Friday, July 29, 2016

Love by Lecce: The Fourth of July

Quick reminder: This post will be in English and in Italian! We are at the halfway mark people!

Celebrare il quattro di luglio in un paese che non è l'America è certamente un'esperienza. Non ci sono fuochi d'artificio. Non vi è alcun BBQ. Non ci sono decorazioni bandiera americana in tutta la città. Per tutti coloro che in altri paesi oltre gli americani, il quattro di luglio è proprio questo. Il quarto giorno del mese di luglio. Fortunatamente per me, il quattro di luglio, ero con tonnellate di altri americani per il nostro programma di studio all'estero. Abbiamo deciso di preparare qualche hamburger e bere qualche birra, in modo tradizionale americano.

Ci siamo incontrati a casa di nostro amico per iniziare i festeggiamenti. Poiché era così caldo nell'appartamento al piano di sopra, siamo andati in giardino dietro l'edificio per apparecchiare la tavola per mangiare e socializzare. Questo giorno è speciale per me perché ho avuto modo di conoscere un sacco di studenti nel programma. Amo le feste e invitare gente insieme per compleanni, feste e altri eventi. Penso che il modo migliore per conoscere la gente è sia durante questi eventi.

Dopo abbiamo finito aver finito di mangiare e parlare, alcune persone hanno deciso di tornare a casa, mentre altri di noi hanno deciso di andare in una piccola piazza in città per esplorare e parlare con gli italiani. Ci siamo stati per un po', prima di tutto decidere di tornare a casa dato che era tardi e abbiamo avuto scuola la mattina. Prima noi siamo tornati a casa, un paio di studenti e io siamo andati al tetto del complesso di appartamenti del mio amico (che abbiamo poi hanno detto che non sono autorizzati a fare) ((oops)). Abbiamo trascorso qualche minuto sul tetto in completo silenzio. Era nelle prime ore del mattino a questo punto, le ore appena dopo la mezzanotte, e nessuno era fuori ad eccezione di un paio di persone che camminavano per le strade di seguito per tornare a casa. C'era una leggera brezza e le uniche luci accese della chiesa. Questo è stato di gran lungo uno dei momenti più tranquilli che ho sperimentato qui finora. È successo tutto per caso ed è stata una di quelle calde notti d'estate con le persone che ami che rendono tali grandi ricordi.

Nel complesso, il mio primo quattro di luglio in un paese straniero è stato un successo, e non vorrei scambiare questa per qualsiasi cosa.
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Celebrating the Fourth of July in a country that is not America is certainly an experience. There are no fireworks. There is no BBQ. There are no American flag decorations throughout the city. Throngs of families and young teens and students are not partying day and night. For anyone in other countries besides Americans, the Fourth of July is just that: The fourth day of July. Lucky for me, on the Fourth of July, I was with tons of other Americans for our study abroad program. We decided to make some hamburgers and drink some beer, in traditional American fashion.

We all met at our friend's apartment to start the festivities. Because it was so hot in the upstairs apartment, most of us went into the garden behind the building to set the table for eating and to socialize. This day was special for me, not only because we made the best of our foreign American holiday, but because I got to know a lot of the students in the program better. I love parties and bringing people together for birthdays, holidays, and other events. I think the best way to get to know people is during these events.

After we finished eating and talking, some people decided to go home while others of us decided to go into a small piazza in the city to explore and talk with Italians. We stayed there for a little bit before all deciding to head home since it was late and we had school in the morning. Before returning home, a few students and I went to the roof of my friend's apartment complex (which we later were told we are not allowed to do) ((oops)). We spent a few minutes on the roof in complete silence. It was in the early hours of the morning at this point, the hours just after midnight, and no one was out except for a few people walking the streets below to get home. There was a light breeze and the only lights on were those that lit the church beside the apartments. This was by far one of the most peaceful moments that I have experienced here so far. It all happened by chance and was one of those warm summer nights with people you love that make such great memories.
Overall, my first Fourth of July in a foreign country was a success, and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sephora Just Arrived Beauty Review

I occasionally dabble in the fashion blogging world but if you know me at all you will know that my thing is makeup. Don't get me wrong, I love clothes, but I am on the Sephora and Colourpop and Ulta websites far more than I am on clothing websites. So I keep telling myself I need to do some cute fashion shoots here and there, some Nordstrom Anniversary Sale picks, etc. etc. etc. But it just hasn't happened. I know, you get no Nordstrom Anniversary Sale post from me and it's a burden I will bear until the next anniversary sale in which I will have to decide whether or not to participate. But I just wouldn't be able to give you guys reliable feedback. So here I am with another Sephora post! These are all coming directly from Sephora Just Arrived section. These are my quick and easy reviews for ten of the products I am most excited about from the section.

1. Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick-$46
This product has such a wide color range it makes me so happy and content with the world. That price tag though does not make me content nor happy with anything. I want to try this out so badly if for nothing else than because tons of YouTube beauty gurus have been raving about it. It looks super easy to use and apparently feels weightless on the skin. I'll probably go into to a sample, if nothing else.

2. Tarte Tarteist x @MakeupShayla Contour Palette-$45
I know, I know we don't need another contouring kit/palette, but Tarte's packaging is so cute and this product has such good reviews I want to try it out. I personally have never purchased a contour kit (Anastasia Beverly Hills has been tempting the life out of me though) so I definitely want to look into this one. Unfortunately, that price tag still makes me shudder.

3. Marc Jacobs Beauty Air Blush Soft Glow Duo-$42
Why is everything so expensive? Confession: I have never found a blush that I love on my skin so I usually go sans blush when I do my everyday makeup. I have been dying to find a blush that I love though and I have a feeling these subtle multi-color blushes might do the trick. These are supposed to look flattering on any skin type and they have a range of colors. The downside? $42 for a blush is a lot. I'll forgive it though because it's Marc Jacobs.

4. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Intensive Peel-$40
I love First Aid Beauty's products and I love face masks and peels so this is a match made in heaven. Ever since I got their exfoliating pads I knew it was true love. This product claims to fix fine lines and wrinkles and shrink pores as well as correcting the texture of the skin. That all sounds amazing and if it works please sign me up. I've been super into skincare lately and experimenting with new products, so of all the products on this list, I'm eyeing this one the most.

5. Boscia Sake Bright White Mask-$38
Staying on the same trend of face masks (the things I love, remember?) I love boscia too. I've had one of their charcoal face masks sitting in my bathroom for ages (not expired yet, don't worry) since I've just been waiting for the right time to use it because boscia products are so precious. This face mask is supposed to brighten the skin and diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation. I believe it, super credible brand and this products claims to do basic, wonderful things that boscia has proven they're great at: brighten, hydrate, and reduce skin flaws.

6. Smashbox Studio Skin 24 Hour Waterproof Concealer-$25
I love my Sephora Collection concealer (in Bavarian Cream, the lightest shade available my friends) but I'll admit sometimes want to reach for something more full coverage. Claiming your product will stay on for 24 hours and is also waterproof is a ballsy thing to do. Not only that, the price tag is reasonable and Smashbox is great. The only downside is the color range is a bit...limited to say the least. It goes from several slightly varied shades of white to a lighter brown and then a dark brown. C'mon Smashbox, you should know better.

7. Josie Maran Surreal Skin Argan Finishing Balm-$36
I've only ever tried Josie Maran's 100% Argan Oil but that product is god send so I want to shop around here. The more I realize about my skin and my body the more I want to take care of it. I want my skin to look nice and nourish it and this product definitely sounds nourishing. It doesn't have many reviews yet but they all seem to be good, just noting that it is super small! And for $36...maybe that's not worth it? I'd still love to try some!

8. Chloé Limited Edition Eau de Parfum in Chloé-$180
So this is literally a $180 perfume when I can get a VS perfume for $20 which sounds so ignorant of me to say but gosh. Designer perfumes man. So I'll probably never end up getting it but boy do I want to smell it. This perfume is limited edition and the packaging is so cute. The samples I've gotten of Chloé perfumes are always dazzling. Luckily, if you really want this, the smallest size comes at a lower $75. Eat your heart out Chloé limited edition.

9. Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops-$42
This is literally what I have been looking for for so long. I had this idea way before Cover FX did. This product has been getting rave reviews and for good reasons. You mix these drops with your foundation or massage it straight onto your skin and it gives you a subtle glow for these warm summer months. When I get back in America, I probably won't need or want this product for the winter months unfortunately, but oh boy if this is still around next summer I will be getting this. It makes anyone look good!

10. St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Limited Edition Summer Favorites Kit-$50 for a $73.50 value
I am so pale. I hate tanning because it's bad for you but I love looking tan. I typically tan my body (with sunscreen of course!) but not my face, so my face ends up being shades lighter than the rest of me which isn't the best look, but also isn't terrible. Point being, I've been searching for a reliable self tanner for my face (and body perhaps) for forever now. St. Tropez always pops up as a favorite and now I can get three products including the tanning mitt for $23.50 off. Sounds like a great deal to me!

Sorry this post doesn't have many visuals, I have my first Italian exam today (and it is also my birthday, woo-hoo) so I've been quite busy! But be sure to click those links and let me know your favorites!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Love by Lecce: Week 3

  
Week three was very busy. Here we go.
Saturday
Saturday seems so far away now but it was such a fun day! We had our second excursion with the group where we went to the southernmost point in Puglia, called Santa Maria di Leuca. We were able to go on a boat tour of the coast where we got to see vast expanses of cliffs and caves. At the end of the boat tour we got to swim in the warm water and even dive underneath to reach a hidden cave which was really beautiful. After that, we drove to a cliff filled beach where we took up camp on the top of one of the cliffs. Many people went cliff diving while I relaxed in the sun atop the rocks. It was a super tiring day but I feel bad about complaining that day because it was so beautiful and fun! That night my parents got into town in Lecce and I had dinner with them.
Sunday
My entire family got to visit me in Lecce after their two week tour of Italy. Sunday we relaxed and then visited Otranto that night for dinner and a tour which was so much fun. We also stopped by Torre Del'Orso which I had been to before but it was nice for my family to see it. Otranto was a beautiful little walled city right out of Game of Thrones on the coast of Italy. It is definitely my favorite place I have visited so far and I'm happy we all got to see it!
Monday
Monday I went to school as usual (luckily my parents hotel I was staying in was much closer to the school than my usual route!). That night a bunch of students from the school went out to dinner with myself and my entire family. It was a really fun dinner since the restaurant was mainly serving appetizer-sized plates, so we ordered a ton (and a ton of wine) and dug in. I'm hungry right now so thinking about this dinner is making me drool. It was a faux birthday dinner for myself (July 27th!) and my friend Grace (July 25th!) since my parents left before my actual birthday. After dinner, we got gelato and stood out in the main piazza where there was so much going on--as usual!
Tuesday
Tuesday I had school again and afterwards my family, myself, some students, and some teachers got pizza for lunch. After lunch my family and I walked back to the hotel to relax before they left. It wasn't a super fun sendoff since we all miss each other so much but I'll be back in California in just a month now! After they left I had my cooking class where we made ravioli and cheese and bacon wrapped in beef. It was, again, so good. I am craving food as I write this post if you can't tell.
Wednesday
Wednesday was a low key day and besides school and I didn't do much else!
Thursday
Thursday, for the first half of school, we went to a train museum. The last time I was at a train museum was in middle school for a field trip to Sacramento. This train museum was reminiscent of the one in Sacramento and had lots of cool sites to see!
Friday
Friday, after school, I dashed home to get packed and ready for my train to Florence! Yes, Florence. I took a weekend trip to see my friend who has family and is currently living in Florence. I missed out on the usual excursion with the school but it was worth it for this quick, 32 hour trip. I took a train at 9pm and arrived at Florence at 7:30am.
Saturday
7:30am which brings us to Saturday! My friend and her family picked us up at the train station and we drove back to their house which was so cute. They had a quiet and peaceful backyard off the kitchen that we ate meals in and I stayed in a bedroom across from my friend. It was a very nice place and I wish I could've stayed longer. After getting back from the train station we all crashed for an hour or two before getting ready. After waking up, my friend's aunt made us bread with olive oil, rosemary, and some other spices as well as one with mozzarella. It was reminiscent of pizza but not quite pizza itself. Despite my fatigue and knowing I had limited time in the city, my friends and I began to explore the city. We stopped by a café to get espresso to wake ourselves up. We saw the Duomo (you know the one) which truly made me understand the meaning of things looking better in person than they do in pictures. I loved being around this landmark all weekend. We sped through Piazza Della Signoria where we saw (the fake) David outside in the piazza along with other replica statues. Even the replicas are huge! We decided we wanted Mexican food for lunch (we were missing it from home, not much Mexican food in Italy...) so we headed to a restaurant called Tijuana near the Church of Santa Croce. It wasn't the best Mexican food I've had in my entire life, but it certainly hit the spot. After lunch we walked to Ponte Vecchio, Santo Spirito, and then walked through some street vendor markets where I picked up presents for my friends and family back home. That night we went out for dinner and drinks for a few hours to end the day. We took the bus home and that was my first day in Florence!

