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Europe

Herräng, Strängnäs, Stockholm and Me
Well, this sums up a lot of my trip. Beautiful dancing, singing, acting, and puppies. I spent a lot of my time in Herräng, but I visited Stockholm and Strängnäs, which Strängnäs has a beautiful cathedral with a giant organ system inside of it. Herräng Dance Camp is a literal camp, but it is the perfect way to get started, or even further your image as a dancer and human being. Confronting your irrationalities, and making them rationalities. Saying yes, and also really saying no. Becoming a better musician. Learning skills you never even thought you would touch. Also, just being able to fully involve yourself in something, knowing it will make you better.

D7A2EEF6-F5A2-4456-94FF-9EA044F2D555



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My Thoughts on Dublin
I would love to say that I learned so more about the differences between the approach to mental health in Ireland and the United States, but honestly I learned more about myself. This may sound cheesey, but I am far more resilient and brave than I thought I was. I know most of you are going to say, “Alyssa, you traveled to another country. Obviously you are brave.” But this trip put me so far out of comfort zone at times. I am proud of myself for sticking with it. I also learned that I have a way with people. A lot of the clientele at my internship had addictions, mental illness, or both. I was often able to help with calming down some clients when they were in the throes of a mental breakdown. They often later said that I had a patient way of helping them through it that some of the other staff members didn’t. I had a lot of fun learning while I was there. It is a lot easier to see the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and distinguish between them when you are surrounded by them than just reading about them in a book.

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Herräng Dance Camp
A joy filled wonder that anyone who has studied dance should experience at least once. Vernacular jazz dancing at its finest. I have had a ton of fun, and took over 60 different dance classes, learning from some of the best in the world. The camp setting is great, and I am doing my best to stay afloat with all the social interaction, but I am thriving. This has been an amazing trip. The most that I have learned it to take care of myself, and work on the stuff that is keeping me from progressing.

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Snippets from Paros, Greece
I have been in Greece for a little over a week now, and it is hard to put into words just how beautiful the sights are. Each day has brought new experiences, bright friendships, and fresh food. Although I have been journaling every day, I wanted to take some time to publicly share a few snippets of what it is like to study on a Greek Island. First thing I noticed about Paros is that everyone is beyond friendly! The people in the shops along the waterfront smile and wave, thanking me for coming to their beloved island. These greetings make it easy for this place to feel like home. Along with the kind greetings, I have noticed that each body type is loved here. There isn’t pressure to be a certain weight or to look a specific way. Everyone is cherished. Class takes place in a tiny classroom in a nook off of a small cobblestone path. I am studying creative writing, so I write stories daily. Around 5pm, my class and I partake in a writer’s workshop for two hours, critiquing each other’s pieces. One of my professors kind of reminds me of Meryl Streep — which is making all of my Mamma Mia dreams come true. Meals here have the potential to last to two hours. Many dishes come out and are served family style. I have tried moussaka, mussels, octopus, calamari, fried goat cheese, feta, Greek salad, gyros, souvlaki, banoffee, baklava, and so much more! Something that has been slightly frustrating for my group and I is that waiters do not like splitting the bill. We now know that when we go out we should bring small bills rather than a card in order to pay. Another part of the studying is exploring the different islands and the archeology that takes place there. In Paros, I have gone to the marble quarries and small villages that are home to some stunning churches. I learned that the roads are so windy and curvy to fight off any piracy. Back in the day, the different towns would make mazes with their roads to confuse the pirates trying to invade. In Santorini, we explored the sight of Akrotiri, a place that was attacked with volcanic ash and stone greater than Pompeii.  I still have a couple more excursions to Antiparos, Mykonos, Delos, and Naxos, so there is more adventure to come! Here are a few snap shots:

This is the tiny street to my classroom.

This is where I am staying in Paros.

Having a blast in Greece!

This is my walk back home from class along the Aegean Sea.

A Santorini sunset

Thanks for following me on my journey around Greece! Kalynn Fuller

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Last Month of Class!

