Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dinner in a Castle/Conference

Last night we had an amazing $160 meal in an ancient Castle. This was part of the conference. It was really an interesting experience heading up the castle in chartered buses making hair pin turns. I will post pictures very soon. We had some amazing dishes of Parmaggiano Reggiano Sauces over rice, Guinea Fowl, Vegetable Flan, and fresh fruit dessert. This meal was actually served as a lunch for a king in the 1800's. It was interesting but a little fancy for my tastes.

Well the conference is ending and we're heading out of Parma. I am heading up to Milano or Milan to see the famous painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo Di Vinci. I will then head back down to Rome to see the Basilica and then catch my flight home. I'll keep ya updated o

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Parma and the Confernce

We then made our way to Parma to attend the International Food and Agribusiness Management Conference on Food Culture: Tradition, Innovation and Trust - A Positive Force for Modern Agribusiness.

The conference site was chosen because Parma
is famous for its food: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (also produced in Reggio Emilia), Prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham). In 2004 Parma was appointed the seat of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Parma also has two food multinationals, Barilla and Parmalat.

The purpose of this trip has been to participate in the graduate student case study team where an agrifood related case was given to to the team and we had five hours to analyze and prepare a power point presentation and a two page executive summary. The case focused on PARMA Knowledge Network and getting the region to effectively work together in promoting its products. It was a great experience, however we did not make finals.

The conference has been enjoyable and I will update some more as we go!

Pisa and Venice

Next we left Florence early to drive to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower of Pisa! This is the only thing that there is to really see in Pisa; so we did not stay very long! We quickly found a place to park and took a few pictures of the Tower which is actually a bell tower for a beautiful church at the same location.

We then continued on to our finally destination of the day Ahh Venice! a city in northern Italy, the capital of region Veneto, and has a population of 271,663 (census estimate January 1, 2004). Venice's nicknames include "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges", and "The City of Light". We visited St. Mark's square which is pictured in a lot of romantic movies of couples eatting a romantic dinner. We however didn't get to see the actual church of St. Mark's as we arrived after. Located on one of the nearby areas San Giorgio Maggiore can be seen! This is another island with a large church on the island.

We then made our way to Lido Beach via the bust system which are actual large boats that nearlly resemble buses! We went here to meet my Swedish friend, Jasmine, at the free beach! Jasmine and I studied Chinese together in Beijing. We knew we where both traveling around Italy so we tried to coordinate our trips to meet up! We haven't seen each other in over a year! We went out to dinner while my Purdue friends relaxed on the beach. We had a great time catching up on good times over dinner where i had some fresh fish since we where at the beach!

We then made our way back to the Camping Fusina Camp Grounds where we all would be spending the night! I got to hang out with Jasmine and her high school friend who she was traveling around with at the camp bar, which was really crazy with many backpackers from all over the world. We had a great time dancing the night away!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


We arrived today in Florence and had a great time visiting the Uffizi art gallery. Where I ran into a friend of mine I haven't seen in about two years. We knew we where both in Rome but she was traveling with her parents and thought our schedules never met up anywhere. I was randomly walking and out of no where she appeared and said COACH! I was totally overwhelmed to see Alexandra Garza and her parents! It was great catching up and hearing about her stories of her study abroad in Italy and getting to backpack around Europe! It was a great surprise for an already great day!

We then saw the Florence Cathedral or the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore it was an amazingly and beautiful Gothic cathedral in the city center.

We ended our day early and went to dinner and gellotto or an italian ice cream!


Sienna is an amazingly beautiful town and I can not wait to come back to this town one day with Kim! It was such an interesting time and its a shame we really didn't do much besides have drinks in the Republic Plaza at midnight when we arrived in the town. We had quiet an adventure in the city trying to find the actual hostel as the city was pretty complex in the road system. Our little car was snugly fitting down each and every road! It was quiet an adventure as we went around the town square at least 4 times.

We staid at a great Bed and Breakfast in Sienna that cooked us a great HOT breakfast of eggs, ham, and toast! It was quiet the treat.