Sunday
Sunday, since my train left at 3:30, we didn't have as much time but we still fit a lot in! We went to the same café for breakfast where we got pastries too this time. Afterwards we drove to Piazzale Michelangelo which offers an amazing view of the city (and another fake David). We took tons of pictures while looking over the edge of the city. Next, we tried to go to Boboli Gardens but it was a bit expensive for those of us who don't live in Florence. Instead, we decided to get traditional Naples-made pizza which turned out to be the same pizzeria (for those of you who used to watch...) that the Jersey Shore cast worked at when they visited Italy for a season. Their clothes that they left behind were still hung up in the pizzeria which was funny to see. I had never watched the show much but my friend recognized the clothes so it was a fun little tidbit! After lunch we walked around the city and got something to drink by the train station since it was almost time for me to leave. The train arrived at 3:20 and I said goodbye to my friends. I so wish I could've stayed longer but I was so thankful for my friend and her family and being able to see the city in a whirlwind weekend trip!
Phewph, that was a long one but thank you for reading and keeping up with my travels around Italy for the summer!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Love by Lecce: Piazza Sant'Oronzo

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Side note: Why is Blogger's video tool so terrible? Someone fix this ASAP. As a quick reminder, these posts labelled "syllabus post" will be in English and Italian! And, if you speak Italian and notice mistakes in the post, let me know since I'm still learning. Thanks for reading!

Una delle mie zone preferite a Lecce è il centro storico: Piazza Sant'Oronzo. Ci sono molte cose da fare nella piazza. C'è un anfiteatro, una gelateria, una libreria, una farmacia, e (ovviamente) un McDonalds. Ci sono anche i monumenti storici. In piedi alta diversi metri c'è una colonna bianca con Sant'Oronzo in cima. Sant'Oronzo è stato il primo vescovo di Lecce e il santo patrono della citta. Io non sono religiosa, quindi non posso dirvi cosa questo significhi, ma sembra molto importante.
La prossima cosa che la gente potrebbe notare nel centro storico di Lecce è l'architettura barocca in combinazione con negozi moderni. Lecce è nota come la "Firenze del sud" ed è ornata con architettura barocca dalle chiese agli appartamenti che costeggiano le strade. Come ho detto prima, il McDonalds è nel centro storico. Diagonale dal ristorante fast food c'è un Sephora, e se si guarda in alto si può vedere la gente del mentre guarda fuori dai loro balconi degli appartamenti nella piazza.

Infine, c'è una lupa. Sì, una lupa. L'ultimo monumento in piazza è un mosaico lo simbolo di Lecce. Le pietre colorate si trovano nel centro della piazza e anche se non so molto circa riguardo allo stemma, so che non si sale sul lupo. Se una persona passi cammina sulla lupa, avranno la sfortuna per decenni.
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One of my favorite areas in Lecce is the historical center: Piazza Sant'Oronzo. There are many things to do in the piazza. There is an amphitheater, a gelato store, a book store, a pharmacy, and (of course) a McDonalds. There are also the historical components. Standing several meters high is a white column with Orontius of Lecce atop. Saint Orontius is called the first bishop of Lecce. I am not terribly religious, so I can't tell you what this means, but he seems very important looming over the entire square.
The next thing that people might notice in the historic center of Lecce is the baroque architecture combined with modern architecture. Lecce is known as the "Florence of the south" and is adorned with endless baroque architecture from the churches to the apartments that line the streets. As I said before, the McDonalds is in the historical center. Diagonal from the fast food restaurant is a Sephora, and if you look up you might see locals peering out from their apartment balconies into the piazza.

Lastly, there is a wolf. Yes, a wolf. The last notable monument in the piazza is a mosaic of Lecce's coat of arms. The colorful stones are in the center of the piazza and though I don't know much about the coat of arms, I know that you do not step on the wolf. If a person steps on the wolf, they will have bad luck for decades.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Lecce and the culture of the south of Italy. Thanks for keeping up with my travels and let me know what your favorite aspect of the Piazza Sant'Oronzo is!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rambling Posts Are Necessary

People don't realize that blogging is a hard job and hobbie. It takes a lot to build a consistent audience and build a platform where revenue is being made. Writer's block is a very real thing and life is so crazy sometimes it just isn't realistic that we'll be able to write one to five (looking at you, you crazy every day update bloggers) posts a week, update our personal social media accounts as well as our professional blogging social media accounts, take let alone edit photos for a new post, and continue on with our daily lives. I often need a break from it all, but I know that if I miss more than one post in a row or a miss posting frequently (I hold myself to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule) I will fall out of it. Then I put all this work into this blog for naught.

