Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving-Roman Holiday

You might wonder about the title of this blog cause I bet you're thinking..Kristen..Thanksgiving is NOT a Roman holiday. My friends, you are correct! However, I will explain :)

Being in Rome for Thanksgiving definitely caused for some mixed emotions on my part. On Thursday, my ISA program put on a dinner for was a fair attempt but it wasn't anything to be excited about. However, while people around me complained about the bland mashed potatoes, lack of gravy, and overall mediocre dinner, I was thankful. I was thankful for an Italian attempt to make ME feel home in a country that is obviously not celebrating Thanksgiving. However, I was also thankful to be able to have Thanksgiving Take Two-Roma style. Two dear friends and missionaries, Tim and Janet Hall, who live here in Rome invited me and Emily to celebrate Thanksgiving with them and a few of their colleagues. I cannot begin to explain how thankful I was to be able to be there with them, have gravy, a homemade pumpkin pie, and simply be in the comfort of a home with people who love and celebrate the grace of Jesus!

Being in Rome for Thanksgiving got me thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. First, it was difficult for me to not be at home for this holiday however I was THANKFUL for skype. After our ISA dinner I was able to come back to my flat and skype with my family and the Dobsons and I was thankful to see them. After baking a pumpkin pie for the ISA dinner, I was THANKFUL for my mom and sister always making the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner because a stove with no thermostat and two girls with not much cooking talent doesn't result in such a great pie :). Spending Friday night with the Halls for dinner I was THANKFUL for God blessing me with two people that have shown me love and help beyond anything I could ask for during my time in Rome. And those are just a few things I was thankful a few days!

I will not bore ya'll with an extensive list of things I am thankful for, many of which I have taken for granted, but I do want to share a few of top ones with everyone.

-I am thankful for DU making it easy to study abroad and I am thankful that I never experienced culture shock. I am thankful for DU financing a lot of my time here in Rome but I am even more thankful for my parents being willing to fund the majority of my experience here.
-I am thankful for adventure! I am thankful that Jesus has taught me how to put one foot in the water and trust Him enough to walk on it!
-I am thankful for books. I am thankful for having the time and leisure to read novel after novel while I am in Rome. You may think that's an odd way to spend time while I am in a foreign country but I never have time to do this at DU, so I am thankful to be able to read so much here.
-I am thankful for people... a few of whom I want to specifically write about
-Antonio-I mention him a lot but I am SO thankful to have met an Italian who literally beams with happiness when we come into his cafe. I am thankful for our minimal Italian conversations and for his excitement at always seeing us.
-Casey Chelf-thank you for keeping in touch with me so much. I hope you know how much our conversations mean to me and I thank you for always having time to talk to me. Always.
-Luke Caudill-thank you for remaining in my life and showing me exactly what it means to love without an agenda.
-Mom and Dad-thanks for being my parents! Seriously.. I don't thank you enough for all the support-emotional, physical, monetary, etc, that you give me. I would not be in Rome if it weren't for both of you and thank you for getting a 13 foot Christmas tree for me!
-Becca-thanks for showing me the ropes on travel! Thanks for sharing in Greece with me and being my adventurous partner in crime. You've taught me the importance of 1-minute friends and you got me addicted to travel!
-Katie, Mark, and Abbie-thanks for being able to talk to me about things and offering me sound, Godly advice. And thanks for being born, Abbie :)
-Ben McElroy-thank you for The Wild Good Chase. You're's a great book. And thank you, in a roundabout way, for not being a part of my life anymore. Without you I have become enamored with Jesus and I have become the adventurous woman I am meant to be.
-To my friends back home-thanks for keeping in touch and I seriously miss you all like crazy
-To my new friends here-thanks for sharing in this experience with me! It's something we will never forget and through it we have bonded in a way that I will never bond with anyone else in my life
-Tim and Janet Hall-thank you for your love and support, help and guidance during my time in Rome. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and family.

Anways..I could go on and on for the things and the people that I am thankful for but I want to end with this except from the Wild Goose Chase:

From The Wild Goose Chase Pages 60-62
"After your sermon at Union Station, I decided to approach your challenge to thank God for the daily miracles we generally expect from Him or even forget about. instead of waiting for the evening, I decided to start right then on my walk back to the Metro. Knowing the list of thanks could be infinitely long, I decided to focus my prayer of thanksgiving only on miracles I was receiving at the moment of my prayer. Thank you, God, for aerobic respiration. Thank You for mitochondria, which right now are creating ATP. Thank you for ATP. Thank You for glycolysis. Thank you for pyruvate.

