. I finally feel like the jet lag is over and my energy is returning to my body. Also, we had room check today, so that made us get our room straightened which made me happy because a disorganized room after a little while begins to drive me crazy! Haha. Hard to believe, huh Mom? Well, this morning was just classes. The classes here are wonderful, but it is straight through the morning with only about 5 minute breaks in between. So, after the first couple classes, you begin to feel drained. After class we had lunch, then Emily Ford and I took a nap and then completed room check. Then, I went into Scandicci with about 7 people from the HUF group and we took our sack dinners to a cute little park. After eating dinner we went to COOP, which is Italy's WalMart, because some members of the group had to restock on some necessities. After COOP, we rode the tram back to the stop closest to the villa and before we got to the villa we got some gelato! I got yogurt flavor, again! Gelato is definitely a weakness and incredibly delicious! Then to complete our adventure, we returned to the villa for a tea time. Now, I am about to start my homework. Wish me luck! Haha. I hope your days were great! Until next time, arrivederci! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Downtown Florence Walk and Scavenger Hunt through Florence!

Ciao everyone!
So, here is a quick update on days 3 and 4 in Florence, Italy: On Sunday, we attended the church of Christ in Florence and got to meet the congregation there. The people are so warm and very welcoming. They were very excited to try and decipher what we were saying to them. Some members of the congregation were students from the Avanti Italia Bible School and they helped translate for us. After church, we went to the a Piazza that overlooks Florence. The sky was so clear and crisp and the view was breathtaking! God blessed us with a beautiful day of sunshine. Robbie took us to the church in Florence and there we sang praise songs in the crypt where the man who the church is dedicated to was buried. The sound was beautiful. The acoustics are phenomenal! After the church, Kyle took us around Florence and showed us all the wonderful scenic spots and shopping centers. Then, we came back to the villa for a concert by Jonathan, Robbie and Mona's youngest son, and his band. They played a lot of BEATLES songs. It was such a cool night to listen to the songs and the band perform and then get to visit with all the guests at the villa, Italian and American. On Monday, we officially started classes. Talk about not remembering the feeling to sit in a classroom. However, Ross, Kyle, Robbie, and Mona are all great professors and it is going to be a great semesters. I am taking Bible (PAUL), Italian, European Studies, Western Humanities, and Kinesology. Also, Kyle is teaching Yoga in the morning before class, so I go yoga in the morning as well. Another neat thing I am doing at HUF, I am on breakfast duty which means I set up/clean up breakfast and get paid for it! :) Extra money in the pocket! After classes and lunch, we headed out to Florence. There we were going on a scavenger hunt. However, the twist was we were meeting students from the university in Florence which are students from all over. My group consisted of a girl from France, Chloe, 4 Spaniards, Roberto, Berta, Martha, and Jon, and one Brazilian, Gabriel. The challenge was to go all around Florence and find pictures in a book. Well, obviously Spaniards run A LOT because for 3 and a half hours, I did a light jog without stopping unless to take a picture for the documentation. Lets just say, when I got to dinner, I was more than ready to sit down. The scavenger hunt was a great experience. A little more overwhelming that I anticipated, but it was really neat to communicate with people who only know little English and I only know little Spanish and a little Italian. Overall, besides the sore legs and sore calves, it was a GREAT day! God receives all the glory for these days in Italy; as He does every day! Tomorrow is a new day and until then, CIAO!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tour of Scandicci