Recently I read a fellow bloggers "catch up" post where she excused herself multiple times for having a post that was basically one long ramble. The thing is, I loved reading it. We're a community, and it's nice to read about all of your lives and what's going on in them. Sometimes we get so caught up in this sponsorship or that collaboration or--oh wait did we already do that? Didn't we promise someone we'd promote this or that? Well what would be target audience be interested in? The list of questions goes on and on and on it seems without ending. Our minds can get frantic with all we have to do.

We need to remember to take a step back and make sure that what we are doing is truly the best for first and foremost ourselves. Think back, why did you start a blog in the first place? For me, it was because I thought I could get my life together a bit more having something that I was responsible for. After I started developing my platform I added on another goal: to become part of this lovely online community. I'm still working on truly getting to know you all, but I love reading posts about your lives and what you've been up to and responding to all of your comments. I've become familiar with some of your faces and always look forward to your next post! Whether you're a fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, or other genre of blogger, I am so there. And I love that we're all here for each other.

So let me excuse myself for this rambling (and rather short) post, it isn't necessarily directed at any target audience, it doesn't have any particular purpose or focus or any sponsorships or (the ever coveted yet extremely stressful) (at least to me) giveaways. But I thought some of us might need the reminder to focus on ourselves when we need to. A lot of us have been doing this blogging thing for a while now and we need to remember to write for ourselves every now and then. Google Analytics be damned! Let me know in the comments what your original blogging goal was!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love by Lecce: Week 2

Welcome back to the Love by Lecce series! For anyone who is new I am currently studying abroad in Italy for two months and this is the documentation of my time here. I'm still trying to figure out my schedule for these posts because I want to post about what goes one each day but I also have required posts about specific happenings and at the same time I don't want to bombard you all with only posts about Italy. I feel like that could get annoying and I have so many other post ideas too! So though I am still experimenting, today is a recap of this past week!
Friday
The weeks are going by so quickly I need to update these posts everyday because I forget what I did! Friday I went to class as usual but we were in for a treat at night! The other students and I took a bus to a town called Scorrano where a light festival was going on. We stayed out super late but the displays were so worth it. Entire structures were lit up the entire night while others danced to synchronized music. The "finale" that we got to see before we left was a mixture of fire, lights, and water. It was so busy but there was some great food and it was so pretty and such a magical night. I'm so glad I decided to go that night.

Saturday
On Saturday we visited a tomato factory and a beach which I wrote about here so go check that one out if you haven't already! Saturday night a bunch of us went out to dinner where we got some good food and played around with Snapchat's face swap way too much. We have some real weird pictures from that night. Overall it was such a lovely day!

Sunday
Sunday was a chill day. I did laundry, showered, cleaned my room a bit, got some homework done, and went to lunch with my friends Grace, Danielle, Inali, and Camila. I got my first tiramisu in Italy (my favorite food ever) which was so exciting for me. Sunday night we went out to watch the Portugal vs. France final EuroCup game.

Monday
Monday I had my first caffè leccese thanks to Coleman who suggested it. It's an espresso based beverage with a super sweet almond milk over ice. I loved it and I've been getting it basically every day since. Monday night Coleman, Grant, Levi, Sophie, Spencer, and I went to a pizzeria where we got a meter long pizza and another half meter long pizza. It was insane and we finished every single piece (mostly thanks to Grant and Coleman). It was super yummy pizza and we had such a fun, nice night. It was one of those "moments." After pizza we went to the Duomo di Lecce which is a busy and enclosed area with a cathedral and a large piazza. It's one of my favorite places in the city because of the late nights and memories made there.

Tuesday
Tuesday I saw a lot of dogs! Very eventful day for me clearly. Tuesday night though, we had our second cooking class where we made tiramisu (AH!) and gnocchi with pesto. It was so much fun to make and to see how the dessert was made since it's one of my favorites. After our cooking class I went to a place called "Fusion" with everyone: students, teachers, head of the school, literally everyone. It was a low key lush sushi place that had some great miso soup and mojitos (what I got). After that we went out for beer, but I ended up getting a slushie instead. Beer just isn't my thing, you feel?

Wednesday
Wednesday was a low key day. We were all very tired! Some people wanted to go to the beach after we got out of class but we all ended up crashing and falling asleep. I went out to dinner with some people and ended the night at the Duomo again.

Thursday
Thursday I went to school as usual but it was a special night! It was the last night for four of the guys in the program who were going home after being here for six weeks. Sophie and I got dinner before meeting up with everyone which was super delicious. After dinner we met people to get drinks and partied the night away. It was a very laid back and fun night bonding with new people and making new memories.
Friday
Friday was the last day of school for the guys leaving so we got some fruit and rustici (croissant pizzas basically) after they took their final test. All the students went out to get gelato after class to send them off. It was a relaxing day besides class, and everyone was pretty calm since no one was too happy that the guys were leaving. They're all off now to go home or to travel which sounds super fun for them!

And that catches us up for now! By the time you are all reading this at 7AM PST, it will be be 4PM where I am and I will probably be sleeping (siesta and all, you know). I think it's so funny how time differences work! Vlogs of these trips will be coming soon!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Love by Lecce: Ugento

To my usual readers: for my study abroad experience, my school requires me to write five blog posts about my time here. They are required to be in Italian so there will be Italian in these posts, but I will post the translated English version below. I hope you have fun skimming the Italian language and comparing it to English as well as reading about the adventures that I'm having here. As always, thank you for reading!