With a biology degree, I ended up having a lot of things on the list. By the time I got back to my place in Arlington, I was thanking God for each of the amino acids. Thank you, God for glycine. Thank you for leucine. And isoleucine. And tryptophan. By the time I was thanking God for the fact that all organisms that form amino acids have the same chirality so that my body can reuse the nutrients and cellular building blocks of the food I break down, I found myself in absolute awe of His creation.
I prayed while I took a walk outside, thanking Him for bones and ligaments and tendons. I also thanked Him that I somehow never took an anatomy course in college, because otherwise I would have felt compelled to thank Him for each bone by name, which would have definitely set me back even more in my quest to get through most of the miracles I receiving at that moment.

I spent the day praying without ceasing! I literally didn't stop and just consciously kept listing things I was thankful for. I listened to music and thanked Him for my ears' cochleae. while I made dinner, I thanked Him for zylem in the plants I was preparing. I spent a lot of time thanking Him for the molecular properties of water. I thanked Him for the bacteria in my colon that help me digest food. I thanked Him for genetic recombination, which made developing and cultivating cotton plants possible for the jeans I was wearing.

By the time the sun set and it was dark at 9 o'clock, I think God was amused with the futility of me trying to thank Him for everything.The Spirit finally hushed me, saying "You can stop now."

So just remember to always be thankful. Seriously. No matter what country or language you are in.
So everyone Thank You, Grazie, Danke, Gracias


Ciao ragazzi!

Time for another wave of blogging!

The weekend before Thanksgiving we had our final ISA excursion to Florence and a small Tuscan town, Arezzo. I really enjoyed this trip because it was out of the city and into some small towns, which of course, I always prefer :)

The first day in Florence we had a walking tour around the main center of town. We made our way to the Duomo and then on to the visit my future husband, David. ;) Obviously we all known the
fame of Michelangelo's David and with good reason. This sculpture is magnificent. I'm talking 17 feet of pure, masculine beauty. Although I get somewhat distracted with the misproportions of his unusually large......hands (come on people...just cause he is butt naked, don't assume I'm looking at other things! hahaha) truly is a masterpiece. But then again...I think everything that Michelangelo did was a God ordained, God given masterpiece.

That night Madeleine, Gena, and I enjoyed a night out in Florence. We went to the Fish Pub (ha) which turned out to have a lot of character. Made some 1-minute friends with three guys who were quite hilarious. Afterwards we made our way to a club, however, we didn't want to stay but apparently you aren't allowed to leave until you buy 10 E worth of drinks. Well. We had no money and the annoying bouncer would not let us leave. Thankfully, Lorenzo, one of the guys friends who didn't even talk to us came to our rescue and paid
the guy off to let us out. I pray good karma for that man!

The next day we had a tour of the Uffizi gallery. I won't bore ya'll with my infatuation with the artwork in here but it was pretty incredible. :) Then my friends and I headed back to the Duomo and climbed the 463 steps to the top! What a climb! But what a view! If any of you ever make it to Florence, definitely climb those steps because it is well worth the effort!

Had an excellent Rick Steve's recommended dinner that night. Oh..and spent too much money on Italian leather goods :)

Sunday morning we left for Arezzo. Not going to lie....I was exhausted and upset about things that I don't even remember much from that day. But it was beautiful. I do remember that :)

Much love,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Phew...I am getting exhausted writing about all the adventures and places I have been in the last three weeks that I am certain ya'll must be exhausted reading about them! ;)

This past weekend I traveled to Prague, Czech Republic with my friend Jeff. My other friends had decided to go to Venice for the weekend and I found a cheap flight to Prague and being that it was one of the top places I wanted to visit while in Europe..Jeff decided to come with me and off we went! We were flying WizzAir..which, understandably, sketched us just a
little bit. But the flight was flawless and I even thought it was better than RyanAir! ;)

First off, Prague=BEAUTIFUL! It very well may be the most beautiful city I have visited so far. I would suggest to every person to make a visit to Prague in
their lifetime. The first day, we went to the Jewish Quarter, Josefov, of Prague and toured all the Jewish synagogs and the Jewish cemetery. This ghetto is well preserved because Hitler had wanted it to become his museum to an exterminated race. Sick huh. was very interesting. The cemetery was really sad. The Jews only had a small area in which to bury their dead sothey buried them on top of each other, five hands a part. If you want to see a picture of what it looks like go here:

