Italy-The Vacation of a Lifetime

This time a year ago I was on the vacation of a lifetime. I saw so many famous works of art, ancient cities, and interesting people. I thought in remembrance of the voyage I would post my adventures again. So Enjoy!

Looking over Florence, Italy.

Looking over Florence, Italy.

I arrived in Italy yesterday with my grandparents and my aunt. What a gorgeous country! Like a true blogger, I am keeping a journal to remember this wonderful trip forever. I want to write all my adventures here as well for you all to enjoy. Currently I have no means to include pictures, but once I return home I will post many. Right now I am in Florence, or Firenze as it is spelled in Italian. It is a beautiful city and our apartment looks over the Arno River. Included in this post is what I have written in my journal so far:

Monday, June 3, 2013

My first day in Italy! Once we reached Rome, we took a train from the airport to the Terminale Roma in order to catch the Eurail to Florence.

Our travels began yesterday nearly 24 hours ago. We sat on first class on the airplane and that was an amazing adventure within itself! I never want to go back to coach! They gave everyone a tablet to watch movie and television shows, listen to music, or play games. I watch Safe Haven and Identity Theft, two movies that I have been wanting to see. Between the movies and the sleep I was able to get, the long flight went quickly! We had an overnight flight so we had meals on the plane. They were so much better than I believed they were going to be! My dinner included a salad with balsamic and vinaigrette dressing, a bread stick, grilled chicken with some sort of white chocolate gravy sauce (it was the most delicious sauce for anything that I have had so far), asparagus, and tomatoes. We were also given Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with our choice of toppings. It was really a treat to be taken care of so well!

Once we finally landed in Rome, it was a completely different atmosphere. People were dressed nicer for traveling. The pairs of sweatpants I saw were now few and far between which I thought was interesting. However, more people spoke English in addition to Italian so understanding people was easier than I imagined. Later, we took the train to reach the Terminale Roma. That was interesting because in the United States, one can hardly find a train station that is so populated! The station was a melting pot of cultures. There were various nationalities there visiting. We finally got on the Eurail and began our journey to Florence. We had an hour and a half train ride through Tuscany and the numerous villages were absolutely breathtaking. It was like something out of a movie so of course I had to put on my music so it was like I was in a movie! 🙂 The Duemo is in Florence which I am excited to see. I learned about it when I was a sophomore, in World History and swore that one day I would visit. I cannot wait to see it!

Our apartment is very quaint. It looks over the Arno river and the view is breathtaking! I can see hundreds of scooters lined up on the streets from my window. Which reminds me, let me talk about the driving here. Traffic laws exist, but they must be enforced lightly because people pull out in front of each other, weave between cars, and do not pay much attention. The funny part about this is, however, is that the anger levels are way lower than what I am used to. People go with the flow and road rage is at a minimum. The motor cyclists do make me nervous with the way that they drive. They will weave in and out of cars that are less than a few feet apart! It is an absolute miracle that they stay alive!

Regardless, it is such a beautiful country. When we were flying in I could see Tuscany and it was such a surreal feeling and experience. To know that this land has been farmed for nearly 3,000 years, if not longer, is amazing. It has been quite a long day and I am ready for some sleep…

Tuesday, June 4, 2013  8:00 am

Well, I have been up for nearly three hours already. I was very out of it last night. Jet lag has not affected me much yet…I don’t think… I keep forgetting that everyone at home is still asleep as daylight has not reached them yet. That is strange. Since we have arrived in Italy, the few Italian songs have been on a continuous stream in my mind. None of the American music I know seems to fit with the baroque architecture here. Although, when we made a trip to the market yesterday they had Bruno Mars playing over their music system. I thought that was odd because 1) it was in English and 2) don’t they have their own pop sensations? I guess with the globalization of everything it makes perfect sense to have him singing! I really want to hear Italian music, but evidently the Italians do not want me to hear it! Yet, I still have nearly 2 weeks here so that could change!

I am starting to understand why writers such as Ernest Hemingway came to Europe to write. Although he wrote in Paris, Italy has that creative ambiance as well. I hope that one day I can visit Italy again and sit at a cafe with the city bustling around me and just write. While I have barely ventured out onto the streets so far, I feel as if this atmosphere is very relaxing and quells the soul. I know that it will be difficult to go home to the suburbs knowing that this all exists and has been thriving for thousands of years. I am beginning to see that there is more in this world than I ever imagined. I am going to go for awhile until I have more adventures to write about. Until then, arrivederci!

Still Tuesday… 12:50 pm

We have returned from walking around Florence. What an interesting experience! We saw The Duemo and went inside. It was absolutely gorgeous! The ceiling of it told a story about the journey of life and death through a painting. It showed Heaven and Hell and those who were living and dying. It was a painting from hundreds and hundreds of years ago that had a depiction of Jesus and God. It was an incredible masterpiece. The Duemo is a church and currently a place of worship so every once in awhile you would hear an automated voice say, “Shhhhh, Silencio!”. It would then get louder and repeat itself. Lastly came the English translation.

