Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oscar Mayer ain't got nothin' on Bologna

Well, the past few weeks have definitely been filled to the brim with adventure! Just the way I like it!

Seth in Mondsee, a small town in the lake district outside of Salzburg where the wedding scene from the Sound of Music was filmed.

Seth and I at the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg.

Me overlooking part of Salzburg.

Seth and I in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Seth at the same overlook in Salzburg.

Me at the Mirabell Gardens, channeling my inner Julie Andrews.

Mirabell Gardens, behind the Mirabell Palace. The Do-Rey-Mi song was mostly filmed here.

Seth in from of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

Seth and I in front of the Eiffel Tower.


Seth taking in the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.

Seth and I in Rome.

Seth, taken from the Borghese Gardens in Rome.

Me at the lake in the Borghese Gardens.

Seth and I in front of the Colosseum.

Seth and I from the Colosseum with the Arch of Constantine behind us.

Seth in Florence near the Ponte Vecchio.


Me in Venice.

Seth in Venice.

Fog on the mountains of Salzburg. Only good thing about getting soaked in rain.

The back yard of this building including the lake was used for the scene in the Sound of Music where the boat capsizes, as well as other outdoor scenes. A different house was actually used for the outdoor scenes containing the home.

Seth and I in the Colosseum.
So, after two weeks at the beach in Riccione (where I was fulfilled the role of chaperone to 14-year-old Rocco), we returned to Bologna. The following day, the Rossi's headed to Miami Beach for their summer holiday, and I remained behind in Bologna. 

I was invited to hike Monte Acuto with some of the Rossi's friends that Saturday, which was GORGEOUS, and on Sunday I caught a train to Rome in order to collect Seth from the train station Monday morning. 

In short, we had a fantastic time on our two week foray into Europe!! From the Eternal City of Roma, to Mondello Beach in Sicilia (Sicily), back to Rome, to Florence, to Bologna, to Venice, to Salzburg, Austria, to Paris, France (where Seth caught a bus to Brussels and flew back the the good ol' USA) - it was a great, albeit fast-paced, trip!

Some of the highlights were the Vatican, the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, ancient Rome, gelato, pasta, the market in Florence, making new friends in Sicily, meeting up with one of those friends in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Alps, hot chocolate, the Sound of Music Tour, the Louvre, and ample discussions of Harry Potter.

Some of the lowlights were spending all night crammed in a cabin on a train from Venice to Salzburg with a broken AC, 4 sweaty Italian boys, and one brother... blisters, bugs in my bed at one of the hostels (don't worry - I got my money back), partial starvation, and a full day of rain and cold wet feet in Salzburg.

I got back to Bologna on Saturday evening and the Rossi's returned from the US yesterday afternoon. Life is normalizing now as we battle jet-lag and language barriers once more, and although I hate to admit it, I'm glad of these restful last few days.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thoughts from a restless mind

I am in a bad mood today - or maybe “bad” is poor choice of word. Perhaps a better word is pensive... Sometimes, when you are in a foreign country where no one speaks your language, you find yourself retreating into the recesses of your mind where thoughts run ramped and unchecked. They roll and break like great waves in a tempestuous sea; now racing, now crashing, now colliding into one another in a violent cacophony of sound and feeling. This is a sea through which no vessel could pass unscathed. 

I read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies, and listen to a lot of music, and if you really think about it, they all have something to say about what they believe the purpose of life to be. As James Thurber so poignantly put it, “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” J.K Rowling bewitched us with tales of young wizards vanquishing evil whilst growing ever deeper in friendship, The Beatles swept the world away with their pop ballads, Katniss took down a corrupt dystopian society, Elizabeth Bennet learned that love is found in the most unlikely of places, and Tolkien’s fantastic character Gandalf the Grey solemnly encouraged Frodo from deep within the mines of Moria, “ do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” I recently read The Fault in Our Stars, and while I may not agree with everything John Green ever penned, no halfway intellectually thinking human being could deny that many of the thoughts therein are deeply profound. Among them is the following:

Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either. People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First do no harm.

The Hippocratic Oath; I know it well. But is that really the most important thing? To tread lightly upon the earth? To do no harm? Maybe. If you the alternative is to do harm, absolutely. But what if the alternative is just to do something? And in the end even Hazel, Hazel the grenade, Hazel who just wants do die quietly and minimize the damage she leaves in her wake, Hazel does something. Against all her level-headed judgements and resolutions Hazel decides to love. Hazel leaves a footprint.

I said decides purposefully. Attraction is a feeling, but love is a choice. So why do we decide to love? Why do we make the altruistic decision to love one other, stepping out onto the ledge and risking everything with no promise of our love being returned? My theory is because of God. He taught us how to love by first loving us, and loving others is the closest thing humans will ever have to loving God, whether they acknowledge it or not. I said that all the authors and directors and musicians endeavor to tell the world the purpose of life through their work, and I believe that regardless of genre, media, or plot that purpose finds its root in love. Good vs. evil, friendship, bravery... Love drives them all.

I have all of these worries that occupy my thoughts and time; how can I get into medical school? How can I do better at my job? How can I be more healthy? Where should I travel while I’m in Europe? The list goes on... But what am I doing with my brief time here on earth? Am I walking lightly upon it? Am I leaving a scar? When all is said and done, what can I do that is more important than loving people well? Not much. Perhaps I’m not slaying Voldemort, destroying the ring, bringing down the Capitol, curing cancer, or otherwise having what can only be described as an epic adventure. Or am I? Maybe I AM living the greatest epic of all time... Maybe if people would just wake up and realize they are living the epic, the extraordinary, they would find what it is their souls so deeply crave... So I choose to love. 

