Monday, December 10, 2012

Google Doc

I had a brilliant idea this morning when I was waking up!  I have created a Google Doc that anyone has access to.  I want YOU to list places I should go, eat, etc. on it.  Please feel free to add to it, but please do not delete anything!

Thanks everyone!

Please give me your suggestions Here!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I can't believe my countdown has gotten to the twenties.  This is so exciting!

I had a minor panic attack the other day when I got an email saying my flight had been changed.  Luckily it was only a 20 minute change, giving me a longer layover in NYC.  I really wish getting out of the airport and seeing the city was an option, but not this time.  I would hate to miss my flight to Rome!

This week is finals week and it has been so hard to focus because all I want to do is plan for Italia!  I met with Sam again and she told me tons more to do.  My small group leader Molly went to Italy for a little while over the summer while she was studying abroad in Spain.  She gave me some recommendations as well.  

Please continue to pray for me.  I am beyond excited and can't wait to get on the plane and go!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Palazzo Capponi Take 2

So I was wrong.  The Palazzo Capponi that I will be staying at is not the one I have pictures of in the last blog post.  I should have known it was way too good to be true.  The one I will be staying in is very close to this one, but is actually owned by JMU.

Just wanted to update you with the upsetting news.  It doesn't really matter though because I won't be spending time in my room much anyway!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Palazzo Capponi

I have finally found out where I will be staying while I'm abroad!  I am so excited to be staying in the Palazzo Capponi.  Originally I was a little bummed because this means I am not in a home stay with a family.  After talking with my mom about it, we decided it may be better this way anyway.  I am still going to be able to eat home cooked meals four times a week with the Marconi family with my roommate Christina, Liz, and the two guys on our trip Caleb and Joseph.  I can't wait to get to know these people better along with all the other students studying abroad with me.

I will also have my classes here, so I can just roll out of bed and head to class (as usual).  The only downside to this is that I won't get to see Italy in the morning.  I will have to go grab breakfast some mornings so I can see the morning culture.  

Here are some pictures of the Palazzo Capponi all taken from their website.

Isn't it amazing?  If you're interested in the location check out this link to Google Maps: Location

I am so excited.  Please continue to pray for me and for my future adventures!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Parole di vita

These are the words I will live by while in Italia!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

Thank you, Mark Twain for the inspiration!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bucket List - Places

Confession: I constantly calculate how may days I have until I take off!  67!!

I figured since it is getting so close to my departure, I should probably make a bucket list for places to visit, things to do, etc. while in Italy.  I'm going to split this into a few posts.  The lists are for my reference so I don't forget what I want to see, but if you've visited any of the places or done anything on my list PLEASE let me know how it is.  If it's not worth seeing, then tell me that also.  I only have but so long to explore!

1. Rome
This is pretty obvious.  I have to see the Colosseum, and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain!  We will be taking a weekend trip to Rome, so I'm not too worried about crossing this off my list.

2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa 
I've been told to visit, and of course I'm going to have to get a picture holding up the tower.  Clearly, this picture is way cooler than the one I'll have.

3. A Vineyard
I'm in Italy.  I have to.

4. The Alps
I don't need to climb them, but I do need to take a picture of them and be able to say I've set foot on the Alps.  I've heard they are beautiful.  I mean just look at this picture!

5. The Italian Riviera 
I've heard this is the playground for the rich and famous.  I obviously belong (yeah, right)!  Really though, I've read reviews about the beauty and this website recommends sampling a "Tintoretto" cocktail.  

6. Venice
I have to ride in a gondola.  It's sad that I don't get to do so with my love, but a good friend will suffice in this circumstance.  (Or Randall can come to Italy... *hint*hint*!)

This is my list for now.  Anyone have additions to make?  I have never been, so I don't know all the awesome hole in the wall places/cities.  Inform me!!  I love comments.

*All photos taken from Pinterest

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Woah!  75 days until I board a Delta flight from Norfolk, VA, heading (eventually) to Firenze!  Is this real life?  I am feeling so excited, blessed, stressed, and anxious all at once!  There is so much to get done, but I'm ready to get on that flight and go!

Who knew how expensive flights could be?  Luckily I found a deal on Student Universe.  $1125 roundtrip.  Not too bad.  I do have a few connecting flights, though at great times.  I start by boarding in Norfolk on January 7th at 1:45pm, land in New York at 3:08pm, wait for 2 hours and 47 minutes (enough time for a quick shopping trip in the city? I wish!), board again, and end up in ROME at 8:10am Tuesday morning.  I finally get to Florence at 10:50am.  That gives me a great amount of time to unpack before our festivities begin that evening.

Photo found here!

While I've been on plenty of planes, I can't say I've ever taken one over the Atlantic Ocean, or even to another country for that matter.  Is there anything I need to think about with regards to this?  Any advice for a lone world traveler?  That makes me sound cooler than I actually am.

These past two weeks I've been working on my Visa requirements.  There's quite a bit to it, but I'll be done soon!  All I'm waiting on now is my bank letter.  I was so stressed last week about it, but the Lord is taking care of me.

Photo found here!