We also visited many places including the Piazza Della Republica which had a large archway that looked as if it was an entryway to the city at one point. We also visited the Piazza Di San Giovanni, and the Piazza Della Signoria. The streets around Florence are very cramped. The idea of personal space is non-existent. Nearly every building is adorned with flower boxes that contain a wide selection of gorgeous flowers.

Before I came to Italy, I had heard about the gypsy’s and pickpockets. We came across a few gypsy’s today who came up to us begging for money and followed us until we said “Va via!” loudly. Va via means ‘go away’ in Italian and they listen. Everyone is very abrupt and direct here. As I mentioned with personal space, there is none. To some, “no” is not an answer. Some of the vendors keep pressing on until you tell them for the umpteenth time, “no” or if you just walk away.

Anyway, we also saw the Statue of David. Rather, the weather durable David. Tomorrow I will see the real one, the original, not a copy, David, that Michelangelo carved at the age of 26. That is quite the accomplishment Mr. Michelangelo….be proud!

In addition to all of my adventures we also tried gelato! It was sweeter than ice cream and thicker. I got chocolate gelato that had chocolate chips in it which really added something special to it. It was so yummy!

I have always heard about people backpacking through Europe and I saw some people backpacking and it looked like a lot of fun. I hope one day I can do that!

Italy is known for its fashion, namely Milan. It must be a lot of Italy because the streets are filled with fashions I have only seen in fashion magazines. As I mentioned yesterday, people are a lot dressier. Even though not everyone is in high fashion, many of the women have leather purses, scarves, and high heels on and so many of the men wear blazers and leather shoes. It is easy to distinguish the natives from the tourists. Italy is known for its high quality leather. Before I leave I plan to buy a wallet or a purse. I went into one store where the man working spoke Italian mainly. When I meant to say “okay”, I said si, or yes. Then when I told him, “thank you”, I said gratzi. Instead of it sounding smooth like it should be I pronounced it like gratzee (like Yahtzee, but with a grrrrr sound). Anyway, adios!

Still Tuesday…5 pm

We just a ate at a truly pure Italian restaurant. I ordered spaghetti al la carbonara. I thought it was going to be normal, to my standards of course, but alas, it was not. The spaghetti was more of a yellow color as opposed to the white shade I am used to seeing it as. It also contained more oil than I use. The carbonara (or bacon) was also very different. It was sweeter, but it was also boiled instead of being fried. Not my favorite way of preparing it, but it was interesting to try! 🙂

While we were eating the author, Dan Brown walked in. There were only two other tables eating at the time and mainly everyone kept to themselves. Brown was taking pictures with a lovely view of Florence as the back drop. He just wrote a new book called ‘Inferno’ and is famous for his book  ‘The Di vinci Code’.

 

I will continue with part 2 of my Italian adventures soon! Stay tuned!

Arrivederci,
Beth 🙂

Show Me the Positivity

How often do you see a positive news story? Once, maybe twice a week? A glance at the latest news on the internet and television could make anyone cringe with the negativity that oozes out of it. Let’s not even begin with the tabloids! The magazines that line walls in grocery stores are the ultimate source of hostility. optimism-quotes-stay-positive-quotes-Optimism-is-a-happiness-magnet.-If-you-stay-positive-good-things-and-good-people-will-be-drawn-to-you..

I decided that I am through focusing on the negative that is forced upon me daily. Instead, I wanted to focus the attention on the positive news that is happening in our world. There are so many stories that have not and will never make the news because they are so positive and will not generate buzz and revenue. It is quite unfortunate that this is the current case and state of our world. Scare tactics will always generate more commotion than a kind story. It is no wonder so many people hate the world we live in! All that is focused on is the multiple conflicts going on in the world. Why is it so difficult to focus on the positive news going on? Oh, that’s right, it does not make money. Can the media, for just a few stories, focus on something that makes people proud to be living in this era? Can the media focus on something that helps us grow for the better?

bethegood

Knowing that this is something inconceivable for media outlets, I concluded that I should help people see that there is kindness still left in humanity. I want people to get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that good things STILL HAPPEN! I want others “Faith in Humanity Restored”. I know that we as the human race work better together when positivity surrounds us. This drove me to an idea I am in love with.

I am determined to showcase different positive news on my blog every week or so. I want people to start noticing that there is more to the world than unhappiness. That we can persevere and do anything we set our minds to. What we all need is to be a little more inspired in our lives. With all the pessimism encompassing us, we end up being less enthused about our lives and end up falling into a rut of misery. This is not the way we should be living our one and only chance at life.

