Jayhawks In Italy - Daily Blog

August 19, 2011
Day 10 – Returning Home

CeCe Harper’s Blog:

This whole experience to Italy has been a blessing to me and the team. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to travel overseas to a wonderful country such as Italy. We thank everyone who made it possible, and I personally thank all of my teammates, coaches, and staff for showing me a good time. A lot of people might overlook chances like these but I truly understand and appreciate it.

Italy was a total different atmosphere from America from the attire to the food. As we all know, they’re known for pasta and pizza, so that seemed to be our daily meals. This was a big change because in the U.S we are used to fast food, eating on the go, and having a large variety. In Italy though, everyone seemed to always dine in at all of the restaurants. Even their McDonald’s was about twice the size of America’s to fit more seating (which was pretty cool).

One of the other main differences was height. WE WERE GIANTS! Everywhere we went everyone was amazed at how tall we were. They all said, “You play basket?” Guess our height indicated this. Well, more like my teammates’ height since I’m only 5’7″ : ) Italy has its own name brands and clothing styles, which also set us apart. One girl that worked at a clothing store told Keena (Mays) that she thought she was cool because of how she dressed. So it was pretty cool to experience a different culture and learn the lifestyle of others across the world.

There were many laughs and jokes shared in Italy to go along with our touring, shopping and boat riding. I think one of the most hilarious incidents of the whole trip was when Chelsea (Gardner) took a great big fall. We were walking down the street when all of a sudden she tripped on a stump and fell on the ground. People all around us were laughing and out of embarrassment she sat there for about five minutes. Considering she’s so tall it took her about 10 minutes to even hit the ground. Of course Keena, Aishah (Sutherlan), Donielle (Breaux) and I were laughing uncontrollably. However, the hardest part of the trip had to be the limited WiFi and no cell phones. I think there were times we all would be down in the lobby trying to take advantage of the 30 minute free WiFi just to keep in contact with everyone in the States. This shows just how much we all depend on technology and how its difficult for our generation to go without electronics. Somehow we made it work, and made the best of our trip even when there was no communication with anyone but ourselves. The team is so close and we all bond well which made my trip so much better. I love these girls and am so thankful to have been apart of this experience. Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice and Lake Como all showed us a good time. Now its time for us to return home to Lawrence and show our fans a good time this season!

– CeCe

August 18, 2011
Day 9 – Lake Como

Asia Boyd and Donielle Breaux’s Blog:

Ciao,

081011aac_260_5577606.jpegThis is Asia and Dee From deep in Lake Como! So it is our last day in Como and I (Asia) am still seasick. As you know, I am not an early bird, but I don’t regret waking up to the beautiful water music of Lake Como. The hotel made this our favorite city, especially since they had free WiFi in the lobby… no but really, the hotel is located right off of the lake. Not to mention the hotel has a balcony that allows people like Asia, who can’t swim, to enjoy the scenery. We would have to admit that we didn’t think Lake Como would be that big.

We walked all of five minutes to the boat this morning and began our final journey. We got a chance to truly appreciate Italy on today’s boat ride. The houses that surrounded the Lake were amazing and the cool breeze made it even more enjoyable. The best part of the lake trip for us was that we got a once and lifetime chance to see George Clooney’s home. We were actually surprised Fabio didn’t make a joke about George the tour bus driver! The boat ride to the Bellagio was about an hour in which, big surprise, Asia slept most of the way. I’ve never seen someone sleep on a boat from the beginning of the ride until the end. Her head was maneuvering at the same rate as the waves. When she did wake up all we heard her say was, “I think the mountains were beautiful.”

No picture could describe the experience we had here in Italy. After the boat ride, Coach Bonnie told us our last game was cancelled. We were all pretty disappointed considering we were supposed to play a pretty good team from Germany. The one thing we’ll miss the most is the different kind of food we’ve been able to taste. I think my favorite was the pasta from the pregame meals. OMG and also the fruit bowl we got at the end.

