Arriving to Europe

    This summer is my second study abroad with Drexel. Last summer I studied in Crete, Greece. My experience with arrival to Greece was much different. I flew straight to Greece and all of the other students in my program were on the same flight. I was only jet lagged for the first two nights, which I was surprised by. My arrival to Europe this summer was much different. I came a week early to join buy friend Gabby, also in my program (Paris/London Dual City), in Lucca, Italy with her family. I flew alone and had a layover in Switzerland. This was my first experience flying internationally by myself. I was a bit nervous as I was taking off, but I remembered to myself that the people I love are always with me in my heart. Sounds sort of cheesy, but I truly thought of this and had a sudden calm feeling come over me. I slept a lot of the way and watched movies. When I was going to my next gate during my layover in Switzerland, I noticed a girl walk by in a Drexel University sweatshirt. I thought this was such a strange coincidence. She appeared to just be on a family vacation. Funny how the world works in that way, but this always put me at ease as well, like it was a sign no matter where I go in this world I am not alone. That was pretty intense for me, a lot of emotions and thoughts traveling across the globe on my own.
     Arriving in Italy was a bit scary. The plane was experiencing too much turbulence and had to land in Pisa, as opposed to Florence where we were supposed to land. I was so worried because my cell phone obviously had no service in Italy. Luckily,  a kind man let me use his phone to contact my friend’s dad and let him know of the change. Everything worked out fine and they came to meet me in Pisa. This reminds me to stay calm because everything will work itself out in the end. Italy was very beautiful everywhere I looked. The roads are very windy and do not have many enforced driving laws, definitely not a place I would feel comfortable driving in. I just watched out the window as the hills rolled by and cute, little Italian style homes were scattered about. When we arrived to Villa Oliva I was in complete shock. It was so beautiful and HUGE. The property sprawled out over at least 10 acres. The main house (photographed below) was occupied but the owner, we stayed in the guest house. It’s interesting to call it a guest house considering it had about 20 bedrooms, two kitchens, a pool in the yard, and a large pool house. The villa also had a soccer field, tennis court, and little building to hosts events like weddings.

Main House at Villa Oliva in Lucca, Italy

On our first day we traveled to Cinque Terre. These are 5 famous little towns along the Italian Riviera. I was so excited to hear that we were traveling there because I have seen photos for years and always wanted to go. It it truly beautiful and a must see! Also known as “The Five Lands”, these villages are all beach towns and consist of mountainside homes of various colors, creating an amazing view you could stare at for hours. The five villages are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. My favorite was Manarola (pictured below). I swam in the water and jumped off huge rocks into the water, I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I was so exhausted by the end of this day from all the swimming, walking, and sightseeing. I was also experiencing a lot of jet lag. As I said before, I only experienced about two days of jet lag in Greece, but Italy was much worse. I was up until about 5am and could sleep all day. Sadly, this continued past just my time in Italy. I have learned that you really need to force yourself to adjust. For example, do not take a nap or sleep in when you’re tired during the day, this way you will fall asleep at night and for the entire night. I really enjoyed Italy and the beautiful town of Lucca. There is so much history and the people are very proud of their culture. I also added a photo of me below laying by the pool on my last day at Villa Oliva, before heading off to Paris to begin the program.

My photo of my favorite village of Cinque Terre – Manarola. 

Feeling truly blessed, relaxing by the pool at Villa Oliva in Lucca, Italy.
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