Hailey's Blog

all about the world, written by a college girl

Month: July 2017

ciao italia, until next time

traveling has always been something I have deeply loved. ever since I was a little girl, my parents have tried to take us to as many places as possible; to experience the culture, the food, and the art. but most of all, to create memories. if I ever had to chose between a memory or a physical thing, it would always be the memory, because I have made so many incredible ones traveling. I truly believe travel, especially international, is vital to being a full you. There are some people who never have the urge, or passion to travel outside of their comfort zone, and that is perfectly fine. but what I have learned from my experience, is that the places that we travel to that are different from what we are used to, change us the most. This was my first time traveling abroad by myself, but I have been to Europe twice before with my family. however, traveling alone was a lot different. While I was abroad, I learned a lot about myself. I think the most shocking thing I learned about myself was that I really do love independence. I don’t need to be with someone all the time, and I don’t need to always have someone to talk to, or sit by. I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert all the time, or an extrovert all the time, but I think I’m kind of in the middle. I feel like a lot of people feel like they can never be seen alone, or be alone, but to be honest, I really enjoy the independence of being able to do things on my own, and that is something I have really noticed about myself on this trip. and I think I have really grown up and matured in this sense. I cant wait until I can study abroad again and be able to travel and explore things on my own and meet more amazing people.

For our prompt for our last blog, we were suppose to pick a word that resembled a way we grew on this trip. for me, I think that word was, love to learn. Although I have grown in my understanding for different cultures and travel, as well as passion, those are things I believe I already had a bit of because I have traveled. I love understanding different cultures. A lot of people quickly assume and say stuff such as, “that’s so weird, we don’t do that”. But that’s one thing I’ve tried really hard not to do while traveling. Just because something is different in a different culture from the way we do it, doesn’t mean it’s weird, its simply different, and I think we should absorb that. as for passion, I think I have developed an even deeper passion for traveling, art, and writing.  I have always loved writing, and continue to blog and journal normally outside of this trip, but this trip really inspired me to write even more. traveling to new places always does. but more than these things, on this trip I grew in my love for learning. The opportunity to be able to study in another country was hands down ineffable to even describe. there was something special about being able to go to a museum in Florence, or Rome, and have all your friends around you, along with an absolutely spectacular professor. he brought the art to life; and I don’t say that with any exaggeration. He made the art interesting, and related it to topics that were fascinating. He related it to the culture and how it effected us today; it was amazing. I have always loved school, and learning, but this trip just really broadened that. my love for learning, abroad, has especially skyrocketed, and I cannot wait to study abroad again.

as a global engagement fellow, I have to study abroad for at least a semester somewhere next but I would love to do a year. I know it may be crazy, but when are we going to get this chance again? when are you going to be able to spend a year of your life, studying what you love, in a foreign country where you can explore, learn and grow? it’s so special, and I really think it is important to take advantage of these opportunities. I cannot wait to come back to Europe, and I hope to travel to even more unique areas such as Asia, and Africa. I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed to have been selected to go on this trip, and I know I will forever look back on it as an experience of a lifetime.  so with that, I hope you enjoyed some of my blogs. Thanks for reading!




Goodbye Arezzo and hello Siena

Sunday night was our last night in Arezzo. To be honest, I am really sad to leave Arezzo. I’m not ready. I have fallen in love with Arezzo more than I ever expected. I have fallen in love with the different neighborhoods that were passionate at the Joust, I have fallen in love with the restaurant Mario’s, and the absolutely amazing view from the park at the top of the hill. I get it now. I really do. I get why all these OU students love coming to Arezzo. It feels like a home away from home. Except it feels like a home away from home where you are constantly learning, not only academic material, but learning more about yourself, and growth. I really hope one of these days I can come back to Arezzo, to experience the people, the food, and the small town friendliness. But until then, I am saying “ciao” to Arezzo, and hello to Siena. Siena was absolutely stunning. My favorite part about Sienna was when Kirk sat us all down and talked about St. Catherine. It was inspiring. He talked about how St. Catherine didn’t do things like everyone else. She wasn’t the typical girl back during those times. She did what she wanted, and didn’t always listen to others. He said he wouldn’t necessarily call her a feminist, but still, I was inspired and intrigued. After that, we actually got to go into the church where her thumb, and head are! WOW.  I saw a Saints head, and finger. It was so cool, but also a little creepy. The rest of her body is back in Rome. Apparently a couple of people went to go retrieve it to take it back to Siena, however, they only got the head. But as they were leaving the gates of Rome, they opened the bag that apparently her head was in, and it appeared as flowers. This is one of the miracles that St. Catherine is credited for.

