Monday, November 25, 2013

Do as the Romans Do

To celebrate my last Sunday in Europe, I took a nice long stroll around the hills in Florence. It was beautiful and so peaceful. The people I am traveling with aren't big talkers, so I just lagged behind, put in my Ipod and zoned out. Looking out over Florence is just amazing. I kept trying to come up with something profound and awesome for my farewell talk. To find the perfect words to summarize all that I have learned. It is so hard to put into words. Or even come up with a solid answer that anyone will understand. I was really content though, to look out and see.

I keep having these internal battles with pictures lately. Sometimes when you are so busy taking pictures you miss out on actually seeing what is right in front of your face. I am sick of taking pictures, but then I am afraid that I will forget what I see. It is funny too, because the people you travel with always have different ways to document an experience. Some journal lots, some just look, and some take millions of selfie's that you want to just grab their camera and toss it out the window. ( I am traveling with the latter of this sort...shhhhh....)

So, I apologize for lots of selfie's but that's the only way they document experiences. And I guess, if I can't be in a picture with them, I got to be in some of them. And so, I apologize in advance for all of the selfie's. But just remember, I am with people who took a MILLION more than me today.

Okay, I won't apologize for this one. I really like this one...haha

Firenze Marathon

So, there was this Marathon going around all of Florence on Sunday. It was awesome to see the whole city involved and parts tapped off. Oh my, I got really into the idea. And as we headed to Santa Croce to visit the tombs of Michelangelo, Dante and Gallileo, we found the finish line of the race. I went over to watch, and these are the people that came out. The crowd went wild. It was such a success of the human soul, I almost started crying. These people inspired me, and I wanted to run a marathon. First time in my life, I have ever had that desire. It was amazing though. Way cool experience. 

Sorry, I must be tired. Lots of traveling lately. How about some Rome?

The Colosseum:

Worked hard for this group photo. 

Palatine Hill and Roman Forum:

What are these trees? They are the coolest things on the planet. 

And more Gelato:

1st-strawberry, dark chocolate, and bannana

2nd-pastachio, tiramasu, and cassata (by the Trevi Fountain)

Well, that's my first day in Rome. With too many pictures, and too many selfies. Do as the Romans do!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Italy in a Nutshell

Alright, my internet is pretty crappy at my hotel here in Florence, so I am just going to blurt out as much as I can and put up all the pictures that will possibly load.

So, I left Cassis--(South of France)--on Thursday, and boy was it a nightmare. The town is so small, and I swear not a soul even lives there. Okay, okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but everything in town would close at like 1. What are the people doing all day? A problem happened with the taxi we needed to book, which almost caused me to miss all 3 of my next trains...

1st Miracle--Other girls let us use their taxi first to our first train station.

Then, once we got all the way to Lyon, France we had to switch train stations. Did that. But, a tree fell because of the SNOW and so we had to go back to our old train station. Stressful!!

2nd Miracle--after a crazy detour we landed on the same train we were supposed to be on.

Stepping out in Milan, Italy--SUCH A GREAT MOMENT! I was just grateful we made it there.

I only had a night in Milan, so we went to the Milan Cathedral. It was gorgeous. Milan was super nice and clean, and really modern actually. And the Burger King even had Chicken Fries...I hadn't eaten anything all day except for stupid gummy worms from the vending it's okay right?

Next stop: Venice--

Wow, pulling into Venice over the water. What the cool? A city on water. How does that even happen? I don't know, but I was pretty happy about it. The weather was actually pretty great and sunny. The streets were so small, and it was weird to try and navigate through streets and get to bridges. When you make a wrong turn, you get stuck...because yep...there is water. Ah, the water was really blue.

Just had to take a pictures of these people embarrassing all of human kind.

I started off the day exploring. By the end of the day, I had gone into 5 churches. They are so different than French churches. They are much more wide, with white and red brick vaulted ceilings. And I think they are actually used....that's a funny thought.

But best of all...wait for it...wait for it...guess who took a romantic gondola ride?? This girl. But with two other wasn't that romantic. It was still rocking awesome though. On the water, you couldn't here any sound from the streets. It was so pleasant and peaceful. We were just cruising through people's backyards, with laundry just hanging out the window. Different lifestyle for sure.

