Saturday, May 16, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things:

Ciao!

Here in my last week in Florence, I am sitting in my living room, feeling the warm breeze through the windows, listening to church bells, and soaking it all in! I have no idea if there is ever a "correct way" to truly appreciate something but i know how easy it is to take things for granted. In this past week I have caught myself saying " this is the last time we will do__, Im going to miss ____ so much," and so on. It has really hit me this last week that I have had the experiences of a lifetime in the past 4 months! I have been trying to think about things I have learned, or ways I might have changed from all of this. I think I will only be able to tell when I return home and look back. But what I can say is that everything that has come from this trip (with God's help), challenges and all has been for the better. I have grown with myself, and with God. Thank you everyone for praying for me, encouraging me, and telling me you miss me! I only wish I could share this with some of you. 

So I guess I will tell you a few of my favorite things :)



The Arno, my favorite spot in Florence. 












Laughing, dancing, impersonating, eating, laying on cold tile floors, and any other craziness in the living room of VDP. 









Fresh fruit and veggie markets, and the friends made in the meantime. 














Cramped train rides and sleeping adventures. 












Gelato....duh!














Home cooked meals. Usually rummaging through the fridge and cabinets to make any concoctions we could come up with! 











Cobble stone streets. The light reflected off of them. Stella falling on them. 














Santa Croce. Walking by this enormous beauty everyday on my way to class.












Our luxurious bathroom. Complete with a Sauna. 
















Besides waking up to Paige's beautiful face every morning, this was out of our bedroom window. 













freakish traveling hours, and all the emergencies and difficulties that came with it. (Well now they are funny...)










Beautiful Hidden art throughout the entire city.











Morning Cappuccinos, I became a regular :).
















My time here is up! how sad, but looking forward to seeing some of you on the 21st, and others throughout the summer!

♥ ♥

ME!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Paris/Bordeaux/San Sebastian

Hi everyone!

Sorry It has been so long since I have posted, there are things to do places to go! This spring break I traveled with Greg from Paris down to San Sebastian, Spain. We had a blast, it was one of my favorite trips of all time! It was great to have a comfort of home here with me at the "half way point" of my 4 1/2 months here. I am so lucky that I have a sibling that is also a great friend and someone I want to spend time with. I am so blessed. Here are some pictures of ourweek together, enjoy!

PARIS, FRANCE

Day at the Louvre Museum in Paris. 














Outside the Palace of Versaille. 

















Our memorable/miserable sprint to the train station in the rain and wind! brrrr








First day running around in Paris.













Rented bikes and got lost!

















Top of Notre Dame, awesome gargoyles! 















Greg and I found an awesome little restaurant in the middle of Paris, stone walls, great food and wine, and entertaining company.













Quasimodo is back.
















BORDEAUX, FRANCE


Photo-shoot on the INCREDIBLE sand dunes in Bordeaux, France. This I believe was Greg's and my highlight of the trip. This trip here was very unplanned and last minute. We are grateful for this decision, because this was such a stunning and hidden place! These sand dunes spread for miles and when looking down the "spine" of these giant mountains, on the right is the ocean as far as the eye can see. On the left is vast plain of beautiful lush forest. It was unlike anything I have ever seen...






Finally made it to the top!










SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN


Greg delicately eating Gelato, always memorable. 

















We rented bikes on the first day and rode around the coast line of the city. We stopped at this fun spot for a while to watch the waves crash up onto the rocks. 


















bici rent bikes, Gregs "favorite" place.












beautiful sunset!






















We hiked to the top of some mountain, not sure the name. BUT a beautiful view of San Sebastian, need I say more?














One month left, stay tuned!

Emily

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Venezia, Milan, Me

CIAO!