I’m fairly sure these thoughts aren’t original, but I’m not sure that that matters much. Even if these things have been pondered by countless people throughout the generations, both great and small, they are not any less true. Maybe they will drift into the void and bear no consequence for anyone. But no matter their fate, having written everything out and emptied my brain, at least my restless mind is quieted. 

With that, I bid you goodnight.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

In the interest of catching up...

I don't intend to post every day. In fact, I will be happy if I am able to write one good post a week! However, in the interest of catching up, I need to recap the events of June. 

We flew out of Uganda on June 16th, arriving in Brussels, Belgium on the 17th. From there the team said their final goodbyes and parted ways. Some stayed in Europe, some caught the next flight back to the good ol' USA, and I began my journey to the ancient land of Italy. Although I will be here until December, I was lucky enough to have some traveling companions for about a week. Becca, Meaghan, Kortni and I made our way from Brussels to Bruges to Rome to Prague, seeing some of the best Europe has to offer along the way. We had many adventures including a strange hostel where people had to go through our room to get to their room, meeting Americans in the most unlikely of places, sunburns, experiencing two World Cup games (Belgium from Bruges and Italy from Rome), relying on Rick Steves for EVERYTHING, and trying a wide variety of food and drink - all while speaking no Flemish, French, Italian, or Czech! (stupid Americans..)

Although I could literally post over 1000 photos of this amazing week, for the sake of your sanity (you're welcome) I will only include the best of the best. 

For the full slideshow click the link here or at the end of the preview >>

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Uganda Be Kidding Me

On May 20th, 2014, myself and a team of students and faculty/staff from John Brown University embarked on a one month excursion to the "Pearl of Africa", otherwise known as Uganda. 

Our mission: to experience the culture, to gain experience in our prospective fields of medicine, education, and family & human services, and to above all share the love of Jesus Christ. It was an incredibly influential trip; at times harrowing, at times rewarding, but at all times a trip which forced the journeyer to rely on God.

The team kept a blog while there, which can be found here >>

For me personally, the trip confirmed the place mission work will hold in my life and I couldn't be more excited about that. Of course no good blog post about Africa is complete without some choice photos, so here is your fix!

Myself and Becca Y. with one of the nurses in Kamuli Hospital

While in Uganda I had the opportunity to white water raft the Nile...

build relationships with the team and locals...

and experience and spread the love of Jesus Christ!

*(For more photos of my travels, check out my instagram handle, @hopelesswanderer_sb)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

For the sake of completeness

It was Winston Churchill who said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."

Two years ago I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and while there I attempted to blog about it. However, I failed. I failed repeatedly! And you, dear readers, were most assuredly let down by my blogging incompetence. However, failure is not fatal, and with that thought in mind, I shall again pick up my metaphorical pen, and endeavor to share my stories once more. 

Last month, I arrived in Europe after spending a month in Uganda working in local hospitals. It was an incredible experience and I am so excited about my prospective future in medicine! As for now, I am currently employed as an "au pair" for a family in Bologna, Italy, and am in the process of teaching their kids English, as well as trying to learn Italian. I will be (or at least have every intention to be..) blogging about this experience over the next 6 months!

For the sake of completeness I have created a few collages to share highlights from some of my favorite travels in 2012...

In May, my penal of (then) 11 years came to visit me, and we took a magical journey to the Island of Santorini in Greece, as well as exploring London and the Harry Potter Studios.

In April, my sweet Mama paid a visit, and together we journeyed from Edinburgh, to Rome, to Florence, to Venice, to Paris, to London, and back to Edinburgh.

I made some great friends while in Scotland, and was lucky enough to experience a weekend in Paris with a few of them in March.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Sooo.....its been awhile since my last entry. Where shall I begin? How about London?! This year was the University's pilot year for the Innovative Learning Week program. What does that mean? Well it seems like no one really knows...but for us it meant a week to see London and Ireland! And see it we did!
The Lion King Broadway Musical!!!
Buckingham Palace 
Trafalgar Square

What time is it?? Big Ben knows!

Hi Mom!

Me and Emily in the London Eye

Emily, Meredith, and I at the Tower of London

Tower Bridge

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral doors

I'm off to Hogwarts!

Doin' it Beatles style..

Me, Emily, and Audrey on top of the Monument

St. Patrick's Cathedral - largest church in Ireland

At the McCoole family farm...I look like a midget!

The Cliffs of Moher...unfortunately cloudy

Wicklow National Park

Wicklow National Park where they filmed a P.S. I love you scene

Guinness Lake

Glendalough Monastery 

Kiliney Beach (this is Bono's view from his house)

So basically we had a GREAT time. I absolutely loved learning about all of the places and experiencing everything. I am so incredibly blessed! London was so enchanting and Ireland was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I would definitely want to see both of them again...and I wouldn't mind having a vacation home tucked away in the hills of Wicklow Park either!

It was really weird when we got back to Edinburgh because we had just come back from vacation, and usually you would go home after a vacation, so coming back here was kind of weird. Its fine now but at first I was feeling incredibly restless. We got back on Saturday and on Sunday I set off to explore the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh. I found a farmers market! And an adorable little bookstore. I also had some excellent hot chocolate.
One of the stands at the farmers market had this funny kitten so I took a photo. 
This bronze statue of a man was eerily positioned in the river. It is a little creepy.

With finding the little bookstore came the purchase of this book which I converted into a journal of all my travels!

On the whole it was a very successful and distracting day. It was also good to have some alone time after being constantly surrounded for a week.

I just finished an essay and am about to start the next one so that I can have a stress-free weekend at the Isle of Skye! So excited. Of course, I still have a thousand things to figure out about spring break and summer and classes, but it will all work out. 

I will write again soon, I promise, about my weekend in Paris! But for now, Cheers!