Katy's parents own a liquor store in Colorado and made some contacts for us to tour a Vineyard near Sienna. It was a great experience touring and tasting some amazing wines. I will post pictures later!

Arrival of Friends in Rome

I made it back to Rome without any problems to meet up my friends who would be joining me throughout the rest of the trip. Their arrival however was significantly delayed do to missing flights and having to connect at new destinations. These changes caused the airlines to loose their luggage, to say the least it was an interesting two days without luggage until we found it at the airport finally.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat and since our time in Rome was really short we decided to go ahead and tour Rome at night. We started walking around Rome at 11:00 and finished back up at the hostel around 2:30AM. We saw the Arch of Constatine , Roman Forum, Roman Collisseum , Circus Maximus , The Trevi Fountains, and the Spanish Steps. This was a really long treck and we probably walked an estimated 8 miles that night.

The next day we trecked across the city another 6 or so miles to Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel which ceilings where painted by Michelangelo. It was totally breath taking and something pictures can never do justice. The line was amazingly long as we waited for several hours in line.

We then went to St. Peters Square to see St. Peters Square. I will hit the actual Basilica when I come back to Rome in a week.

We then adventured back to the airport to try to find the luggage and pick up our rental car. After a few hours of searching we finally had our rental car and luggage all in hand.

Driving in Italy seems intimidating at first, however its pretty similar to the US just a little more aggressive. We traveled the evening to Sienna.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Arriving in Rome, Naples, Pampai, and Capri

The journey to Rome has been a long journey. The first delays started off in Dallas witha two hour delay due to security issues on the plane, just some seals had been broken, causing the entire plane to be searched thoroughly by the TSA. All went well and we traveled on to Chicago and where faced with yet more delays. These delays ultimately caused me to miss my flight in London Heathrow to Rome, missing the original plane by only 30 minutes. . I had to wait three hours for the next plane. I finally made it to Rome and took a train to the central station where I booked a ticket to Naples or Napoli at a machine. I don't think I booked the right ticket but I made it on a train to Naples. It was an overwhelming experience in Rome as no one seemed to speak any English, and all looked as if they where westerners. In my past abroad experiences in Asia if you looked Western you spoke English. It took nearly three hours to get to Naples from Rome on a train, but I finally made it.

I know I got ripped off by the Taxi cab that only took me a few blocks to the Hostel, oh well lesson learned and will go on from there. The hostel was pretty amazing and lots of nice people stay and work here. When I arrived they where having a party for the last night of one of the workers so though I was tired I went out for a few drinks before coming back to attempt to crash.

The next day I traveled to Pompeii with some new friends staying at the Hostel. Fir those that do not know much about Pompeii it is one of the most interesting archaeological sites because it was completely covered by lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The following site is a a virtual tour of the city ruins. http://www.thecolefamily.com/italy/pompeii/. This site has tons of pictures and a map of the city.

We spent about 5 hours walking around the city and seeing the unique sites of the ruins.

The next day I went on my own to the Isle of Capri, this is the island that the Casinos in the states are named after, and no there are no Casinos there. Its an hour ferries ride from the Port of Naples to the Port of Capri. It is just a beautiful island with many rocky beaches that are different from our Sandy beaches in the states. I walked from the bottom of the mountain to the city center through paths and got to see some amazing views of the island.

I took a tour around the island to get to see the sites, but It wasn't a great experience due to so many tourists on this Sunday. I heard the tours shut down early on Saturday evening. I missed the main site of the island because of the hectic waters and large amounts of water. Lots of people on my boat where mad about it. Oh well maybe the next time I'm here.

I came back to Naples and walked around the city a little, but being a Sunday absolutely NOTHING was open. Te only few places open where Coffee bars, the Burger King, and McDonald's.