These past two weeks have been
 extremely busy! My roommates and I went to Milan for the day last weekend and I would say it was bittersweet. This cathedral you can see behind us is in the center of Milan, and of course, beautiful! This picture taken in the square was taken early morning before the crazy festivities of Carnival started. 
After walking around for a few hours taking in the rest of the not so beautiful city of Milan, we went to the ballet! The ballet was the "Coppelia Ballet". It was enchanting, entertaining, and I loved every part of it! The dancers were so graceful on pointe, the story was entertaining and the music sounded beautiful. This really made me miss being on stage and all of those years I spent devoted to dancing. But we all have to grow up sometimes and start onto our new passions. 
Which brings me to Venice and the beautiful pictures Carissa and I were able to take the weekend after. My childhood friend/sister came to "live a life in the day of Emily Spencer in Florence" (as she said it) for 10 wonderful days. We explored parts of Florence inside and out for the first week, then traveled to Venice, and the hill tops of Fiesole. 


This picture was taken at the top of Fiesole, the city of Florence is spread out behind us. 










This picture was taken in S Marco Square in Venice in front of S. Marco's Basilica with my roommate Paige, who stayed with us for a day before heading to Verona. 














This is on our gondola ride, we had a blast! We went under the bridge of sighs, our love will now last forever! (or something like that)








On the Rialto Bridge in Venice.














This is taken on a wall beside the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio. The girls and I love to sit at this spot to eat our gelato and people watch! 


These past 2 months have been both an amazing experience as well as challenging and growing time for me. I have been a traveling fool, seeing a new place every weekend, meeting new people, trying new foods and experiencing a different lifestyle and culture. Its incredible to have the opportunity to do this and I am loving every minute of it. However something I underestimated was how difficult things can also be. It is very different to be so far away from friends and family with only skype to keep us together. In difficult times like these, I am also reminded of what I take for granted at home everyday, being overseas has given me a new perspective on so many things. 
I love the lifestyle of europeans in Italy. Life seems to be so simple, not filled with silly stresses of life that people are consumed with in the states. Time is a completely different thing over here! Enjoying life, taking in the moment, and doing it at a pace thats enjoyable seems to be a priority to most. Shops open up around 8 or 9 (yes that includes coffee shops), then the town takes a "siesta" (a rest time for about 2 hours), and they close up around 7, and go home to their families for a nice pasta dinner. Food is not made based on the speed of production and consumption, but based on a healthy lifestyle and natural flavor. Something that I think everyone can be better at is conservation. It seems as though in the states, everything is overly excessive for example: showers, expensive designer clothes, food, cars, beauty products, electricity, and so much more! I have noticed here that those things that we over consume or take for granted, they use as simple ways to to live life, not making those things the only means to make life better. 
However I do miss my soy lattes, my showers where I can shampoo without hitting my elbows on the sides of the shower, hoping in a car to get somewhere, and my grand bags of trail mix :). But most of all my friends, family, and the Christian community I always seem to take for granted. I know that God uses so many things in life to challenge us, and I believe this will be and is a great one for me. The only way we can grow is to get through those challenges right? 
I recently read a chapter in "Whiter than snow" by David Paul Tripp called hoping for a broken heart. This really stood out to me it is inspired by Psalm 51:17 "a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise". Here is a short blurb from the poem
..................
I am too 
comfortable 
with the state of things 
between 
you and me 
too relaxed 
with the nature 
of my love for you
 too able to 
minimize my need for your 
grace.
There are desires 
that take me in a 
different direction than what you have planned 
for me. 
I make decisions
based more on what 
I want 
than on what 
you will. 
So I am hoping 
for 
wise eyes 
to see through 
the cloud of self-righteousness 
and see myself
as I actually
 am.
................
I am longing 
for
a humble spirit 
that is willing 
to 
accept and confess 
what you reveal 
as you break through 
my defenses 
and show me 
to me. 
I am hoping 
for 
a broken heart.

I have been meditating on this the last week, and God has really used this to bring my focus back to him. Everyone needs a real accurate self assessment, and if we listen, God will give it to us. Sometimes what he tells me and shows me is not what I want to hear, but to take it and change these things for his glory changes me. Where religion seems so dead over here, it is easy to get in the swing of not going to church or being involved with other christians. It is too easy to get comfortable with where I am in my walk, and content in places I should not be. 
Lately through struggles but also good times, I have felt His presence keeping me strong over here when all I have to rely on is Him. Overall I am having the time of my life over here and still appreciate your prayers.

