Manhattan for the Weekend

Monday, November 6, 2017

While the everlasting honking by impatient yellow cab drivers and chaos in the subway stations may turn people off from visiting Manhattan, it makes me all the more excited to be in New York. The adrenalin begins pumping the second I step off the Metro Rail North train in Grand Central.

The transition to American college campus (and the United States in general) after spending the entire year in Florence hasn’t been an easy one. It’s an irritating & uncomfortable feeling as though I’m stuck in one place. I’ve traded glasses of Chianti and lattes from Ditta Artigianale for daily cups of Lipton as well as flights to Athens and Budapest for Metro Rail North tickets. The second trade is less of a sacrifice than the first.

I love being a college student, and I love being on the lacrosse team, but sometimes I need a break from both. That’s where New York comes in. Traveling on my own, walking from midtown to downtown with the backpack that didn’t leave my side in Europe, drinking lattes at quaint coffee shops was the recharge I desperately needed now that November and its darkness is here.

I met up with a teammate and her friend for lunch at Broadway Bites, chatted over coffee with a Maple Street alum and current senior at NYU, ate Thai food at Klong’s with a friend from home and her roommate (and stayed at their apartment in downtown), and met my advisor from high school for pedicures and Shake Shack. In between I read Goodbye To All That, a book I stumbled upon it at the Strand booth in Bryant Park. I’d say the weekend was a success.

Manhattan has a certain glamour or appeal to me that no other city has. I can’t comprehend how it intimidates me in a way that nowhere did in Europe. I appreciate how much I’m enamored by the city despite growing up in Vermont. I hope someday I’ll be able to share my own memories of loving and leaving New York. xo ~ e.



Travel Q & A with Maria Salazar

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

One of my best and first friends (ever), Maria Salazar, recently embarked on a family trip to Mexico. I sat down with her at South St. Cafe in Bennington to hear about her Central American adventure. She graciously offered to share her experience on my blog. After spending nearly an entire year traveling, I love hearing other travel stories and memories. Feel free to share yours with me! xo ~ e.

Who did you travel with?

My dad, Anthony, and my mom, Carol.

What was the reason for your trip?

We hadn’t been on a family vacation in a long time, and we had a friend to visit and stay with. I also wanted to practice my Spanish, because it’s one of my majors (and my mom is fluent)!

Where did you stay?

Our friend, Kate, works for CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center). We stayed in the rooms they had there in Texcoco. We fit comfortably in one bedroom and had a small kitchen and bathroom to share.


You stayed in Texcoco but spent most of your time in Mexico City. Tell me about Mexico City!

Texcoco is 45 minutes away from Mexico City, so it was easy to get into the city. There are taxis, buses, and subways to get around. When we were there, people were celebrating Pride Day, and it was especially crowded outside the train station. Mexico City reminded me of Nicaragua; I absolutely loved it. The driving though was insane. People drove so close to other cars at high speeds. I was scared of getting hit! I got a big kick out of the hot pink taxis that could be seen from an airplane. They’re not your typical yellow cabs you find in NYC!

Like most cities, it perfumed a classic city smell: a medley of garbage, animals, and sweat. I never got to try corn with chili and mango which I really wanted to, but that’s okay!


What was the weather like when you were there in mid-June?

It was pretty nice. Temperature ranged from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it wasn’t very humid. It was wet season, but we only experienced rain for a couple days.



What was some of the best food you ate?

I fell in love with Mexican food. I never consumed anything close to authentic Mexican cuisine in Vermont. One of my favorite desserts was Mamey ice cream. Mamey is a fruit that looks similar to an avocado (grey on outside, pink on inside) and tastes like a papaya. It’s naturally sweet and very refreshing!

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Tlacoyos were another big hit of the trip. It’s a traditional Mexican dish with beans, cheese, cilantro and cactus in a blue corn tortilla pocket. We ate lots of these!

I wouldn’t have done Mexico right without daily smoothies or a piña colada!


How was the language immersion aspect of the trip? Did you get to practice your Spanish?