May was a busy month for me! We only had class the first week before our school’s exam period started. During this period, we have no classes as they want you to use the time to study. I had three classes with papers for our final and only one with an exam. The exam environment was also so different to the one I’m used to! They have it in a big hall and assign you a desk to take it. They have multiple proctors during it, and make you place your student ID onto the desk for them to check and sign a registry! I had to use the washroom and instead of just being able to go, I had to be escorted by someone all the way into the washroom and she then stood outside the stall! I was shocked that they take their exams this way. It was very stressful because the papers account for 100% of my grade! I had one paper that needed a word count of 6,000- I have no ideas how I pulled that one off! May was also the month of Ramadan, so on top of all of this, I was fasting as well! The fasts here were pretty long and averaged about 18 hours! I tried to visit some family to get good home-cooked meals, but I was only able to go twice since my schedule was so hectic. I also had a friend fasting with me for a portion of the month, so that was nice of her and made me feel less alone. One of my friends from Concordia also came to visit me during this time! It was so nice to have someone from home around. She also really wanted to go to Italy while she was there so after much debating, I finally gave in and we booked flights for the next day! It was definitely my most spontaneous trip, but we had the best time! I even got to recreate one of my Mom’s pictures from when she lived there! 

My mom when she lived in Milan.

Me copying my mom’s photo!

Me in Milan!

I’m sad the semester is done, but also happy that I’m done with all the work I had to do! I’m in Morocco again right now and will back in London mid-june and stay for another month. I’m excited to be able to explore without the stress of school! 

 

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Spring Break Abroad!

April was very packed for me! I started the month in Bordeaux, France with my friend Sophia. It was a very cute city and where we were staying was very French, complete with a cute little balcony. We ate baguettes and cheese and walked around a lot! We also went to this really good restaurant that made me start to think of food as an experience. It was truly gastronomic and I keep thinking about their lemon tart… 

Street in Bordeaux.

Statue of Alexander the Great in Greece.

I then went to Thessaloniki, Greece for a Gilman Summit! It was run by the US State Department in collaboration with Fulbright. I got to meet so many amazing, genuine people and it was definitely an experience I will always be fond of. We toured the city as well as some businesses there and met with a lot of local government officials as well as the US Ambassador to Greece! We were able to talk about a wide array of topics from the Syrian refugee crisis and the Greek economy to how to become an Ambassador to a country like Greece (Hint: You either put in 20+ years of hard work and luck out by handling a big problem or you donate a lot of money to a presidential campaign). 

Gilman Scholars at the event in Thessaloniki.

Gilman Scholars with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Greece.

I then went to Marrakech, Morocco where I met up with my good friend and flatmate, Yasmine! She is from there so we stayed with her and she showed me and my friend around. It is really a different life there since the culture is so different. Everyone drives really fast and the only way to get to where you’re going is by knowing in advance how to get to where you’re going! We were so lucky to have someone to be able to drive us around and do the talking for us so we didn’t get ripped off at places like the old market. It was also so hot there! It was hot in Greece as well, but we were near a body of water there so there was a nice breeze. In Marrakech, there is no body of water and when the sun is on you, it is ON you! I could literally feel every degree of heat and it was only in the 80s! 

Market in the Old City.

Majorelle Gardens.

Old City Market.

Exploring was fun, but now I need to get back to reality as all my coursework for all my classes are due and it’s exam season! I am looking forward to that being over! 

Until next time. 



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Dublin: Who knew right?!
The first few days in Dublin have been absolutely amazing! I flew out on Tuesday evening and arived on Wednesday around noon. The time difference has been a little weird but I am finally getting over my jet lag. We spent a few days doing orientation and getting used to the city. On Friday, we wen’t out on our own to find our internship sites. I got a little bit on my way but the people around the city were so helpful and I eventually found my way there. Yesterday, the group went on a guided tour of Northern Ireland. It was absolutely amazing! We went and saw the city of Belfast which is still in quite a lot of conflict with the Brexit situation. It was amazing to hear about the situation the city is still in even though the Peace wall has been up for 21 years. I would be terrified to live there but the people are so confident in themselves. Our tour guide was alive during the conflict and has actually received a few death threats just for doing his job. We also toured the Giant’s Causeway, I’ll let you decide what created the Causeway, the Giants or science ;),  and walked over the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It is 30 meters high and, yes, I actually did go over it. I may have freaked out the entire way across, but I didn’t let my fear of heights get the best of me. Was quite proud of myself afterwards.