Thanks for reading these, please remember to drop a line once in a while because I am so far away and don't want to be disconnected from everyones lives! 

Emily







Monday, February 23, 2009

SIENA & SUCH


Ciao family and friends,

I finally feel like I am getting a routine in my life over here! School 3 days a week and usually traveling for the other 4, it's a tough life. This weekend, my roommate paige, a friend Mandy, and I got up early friday morning and headed to the train station. We had no idea of where we were going to travel to, but once we got there we decided to just take the next available train out, which was Siena! It is a small and beautiful town about an hour outside of Florence. When we arrived we headed towards the central part of to
wn, which is enclosed by a great medieval wall. We went out to lunch, took pictures of this "sleepy" to
wn, and soaked in the sun we had been longing for! My favorite part of the day was a tower we climbed (466 steps) to overlook the rolling hillsides of the town. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen, it was up there with the Swiss Alps. 


















From the tower, we went to a temporary museum exhibition called "Where Madness Meets Genius". It was a collection of works from patients and artists that used their pain and suffering to communicate what they were going through. It was interesting, however most of the depressing and dark images I saw stayed with me for the next few days. On the bright side, it was a great and adventurous day!

This week I am back to classes, where quizzes and projects loom. But one thing I am looking forward to, is my new Portrait and Documentary photography project just assigned. I really enjoy the small class of 5 because it is much more personal and I feel that I have the freedom I want, but quality attention and direction. In the next two weeks I am creating a theme of street artists in Florence. I will be shooting pictures of them at night, and then bringing them into the studio for some portrait work. It is a little risky I feel to ask them to come to our studio, but I was told the risk is necessary, yikes. 

But as the weeks go on and more adventures around Europe take place, while having a blast, I am friend sick. I'm experiencing great and new things, but it's not the same to not be able to share it with the ones I love! I do appreciate being able to skype to see your cute faces, new hair cuts, hear stories, and send goofy videos ;). So to all of my friends reading this, (especially my 5 frogs ;) ) I miss you terribly and wish you were here with me! You are all on my mind, and I am glad to have fun memories to think back on when we are all separated! 


video

Next up: Milan


♥ Emily

Sunday, February 22, 2009

*

Below my overview of Vienna is a new post from amsterdam, I am sorry its out of order. I am still getting used to this whole blogging thing! And there will be more stories to come soon!

Ciao

Emily

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

amsterdam video

video

VIENNA!













Vienna! 
This last weekend, we traveled by a night train to Vienna, Austria. Luckily most of my roommates came, so I was in great company too! Our trip was full of Viennese food, visits of Grand Palaces and museums, SNOW, and the ballet! Our guide and valentines day date, Francesco, took us around the city to see many beautiful sights. On saturday February 14th (my favorite day of the trip), we started out at Schonbrunn Palace, went to the Belvedre museum, and ended our day at the ballet, and had a great dinner at Sacher (famous in Vienna for the Sacher cake, a rich dark chocolate dessert). The Belvedre was the most beautiful 
museum I have seen this far. Out of the windows is a view of a lavish garden with a backdrop of all of the city of Vienna. There we had the privilege of seeing "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimpt, and many other beautiful paintings. This is also where I discovered my new favorite artist, Alphonse Mucha! An artist in the 1890's who created color lithographs that were intended as advertisements and then became beautiful works of art. My favorite collection was of his "posters". I really enjoyed these because of the way he portrays women, the beautiful colors, and the vintage feeling they create (www.muchafoundation.org). We then had the afternoon to ourselves to explore the city and get ready for our night out. 

Sorry it's a very brief summary of our fun trip, but below is a taste of what our weekend was like! Paige my roommate is documenting our trips by video.

Ciao!

Emily











video