(Fall)ing Back into Our Lives

Il tempo vola (time flies) and boy does it go fast. A little over a year ago this time, we were living in Bologna – traveling every other weekend to Paris, Berlin, Ibiza – you name it. So, you all could imagine how much we miss the exciting life of a traveler. Yes, we both frequently scroll through past Facebook albums to quench the inevitable bout of nostalgia that comes about. Though, this longing to go back is always present in our lives, we are both slowly and fairly easily falling back into the routine of university life in California. This is mainly because we both live in incredibly beautiful places, that are hard not to fall in love with, because they are stunningly gorgeous, which sort of takes the edge off us being separated and all :*(

What we’ve both learned is that the life of a quasi ex-pat returning back to the motherland is not easy at first, just like it is when one first goes abroad. There is an adjusting period. The weird part is that when you come back to your life from before, you have to re-adjust to it again and re-learn how to do things, like drive and go grocery shopping in markets with more selection than one could ever possibly need. Then, eventually one day, you kind of just feel adjusted again. Both of us are finally approaching these days. We’ve learned that we don’t have to live our lives completely void of Italy; mainly because we both have REAL LIVE Italians studying at both our universities, doing an exchange program similar to the one we did. But, also we’ve realized that there are little ways to always keep Italy on the brain i.e. listen to Italian music, text with Italians and of course keep the Cucina Italiana VIVA!!!

Enjoy this video of Shelby and her mom making pizza in their backyard pizza oven:

Most importantly, we’ve both realized that coming back has been so much easier, because of the incredible new sense of confidence and that I can do anything (Beyoncé attitude), which has developed thanks to our year abroad. We’re both working in our universities’ study abroad offices, advising students on study abroad programs – we’re basically paid study abroad cheerleaders…WOO GO UCEAP!! So, things are good – tutto bene, raga! Classes have started back up and soon we’ll be busy with all the inevitable essays, readings and for Lily: math stuff (shelby doesn’t do math ;0) to come.

The one thing that has been quite difficult since being is back, is the fact that we don’t live in the same house anymore and don’t spend every waking second together. It’s hard to be apart because we’re buds and miss each other, but even more so for our Fatto Con California Love stuff. It’s hard to work on blog posts when we’re not together and keep up the vision we both had for our little project together. It’s not a huge deal, but it is something that we both really enjoyed doing together and would like to keep up. So, we apologize if you all don’t see a whole lot going on with our blog/instagram. We’re trying to figure out how to work separately, but together and also in what direction we want our project to go.

It seems as though this is going to be a year of figuring things out: what to do after college, where we want to live, if we want to go back abroad…A LOT to chew on. It’s exciting and scary, ma ormai SIAMO PRONTE (now, we’re ready)!!

“Beyoncé Wasn’t Built In A Day”

A wise t-shirt we once saw in a Malibu Kitson store said, “Beyoncé wasn’t built in a day”. This metaphor for life instantly resonated with us, because A) Beyoncé is our idol and B) it’s totally true, Beyoncé was once and probably still is a work in progress.

Queen B, though seemingly perfect, did not become the superstar that she is now, over night. It took a team of highly trained professionals, her getting acquainted with the right people, and a whole lot of raw talent (which she obvi has…i mean like duh, she’s Yoncé). It may not be crystal clear on a superficial level, but we actually have a few things in common with Queen B. Though it has come to our attention that unfortunately, we are lacking both her angelic voice that can make the hardest of hearts melt and her rather bodacious rear end, the one thing that we do have in common with B, is her work ethic. We feel justified in drawing this parallel, because just like Yoncé, we too work hard for the shit we want to make happen. Sure, we both (Us & Beyoncé) have an incredible support system: our families, friends and people who believe in what we do, giving us the confidence and means to keep going. From what we’ve learned, support will only get you so far, and you need to have “chutzpah” (hoo- tz- puh), which is an incredibly endearing Yiddish term for nerve, guts, boldness. Those who have a whole lot of chutzpah, seek out the things they want in life and go for it.

Sometimes you've gotta pull a Samantha

Sometimes you’ve gotta pull a Samantha

The whole concept of seeking what you want in life, is generally associated with being a go-getter (another great way to describe chutzpah) — which, is definitely a characteristic that we both possess and something that helped us get to where we are now. We can both agree that our year abroad in Bologna proved to be invaluable in really mastering the art of going for it. This is mainly because for the first time in our lives, we had to create our own community in a place where we were completely unfamiliar with the traditions, customs, not to mention the cultural barrier, which we discovered was more of a thing than we initially thought it’d be. We didn’t let these barriers hinder us, rather used them to help us always maintain an open mind to trying new things, meeting new people and most importantly humbling us, in the sense that we never took anything for granted. We fully absorbed and immersed ourselves into the culture of not only Bologna, but also almost every place we visited.