Another interesting fact about Josefov is the golem. Legend says that Rabbi Loew created the golem in order to protect the Jewish community. It was said that he created a golem out of clay to protect the Jewish community from Blood Liberl and to help out doing physical labor, since golems are very strong. Go here if you want to read more about the legend: http://www.pi

Friday night, Jeff and I had tickets to see the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Dvorak Hall. It was amazing!!! Enough said :)

Saturday we booked a tour of Terezin, a Jewish concentration camp about 50 kilometers outside of Prague. It was NOT an extermination camp, although many people did die here, but rather it was a transition camp where they brought Jews and prisoners and then would later send them to places like Auschwitz. The most interesting thing about Terezin is that it was actually visited by the Red Cross. Terezin was used for propaganda. They staged the whole town to look like a heathy, clean, livable town so the Red Cross would not be suspicious as to what was really happening there. They had the Red Cross tour planned down to the MINUTE so they wouldn't see anything they weren't supposed to. While it was very sad to visit, it was extremely interesting.

After that Jeff and I went back to Prague and spent the afternoon wondering the streets, went to Old Town Square and other touristy places in the city. I of course did some shopping :)

Sunday we went to Charles Bridge and then toured Prague Castle, which is HUGE!

Oh another note on the Czech their currency is the Czech crowns..and the exchange is like 20 US $to 1 Czech Crown so needless to say..when I was at the ATM and pulling out 2000 CK..I felt extremely rich! Turns out that's only about $100. But I was entertained by having 1000 bills in my wallet.

Unfortunately I got some bad news while I was in Prague (no details. Those who know, know) and it was very difficult for me, for the first time, to NOT be in the USA. I wanted to desperately be home and with people who might need me. It's very difficult to extend comfort through cyberspace..or worse yet..Facebook. But it was all I had. It was extremely frustrating. I also realized upon my return from Prague that I only have but a little over a month left of time in Europe. Now more than ever am I realizing how much I am not ready to go back. But don't worry ya'll... I will return. :)

Much love

Schön dich zu sehen

Next stop: GERMANY!

Sometimes I laugh because I am always going to some new city, new COUNTRY every weekend and I wonder how the heck I am going to be able to go back to the USA and be satisfied with staying in Salida, Denver, or Colorado for any long amount of time!

The week after my mom left, I spent a few days in Rome doing school (ha) and then packed up to head off to Germany to visit my frie
nd Joel Puls. Joel was an exchange student while we were in high school and he lived with my family's good friends, the Dobsons (they are like a second family to me).

For starters....I paid for a shuttle to the airport that picks you up right at your
flat and takes you to the airport. Sounds great, right? Well I got picked up and then we had to pick up other people (it's a shared shuttle). We went to the first stop and the people that were supposed to be picked up weren't at the hotel so we had to wait. We waited for about 25 minutes before they finally
showed up. That puts the time at about...5:30 (my flight was at 7:45). Luckily the driver arranged it for some other driver to pick up the other customers since we had to wait so long for the one couple. Well we head towards Ciampino airport (the out of the way, small, low cost airport where Ryanair, WizzAir, and all the low cost airlines fly in/out of). We had to try like 4 different routes to get to the airport because traffic was so awful. We finally get on a road that will take us to the airport but it has a traffic light like every 100 meters and traffic is still pretty bad. Time: 6:10. Well....until you experience being in Roman traffic, you have never experienced insanity. Much to my luck, we were driving along, the driver stops suddenly, annnnd the car behind us rear-ends us. Great. Car accident! Everyone was fine but I started freaking out because I was certain I was going to miss my flight. And there wasn't another flight into Germany until Saturday morning! After the driver and the guy who hit us finally finished everything they had to do we got on the road again. Time: 6:45 (I had until 7:15 until my gate closed). So we slowly chug along and FINALLY make it to the airport. I jump out of the shuttle, run inside, frantically find my desk, and get my boarding pass. Then on to was a long line and I am freaking out asking everyone if they speak English. Finally this nice gentleman looks at my boarding pass, understands I have to be at my gate, and tells me to cut everyone. Ha! So...I cut everyone in line and wizz through security! I run to my gate and thankfully see that everyone is still lined up waiting to board. MADE IT! Just in time. However, at this point I have to pee beyond belief but I am so terrified of missing my flight that I wait until like 45 minutes after my flight has left. It. Was. Awful. But the good news! I made it to Germany!!

