How to Spot an American in Europe.

So I’ve been MIA on keeping everyone updated on my travels and unfortunately you’re going to have to wait just a bit longer. In the meantime here’s a link to a quick video I did on how to spot an American in Europe. Its pretty rough and definitely unedited so don’t be too harsh but enjoy! This is just a short list that came right off the top of my head but I have more identifiers if people are interested! As always, leave comments/critiques for me!😁
Here’s the video link>>>How to Spot an American in Europe

Carpe diem.

5,035 Miles.

Alright, I think since I last blogged I’ve been to Munich, Germany, Zurich/Lucerne/Engelberg, Switzerland, Vaduz Liechtenstein, and Salzburg/Halstatt, Austria! This weekend I travel to the region of Tuscany in Italy. 

Going to all these amazing countries and seeing things I never thought possible is wonderful. However, I’ll be honest. It has not been easy being so far from home (5,035 miles to be exact)  when there are so many turbulent and sad events taking place in my home country and state. I feel as though every week I awake to hear more bad news (I’m 7 hours ahead of Kansas i.e. when it’s 1 pm in Kansas its 8 pm here in Italy).

First, there was a shooting in Lawrence, Kansas, the town where I go to college. Then the largest mass shooting in recent history occurred in Las Vegas, a town where I not only have family but friends.  I watched the news, read the stories of the victims and survivors, and my heart hurt once more. A week later I received news a close family member’s cancer had returned. He was given a limited number of months to live. This means I may or may not ever see him again. Around the same time, I also learned another family member was diagnosed with cancer and is currently fighting her diagnosis.

Earlier this week I again woke to bad news… a former classmate had passed away unexpectedly. My community is a small one; three towns make up one school system and each graduating class is approximately 80-100 people. Therefore, it is highly probable that each person who went to school with him had special memories with him, I know I did. Not only is my country hurting but my community, my friends and my family as well. It breaks me that I cannot be there to support and uplift them.

Finally, this morning I awoke to the news another close family member who had been fighting cancer is now in hospice. If you read my first blog post this family member and his diagnosis is one of the main reasons I decided to study abroad. The possibility that I may lose two close family members while I’m in Italy is all too real.

Now, while I am so thankful for this opportunity I am reminded you never know when you will see someone for the last time. I urge anyone reading this to not let words or actions go unsaid because “there’s always next time.” Tomorrow is never guaranteed. That ideology, that fear, is how I ended up in Italy.  My family member in hospice told my father he admires me for studying abroad and he would be too scared to do what I am doing. To hear those words coming from someone who literally fights for each day astounded me. To be diagnosed with cancer, recognize the odds are stacked against you, and to still vow to fight it, that is admirable. That is strength, and courage.  Those are the people I admire most.

To anyone reading this suffering a loss…I am sorry you are hurting. I am sorry for your loss. If you need to talk to someone I am here. Death of any sort is difficult, but death of an individual gone too soon always hurts more. Don’t take for granted your proximity to the people you care for. Instead use them, lean on them, and most of all let them know how you feel about them. 

To my family…I am sorry I am not physically there for you. Our family is truly something special and I am so thankful and proud to be a part of it. I am with you in spirit. I love you all.

Carpe Diem.

 

 

 

Non Parlo Italiano

I have officially been an Italian law student for two entire weeks. WOW. 

The Italian semester works a bit differently than the American semester. For example, not all of my courses have begun. Different courses have different starting times and the Fall semester here starts in September and lasts until February. Since I have to be back in the states by January for the American semester I will actually take my finals in December before the holidays. This is fairly typical. Something that is atypical, and I think us American students would give our two left toes for, is the ability to retake exams. Here, it is quite possible to sit for your exams not once or twice but three times. Unfortunately, due to the fact I have to be back by January I will get one shot on my exams just as we do in America.

I’m enrolled in Comparative Energy Law, Comparative European Contract Law, Comparative Constitutional Law of Groups and Minorities and Legal Framework of EU Policies.  I have begun the first two courses, the other two start on Monday. My first week of classes were a bit hectic. Access to my courses online portals still isn’t worked out. However, the law is the law, and my classes are not out of the ordinary for a typical law course. I am learning quite a lot about not only the EU and how it works but how the separate member states operate within the EU. I’ve also picked up a lot of new lingo specific to European law! Additionally, I now have a wealth of knowledge on how law schools function in a multitude of countries.

Even though I have a full course load I have also enrolled in an intensive Italian language course. This course has proven to be a true test of my character. Our instructor speaks to us only in Italian. Since leaving America I have been near tears only twice. Once on the plane when I realized what exactly I was about to do, and once after my first Italian language class. Moving to a country where you don’t speak the language is scary, plain and simple. The smallest tasks become large and daunting…ordering food, asking for directions, shopping, etc.