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Last Weekend in Milan
Buonjourno! I have less than a week before I’m back at home. It truly went by way too fast. It’s been a bittersweet week having friends leave back and having to acknowledge the semester is over. My roommates and I spent the week enjoying as much gelato, cappuccinos, and pasta as we could. Although I will miss Milan, I am excited to go home and see my family and friends again!

Advice for Future Study Abroad Students:

For future study abroad students, I would definitely want them to know the experience is what you make it. Don’t trust and believe in those idealized study abroad experiences you see in movies or on social media. One doesn’t need to mimic those “ideals” to have a memorable time. You won’t always have a perfect day, but you make the most with what you can. Find the fun and beauty in the things one normally wouldn’t expect. Another piece of advice I have is to try something new everyday! Try to avoid the homebody habits. It’ll be hard once you get homesick and all you want to do is stay in bed and call friends/family. You just have to remember it might be the last time you ever get the chance to travel in the city/country again. Travel as much as you can. Another thing I would want students to know is not everyone you meet will be your friend. I think when everyone is in the atmosphere, everything is new and people are so excited that they forget to be safe too. I know a couple of girls who went over to some guys’ apartment whom they just met. There was a popular saying with a lot of the international students from the various schools in Milan, “What happens in Milan, stays in Milan”. I understand we’re all young and trying new things, but just make sure you don’t do anything you regret. Your safety should always be a priority! The last thing I would want students to know is to have fun! Not everything has to be planned and on an itinerary.  Many of my favorite experiences happened in the spur of the moment. The Italians have a saying, “La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi”, which translates to “the hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens”. Not that blind kittens are bad, bu it means doing something in a rush can result in less than perfect results. Don’t rush to the finishing point. Like Italians say about Americans, we’re always on the go and want things fast. We forget to slow down, relax and appreciate the things around us. It’s about the journey, not the destination.  

Gelatooo

Fondazione Prada

Park right in front of the castle in Milan



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The Trip of a Lifetime
As of April 30, 2019, I officially finished my semester abroad at Westfield House in Cambridge, England. Just typing that sentence is unbelievable because I never thought I would be able to study abroad. This semester has been such an incredible and life-changing experience. I am so thankful for all the people who made it possible for me. If I had to pick one word to describe this whole experience and semester I would choose “surreal.” Merriam-Webster defines surreal as “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream” with synonyms such as “fantastic” and “unbelievable.” In many ways this semester has been a dream come true. I cannot recommend strongly enough what an incredible experience studying abroad has been. Obviously, I can only speak from my own experience, but if study abroad is even a slight possibility try as hard as possible to make it happen. I could write pages and pages about what I want other people to know about study abroad, but I doubt anyone would want to read all of that and this is just a short blog post so I will choose just a few. First, I think many shy away from study abroad because of the expense. Travel in the United States is very expensive. Honestly, my plane ticket to and from the U.S. was the most expensive part of my entire semester. Study abroad does not have to cause additional financial strain. There are more scholarships available for students studying abroad and this semester, even with all my travel and other expense, ended up being significantly less expensive than a normal semester at Concordia. The money that I did spend was not going toward tuition or room and board but to incredible trips across Europe that I will never forget. This aspect of study abroad depends heavily on what each person chooses to spend their money on, but with good planning and budgeting study abroad does not have to be an additional cost of college and might even save money! Second, also dependent on each person and program, I will never get another chance like this to travel. Westfield House does not have classes on Friday, so each weekend was a three-day weekend and a much lighter homework load gave me so much freedom to travel. Not so much in England but in other parts of Europe students can get a cheaper price on train or bus tickets and special discounts as museums. In Paris my friends and I got into Versailles, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Pantheon for free because we were students! Nowhere in the United States can you get a flight for $20 and just hop over to another country for the weekend or take a short train ride and end up at the Queen’s country estate. It is wild to watch movies or read books set in Europe and recognize all the places I have been in the last four months. There are so many things I could regret not getting to do but it would take multiple lifetimes to go to all the places I want to visit. Instead, reflecting on the semester, I almost cannot believe all the places I have been because they are places I never thought I would visit. Finally, studying abroad has given me a much broader perspective of myself and the world. The ability to travel and experience a taste of life in other countries is an eye-opening experience. There are some things that I am very excited to come back to in the U.S., but there are other things I will miss about Europe. England is a very orderly country and I have come to appreciate this so much. For example, riding an escalator everyone standing stays on the right side while people walking up or down can pass on the left side. So simple! Stepping out of American culture and the places I was familiar with, even just for such a short time, has been so good to reevaluate what I do and why. This, I think, is the most important reason to study abroad. While saving money and traveling the world are incredible, the personal changes and growth I have seen in myself is what I am most proud of. I am not coming back to the U.S. as the same person I was when I left. I cannot exactly explain what is different, and maybe others will not even notice, but there is a difference. I feel like I have rediscovered and uncovered new parts of myself. I do not yet know how this will translate back into American culture and how my new perspectives and thoughts will fit into my old spaces, but I am so excited to see what happens and for all the adventures I will have in the future!

