After three long months, pictures of Italy are FINALLY up! Check ’em out.
Filed under: Italy
Lesson One: Never Put Your Eggs in One Basket
Well friends, here is the deal with working with NGOs. Most of them are super frustrating. In the past two months, I have applied to two very promising ones, both that seemed incredibly well-organized. Don’t let their web sites fool you. They are not organized in the slightest. Basically, today was a very frustrating day because one of these NGOs strung me along for an entire month telling me they had openings and that they wanted to do a Skype interview- only to tell me on the phone after I finally tracked them down that they were full in the fall. If that isn’t annoying in itself, I was then given an exercise in patience because I had only one day to find another suitable NGO in South America. One day in which was my last day of vacation with my family in Italy, who I barely get to see and I had to spend the entire afternoon scouring the web instead of spending our last moments together.
Lesson Two: If you work hard enough, you will succeed.
After five hours of searching the web for a good replacement, I finally found one in Venezuela. I learned from my past mistakes and called them first to ask if they had openings. They do. They are also much more flexible than the previous one I wanted to intern at, and they have a great NGO administration internship program, as well as allowing me to live in a rural community and do some community development projects. As we say in Italiano, perfecto. But I also will not ‘put my eggs in one basket’ again, and I’m also applying to another decent NGO in Bolivia as my back-up plan.
Speaking of NGOs (even though Grameen Bank is not one), I will be entering the third world again in a few days. Truthfully, I am very excited. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty again, to take bucket baths, to wash my clothes by hand, to use squat toilets, to eat rice and dahl, and to traipse around a new territory. I can’t wait for the experiences I will soon have with Grameen Bank and the things I will learn about micro financing. I am very excited for this amazing opportunity.
Tomorrow morning I am off to London for a few days to stay with my cousin Elise and look at LSE (London School of Economics) for possible grad school, then Nepal, and then my friends, BANGLADESH!
Attached are the best pictures of Italy so far. Enjoy friends!
Filed under: Italy
-Saw one of the seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum
-Saw Basilica di San Clemente
-Saw a special keyhole in Roma
-Went to the Vatican City and wandered around St. Peter’s basilica
-Sat in the Sistine Chapel and took in that breathless ceiling
-Ate amazing Italian pizza, bruschetta, pasta, paninis, gelato, and tasted the most amazing salmon I’ve ever had
-Drove to Umbria to the absolutely AMAZING and gorgeous house I am staying in with my family
-Watched a chef cook us pizza in a 400 year old brick oven
-Took in the breath taking views of Todi, Italy
-Bonded with my familia, laughed a lot, and fit into my skinny jeans (regardless that I’ve been eating straight carbs for the past few days- yes!)
Life is amazing. I am super content right now. Italia is gorgeous. The house we’re staying in is jaw-droppingly beautiful. It is just another disgustingly amazing day in my life of travels, and I am fully enjoying every second of it.
Wish you all were here to enjoy it with me!
Much love friends,
Filed under: Italy
Home is where the heart is, isn’t it? So I suppose my home is now nestled in Rome, as I have finally been reunited with my family! Everyone looks older- my Dad has some more grey hairs- my Mom has bangs- Kate and Siobhan, my eight and twelve year old sisters both grew about a foot- my 19 year old brother Donner and my 22 year old sister Hillary look just about the same- and my grandparents are as lovely as ever. As for me, they tell me I look quite different- but this is not news to me.
It is quite surreal to not have seen my family for six entire months, and then suddenly be spending the past 24 hours nonstop with them. It’s almost as if I had just seen them yesterday, although it is clearly not the case. I am in Rome, wandering the streets with my family and slurping down gelatto, finally relaxing in a much-needed hot shower, and sleeping in a bed-bug free comfortable bed. Tomorrow we do a tour of all of the best places of Rome, and on Saturday we leave for Umbria.
WHAT A LIFE! I am off to go and fully enjoy it.
Excuse the grammatical errors, as I am typing from a strange keyboard in an internet cafe.
I feel I should address Switzerland before moving on to Venice, where I am now. Truly, no offense to the Switzerland lovers out there- but I would have to say it is my least favorite place I have traveled to so far. While it is a GORGEOUS place, it is a little…TOO gorgeous. To the point that is almost looks fake. The water is TOO blue. Seriously, it scares me a little. The sun sets are TOO beautiful. I just feel like Interlaken is a total Switzerland cliche. Maybe this was how it was set up to be because it seems to be an incredibly touristy place, but it all just looked too fake to me.
Also, the expense. Easily the most expensive place I have ever been to in my life. This place even beats LONDON. Thirteen dollars for the cheapest meal. Twenty five dollars a night for the cheapest hostel that has water leakage. I took a train to Laussane and it was FIFTY dollars- one way.
It also doesnt help that on the train, my iPod was stolen. Yes, friends. I have traveled throughout SouthEast Asia for an entire year, through the most rural areas in Thailand, India, even Turkey… and not once was my iPod stolen. Now, in SWITZERLAND of all places, in probably the most expensive and safest place in the world, suddenly, it has dissapeared.
Once my iPod went missing, I completely panicked, and it became apparent to me within about five minutes how that is the most essential tool for me while traveling. For example, I spent about 12 hours traveling yesterday- on trains, on taxis, on foot- and if I dont have a song to listen to, then it is going to feel eight times as long. So, I bought a new one in Switzerland. Oh, guess what? It is almost 100 dollars more in Switzerland than it is the United States. Nice.
Even the people in Switzerland are not really my scene. When I travel, its fun to meet people, chat, hang out, get to know one another. But everyone I met in Interlaken were the generic US/Canadian backpackers that only care about going to bars or clubs, getting trashed every single night, and then reminiscing all day about how they spent the entire morning with the worlds worst hangover. That and boasting about how much money theyve spent in Europe and how theyre -real- travelers because theyve been to Germany and toured a beer factory.
Okay sorry, I am sounding super cynical here. Basically what Im trying to say is, for all the reasons above, Switzerland was the least potent experience out of all the amazing ones I have had. I suppose Ive also been feeling a bit burned out from traveling and I kind of wanted to lay around and do nothing for a few days. Which is exactly what I ended up doing. Besides the day trip to Laussane (which ended up being pretty fruitless anyway), I just hung out in my room surfing the internet, working on my Peace Corp application, and watching season 3 of Dexter on Surf the Channel. It was a nice respite, because now I am in Venice and I am alive and ready to roll again! Venice is BEAUTIFUL! I want to live here for 3 months and just spend every day wandering through all of the back alleys. I love it here. It sort of reminds me of what Varanasi could look like in maybe 200 years. I can tell I am going to love Italy.
The problem with Europe trips, in my opinion, is that they are just too short. Maybe I would love Switzerland if I was staying there for two months, just like I have in Turkey, Thailand, India, and Taiwan. I certainly know if I had only spent a few days in India…I probably never would have gone back there again. It is hard to make assumptions about a country when you are only there for a few days and only in one area. So I do not give Switzerland a complete FAIL. Rather, a maybe we will meet again in another time and another place if I have much more money in my wallet.
I see my family in TWO DAYS!