The Adventure of Absolutely No Adventure at All

I didn’t think I had been anywhere cool in the past two months, but after my dad begging me to blog again, I realized that being back in Tampa is an adventure in it’s own. Life here is unbelievably different than being back home, and I have been a happier, goofier version of myself since I’ve moved in.

I have A LOT of stuff going on in my life right now as I’m sure all of you have seen from my Facebook pictures. School is obviously the most important and that has been a little different than past semesters. It’s not that my classes are difficult. They’re almost a little too easy for it being Junior year. You would think I’d be working my ass off, but my classes never have any homework so I feel like the semester hasn’t even started even though midterms are in a week. I really don’t want to think about those, though…

Since classes are simple, I decided to get a job to help pay for my shopping and eating addictions. It doesn’t hurt that my parents let me bring the whip to school so I can drive myself around whenever I want. I’m working in the cutest little health food restaurant and I get to wear a visor to work everyday which is absolutely hilarious. I really enjoy it, and it’s keeping my mind busy.

College in itself is a wild adventure. I’m still being the crazy Kayla that I have been the past two years. I’m getting myself into trouble, but also getting myself into a lot of really great opportunities, which is necessary for every college kid. It’s been hitting me hard that I’m already in my third year. I don’t want to think about graduating and growing up, but the thought has been on my mind a lot lately. Hopefully these memories don’t fly past as fast as I’m thinking they will.

Anyway, that’s just a catch up on how my life has been going. You’re welcome for the update, Kevin Brown.

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Sassy in St. Louis

Please bare with me as I’m sure this post is about to be longer than I expect. I just have too much to share about my experiences this weekend to put it into short terms. As some of you know, and maybe some of you don’t, I was selected with my friend Rayanna to be one of the FL Zeta’s to attend the first ever Pi Beta Phi Leadership Institute. When I say first EVER I’m saying that this weekend we made history, and 25 years from now when they show an anniversary video, it’ll be my face on the screen.

There was so much we learned but everything was based off of six main points (which I cannot tell you because you may not be a Pi Phi.) Despite that, there were some things that really changed my view of myself and my leadership and here they are:

1) You may not think you have a passion in life or a vision but if you really sit down and think about what in the world pains and sorrows you, one will appear.
2) Going off of that, my passion is children in tough family and home situations. I have come to realize that I don’t want any child to go without what I had as a kid, and I will do everything in life to try and help.
3) Everyone is different. We all have different learning styles, different strengths, different fears, and different weaknesses. We all have different genetics so this makes sense, and it is totally okay to be different from the person standing next to you.
4) When explaining what you’re doing to someone, try and explain to them WHY you’re doing it. They’re more likely to help you out or want to do it if they know the backstory of why they are.
5) Because everyone thinks differently, collaborating with others is key. People have different ways of approaching things and maybe they can help you do something more efficiently, so don’t write them off just because their minds work differently than yours.
6) No story is a good story without both ups and downs. Not everything in life will be positive, so ride out the bad waves and look forward to a happier future.
7) Sometimes it’s good to think INSIDE the box. The answer may be right in front of you. Try to clear your mind and think of things simply before overworking yourself.
8) It’s okay to be emotional. Play off of others emotions as well for a deeper understanding of a situation.
9) Don’t be afraid of change. If someone is no longer in your life, it is for a reason. If you have to do something new, it is for a reason. Every change in life opens the door for more things to come.
10) Confidence is key, and I’m not talking like cocky “I’m the best” stuff. I’m talking about real authentic confidence. You don’t have to think you’re the prettiest or the funniest but be confident in the strengths that you DO have and stop dwelling on the ones you need work with.
11) Going off of that, stop dwelling on the past. You can’t change it, but you can change your future, so chin up!
12) Have fun, and love life. You only have one of them!

I’m done rambling for now, but I hope if you took the time to read this, you learned something. I may not have told you exactly what I learned this weekend, but I told you what it did for me as a woman and as a leader. The friends I’ve made are unbelievable and I am so proud to call them my sisters. Can’t wait to live life with this new outlook!

Nothing like Brooklyn Pizza

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay away for long. A day trip or two had to come up eventually, and this time my weekend getaway was to Brooklyn, NY.

My Nan fell, and suddenly she was in the hospital for a week, so my mom and I decided to come down and see her since it had been about five months since I left for school. Thankfully, she was released so we spent our time “vegging” in her house and watching jeopardy and wheel of fortune. Friday night for dinner we had the holy grail of meals, and that was Ellegante’s pizza. So yummy.