One of my pet peeves in America is when I hear someone say “You’re in America, speak English” because usually it’s coming from someone who only speaks English, and has never tried to speak anything else. To learn another language is an extremely difficult task ESPECIALLY if you are an adult,  unable to take actual lessons, or be tutored by a native speaker. It takes time, and it’s frustrating. You can be surrounded by people yet feel completely alone.

So before you judge those people who don’t speak your native language in your country…take a moment.  Instead, consider commending them, whether they were forced to leave their country or they did so willingly, it doesn’t mater.  To move to a country where you cannot understand anything is difficult enough without someone being a jerk to you just because you aren’t fluent in their language. Consider how you would feel in a similar situation.

All I’m trying to say is don’t be a jerk to someone just because they can’t speak your language… and try not to get too frustrated. You don’t know their story or their circumstances. Chances are they could use a friendly, and helpful smile, be that person for them. I know there’s already been multiple times  here when I’ve appreciated that person. That encouraging smile or gesture as I bumbled my way through what little Italian I knew was the only thing that kept me from feeling completely incompetent. Oh, and talking louder is not helpful…slower, yes…louder, no.

Sidenote:  I’m excited to announce I’ve planned trips to Munich, Germany, Zurich/Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, Salzburg/Vienna, Austria, and Krakow, Poland! If anyone has any travel suggestions please leave comments!

Carpe Diem Folks ❤

 

The Clueless American

Alright, it has officially been a week since I started my journey to Trento, Italy and I’ll tell you all one thing…it’s been a whirlwind. This post is geared towards anyone wanting to study at the University of Trento, with my impressions/experiences sprinkled throughout. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. 

I chose to fly into Milan because it was the cheapest option from NYC. 1st Note to any travelers – the Milan-Malpensa airport is NOT in the city of Milan, you have to take an additional train into the city. Once in the city you can walk, take a taxi/bus or the subway to your accomodations. I chose a taxi because I figured it would be the simplest (plus I was already flustered by the train ride into the city).  2nd note to any travelers – in Europe, even if you use a credit card it requires a pin. I did not know this and attempted (failed) to pay with my card. Luckily, I had some euros on me.  Finally, 9.5 hours after leaving NY I got to my hotel, Hotel Rio, which is situated a block from the Piazza del Duomo a.k.a where all the action is.

I was only in Milan for the day and night so I visited the Duomo di Milano, and climbed up to the terraces. Afterwards I wandered through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Galleria is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, and arguably one of the most beautiful as well. I ended my time in Milan by being asked for directions to a local clothing shop… which I was pretty proud of after feeling completely lost the entire day.

Now, to get to Trento from Milan it’s not necessarily tricky but it does take one subway ride, and two trains. The journey is approximately 2.5-3 hours in total.  On the trains, they have luggage areas for larger pieces of luggage, and racks overhead for the small pieces. MAKE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR LUGGAGE IN THE APPROPRIATE LOCATION. I did not and got a lot of dirty looks.

When I arrived in Trento I received my room key and a map of the campus…along with a very confusing pamphlet containing recycling information. THAT’S IT. You are very much left to your own devices. When I arrived, we did not have access to Wi-Fi, we were not informed about the customs surrounding the shared kitchen, where the laundry was located, how the bus system worked, or anything about our courses. Luckily, on my first night here I met an Italian student who shared a lot of much needed information about the location of places and how things worked.

I received a welcome week schedule before I arrived and knew I had to be down in the city center for all our activities. However, I had no idea how the buses worked (or the fact you buy bus tickets at tobacco shops, yes you read that right). In another stroke of luck, I ran into another student who knew his way around and we made it to the orientation session. The orientation session was of minimal help. During the session, we were told about additional services (library card/gym card) but the university provided no information on our specific courses. I  would recommend e-mailing the administration separately, before you arrive to get course schedules. Stay on top of the administration, and beware of opening hours because they are limited. Oh, and be prepared to be old. America is the only place (so far) that requires a bachelors degree + a 3 year juris doctorate to practice law. Every other person from a different country that I have spoken to only requires a bachelors or masters of law!

My first week in Trento I got lost walking around Trento every single day, multiple times a day, took the wrong bus (for quite awhile), butchered any Italian I tried to speak, and had zero idea how to get out of the grocery store (you have to scan a receipt before the gate will open).