La scuola per il mio studio all'estero a Lecce prende porta tutti gli studenti sui viaggi di ogni Sabato. Noi di solito visitiamo una chiesa o una città e una spiaggia. Per la prima escursione che abbiamo fatto, abbiamo visitato una fabbrica di pomodori e melanzane. Abbiamo visto i dipendenti della fabbrica di preparazione e l'essiccazione i frutti (Sì, pomodori e melanzane sono frutti!) al sole. La preparazione comprende taglio, lavaggio, e sale mettendo sulla frutta. Dopo il tour della fabbrica, abbiamo visitato lo spaccio aziendale (negozio) dove avevano salsa e prodotti freschi per da comprare. Si potevano assaggiare diversi tipi dei loro prodotti, anche se non mi piacciono pomodori.

Dopo la fabbrica abbiamo preso il nostro autobus ad una spiaggia a Ugento. La spiaggia è stata la spiaggia più bella che abbia mai visto. La sabbia era bianca, l'acqua era limpida e un bellissimo azzurro, e c'era un piccolo ristorante per comprare cibo e bevande. La spiaggia era affollata ma ancora rilassante, e abbiamo speso trascorso circa cinque o sei ore lì. L'acqua sulla costa d'Italiana è più calda di quella dell'Oceano Pacifico ed è così bello nuotare in una giornata calda: non troppo freddo, non troppo caldo. La settimana è stata molto lunga, quindi è stato bello essere in grado di trovare il tempo di riposare sulla spiaggia con gli amici e il mio libro.
Domani andiamo in una nuova avventura di una nuova spiaggia, e non vedo l'ora di vedere cosa si arriva a vedere questo fine settimana. Gli aggiornamenti a venire presto!
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The school in Lecce for my study abroad takes all of the students on trips each Saturday. We usually visit a church or a city and a beach. For the first excursion that we took, we visited a tomato and eggplant factory. We saw employees of the factory preparing and drying out the fruit (Yes, tomatoes and eggplants are fruit!) in the sun. Preparation includes cutting, washing, and putting salt on the fruit. After the tour of the factory, we visited the "gift shop" where they had sauce and fresh products to buy. There was sample food to try which was delicious even though I don't like tomatoes.
After the factory we took our bus to a beach in Ugento. The beach was the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. The sand was white, the water was clear and a beautiful light blue, and there was a small deck to buy food and drinks at. The beach was busy but still relaxing and we spent about five or six hours there. The water on the coast of Italy is much warmer than the Pacific Ocean and is so nice to swim in on a hot day: not too cold, not too warm. The week was very long so it was nice to be able to find time to rest on the beach with friends and my book.
Tomorrow we go on a new adventure to a new beach, and I can't wait to see what we will get to see this weekend. Updates to come soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July Jams

You might recall my previous songs that remind me of the beach playlist post. I recently went through my playlists the other day and added about fifty songs to each playlist. My music style ranges from classical music to country to pop and everything in between. I love basically everything besides hard metal. These songs are all from my pop-ier playlist so if that's not your thing I'll see you next post (fair warning this songs are great though). Some are older, some are newer, but all great for summer. Here's what I've been listening to from beginning of June up to now!

  1. yes girl-Bea Miller
  2. Send My Love (To Your New Lover)-Adele
  3. Comeback-Ella Eyre
  4. Confident-Demi Lovato
  5. Love Myself-Hailee Steinfeld
  6. Into You-Ariana Grande
  7. Shake It Out-Florence + The Machine
  8. Electric Love-BØRNS
  9. Once in a While-Timeflies
  10. Don't Let Me Down-The Chainsmokers, Daya
  11. CAN'T STOP THE FEELING!-Justin Timberlake
  12. Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High-Arctic Monkeys
  13. Sweet Disposition-The Temper Trap
  14. Bang Bang-Jessie J., Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj
  15. Work-Rihanna, Drake
  16. Work B**ch-Britney Spears
  17. Toxic-Britney Spears
  18. Circus-Britney Spears
  19. Promesses-Dimmi
  20. Priorities-OHD
  21. This Is What You Came For-Calvin Harris, Rihanna
  22. Stressed Out-Twenty One Pilots
  23. Ride-Twenty One Pilots
  24. Lush Life-Zara Larsson
  25. Toothbrush-DNCE
  26. Cake By The Ocean-DNCE
  27. Into You-Ariana Grande
  28. Farrah Fawcett Hair-Capital Cities, André 3000
  29. Alright-Kendrick Lamar
  30. Paper Planes-M.I.A.
  31. Bad Girls-M.I.A.
  32. YOUTH-Troye Sivan
  33. Not Your Way-MisterWives
  34. Rock Bottom-Hailee Steinfeld, DNCE
  35. Kill Em With Kindness-Selena Gomez
  36. Dangerous Woman-Ariana Grande
Here's my full on repeat playlist! These songs are towards the end of the playlist. What songs have been in your playlist lately?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Twenty Tips From a Former Starbucks Barista

I've had this post in my drafts for a while and always got a bit of writers block. With the recent surge of colored drinks, I've decided to finally write this post. Y'all need to stop with this craziness. I don't even work at Starbz anymore and I know. Being a barista in and of itself is hard enough. Then being a barista that is associated with a brand and a popular social image...that's a whole nother thing. I've never worked as a barista anywhere else so I can't speak for them but I'm sure some if not most of these frustrations cross over. There have been many "Confessions of a Starbucks Barista" but this is first hand: not the Cosmopolitan or People article bs. If you're a customer, next time you visit you'll know what to do!

