Hillary Holub and the Fall Break Phenomenon

This past week I had Fall Break. As some of you may have read my last post you know that it was a much needed break at the time, but I am now relaxed and refreshed and ready to get back into action. I have been enjoying being abroad so far and this past week was no exception. My roommate Courtney and I went to Dublin, Ireland and London, England. For me it was one of the best trips I have ever been on and I was able to cross some of the things off of my exceedingly long and over the top bucket list.

We started our trip last Sunday with a train ride to Pisa and then an extremely long wait because our flight was delayed. So basically we spent all day hanging out at the airport waiting and waiting and still more waiting, you get the picture it kind of sucked. After we arrived in Dublin we took a bus to our hotel and checked in. The hotel was one of the nicest places I have stayed in Europe and for not very much money either. The Kildare Street Hotel is one I will definitely recommend. Anyway after all of this we made our way over to the restaurant attached to the hotel and had dinner. You can’t go to Ireland and not have some traditional Irish food so wouldn’t you know it I did. After we did that we decided to go out and have a drink. There was a pub we went to that brews almost all of their own beer so we had some of the house special and then called it a night as we were going to be going on a tour of the cliffs of moor the next day.

We woke up at the crack of Dawn, actually scratch that it was still dark outside so no we woke up even before then, and had to meet our bus. Wouldn’t you know it I have the world’s best luck. Our tour ended up getting cancelled due to a protest about water that caused our bus to be delayed. Needless to say neither of us was very happy. While we were still waiting of the bus though Courtney and I met two guys that were supposed to go on the same tour, Brady and Austin. They were both from California and were long time friends. Austin is currently studying abroad in London and I guess Brady decided he needed a vacation. We ended up spending most of the morning looking in to renting a car. While we were trying to get wifi Courtney and I took full advantage of the fact that Ireland has Starbucks and I was finally able to have a Pumpkin Spice Latte. After much walking and a lot of research we found out we were not able to rent a car like we had hoped. Technically to rent a car in Ireland you have to be twenty one, but there most companies won’t do so due to the car insurance rates of our age group.

Instead we decided to take a two and a half hour bus ride to Galway, a small city on the coast, and explored it for the rest of the day. We ate lunch at a local pub and then walked around taking pictures and seeing all of the sights. The city was beautiful and I took a lot of really beautiful pictures. Some of them I took from the inside of their cathedral because it was so pretty I just couldn’t help myself. After that we went to a local pub to listen to some traditional music and have a drink. Too soon it was growing late and we had to catch our bus back to Dublin. The next day Courtney and I went and explored the city of Dublin all day as well as a little souvenir shopping. We finished the day with dinner and a finally drink at the pub to toast Ireland and say goodbye.

We soon found ourselves in London. We had to take a two hour bus ride to get to the station for the fifteen minute walk to our hostel. We met a lot of new people while in London and I can honestly say I have no desire to ever go back to London because honestly it was crowded and noisy and basically a more spread out version of how I picture New York City. Maybe just a little less overwhelming. The day after we got there Courtney and I spent the day doing a hop on hop off bus. It was one of the best decisions we could have made because we were able to see all of the sights and take pictures. The next day though the real fun would begin.

Harry Potter at the Warner Brother Studios was without a doubt my favorite part of London. I went full on nerd and it was glorious. I took so many pictures that my phone ended up dying shortly after our tour ended. We had butter beer which tastes like a root beer float with butterscotch in case you didn’t know. I had such a good time learning about the filming and all of the artistry as well as the amount of work that went into the making of the film. It was truly amazing to see how they brought the film to life even if I am still not convinced Hogwarts isn’t real. I can dream can’t I?! After Harry Potter we went out and walked around the city and did the same thing most of the next day. We did go to Kings Cross Station to take pictures with Platform 9 3/4 and even though it was easily the geekiest thing I have ever done I don’t regret it at all.

We then stopped and had afternoon tea at a local cafe/ restaurant and then went out that night to say good bye to London. We met and Australian guy at our hostel, who goes by Taco, and he ended up going with us. It was definitely a fun night and a great way to say goodbye to such a great place. Our bus left at four thirty in the morning which meant we had to leave our hostel at three thirty in the morning so it was a long day heading back. I am not sure how I survived, but I am alive even though I had zero sleep coming back to Italy. I am now back in Florence and ready to take on the rest of the semester. Don’t worry I still have places to go and things to see so I will keep blogging. For now it’s Cheers! I will see you in Demember.



Why Worry?

Often times I find that with my anxiety I worry about literally everything. On top of being a confessed hypochondriac I seem to be consumed with the idea of impending doom, and if I am being honest my biggest fear is the zombie apocalypse. Yeah maybe to some it is irrational and even to me it seems silly, but I can’t help worrying. It seems to be a second nature to me and in the last few days I have started to wonder why? What is this obsession that I have with worrying about every thing that is going on around me? I decided to examine it and take it still a step further. Every time that I get on social media people seem to be reposting news stories about Ebola, the drama in the middle east, how the president is handling the country, and still others seem to be fascinated with the crime going on in our everyday surroundings. I get it I myself freak out about such things as well.