Image courtesy of etsy (astateofmind)

Image courtesy of etsy (astateofmind)

Now that we’re back in California, we’ve discovered that this mentality should not just be limited to our year abroad experience. In fact, keeping an open mind and working hard for what you want is probably one of the most useful skills one can have as a senior in college/transitioning into entering the working world. Basically, what we’re trying to get at here is that we have brought back the learned skills of breaking barriers and getting shit done to our lives here in California. It’s easy to fall back into your comfort zone when you find yourself in your childhood bedroom, the same drive to the grocery store and the same local hangouts. Instead, we’re trying to apply the most principle lesson learned from our year abroad, which is life is what you make of it.

This now brings us back to Beyoncé…

B didn’t look back from her Destiny’s Child days and hesitate for a minute while she was recording her first solo album. B kept on re-inventing her style, while staying true to her roots, making her one of the most successful and lovable artists of our time. If we take a look at our lives now, we can see that our Bolo days are a bit like B’s Destiny’s Child days — we had the time of our lives, got our start and inspiration, but now we’re ready to be Dangerously in Love with the next chapter of our lives.

Look how far she's come. B & Jay Z in Paris photo by Shelby Newallis

Look how far she’s come. B & Jay Z in Paris Photo by Shelby Newallis

Written by Shelby Newallis

14 Months in 14 Minutes

To be able to put our entire experience abroad into one video would be impossible. Although we did travel quite a lot, it was not our main objective to visit every major city and country. Rather we wanted to take the time exploring our own city, meeting people, learning about different cultures, and most importantly, having a hell of a good time doing it!!!

We want to dedicate this video to all the wonderful people we met throughout our travels and in Bologna… those who were there to make our time abroad exciting, adventurous and most importantly full of love. We just want to say grazie infinito to everyone who became a fundamental part of our lives in these past 14 months. We will forever cherish the amazing opportunity we had to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Un bacione a tutti <3

xxx

Lily & Shelby

Study Abroad 101

As one learns in any intro class ever, there is no right or wrong way to do something. But as your study abroad mentors, we will share with you all the tricks of the trade so that you too can feel fully accomplished in your study abroad experience.

How to Keep in Touch

bro & sis communicating long distance

bro & sis communicating long distance

It’s hard to get used to the time difference and the sheer fact that you can’t pick up the phone and call your family on the other side of the world. However, with the help of modern day innovations, it makes keeping in touch a little easier. First off, make sure you bring an UNLOCKED phone with you abroad, otherwise you won’t be able to use a local sim card (yes, it’s worth it). We’ve discovered some great apps that will make staying in touch a little bit easier.

Vonage– a great calling app that allows you to call any international number, including landlines. Great for staying in touch with that grandma that doesn’t have a cell phone. Rates to the U.S. at 1 cent per minute.

Facebook Messenger– Keeping in contact with people without having to deal with getting their number.

Whatsapp– ALL Europeans use this app because it eliminates any sort of international texting fees.

iMessage– Many people don’t understand that you can use this anywhere you are in the world when texting between iPhones/Apple products for FREE.

Facetime Audio & Viber– Both good calling apps between smart phones using data/wifi.

Snapchat– For the youngins. A good way to keep up with your friends lives, no matter where you are in the world.

Getting Around

10622952_10204486675587903_8916146178244796835_n

Blablacar– European rideshare. Make an account and make sure to choose a driver with several positive reviews. This will save you tons of money on transportation.

Megabus– Bus rides from 1 euro to endless destinations in Europe. Free wifi and bathrooms on board.

Trenitalia– For you Italy goers, this is the national train system. Make yourself very familiar with the difference between Freccia ($$$), Intercity ($$) and Regional ($) trains. Sign up for a Cartafreccia card if you’ll be traveling in Italy often.

Ryanair & Easyjet– Super economical flights all over Europe. Very tight regulations with baggage. For more on Ryanair, read this post by Shelby.

Navigating a City

10924739_10205678141973818_5498612634898308490_n

Google maps- USE IT. Don’t bother with Apple Maps. Google is Queen. USE IT online or offline with pinned locations. Yes it will still track where you are, even if you are offline. It’s a lifesaver. That is all.

Paper maps- How novel! It’s an incredibly important lifeskill to learn how to navigate with a good ol’ fashioned map.

Word of Mouth -There’s no better way to learn about a city and its culture than by asking the locals. We do it for restaurant recommendations, things to see and for pretty much everything else.