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Springtime in Milan
Ciao! This is my third month in Milan, heading towards the end of my semester here. It truly has gone so fast! I can’t believe I’ll be back in Minnesota in about a month’s time. I do feel like I’ve been able to integrate into the culture. At first, I could easily be picked out as the American, but now I’m able to blend in with the general Italian population. I am going to try to attempt to keep up with my Italian dressing habits back home, but I do miss wearing sweatpants to class. Also, picking up a few Italian slang words has helped me blend in. If you ever find yourself in Italy, try a marocchino rather than the everyday cappuccino. I guarantee the barista will be impressed.

Catania: Sicily’s Home of Mount Etna

Outside of school, the greatest learning experience is compiled of so many, I couldn’t possibly just choose one! One of my favorites was during my spring break. My roommate and I went to Catania in Sicily, which is southern Italy. We stayed in a hostel owned by a man and his friends. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had! We were able to interact with them and talk to them and learn tons about their culture. The culture in Southern Italy is completely different than Northern Italy. Southern Italy is more poor than the north, which is why their daily fish and fruits/veggies market has an amazingly cheap price. You could get a fresh plate of oysters for only €3 (which contain about six oysters), whereas a dozen oysters is approximately $36 in the United States. Their atmosphere there as well is more relaxed and laid back, whereas Milan is a bustling city similar to New York City. The highlight of our Sicily trip was when we climbed Mount Etna, Catania’s active volcano! Never in my entire life would I think I’d ever be able to climb a volcano! I also found out afterwards that it recently erupted in December 2018. We had private guide who was also the brother of the hostel owner! He took us on off beat paths that tourists didn’t go on. It is something that I’ll always remember about my trip.

Mount Etna Climb! I didn’t miss the snow in MN after all.

Sicilian Brioche and Chocolate Gelato

The Siracusa Coast

     

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Uncategorized

Herräng, Strängnäs, Stockholm and Me
Well, this sums up a lot of my trip. Beautiful dancing, singing, acting, and puppies. I spent a lot of my time in Herräng, but I visited Stockholm and Strängnäs, which Strängnäs has a beautiful cathedral with a giant organ system inside of it. Herräng Dance Camp is a literal camp, but it is the perfect way to get started, or even further your image as a dancer and human being. Confronting your irrationalities, and making them rationalities. Saying yes, and also really saying no. Becoming a better musician. Learning skills you never even thought you would touch. Also, just being able to fully involve yourself in something, knowing it will make you better.