Now for the exciting part - classes!  I know... I'm a total nerd, but I love that I'm studying in another country.  Not everyone gets that opportunity.  These are the classes I'm definitely taking!

  • Italian Renaissance Art (ARTH 313)
  • Dante's Commedia, Selections from Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso (ENG 302F)
  • Internship and Field Experience in Education - middle school in Florence (IDLS 486F)
  • Exploration of Wine Culture in Italy (HM 361)
  • Elementary Italian (ITAL 101F)
I'm most exited for the field experience in education course and the wine culture course.  I was thinking about taking another class online, but I don't think I want to overwhelm myself while I'm in the beautiful country of Italia!  I want to enjoy my time exploring rather than doing homework.

What was the best class you ever took in high school or college?  Why was it your favorite?



As most of you know I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy next semester.  I am having my LAST fundraiser right now!!  It will end THIS SUNDAY.  The fundraiser is a Thirty-One Fundraiser online! 

It is the simplest thing ever! All you have to do is go to Then you will click on "My Parties" on the right hand side. Next click on "Samantha Boyd's Study Abroad Fall Fundraiser" and "Shop Now." So simple and you are helping me tremendously while getting an awesome product.

Those of you that help me out will get email updates at least once a week while I am abroad!  Please give me your email address so I am able to add you to my list!

Thank you again for all of your encouragement and support.  Prayers and happy thoughts are very helpful as well!

Samantha Boyd

P.S. This is an AWESOME opportunity to start Christmas shopping, especilaly with the deals 31 is having right now.  Check it out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Yesterday, Monday, was my first Florence specific orientation.  I cannot put into words how excited I am!  We talked a little about Italian culture, the staff we will be working with, our academic schedule, and the official documents we will need to obtain.

Here is what I learned about Italian culture:

  • Sales are exclusively in January and July.  Basically, I'll need to start shopping immediately!
  • Dinner is held starting around 7pm and usually don't end until around 11pm if you're at a sit down restaurant. 
  • Not getting a receipt is against the law, and we have to ask for them often.  Lots of shops don't report their sales to their equivalent of the IRS, but if they have a receipt it is a record, so they have to report their sales.
  • People don't smile at you, and they often stare.
  • There is no tipping in Italy.
I was a little surprised with some of the information I learned.  If you know me, you know I smile a lot.  I was raised to be polite, smile at everyone, and never stare.  The Italian culture is going completely against what I was taught.  This is probably going to be a shock for me once I get on the ground.  I want people to be friendly as I am, but that's not going to happen.

The official dates of my trip are January 8 - April 12, 2013.  I have to leave the United States on January 7th and arrive in Florence on January 8th.  I am so nervous to get on a plane by myself flying to a foreign country.  I am hoping to find some friends to travel with!

Anyone have some recommendations for flights?  I have never flown out of the US, so any advice is welcome, even if you haven't been to Italy!


Sunday was my first pre-departure orientation meeting.  Oh. My. Gosh.  This makes it oh so real and oh so close!  Not only did I meet a few people who will be in Italy with me (is this real life?), but I also got to see everyone who will be studying abroad around the world for the spring semester.  JMU has study abroad locations in Florence, London, Salamanca, and Antwerp.

At this meeting we discussed everything from culture shock to cell phones to alcohol to heath insurance.  Obviously, it was quite a bit in a short amount of time.  Since then I have been reading over my packet and have found some interesting tidbits of information:
  • If I lose a thumb and an index finger on the same hand, it is covered up to 25%.
  • Never appear drunk in public. (Not that I really anticipate that being a problem.)
  • Avoid volatile situations, such as political unrest and riots.
Obviously, super helpful information...

I am so excited to get to researching Italy and learning some important Italian words.

Has anyone been to Italy before?  What do I need to check out?  What do I need to avoid?  Any helpful words you can teach me?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cento e cinque

In 105 days, on January 7th, I will be embarking upon an amazing journey.  In just over three months, I will be boarding a plane to travel for this once in a lifetime experience.  I will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy!

I have prayed about this adventure, and I believe traveling is God’s plan for me right now.  I couldn’t be more excited.

My study abroad experience is going to be held in Florence, Italy, for the spring semester of 2013. While in Florence, I will be staying with a host family that JMU has worked with for years and experiencing all that is Italy!

I will be taking a full course load of at least 15 credit hours.  I am required to take Italian while I am in Italy, and I plan on taking an art history course, an English literature course, an elective of some sort, and an IdLS class.  IdLS stands for Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies, and is my major at JMU.  I will be interacting with Florentine middle school students taking English classes for this IdLS course.  How cool is that? 

I am so blessed to be afforded this opportunity.  It is quite expensive, $5400 on top of my regular tuition, room and board, and all the fees associated with attending JMU.

That being said, I am holding a fundraiser.  It is a Thirty-One Party put together by the lovely Audrey Range (best consultant ever).  Feel free to check out the Facebook event.  If you feel led to contribute to my fund, you will be receiving emails in the form of blog posts, like this one, at least every other week while I am in Italy.  Hopefully I will get the chance to post way more often, but I am making the promise of once biweekly.  Please get in touch with me if you would like to help me out!

Here is the 31 party information!