Sunday, October 23, 2016

Summer in Italy, 2016

I finally had to opportunity to import all my pictures from our family vacation in Italy this summer. We started with a week in Agropoli, took a day trip to the Amalfi coast, and then spent 4 days in Rome.
I took this photo the first morning we woke up in Agropoli. The beach is really nice, although we had a few overcast days during our stay.

The first order of business was to check out the grocery store to see if I could pick up some vegan snacks. I ended up finding this vegan mozzarella (and behind that, vegan ricotta), which was amazing!

Cute pic of my mom and brother on our first night in Agropoli.

I thought the gelato situation was going to suck being vegan in Italy, but most places offered soy gelato, or sorbetto (lemon and strawberry, in this case). 

For the first couple days I thought I was going to be stuck eating grilled vegetables the entire time, but luckily the resort chef got more creative as the days went by. (Always order the pattatine frite!)
Up on that hill is the Agropoli city center, where my mom would walk to and from TWICE a day every single day. I only did that walk a couple times.
Really delicious zucchini risotto made with olive oil.

My brother took each and every opportunity to nap on this trip.
Our day trip to Amalfi was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. Here's a photo op from Positano.

Posing in front of Positano.

My mom picking out some dried herbs on the side of the road to Amalfi.

The Amalfi coast is known for their citrus fruits. Here's my brother sampling some freshly squeezed orange juice slushie.

Family photo in Positano.
Amalfiiii. So nice.

The big church in Amalfi. We found a pizza place for lunch right on the lefthand side of this place.

My hangry brother waiting for me to take a picture before he could dig in.

Luckily in most cases the pizza dough in Italy is vegan, so you can opt for a veggie pizza, or my preference: Pizza Marinara (sometimes called Pizza Napoletana), which is just sauce, herbs and olive oil. I know it doesn't sound like much but it's so delicious.
It seems like veganism is starting to trend in Italy a little bit. This is from a cafe advertising vegan pear and cinnamon muffins for breakfast.

I ended up buying the vegan ricotta from the picture above, and sprinkling it over my pasta. It was amazing. The ricotta would actually melt properly and added a really nice creaminess. I seriously wish this product would come to Canada.

Snapped this photo on our last day in Agropoli. It looks nice, but honestly doesn't do the sunset justice at all.
Next stop: Rome. This was our cute little street for our stay. Our Air BNB was located here, and it was literally tucked right around the corner from the Colosseum - amazing location.

I was so happy to find that our Air BNB had a big, comfy bed, because as you might now, the bed situation in Europe can leave a lot to be desired usually.

My brother was stuck with the pullout couch, but he was happy to have the best view of the soccer game.

Our place was in the cutest little courtyard with other apartments all around.
We found the best pasta place ever right near our Air BNB. Think Chinese takeout, but rather Italian pasta.

Basically, you pick your pasta and your sauce from a list of 7-10 choices, and you can enjoy it in a cute little takeout container. Best idea ever?!
Here's a picture of my mom and brother in front of an impressive building... I can't remember what it actually is. A museum maybe?

The Trevi Fountain is one of my favorite things to see in Rome. It's tucked away in this tiny corner, and it's so big & impressive in comparison.

Of course I had to drag my family to at least one vegan restaurant in Rome (Universo Vegano). My friend, brother, and I had their vegan hamburger, and my mom had their vegan salad which included vegan cheese and vegan tuna. So good.
Of course I also had to pick up what would be the only dessert I had the entire trip. Vegan Italian desserts... does it get any better? I opted for the vegan tartufo and bought a vegan chocolate cheesecake to take back to our Air BNB as well.
Here's a photo of my friend Felicia and I in Rome. She was doing an internship in Vienna at the time and flew out for the weekend :)
A quick selfie from our street in Rome. 

My brother and I gearing up for the Italy VS. Spain Euro cup soccer game.

If you're vegan in Italy, gnocchi tend to be a really solid choice. They're usually just make with potatoes, flour, and water, and they're so so so yummy.

