Author Archives: Hannah Shaffer

About Hannah Shaffer

I am 20 years old and a junior at the University of Mount Union. I am a public relations major with a double minor in business administration and psychology. I am an aspiring journalist and event planner. Some of my favorite things are: my family, friends, summer, iced chai tea lattes, traveling, reading, the Vampire Diaries and Taylor Swift. My inspirations include the blog "Cupcakes and Cashmere," all things coral or pastel and Pinterest.

Ciao from Viterbo!

Ciao from Viterbo!

Ciao from Viterbo (pronounced “vee-tear-bo” I learned)! The first few days have been a whirlwind. I’m pretty sure I have experienced every possible emotion since Monday. Anxious (on the way to the airport), sad (saying goodbye), the “what in the world have I done?” emotion (walking by myself to the terminal), happy and loved (reading … Read more

Ciao from Viterbo (pronounced “vee-tear-bo” I learned)! The first few days have been a whirlwind. I’m pretty sure I have experienced every possible emotion since Monday. Anxious (on the way to the airport), sad (saying goodbye), the “what in the world have I done?” emotion (walking by myself to the terminal), happy and loved (reading notes from friends and family on the plane), proud (for locating the correct gate in the Chicago airport… a big accomplishment for me), eager (15 hours travel time = lots of time to think about what is to come), hopeful (meeting friendly study abroad students on the group flight), exhausted (sleeping for a total of 15 minutes on all three flights combined = not the most cheerful Hannah), excited… yet overwhelmed (first Italian meal served: three different types of bruschetta, three different types of pizza [each piece bigger than my head] and some sort of yummy chocolate dessert), lonely (not proud to say I was the biggest baby on the first night), ecstatic (when a cute Italian offered to show us a café with wi-fi, and I got a hold of mom through Skype!), satisfaction and contentment (after finally moving into the apartment, taking a much needed hot shower, and climbing into bed).

flower shop

Today I had my first Italian breakfast: a croissant with jelly and pineapple juice. We then had orientation and were taken to our apartments. Everyone lives in different apartments, all over the city. We have a three bedroom apartment and I was assigned my own room (so lucky!). You can walk out onto a balcony from my room and it overlooks a cute little flower shop below! I can also see the city and older, medieval buildings with my view. It is freezing and so dark in the apartments since electricity costs so much money here. Italians only leave the heat on for a few hours a day we were told and never at night. Walking up the stairs to our apartment building is also a bit scary since all lights are to be turned off, unless extremely necessary, to save money.

We were taken on a tour of the city today and I wanted to stop every 30 seconds to take pictures, but I figured I have the next four months to explore and take pictures, so I kept my camera in my bag and just took the city in. Every corner you turn looks like a set from a movie. Cobblestone streets, colorful orange, pink and yellow buildings with clothes hanging out to dry, rows and rows of vespas and beautiful, old, medieval buildings and houses with numerous pots of beautiful flowers leading down their staircases. viterbo

For dinner we went to a pizzeria (there is one about every 30 steps you take here). It was my first time looking at an Italian menu. When we sat down, we were each brought a glass of white wine. It was so funny to be served wine, since I am only 20 years old. I ordered penne pasta. The waitress spoke Italian only, so it was a bit hard to communicate. When I didn’t finish all of my meal, she looked very confused and asked me if it was good. I said yes, good! She then asked, in Italian, if it was good, why didn’t you finish it? I rubbed my stomach and said “very full” (I REALLY need to learn some more Italian) and she said “Ahhh, si!” She then rubbed her stomach, and laughed, saying “peliculo!” meaning tiny, followed by an “expanding” hand gesture… which I think meant I need to expand my stomach for all of the Italian food.

P.S. One of the most important things I learned today: Italian cars DO NOT stop. They will hit you, so watch out!

And the Journey Starts… Now!

And the Journey Starts… Now!