Then I started to wonder if those people reposting those things just want someone to share in their worry. I can’t seem to stop hearing about Ebola not just from people here studying abroad, but also from people back home because it is literally on every news channel. If you ask me the news is sensationalising everything. I have read extensively about Ebola and yeah it is a scary thing to think about. Then again does it have to be present in every minute of everyday that I have as a healthy care free twenty year old with my whole life to look forward to? Should I be in a constant states of panic feeling like I could melt down at any second from the fear and anxiety it causes knowing that this disease could spread?

The answer quite simply is no. We are so obsessed with everything that is going on around the world and nationally that we seem to be to distracted to recognise what we have in this life. I have had enough worrying to last me a life time and I am not even married. I have not even turned twenty-one. Life begins after that I hear. So why are we worrying about today when truthfully tomorrow never comes. We could sit here and stress about the future, but that means that we are too busy not enjoying our present. We aren’t being thankful for the healthy breaths that we are taking right now. We are alive! Most of us are able to walk, talk, dress ourselves, and we’re taking all of the little things for grated.

I have been guilty of it, but no more. I am tired of it and I know that it is a useless waste of energy worrying about things that I cannot change. I could very well get Ebola, I could be caught in a country with violence being practiced over a twisted misuse of the Islamic religion, and I could drop over dead at any minute even though I am perfectly healthy from a number of things. I could be hit by a car or I could drown while I am swimming. But if you think that any of that is going to stop me from living my life then maybe it is time to examine yourself. Are you guilty of worrying about everything? Can you control the things your are worried about? Sometimes you just have to let go and give it up to God and if you don’t believe in a God then leave it up to fate. Regardless you don’t have the power to control the situations that arise in this life you can only control how you react to thing that happen. So stop being afraid to live your life because even if the worst should happen it won’t change what you have today.

Eight: Finals are Great… Halfway done

I am about half of the way through my semester abroad, and let me tell you it has been quite the experience. I have had so many up and downs that it hasn’t even been funny. Although I do know that I would not trade any of these moments for the world. It has been such a rewarding experience to be in Europe to study thus far, and I am sure that it will continue to be a rewarding experience in the months to come. I have also realized that I only have six weeks left when I come back from fall break which is not a lot. Before you know it I will be back in the States wondering where the time went and wanting to come back to Europe. I hear that happens when you go through study abroad withdrawals. I don’t think I will have that problem because I have discovered that I am a homebody because for at least the first two weeks I was questioning whether or not I was going to be able to make it through this journey or not. I have survived worse. I mean I have been through more than most people. If homesickness is the worst thing that happens to me in Europe I would say that I have had a successful semester. At times it almost doesn’t seem real that I am living half way around the world. At other times it is painfully obvious. This past week for instance I have been struggling with getting my laundry done because I have had so much to do for finals. If you want to wear something in Italy you better make sure you clean it three days in advance because they don’t have driers here. That means that you have to hang dry everything. This is a huge pain in the butt. It also doesn’t help that I have twice the amount of laundry compared to most of my roommates since I run in the morning I go through a ridiculous amount of clothes. I never thought I would be thankful for a drier but what do you know.

The other thing that I have realized this semester is that there is a lot more that goes into photography than you think. There is the taking of pictures, the editing, and the printing. The hardest part for me seems to be the taking. I found that you learn to not care what your subjects think of you when you are taking their picture. I guess I will never know if they were truly mad about it or not because as it happens I don’t speak Italian. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not, but in the case of being yelled at by random strangers for taking their picture I am going to go with a good thing. I also did not expect to be this busy. I know that I shouldn’t feel this way because you go to school to learn, but honestly having class for two and a half hours just seems like a little bit of over kill to me, and all of you guys were complaining about an hour and a half. I can’t wait to go back to having class for that amount of time. Honestly my attention starts to go within the first hour of classes here. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but I spend half of my time doodling and the other half checking the clock. When my three week intensive classes are over I think it will be a lot less stressful. I will have finished two finals for the semester after this week is over. It seems surreal at times that I am doing all of this stuff in another country.

The one thing that I do love about Italy though is the food. Not just that though the architecture is beautiful too. It is a much more relaxed way of life here compared to how it is in America. People are never in a hurry here and this can be such a breath of fresh air when it comes to trying to get my stuff done. The first month it was so hard to get used to people eating dinner at seven thirty at the earliest. Now I am not sure if I will ever be able to get used to eating dinner so early when I get back home. One thing that I found crazy about the Italians is they don’t dress for the weather they dress for the season. They are all decked out in scarves, sweaters, pants, boots, and jackets. I die in a dress and toms because it’s honestly seventy- five degrees outside and I am used to it being about fifty or below around this time of year. Not that I am complaining because I definitely love how warm it is out, but I know that this year I am going to be skipping fall and heading straight back into winter. Hopefully Papa Ben brings my winter coat to the airport when he comes to get me in December. That I am definitely not looking forward to.