After this, we were given some free time and then we toured a bigger church in the center of town. This may have been one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen in my life. After this, it was lunch time. Siena is known for a pasta called Peci, but you pronounce it like “peachy”.  It is a thick spaghetti, and they put a fresh wild boar sauce on it. It was FANTASTIC. Before going to Italy, I was honestly not really a big fan of meat sauce; however, theres is different, and so much better than the states. After lunch, we had some free time, then it was time to head out to Rome. Ciao Siena, and hello Rome.


Rome (Day 2)

Let me just start by saying, 2 days in Rome is not enough. In fact, even 10 days in Rome isn’t even enough. It is that spectacular . Our second day in Rome was so busy as well. In the morning, we headed to another beautiful church. This church was a Titular church. There are 7 of them throughout Rome. They are very important churches because they are usually the funnel for religious individuals who are on their way to becoming the Pope. They were usually wealthy women’s homes, and women would open up their homes for worship. In this church, we saw the chains that St. Peter was in, and that was insane. It was crazy because it is from so long ago, and here we were in 2017 taking a look at something that touched someone so sacred and important.

After this, we headed toward the Coliseum and the Forum. When we turned the corner, there it was, the Coliseum. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t get over how it was right off of a main road with a ton of cars. It always throws me off to see super important things in history right next to  something so modern; like a highway. We crossed the bridge to go to the Coliseum, and then I started to see the Forum, they are right next to each other. First we went to the Forum. It was mind boggling to me that they constructed something so complex so long ago. Kirk talked about how they had everything in place, a political system, established law, and nice homes. As we walked through, it was absolutely surreal to imagine that this used to be the epicenter of Europe a long time ago. This was the place that new ideas were coming, it was the pinnacle for catholic faith, and art; and I was standing in the middle of it. Crazy, right?  Kirk also talked about when the Empire fell. It is really scary to think that in history all great empires have fallen. In my opinion, the United States is very unstable right now as a nation, and I truly believe we are teetering. We are not number 1 in anything anymore, and it’s scary. After touring the Forum, and after we got poured on, we moved over to tour the Coliseum. I think the thing that I was in awe mostly about the Coliseum was the architecture. it was surreal, and it absolutely amazes me how they constructed something like this so long ago. Later that night, we went to the Trevi fountain and I threw 2 euro in, over my right shoulder. Your right shoulder is hoping that you will be back in Rome, and left is for love. And although I hope one day I find love, more than that I want to travel, and what can I say, hopefully my 2 euro will work.



Rome. It is the city you see in the movies, here about in history class, and the city of love. Rome was ineffable. The first day was the day we were going to the Vatican. We hit a couple of museums, and churches on the way over there that were also amazing, but what I really want to talk about is the Vatican; it was that amazing. Besides it being 100 degrees outside, it was great. Right before we met to go to the Vatican, we were given about an hour to get some lunch. We found this great place and sat outside and I had this amazing margarita pizza. After lunch, we were all still very thirsty. We didn’t want to order too many waters at lunch because in Italy they would charge you for the water, and none of it was actually that cold, because they never had ice, which was very unfortunate especially in the summer. I honestly think one of the most memorable parts of Rome for me was the water system. Right after we got out of lunch, we took our empty water bottles and put them up to a fountain on the street, and filled them up with fresh, cold water. I was in shock. There was just free, cold, clean water around the whole city and it was so convenient and innovative.  I guess I should’ve been in less shock because the Romans have had innovative water systems since the beginning when they constructed the Roman Aqueducts.

Anyways, after lunch and filling up our water bottles, we proceeded to the Vatican. On our way in, there were so many people I couldn’t believe it. We headed straight in and pushed through the crowds and got our tickets. The most amazing part of the Vatican  to me was the map room. It is filled with old maps and drawings of Italy and its regions. I think this just really played into a lot of what we had discussed about in the class, about the ethnocentrism. The Italians are just so passionate about where they are from, even showing that in the map room with all of the detailed, beautiful drawings of the maps. After the map room, we headed to the Sistine Chapel. I was amazed, by the art, but also by the size. For some reason, I have just pictured the Sistine Chapel to be the size of St. Peters Basilica, and it was much smaller. This being said however, it was still incredibly beautiful.  After this, we went to the Basilica, which was something I will remember for a lifetime. It was so incredible. After this, we met outside, and we all split. A couple of my friends and I decided we would walk ourselves back to the hotel, which was a 3 mile walk. I navigated all of us through the city with my map; and although at the time it was a little stressful, it was really fun, and it made me feel so independent navigating a huge city. This is something I really learned about myself on this trip. I don’t mind doing things on my own, in fact, I really enjoy it. I know many people hate being alone, even when they go to the bathroom, but I love it. Especially in a big city, it was so inspiring and it really reassured my dreams of wanting to live in a huge city one day.



