Preparing for Italy

It’s less than two weeks until I leave for il bel paese. I’m trying to start making preparations now since I’ll be working and in classes until the day before we leave.

At this time of year the weather is a little difficult to pack for. My professor suggests it will be a three sweater trip. I’ll bow to his expertise, he’s been to Italy several times. He even proposed to his wife on the very street corner Dante was said to have first glimpsed Beatrice. I’m not sure anyone could say no to such a romantic and well thought out gesture.

I’ve decided to settle for comfortable, warm, and tasteful as the general theme to my wardrobe. We’re going have a few nice evenings out, so I’m packing a dress or two to accommodate that. I always have fears of being the ugly American abroad. 

For my mental preparations, I’m practicing “thank you,” “excuse me, do you speak English,” and a few other key phrases. I’m learning which bits of Rome to avoid at night. I’m also combing Google Maps to try and get a sense of what’s around where we’re staying. It will also give me a sense of where to go during our free time.

As a dyed in the wool English nerd, I have a special side trip on the agenda. The Protestant Cemetery in Rome holds the final remains of John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley (well, all but his heart if you believe the lore…) It’s supposed to be a beautiful site. Their weeping angel (though the Whovian in me shudders a bit at that one), and the Pyramid of Cestius are famous monuments in the cemetery as well. It might take some orchestration to get there during the trip, since they close the gates at 5 pm. Our schedule in Rome is a bit tight with tours and dinners for most of the day every day.

I feel like I can’t go all the way to Rome with out paying homage to some poets who have had a major impact on me and my own writing. According to Google Maps, it should only take about a half an hour to walk there. 

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Study Abroad: Oxford University 2012

When biographers try to trace my life (I mean, it could happen), many of them will point to Oxford as the trip that started it all. I got all my firsts out of the way at once: first time out of the country, first time on a plane, first time travelling alone.Image
I spent several weeks at Exeter College in a spartan room with high ceilings, a terrible view, and a mysterious wine stain on the carpet. I wrote like a lunatic, in three weeks drank more beer and hard cider than I normally do in three months, and met a ton of incredible people that I’m still in touch with six months later.

Part of me has romantic fantasies about living in Oxford one day after I’ve become a successful novelist. There is something very appealing about a town with bookshops every few streets, 60-odd pubs, and three productions of Shakespeare going on at once (at least while I was there). I understand why some people go to Oxford as undergrads and end up staying there for their entire lives, becoming dons. It’s very appealing. Evelyn Waugh compared it to Arcadia in Brideshead Revisited. All the parks and gardens help lend to that comparison. I do wonder though, if I were there as a “town”, instead of being part of the university, a “gown”, would it would be as appealing? The hoards of students and tourists would likely get quite tiresome.

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Still, its appeal is undeniable, especially for the literary minded. I had so many beautiful, almost surreal moments while I was there. I would love to go back and visit again someday. I would like to see more of England and the UK in general. I only had a brief time in London, just passing through. The only other town I really got to explore was Bath. Nice, but very hilly. Most of the businesses try to cash in on either Jane Austen or the Romans which makes for an interesting combination.

There is so much more I want to see and explore, so many historic and literary sites my inner nerd demands I visit. Shakespeare’s home in Stratford, Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh, Cardiff. I’m longing to go to Ireland as well. I need to find a way to subtlely foist myself upon my Irish relatives whom I’ve never met.

Anyway, I recently sold a story about Oxford to a magazine, but haven’t been given a publication date yet. When I get one, I’ll link it here.

We are now up to date for cataloging my international trips. Though, I may post a few more gratuitous  arty photos when the mood takes me.

That Obligatory Intro Post …

…You know, where I try to convince you that I’m different than all the other thousands of travel-centric blogs that pop up everyday.
Why should you follow me? I can’t honestly answer that. This is a blank page, I’m not sure what it will become or what journey any readers will end up following me on here. Some of you will be here because you know me. Maybe we went to school together, maybe you’re related to me, maybe you connected with me on my other blog. Maybe you just found me today and thought, “well, this falls within my interests.” Either way, I’m glad you’re here.
I grew up in a rural Pennsylvania town. I’ve barely been anywhere yet. But I’m starting. In 2012 I went abroad for the very first time. I did a study abroad at Oxford University and to indulge in cliche for a moment, it was life-changing. Also possibly life-wrecking. I realized that in spite of the expectations from my family and the course my life had thus far been steered on, I could forge something in a new direction. I was a capable adult who could fly myself across an ocean and arrive in a bustling city all on my own. I went somewhere completely new, where I knew no one and I did rather well.
I wasn’t arrested, deported, pick-pocketed, or terribly lost at any point. I made intense connections with strangers from around the world. There’s no rush like it. I’ve always been voracious for knowledge. I love history, literature, culture. Being in a foreign country, every day I’m learning something new from the setting alone.
Perhaps it points to an addictive nature, but I want more of it. I want to see the world. I want to learn about people and places and new things. I’m graduating with my English degree in May and I’m hoping to set off from there. What better opportunity will I have? I am young, moderately fit, and completely unattached. I described it to a friend this way: I can spend the duration of my twenties in transit, sleeping on other people’s couches. When I get to thirty, I can reevaluate my life and see if it’s time to buy my own couch at last.
So this will be a catalogue of my travels. I’ll post some of my favorite Oxford photos in the interest of bringing everything up to date. In March I’ll be spending week in Italy which I’ll record here. If all goes well, I’ll be spending the month of July in South Korea. From there I’m not sure.
I’ll update whenever I have something to say or somewhere to be. When I’m in transit it may be sporradic but, when I’m abroad I’ll try to update weekly.
Other useful details about me might be: I recently wrote a novel which I would like to get placed in good hands as soon as possible. I’ll be writing and hopefully selling some travel articles as I go– I’ll link to publications where I’ll be appearing in due course. I studied theatre and music through my youth and love connecting music to everything. Expect travel playlists to appear.