love of learning

There are not a lot of things I am passionate about in school. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I found something I actually love, art history. For the first time I was actually interested in history. Regular history classed never clicked with me, but when studying art and how it connects to historical context, I love it.

This trip reminded me how much I can love learning something. Especially when the artworks are right before my eyes. The art would come alive as Kirk shared the stories and history that made up each piece.  It was just astonishing to stand before masterpieces and learn how they impacted the Renaissance as a whole.

School and studies often become a burden to me, but through my time in Italy I grew to love learning. I really felt like I was learning out of pleasure, not just to be tested. I completely credit that to this incredible study abroad program.

Studying abroad is so important because you are not just studying pictures on a page or words in a book. You are completely submerged in this new world filled with history and art that has made it what you see today. I have a much deeper understanding than I ever would have received in a classroom back in the states.

I hate goodbyes


Well here we are. The last day of my PCS Arezzo Adventures. I dreamed about this trip all through second semester, and so many things I never imaged have happened. I never thought I would be able to study abroad as a freshman, but PCS and the Borens have made that possible. So many students wait until junior year, and I am so glad I didn’t because now I know I have to do it again!

So we hit the streets for the last time with Dean Grillot, who has become my favorite travel buddy. I always find good conversation and puns when I’m with her. First, we went to the top of Rome’s capital building and saw a 360 view of the entire city. Yet again, it was one of those moments you just have to be still and really take in what you are seeing.

Then we made our way to a little market for lunch. For some reason, when I sit down and eat with a group of friends, I always get nostalgic about these precious moments and meals. I really felt it as I sat down for this last little lunch.

Later, we reunited with Kirk for our last lecture (cry), and of course he went out with a bang. The Pantheon, Colosseum, and Roman Forum were the perfect ending to our short study of Italian art and culture. Of these, the Colosseum figuratively, but also literally stood out.

I had to throw in a picture of Kirk dropping knowledge^^

The Colosseum is the quintessence of Roman history and the ideals of masculinity and valor that were so prevalent. While this was a place of  oppression toward those who where foreign or different, It is important to recognize this idea is not solely found in Roman history. It is still evident today in things like building a wall or a travel ban.

We finished off the day with a sweet dinner filled with reflection and fellowship. This trip has brought me so much joy, and the thought of leaving is unfathomable, but guess that means I’m coming back! I refuse to say goodbye to Italy.

if your feet don’t hurt, your doing it wrong


Let’s just start off by saying I love/hate walking. If my body felt no pain and never got tired, I would walk everywhere. I like how cities in Italy are made for people and not cars. All that to say, we walked so much today, but it the best and only way to truly experience this city.

We saw so many iconic sites in Rome today. Which is another thing I love/hate because those places are so touristy, but you can leave without seeing them. One of our first stops was the Trevi fountain. I most definitely wished to come back. It didn’t even seem real when we were there.

One of my favorite places we just stopped in was the Piazza Navona. Kirk told us how it used to be a race track. Afterwards, I was asking some questions and he told me this interesting story about the Sant’Agnese in Agone church. It was built on the site of her martyrdom.

Next, was the Vatican. The Hall of Maps was something I had never heard of, but really enjoyed. They had all the windows open, and a warm breeze was rushing throughout the crowded room. The left side was western Italy and the right was eastern.


The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking, but crowded as I suspected. I can’t imagine being in there when it is empty. The colors were so much brighter than I thought they would be. One thing Kirk said is how people refused to believe Michelangelo was a colorist. Until they cleaned the ceiling to find his incredible use of color.

Here’s a sneaky pic with Matt Nash^^

One of my all time favorites is Michelangelo’s Pieta!! I had to get as close as I could to see every detail. It depicts such a tragic moment of a mother loosing her child, yet Mary’s face is so composed.

And that’s Roma day one!!

Arezzo–> Siena–> ROMA


We left Arezzo today, and it actually felt like leaving home. I know that seems dramatic, but in a matter of weeks it became so familiar. I will never forget the sweet people, amazing food, beautiful sites, and memories this place has brought me. We woke up and headed for Roma, but not before we stop in Siena.

First we went in the Basilica Cateriniana where Kirk talked about the importance of relics. When St. Cathrine died in Rome, the Sienese came and stole her head and thumb. These relics of their patron saint are still in her basilica. Relics are evidence of the divine on earth.

Next, we saw the duomo. I really liked the story about how when they started to add to the Florence duomo, Siena started building on as well. They eventually went into bank failure and could not finish the project. When we walked into the parking lot and looked around, you could see where they filled in the structure of the nave.

In this picture, on the very right you can see the arches they added and the bricks used to fill it in later.