1. We are very clean.
Or at least we should be. Starbucks hires an outside food standards company, so while average food handlers have to meet an 80 on a scale of 100 for food standards, all Starbucks' must be up to a 90 score par. Our water is triple filtered, we have a sanitizer in the back room (which we will get to next), and Ecosure (the hired food standards company) can show up at literally any moment multiple times throughout the year. No one wants Ecosure to show up. So even if it looks a bit messy behind the counter (spills or crumbs or whatnot) we'll have it cleaned up the second we have the time to clean it up.

2. We probably do not have it in the back.
Depending on your store, if we say we don't have it, we probably don't have it. Employees restock the cold case and stands in the front throughout the day and honestly, our back rooms just aren't that big. There's room for washing dishes, two large fridges for milk, some racks, and table with a computer to clock in on, and...some trash bins. That's about it. Some stores are luckier with roomier back rooms, but my back room occasionally didn't even have anywhere to sit.

3. The secret menu isn't a thing.
I don't know how often this has to be said but people always seem to think there really is a secret menu. Most people who order from it (usually tweens and teens) seem to have gotten better about pulling up the recipes on their phones, but if you don't already know this, let me repeat: there is no secret menu. Which brings me to point four...

4. Colored drinks aren't a thing.
Just stop it. The Starbucks social media managers are not required to relay any information to Starbucks stores and guess what? They don't. Just because the Starbucks Instagram is going ham with colored drinks, the baristas are lost a bit lost. We weren't given recipe cards not instructed on how to make them. They still aren't official drinks. And just a pro tip: most of them aren't really good.

5. Black aprons are coffee masters.
Otherwise, we probably don't know a ton about the coffee. If you're really interested in a coffee type, where it comes from, etc. seek out or ask for a coffee master. Not every store has one but most I've worked at and seen do. Contrary to a rumor floating around, we aren't trained on all the coffee types brought into the store. We're hardly trained on how to make new featured drinks.

6. We really aren't out to ruin your day.
Some people take baristas making drinks incorrectly as a personal offense. I forgot to put whipped cream on a lady's mocha once and she almost killed me with the venomous look she gave me. There's a lot of drinks that we are expected to make quickly and efficiently while doing tons of other tasks and interacting with customers, and we do this with very little training and usually short staffed.

7. Everything that annoys you about Starbucks, we don't have within our control.
We don't make the prices. We didn't name the small, medium, and large sizes. We don't choose whether or not we run out of ingredients or the fact that corporate still hasn't introduced almond milk into stores or that we still use weird not coconut milk coconut milk.

8. If it seems like the line is really long or moving slowly and there aren't a ton of people behind the counter, it's because there aren't!
Corporate is really good at messing up labor and forcing managers to cut hours. Especially during "frappy" specials (aka hell). We work as hard as we can and go as fast as we can. We want the rush to end too.

9. Please say please and thank you and don't just throw your card at us.
The baristas on register are people. That's all you gotta remember. "Tall latte" is not an answer to "How are you?" And if you're on your phone while you're ordering, you need to stop.

10. Unlike other coffee shops, our espresso machines just have buttons.
We don't really pull our shots ourselves. The machine does it itself, so we regularly (or not so regularly) have to calibrate it to make sure

11. If your store is already closed don't expect to get in.
This goes for close to closing too. I'm not going to hate you obviously if we're still open, but towards the end of the day we're probably out of cold brew, maybe our iced teas, and freshly brewed coffee. You'd be surprised at how many people tried to knock on the door because they "just wanted this or that" after we had closed for the night.

12. We don't go to barista school.
I DON'T KNOW WHO INVENTED THE RUMOR THAT STARBUCKS BARISTAS GO TO BARISTA SCHOOL FOR TWO WEEKS BUT IT'S A TOTAL LIE. I SHOWED UP MY FIRST DAY AND WE WERE UNDERSTAFFED SO I WAS TOLD TO FIGURE IT OUT. Take pity on the green beans (new baristas) please. End this rumor.

13. We don't caf you if you ask for decaf, but we will decaf you if you ask for caf.
I don't know what monster would caf someone who asks for decaf because people have conditions and are pregnant and stuff like that, but if you're rude to me or others I might decaf your caf drink. Calm down crazy.

14. Your skinny latte or light frap still isn't healthy.
Don't come to Starbucks if you're looking to be the pinnacle of health please. You don't even want to know how much sugar is in any given frappuccino.

15. Please make sure you're picking up your drink.
If your name is Bob and you ordered a venti iced coffee, the tall latte for Susan surprisingly isn't yours. I've seriously had that happen. A rarity, but it happens. More common is people who take a tall latte that isn't theirs. Please listen for the sake of your baristas.

16. If we messed up your drink let us know.
If we messed up we should fix it. It is seriously is okay for you to ask the barista at the hand off station to fix it.

17. Please tell us what size you want.
Why do so many people forget this?

18. Know what you want at the drive thru.
Thank the heavens I didn't work at a drive thru store, but even I know: don't order things at the window. Those drive thru stores have time quotas to meet and if you order stuff at the window you mess everything up. Don't be one of those customers.

19. Just because another Starbucks breaks the rules for you, it doesn't mean we all will.
Partners (Starbucks employees) have a joke among us about the "other Starbucks" because we have some silly customers who will come in and get mad that we're charging them more for their custom drink because the "other Starbucks" doesn't charge them that much.

20. And for the sake of other coffee stores: don't order like you're at Starbucks if you aren't at Starbucks
It's just annoying.

Remember to always smile and thank your barista and maybe ask them how they're doing. We're humans too! And if you get a chance to go to the Starbucks Reserve in Seattle, go! It's really beautiful and amazing to see. I highly recommend it. Let me know below anything else you'd like to know about the legends of Starbucks! If you're a partner (or former partner) let me know! We can bond about annoying customers.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Love by Lecce: Week 1

I have decided this series will be called Love by Lecce à la Love by Meagan. I will be posting every Friday that I possibly can. I will also be posting some project posts required by my school of me that will showcase the city I am in and the people that live here!