I was really nervous about speaking. I could understand mostly what everyone was saying though, which was reassuring. The Mexicans were very patient and forgiving. They seemed appreciative of me trying to learn their language. I first utilized Spanish at the airport in the the taxi, so I was immediately thrown into it! Talking about money was the most difficult for me. Both my parents spoke Spanish (my mom more than my dad), and by the end of the trip, we were all more comfortable speaking it. When we first returned, we struggled with switching back to English!


Did you do any service at CIMMYT?

Yes! We contributed items to a tag sale and lend a hand at a soup kitchen. There were 15-20 people regulars there, and we gave them each a sandwich, banana, apple, yogurt, coffee, and tea. They were very gracious.

Trip highlights?

The Frida Kahlo Museum was really cool and the pyramids in Teotihuacan were awesome. I got to go dancing which was unlike any dancing experience I had in the U.S. I enjoyed a stroll though a local craft fair (lots of vendors selling trinkets under tents) and admiring a gorgeous basilica too.



How much did a meal cost?

I never spent more than $5 on a dish 🙂

Did you have any travel mishaps?

My dad left his bag at the airport (luckily it was retrieved), my mom left a bag of gifts at one of the landmarks we visited, and I left my camera behind accidentally. Other than that, we were golden!

Takeaway from experience

I loved being surrounded by Hispanics and experiencing a different culture. This trip solidified my dream to study abroad for a semester and polish my Spanish! FullSizeRender


Touchdown in USA

Saturday, May 20, 2017

On August 25, 2016 I wasn’t sure this day would ever come! We had a bit of a struggle getting on the plane in Florence to Rome. The airport was filled with American study abroad students at 4:30 AM! Italy’s inefficiency stood out as we tried to check our bags. They were very strict on the weight of checked luggage and carry-on bags. If you had an extra bag or overweight baggage, you had to get in another line to pay for the baggage before going back to the check in line to receive boarding passes. Nearly everyone had overweight baggage or more than one checked bag! I was so close; Colleen, Krish, and I went through my checked bag at 3 AM, throwing out as much as we could. My checked bag was underweight, but my carry-on was over 😦 I paid the $100 to check it.

The issue with the baggage line is that their credit card machines weren’t working. They had to call each individual person’s credit card company to make the transaction. It was a mess! We were in line for 2 hours, and people’s whose flights were before us (I’m talking 5 minutes before) got to cut the line. It was a bummer, because we spent our last hours in Florence feeling frustrated and impatient when we should’ve been more sentimental about leaving. People who didn’t have baggage dilemmas boarded the plane on time, but we didn’t end up leaving until everyone had squared away their bags.

The plane was empty, and as the wheels left the runway, Carrie Underwood’s “See you Again” played on shuffle while I had one last glimpse of the Duomo (definitely a sign I’ll be back). I won’t forget that image.

We had a short layover in Roma; it was the first time I realized how large the airport is. Before we knew it, we were boarding! The plane was large (3-4-3 set up), and I had an aisle seat for the 8.5 hour long flight. Colleen was right behind me. We both took Advil PM and passed out! It was the first flight of my life that I actually slept decently on.


We landed safely in JFK and all stayed together at baggage claim. We bid our farewells at the pick up area; it was so nice seeing all the families anxiously awaiting to see their kids. I spotted my parents and a smiling Kiara enter the door as I wished Steven a happy birthday! I started crying as soon as I saw her. I knew the tears would come at some point. It was quite the reunion.

My dad did a great job of driving out of the city. We stopped at Panera and Sears on the way home (it was late afternoon), and I dozed with Kiara for the rest of the car ride home.

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My room looks exactly how I left it. Although you can never really go home again, there’s no place like home. xo ~ e.

Last Day in Florence

Friday, May 19, 2017

The day has come; our last day in Florence. It involved eating, walking, and reflecting and not a lot of sleeping. I hit all the piazzas, my favorite places, and Piazzale Michelangelo with Colleen for sunset. Our cab leaves at 4 AM tomorrow, and we’ll watch the sunrise from the airport! What a freshman year. xo ~ e.