Shopping has to be another important aspect of the trip. I’ve never seen so many shops. Como is known for silk and they have different items made of silk from robes, scarves, wallets and purses to silk boats covers. The one thing I learned about shopping here in Italy is the value of a dollar. I know you’re wondering how I learned about the value of a dollar in Italy seeing as how Italian currency is the euro but you just wouldn’t understand unless you’ve spent 300 euros in one day.

August 18 was not only our last day in Italy but our senior Aishah Sutherland’s birthday. Lucky her she got a chance to spend her birthday in Italy, an experience I know she will never forget. HAPPY BIRTHAY AISHAH! We celebrated her birthday at our team dinner. Once again I thought we were waiting for George to appear and drive us to the restaurant, I guess I’ve gotten a little to attached to him! Anyway, we walked to the restaurant from the hotel and began our feast. Dinner in Italy “family style” feels like Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. We had five different dishes starting with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, and then we had four different types of pizzas, french fries, a selection of meat and, to top it all off, we had cake. We thought it was kind of fun to try different foods we’ve never had a chance to eat. New things are often hard to accept but we believe this trip has changed our perspective on a lot of things in life now. We were introduced to different cultures and lifestyles. We also left an imprint on Italy as well. This experience is one that will definitely never be forgotten and we are greatly appreciative.

– Asia and Dee

August 17, 2011
Day 8 – Como, Italy

Monica Engelman’s Blog:

081011aac_260_5567520.jpegCiao from Italy! I don’t even know where to begin. Thank God I only have to chat about today because we have been busy over here. Alright, so here’s the rundown on what was poppin’ today…

So number one, today had to be the fastest I have ever packed and got dressed for the bus. Me and Asia (Boyd) are roommates, which automatically sets me up for failure because she has narcolepsy or something. She can sleep through anything. My iPod, which happens to be our alarm clock, jumps ahead an hour every time we plug it in. When it went off this morning we had breakfast. I’m going to have to skip over breakfast because I could talk all day bout how strange and adventurous that is, haha! But we went back to bed and set the alarm for 7:50 a.m. so that we could get ready for the bus and pack. The alarm did NOT go off so we continued to sleep of course. Finally, Tania (Jackson) called at like 8:20 a.m. I was all mad at first because I couldn’t understand why she had called and woke me up. I had to wrestle Asia to wake up and then we went in to hustle mode! I didn’t even fold my clothes or brush my hair and I barely had time to brush my teeth. But no one could tell in the lobby that we were running late.

Then we got on the bus. I don’t understand why but it’s always a sauna on there. And it didn’t help that we had our smelly jerseys chilling right where the vents are on the top. Funky and warm air do NOT mix well, especially when you are trying to get comfortable on the bus to take a good nap. Oh oh oh! Before I forget, the bus ride wasn’t ALL that horrible. My roommate, the one that I’m fairly sure is narcoleptic, LOL! Well she was passed out with her mouth wide open. I had these crackers with me and I thought, “Hey, why not?” Me and Tania were rolling in the back and so I crept up and placed the cracker in her mouth. She didn’t even feel it so I rubbed it on her lips a little bit to see if she would wake up. Nope, negative, she just kept on snoring. Don’t worry though, I took a picture, haha!

I will tell you though that the lake here in Como was so worth that bus ride! It’s so beautiful and I don’t think we have anything like it back home. I was a little mad though when they said I couldn’t go swimming. It’s very relaxing here. The mountain the view, the people; it is all really mellow. The view right outside our room right now is the moon shining on the lake and you can see the lights for the trolley ride up the mountain. I really like that. It looks like lights to heaven : )

And how could I forget about tonight’s game?! The score was like 130 to 30… or something like that. It was close, huh? But they did have some hoopers though. I think some people on that team were closing in on 50. I couldn’t believe my eyes when they came out of the lockerroom. My mouth dropped, but they had game, though. Except number four, she was a crybaby. She thought everything was a foul but she was a good point guard and gave Angel (Goodrich) some game.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. We are going on a boat tour and I just might have to “accidentally” fall into the water : ) I also heard that we are playing a German team that is pretty good. I don’t care where they are from, come get some!

