Sunday, February 20, 2011


I got back in town Tuesday night. My flight was delayed in D.C. because of a computer issue on the Boeing 757's, so all the flights were grounded. Luckily, the crew flying to Orlando acted quickly and got a spare 767 and was able to make the flight safely and without too bad of a delay. I am so thankful I didn't have to spend the night in D.C., not that I would mind being there (on the contrary) but after being gone so long I just wanted to see my family and get home. Both United flights, the Rome - D.C. leg and the D.C-Orlando leg were very comfortable and pleasant. I am glad they are going to be merging with Continental and looking forward to joining their combined frequent flier program!

Since being back I have been so full of energy. That energy stems from this consistent feeling of happiness. Everyone keeps saying how 'refreshed' and 'happy' I look and its totally true, this trip made me feel so amazing. I am happier than I've ever been, truly happy all the time for no one external reason. I just graduated UCF, made Dean's List the last 4 semesters, already got the GRE out of the way, just got back from the most incredible place in the world, South Africa, and fulfilled my need to go to Italy. There are so many things to be thankful for, and I am going to make every effort to make sure I am as gracious as possible. Being away from my typical lifestyle here has given me a new appreciation for this life. There are so many little things, things we  consider "necessities," but that so many people do without. It just makes me cautious to ever complain, because small, stupid problems are now so trivial. I just do not care to complain or lament any less than ideal circumstance anymore, and what point is there anyway?

All I can see is forward. I am so excited about the places I'm applying for graduate school. One of the schools is Cape Town University because I want to go back to South Africa as soon as possible. I'm so excited to go to Chicago this summer and hopefully visit some of my other volunteer friends in Phili and Canada. I'm also trying to coordinate some sort of Caribbean or Mexico/Central Am. getaway this summer. Mexico calls to my heart but anywhere in "Latin America" will do. Now that I'm out of school I'm going to start really focusing on my Spanish, currently I'm looking into a tutor or a weekly class to go to. I'm looking for a place to volunteer one or two days a week, hopefully working in the filed of education with under-privileged students.

Everyday since I've gotten back I wake up with a smile on my face. And its completely genuine. I feel confident, beaming with happiness and positivity, and a strong desire to help other people. Africa for Life! lol.


*last post until my next trip...dates are all up in the air at the moment, but thank you for reading, everyone! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Getting Inspirational

I love this trip. So here are some inspring, positive life thoughts I have gathered recently.

"There is more to life than what it is at any given time. There is more than what you planned, more than what you are comfortable doing, more than what is expected of you.  You can do it all. Anything you want can be possible. There is truely possibility in everything, every oppotunity has the potential to open new doors for you. All you on an individual level have to do is live and change. I would argue that constant change is to be alive. I am so inspired by these travels over the past month or so. I have met people from all over the world. I have been impressed by those bi, tri and multi lingual people, those who made me realise just how much I have to learn before I can really understand their cultures. I have been inspired to take a total departure from what I thought was my next natural step. I have been fearless and gone with the flow. I have felt completely happy in many moments without outside influence. I have been optimistic the entire time because no matter what happened, I was in some of the most spectacular places of my life."

"My life is mine, anything that can happen in the future is my responibility.I have the power to change my life in any way I dream. I need to take chances and continue to evolve."

"Being in South Africa has made me notice some changes about myself as a result of my time here. One is being generally more relaxed, less stressed and less rushed. We have truely been running on Africa Time here, meaning it will happen when it will happen, if it will happen. I am also more comfortable with myself in general. Any self-consciousness I had before is really almost gone entirely. I feel more at ease with myself, do not foster any superficial insecurities. People in South Africa just are here and they love one another regardless, so that has made it easy for me to do the same with myself."

I do not feel sad or regretful to come home at all. I actually quite look forward to it because I am so excited to put into action all of the new things I have learned and wanted to do. I also really miss my dog omg.There are some very cool things coming up and I am just so excited for the rest of 2011.



*Same thing with the spelling and grammer, I don't even know where I messed up because according to Italian spell check, I messed up everything! haha

Update Too Late

I've terribly neglected my blog for the past week beucase its been so hard to find an internet cafe, and typing on the ipod touch is really hard. I have'nt been doing much of anything really, just walking around some more and recently some shopping. I bought a classic lightweight khaki coat which tightens at the waist for shape definition and some other fun stuff ;) Anyway, I think I said this before, Rome is totally liveable for me. After being here for only 9 days I feel that I can comfortably and safely find my way to any point in town. 