BUT…despite all the crazy…Trento is breathtaking. The city is gorgeous, and the students I have met here are warm and welcoming. Somehow, I earned the honor of carrying the blue-tooth speaker during our campus tour, and although it was INCREDIBLY embarrassing I met a lot more students because of this incident. Never in my life have I met so many individuals from so many different countries… Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, Poland, Finland, Czech Republic, Portugal, The Philippines, Israel, Netherlands, Germany, England, Ireland, Canada, Italy, and many more I’m sure I have yet to meet.

Even though we come from all over the world we are all experiencing the same things. The story about getting stuck in the grocery store…that happened to at least two other people I’ve met. One girl, while sharing her stories, put it really well… “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry” when these things happen. Culture shock is real but it happens to everyone. If you ever travel or move to a different country instead of stressing about not knowing the language or looking ridiculous you truly just have to stop, take in your surroundings, embrace the situation, and remember that everyone else is experiencing similar situations and feelings. Despite being a clueless American (the only American), I am SO grateful for this experience and excited for classes to begin tomorrow!

Carpe Diem!

(On a different note, here are some pictures of Milano+ My New Home. Enjoy!

Ciao America!

Hi Everyone! I’m currently waiting for my flight to Italy to take off. Chances are if you’re reading this you already know me but I’m going to do a quick recap anyways. My name is Krista and I’m 25 years old. I’m from Kansas (hence the blog name). Thus far I’ve called the towns of Olathe, Lecompton, Overbrook, Arkansas City, Kansas City, Overland Park, and Lawrence home. I kind of love Kansas a lot, and while I’ve traveled to many places, living in Italy will be my first time living out of state.

So What’s in Italy? Why Italy? Why Now? I know these are questions you’re dying to know the answer to (or maybe not).

What’s in Italy? KU law offers an amazing opportunity to third year students. KU has exchange-type programs with several universities. One is at the University of Trento in Trento, Italy. As second year students we can apply to the University of Trento and study law for an entire semester during our last year of law school. The focus of the program is international and comparative law.

Why Italy? I won’t get too much into this since I already addressed why when I made my initial announcement but basically, I’m Italian. My maternal grandfather is an Italian immigrant and I grew up surrounded by the culture. Of all the places I could visit, Italy was at the top, and I did visit Italy in 2015 with my family. While there I met my Italian family. When I found out about the program I thought to myself…this is perfect, it was meant to be… and apparently it was. Now I’ll be able to go live in Italy for an entire semester and reconnect with those family members. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Why Now? This is a longer story (BUT A GOOD ONE, so bear with me), and it may have started prior to this BUT I can pinpoint it to almost exactly one year ago. Last year, a friend asked for my help promoting a newly formed dance team. I said yes. Shortly after helping with this promotion my then boyfriend and I broke up…if we hadn’t of broken up I probably would not be writing this blog post. That break up set in motion the most AMAZING chain of events.

When my relationship ended I decided that no boyfriend meant more time for dance. I reached back out to the team and auditioned for a spot. I made the team and met a coach that was instrumental in getting me to this point.

About a month after I started dancing again a close family member was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (brain tumor). The news hit me like a sack of bricks. When I received the news, I was interning in the KU Medical-Legal Partnership. On my very last day as an intern I was asked to speak with a potential client about her current situation and legal needs. The client was close to my age and had also been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I was tasked with gathering information regarding her last will and testament. When I looked into this client’s face, and spoke to her family members, I saw my own family member who is still fighting cancer. In that moment, the recognition of my own mortality truly surfaced. When I think about those two moments my stomach still drops. Life is fleeting, and death, death is unforgiving. It creeps up on all of us slowly whether we see it coming or we’re gone in a blinding flash of light.

That day I decided I would no longer be a spectator to my own dreams. I thought about my dreams, dreams I’d had for a while but never truly pursued and I leapt. With the encouragement of my coach and others I auditioned for the Chiefs Cheerleaders. This was one of the scariest, most surreal experiences I have ever undertaken. During the audition, the Director told us all that if this wasn’t our year it was because there was something else we were meant to do or experience. I didn’t make the 2017-2018 team and I was absolutely crushed. I allowed myself to be sad, but only briefly, because I realized what the audition process had given me. The process gave me confidence in myself.

Less than a week later I opened my school announcements and saw an announcement about the Italy study abroad program. I thought to myself maybe this is it…this is the something else. I reached out the program coordinator and here I am…. about to leave for the semester.

Timing truly is everything people, but more than that is the ability to say yes, to take those leaps into the unknown, to realize that our time is very short on this earth and the worst thing we can do is waste it when so many others are literally dying for another minute, or day, or week.

I encourage you to leap with me, in your own way, as well as follow me as I embark on my semester abroad in Italy to study law.

(my other posts WILL be shorter)

Carpe Diem.