-Monica

August 16, 2011
Day 7 – Venice

Carolyn Davis’ and Chelsea Gardner’s Blogs:

081011aac_260_5572466.jpegCarolyn–Today was our second day in Mestre/Venice. Mestre is a city right outside of Venice and where our hotel is located. We started the day by taking a water taxi over to Venice (that is the only way to get there) and I was not too excited when I saw the size of it. I love being on the water but I also get motion sickness. Not only were the boats small in length, but I had to basically crawl to get into the boat. In other words, it was not quite equipped for a person of my stature! I realized pretty quickly that not many people, if any, are tall here in this part of Europe. At our last hotel, Chelsea and I were forced to change rooms because we had a room that was under a flight of stairs I guess, so it had a slanted, low roof. We had to duck to get around the room and if we would have taken a shower we would have had to squat the entire time! Needless to say we switched rooms, and fast.

Anyways, back to the boat. It was beautiful taking the trip through the canal back over to Venice and I enjoyed the ride. Once we got there I was only looking forward to one thing… the Gondola rides! I had purposely been mentioning over and over to Coach Bonnie and the entire staff that the main thing I wanted to do was ride in the gondolas. They had told us last week that in order to ride, we had to get a group and pay for them ourselves which was upsetting, but I was determined. So I had been asking the team and trying to figure out how we would split the cost and ride one. Little did we all know they had surprised us and booked the gondolas for us! I was so excited and thankful! You can only get six people on the gondolas and you had to make sure you distributed the weight evenly. In my gondola it was Angel (Goodrich), Keena (Mays), Asia (Boyd), Tania (Jackson), Donielle (Breaux) and I. We had a lot of fun playing music and taking pictures. We even got our gondolier to dance a little bit with us. After the boat ride, we spent the next two hours wandering around the streets and alleys of Venice shopping. So all in all I had a fun day considering my main goal in Italy was accomplished. I can’t believe we only have two days left!

– Carolyn

Chelsea— When we arrived at San Marco’s Square the ground was covered with pigeons. Feeding the pigeons in Venice is illegal but some tourists do not know that so they do it anyway. As we were walking, a group of pigeons flew over Keena, CeCe (Harper), Donielle’s and my heads causing us to almost have a heart attack. We always tell Keena that they are after her because they think her dreads are worms!

During our time in Venice, the one thing I was not looking forward to was the gondola ride because I get motion sickness. My first step onto the Gondola it started to tilt over and that one reaction ruined the fun of ride. In my first step onto the gondola, the driver told us that it wouldn’t tilt over but every time we turned, the gondola started to lean! I was so nervous we were going to capsize!

After riding the gondola, we walked around San Marco’s Square and found a restaurant called La Hotel de Macros; this restaurant has been one of the best in Italy. The shrimp alfredo pasta was the teams’ favorite dish (the plate was loaded with lots shrimp). Venice was not my favorite city because of the water and the boat rides but the food almost made up for it! : )

– Chelsea

August 15, 2011
Day 6 – Florence and Venice

Aishah Sutherland’s Blog:

081011aac_260_5571010.jpegI woke up today eating breakfast with a great view of Florence (check the picture on the left) sipping tea and enjoying the scenery. Today was our last day in Florence so did a little last minute shopping before we headed to Venice. While I was shopping I was only trying to buy something if I could get a great deal. One seller was trying to sell me a leather bag that transforms into a backpack. I thought it would be cute for my little sister. He offered to sell for 65 euro but I had a plan to only show them that I had 25 euro so I said no and walked away. Then he said it would only be 35 euros. I kept saying all I have is 25 so he finally sold the bag to me for 25. Down the street though, a man tried to sell me the same bag for 20. I was a little mad at that because I could have talked him down from 20 to maybe 10 but it was still a nice bag that I got for my sister. I kept looking around for a backpack for myself. Everyone kept trying to sell me the bags I wanted for 130 euro but I wanted to spend 60. Most of the vendors would laugh and say no way. I looked and looked and got a man down to 60 euro for an all leather black backpack (see picture to the right). I think I got a great price for the bag since every other seller wouldn’t go lower then 85. I was very satisfied with my purchases today.081011aac_260_5571008.jpeg