So yesterday, I took a day trip to the lovely island of Capri! It was via a pre-arranged tour so there were about 15 other people as well. I don't care if it's cheesy to do that, I doubt I would have figured out the logistics of actually getting there on my own. I had to get up early, as its a three hour drive to Naples and then a 45 minute boat ride to Capri from the port. I made friends with a girl from Japan who was there with her mom and a girl from Argentina who was by herself, and she was only 16! They were both really nice and excited to practice their English with a native speaker as they put it, I once again felt ignorant that my Spanish is so elementary and that I only speak English. I spent most of the day with the Argentinean girl because she was alone and I expressed my love for her country. She told me I have to come to Mar del Plata, where she is from. So whenever I get a chance to make my South American dreams come true, I will go there! Back to Capri! We had a group lunch which was very tasty and then our guide gave us a brief tour of the town. After that the sun miraculously came out and we checked out the gardens which hosted abosoultely breathtaking views of the island and the water. It was so so beautiful, another one of those moments that I could'nt actually believe I was expierencing. After some souvineer shopping we had a chance to taste the local Limoncello (a strong, sweet lemon liquor) and local chocolates. The day seemed to be way too short as we boarded the boat back to Naples and then the bus back to Roma.

The day before yesterday, aka Saturday.
Not a whole lot to say but I have to share my expierence at a nearby museum on Via Nazionale. I keep walking by and seeing the posters and large statues advertising the massive Teotihuacan exhibit they are showing. I finally made the time to see it and I am so glad I did! Having just taken a Mexican history class last semester, the lessons were still fresh in my mind. It was so exciting to see all of the artifacts, most of them from between 400ad-800ad if I recall correctly. The civilizations of ancient Latin America are grossly underappreciated in the modern historical conversation, so to see such a major homage to the Teotihucan civilzation was awesome.

Alright, on to the next posting. Ciao!

*If almost everything is spelled wrong Im just going to blame it on Italian spell check and a foreign keyboard. Sorry!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Roman Holiday

Hello! Just a quick update from Roma.

Everything here has been lovely to say the least. It's kind of funny, I can't help feelin like I've been here before for some reason. Rome really reminds me of Paris and I'm starting to wonder if a lot of the larger European capitol cities are quite similar. It's like Ive been here before, maybe because of movies or so mich time spent wishing I was in Italy, now that I'm here it's so familiar.

Anyway, I think that I am a terrible tourist. I spend a lot of my time sleeping and wake up without any real agenda. Ive also been walking enormous amounts for fear of the adverse effects of too much tasty food. I've had pizza for lunch everyday so far because it's easy, cheap and totally delicious.

Today I went to the colosseum and to the Roman Forum. Both were incredible though I think the forum Romano is my favorite spot in all of Rome. Yesterday I met up with a friend of one of my Africa friends who is living here for a few months. We went to a renaissance art museum at Palace Barberini and ate lunch on the Spanish Steps.
That's it for now! It's hard to update significanty on an itouch but I tried.



Monday, February 7, 2011

Ciao Roma

First, I am so sad to have left South Africa! Leaving the kids was horrible and so was leaving all the new friends I've made there. We all plan on visiting each other over the next year and possibly something very very exciting next year but lets not discuss that one right now! Anyway I also must say that I am so surprised by how close you can get to people in "only three weeks." Saying goodbye to all of the host families was so sad! I have to go back to South Africa soon, and really, so should everyone else. Its just a magical, incredible place. Volunteering in S.Af was up there with "best life decisions ever." 

Transit: Spent the last day in Cape Town for a few hours, had lunch and went to the market one last time for shopping. Left for the airport and my flight was delayed. It ended up being fine because that just meant a quick layover in Dubai, and I wanted to spend as little time there as possible because the airport is so hectic. I flew with Emirates and it was hands down the best flight I've ever flown on. That sounds really extreme but it's true! It was a 9 hour flight from Cape Town to Dubai and a 6 hour flight from Dubai to Rome and it really felt like no time at all. The whole expierence was so comfortable and felt very lux. The staff took great care of everyone and the in flight entertainment system was awesome, plus I liked that everything was in English and Arabic. Fly with Emirates if you get a chance!

Rome: I arrived here Sunday, 6 February around 2p.m. My hotel is located in a good part of town, right around the busy areas but on a quiet side street. It seems quite new and has an amazing queen size bed with plush pillows. I was so tired from all of the travel and time changes so I didn't do much yesterday aside from walking around a bit and picking up some groceries. I slept from 7:30 pm until 9:30am. So about Rome. I finally got out of bed today and did a large amount of walking, just to get aquainted with the neighbourhoods. It's a beautiful, energetic, buzzing city. And its exactly how you'd imagine it to be. I'm trying to walk as much as possible for exercise and to get to know the area. Everyone I've encountered speaks English, but I feel so stupid whenever they do! Language deficiency is what I would call it, bottom line is I need to expand my language knowledge.



Friday, February 4, 2011

Last Week in South Africa

I can't believe its my last week here! I'm so sad to leave the kids in my class because I've come to love them all so much.

Sunday: Hilda was out of town enjoying herself with some of her family. Christian (her son) and Zaria (her daughter) came over and we had a Braai, which is basically a South African BBQ. Its a very popular thing to do in the summertime here. It was so nice to be apart of something so cultural and feel so welcomed. They cooked me veggie burgers on the grill :). That afternoon we went to something called a "Bush Pub," which is almost exactly as it sounds: a bar located on a field. Sunday is all day happy hour there and one of the other host family's and all of their friends and family invited us. We had such a great time chatting on the patio and enjoying a few drinks, just joking around and getting to know the family better. There were actual goats and geese just walking around the yard coming right onto the bar deck. It was hilarious and definitely a great way to spend a Sunday. 

