Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh Back to School, Back to School...

Today was my first day of classes!  I am currently a student at the Lorenzo de Medici University here in Florence where the school is comprised of all international students, mainly American.

The classes are very small and our teachers are mostly Italian with English as their second language, therefore making it difficult to understand them at times.

This picture below is the view of the beautiful and magnificent  Duomo from one of the libraries.  It's going to be difficult to study when you can be so easily distracted by the beauty of the Duomo here in Florence.    

Although I had my "boring classes" today I am excited for my more fun classes tomorrow starting off with Italian Language and ending with Italian Wine and Culture (obviously going to be my favorite!)

Tonight, LdM hosted a Welcome Dinner for all the students at the Palazzo Borghese which is very close to the Arno.  Even though the walk was a bit of a hike in this windy/freezing weather it was worth it just to be in the building...absolutely beautiful!

Gorgeous Interior and Chandelier !
LdM students at our casual, stand around, and make awkward conversation dinner.
Free Refills on soft drinks, but we had a voucher for only 1 glass of

Overall the dinner was nice and hey, it was a free meal.  We have classes again tomorrow through Thursday and then finally the weekend.  API has sponsored a Self Defense Class for us this Friday which means we can't travel.  However, we thinking of taking a day trip somewhere...possibly Pisa?  You'll know our decision once I blog about it! Ciao!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chef Alli

Yesterday we took a fantastic cooking class over the Arno at a place called In Travola.  Here, we learned how to make a few simple courses and then got to eat it!

I was in charge of smashing the potatoes and then mixing them up with 4 different types of flower for the gnocchi dish.

We also began prepping for our warm caprese salad which contained roasted egg plant, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, oregano, and parmesan cheese.  Of course, nothing in Italy is made without some Olive Oil too!

After slaving in the kitchen we went down into this small cellar that was beautifully decorated and ate lunch!
Caprese Salad
Gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce
Gnocchi with meat ragu
My cooking group with our chef!  He loved singing American Songs, especially songs by Air Supply.
After our lunch we spend the rest of the day roaming around Florence doing a little sight seeing and shopping.  As always, we came home for a nap and then cooked our first home dinner!  Unfortunately I didn't get any pics, but we'll be cooking a lot more at home this semester so I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on our adventures in the kitchen!  Well, I don't really do much of the cooking, I just stir whatever Mina tells me too....LOL.

We're off to find where are classes are today...unfortunately we start school tomorrow. Ciao!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Piazza del Mercato Centrale!

We moved into our apartment yesterday and the location couldn't be better!  We are in the Piazza del Mercato Centrale Apartments which are located in the central part of Florence, and right across the best food market in Florence!
All our luggage!  And we thought we packed light....

Common Room
Our little couches and storage closet
Our cute little kitchen!
Kitchen table and dyers in Italy! 
Our Room.
Bathroom.  Mina and I share this one, then our roomies have their own.


We moved into our apartment Wednesday, and yesterday we went on a "Survival Tour" through Florence.  We basically learned how to buy food at the market and other essential things for living in the city.  After we went to our school orientation.  It was of course a bit boring, and it didn't help that the seats were large comfy auditorium seats...needless to say we were all passed out sleeping during the orientation.  

After a long nap we went out with some of our friends to experience a bit more of the night life here.  Going out is different than at home, Italians don't really "pregame," and when they go out they aren't hammered like all the Americans here.  It's very obvious who the Americans are compared to the locals.

Directly below our apartment is a popular bar called The Fish Pub.  It's pretty cool inside, and we're thinking it will probably become a regular hangout for us.  It was half/half Americans and Italians there and they are always passing out flyers with different themed nights and drink deals.  Because of this place being so convenient for us I'm sure we'll be starting off many of our nights there this semester.

If you can believe it or not, Mina and I slept literally ALL day today (Friday).  We did absolutely nothing all day but sleep.  As bad as it sounds we really just needed a day to catch up on sleep and relax.  From the moment we got to Florence we've been on the go!  api has done a really good job keeping us busy and taking us on many tours, but it's been exhausting.

We had dinner with our roomies Gabby, Erika, and Brittany at ZaZa's which is right across the street from our apartment.  Delicious food and tasty wine!  As always, dessert was the best.

Brittany, Me, Mina, Gabby, and Erika

Brushetta and Prosciutto for our Appetizer with the house wine

My main course.  Beef with ZaZa secret sauce.

Tomorrow we have a cooking class in the morning and then more sight excited!!! Will post more pictures soon. Ciao!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Getting Settled In

These last few days have been great!  Lots of adjusting and getting situated, but it's getting better and better everyday!

Yesterday we started off with breakfast at the hotel and then off to orientation with our program, api.  

After we ventured out on our own for lunch and to do some sight seeing.  At first it was a bit uncomfortable trying to find our way around the city, as well as the adjustment period with getting to know the other api students.  We ended up going out to lunch with our new friends Paul and Greg and found this little place for lunch.  

Later in the afternoon we were taken on a private tour of the city.  Our tour guide was a really nice Italian lady who took us all around the city showing us a lot of the history and art.  We learned a lot about the Duomo and other historical buildings here in Florence.  I'm really interested in taking more in depth tours of the museums, the Gucci museum in particular.  