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to visit my dad’s side of the family for a few hours, and of course being there made my Italian garbage disposal eating habits come out. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much bread, sausage, and mozzarella in my life, but I couldn’t be mad about it. We talked and laughed about everything from the Kardashians to me becoming a nun. My mom and I had walked to my Aunt’s house, so I got to see all the places my parents used to hang out when they were teenagers. I even got to see where my dad asked my mom on a date for the first time, how cute!!!

You ever need a little trip? Just for a day or two to get away from all the tiny messes at home? That’s what I needed, and this weekend was perfect for it!

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The Final Post (for now)

Hello Readers!! I am sitting in the Tampa airport with a direct flight to Providence which means I am clearly not in Europe anymore.. I am not very happy about it, but I am so thankful for the experiences I have been given. I may or may not still post occasionally if I take a day trip or two (this is “Kaylavatheworld” you know), but for now I am just going to sign off with some small things from this trip.

Things I Learned:

  • Details about the Holocaust that my high school history teachers never told me about
  • Pigeons in Europe are absolutely wild
  • You can eat tomato soup twice a day if you want to
  • How to blow glass
  • They sell pink beer in the Czech Republic
  • The Sound of Music was filmed in Sudetenland
  • You can blow through money very quickly in Europe
  • Polish police are so much more fit than Americans

Things I wouldn’t change:

  • The friendships I made
  • The amount of fried cheese I ate
  • How happy exploring makes me
  • Buying my wool slippers
  • The amazing pictures I got of the beautiful views
  • Bringing Spuddy, my stuffed potato, with me (he made a great pillow on the bus)
  • Doing what made me happy

Things I MAY do differently:

  • get out of my comfort zone even more with food
  • pack warmer clothes like hats and gloves
  • sleep a little more
  • stop ignoring my school work and get my mandatory czech “crime-related” news paper article earlier in the trip
  • I actually don’t think I would change a thing… so…
  • LEAVING

I really don’t think I could tell you guys EVERYTHING about my trip… It was so amazing, and I can’t wait to go back one day!

The Last Day

Today was a little uneventful for a last day in my opinion. We went on a day trip to a church made completely of bones and we also saw where they made coins. Then we had a fabulous lunch and presented our final topics to the class. Mine was “punishment and torture” and we kinda messed up, but that’s okay. For dinner we went on the most amazing dinner cruise. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t think of a better night. Though there wasn’t much going on today, I am so sad to be leaving tomorrow. Keep in touch for my “last day review” tomorrow!!

Naps

I’m nearing the end of my trip and I’m very sad about it. Today we started with a presentation on criminology from one of the 18 people working in and studying crim today. He spoke about the crime rates, the punishments, and also how the study of criminology started here in the Czech Republic. For lunch I went to a British fish and chips place and got chicken nuggets. My friends said it looked like chicken, but after tasting it, I’m not sure it was. We then took an hour and a half bus ride to the Kost Castle. Is was super pretty, and the torture chamber was really cool. After that I just about passed out on the drive back and now I’m heading out for dinner! Not a super eventful day, but it was nice to relax!

Do Re Me Fa…..

When you hear someone mention the 1940s what do you think of? I think of WWII and the holocaust. That may just be because I’m here in the Czech Republic and there’s a lot of talk and remembrance of that era going on. Either way, there is one person I’ve learned about who has really stuck out to me and that was Nicholas Winton. During the 1940s he saved over 600 children from the nazis in Prague. He went to their families and told them he’d keep the children safe and return them after the war. Now I’m not sure I would trust some strange man with my children, but these men and women were desperate. Winton found families all across the UK to watch these children and as promised, he returned who he could to their families after 1945. Nicholas Winton was a very humble man. He never told anyone of his work and his wife never even knew until she found the list of the children’s information in their attic decades later. A fun fact about this wonderful man is today, May 19th, is his birthday. Sounds familiar? Well today, May 19th, is also my birthday and nothing makes me feel more special than sharing today with him. Today was a wonderful day to celebrate my birthday on. We woke up in Cesky Krumlov (which makes sense because we slept here) and we took a tour of the tiny town and visited their gorgeous theater. For lunch a few of my friends and I went to a little sandwich shop which was delicious, and then we did some shopping. I bought myself the nicest wool slippers and I am very excited to wear them despite the sweltering summer weather coming my way. We then went to Sudetenland where The Sound of Music was filmed. Or at least the part where Maria is dancing in the fields is filmed there. Anyone who really, really knows me knows The Sound of Music has to be in my top two favorite movies. If there was any birthday gift I could’ve gotten today it would’ve been to go here. When we got to Sudetenland, we hiked a mile and wound up at the Austrian/Czech border where I took pictures standing in two countries. So many cool things are happening today to make it so special for me. Eva (our tour guide) randomly started staring at me and singing and it took my a second to realize she was singing me happy birthday. Then she pulled out little ladybug girl earrings. Incase you don’t remember, Eva calls us “beruskys” which means “ladybugs” in Czech, so it was really sweet of her!! I am very excited to head back to Prague to go out and celebrate turning 20!!!

