What it’s Like to be a Nobody at the Grammy’s

Hello again!

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog post..two years to be exact. I will you spare you the details, but I had been fairly busy with school. Now, to get into the story: back in January I had an amazing opportunity from Absolut Vodka–a trip to the 2018 Grammy’s for me and a friend! Since I love making lists, I have created one of my experience at the Grammy’s and what it was like sitting in the audience at such an important event filled with so many somebodies. grammys (3).jpg

  1. I’ve never been so worried about what I looked like–  Knowing that there were going to be celebrities with a team of makeup artists and designer dresses was mildly intimidating. I was at least hoping I could blend in enough that passerby’s wouldn’t think “what is she wearing”. Apparently my Dillard’s dress did me well because I at least got a few compliments.

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    Dillard’s dress getting the job done

  2. Getting inside the venue was not a piece of cake– NYC is already pretty happening, but imagine that times ten. There was so much traffic our driver took us around the block several times. It was about a 25 minute walk to MSG, but it ended up taking us over an hour to get there. We ended up walking from a block away.

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    Outside MSG

  3. Security was worse than at the airport– I guess this could be expected for such a highly publicized event, but it was still a surprise. Someone went through my bag and we were on our way.
  4. I wasn’t able to casually run into a celebrity like I had hoped for– Yes, they separated us seat-fillers from the actual celebrities. There were several stories and railings, so you couldn’t just walk down the stairs and tap your favorite musician on the back (my dreams were crushed).
  5. Commercial breaks were a little chaotic– During commercial breaks you were allowed to go to the bathroom, but you had to make it back before the end of the break. If not, you would have to wait until the next break to return to your seat. Luckily, I was seated near a bathroom.

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    My view from my seat

  6. There isn’t just one stage like you see on TV–  There actually were a few stages and the different performances would be on different stages. This way they could prepare for the next set while another musician is performing. Also, James Corden would pop up in a different location every time he started talking and sometimes it took me seemingly forever to find him!
  7. 7:30-11:00 is a long time to sit in an uncomfortable dress– By about 10:00 PM, people started leaving (which is crazy to me, it’s the Grammy’s). However, I was ready to leave at the end and stretch my legs.
  8. Leaving was also mass chaos– We were supposed to take a bus back to the after-party, but locating that bus proved impossible. My friend and I ended up walking, which was only bad because I was wearing 3 inch heels that were absolutely killing me. And it was January. Some people were even filming us. Maybe they thought we were some B-list celebrity or something? I’ll take it.
  9. The after-party was even better than the before-party– I was so happy to reach our hotel (where the official after-party was held) and finally eat! There was so much food and of course, Absolut had some amazing drinks. The best drink I tried was called a ‘vodkarita’ and it’s really easy to make. Here’s the recipe (just a note-it’s very strong):
    Ingredients
    2 parts Absolut Lime
    1 part lime juice
    1/2 part agave nectarPreparation
    – Fill a shaker with ice cubes
    – Add all ingredients
    – Shake
    – Strain into a chilled rocks glass with a salted rim filled with ice cubes
    – Garnish with a lime wedge

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    My friend and I at the after-party

  10. The after-party was awesome– It was supposed to end at 2:30 AM, but ended up going to 4:00 AM (and I’m happy to report we stayed the entire time). There was live bands and dancers, and a dance-floor. I had no idea what to expect of the after-party because no information was given to me prior. This totally blew my expectations.
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    The live music at the after-party

    Well that’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience at the Grammy’s and got a taste of what it’s like to attend.

    Thanks for reading!
    -MEO

Rome and the Vatican City in 30 hours? Possible.

Ciao ciao!

I’m trying to catch up on my blog posts, so that is why I am suddenly posting multiple blog posts in one week. I have several trips to talk about, so many that I struggled with deciding which one to talk about. November is quickly approaching, and I am extremely excited that I will be leaving for London in a week and half (I have always been obsessed with England)! Expect an extra long blog about that. So for that reason I am trying to write as much as I can about Italy before venturing into other countries. As my roommates say, why does this have to be a study abroad program? Can’t it just be an abroad? But seriously, I swear I do actually go to school here!

This past month has flown by, and I’ve already been to La Spezia (near Cinque Terre), Rimini (a beach city), Ravenna (near Rimini), San Marino (the oldest country in the world..but still geographically in Italy. I also must include that this was one of my favorite places so far! It was gorgeous, and there were several castles that you could climb to the top of. Picture below). I’ve also been to the city 15 minutes away called Parma (yes like the cheese), and recently visited a Ferrari museum in Maranello (an hour away by bus). 

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The country of San Marino

All these places had their own thing to offer, but honestly I feel there was not as much to see or talk about in comparison to Rome and Milan (my most recent trips).

Day 1: Vatican City

Two friends and I left for Rome for the weekend at 8 am and arrived at 1 pm by train. It is possible to get there in two and half hours, I believe, but I took the regional train instead of the high-speed train for about half the price. We had decided to spend the first day in the Vatican City, which is an independent city geographically located in Rome. This is the home of the pope, the Vatican museum, St. Peter’s Basilica (which closed too early for us to see), the Sistine chapel, and the gardens.

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Inside Vatican City..the dome is St. Peter’s Basilica.