Things are going good and tomorrow I will travel back to Purdue to meet the others from Purdue!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Surprise Trip Home, Terra-Cotta Soldiers

Well its been awhile since I've updated everyone so I thought I'd take some time and finally update this for those who have been checking in every now and then! Well if you didn't know I made a surprise trip to the states! I got the opportunity to surprise Kimberley Michelle Riley for Ring Dance. With the help of my dad and friends I arrived in Houston where my friend Mike picked me up at the airport and drove me to College Station to meet Kim at the Texas Hall of Fame, our favorite dance hall! I finally made it to the hall at 12:30AM where I quickly found my friends Melanie and Daniel(Kim's fake Ring Dance date) and we started looking for Kim on the dance floor, but we couldn't find her and Russ. Somehow they walked around us and made their way behind us! It was the moment I had been waiting for over the last few months! Kim had her back to me and I walked up to her and grabbed her hand asking her "Would you like to dance with me!?" She quickly grabbed on to our friend Russ, Melanie's Fiance, and said "No, I don't think so?! I just stood there until she realized it was me! Then the tears started rolling and hugging and shaking for about ten minutes! Russ bought us a few beers and we enjoyed the rest of the night dancing away! The next day we traveled to Cameron to surprise my mom! I think she nearly had a heart attack when I walked in the door! My dad was like oh I think Gery(my uncle) drove up so he went outside to greet Kim and I! I just simply walked in and my mon grabbed me and totally lost it! It was a good surprise! We then went out to Bob's Steak House and had an amazing Texas Steak!

The next day was Texas A&M's 71st Annual Ring Dance! Russ and I hung out while the girls had an adventure around town with hair and make up. We picked the lovely ladies up at Kim's Condo and then made our way to Rudder Auditorium to take pictures with the big ring! It was way exciting to finally get to take ring pictures. This event was very special for both of us because we where suppose to go the year before, but I got terribly ill after getting all dressed up! Kim ended up taking care of me while I was in bed sick all night. After pictures around campus we made it to Cafe Capri where we enjoyed some amazing Italian Food!

The dance was amazing with three live bands, a casino room, ice sculptures, and cake! We danced the night away! Following Ring dance we went back to the Condo for board game fun!

I spent two weeks back in the states and got to see friends and family and spend some quality time with my Sugar Momma Kimberley Michelle Riley! I helped my family around the house and also helped Kim move from her Condo to Houston!

I returned to China on May 14th! Happy Mothers Day!

The first weekend back I went with my friends Jespar and Sabine to Xi'an to see the Terra-Cotta Soldiers! It was an amazing trip and it was with three countries represented. Jespar is from Sweden, Sabine from Germany, and myself from the USA! We took a train with a hard sleeper from Beijing! In Xian we rode bikes on the city walls! Xian has the only completly intact city walls in China! We also visited the Big Goose Pagoda and the Muslim district of Xian.

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum, Lintong County, Shaanxi province. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China.

Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had work begun on his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archeologists immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs. They had established beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211 --206 BC).

The State Council authorized to build a museum on site in 1975. When completed, people from far and near came to visit. Xian and the Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses have become landmarks on all travelers' tinerary.

Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigor.

The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China's National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.
No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, is 20 meters northeast of No. 1 Pit. It contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994. Archeologists came upon

No. 3 Pit also in 1976, 25 meters northwest of No. 1 Pit. It looked like to be the command center of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses. Altogether over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits. Most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses is a sensational archeological find of all times. It has put Xian on the map for tourists. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages.

Well Now I'm back in China for an indetermined amount of time! I'm having a lot of trouble with my class do to the teaching style. For anyone who is considering studying Chinese in China, I'd recommend a tutor with private lessons and finding a job teaching over studying at Beijing Cultural and Language University. The teaching style is just not up to par and is really difficult for American and European students. I totally prefer my tutor and hince that I have started to just attend her lessons and study on my on in the past week. In class I am constantly frustrated and distracted because it seems to be going no where and I make no progress! This has made me consider my options of study here! I have a few options which i am debating over as I type this.

Option 1: Return to the USA and stay in Cameron and possibly find a job working for the rest of the summer! At this point I'd rather be in Cameron working than in Beijing constantly frustrated and feeling lonely.