Alyssa, Natalie and I

Saint Mark's Square was gorgeous ahhh. Looking out over the water. I just hate how it's such a fleeting moment. I know the second I turn my head to walk's gone forever. But at least I got to see it once right? And Venice is fun and different. Full of tourist shops and full of masks. I have never seen so many masks in my life...and yes, I did buy one just for fun.


I arrived in Florence at 12 noon. Walking with lots of luggage through Italy has been a pain. So much of a pain it is almost a comedy. And it's not so bad for me, but for my roommate. She broke her luggage on the first day in Paris. 3 months ago. Wouldn't buy a new one. She's been dragging it for days around, just scrapping it on the floor. I can't even look at her I feel so bad. And so, she finally gave in to buy a new suitcase. She waited until we were in the dead land of Cassis, with no stores open. I happened upon a cheap luggage and bought it for her because...yes that's all there was. It saved our butts the past two travel days, but in Florence, her luck ran out.

She banged the luggage hardcore against the curb, and BAM! There went her wheels....she had to carry the thing the rest of the way to the hotel. See how its funny??? I had to try real hard.

But we made it to the hotel. And the Florence Cathedral.

This is the ceiling....mind blowingly awesome! I got so lost in it, I actually lost my friends...haha

And the bell tower.

See the bell tower in the back...I went up all 404 painful stairs of that thing. I actually got to hear the bells ring when I was right underneath it. It was so LOUD and BEAUTIFUL!!

And the Academia Galleria.

And got to see the David. Oh..Oh...Oh....that sculpture is PERFECTION. In real life, it is massive. I walked in, and turned my head right and then BOOM!! What is this master piece before my eyes! It is crazy how detailed it is. The veins on the hands pop out, every muscle is flexed. After that, I honestly had no desire to see anything else in the museum. I stared at that sculpture for a while.

From like every angle. I felt so blessed to be able to see such a piece of art. It just knocks anything else out of the park. And it looked so detailed, I was convinced it was real. I could have sworn it was going to turn around and say, "Ciao, Tatum. How are you liking Florence?"

What a day. So much. And you know what is the best thing on EARTH!! ----GELATO.

This is actually my first ever Gelato in Venice.
Holy Moly, not an exaggeration. I feel like I am 5 years old again. I just want to eat more and more and more and more. Yes, I have had a solid 2 Gelato's every day. And when I get fruity flavors, I count that as my fruit for the day.

Plus, I have eaten some Italian pasta and pizza. Pretty darn good. Especially the pasta. The pasta rocks!

Oh and there is this look out point called Piazzela Michelangelo, where you can look out over all of Florence. We went up during the day and night. Breath-taking. Always go up things. I'm literally should win an award for best stair walker after all the stairs I have walked the past 3 months.

While walking up to the stairs..

Italy is awesome though. A whole different country. Way different from France. It is weird that I have been to 3 Italian cities in 4 days....HURRAY for travel! I can't understand anything, so it's always an adventure. But I have heard more American/British tourists speaking English here than any of my travels.

Well, Ciao for now!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The End

Oh man, so tonight was a sad one.

Everyone on my study abroad got together to eat one last dinner together. And tomorrow is the last day with all of us together. How does that even happen? How did it get to be this point? Why is time so mean?

It's always when you are having the most fun that time flies. Evil evil time. Sitting around a table eating with my favorite people on the program is the best day ever. And also a sad day.

At the end of the night, we gathered around and our professor and his wife gave us their last words. Many people were crying. I will say I was one of them. That family--literally on my most favorite family list. Some of the best people I have met. They have made me feel so comfortable and loved for whoever the heck I want to be or whoever the heck I am. They have the cutest kids out there. So smart with great personality. I owe them so much. I couldn't even muster a proper thank you because if I did, I would break down and ball.

They set the tone for the entire program. ENTIRE PROGRAM! It would have been a different program without them. Kuddos. Kuddos to them. Thanks for making my experience great.

This whole thing has literally changed my heart. Whatever I sound lame. Or dumb. Or one of those emotional girls that comes to Europe to have a life changing experience. But maybe that's okay. It's okay that I changed. I am so dang happy about every day and every decision I have made here.