Tuesday: Some of the other volunteers and I went to Ms. Verna's house, that's the teacher of my class, and chatted for about three house about everything from education systems in South Africa to relationships to the indiviudla kids in the class.  She's an awesome woman who really cares about each student and her colleagues.  I've arranged with her to keep in touch via letters and email. I'm going to send the class a mix CD with some dances we taught them, including Firework and The Climb. They love Waka Waka by Shakira too, so I'll make sure to add that to the CD! Michelle (my roommate) and I volunteered to cook dinner for Hilda (our host mom) since she's been so hospitable and is always extremely busy. We made a delicious macoroni and cheese with a salad. It was 96 degrees and felt very hot because of no air conditioning or fans whatsoever.

One of the girls in my class decided to start calling me her mommy, and so the other girls at that table caught on. So now it's like "you're my mommy," "no, you're my mommy!" whenever I go check on their table. I want to take them home with me so badly! The one girl, Catelyn, who started the mommy thing is so nice and always admires the things I wear, like bracelets and necklaces.

I think one of the best parts about this whole experience is truly getting to know the other volunteers and the locals as well. If I had just come to Cape Town on holiday and stayed in a generic city hotel I'd never have met people such as Howie, Jay, Adnaan, Hilda, Verna, Nolan, Meranda and all the other locals I have come to know and trust. Even still, there is still so much more I'd like to see and do in South Africa. This country never ceases to amaze me and I've only gotten to know the Western Cape! I have strong faith that I will be back again, hopefully some day soon, since I'd love to go to grad school here or work here in the future.

There's more to update but that's all I have prepared for now!

I leave South Africa tomorrow night and I'm really sad about that. I am totally looking forward to Italy though, I can't believe I'm actually going. It was such a random thing and I haven't researched it too much, just planning on sleeping in (we wake up at 7:15 everyday here) and exploring the city by foot.

This trip has opened up so many more doors and encouraged me to dream bigger than I had before, thanks to all of the people I've met who inspire me so much.

More updates tomorrow probably!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

This is Week Two

Hello from South Africa!

By this point in time, everyone is aware of all the fun, exciting adventures I am having, so here is a little bit more about the school before I recap the week.

The school I teach in is called Mamre Pre-Primary. My students are 5 years old and most come from very poor backgrounds (these are the kids living in the townships for the most part). They all wear uniforms to school though so its hard to distinguish their individual backgrounds. Their teacher is Miss Verna, and she is very strict with them, but she has to be. I work with 2 other volunteers in the class, my friends Mike and Lindsay. The classroom has a very religious focus, for example, they pray in the morning, before lunch and before dismissal, as well as sing songs about religion. Its a bit odd coming from the States which practices a clearly defined separation of faith and education, but I honestly think it is good for the kids and does no harm. Our job as volunteers is to help Miss Verna and give each kid individual attention. The class has 32 students, so you can probably imagine they do not get much one on one time with the teacher. We help encourage them, teach them songs and dances, play with them, discipline and facilitate. Out of 32, only 4 speak some English. So doing all of the previously mentioned tasks is quite difficult, considering I do not speak Africaans. This is a challenge that will no doubt help improve my over all communication and cross-cultural skills though.

If you know me, you will probably know I am not the biggest fan of children in the world. I have to say though, these kids are wonderful. There are a few that I would prefer to not work with, but for the most part, they have all really inspired me and touched me. I have my "favorites," which include a little girl named Taylo, who is wise beyond her years and has a very soulful voice. She knows some English and helps me translate what the other kids are trying to say. She just seems to "over it" when the other kids are going crazy, I wish she was my little sister! There is a little boy named Ritley who is a huge flirt and blows Lindsay and I kisses constantly. He's adorable and always sets a good example of behavior for the other students. Zoey is just about the sweetest little thing, I want to adopt her. She is very shy and quite, and smiles all the time.

After school, we are very lucky to have a great deal of down time. Monday we went to Blouberg Beach and sunbathed and watched the windsurfers, (which looks so much fun, I think we are going to try next time we go). Tuesday we just hung out around Mamre, did some hiking and walking but mostly just spent time as a group talking. Wednesday we went to Camps Bay, but the weather was a bit too chilly, so eventually we left the beach and just walked around and had dinner. We ate at this incredible Italian place and shared wine and food together. Today (Thursday, 27 January) we are in Cape Town to say goodbye to Mike, he's leaving very early Friday morning. The rest of us are going back to Mamre either Saturday or Sunday.

It's Lindsay, Vanessa and I's last weekend in Cape Town which makes me realise just how fast time has gone by! I can't believe I only have a week left with the kids and with all the other volunteers. After this, its on to Italy where I will have a chance to reflect and plan the next stages of this life in an incredible city, Rome.