It is officially the end of day two in Italy. Today I woke up this morning at 7:30 am to a FREEZING room and the wonderful thought that I was waking up in Scandicci, Italy. After thawing out and getting ready, breakfast was served. Actually, we served breakfast because the assistant, Kyle, did not wake up to his alarm, so we set out breakfast by ourselves. Breakfast consisted of cereal, milk, orange juice, carrot-lemon-orange juice, espresso,cappuccino AND Kyle redeemed himself by bringing pastries. After breakfast, we all cleaned up and then met in the classroom for orientation a la Robbie and then more orientation a la Kyle. After Kyle went through all of our paperwork and such, Mona came in and taught us some Italian to get us through our walk in Scandicci. After orientation was complete, we went to lunch. Lunch consisted of pasta with an alfredo type sauce, pork roast, steamed vegetables, salad, bread, and NUTELLA! After lunch we had free time. Of course, we all went around the villa and took pictures and then updated all of our Facebooks. At 2:30 pm we met in front of the villa for the start to our Scandicci walk. As we walked through Scandicci, Robbie stopped a few times to point out certain interesting/historical facts about whatever was surrounding us. Our first stop was the gelato shop! Robbie and Mona paid for our first gelato. I got a cone with chocolate and yogurt. I officially have decided that gelato is definitely better than ice cream. It just makes you feel like you are eating less calories. The next stop was the Avanti Italia Bible School. This is where the students like Allen Cochran (son to my "parents" here at HUF), and Emily Woodruff (an old co-worker of Linzi's). We are told that we will visit the school more and actually do some service projects with the students at the school as well. The third stop was Caffe Mario's. This is where all the famous cappuccino cup pictures are taken. Because I had had a cappuccino this morning at breakfast, I decided to venture out and taste Robbie's favorite drink. His favorite drink is una spuma bionda. This is a ginger ale and orange flavored beverage. It was very tasty, but definitely a lot of sugar. The way I asked for the drink was, "Vorrei una spuma bionda?" Which in English is, "May I have one spuma bionda?".  Caffe Mario's is located in the center square of Scandicci. So, we got to see a lot of Italians walking around. It was a very interesting spectacle. I thought that Italians would be significantly different than Americans, but honestly, the only difference, besides the language barrier, is that they have dark hair and dark eyes. Nothing really else is different. (Oh Dad, you were right, all European men wear tight pants.) After we stopped at all three places that Robbie had planned, Kyle took us to the shopping section or the market section of Scandicci. There we saw lots of Italains, Italian families, Italians walking their dogs; just Italians everywhere! It was great. When we had seen all of the market section, Kyle told us our first assignment. We were to go to an Italian supermarket called Superal and discover three things that were different at an Italian supermarket compared to an American supermarket. The people that were in my group were Andrew, Emily, Alex, and Taylor. We discovered that Italian supermarkets have gates that you have to enter and gates you have to use to exit after you enter the doors. Also, we discovered that Italians package their 2 liters and do not sell them single. The third thing we discovered was that instead of being ahead in fashion, they were behind in fashion and still selling Dragon Ball Z merchandise. All in all, it was a great experience! After the Superal scavenger hunt, we walked back to the villa instead of taking the bus. It was about a 35 minute walk, but it was definitely worth the adventure. Andrew was an Eagle Scout and he mainly led us the way back to the villa. When we returned to the villa, we discovered we were the first ones to arrive. Kyle had decorated the villa gate and walkway with Italian flags to celebrate our "Welcome Party". But before the party and while we waited on everyone else to return to the villa, my group went and played Ping Pong in the basement. The basement is filled with murals from HUF groups, their own design, their year, and their names all around it. Needless to say, it is a COLORFUL basement. When everyone returned, we ate dinner and then started our "Welcome Party" at 8:30. There we played ice breaker games and Mona did her famous "Little Bunny Foo Foo" rendition. After our "Welcome Party" we had snacks and then everyone went their separate ways to Skype, journal, devo, shower, etc. So, day two in Italy is complete and it was a great success! I am STILL loving every second of it! Well, until tomorrow, be blessed and have a great day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ciao from Italia!

Ciao! Ciao! Ciao!

HUF Fall 2010 has officially begun. The trip started out on Thursday, September 16th at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. I flew out of New Orleans at 11:15. My parents and Mia (grandmother) dropped me off and surrounded me with prayer before I left. I got on my first flight to Atlanta and I flew DELTA airlines. The flight was about an hour and a half and I sat next to an electrician from New York. He was coming from Venice, LA where he was working on dredges and flying to Virginia to work on another set in that region. We had a very nice conversation about his family; however, it was a tad sad at times because due to the demanding travel time of his job, he is divorced and his wife and two daughters live in New York. The up side to this flight was it went by fairly quickly because I had good conversation with a nice person and I got to minister to him as well. God is definitely everywhere. I met up with most of my group in the Atlanta airport at about 1:50. From there we flew to New York to the JFK airport. On the New York flight I rode next to my friend Emily Betts. For those of you that know her, she is absolutely hilarious. Needless to say, the flight to New York was enjoyable. Not to mention, we circled and made a pretzel in the air due to bad weather. So, a hour and a half flight turned into a 2 hour and 30 minute flight.  We arrived in New York at 7:15 instead of 5:50. When we arrived in New York, we met up with the rest of our group. We all decided to have one last American meal and we chose Chili's. (No Mom, I did not get the Burger Bites.) I ate at a table with Emily Ford (a sister in ZP), Hannah Cochran (the Cochran's sweet daughter), Taylor (HUF mate in Chi Sigs), Alex Higginbotham (HUF mate in BOX and we have been friends since Katrina), and Andrew (HUF mate in BOX). We had a great time and absolutely laughed our stomachs into pain. After dinner, we visited and got to know each other better and then boarded our international for a great 8 hour flight to Pisa, Italy. Mallory Dell ( a sister in ZP and Honors Symposium friend) and I sat by eachother on the international flight. We both were ecstatic when we figured out we were sitting by eachother. Mallory and I talked about a lot and just caught up from not really talking this summer. Swapping summer stories was a blast. The rest of the flight was movies. "The Karate Kid", "The Bounty Hunter", and "Optimum Solace"; I only watched "The Karate Kid" and then the rest of the time I tried to go to sleep. However, my attempts failed. In an eight hour flight, I think I slept successfully for an hour. I am anxious to see how jet lag effects me. After we landed in Pisa at 1:30 pm which is 6:30 am USA time, we got off and got our luggage (no one's luggage got lost; praise!) ; we were greeted by Kyle, and then rode the bus to Florence. After reaching Florence, we got out of the bus and walked the hill to the villa. (Jenna, the villa hill is not a bad hike at all!) A HUGE bonus of the trip was our luggage was driven up to the villa and we didn't have to carry it! We are definitely spoiled. Upon entering the villa, Robbie and Mona welcomed up with open arms! We sat in the classroom and got our room arrangements and etiquette for dinner a la Mona! After the boys helped us move all of our luggage into our rooms, we went down to lunch. Lunch is pasta (which you eat before you eat any other food on the table), then you put your pasta bowl under your empty plate and then proceed to fill your empty plate with meat, fruit, salad, bread, and NUTELLA! :) After lunch we came into our rooms and checked Facebook, took pictures, and called parents. Right now, I am waiting for the dinner bell. Until then, be blessed and talk to you soon! Miss all of you so much!