Today’s the day; that “someday” that I have always dreamed about is here! The bags are packed, the boarding passes are printed, the countdown has ended. Today the journey starts. I know that the next five months will be five of the most challenging, exciting and amazing months of my life. I had a great last … Read more

bon voyage
Today’s the day; that “someday” that I have always dreamed about is here! The bags are packed, the boarding passes are printed, the countdown has ended. Today the journey starts. I know that the next five months will be five of the most challenging, exciting and amazing months of my life.

I had a great last day in the U.S. with my family. Church and a Panera breakfast (I will miss chai tea lattes & cinnamon crunch bagels a ton… but something tells me that the lattes and croissants in Italy won’t be such a bad replacement), followed with an evening of relaxing, a family dinner and watching the movie “Letters to Juliet.” I will miss family days so much while I am gone.

I could not have made it to this point without my family and friends. I am so blessed to have them in my life and am not sure how I will deal without seeing them for almost half a year. While I am very sad that I will miss my baby cousin’s first steps, family birthdays and goodnight hugs, I know that this will be the experience of a lifetime.

So, here I go. I leave for the airport in two short hours and I am giddy with excitement and nerves! I will do my best to blog as much as possible and keep everyone posted. And the journey starts… now!

Friday Five

Friday Five

[Ice skating: one of my favorite winter activities] This is my last “friday five” post from the United States until the end of May! I can’t believe in four short days I will be in Italy. As I was overwhelmed with the thought of packing for the next five months, I procrastinated until today to … Read more

ice skating

[Ice skating: one of my favorite winter activities]

This is my last “friday five” post from the United States until the end of May! I can’t believe in four short days I will be in Italy. As I was overwhelmed with the thought of packing for the next five months, I procrastinated until today to do any packing. I would like to say that it is just simply cruel to allow a girl only one 50-pound suitcase to fit her life in for a week, let alone five months! Let’s be real, that wasn’t going to happen. My shoes alone take up most of one suitcase. Needless to say, I will unfortunately be paying the extra fee to bring along another suitcase.

This week was full of fun surprises, such as the multiple cards and gifts I received in the mail from friends, wishing me good luck in Italy… or should I say “buona fortuna.” A few other highlights of my week include the “bon voyage” party my family threw for me and the cutest Victoria’s Secret luggage tags my sisters and mom bought for my trip.

Happy Friday!
card

[The sweetest card & gift from my friend Maggie]

bon voyage

[Bon Voyage party]

luggage tags

[VS luggage tags]

ava

[My baby cousin, Ava, all bundled up]

Hello, 2013!

Hello, 2013!

2013 is the year of dreams coming true for me. Until I am actually sitting on the plane, about to take flight for Italy, I don’t believe it will sink in that I will be living out my dream for the next five months. I am so incredibly blessed and beyond lucky to have the … Read more

2013

2013 is the year of dreams coming true for me. Until I am actually sitting on the plane, about to take flight for Italy, I don’t believe it will sink in that I will be living out my dream for the next five months. I am so incredibly blessed and beyond lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad. As part of my New Year’s resolutions, I have promised myself to taste unfamiliar foods, travel to unique places, talk to new people and push myself far out of my comfort zone. I want to come back from Europe with no regrets.

New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Let go & let God: learn to worry less & trust in Him more
  2. Have courage: take risks, go on adventures, try new things
  3. Work on patience: “not now” does not mean “not ever”
  4. Less social media use: live life through my own experiences instead of through social media
  5. Chase my dreams full heartily: go after what I want, no matter how far out of reach it may seem

Here are just a few of the things that I have to look forward to in 2013:

  1. EUROPE (duh)
  2. 21st birthday
  3. Tay Swift Concert: RED Tour
  4. Justin Bieber Concert: Believe Tour
  5. Beginning of my senior year of college

Happy New Year! Make this year one to remember!

