Everything I experienced my second day in Italy.

Second Day In Italy: Venice

The fun is only beginning!

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We wake up at about 8 AM, get on the water bus and head to the main island of Venice and head to St. Mark's Square.


St. Mark's SquareBrooke Burney


Our tour guide had scheduled a tour of Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale. Here, we met a local tour guide who gave us these devices, in which we would soon become familiar.


Waiting in line to enter Doge's PalaceBrooke Burney

They are radios that have a single headphone. The group wears them while the local guide speaks into a microphone which transmits through the radio so they don't have to yell over the other groups. Almost every other tour group that was there spoke another language, which was really interesting to listen to. But the Doge's Palace has immaculate architecture, incredible art pieces, and lots of history!


EntranceBrooke Burney


Courtyard of Doge's PalaceBrooke Burney


Complaint box Brooke Burney


Upper View of the courtyardBrooke Burney

One of my friends and I actually fell behind the group to take this picture as we wanted to see what was on the other side even though not many groups were going that way. Eventually, we decided that we were gone for too long so we had to run through tunnels and through an underground prison where we found the rest of our group.

After this tour, we walked through Venice, got on a boat and rode for thirty minutes to Murano. Here, we visited a glass shop. We watched a man make a vase and a glass horse while someone was telling us all about the art of glass blowing.


Murano Glass FactoryBrooke Burney


The whole thing took less than 20 minutes which was crazy to me. After the presentation, we perused in their shop. I was openly taking pictures of some of the works until one of the employees told me I couldn't. I don't want to post those pictures so here's a link if you want to look at some of their work.

After this, we went back to Venice where we had about three hours to eat and do whatever we wanted. Our tour guide suggested that we try squid ink pasta and I, adventurous as I am, had to try it.


Squid ink pastaBrooke Burney

It's actually way better than you'd think. It's kind of like chicken Alfredo but with bits of squid instead. After our few hours of leisure, we were to tour the St. Mark's Basilica. We were not allowed to take pictures but the inside of this church had almost, if not every, bible story painted on the walls and ceiling. Plus, the place where they hold mass is beautiful. It does not matter what religion you associate with, this church is a must-see. It's incredibly stunning.


St. Mark's Basilica Churchhttps://www.venetoinside.com/attraction-tickets-in...

After this tour, we finally got to ride the gondolas! The experience was incredible and completely worthwhile. Even though in the moment it didn't seem too exciting, it was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


Gondola dockBrooke Burney


In the canalBrooke Burney


In the canalBrooke Burney


The ride lasted about thirty minutes and the water was maybe three feet throughout the whole canal. Even though the Gondolas were everywhere, our tour guide took us to one of the prettiest routes. When we were finished, we had time to explore, so me and the three girls walked around where we got off the gondola which was about a mile from St. Mark's square. We looped around to a water bus dock which happened to be the one closest to St. Mary's Hospital which was built during the black plague.


St. Mary's HospitalBrooke Burney

When we got back to St. Mark's Square, we shopped around before we found a man who was feeding pigeons. Three out of four of us had gone to France four years prior and we HAD to reenact some pigeon pictures.


France, 2015Debbie Burney



Italy, 2018Karstin Allsup


By this time, it was about 7 pm so we met as a group and went to dinner. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel and our tour guide had told us that there was a beach down the street of our hotel. We had to walk across the island to get there but it was a straight shot. Even though it was dark at this point, we still wanted to put our feet in the water!

And tomorrow, Florence!

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11 Must-Go To Day Trips In North Carolina

For the wanderers and curious...
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It's finally summer, classes are out! There are so many things to do in this beautiful state. There are many small towns to visit. These towns are perfect day trips. From the mountains to the beach and everything in between, there is something for everyone! Pack your car up and get ready for a summer of adventure.

1. NoDa

This is a small hipster district right outside of Uptown Charlotte. Music and art paint this town and it has a very creative energy flow. Amelie's Bakery, a 24/7 french bakery, is located in this district. There is always something fun and new to try in this cute, artistic town!

2. Asheville


This town is known for the beautiful scenery and historic importance. The Biltmore Estate is located here, and it is open for tours every day of the year. It is the biggest estate in America. The downtown area is very artistic, and the mountains make for a gorgeous hike. This is definitely an adventure you don't want to miss.