To be honest, I didn't have to much belief in myself or really hope that I could change. Or hope that I could do hard things. I was always worried that I shouldn't make goals or dreams because I wouldn't be able to accomplish them.

No. No. No. No. Do NOT have that mentality. Yes, this is cheesy. Dreams DO COME TRUE! 

I made a list of all the things and places I wanted to do when I got here. To be real, I didn't think I would do all of them. Or be able to plan or have it all work out.

This past week, I looked through my journal and saw the list. I did every single thing. EVERY single thing. And the feeling...that's a feeling. I accomplished my goals. I accomplished my dream. It came true.

Ah, I just want to dream. And I have so much hope that no matter how painful the journey, I can do it. I can work through it. I can enjoy the journey.

And's sad because the very first dream I had, and tried, and leaped almost over. Even though I am going to Italy for a week, I won't be on my BYU Study Abroad. I won't be with the same people. It's okay that I am sad. I am sad because I am so happy here. And hey, that is the best kind of sad.

I never want to forget my life here. Like today, I went swimming out in the Mediterranean. Boo yah! Literally, pretty cold but refreshing. The water was clear and teal. Cassis reminds me of Greece. If that helps you picture the ocean I was swimming in today.

I hope that when I come back home, I can have the confidence to be the person I am here. To take what I learned on my mission, and never forget what I learned. I want to walk off the plane in Salt Lake City, and walk like I walked the streets of Paris.

The end of a dream....makes you crave to live another one.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lots of Thoughts

Whew, get ready for lots of thoughts...

I will be a missionary in a little over 2 weeks. I will see my family in just over 1 wk. The end of my study abroad program is in 2 days. I left Paris 4 days ago.

I just wish there was a hold button to press on my life. Does anyone know where the big purple PAUSE button is? I can't seem to find it.

Depending on what minute of the day it is, I could be feeling one of these few things:

1. excited to see my family
2. excited to use public bathrooms for free
3. scared to go on a mission
4. scared that I will forget everything I have learned here
5. excited to eat American food
6. excited to sleep in my own bed
7. excited to watch American television
8. sad to leave Europe
9. sad to leave my friends
10. sad to end this experience

Holy Moly, that is too many feelings in one body don't you think? I pretend that I am not overwhelmed, so I'm not okay?

And I realized that the reason I was so sad to leave Paris was because I put a lot of hard work into that place. Every morning I would wake up around 7, and work hard with either school, exploring the city, or trying to learn French until 12 at night. And maybe that isn't too bad, but then I think of all the trips I went on. I gave all of my energy to Paris. I let it feed me, and make me feel alive. I let myself love the city for all that it was, and all that is wasn't. I got used to eating a baguette and cheese almost every day. I got used to learning about French history, and seeing a cool monument every few steps. I got used to hearing French all around me, and reading French signs. I got used to not having any technology and realizing that no one in the world knew exactly where I was. I was free to just be me, in Paris.

My Metro Stop

My Host Mom at dinner

Just chilling on the Seine

The famous Metro

The last night outside my appartment

Famous inside of the apartment complex

And now, I just have to walk away? It's painful. It's tiring. It's over.

And real REAL soon, I will be in Nashville. Having to start over. Changing into a new experience. A new mindset.

I am just entirely grateful for this experience. I am just chilling in my hotel room in Aix-en-Provence.

Yesterday, I went to Avignon and got to see the Palace of the Popes. They only lived there from the 13th to 14th century, when there was problems with the church in Rome. It was pretty cool to explore an old Palace. Then, my friends and I found a park that overlooked the city and sat on a ledge just chilling. Ah, it is my favorite thing. Looking out at the Rhone River, with trees turning yellow and orange...ah. Seriously, the best feeling in the world.

Then, I came home and played games with some people here on the program. It felt like college again. Just laughing and being silly. You can't really ask life for more.

And today, I explored Aix-en-Provence a little more. Found a cathedral and just sat and thought about my life in there. With the big organs playing and the candles lit at the altar. The perfect place to think.

So, here are just a few pictures of my fond memories:

My Host Mom rocking the American Flag!

My Last Paris Nutella Bannana Crepe

Nashville, Tennessee

There is my lock!

My Thank You card that my host mom added into her creche (nativity scene)!