Free Walking Tours – If you are in a major city, chances are there are free walking tours. These may sound super lame, but they actually are fun and are a great way to see a city with limited time. Plus, the tour guides are usually young and enthusiastic, because they work for tips. Ask your hostel for more info and city tips (steal brochures and make friends).

Packing Smart

rhonj-milana-brat2-1

It may seem nearly impossible, but somehow you will do it. We went abroad for 13 months with one bag, and came back with two. One small piece of advice, you don’t need as much as you think AND you will buy things no matter what.

Packing for Ryanair/Easyjet flights- Make sure you have a bag that fits the size restrictions. Same goes for Easyjet.

ZIPLOCS- Great way to consolidate and compact your clothing. Also, they’re a must for long trips and smelly clothes.

1-2 good pairs of jeans & good QUALITY shoes- look in Italy, if you have the chance SALDI (sales).

Technology

11169605_10206695119761297_5389458523520529371_o

Let’s face it people, we’re in the 21st century.

iPhones- They’re great.

Convertors- Make sure you look up country specific convertor sizes before hopping on the plane. You can even buy multi-country convertors from Amazon.

Waterproof camera/phone case- Not necessary but a WHOLE LOT of fun.

Selfie stick- Lily’s anecdote: I LOVE selfie sticks, it allowed us to take pictures even when no one was around. But the bottom line is… use them with caution. My precious iPhone, holding my credit cards in the case (basically my life), almost fell into a canal in Venice because of a selfie stick malfunction. So I repeat, use with CAUTION.

Polaroid- Worth it for the sentimental keepsake. DIY post card.

Good headphones- In times of stressful travel situations (yes, you will experience many), sometimes you just need to tune people out.

Money in the Bank

10885028_10205883338507273_7825585845102405017_n

CHARLES SCHWAB– No foreign transaction or ATM withdrawals fees worldwide. Look into it to save yourself money on currency exchange rates, etc.

Scholarships- Do your research. It’s a lot of work but worth it in the end. Apply for ones that are tailored to your specific qualifications and goals.

Work Abroad- Babysitting & ESL tutoring.

Shopping like a local- Ask & observe where locals go to do their shopping.

A Heads Up On Living in a New Culture

10818276_10205480453275394_5143077337038232513_o

Life is going to be different in more ways than you can anticipate. The most important thing to remember is to not compare your life back home to your new life abroad. Take each way of life for what it is and celebrate their differences. Even if learning the language isn’t your main priority, pick up some of the basics, because even though you can get by with English, it doesn’t mean that you should. Being abroad is about learning, absorbing, and appreciating each culture for what it is.

Most Importantly… Be Young & Happy <3

10599426_10204665868347610_6468874024305148919_n

Happy Adventuring,

Lily & Shelby

xxx

Sardegna

Sardegna couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. By the time we left Bologna it was reaching highs of 100 degrees every day with full humidity and no fans or air conditioning in sight. Bottom line, it was effin hot, which made us appreciate the breezy island life of Sardegna all the more. Sardegna may be an unreachable or unthinkable island paradise to some, but with the help of our good ol’ frenemy Ryanair, our beachy dreams came true.

LIKE LOOK AT THIS OMG....

LIKE LOOK AT THIS OMG….

We flew from Bologna to Alghero and stayed at the most precious little B&B Al Duomo – Alghero with Shelby’s mom and her lovely friend, Helle from Denmark. Our host, Rita was wonderful and her place was very homey and well-kept with an amazing view of the port that we enjoyed every morning at breakfast.

The first day we stayed around Alghero, just enjoying the cute little town, which really had a certain character at night. Shops were open late and people were out, enjoying life in the streets.

Baes at Sunset

Baes at Sunset

The next day, we made our way to one of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever seen, La Pelosa, which every single Italian suggested us to go to. And guess what…Avevano RAGIONE!!! (They were right)

LOOK at this beach

DSC00004

After a hard day of soaking up the sun, the fame (hunger) started to kick in and we set our sights on the cute little restaurant up on the hill. We lucked out, because not only was this place adorable, but it also had wonderful regional cuisine like fregola, which is a type of grain that kind of resembles Israeli couscous. We paired our meal with a regional Vermentino wine – a nice light white, that pairs perfectly with seafood.

11700852_10153373662696827_7413153938697096856_n

Our exploration didn’t stop there. We rented a car which gave us the mobility to discover some of the hidden gems of Sardegna. We wanted to see as much of the northern coast as we could so we rented an Airbnb in the small little beach town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. Along the way we stopped in Castelsardo, where we walked up to the castle on top of the hill, overlooking the entire crystal clear coast. We tasted locally produced wines and liqueurs and got a locals suggestion for the next place to go.