I had to take a pic of the candy selection inside Eataly.

Colosseum at golden hour.

Snapped this last photo of some ancient Roman buildings on our way to the airport back home.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to Study

There's one thing they never teach but you but you're supposed to miraculously know how to do: study. The thing is, I didn't learn how to properly study until about my second year of university, and I wish I knew how to before, so here are my six steps to being an expert studier.

STEP 1: DO THE READINGS!

I used to think I could get by not doing readings, and I was right. I could get by. But the semester I decided to stay on top of my readings is the semester I achieved a 4.0 GPA. Readings are so important because they give you a fuller, clearer picture of the topic at-hand. You may feel like they're useless & a waste of time, but I assure you one key way to become a quasi-expert on anything you're studying is to read. It's a tedious task, so be sure to put aside a few hours every week to get the job done. Highlight if you can and take notes in the margins, so you can easily refer to that later on and not have to read through the entire thing twice. When I say "take notes", by the way, I mean summarize what you read succinctly & in your own words.

STEP 2: ORGANIZE YOUR NOTES

During my first year of university we were prohibited from using our laptops in class, which forced me to take notes by hand. This, I learned quickly, was a blessing in disguise. To me, the best most effective way to organize my notes is to write them by hand in-class, and then type them out before a test. When I type out my notes in preparation for studying, I have all my readings done and I merge my margin notes with my class notes, which ensures I have a complete and clear synopsis of any topic. I then like to have a printed copy of my typed notes so they can be more portable.

STEP 3: USE FLASH CARDS

Never underestimate the power of flash cards! It may seem like a juvenile tactic, but it can be incredibly helpful for a number of reasons. First, the act of writing out the flash cards is a study method in and of itself. It helps you consolidate and remember information. Second, you're confining your notes on a given topic to one card, which potentially narrows down pages upon pages of information to something more realistic/manageable. I'm not saying to discard your full notes completely, but flash cards really help your brain bring recall key information quickly. This tactic is particularly useful if you're memorizing definitions or learning things word-for-word.

STEP 4: LEARN TO FORMULATE POTENTIAL EXAM QUESTIONS

Or in other words, think like a teacher to anticipate exam questions. What did the prof stress in class? If you know there's going to be long-answer or essay questions on your exam, which topics in your studying can you glean enough information on to write longform answers to? Having read your textbook can definitely help you navigate through this thought process quickly and efficiently. Pick a topic, ask yourself a hypothetical question about it, close your notes, and type out as much as you can. If you're not able to tackle this task sufficiently, try again until you can. Typing out answers to hypothetical exam questions helps you organize information, and it has happened to me a couple times where my own practice questions have actually showed up on an exam!

STEP 5 (OPTIONAL): RECORD YOURSELF READING YOUR NOTES

This may seem a little exaggerated, but it has benefitted me multiple times. This is especially helpful if you're not the best reader or it requires a lot of concentration for you to register what you read. Simultaneously seeing the words on the page and hearing them in your headphones ensures that every bit of information is given the opportunity to be processed. This is especially helpful if you're studying a very dense topic, or if it's a high stakes exam and you need to study on-the-go/at any given moment. This method + flash cards is really ideal for utilizing public transportation time.

FINAL STEP: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

One of the biggest issues when it comes to studying is discerning which information is important and which is not. Often, you don't have enough time to comb through pages and pages of stuff, so picking and choosing what gets studied is a really good skill to learn. But, like every skill, practice makes perfect. It's important to go to class so you can observe and anticipate which specific topics are most important to your professor. It may take a few tests to understand what your prof's testing style is like, but keep on it because eventually you'll figure it out. You also need to learn which methods work for you and which don't, but once you get that down pat you'll be so much better off.

I guess the last thing I'd like to mention is that, as you might have noticed, my favorite study methods are very hands-on and participatory. I like writing things out. I like reading things out loud. Skimming notes or reading them over and over has never proven helpful to me because I don't have a photographic memory, and chances are, you don't either - so don't be afraid to switch it up and try new things!