It started to rain as we explored the town. Rain is one of my favorite little joys in life and always ironically brightens my day! I was not prepared for the weather, but you just gotta make the best of it and feel the rain on your skin.

After our short time in Siena, we bused it to Roma. Another weird thing I love is  road trips/car rides. Especially, when you have Italy passing by your window. As we arrived in Rome, the skies cleared up. Italy continual amazes me. I feel like I have experienced something new in every town because they each have something that makes this different. Arezzo had a very small town feel, whereas Cinque Terre is very tropical, and Rome is a big city that felt like New York in someways. I am excited to explore this new destination!


CINQUE!!! (read this in the voice of an Italian screaming the joust score)


Dawson and I last minute decided Cinque Terre was worth the distance to have the best free day. We woke up this morning ready to figure out the train and make our way. At first, I was definitely nervous about missing a train or not getting off in time, but we made it there with no hiccups. It took a couple rides, but we got the hang of it.

First thing off the train, we explored around Monterosso and then found our way back to the beach. It was utterly breath taking. The water was perfectly clear. There were hazy mountains extending into the distance. Colorful umbrellas and towels were spread across the entirety of the pebble beach.

It was so relieving to literally just be still and take in the beauty. Laying on the beach and being lazy can be a good thing. We have been moving so fast on this trip, so it was nice to take it slow. Also, I have grown to love so many people, but it was nice to just be with Dawson. I get stressed out traveling with twenty plus people.

After this little day trip, I felt super accomplished. We got ourselves there and back with no problems. I kinda realized how much experience I have gained on this trip. I have confidence exploring a town with my friend, and I know how use public transportation. Who knew hanging on a beach would teach me so much!

florence round 2 ft. joust


We hit Florence again today, and it was sculpture day, so I was pretty pumped for the David. But I also appreciated the Donatello sculptures we saw before because Kirk talked about how there would be no Michelangelo without him. I loved the emotion in the faces of his sculptures that told a story.

Then we made our way to the Academia for the David. It seriously surprised me. You just turn the corner, and there he is. Kirk gave us a little  pep talk before getting closer. The thing I found most interesting is that in Michelangelo’s biography he lamented about his poverty, but in actuality he was wealthy. I think Michelangelo wanted to relate to his viewers, and this kinda perpetuated the idea of poor, starving artist.

There is so much I loved about the David lecture. I don’t even know where to begin.  The biggest point to me is that Michelangelo knows the human body, and if there is anything that doesn’t mimic it perfectly, then it was purposeful. He abstracts the human body to show emotion.

Soooo I just spent so much time writing about sculptures, and I haven’t even got to the joust yet… but there’s a couple more fun bits in Florence.

One being this couple. They were killing it in the streets of Florence, and I just had to give them a couple euros. They made my heart happy. Oh and look at their pup!

Another little highlight was these two dorks. On the train ride back, they passed out, and I couldn’t help but take this picture. I was audibly laughing because they were sleeping in the exact same position with sunglasses on and their mouths wide open.

Finally we’ve made it to the long awaited joust night! We had to start by eating at my favorite… Dietro! I am getting so sad at the thought of leaving these sweet people and delicious food.

We headed to Piazza Grande and saw the parade along the way.  We got to are seats and I looked around realizing we were sitting in perfect view of the buildings we painted earlier this week. It all connected. Our service project and the cultural importance of Piazza Grande to the Arezzo people.

The joust had such an exciting atmosphere that we got to experience. I was really passionate about cheering for Del Foro, who did the best they had in years!! There was evident traditions and history being represented in the joust, and I loved seeing how excited the young fans of each neighborhood were.

The longest blog post ever was necessary for a day as memorable as this!


florence pt.1


I can’t stop thinking about today and all the art I saw right before my eyes. I’ve always heard so much about Florence, but I didn’t know what to really expect. The same goes for the Uffizi because I knew it was important, but I had no idea the masterpieces I was gonna see. I was in the Boomer group so we went there first. It has been kinda hard to recall things from my high school art history class, but every time Kirk lectures he brings things I studied and knew back to mind and adds his twist to it. It was like every corner we turned was a significant piece I had studied.

Botticelli blew me away. I knew the pieces, but it was incredible to stand before their vast beauty. I also never imagined them so big. His depiction of the female form in a male dominated society and the contrast of the physical world vs the celestial world were two aspects that stood out to me.

I seriously could spend this whole post describing every feeling, thought, and emotion I had when seeing a Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and the Venus of Urbino, but I guess I’ll save that for Kirk’s paper.