Snow White’s Cabin

Today was one of my favorite days so far. We woke up, ate, and were out the door for an overnight adventure. Our first stop was a glass factory where they made hand blown glass sculptures. My tour guide asked for two volunteers and after picking me announced that I was going to be able to blow my own glass. They said I was a natural because I was able to twist and blow the glass perfectly. When I shaped it I just kind of pulled and twisted and my glass resembled a slug, so when I went to the gift shop I bought myself a glass snail as a memory (as much as I wanted the pig). I am so grateful for my chance to do this! After the glass factory we headed to the brewery. PilsnerUrquell is the first brewery to make lager in the world. They are famous for their golden lager, which I didn’t know until I came. The brewery was amazing. The barrels for fermentation and the holding tubes were absolutely gigantic. After in the souvenir shop, I found a pink beer which was really cool because pink is my favorite color. To be honest, it tasted relatively similar to a fruit roll up which was a little too much foof for even me to handle. My lunch today was fantastic. Four of us went to a pub because the bistro next door was closed. I got a regular old burger with cheese, bacon, onion, lettuce, and secret sauce, but it tasted so much better than any burger I’ve ever had. As my side I got roasted green beans with onion and bacon which was a little bit of a stretch from what I usually eat. Those were delicious as well. We traveled two more hours to Cesky Krumlov and we’re staying overnight in the cutest bed and breakfast where it feels like I’m in Snow White’s cabin. My birthday is in four hours here. Very excited for tomorrow!!!!


Prison

Today we went to prison. First we visited the male prison (which had a few females) and it was completely different from prison back home. The criminals wore everyday clothes and they slept in college dorm-like rooms. In the second prison which was solely for females, it was even more laid back than the first. They were connected to a church where they worked and were allowed to get on the bus and go to wherever they wanted as long as they came back for night. I couldn’t believe it. We also climbed a good 200 steps to the top of a watchtower. I was so, so afraid. You all know my fear of heights… I was supposed to climb the mini Eiffel Tower as well, but after the first one, I was too scared. I had a very good day anyway, and I’m glad I tried something new! Plus, I finally found that tomato soup I was on the hunt for!!

Tomato Soup Hunt 

Today was a better day weather wise, but the time difference is still really getting to me. A few of us went out for a bit last night and I really should’ve caught up on sleep instead. This morning we woke early to go to Terezin which is not only a town, but a concentration camp in Czech. This camp had two parts to it; the large and small. In the small part Jews, political prisoners, and POWs alike were kept there. In the bigger “ghetto” part it was only Jews. This camp was not as big on executions as some of the others. It was more of a transfer camp where prisoners would stay there for a while before getting transported. There were roughly 60 transports of 1,000 prisoners where anywhere from 0-8 of each transport survived the war. Can you imagine a place as such? We went into a few museums while we were in Terezin, but the one that stuck out most was the children’s museum. The walls were covered in the names of those who died, and their paintings and drawings from the war were hung. I lived such a fairytale childhood, I can’t imagine going through anything like that. Our second half of the day was spent in Lidice. We watched the movie based on it last night so it was really amazing to be standing where the original city was burned to the ground. 86 children and every single adult male were killed as well as some of the women not surviving. Those who lived came back to no home and no family and the land is now a memorial park. How could something to beautiful lay over something so tragic? If you have a chance I really suggest you watch it! Tonightafter I look for some tomato soup we’re going on a ghost tour so I’m really excited for that!! Wish me luck and hope I don’t get haunted!