D7A2EEF6-F5A2-4456-94FF-9EA044F2D555



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My Thoughts on Dublin
I would love to say that I learned so more about the differences between the approach to mental health in Ireland and the United States, but honestly I learned more about myself. This may sound cheesey, but I am far more resilient and brave than I thought I was. I know most of you are going to say, “Alyssa, you traveled to another country. Obviously you are brave.” But this trip put me so far out of comfort zone at times. I am proud of myself for sticking with it. I also learned that I have a way with people. A lot of the clientele at my internship had addictions, mental illness, or both. I was often able to help with calming down some clients when they were in the throes of a mental breakdown. They often later said that I had a patient way of helping them through it that some of the other staff members didn’t. I had a lot of fun learning while I was there. It is a lot easier to see the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and distinguish between them when you are surrounded by them than just reading about them in a book.

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Herräng Dance Camp
A joy filled wonder that anyone who has studied dance should experience at least once. Vernacular jazz dancing at its finest. I have had a ton of fun, and took over 60 different dance classes, learning from some of the best in the world. The camp setting is great, and I am doing my best to stay afloat with all the social interaction, but I am thriving. This has been an amazing trip. The most that I have learned it to take care of myself, and work on the stuff that is keeping me from progressing.

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Snippets from Paros, Greece
I have been in Greece for a little over a week now, and it is hard to put into words just how beautiful the sights are. Each day has brought new experiences, bright friendships, and fresh food. Although I have been journaling every day, I wanted to take some time to publicly share a few snippets of what it is like to study on a Greek Island. First thing I noticed about Paros is that everyone is beyond friendly! The people in the shops along the waterfront smile and wave, thanking me for coming to their beloved island. These greetings make it easy for this place to feel like home. Along with the kind greetings, I have noticed that each body type is loved here. There isn’t pressure to be a certain weight or to look a specific way. Everyone is cherished. Class takes place in a tiny classroom in a nook off of a small cobblestone path. I am studying creative writing, so I write stories daily. Around 5pm, my class and I partake in a writer’s workshop for two hours, critiquing each other’s pieces. One of my professors kind of reminds me of Meryl Streep — which is making all of my Mamma Mia dreams come true. Meals here have the potential to last to two hours. Many dishes come out and are served family style. I have tried moussaka, mussels, octopus, calamari, fried goat cheese, feta, Greek salad, gyros, souvlaki, banoffee, baklava, and so much more! Something that has been slightly frustrating for my group and I is that waiters do not like splitting the bill. We now know that when we go out we should bring small bills rather than a card in order to pay. Another part of the studying is exploring the different islands and the archeology that takes place there. In Paros, I have gone to the marble quarries and small villages that are home to some stunning churches. I learned that the roads are so windy and curvy to fight off any piracy. Back in the day, the different towns would make mazes with their roads to confuse the pirates trying to invade. In Santorini, we explored the sight of Akrotiri, a place that was attacked with volcanic ash and stone greater than Pompeii.  I still have a couple more excursions to Antiparos, Mykonos, Delos, and Naxos, so there is more adventure to come! Here are a few snap shots:

This is the tiny street to my classroom.

This is where I am staying in Paros.

Having a blast in Greece!

This is my walk back home from class along the Aegean Sea.

A Santorini sunset

Thanks for following me on my journey around Greece! Kalynn Fuller

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Dublin: Who knew right?!
The first few days in Dublin have been absolutely amazing! I flew out on Tuesday evening and arived on Wednesday around noon. The time difference has been a little weird but I am finally getting over my jet lag. We spent a few days doing orientation and getting used to the city. On Friday, we wen’t out on our own to find our internship sites. I got a little bit on my way but the people around the city were so helpful and I eventually found my way there. Yesterday, the group went on a guided tour of Northern Ireland. It was absolutely amazing! We went and saw the city of Belfast which is still in quite a lot of conflict with the Brexit situation. It was amazing to hear about the situation the city is still in even though the Peace wall has been up for 21 years. I would be terrified to live there but the people are so confident in themselves. Our tour guide was alive during the conflict and has actually received a few death threats just for doing his job. We also toured the Giant’s Causeway, I’ll let you decide what created the Causeway, the Giants or science ;),  and walked over the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It is 30 meters high and, yes, I actually did go over it. I may have freaked out the entire way across, but I didn’t let my fear of heights get the best of me. Was quite proud of myself afterwards.