Then we left to go to Venice. The bus ride was four hours and I am happy to report I was asleep for three. We watched the movie `Hitch’ on the bus to help pass the time. Once everyone settled into our hotel, which is located just outside of Venice, a group of us all went in to the actual city of Venice. We took the bus to the city then had to ride a boat to get to the walking area of Venice. When getting on the boat, Chelsea (Gardner) was getting motion sick, and Asia (Boyd) was scared of the water. During the boat ride, we saw a very nice yacht that was supposedly very expensive (shown at left).

081011aac_260_5571012.jpegAs we were getting off the boat I immediately noticed that this place was meant for a romantic evening as there were lots of couples kissing all around us. We went out in search of food that was not too expensive. We got lost in the allies of Venice hungry and feeling weak, so we turned around and went back to where we started and found a place that was very good. I had pizza that cost seven euro and everyone else had pasta. We decided to go back to the same restaurant tomorrow.

After we ate we arrived back to where the boat was coming to pick us up. As we waited we started dancing and playing around. We had the coaches dancing with us calling people out. Bonnie even did the sprinkler dance; she was so funny! (Assistant coach) Tori (Verdi) had his own little dance, which was hilarious and (assistant coach) Chester (Nichols) almost got out of there and did something- almost! When the boat came back our guide Fabio was telling us about the gondola ride we are getting on tomorrow. There are only six people allowed on the skinny boat at once. He was telling us how the men that row the gondola can only do it if their father was a gondolier.

081011aac_260_5571023.jpegOn the bus back to the hotel, Fabio was making jokes about our drive George. He is always teasing him. He said George used to be a boxer when he was younger, when he is already a young man. He also said he used to be a dancer and singer, and when he was a cook there was an incident where the food turned out to be poisonous so he became a bus driver, which we all know is definitely not true! He also told us today that George doesn’t know what he is saying most of the timebecause he doesn’t understand English well, haha!

Today was fun and there were a lot of funny times from Florence to Venice. Now it is time for me to rest for another interesting day in Venice tomorrow when we get to ride the gondolas. Fabio told us to watch out for alligators; I hope that is not the case!

-Aishah

August 14, 2011
Day 5 – Pisa

Keena Mays’ Blog:

081011aac_260_5567469.jpegToday was day five of Italy and we started it off by going to the Leaning Tower of Pisa this morning. We had a long bus ride to the Tower so most of the team slept through the trip. As soon as we got off the bus in Pisa, people were already trying to sell us stuff. Things like sunglasses, bags and jewelry. We walked past them and got on the shuttle to head to the Tower. As we pulled up we walked past more vendors before we finally arrived at the gate. Right at the gate you could see the Tower. We took a few pictures and met up with our tour guide. She talked about the history of the Tower and told us a couple of stories.

At the end of the tour guide’s lesson, we went to the entrance of the Tower and were excited to climb to the top; everybody except Natalie (Knight), CeCe (Harper) and Asia (Boyd) that is. Natalie looked like she wanted to cry, but we forced her to go up with us. We went up the constant winding staircase, bumping into walls along the way. The stairs had little dips in the middle of them from so many people stepping on them and CeCe was scared to walk on them. The higher we went up, the narrower the stairs got. We went all the way to the very top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and took more pictures. Well, Natalie and CeCe didn’t go ALL the way to the top and Asia barely made it, crawling to us, sweat pouring down her face.