I met so many cool people at the leather market oddly enough. I also learned that I am a bartering queen. In one of the stores, I became “friends’ with the owner because we bought so much from him. Anytime someone wanted to barter, he would call me over and ask my opinion on a fair price. Then the nice man in the picture below engraved all our journals for free, but we insisted he take 5 euro for doing almost 10 journals!

We finished this day with a killer karaoke night. One of my best friends from a different program and I sang Dancing Queen, and it was like a silly dream come true. I’m in Italy with my best friend (the two of us loveeeee Abba), and we are singing Dancing Queen. The whole room, Italians, Americans, whoever, are all singing along. Goodnight Arezzo!!!



As(see)si the sites


This morning was an early one, but worth it to As(see)si the sites! We started at the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, and it easily became my favorite basilica yet. Looking around the frescoes seemed familiar and reminded me of ones I had study in the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto. Although, as we were walking through, Kirk said many falsely attribute these frescoes to Giotto. So I was wrong (lol), but they still remind me of each other. The fresco depicting God as a hand in the sky was my favorite. It’s important because before Michelangelo no one pictured God as this strong, grey bearded man like he painted in the Sistine Chapel. In this fresco, God is simply a hand in the sky indicating he is speaking.


sneaky pic^^

Then we just got to explore the town, so some of us stopped in one more church and right outside it was an incredible view of Assisi. This was another one of those moments where you just have to pause and take it all in before you grab the phone. I just kinda stood there and stared out to the never-ending horizon of hills and homes.

On the bus ride home, I had started to doze off when I heard someone say look  at those sunflowers. I immediately popped up to see a sunflower field extending as far as my sleepy eyes could see. I literally wanted the bus to pull over so we could take the flowers home with me. Knowing that was unlikely, I settled for a average picture.

The evening back in Arezzo was spent resting and eating Piadina yet again. We walked around the lively streets and found a fun thrift store. A good ending to a long day.




PR by day, vineyard by night


Today was jam packed in the best way! We headed over for the PR stuff at the service project. Which was honestly a little odd to me. I have never been interview or so greatly praised for doing a simple beautification project. I remember Kari saying community service is not evident in the Italian society, and I think that just makes it all the more important. I hope that this project will impact not only the sweet people that live here, but the whole community.

Also, I love Jo^^ We met on this trip, and I can’t believe we never talked at meetings this year. Also, my middle name is Jo, so I think this friendship was meant to be.

For lunch, I almost went to Dietro again, but I decided to try something new, so I followed some friends to Piadina. Oh goodness, I do not regret it!

Later on, we headed out to the vineyard. I was one of the last people up to the tables, so when I got there nearly all the seats were gone, but then I ended up a small side table with Lucio, Francesco, Phillip, Tyler, and Nikole. It was such a fun little group. Trying the different wines and foods paired with them really immersed me into the culture. I also talked with Francesco about our shared passion for language, his time at OU, and The Garage burgers. The community and conversation that comes with having a glass of wine with friends is something I really appreciate. It was the perfect evening and one I will never forget. Later, we had dinner at the monastery, and I realized how much has changed since our welcome dinner. I’ve met so many incredible individuals and see the most wonderful views this world has to offer. I say all that, but Assisi is tomorrow, so I guess the best is yet to come?!







So it is halfway through the trip, and I feel like I could stay forever. Arezzo has become a second home in a matter of weeks. I love walking around the streets that have become so familiar. I have learned so much from living life in a different country. One of my favorite cultural quirks in Italy is the sanctity of meals. I remember reading about the two different words for table in Italian. The feminine word, tavola, encompasses more than just the piece of furniture. It is about the experience and enjoyment of a meal, and I have been apart of that nearly every night here. I genuinely enjoy not having service on my phone  because I’m completely present here.  There is still so much trip left, but I think it is important to reflect what we’ve done and what lies ahead.

Today we put the final touches on everything at the service project. It is incredible to see how the rooms come together once we  put the furniture back. Seeing the girls in their new rooms, you could tell how excited they were to have a space that brought them joy and felt a little more like home.

Then we had the rest of the day to ourselves which was so a nice little gift. The first thing I need was good coffee, so I went straight to Dean Grillot for suggestions. She led us to a little place on the corner, and we enjoyed our cappuccinos out on the patio. I can already imagine how much I’m gonna miss this coffee when I’m back home.


I kinda opened this blog in reflection because the boomer group had are little get together in the park, and I actually really enjoyed it. I don’t want to get to comfortable or fall into a pattern on this trip. My goal has been to keep growing and expanding my horizons, and today was a little reminder of that. Afterwards, I feel like everyone was re-inspiried to reach out to one another and experience new things. As a result, I went to dinner with a combination of people I would have never imagined.

A fun side note: I saw lots of dogs today…