I would now like to set a small part of this blog aside to explain Megan’s first experience with pushy tourism:

Before actually entering Vatican City and the museum, there were two lines and a large group of well-dressed men with lanyards standing in front of it. We stood at the end of the lines confused for a second trying to figure out which line to take (since we hadn’t bought tickets yet). The one man heard us speaking and yells at the other “English!!”. The other man (that apparently spoke fluent English) runs over and starts asking us what sights we wanted to see in the Vatican. We explained we wanted to go into the museum, and he starts telling us “oh, well the line will take about an hour. Then you will want to go to St. Peter’s Basilica which will take even more time..you will need a pass to line jump”. He pulls out a map and draws all over it, telling us all the possible ways we could go through the city. For the next…oh, maybe 5 minutes (but it felt like 20), he goes on and on about these packages that we needed to buy. “Oh, there is an audio tour you must have for 20 euros more”… Every few minutes he would look at us and say “you look confused, let me explain again”. Long story short: we finally realized this guy had zero authority, and was literally pretending we couldn’t pass him without purchasing his pass. The sad thing is I believed him at first! Lesson learned: Rome is no Reggio Emilia. People are not the same.

Once inside, I went into the museums, which were filled with art and sculptures. I am in no way an art connoisseur, but if I see the artist is Leonardo Da Vinci…I know this place must be pretty special.

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Vatican Museum

After walking around the museums with a huge backpack for a few hours, I sat in the Vatican garden with this view. Luckily, the weather was beautiful that day.

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We ended the day with a trip to the Sistine chapel. The walking to get to the chapel took us about a half hour because you walked through several museums. When we finally arrived, the chapel was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people all just staring at the ceiling. No photos allowed, but it was pretty amazing looking (though I highly considered taking a stealthy picture with my phone– it did take 54 months to paint).

I ended my day with nothing other than…prosciutto pizza (prosciutto is a kind of thinly sliced Italian ham that is EVERYWHERE here).

Day 2: Rome

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9 AM: Roman Colosseum.

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Warning: I was not awake in this photo.

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A little surreal to be staring at the Roman Colosseum..

Right next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine. Before we left later that night Rome, we sat, ate, and people watched. It was pretty interesting to see couples, families, groups of teenagers on school trips, or actual Italians there. The perfect place to play “guess what country that person is from”.

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Next to that is…many many Roman ruins. I have to be honest and say it was gorgeous and all, but unless you know a lot about history then it can be a little mundane to spend a lot of time on. See below for much Roman ruins.

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I then saw the Pantheon, which was built by the Romans in 126 AD. It’s famous for the dome on the inside, which you can see in the second photo below. It was also gorgeous on the inside, not to mention free entry with no line!

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This photo looks like a painting to me..

More observations about tourism: In front of every famous structure there are people that are selling (correction: shoving in your face) all of these scarves, souvenirs, and the most famous object of their desire…selfie sticks. It gets to be very repetitive when you’re trying to simply take a picture and they decide to walk into it. This happened in Milan as well. I understand that this how they make their living, but they actually followed me with their selfie stick. Especially because this will happen again 2 minutes later. No, I do not want your selfie stick. Nor yours. Nor yours. Not even yours. Perhaps I’m just not used to big cities…but I am proud to say I am a professional tourist scam spotter at this point.

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Palatine hill. We walked so much to get to this..

I was a little disappointed that we walked to the Trevi Fountain only to find it was under construction, as were the Spanish steps. However, I did go to a gelateria with over 100 flavors.

By the end of this weekend, I was so exhausted. End it all with a 5 hour train ride, arriving back at my apartment at 11 pm, and collapsing in my bed..I would say it was a successful Roman adventure.

Italy’s most popular city? Check.

Ciao!

MEO

6 Days.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning: I woke up and it was as if one thought was on my mind. In one week I will be on my flight to Italy. In one week I will be living in a foreign country. In one week everything is going to change. Needless to say, I became rather nervous. It’s difficult to comprehend everything when you haven’t experienced it yet. How does one plan for living in Italy for almost four months? I’ve decided that it’s not really possible! I guess I will just figure it out as I live there. That’s what makes it an adventure, right?

Here are some photos of the beautiful Reggio Emilia:

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Here is where Reggio Emilia is on a map.

Besides for looking at beautiful pictures of Europe on Pinterest,  I have already put a large amount of time into my trip. I obtained an Italian visa (which requires a lot more paperwork than I care to explain), but was a huge relief and accomplishment when it arrived in the mail last month. I seriously do NOT enjoy the visa process. Fast forward to right now, I am amidst a packing frenzy. My checked bag is pretty much full, but I have a lot more I would like to bring..I’m really wondering how it is possible for people to “pack light”. I just really like all of my clothes..

I’ve also been asked several times where I am going to be living, so I will explain that right now. I am studying abroad through a program called USAC, and they have arranged an apartment for me. I will be living with other American students in my program, but our apartment building is home to Italians as well. I should be about 5-10 minutes away from my university, so I will be able to walk there for class.

I hope you enjoyed reading my little introduction to my blog. I hope to post about anything and everything, the good and the bad, and any interesting situation I find myself in.

Ciao!

-MEO