On Sunday I will be heading to Ireland and staying for the week in Dublin as well as traveling on to London, England, and you can bet that I am going to totally nerd out at the Harry Potter Studios. Yes, I already booked my tickets and yes I will be drinking a Butter Beer. I can already tell that I am going to enjoy a much needed break after Friday is over with. My roommates are all going to be going on trips too and I know that they are almost as excited as I am. My roommate who is going with me to London and I realised the other day that we can actually get Starbucks in London. I almost cried because I was so excited about the prospect of a pumpkin spice latte. Typical white girl problems. I am still bummed that I am missing football season, but as long as I don’t miss baseball season I think I can survive. As always I will write more soon! Hope you are all enjoying the fantastic political commercials on T.V. 🙂 That is definitely a perk of living in Italy. Ciao for now!

Seven: Oktoberfest Heaven

I know that I have been remiss in my blogging duties this week, but the reason for that is because my laptop is currently out of commission. I will fill you in on last weekend though for all of you who are chomping at the bit to find out how my weekend was. Over the past weekend my roommate Trisha and I went to Oktoberfest. We booked late because as usual I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and wing it. We ended up going camping for the weekend because by the time that we booked all of the hotels and hostels in our price range were full. After sitting on a bus for eight hours I was never so glad to get to a place in my life. This was not my first trip to Germany though. I went with my Dad when we went on our tour through Trafalgar, but this time I got to do more and experience more in Munich that I did the first time around.

Now I won’t bore with all of the dirty details from this weekend because hello it’s a beer drinking festival. I am pretty sure you can figure out what I did this weekend. Anyways, on Friday morning Trisha and I bought Dirndls, which are the traditional German dresses worn by women to the festival, and grabbed a drink. Then it was a mad dash to the bus followed by a short train ride. When we got there almost all of the halls were packed. Our new Australian friend Tom decided that he was going to tag along. The three of us decided that it would be fun to meet some festival goers and bum off of their tables. As in we flirted our way into getting a seat. Score one for being a woman. Not to mention that I didn’t have to pay for any drinks all weekend which was also a nice change of pace. Not to mention the fact that the food was awesome! Honestly I am going to be doing some hard core body cleansing when I get home from Europe.

During our time with the Danish fellows we met Trisha and I somehow got separated. At first I was really scared because I was at the festival alone in a foreign country, but I decided that going back to the campsite and not experiencing the day to the fullest just simply wouldn’t do. I then began to wander around by myself and chat with random groups of people. I first chatted with some German girls about the festival, but they were pretty drunk by that point and were switching between German and English. It was actually really hard to focus and really confusing. I then talked to a group of Americans and they were pretty funny. The girls from America were all from California and you could tell because to be honest they were all freakishly tan. After that I kept walking and ran right into someone.

The guy I ran into was from England and his name was Ben. The rest of the day I spent with Ben and all of his friends. I’m not gonna lie I felt like a pimp. Who wouldn’t when it’s only you and ten random British guys?!  The ones I talked to the most were named, Mark, Chris, Ben, and Harry. They were all really funny and we had a great time at the festival. It kind of reminded me of hanging out with my friends at home the way that they kept teasing each other. Harry had a rough day he lost all of his stuff including his passport which was awful but at the same time kind of funny. It turned out that they were staying at the same campsite as me so we all just went back together and then went our separate ways. The next day went about the same way, but this time I went to bed earlier. I froze the second night because it was really cold at the campsite. I made a friends with a guy from Belgium and talked to one of our marines from Tipton, Iowa. It was really cool to meet someone that wanted to talk about the Iowa vs. Iowa State game and knew what I was talking about!

It wasn’t all fun and games in Germany though. After the two days at the festival I wanted to do something meaningful instead of just saying I went to a huge party. I decided to go with my roommate to Dachau. If you don’t know what Dachau is it is one of the concentration camps in Germany that was liberated by the Americans. Trisha and I went and walked around and read and saw all of the monuments and memorials. It was one of the most humbling and sad experiences of my life. So much suffering happened there that it truthfully was a pretty heavy experience. The barracks and many of the things used by the Nazis are still there to mark what happened. It was haunting and strange to be in a place that I have heard so much about but never seen. I only hope and pray that nothing that horrific ever happens again.

To end on a happy note we made it back to Italy safe and sound, and I am just now starting all of my really intense three week classes. This basically means that I have no life for two more weeks, and that I am going to be living at the school. I have been getting up to run at six am because I have no other time to do it. I have taken a lot of really great pictures on my morning runs of Italy though so I can’t complain too much. I will write more soon. Have a wonderful Fall season everyone, and don’t forget to do the American thang watch football and scream extra loud for me when you do! Ciao!

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