Following the advice we were given, we drove a bit up the coast to Isola Rossa… literally a naturally occurring red rock off the coast. We embraced our Mediterranean mentality and hopped in with only our mutandine (bathing suit bottoms, eek). It seemed as if there was no room for feeling insecure or ashamed since people of all shapes and sizes were letting their wobbly bits hang free.

We finally made it to our destination, Santa Teresa di Gallura, a small beach town that really came to life every single night. We were welcomed in with the parties in the piazzas and local vendors lining the streets. We quickly discovered our favorite cocktail bar and became regulars/die hard fans of their amazing alcoholic creations.

Please excuse these large, obnoxious pictures of our faces but they’re pretty funny, vero?

Our last and best day was spent on a Delfino Bianco boat tour of the little islands off of the Sardegnan northern coast. The tour left from Palau and then took us all around the Archipelago of the Maddalena island and other smaller islands like Spargi and Caprera. All of these places were frickin’ ridiculous. We mean like, stupidly pretty. The water was as clear as pool water, in fact one of the areas we went to was called Le Piscine (The Pools). We spent the day boating around, occasionally stopping, sometimes docking the ship, other times just jumping off the back of the boat. It was truly unforgettable. Here are some of our pics, luckily we had a waterproof camera to score some sweet underwater shots!

Now I hope you all are still ALIVE and not too jel of our sweet vacay. But hey you can get there too someday, we’re just here to help. prego.

Buona Sardegna. Alla Prossima!

Lils & Shelbs

xxx

Emotions in Motion

Madonna, che caldo!

Lately in Bolo there has been a MEGA heat wave and my emotions have been following the wave-like patterns to match the heat. These past days have been filled with too many heartfelt goodbyes and the inconvenient 95 degree humidity to boot. Some days I just feel so overcome by emotions and fatigued by the heat that I lay flat on my yoga mat and pray to the yoga gods for a summer breeze. As one could imagine, it’s hard to do anything in this heat, except for think about how hot you are and how badly you need to be by a pool right now. Instead of thinking about the inferno outside, I decided to reflect a bit instead on everything I’ve been feeling lately… Here’s a little informal diary confession to myself, hope you enjoy.

-Lily

Static.

I want to be static in time but also enjoying every second. I don’t want to go but I want to be free and explore.

I can’t even put my feelings into place. It’s almost as if I don’t want to make any moves so that time itself will stop ticking. But I don’t want to waste my time so I want to keep moving. My thoughts are a never ending cycle between screaming “FUCK” at the thought of going back to California, while on the other hand I am saturated with happiness and love that I get from the people that inspire me, the aromas that encapsulate me, and the medieval portici that guide me. I don’t want to leave. My heart is heavy.

Now, I’ve never had my heart truly broken but I could imagine that it feels something like this. To be so in love with a place, culture, people, food… but to understand that life moves on. Although I know that, I’m still aching.

I’m happy, honest. But this moment, right here, right now is my life. It’s hard to think that my time here in Bologna for the year has an expiration date. Yes, I promise I’ll be back… but who knows where I will be a year from now. I have grown so much from this experience and I tell myself every day how fortunate I am to have lived it. I truly feel as though I made the most of my time here, and I would say that that is an incredibly bold statement. But I’m happy, honest.

I can’t even begin to describe how this year has changed me. Yes, I may be a little more of a wine, cheese, pasta and pizza snob, but let’s just call that being a “foodie” instead. I’ve learned about so many different types of pasta, where they come from, what their purpose is, how they should be eaten… I’d say I’ve gotten that real cultural experience, eh?

Enough about the pasta… although I will miss it. That’s the least of my worries. It’s almost scary being away from the place you spent the first 20 years of your life in for this amount of time. Not scary in the sense of actually physically being away, but rather that at this point I have created an image of what “home” is. From the countless defensive conversations with Europeans about how we don’t eat like the classic Americans in California, I picture “home” to be bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables… just like I’m surrounded by here in Italy. I’m afraid that the way I have remembered California may not be how it actually is, and that I will face reverse culture shock.

Even though I have to go back “home”, sono sicura (I’m sure) I will be back to my beloved Bologna. My heart truly feel like it belongs here. I will miss 2 euro spritz dates and singing Italian songs in piazzas with my friends from all over the world. But I will be back. I will miss hearing the accordion echoing through the portici as I casually stroll to do my grocery shopping. But I will be back. I’m so proud of myself for making this decision to spend the year here, I feel so happy, so full of love and my heart feels full. Bologna I love you.

I’m not saying goodbye to Italy, I am saying ci vediamo.