Option 2: The other day I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things because they items I needed I knew could only be found in the local Beijing Wal-Mart! What a life saver! Well as I was walking around I noticed an American gentlemen walking around with a small group of Wal-Mart employees, it was obvious this man was someone who was in charge at Wal-Mart. So I decided that I should take action and make a contact. I introduced myself and told him about me and that I would be interested in an internship with Wal-Mart China for the rest of my time here. He told me to contact him next week so I can discuss any options available. So we'll see how things go! However this option would require me to move to Tinjian about 3 hours away by train and find new housing. We'll see how this goes and what will happen

Option 3: Tough it out and be completely miserable here in Beijing.

I like Option 2 if anything comes through next week, but if nothing does come through I'm going with Option 1. We'll see how it goes! Much needed prayers would be appreciated!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A good week

This last week was a pretty good one for learning Chinese. Up until now I have felt a little lost and totally frustrated with the language. This last week it was as if a light bulb was turned on and I could hear and communicate better than I have had in the past few weeks. I started to meet with a new tutor at night for an intense two hour session for three nights a week. I think this has really helped me to better understand the language.

Beijing has literally transformed before my eyes. Spring has come and flowers are abundant everywhere in Beijing. I totally enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms and magnolia trees that are present throughout the city.

Friday night was a crazy night for me as we went out all over Beijing to Hou Hai Bar Area, Sanlintun, and finally ending up at the world famous Susie Wongs. It was a pretty crazy night with good friends celebrating birthdays. I arrived back home just as the sun was rising, because nothing closes here and you just keep going and going until you finally realize its 5 AM. GEEZ!

This weekend I found an amazing Church called Beijing International Church Fellowship. This is a group of international people from all religions and countries getting together to praise God through prayer, fellowship, and singing. It was very beautiful service and something that has been missing in my life throughout my time here. I really enjoyed it and I plan on attending it each weekend.


Friday, March 31, 2006

Shiao Lin Trip and More

Sorry its been so long since i have updated this, but its been a pretty crazy week. Last weekend we traveled by train to the Shiao Lin Temples. Traveling by train sleeper cars where pretty fun. We took a night trin that we slept on through out the night. This temple is one of the premier Kung Fu training temples in the world. Buddhist Monks are trained here and select new students to enter the temple. This temple was also made famous by the movie Shiao-Lin featuring Jet li. While in the city we visited a Kung Fu school where we watched a demonstraition on Kung Fu Techniques. We then traveled about two hours to see a river where over 2000 years ago Buddhist caves and features where carved out fo the rock alongside the river. We also went to several other cities around the area in the Hunan Province of China.

This week I had the opportunity to make a little extra cash by modeling for this clothing company at the CHIC 2006 Asian Fashion Trade Show. I made 1500 Kuai nearlly 200 dollars for three days of work. I dressed as a cop and acted out several corny skits while some of my other friends interacted with me and showed off the clothes. I will have pictures updated soon!


I have made my decision to go to Purdue University. Starting in August 2006 I will be a Proud Purdue Broilermaker! This decision has been tearing at me for the past few months after my visit to all the campuses. I have been praying alot about this and asking God to give me a sign of where he wanted me to go to Grad School. I have spent many nights praying for this answer. I truly have seen the power of prayer. God's sign number one: While talking to mom she mentioned that I received a letter from Purdue with a Purdue University Window sticker. God's Sign Number two: I was walking outside of Worldlink's Headquarters heading back to BLCU in order to catch my shuttle for my evening business class and low and behold as i was walking a Chinese Man was wearing a Purdue sweat shirt. I asked god to show me something with Purdue on it one night and I seriously thought this was impossible. I dont think that this was mere coincidence. The chances of one person out of 1.3 Billion Chinese wearing a Purdue Sweatshirt, riding down the very same street I was walking on, and right during the time that I had been praying for a sign is no mere coincidence, its the power of God's Love for us. I have truly been blessed.