View Policy
Last Weekend in Milan
Buonjourno! I have less than a week before I’m back at home. It truly went by way too fast. It’s been a bittersweet week having friends leave back and having to acknowledge the semester is over. My roommates and I spent the week enjoying as much gelato, cappuccinos, and pasta as we could. Although I will miss Milan, I am excited to go home and see my family and friends again!

Advice for Future Study Abroad Students:

For future study abroad students, I would definitely want them to know the experience is what you make it. Don’t trust and believe in those idealized study abroad experiences you see in movies or on social media. One doesn’t need to mimic those “ideals” to have a memorable time. You won’t always have a perfect day, but you make the most with what you can. Find the fun and beauty in the things one normally wouldn’t expect. Another piece of advice I have is to try something new everyday! Try to avoid the homebody habits. It’ll be hard once you get homesick and all you want to do is stay in bed and call friends/family. You just have to remember it might be the last time you ever get the chance to travel in the city/country again. Travel as much as you can. Another thing I would want students to know is not everyone you meet will be your friend. I think when everyone is in the atmosphere, everything is new and people are so excited that they forget to be safe too. I know a couple of girls who went over to some guys’ apartment whom they just met. There was a popular saying with a lot of the international students from the various schools in Milan, “What happens in Milan, stays in Milan”. I understand we’re all young and trying new things, but just make sure you don’t do anything you regret. Your safety should always be a priority! The last thing I would want students to know is to have fun! Not everything has to be planned and on an itinerary.  Many of my favorite experiences happened in the spur of the moment. The Italians have a saying, “La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi”, which translates to “the hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens”. Not that blind kittens are bad, bu it means doing something in a rush can result in less than perfect results. Don’t rush to the finishing point. Like Italians say about Americans, we’re always on the go and want things fast. We forget to slow down, relax and appreciate the things around us. It’s about the journey, not the destination.  

Gelatooo

Fondazione Prada

Park right in front of the castle in Milan



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Springtime in Milan
Ciao! This is my third month in Milan, heading towards the end of my semester here. It truly has gone so fast! I can’t believe I’ll be back in Minnesota in about a month’s time. I do feel like I’ve been able to integrate into the culture. At first, I could easily be picked out as the American, but now I’m able to blend in with the general Italian population. I am going to try to attempt to keep up with my Italian dressing habits back home, but I do miss wearing sweatpants to class. Also, picking up a few Italian slang words has helped me blend in. If you ever find yourself in Italy, try a marocchino rather than the everyday cappuccino. I guarantee the barista will be impressed.

Catania: Sicily’s Home of Mount Etna

Outside of school, the greatest learning experience is compiled of so many, I couldn’t possibly just choose one! One of my favorites was during my spring break. My roommate and I went to Catania in Sicily, which is southern Italy. We stayed in a hostel owned by a man and his friends. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had! We were able to interact with them and talk to them and learn tons about their culture. The culture in Southern Italy is completely different than Northern Italy. Southern Italy is more poor than the north, which is why their daily fish and fruits/veggies market has an amazingly cheap price. You could get a fresh plate of oysters for only €3 (which contain about six oysters), whereas a dozen oysters is approximately $36 in the United States. Their atmosphere there as well is more relaxed and laid back, whereas Milan is a bustling city similar to New York City. The highlight of our Sicily trip was when we climbed Mount Etna, Catania’s active volcano! Never in my entire life would I think I’d ever be able to climb a volcano! I also found out afterwards that it recently erupted in December 2018. We had private guide who was also the brother of the hostel owner! He took us on off beat paths that tourists didn’t go on. It is something that I’ll always remember about my trip.

Mount Etna Climb! I didn’t miss the snow in MN after all.

Sicilian Brioche and Chocolate Gelato

The Siracusa Coast

     

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