Once my flight finally landed in Weeze, I had to wait for another shuttle that would take me to Essen (where Joel lives). I made a 1-minute friend with an older man, Klous, who used to be a teacher and his daughter is studying in Rome too! After
the drive to Essen, I have never been so happy to see someone I knew! I almost cried when I saw Joel and his parents! :)

The rest of time in Germany was great! No flaws at all :) Joel and I explored Cologne, Essen, and Bonn during the weekend and I was able to see a lot of the cool things in these towns. Joel's parents were absolutely incredible! His dad is learning English so he tried to speak English to me! I felt awful because I speak no German whatsoever. However, Joel did try to teach me some basic phrases. It's a lot cause..I will never learn German!

Friday night was the best night because Joel and I met up with my friend Vincent who I met in Mykonos and his friend, Robert, from Norway! We met up in Cologne and spent the evening bar hopping, catching up, laughing, and dancing on tables (well that was only Robert..hahaha). When we met up with Vincent and Robert at the train station I tried to tell Vincent "Schon dich zu sehen" which means "nice to see
you again"...but I guess I failed because Vincent couldn't understand me at first. Ha! But at least I tried! Joel and I didn't get back home until about 4:30 Am because we had to take a later, extremely slow train. But it was a great night :)

It was so great to catch up with Joel and we even looked at all the pictures and scrapbooks he had from his time in Salida! It was so hilarious to look at them since they were from like 5 years ago! Good times!

Much love,

Hola Espana I have done an awful job at updating my blog in the past couple of weeks and I deeply apologize! I have so many adventures to share with you all so I hope you don't mind reading a few long blogs all at once :)

To begin, my mom came and visited me during my fall break!!! She arrived in Rome on Friday October 23rd and we spent the weekend wondering around the sights of Rome and I showed her how my life has been here. It was fun to be able to show her where I eat and the trams I ride every day to school and my favorite pizza restaurant. After a whirlwind tour through Rome we got on a plane on Sunday and headed to Barcelona!!

We spent three full days in Barcelona and my good friend, Jenna from DU, met up with us and we explored the city together. Mom and I spent the first day exploring the streets of Barcelona. We visi
ted the Santa Maria del Mar which I would say is my mom's favorite cathedral and from a book that my mom and I had both read, Cathedral of the Sea. Afterwards we went to the Picasso Museum and saw Picasso's rendition of Velazquez's Las Meninas. Much to Jeff's satisfaction, we decided to do the double decker tour bus one day in order to see all the sights (Jeff makes fun of me because I love these buses). We were able to make it to all the Gaudi architecture. Jenna and I decided to put it on our bucket lists to come back to Barcelona when the Sagrada Familia is finally completed. We'll be about 80 years old but who cares!

I have decided to come up with a list of "favorites" during my time abroad so I determined that my favorite monument is the Christopher Colombus monument in Barcelona. I also determined that I loved being able to communicate better with the Spaniards! Although in Barcelona most people speak Catalan, I was still able to use Spanish (which I definitely know more of than Italian!) and was able to communicate with the people. It really made me want to get back into Spanish.
The last night in Barcelona, Jenna and I shared an excellent meal of various tapas...and an entire bottle of cava ;)
After Barcelona, my mom and I headed to Madrid! In Madrid we went to the Prado Art
Museum and mom was able to see some of her favorite paintings, including Las Meninas. We also went to the Renee Sophia museum and saw Picasso's Guernica. This could possibly be on the my favorite lists as my favorite painting. It's incredible! We also toured the Palace Real and Catedral de la Almudena which is by far my favorite cathedral in Europe (so far!).

The best part about Madrid was when we were exploring the different Plazas. We went to the Plaza di Toros where they have the bull fights. Unfortunately there were not bull fights while we were there (just another thing to put on my Bucket List!). Afterwards we went to Plaza Mayor. When my mom was out of college she and one of her friends had traveled all through Europe so she was excited to go back to all these places, like Plaza Mayor, that she has been to before..but now she was with her daughter :).
At Plaza Mayor we found a store that sold family crests and we found Medina!!! I was so excited!
I really enjoyed spending my fall break in Spain and connecting with a part of my heritage that I never really cared all that much about. I loved the feeling of embracing my family name and speaking Spanish and being around my culture. However, it did make me miss my grandpa a whole lot :( But I am sure he was looking down from heaven, smiling and singing Hallelujah as he watched me explore his country :)

While in Madrid, I was also able to see my friend Brittany who is studying there and my friend from high school Ellen. It was so wonderful to visit them and it was made me appreciate the fact that all of us are in so many different places in the world, experiencing different things and cultures and I cant' wait to be able to share them all with one another!

Oh...I also decided I want to live in Spain for some time in my life :)

Much love,