Friday Five

Friday Five

  [The cutest gift wrapping ever, by mom] From the Christmas Sunday church service, to the family parties, to waking up Christmas morning and cuddling with my mom on the couch, waiting for the rest of the family to wake up to open gifts, this Christmas meant so much to me. While the presents are … Read more

 

gift wrapping[The cutest gift wrapping ever, by mom]

From the Christmas Sunday church service, to the family parties, to waking up Christmas morning and cuddling with my mom on the couch, waiting for the rest of the family to wake up to open gifts, this Christmas meant so much to me. While the presents are exciting and the dozens of Christmas cookies never disappoint, spending time with family is my absolute favorite part of the holidays. While everyone is always so busy with work, school and friends, Christmas always brings us together… if even just for a day!

This weekend I plan on spending time with my best friend, Olivia, who is visiting for the holidays from South Carolina. She leaves in a few short days and I am looking forward to spending some much needed time with her. Plans for ice skating, sledding and a game night are also in the works. I hope everyone is having a relaxing, fun winter break.

Happy Friday!

rainboots[Christmas rainboots]
gifts for italy
[Sporting a few gifts I LOVE for Italy!]
ava
[The biggest bow goes on the cutest present :*)]
liv
[Liv and I at a Christmas party]

Christmas Must be Something More

Christmas Must be Something More

Happy Birthday, Jesus! “What if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing? Would the song still survive without five golden rings? Would you still wanna kiss without mistletoe? What would happen if God never let it snow? What would happen if Christmas carols told a lie? Tell me what would you find.. You’d see that … Read more

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

christmas eve

“What if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing?
Would the song still survive without five golden rings?
Would you still wanna kiss without mistletoe?
What would happen if God never let it snow?
What would happen if Christmas carols told a lie?
Tell me what would you find..
You’d see that today holds something special;
something holy, not superficial
So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives.
It’s something we all try to ignore,
and put a wreath up on your door
So here’s something you should know that is for sure…
Christmas must be something more”

Friday Five

Friday Five

[Pinterest inspired Christmas card making] This week was filled with nothing but holiday happiness. I have spent all of my free time on Christmas activities, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Sometimes I think I actually love the days leading up to the holidays more than the actual holiday. The days are … Read more

christmas cards

[Pinterest inspired Christmas card making]

This week was filled with nothing but holiday happiness. I have spent all of my free time on Christmas activities, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Sometimes I think I actually love the days leading up to the holidays more than the actual holiday. The days are filled with such anticipation, excitement and love from family and friends. I just love everything involved with Christmas – from crafting Christmas cards for family and baking Christmas cookies with mom and grandma to wrapping presents and setting them under the tree. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend filled with nothing but love and holiday happiness. Make sure to take a moment to slow down, take a break from the insane rush involved with Christmas preparation and enjoy the small pleasures that come along with the holiday. I hope that everyone has an absolutely wonderful Christmas!

Happy Friday!

christmas cookies[Baking Christmas cookies with mom]
wrapping gifts
[Wrapping Christmas presents with pretty bows as a finishing touch]
gingerbread girls
[A favorite Christmas tradition: decorating gingerbread girls]

fireside[Warming up from the winter storm with hot chocolate by the fire]

Viterbo

Study abroad checklist: Visit the Center for Global Education: Check! Choose a program: Check! Submit application: Check! Acceptance into program: Check! Apply for passport: Check! Apply for student visa: Check! Register for classes: Check! Fill out housing information: Check! Book flight: Check! Purchase adapters suitable for Europe: Check! Purchase a Skype number: Check! Make copies … Read more


Study abroad checklist:
  • Visit the Center for Global Education: Check!
  • Choose a program: Check!
  • Submit application: Check!
  • Acceptance into program: Check!
  • Apply for passport: Check!
  • Apply for student visa: Check!
  • Register for classes: Check!
  • Fill out housing information: Check!
  • Book flight: Check!
  • Purchase adapters suitable for Europe: Check!
  • Purchase a Skype number: Check!
  • Make copies of visa, passport and all other documents: Check!