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Leaving my heart in Flo

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The Last Supper


What a crew


Arrividerci Freshman Year!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I am officially a sophomore in college! Finished up my last two exams today. They were more challenging than I expected, and I was pretty fried when I sat down to take them, but I gave it my best. Now it’s Summer 2017! It came so quickly and in full force.

Olivia and I had a little photo shoot this evening; we both took our cameras out for a passeggiata. We took some very nice photos of each other in our temporary city. I will post them when I am States bound 🙂 Which is SATURDAY. Yikes!!! The next 72 hours is going to be an absolute whirlwind. With less than 48 hours in Florence, sleep is not a priority!! Soaking in every last moment is! We’re starting to say goodbye to our favorite locals at our favorite places, leaving them with polaroids of us. And the last gelatos are sadly winding down.

For dinner tonight, a big group of us went to Yellow Bar. My gnocchi was stellar!

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After dinner, we went to Kitsch (a really popular aperitivo spot right across from our building we hadn’t checked out all year) for some class Italian Aperol Spritzes. Aperol, prosecco, and soda water isn’t a bad combo!

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Here’s a photo of me refusing that this European adventure is nearly over.

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Final goodbyes and packing touches tomorrow! Can’t wait to see my family and Kiara! xo ~ e.

Hump Day

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hump(h), there’s only 3 days left in Florence 😦 I’m going to miss a lot of things about Florence. The big things and the little things. Like going to La Ménagère with Sasha on Wednesday mornings before our 9 AMs in Piazza Strozzi, eating gelato at My Sugar for lunch (a frequent occurrence this week), snuggling with Hanks and Colleen, listening to the door to my apartment building buzz, waving at the kind workers in Sandwichic, smiling at the Duomo every time I pass it, listening to the soothing sounds of Italian, and hanging laundry on my Florentine terrace.

Two more finals left! Tomorrow all the American study abroad kids will be out drinking wine at Piazzale Michelangelo during golden hour to witness a final sunset and will continue their evenings at Florence’s many bars and clubs and secret bakeries. We just may join them (safely & in moderation), because we will have officially completed our first year of college in Italy! Being able to kick off summer 2017 in Firenze isn’t a regular gig.

Today Julia and I had our last brunch at Le Vespe. We can’t comprehend how fast our time in Florence went. We both know we want to work abroad in our careers! I’m grateful for our friendship and Florence, because we probably wouldn’t have hung out if we didn’t study here together. I always looked forward talking to someone older, from home, and outside of FFE. She’ll be a senior at UVM next year which is hard for her to believe!

We had a little potluck tonight on our RD’s terrace. It was so relaxing and a great study break! Another hot day in Florence, but it made the sky a perfect pink.

Fun fact: When Sasha and I were at La Ménagère this morning, we told one of our favorite waitresses, “We’re leaving on Saturday.” She said, “Oh, no. This is bad news for the middle of the week. *Pouty face*” #thefeels

My article I wrote for Her Campus (interview with Girl in Florence) went live a few days ago!!! Give it a read here. I had fun with this one 🙂

A domani! xo ~ e.

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We love you, La Ménagère

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Have to pack this bad boy!


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Tuesday Ragazze

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lauren, Colleen, and I coined the name ‘Tuesday Ragazze’ in our group chat, because last semester the three of us didn’t have classes on Tuesday, so we spent the day together. This semester we all have classes on Tuesday, but we still hang out together in the afternoon! Today we went to Cascine Park (Krish, our friend from soccer came too) to relax on the lawn and stroll through the huge Cascine Market. We were tempted to buy turtles, fish, kittens, and bunnies, but we didn’t. That was on my list, and I’m glad I got to go! It’s only two stops away via the tram you catch at the train station (10 minute walk from our apartment).

No exams for me today but lots of rest and packing. Transitions are tough. There’s a lot of emotion, stress, fatigue, and anxiety involved. But it’s really starting to feel like summer with the warm breeze and sticky air. We’ll be homebound soon whether we’re ready or not (we aren’t). xo ~ e.

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Bruno the Bulldog


Market passeggiata

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The ‘We should be studying’ selfie at its finest