While we were outside, I ducked from about ten pigeons that have no care in the world for people. These Italian pigeons are like no other American birds I’ve ever seen or been around. They will skydive from the ceilings of buildings right at your head. And unlike American birds, when people come towards them, they don’t move or fly out of the way. They let it be known that they own that road and make you walk around them.

Tonight we also played our second game of the trip, facing the same team as Friday night with the addition of two new players. After a slow start in the first 10 minutes we fought back to gain the lead. The gym we played in was really hot and the floors were very slippery. The referees pretty much let the other team have home “country” advantage, but we managed to play through it and come out with a WIN!

After the game, we had free time to do whatever we wanted. I stayed in the lobby talking on Skype and Twitter with my friends back home. My teammates went out to get something to eat and got to meet Dion, an actress from the show `The Game.’ Bunny (Williams) and I are just hanging out in the room now watching Italian MTV. She has me saying “Arrivederci!” meaning “see you later” in Italian every five minutes. This girl wakes me up every morning saying “Arrivederci! Arrivederci!” even though it makes no sense for the occasion. She says it is her favorite word and she likes the way it rolls off of her tongue. Whatever the case is, she gets it stuck in my head and I catch myself saying it all throughout the day.

All in all, I’m loving my trip so far and can’t wait to see what the next few days have in store for us.

Ciao,
Keena

August 13, 2011
Day 4 – Florence

Angel Goodrich’s Blog:

081011aac_260_5562165.jpegOh my gosh you would not believe this place! There are some really neat and beautiful things in Italy and other things that just make you raise an eyebrow and make you think, “Hmmmm.” I know that we have some strange things back in the U.S. and I know if Florence people came to our country they would think the same thing, but some things I just don’t understand. It is really a great experience!

Let me first tell you how our day began. I decided to wake up a little early today to eat breakfast and have a little stroll through the park. You know, try and make this trip a little interesting, but the park was so BIG that we got lost! There were so many different ways to turn in the park and so many fountains. Seriously, how can a place have so many fountains and not a pool? By the way, we drink the water from the fountains because it is one of the few natural water sources. Anyway, we FINALLY found our way back and boarded the bus for a five-hour drive to Florence.

The drive to Florence was suicidal! It was so long and then we had to stop at a crazy gas station to eat because there was so much traffic. Gas is close to $10 a gallon here! All I can say is I would rather walk or get a bike with that price. Arriving in Florence was so amazing. Everyone had a smile on their face… well, at least I did because I was awake and everyone else had pretty much just woke up. Once in town, we visited the famous Academy Gallery where I loved learning more about Michelangelo and how he started his career. Of course we got to see the infamous sculpture of `The David.’ It was so beautiful that it just wowed me! If you don’t know the history of the sculpture, then you definitely need to learn about it!

The rest of the day was good but before anything else could happen, I had to get some food. The closest thing to satisfy me was McDonald’s except I’m not saying, “I’m lovin’ it,” I’m only saying, “I’m likin’ it.” I think I have eaten more patties then Spongebob Squarepants has made in all his episodes because that is the only thing I can eat without comparing it too much to the U.S. I do not think I could live off of just pizza, pasta and sandwiches like Italians do. The rest of the day I did some shopping and looked around. I probably got ripped off on a lot of things, but I would not even know it. I am not a good bargainer. I think I’m doing good until someone tells me I just got ripped off. This information would come in handy a little bit sooner, like BEFORE I buy something. No help from my teammates… Haha!

The funniest thing did happen to one of my teammates today. We walked by some artists that drew portraits of people and a lot of people on the team wanted to get this done. After meeting up with Asia (Boyd) later, she showed us the famous picture that she paid to have drawn of herself. Let’s just say she was NOT happy about it! It was hilarious! It did not look anything like her. The first thing you notice are the two chins, haha! Everyone could only laugh because it was crazy that the artist thought the picture looked like her. It was hideous!

