Polka Dots in the Water


When we arrived to Barcelona, we were greeted with brisk wind and abundant sunshine. After all the rain and fog Italy had been receiving, it was a nice change of pace. We embraced Barcelona’s sun with open arms and decided to capitalize on its perfect weather by staying outdoors. We walked along the main streets, took a short boat ride gaining an incredible view of Barcelona gems, and then relaxed with cold cider on the beach.

To dress for the occasion, I wore bright, bold colors and paired them with equally bold prints — a polka dot collard tank and a cheetah print belt. Take a look:

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Spring Break was this past week and I celebrated with some girlfriends in Spain! We started in Barcelona, stopped by Valencia to catch the end of the Las Fallas festival, and then made our way to our final destination, Madrid. It was nice to escape the rain in Italy and be surounded by the sun and palm trees of Spain. It wasn’t quite hot enough to jump into our bikinis, but there were some days we dozed off on the beach. I guess I really shouldn’t complain about weather though to friends back in the midwest. I heard there was a terrible snow storm last night?! Glad you were at least rewarded with a snow day though, right? (:

I have one week of “normalcy” AKA staying home in Verona, and then next week is Easter vacation. Starting Sunday, I’ll be in Greece! Pretty much everyone from my program made reservations at the pink palace in Corfu. It’s supposed to be this fun-loving resort that provides living accommodations, breakfasts/dinners, group activities like booze cruises, snorkeling, beach volleyball, and more IMPORTANTLY, one complementary pink toga for each guest. (: I know, that alone sold me.

I’ll try to squeeze in posts of my adventures in Paris, London, and Spain before I head off!

* side note: I have exactly five weeks and five days left in europe, and then it’s back to the states! man, how FAAAST did time fly! i also do have exciting plans for this summer. starting june, i’ll be interning at the chicago office of HAVAS WORLDWIDE through the 4A’s MAIP program. not only will I be in the office +40 hours a week, I will also fly to NYC twice this summer to attend ceremonial dinners, participate in weekly seminars, and be a new member of the MAIP network. i’ll be trading easy italian gelato for starbucks coffee, walks on cobblestone streets for rides on the metra, and 4-hr lectures for 8-hr work days. as much as i want time to just slow down right now so i can milk each and every experience while here, i’m also ecstatic and ready to be in a regular workflow. ready to be consumed with conversations on consumer behavior and insights, brainstorm sessions with our feet up and take-out in hand, late nights before big pitches, preparing research decks and documents… i’m ready to be in my element. but again, italy, don’t take it the wrong way and slip out of my hands quite yet. (;

i think this is what growing up starts to look like.

Lunch in Bolzano, Dinner in Trento.

Last year when I was reading up on the different study abroad programs U of I provided, one of the things the Verona program offered that caught my attention — I know, as if I needed another reason to go besides the fact that IT’S IN VERONA — was its frequently planned group excursions. AKA pre-paid trips to an array of cities, restaurants, museums, tourist spots, activities, etc. The entire program travels together with all expenses — dining and wining and traveling — taken care of. Some on the lineup include: skiing in the Switzerland alps, dinner in Venice, horseback riding in Asiago, shopping at the Mantova outlets, etc.

Not bad, right? (:

And last Sunday was our FIRST excursion! It was only a day trip, but we were still fortunate to witness a broad scope of Italy. First, we went to Bolzano to sight see, shop around, and visit the museum hosting the Otzi exhibit. Otzi, you know, the “mummified” iceman they found in the mountains and were able to put on display for the public to see.

Bolzano was straight out of a fairytale. Magical and idyllic.

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Bolzano is right near the mountains. So the air is much colder, BUT there is NO WIND. Niente. So the cobblestones, sugared bread on the streets, pastel colored buildings, and the constant still, damp air makes you feel like you’re in Disney World Epcot. Just a large dome with good food and good scenery. Then THAT thought reminded me of my favorite book from junior high about the society that is presented as perfect and real but under all the layers it is actually a dystopia and everything from their dinner conversations to ways of thinking are constructed and manipulated by a higher authority because they are always under surveillance. (Guess the book. Hint. The cover has an apple on it.) Then THAT thought snowballed into all these other creepy pop culture references with altered realities all the way to lunch time when a lady yelled at me in fast and angry Italian and kicked me and my frans out of Burger King. But that’s beside the point. Bolzano was kinda weird and beautiful and uncomfortable all at the same time. Plus I was wearing these chunky rain boots but not a rain cloud was in the sky.

Final thought: Bolzano is one surreal place — for the good or bad.

But one thing holds true whether you are in Verona or Bolzano — Italians love their cappuccino.

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Defrosting our toes and sippin’ on some warm te + caffe. (:

Then ze 25 American tourists hopped back into the bus and headed over to Trento to check out the Castello del Buonconsiglio. THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. A castle that still remains from the 13th century to real royalty, but now serves as an archaeological site for glimpses into the time period and a gallery of art.

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Hot Dog takes pics with her finger over the flash.
Breathtaking view from one of the castle’s windows.
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^The whole gang cheesing. (:

After the tour of the castle, we had some time to kill before dinner reservations so we roamed around the streets of Trento and sipped on spritzers.IMG_2435 IMG_2440 IMG_2424
The dinner venue was an authentic German restaurant. All of us were starving out of our minds — both from that day, and from being cheap on grocery selections — and since this was considered a pre-paid meal, we all went HAM on ordering way too many dishes.


^ This was a plate of meat covered in meat with a side of meat and some extra meat.


In other news…
– I have my first exam tomorrow.
– I hear back from a few summer internship prospects within the next week. Keep this in your prayers! (:
– Going on our first trip with some friends. (: Right after class we’re taking the tran to Florence for the weekend and then visiting Mantova on Sunday.
– Staying in a hostel for the first time Thursday + Friday. Any thoughts/advice/precautions?

Hope everyone else is having a great week!