For Dinner we went to this trendy place called Moyo for Aperitivo.  It's similar to "happy hour" in the sense that drinks are priced a little lower than usual and then once you buy one drink you get to eat the buffet for free and go up as many times as you please.  It's mainly finger foods like sandwiches and other appetizer type things.  It was a fun atmosphere and we got to spend some time with Alyssa, another student from Virginia Tech, and her roommate Liz from Boston. 

We ended the night by going out to a Beatles cover band bar called BeBop and then to a more American Touristy hangout called the House of Sizzle and Red Garter bar.  It was fun, and we mostly just enjoyed people watching.  The best is watching the American boys go wild and crazy trying to hit on American girls.  The nightlife has been pretty fun so far, but I'm sure the longer we're here we'll be spending more time at Italian hangouts instead of the more touristy areas. 

Tomorrow we have our "Survival Tour" in the morning and then our orientation with the school in the afternoon.  Hope everyone at home is doing well and I miss you all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Benvenuti in Italia!

Just changed my current fb location to Florence, Italy!  It has finally hit me that I am now living in another country and will be here for the next 4 months!

We departed out of Dulles Airport at 4:20pm on Sunday, January 22nd.  I am living with my lovely friend Mina Choi, who is also at VT student.

I said good bye to my family and it was off to Florence!

We flew in Air France's Air Bus which was a huge plane!  

We were originally sitting in a row of 4 seats with an older French couple, but they were moved to another row so Mina and I got the entire row to ourselves!! Nice and spacious!

We had these really cool TV screens in front of our seats which showed a live camera view of our airplane taking off and landing!  It was really cool to watch.

This was our cute little breakfast we had on the plane in the morning.  Yogurt, muffin, OJ and hot tea!  The yogurt was pretty gross, but we ate it anyway. 

For Dinner (don't have a picture) we had a delicious pasta dish with this weird side of beans or potatoes?  I have no idea what it was, but we ate it anyway!  We also had yummy chocolate pudding and our own little bottle of red wine. Our little flight attendant gave me this odd look when he went to collect my trash and noticed my wine bottle was completely empty...he was probably thinking "you stupid American lush! 

Our connecting flight from Paris to Florence we had the most obnoxious group of girls on our flight!  It's no wonder the French hate us...they were so annoying ordering champagne and croissants at the airport in Paris before we left for Florence.  Luckily I passed out during the flight so I didn't have to listen to them ramble on, but I did hear one say, and I quote "I can't wait to go Jersey style in Florence".......what does that even mean? 

There are approx 250 API Study Abroad students in our group so we've been busy meeting lots of new girls!  Out of us all there are about 6 guys in the program, lucky them. 

Until my next post, have a wonderful day friends and family, love and miss you all! Ciao!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Next 4 Months of My Life....

 Packed into only 3 suitcases!

If you've traveled with me before, it's quite obvious that I can be quite the over-packer.  For instance, a 3 day trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl with Kelly and McCaul resulted in me having to transfer shoes and other heavy items from my suitcase to McCaul's because it was over the 50lb limit by 13lbs!

Luckily the packing process only took a few hours, however it started off a bit messy...

My last day home started with my Mom's side of the family for traditional Filipino Breakfast!  We laughed as we showed my Nunu our new favorite Filipino parody "Sh&* Filipino Moms Say"

Auntie Jane and Yvette, Nunu, & Cousins Nolah and Mady

Dinner at Szechuan Garden was delicious, yet my Grammy cried when saying good bye, I'm her only granddaughter so I know she'll be missing me a lot these next 4 months.  We eat at this restaurant with my Gram and Pop every Sunday night and has been a tradition we've kept going for quite some time now.  

The Sharper Family in the Florist Greenhouse

The packing is finally done and now it's off to spend my last night home in my comfy and snuggly queen size bed.  It's one of the things I'll miss the most while abroad!  CIAO!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Goodbyes Galore!

I feel as though I've been having "Goodbye" dinners for the past 2 weeks!  Although they seem a little sad, they are always such a blast and tonight was no exception.

I spent tonight with two great family friends, Kenly and Wendy Walston.  We met the Walston family when Kenly and I were in Pre-School at Grace Brethren and our families have been close friends ever since.

Kenly and I  at Ocean City Beach
5th Grade Cotillion  
Summertime when we got Hair Wraps
Myself, Kenly and our moms went to Annapolis mall for a little shopping and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  We had a great time reminiscing over old stories and laughing about how stupid boys can be at times...typical girl chat.  We even spent some time at Sephora and Nordstrom making sure we were up to date on the newest facial products...just making sure we're keeping our "money makers" lookin good! LOL

Ken surprised me with a fabulous going away present, a travel kit with all the essentials!  From shampoo to ear plugs, girlfriend hooked me up with all the things you could ever think of!  

Ken also found a picture of our families at the beach from years back.  So precious!
The Family Clan outside the Candy Kitchen in our favorite vacation place OC
To top off this great present, Kenly even decided to become a little poet and come up with this quote...
I am so grateful and blessed to have such wonderful friends!  I will truly miss my "relations" while in Italy, but they'll be anxiously awaiting my post about Costas! (It's a relations thing)