Thursday-Friday
These were my travel days and oh boy was I tired. With the nine hour time change I was so jet lagged and ready to sleep for the next month. Everything went well though, I made all my connecting flights (From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., D.C. to Rome, Rome to Brindisi, and then a bus to Lecce) and although Lecce is not the easiest city to get to, it was so worth the hours of travel! When I arrived in Lecce Friday night, my host family picked me up and took me to the main historical center of the city and then to a bar where we got drinks and sat around talking for a while. I got to quickly see the beautiful Baroque architecture that Lecce does so well!
Saturday
Saturday was my first actual full day and it was so fun! I met one of my roommates, Coleman, who is from New Jersey but goes to the Ohio State University. He invited me to dinner with the rest of the students from Ohio State and we got dinner at a restaurant called Apollo. The Ohio students have already been here for a month and some are staying for another month while others are staying for two more weeks, and others yet left after four weeks! The dinner at Apollo was delicious and we watched the Germany vs. Italy game (which ended in a sad loss for Italy) while we ate. I got gelato after dinner which was delicious! Many more Oregon students arrived Saturday evening and we met up with one and showed him around a bit before heading back to our homes and apartments.
Sunday
Sunday we all headed to Torre dell'Orso, a beach a bit more south in Italy than Lecce, where we spent the day in the very warm water, laying in the sun, and exploring the coast. I was so happy to find that water that isn't the Pacific Ocean or a lake is so warm and comfortable to swim around in. The beach was so busy which I was surprised by but it was fun to be surrounded by so many locals.
Monday
Monday was the Fourth of July! Also my first day of school, of course. At school, the new students took a placement test to determine what class we would end up in for the next two months. We also took a tour of some of the important places to know in Lecce and had a conversational placement exam before heading home. School is from 9-1 each weekday so a bit long, but not unbearable! For the Fourth, all of the students went over to our friends' apartment and ate hamburgers. After eating and drinking a bit we headed out to one of the smaller piazzas to have fun. The night went well into the early hours of the next day but was such a fun and low key way to spend the 4th abroad. Four of us ended the night on a rooftop (that we were apparently not supposed to be on and can no longer go to) which was so peaceful and beautiful and one of those "moments" that you hear about study abroad.

Tuesday
Tuesday was our second day of school, the Oregon students were all placed in the beginner's Italian class where we joined a handful of Ohio students who had already been in that class. We met our teachers for grammar and conversation who bring life to the class and keep up engaged for the four hour period that we are studying. Later in the evening, Oregon students got to take a cooking class (which we will take each Tuesday this month, and then Thursday of the last week of this month) where we made pasta from scratch as well as a "pepperoni" and potato with cheese bake paired with a white wine. It was so interesting to be taught by professional chefs and a sommelier who were so lively and passionate about cooking. I love cooking so this is definitely going to be a good course for me! Something I learned Tuesday: no one ever tells you how TIRED you get during study abroad! My feet were hurting so so bad. Worth it for the food and wine though.

Wednesday
Wednesday we continued with classes and I discovered during our lunch break that the dog at the panini shop is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I slept a bit this day, read a bit, did some homework, and wrote a blog post during "siesta," Italy's unofficial/official national nap time, which I super appreciate being built into the day. We ended off Wednesday by going to a restaurant called Doppiozero where I got chicken fillet.

Thursday
Thursday was a lighter day. I've been trying to catch up on my sleep since it is so hot here and I haven't been sleeping terribly well. During the lunch break my friend Sophie and I went to a nearby café and got a mini pizza and a Puglian cake which I forget the name of (will keep you updated if I figure it out). We learned the parts of the body (even each individual finger!) during school which was something we hadn't learned in my Italian classes previously, and we played a fun game to boost our memory of each part. After school Sophie and I got crepes at a cafe near her apartment and then I walked home, ate some lunch with Coleman and my host family, and retreated to my room to write this post, read a bit, and finish up my homework. This week definitely tired me out!
As a note, this was the anatomy vocab game

Friday
That's today! Will report next week on what I do today. Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments where your dream location abroad is!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Transfer Process: First Semester Classes

As many of you know, I am transferring from the University of Oregon to Chapman University this fall. I am beyond excited and after a year of eagerly awaiting the day I can transfer things finally feel set. Yesterday, I was able to register for my classes for the upcoming semester. I'm a theatre major and will hopefully also be a Public Relations/Advertisement (PR/Ad) major (application pending) so my classes are theatre heavy right now but I am so so excited. To finally know what I'm going to be doing is so thrilling. So without further ado here are my classes! Let me know in the comments what your major is or was or if you aren't in college what you would want it to be!

FTV 140: Introduction to Film Aesthetics + Lab
This is a class that I'm taking with my high hopes that my PR/Ad major application will be accepted. This is a major housed in the Dodge College of Film and Media arts which is one of the most highly regarded film and media schools in the country, so naturally there is competition. Most classes at Dodge are for majors only, but thankfully I am able to kickstart my love for the PR/Ad major with this introductory class that is open to everyone. The description of the class notes that "class discussions focus on analyzing the ways in which cinematography, mise en scene, editing, sound, and other aspects of film combine to make it a unique and meaningful form of art, entertainment, and instruction" (my.chapman.com) ((That MLA format coming in handy!)). The lab is a full two hours and forty five minutes so I'm intrigued as to what we will be doing in that. I am so excited not only to explore this major but also because I love movies and anything ~aesthetic~.

MATH 203: Introduction to Statistics
Unfortunately, I trekked through College Algebra at the University of Oregon for naught. Not totally for naught because I did learn a lot and it helped for my acceptance at Chapman, but my credits for that class didn't transfer over for my general education math requirement at Chapman. So here I am taking stats! It's an online class that studies "the design of experiments, descriptive statistics, analysis of data, parametric and non-parametric statistics, correlation and regression, probability, sampling, and tests of significance." I don't really know what any of that means because I am not a math person, but if you are please let me know in the comments. Will need all the help I can get for this class!