To-do list:

  • Make doctors appointment for needed vaccinations
  • Visit the bank to talk about banking overseas
  • Purchase favorite snacks, breakfast bars, etc. for travel
  • Purchase supply of favorite make up, hair products, etc.
  • PACK! PACK! PACK!

There are exactly 20 days until I leave for Viterbo, Italy!

If you are planning on studying abroad, or even traveling on vacation or a family trip, it is extremely helpful to make a to-do list and check off things as you go. Creating a check list will help if you feel overwhelmed with all that you have to get done. I admit that along the way I became extremely anxious at times, such as when my visa did not arrive as promptly as promised, and when I had no idea how to go about applying for a passport, but in the end everything turned out fine. This is something I have to keep in mind while I am abroad. I am sure that everything will not happen exactly as I have planned. From the numerous flights to arrive at my destination, to all of my luggage, to the language barrier and everything else in between, something is bound to go wrong. However, I am learning that I must take a deep breath and know that everything is going to be OK!

This video is from the USAC (my study abroad program) website and I thought it would be fun to share with all of you what will be my new home for the next few months. I can’t believe it’s almost here!

Friday Five

Friday Five

[Going away surprise from the roommates] I came across a quote recently that said, “The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead.” In anticipation of future trips, events and plans, I am often guilty of wishing the days away. During the school year, I wish the week … Read more

goodbye[Going away surprise from the roommates]

I came across a quote recently that said, “The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead.” In anticipation of future trips, events and plans, I am often guilty of wishing the days away. During the school year, I wish the week days away, looking forward to the weekend. When the weekend comes, I often wish away the days until the next break from school or until a trip home for a family get-together or girls’ night with my sisters.

While it is fun to have something to look forward to, and so important to set future goals and have excitement about achieving your dreams, be careful not to take the days you are living right now for granted. These next couple of weeks I am going to keep this in mind and cherish every moment spent with family and friends, instead of just seeing the days as a road block in the way of studying abroad. In a few months I will really miss the small things, such as the goodnight texts from my sister and the comfiness of my own bed, so I am going to do my best in remembering this quote and making every day count.

Happy Friday, everyone!

xiu[Fun mornings babysitting]
taylor tickets[Our RED tour concert tickets finally came in the mail!]
emily[With Emily for one last girls' night out this semester]
christmas card[The cutest Christmas card from my Aunt, Uncle and baby cousin]

Goodbye, Alliance!

And that’s a wrap! Another semester is complete. One of the best feelings is the feeling you get after completing your last research paper, turning in your final project and walking out of the classroom after you have just taken the final exam you studied hours upon hours for. While it was a great semester … Read more

And that’s a wrap! Another semester is complete. One of the best feelings is the feeling you get after completing your last research paper, turning in your final project and walking out of the classroom after you have just taken the final exam you studied hours upon hours for. While it was a great semester at Mount Union, I could not be more excited to forget about class work and celebrate the holidays with family and friends.

While it has now come to an end, I thought it would be fun to look back on some of my favorite memories from this semester at Mount Union.

  1. Move-in day: I felt so grown up moving into a “big girl apartment” this semester and I am so thankful for my roommates.
  2. Homecoming: A day complete with friends, tailgating, a photo booth and an exciting Purple Raiders’ football game.
  3. Horseback riding: White chocolate pumpkin spice lattes, long car rides, fall leaves and horseback riding made for the perfect fall day.
  4. Halloween party: Who doesn’t love Halloween-themed bingo and treats?
  5. Chicago: Traveling to Chicago with fellow media students was the highlight of my semester!

I had a great fall semester at Mount Union and I hope when I return, for my senior year, I make just as many wonderful memories. Goodbye, Alliance!

What were your favorite memories from this semester? Feel free to leave comments below!