3. Boone

This small town has a lot of outdoor activities. It is perfect for hiking and whitewater rafting. If you love nature, this is a must see. It is a college town where Appalachian State University is located. The downtown area is very old school and for modern hipsters.

4. Crowders Mountain

This is located in Gaston County. Once you reach the Pinnacle, the peak of the trail, with clear skies you can see for miles. It is a quick four-mile hike for the short one, the view is amazing.

5. Wilmington

This city is known for the beachfront. It makes a perfect day to hit the waves. There are many beach fronts to visit, such as Carolina Beach. Cape Fear Ocean runs through this city. White sand, waves and the boardwalk. If you are a fan of One Tree Hill, it was filmed here.The small restaurants and characteristics give this town a vibrant energy.

6. Serendipity House

This house is from the movie Nights In Rodanthe located on a beach in Avon, North Carolina. It has been remodeled, but the amazing characteristics of this make it a sight to see.

7. Linville Falls

This is located in Linville, North Carolina. Attractions close by are also the Blue Ridge Mountain. To get to the main fall, it is about a mile hike.

8. Outer Banks

Small beaches on the outer banks of North Carolina have wild horses. Corolla Wild Ponies run free, and you can even take a ride on them in the water.

9. Sliding Rock

Located in Brevard, this rock is actually naturally made from a small waterfall. You can actually go sliding down it. It is in Pisgah National Forest also near Asheville.

10. Devil's Tramping Ground

This is located near Bennett. It is a 40-foot circle that cannot grow life. If you leave something or sleep in the circle, the rumor is it will be outside of the circle the next day.

11. Land of Oz Theme park

Located in Beech Mountain, this theme park that was once full of life is now closed and for the most part abandoned. It comes alive for one night a year for an event. This is definitely a place to take a night adventure to...

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Abroad 'Grew' Me

Change can not even begin to describe it

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"Abroad changed me."

It's the cliche, all-encompassing, slightly asshole-ish phrase that any student returning from a study abroad experience is bound to let slip at least once. As ironic and annoying as it may sound, especially when repeated 100 times, it's definitely not false. However, I believe it best gets its point across when modified slightly.

The one slight correction that can be made to this statement is the word "changed". I know for a fact that my study abroad experience opened my eyes to new cultures, new perspectives, and new possibilities. I was able to branch out and pursue areas of interest I had never imagined. However, I am still me. I did not morph into a new person or lose anything I once had before I boarded that plane. If anything the correct phrase (although not grammatically proper) should be "Abroad grew me". The path I followed in my experience, every twist, turn, and bump that hit me along the journey, helped me to become something more of myself.

My problem-solving, communication and overall interpersonal skills have become so much stronger than those which I left JFK Airport within early September. All of this combined, my confidence has grown tenfold. In terms of my self-confidence, I have never felt more validated or reassured of who I am, what my values are, and what I want out of this life. All of these things are due to the situation I was put into, but I would not call them changes. Because the word "change" insinuates I never had any of these skills or characteristics before.

Being brave, for example, is not something I typically would label myself as. But when you are lost in the streets of Morocco, frantically running in circles to find a blue building (in what is known as the "Blue City") when your bus is leaving in under 5 minutes, the act of going up to a complete stranger and getting your Spanish to somehow coincide with their Arabic is not just a show of bravery, but a necessity. It is how you survive. Although I quickly learned that after a few too many travel fiascos, I also came to realize how much better life can become when you let this bravery into other aspects of your life - not just the emergencies. The little parts like trying new foods, volunteering to make a fool of yourself and flamenco dance, stopping at the street corner to converse with the woman selling flowers, these are the small things that shaped my entire experience. And these are the biggest things that helped me to grow. This bravery was something that I always had, just never to the extent at which I tapped into during my time abroad.

Yes, coming back from studying abroad I feel like the world around me and my normal life have changed. I never could have expected it to stand still just because I was absent. However, I do not feel that I have "changed" from who I was before. A desire for a challenge is what led me to go abroad in the first place and I am extremely blessed to be able to say that my wish was fulfilled. With each new experience, I expanded my horizons, and piece by piece I watched myself morph into what I would now call a confident and well-rounded individual. This growth has brought me to where I am today, but it is only the starting point on my adventure to further explore cultures, the world, and where my place is in it all.

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