Afterwards we went out to get the “best” ice cream in Florence. Our tour guide from earlier in the day told us what kind of gelato to look for and we could all totally agree that her criteria was the best. Rome didn’t have all fake ice cream, but we realized we had not always been eating the best stuff. I am not a huge fan of gelato but I do admit that `GRRRom,’ (you have to roll your `R’ even though I can’t) was the best I have tasted so far! I have been practicing rolling the `R’ all day. I will get it by the time I get home, at least I hope so.

Lots of love from Florence,
Angel

August 12, 2011
Day 3 – Rome

Catherine (Bunny) Williams’ Blog:

081011aac_260_5565004.jpegNever thought I would be spending my 18th birthday in Italy! The past three days that we have been here have been amazing. I’m truly blessed to be in Rome right now. I’m going tell you about my birthday experience in Italy.

Let’s start with yesterday… after getting lost walking all over Rome because of Asia (Boyd), who thinks she knows shortcuts : ), we finally made it to the Trevi Fountain where Asia, Tania (Jackson), Monica (Engelman) and I made wishes. Throwing our coins from our right hands over our left shoulders, I felt like I was in an Italian movie. Then we made our way to the Spanish Steps. I started my birthday celebration a little early when I saw these orange sunglasses with candles on them that said, “Happy Birthday.” I had to get them.

We got back to the hotel and around midnight I got my first official happy birthday call from Donielle (Breaux) and Tania. I was so happy to finally be 18. I stayed up the whole night with Keena (Mays) because I just couldn’t go to sleep. I kept yelling, “KEENA IM 18 IN ITALY!” While we where watching TV to pass the time before it was time to wake up, a Beyonce music video for her song “Best Thing I Never Had” came on. Keena and I went crazy. Not only was it one of our favorite singers, but it was in English!

The next morning I went down for breakfast and got lots of birthday love from my team. After we ate, Monica, Nat (Knight), Tania, Asia and I went to the Spanish Steps to do a little more shopping before our pre-game meal. We were going in and out of shops dancing, laughing and having a good time. We went into one particular store called ZARA. They had really cute clothes and I fell in love with this sweatshirt that said “The Best Day of My Life.” I had to get it; it described my birthday and the three days that I have been in Italy.

After shopping we headed to pre-game meal. I was ready to eat because we were having spaghetti. Since I’ve been here, all I have eaten is burgers from Burger King and Hard Rock Café, so I was well overdue for some real Italian food. My first Italian food experience was interesting. It was a three-course meal. The spaghetti was first, followed by grilled chicken and then salad.

After a little quite time it was GAME TIME! How cool is it to play in my first college game on my birthday! AMAZING! As we pulled up to the gym in the bus I was so nervous, I had to calm myself down. We started warm-ups and I got a little more relaxed. As the game went on I got even more comfortable. We won our game and on the way to get food after the game the whole bus sang me happy birthday which was so nice. What more can I ask for? I’m in Italy on my birthday, playing the game I love with my teammate, coaches and school I love. The sweatshirt said it all: “The Best Day Of My Life.”

Love, Bunny

August 11, 2011
Day 2 – Rome

Natalie Knight’sBlog

081011aac_260_5562185.jpegToday was our second day of sightseeing and shopping in Rome. Yesterday was such a long day that I accidently slept in this morning because I can’t use my phone and the cheap alarm clock I bought doesn’t work. I was rushing to eat and make it to the bus on time.

We toured Vatican City today and it was absolutely beautiful. We saw the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the catechumens of many the previous popes and we even sat through the mass at the church. Even though I had no idea what they were saying through out the service since it was all in Latin, it was interesting to sit through a Catholic Church service because it’s something I had never done before.

After touring the Vatican we went souvenir shopping and a few of us got some food. I bought an Italy shoulder bag and a pizza panini. While we were waiting for the bus I was sitting next to Bunny (Williams) and a lady came up to everyone holding out her hand asking for money and Bunny thought she was asking to give her some of the Sprite she was drinking. We all died laughing and Coach Chester (Nichols) said, “If you would have given her your Sprite that would have made my trip!” One thing that I have learned in Italy is that when people ask you for money or ask you to buy something you must be stern with your answer because they don’t give up asking and will follow you around.