Florence was probably my absolute favorite place we visited in Italy, next to Assisi and Arezzo, what can I say, its so hard to chose. Anyways, we luckily got to spend 2 days in Florence. We were able to explore all the great museums, and see all the famous artwork. But a part that I thought was really fun, is that we got to explore the city on our own. Being a big city girl, I was expecting to love Rome the most, but the truth is, I fell in love with Florence. Our first day in Florence, we went to a museum and saw all the beautiful famous works, and then we were given free time. A couple of my friends and I decided to explore the city, and also go check out the leather market.

Once we got to the leather market, we were in awe. It reminded me a lot of the market I had been to in Madrid. A lot of vendors, selling similar things, begging for your attention, and of course, begging for your money.  We actually ended up spending a lot of time in the leather market, but I’m not complaining, because I thought it was really interesting. After the leather market, it was about 2, and we were all so hungry, so we were trying to find a place to eat. We decided to eat at a small cafe on top of a market. It was amazing. There were so many options, and we knew we had found a good place, because there were not many people who spoke english. After this, we had a little time to walk around, then the day was over and it was time to get back on the train. I really enjoyed Florence because although it was a modern city with old charm, it felt less like a city. It didn’t have the sound of loud cars, and honking horns, like New York, or Rome. It was a little more quaint and I really enjoyed it. Also, the variety of architecture and fashion was absolutely inspiring. I can’t wait to go back one day, hopefully soon.



Pasta Making

One of my favorite experiences that we got to participate in was pasta making. Coming from an Italian family, my family has always loved pasta and made homemade manicotti for every Christmas. Going to the pasta making course, I was really excited, especially to find out the recipes, and what types of pasta we were going to make. We were taught by the best, Fabio. First we made pappardelle, then ravioli, and lastly, gnocchi.

We started off by using our flour and making a little almost “volcano” with it and cracked in egg in the middle of it. We slowly mixed in the flour and wisked the egg as well. Then, we finally had our dough. After that, we sprinkled some semolina flour on the dough, and began to roll it out. We learned that it is very important to flip the dough every time you roll it out, to make it as thin, and good as you can. This is really important. After about 10 minutes of all of us trying to roll out our dough, we cut it in half. One side was going to be used for the pasta, and the other for the ravioli.

Lastly, we made gnocchi. Fabio cut up all the fresh potatoes with a tool that shredded them super small, an then he mixed the potatoes with the flour and egg, and a dough started to form. I was really excited for this mostly, because gnocchi has been one of my favorite pastas since I was a kid. However, it is so hard to find good gnocchi. Eventually, after we finished all the pasta, Fabio cooked them all. He put the gnocchi in a tomato basil sauce, the papparadelle in a pesto sauce, and the ravioli in a butter, olive oil and sage sauce. It was absolutely fantastic. One big difference I have noticed between pasta dishes in the States and in Italy is the sauce. The sauce is much lighter, and of course, it is a lot better. The pasta is also a lot softer. It was amazing and I am so glad we were able to get a true taste of the Italian culture through a true Italian.



One of my favorite places we got to visit in Italy, was the small town of Assisi. I never would have thought that this small town on the hill top would’ve been my favorite, but there was so much about it that was absolutely perfect. As we drove up, everyone was slowly waking up from their naps from the ride there, and suddenly you could tell we were all in awe. As we drove up the hill to Assisi, I already knew it was going to be absolutely amazing. After getting off the bus and making our way up the hill, I was in shock of the beauty and history. All of the buildings were made of light stone, and there were old arches above the buildings, and bright flower boxes hanging from everyones windows. It was perfect; it was quaint, but it was just enough to be overwhelmingly beautiful. The first thing we did in Assisi was visit the cathedral where St. Francis’s tomb is located. It is located right underneath the church. Being in the presence of all of this was surreal. It was crazy to think that I was sitting within 10 feet of a Saint’s body. Someone who changed and made movements in the path of catholicism and christianity. It was more than moving; it was fascinating. After this, we had free time to explore. We walked around the whole town, climbed to the top of the hill to overlook the area, and also sat at a viewpoint for about an hour and took in all the beauty. I think the thing I loved most about Assisi was the way the culture and beauty were preserved and kept. It was so unlike anything from the states. That is something I absolutely love about Europe. I have traveled to Spain, England, France, Germany, and now Italy, and that is something I have fell in love with in all these places. The United States is so new, and the history and a preserved culture is something we don’t have. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s just different. I hate when people travel and say things like, “this is so weird”, to their culture, or ways of life. The truth is, is that it’s not weird, it’s just different. Just because we aren’t used to something, or familiar with something doesn’t mean it is weird. I think that is one thing I’ve learned a lot from being abroad more and more. A lot of things are different. But just because they are different doesn’t mean that we should compare them or criticize them to things back home. I know it’s easy to do since being abroad is a lot different. But I think this is one of the best parts, experiencing the culture, and being immersed in something that isn’t our own. I can’t wait until I can go back to Assisi, and Italy. But for now,  I will cherish the memories, and remember the beautiful culture that I was able to experience here in Assisi.



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