TH 100: Introduction to Theatre Technology
Besides my senior project where I produced a main stage musical, I have always been on the performance side of theatre. The one time I did get to gain a different perspective on theatre, I was captured by how fun it was! I have, of course, always been around tech theatre, but never been able to learn about it myself because my rehearsal schedules were so busy and I longed to be on stage, not backstage. Thankfully, I am now a theatre major and I get to do it all! I emphasized my want to learn about all aspects of theatre during my audition and interview for the program and I am so excited I get to embark on this now. The description says that this course "will introduce the student to production elements ranging from scenery, lighting, audio, projections, costumes, props, and emerging technologies."

TH 105: Theatre Practicum
This class is 0.5 of a credit (it's so weird going from quarter system to semester system where most classes were 4-5 credits and now most are 3 credits...or in this case a half a credit!) and I have to be enrolled in it for four semesters to fulfill this theatre major requirement. Theatre Practicum is basically working on a show. There is no scheduled time for the class, it is a free for all from what I gather that gives students the opportunity to work on the shows Chapman puts on. The description says "this course gives students practical experience in the technical areas of the production program. Students will be given a production assignment and will perform specific activities related to that technical area." Can't wait to see what I will be given! Of course, I will keep you all updated.

TH 111: Introduction to Performing Techniques
Thank goodness I have one class that I have general knowledge of the material. This class is for theatre majors only so I will be fully immersed into the program. The website says, "this course is a study of the fundamentals of stage movement and vocal production." It continues to say that we will look at fundamental acting techniques such as the Alexander, Linklater, and Strasberg techniques. Despite being "fluent" in performing, these classes always put me out of my comfort zone with their specific techniques, improv (which gives me so much anxiety), and the new ideas behind acting. I love it all and I can't wait to study the techniques of performing.

TH 170: Creating Theatre: From Page to Stage - The Art of Collaboration
I love that aspect of collaboration in theatre which is also something I talked about a lot at my audition. I think it's amazing that so many people are given different tasks, from actors playing different roles to techies working on different parts of the entire stage, yet we all come together to form one beautiful piece of art. The description states "the emphasis is on the introduction of information that will enable students to appreciate the process of creating and maintaining viable theatre, and to effectively communicate as dedicated and disciplined theatre practitioners." This might be the class I know least about, so I'm glad to be able to explore something new.

There we have it! Sorry for a wee bit of a longer wall of text than usual, but this is a topic that I am so genuinely excited for! Remember to let me know below what you college major is or was or what you would want it to be. Thanks for reading! News of Italy travels comes on Friday and Transfer Tips: The During will come this fall!

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 2016 Goals

The end of June to the beginning of July has been insanely hectic! I meant to get this post up last week but here we are now so this is what you get! Oh, and for those in America HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! The fourth is one of my favorite holidays and I'm so sad I'm missing it this year but of course I'll keep you updated on the Italian excursions we Americans have today. Now for my July goals (and hopefully I will be able to revisit these next month!)

1. Make five new friends in the Italian program.
This shouldn't be too hard as I've already met some people, but I want to make sure I can go home with stories and new memories!

2. Try traditional Puglian dishes.
The region I am in is called Puglia, and each Italian region is home to their own specific ingredients and dishes. Because Puglia is near the sea there are many seafood dishes, as well as some pasta dishes that are specific to Puglia. I am excited to find and try these!

3. Be able to communicate in Italian with my host family.
My host family here in Italy speaks some English and I speak some Italian so it can be a bit hard to communicate at times. I'm hoping to be able to speak with them in a casual manner by the end of this month!

4. Learn how to pay with coins!
This may seem silly but in America we really don't use coins unless we're intent on getting rid of some change while paying or if we're cashing them in at the bank! In Europe, they have two euro and one euro coins as well as fifty and twenty five cent coins. Adding up all the two and one euro coins you have at the end of the week that go unused amounts to a lot!

5. Keep in touch with people at home.
There's a nine hour time difference between California and Italy, so it's been a bit hard thus far to keep track of many things including blogging, texting people, tweeting, and other forms of social media. When I wake up around ten in the morning here, it's one in the morning at home and no one is awake! I have to figure out how to properly and consistently communicate with people!

There we have it! Five goals may not seem like a ton compared to my ten or so goals from June, but this is going to be a busy and challenging month. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Italian Time

So I had a plan for posts on this blog until like, the end of August, seriously I did. It's all laid out on Google calendars and I thought I was SO great being on top of my game. Not that it isn't great I had everything planned out and maybe I'm just getting down on my self but oh. my. goodness.

For those of you who don't know, I'm studying abroad in the south of Italy for two months. I just (and I mean just) touched down in Rome and I am currently sitting in the lobby of the airport, waiting for my next flight to take me to my final destination. Oh boy. I am so jet lagged. I've been out of the country before. The last time I was out of the country was a few years ago and I've never travelled internationally on my own. I was planning on filming my travels and editing the videos together into a vlog for here, but I quickly realized that wasn't going to be very interesting or work out very well. I had two flights and a layover amounting around sixteen hours of travel total.

Anyways, what I'm trying to say here is a schedule with such rigid ideas for posts might now work. I need to take this day by day. Considering there is a nine hour time difference as well, I don't always know when I will be posting these and if I will still try to post them at 10AM California time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or if I will post them on Italian time or...

I just need to settle in. I am supposed to meet my host family later today (actually probably as you read this I am meeting them if you are in the states) and hopefully from there I will be able to unpack and SLEEP! I already miss my house, my friends, English, and everything that home has to offer, but I am here for two months so might as well make the best of it.

So here we are to starting day one in Italy! Eight more weeks of intensive Italian language, cooking classes, and the beach!