When we got back to the hotel we all crashed and took a nap and when we woke up we went shopping. I spent my evening with Angel (Goodrich), Carolyn (Davis), (strength coach) Dietz and (team manager) Sydney. We had a blast shopping, and I was surprised to see how many people stopped and asked if we played basketball at KU and how cool that was. Later we met up with some of the other girls and got some gelato. I’d have to say the gelato here is probably the best ice cream I have ever had, which probably isn’t a good thing because we have our first game tomorrow and all we have done is eat, sightsee, and shop! But today was amazing and I can’t wait for the game tomorrow.

– Natalie

Aug. 10, 2011

Day 1 – Rome

After nearly 12 hours in the air, the University of Kansas women’s basketball team landed in Rome early Wednesday morning to begin its nine-day tour through Italy.

The Jayhawks wasted no time getting started as they left to visit the Coliseum directly from the airport. The KU players and coaches went on a walking tour of the Coliseum and Roman Forum while listening to the history of the site on individual headsets.

From there, the team bussed back to the hotel to unwind and unpack before having the afternoon free to explore more of Rome. Thursday Kansas will travel to Vatican City to tour the Sistine Chapel and Friday the Jayhawks compete in their first of four matches during the trip.

To follow the Jayhawks during their trip, visit www.KUAthletics.com for the daily players’ blog and photo gallery.

Tania Jackson’sBlog:

081011aac_260_5560754.jpegWe finally got to Italy! To start this adventure off, we made a team called #teamnosleep, which basically meant the night before we left (Monday), we weren’t going to go to sleep. It was kind of successful… somebody was always up so it counts! I probably got a good hour of sleep that night, so the 10-hour plane ride to Italy went by fast to me because I was asleep for the most part. When we arrived in Rome to claim our baggage, Fabio, our host for the entire trip, was waiting for us. It was around 9 a.m., 3 a.m. in the States, so our day was just beginning. We went straight to the ancient Coliseum, which was amazing. On our way I quickly saw how fast and a little out of control of everyone drives in Europe!

We got a tour by a very insightful man by the name of Fabio (yeah, same name as our host, haha!). There’s so much history behind the Coliseum I never knew about! We took lots of pictures and just really enjoyed ourselves. On top of that it was beautiful outside. It was the perfect weather.

After the tour we arrived at the hotel where most people were exhausted from the time change and plane ride. I took a quick nap and woke up around 5 p.m. ( 11 a.m. in the U.S.). Donielle (Breaux), Bunny (Williams), Keena (Mays) and I decided to go explore Rome, especially the food! Surprisingly, a lot of people came up to us either saying, “Go KU,” or “Rock Chalk.” I thought I would feel like a foreigner here, but so far most people know pretty good English. That helps immensely!

Eventually we stopped at The Hard Rock Café. I know we’re suppose to be trying new things, but it was nearby and open, a lot of places close earlier here, around seven or eight. I ordered a hamburger, which was HUGE! One difference between the U.S and Italy I found is if you ask for water, you’ll get sparkling or fizzy water instead of just plain tap water.

We didn’t get a chance to shop like some of my other teammates, but I’m excited to see how diverse Italian fashion is from what I’m use to. After we ate, we walked around and took more pictures. It’s truly an experience just walking through the streets of Rome. There are lights glowing everywhere.

On our way back to the hotel we went through the park, where we made a music video. I’ll have to share it with everyone soon. It’s only the first day, but I’ve learned so much thus far. Tomorrow we are going on a tour of Vatican City and to see the Sistine Chapel.

The culture is different but in the same regard it’s very similar. I am excited to see what else Italy has to offer but for now, I’m enjoying every moment with team, so thankful for the opportunity.

Sincerely, Tania

P.S. Don’t worry dad, I didn’t forget about getting you something, haha! I love you!