Here are my favorite, recent news stories that display many positive aspects lacking in current media:

(I am quoting the actual titles of the headlines)

Teacher Donating a Kidney to Her Sick Student

Boy Mows Lawns, Raises $16K for Tornado Victims

Very Concerned, Very Honest Preschooler Returns Lost Nickel To Plymouth District Library

How Crime Rates Have Fallen by Up to 70% in Parts of the Western World

Breast cancer treatment breakthroughs herald hope for patients and those at risk

Dairy Queen employee goes above and beyond for blind customer

Man Gives Away Belongings to Counteract Black Friday ‘Craziness’

NASA Space Telescope Spots the ‘Hand Of God’ After Incredible Star Explosion

Tim’s Place: The Restaurant that Serves Breakfast with a Side of Hugs

7-Year-Old Sophie Lester Asks Australian Science Agency For Pet Dragon.. And They Deliver!

Kentucky Facebook Users Rally to Help Homeless Woman Find Shelter in Cold

Stay tuned for more positivity. I believe all humans need to stay positive to function well.

May all your days be optimistic and exciting!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend,

Beth:)

Apositiveattitudegivesyoupoweroveryourcircumstancesinsteadofyourcircumstanceshavingpoweroveryou_zps07cd4a57

What Defines YOU?

One of the most inspirational videos I have seen in a long time. always know that you are beautiful and worth it. Always strive to be better and make something of yourself!

Something to remember,

Step back and remember, everyone has something to contribute in this world. We are all here for a reason. Just because someone is not like you does not mean that they are a bad person.

Be nice. Be kind. Be loving. Be the best version of you. Be someone who you would want to spend time with.

Have a lovely day!

Beth

18 Things Being 18 Taught Me

529888558_1387986548

At every age we learn something different about ourselves. We grow, mature, and shape into the adults that we will be one day.

Turning 18 is a stepping stone into adulthood. You are finally considered legal. As for me, this year has been my biggest year yet! I graduated high school and continued my journey into college. I have learned a lot of things along the way which I would like to share with you now.

  1. Do not take your time with others for granted.

  2. It is okay to not know what you are going to do in the future.

  3. Compare yourself to no one.

  4. Patience is key.

  5. It is okay to be wrong sometimes.

  6. Coffee is an essential part of a diet.

  7. Do not feel like you need to act a certain way to impress people. Always be yourself.

  8. Love 100% of yourself 100% of the time.

  9. Grow and mature at your own rate.

  10. Do not be ashamed to take a nap every once in a while.

  11. Working out regularly always makes you feel better. Always.

  12. Some friendships are not meant to last forever.

  13. Do not spend your life on social media. Also, do not put your everything in your life on social media.

  14. Take pictures of everything. You will want them someday!

  15. Have pride in your work. If your name is on it, it represents you, so do your best!

  16. Work hard and everything will work out how it needs to.

  17. More people care about you than you know.

  18. If you do not put 100% of yourself into something, do not expect 100% of the rewards.

My 18th year has been perfect. While the beginning was stressful with my last semester of my senior year, graduation came quickly. It was the most empowering moment of my life. I knew I had worked very hard in high school and that was what I had to show for it. After graduation I took a life changing vacation to Italy which changed my perspective of everything in my world. Then college came and I left home for the first time on my own. What an incredible, changing experience that was! I met so many new and different people and did things I could have never done if I had stayed at home.

I think it is safe to say that this year was as perfect as perfect gets.

Here’s to hoping 19 is just a lovely as 18.

Beth

What It Means to be in a Sorority

quote

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be in a sorority. It was never a question. When the Rho Chi’s came around at my school asking if I was interested, I immediately said I was. While they tried to convince other girls who had never even pondered the idea of joining a sorority, I was already hooked. Me being me, I had already researched the heck out of the chapters at my school before I got there. I was set and ready to join years before I even left for college.

 

So Why Did I Join?

I joined for the friendships I knew I would make.

I joined for the instant support system I would have 24/7. I knew that the girl’s I would one day call my sisters would have my back on everything I did. While they may not have agreed with whatever I had done, I knew that they would be there for me.

I joined for all the volunteering I would do. Volunteering has always been a big part of my life and I wanted to continue it well into my college years.

I joined for the memories.

I joined because I have always loved helping people. I want to help my sisters become better versions of themselves while in turn, helping me.

I joined for the generous alumnae chapters that would welcome me home in a new city.

I joined because I am an only child and one day I know I will need my sisters more than ever.

I joined because I wanted to increase my leadership skills. By joining a sorority, I knew I could gain these experiences.

I joined to have a special group of girls that I could bond with more than anyone else.

I joined to make a difference in our world.

I joined to improve my studies.

I joined for networking.

I joined to leave a legacy.

Stereotypes

Sororities tend to have an awful, negative connotation to them. People see all sorority girls as ditsy; girls who like to party, drink, and do other things that would make their founders cringe. However, this is not the case. According to the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), in the 2011-2012 year 639,021 hours of community service was done by sorority women and $2,855,095 was raised for their selected philanthropies. Does this seem like the hard work and dedication of girls who only joined a sorority to be known as a girl who likes to party?  No. Rather, it seems like a group of women who have decided to strive to be better in their lives. While there are sororities that have reputations, that does not and should not define them. There is more to everyone and EVERYTHING than a reputation.

Concurrently, sorority women typically have a higher GPA than non-sorority women do. Why? We have a support system. We have mandatory study hours every week. Sororities help women to make themselves better. Why does this topic never come up when people talk about sororities? Isn’t the entire point of college to study, graduate, and find a great job that is fulfilling?

Facts like average the GPA, money raised for philanthropies, and community service hours should be discussed more than the negative sides of sororities. We should talk about the great women of history who were in sororities and overcame reputations and stereotypes and showed that sisterhood is such an amazing thing to be involved in.

Famous Sorority women who have gone very far in their careers to extinguish the stereotypes:

Condoleezza Rice

Nancy Grace

Kimberly Williams

Lucy Liu

Coretta Scott King

Joan Lunden

Bette Midler

Leigh Anne Tuohy

Elizabeth Dole

Kristin Chenoweth

Laura Bush

Georgia O’Keefe

Erin Andrews

Jennifer Garner

All of these prominent women have brought something amazing to the world in one way or another. They have set great examples in their chapters and did/ are continually doing so in their lives.

Why I Joined

Last year, I was told that joining a sorority was stupid. I was just paying for friends. Those girls are the stupid girls. I would like to repudiate that false and judgmental typecast. Thankfully, I did not let that negativity change my decision. I knew what I wanted to do and my family supported me and agreed with my decision. I knew there was more to sororities than any of those judgments.

To me, rushing was something I was going to do. I never had second thoughts about it. I wanted to be a part of something legendary and leave my legacy.

Joining my sorority was the best decision I have ever made, as I stated above. Even in the short time that I have been involved I have met incredible women who inspire me every day to grow. I have had an amazing time bonding with them in ways I have not been able to with other people. My sisters are people that I could go to for anything and they know they could always come to me.

By joining a sorority you find your sisters. The sisters who will always be there for you. There for you, when you need your mom or dad at school, when you are missing your boyfriend, and when you need a hug. Sorority sisters are not just lifelong friends, they are family as well.

My lasting thought is to break the stereotypes. Not just the ones about sororities, but the ones in your life. Show people that there is more to you and whatever you love. They may just find out they want to try something new.

Beth:)

My New Year Goals

new yearInstead of coming up with resolutions which aren’t always the most attainable, I decided to come up with goals!

In no particular order…

  • Write in my journal everyday (even if it is only a few sentences about something good that happened that day)
  • Study hard, study well
  • Stay better organized
  • Challenge myself
  • Learn something new (Something I want to and that is not a part of school)
  • Stay on my schedule and try not to deviate from it
  • No excuses
  • Read more for myself
  • Stay informed
  • Give myself time to reflect each day
  • Get a new hobby
  • Go on a road trip with my friends
  • Aim to go to the gym at least 3x/week
  • Stop eating bad food/ take smaller portions/ drink more water
  • Focus on myself and how well I am doing as opposed to comparing myself to others
  • Forget about the girls who caused so much drama in my life
  • Play my violin more
  • Try listening to a new genre of music
  • Watch a movie once a week to give myself a break from school
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Spend more time with my Kappa Delta sisters
  • Learn the KD ritual
  • Learn the KD songs
  • Take my clipboard to all chapter meetings and take ample notes
  • Read and refer back to said notes
  • Learn some French
  • Play more tennis
  • Learn to love everything about myself
  • Read my Bible more
  • Blog more
  • Aim high, reach for the stars to accomplish these goals

I hope you all had a wonderful New Years and have an even better 2014!

Let me know what your goals are for the year!

Beth:)

#What2013TaughtMe

#What2013TaughtMe is a twitter hashtag that people use to tell what Twitter taught them

2013 taught me many things.

  1. Set goals for yourself and never stop until you have succeeded
  2. Keep your word
  3. Walk away from petty drama
  4. You may lose friends, and that is okay. You just did not have the same ideals and there’s no problem with that
  5. Welcome change
  6. Be confident
  7. Try new things
  8. Step out of your comfort zone
  9. Learn to adapt
  10. Never give up on yourself

This was a year of immense growth for me. I graduated high school and went to college. I got out of my comfort zone and joined a sorority. I set goals for myself last year and this year and didn’t stop until I achieved them. I welcomed the massive change of leaving home.

I am so thankful for all of the opportunities I received this year and everything I was able to do.

#BestYearEver

Beth:)