Monday, November 28, 2016

Zurich, Switzerland

>>> Hello Zürich <<<

it wasn't exactly the day I had in mind             

A couple Saturdays ago, I headed to Zürich to see an old friend & enjoy the city

... and it was one of the greatest collisions of bad luck ever. David got super sick during the trip over, didn't sleep a bit on the overnight flights, and lost his passport. After a couple hours of visiting in Zürich, we both knew he'd be better off sleeping/low key dying at the hotel, and calling the airport/embassy to figure out what to do about the lost passport. I was hugely relieved to learn the passport was found, and he got to be feeling well enough to enjoy the rest of his time in Europe.

David and I met at Rockbridge, a Young Life camp, when we were in high school, and we've kept up ever since. That summer after my freshman year we became super close friends when all of our friends kept in touch with each other after camp, and through skype and occasional calls over the years we've managed to maintain the friendship. Whenever I'm flying into D.C., I let David and his friends know in case they're still around; we've met for lunch in the airport, and his two best friends flew out to Dayton to stay with me and my friend Hannah for a few days when we were all still in high school.
We were 14 and 16 here at Rockbridge, and now I'm a junior in college living in Europe
 and David has a real adult career. Bizarre how time flies.

For some reason Virginia to Ohio was always really hard for David and I, but for some equally confusing reason Virginia to Europe worked out to meet up. When David's friends decided to go on a Thanksgiving holiday trip to Europe, he called me, and we decided we'd meet in Zürich, Switzerland. It worked out super well for me to go to Zürich because most of my friends made a day trip to Zürich while Troy and I were in London, so this was a good opportunity for me to sneak a trip in with people who hadn't already been there.

I spent my morning hiding from the rain and studying French at a lovely cafe called Lilly Jo. After I met up with David we headed to meet his friends for lunch at a traditional Swiss restaurant called Zeughauskeller. While I would've loved to see the city with David, I still had an amazing day seeing Zürich with his friends. A huge thanks to them for including me in their day's wandering through the old town. It was really cold that day in Zürich, but we enjoyed the excuse to enjoy Swiss hot chocolate in a hole in the wall restaurant in the old town. I also laugh when I complain about the cold here because in comparison to Bowling Green, this is nothing. Next winter will be a huge wake up call for me. 

I apologize this post is barren, but I didn't take any pictures at all. I've stolen all of these from friends or the internet. Zürich is BEAUTIFUL, and I'm so glad I got to see it. Actually, everywhere I've been in Switzerland is so pretty, and the views of the mountains are so amazing to me. I know America has naturally beautiful places with views like this, but I need to find them more often. I can't wait to see Geneva in early January with my friends from home, as I've heard the views are breathtaking there, too!

Love, Jules
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." - Tyler Knott Gregson
Throwback to Vingtar Gorge in Ljubljana because it's still the most beautiful

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Paris, France

>>> Bonjour, Paris <<<

I finally went to Paris. Yes, it's that wonderful.

The Portuguese girls and I took an overnight bus on a Wednesday night, stayed in Paris early Thursday morning to Sunday night, and then took an overnight bus back, which arrived in Strasbourg on a Monday morning. 

When we were getting ready to leave on Wednesday, I was rushing to get to the bus on time (what's new). I had a soccer practice outside of town that ended at 10pm, and the bus was at 11:30pm. I was also rushing because I called my mom to put off packing before I left for my practice... I procrastinate in all areas of life, not just school work. 


We arrived in Paris around 6:30am, and we finally made it to Pedro's residence in Cergy around 7:45am. Exhausted from practice and life in general, I slept completely uninterrupted on the Ouibus (better than Polskibus and comparative to Flixbus). Unfortunately for my friends, they didn't sleep a bit, so when we got to Pedro's we took naps from 8am - 11am before getting up to see the city. I can't say I minded the extra few hours of sleep.

We got into Paris after lunchtime, and enjoyed our first moments in the city although we fought bouts of rain all day, and especially into the evening. 

Special moments in our first day included viewing Paris from the Arc de Triomphe, exploring The Louvre, and wandering down Champs Elysées in the pouring rain. Oh, and it was also extremely exciting to (finally) learn that I am considered a European citizen this year since I'm here on a long-stay VISA, so I can also enjoy free entrance to many tourist attractions just like my European friends!


I was in Paris November 10th - 14th, so I'm struggling to remember the day-by-day the way I would've if it were still fresh in my mind. For this reason I'll follow the trend of my recent travel blog posts to be brief and just share lots of pictures with brief blurbs about the highlights!


We went straight for the Eiffel Tower once we got into the city... And then we went back again at night to go up. I liked that we decided to go up the Eiffel Tower at night since we had already gotten the daytime view of Paris from Arc de Triomphe. Francisca has another friend from Lisbon who studies on exchange in Paris this semester, and on Friday we met up with him at 'Jardin du Luxembourg' or Luxembourg Garden. He said it was one of his favorite places in Paris, and I understand why. It's just beautiful. 
Hanging my CBA hat on an amazing trip to Paris.
I swear I have friends that aren't Portuguese, but they're pretty hard to beat.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Taking A's for effort on this jumping photo attempt.


We went to Palace of Versailles, and oh my goodness. 
Every room was this detailed, and in total the palace was just breathtaking. 
It rained on us, so we didn't enjoy the gardens as much as we would've liked to, however, this really was one of my favorite places I've been since I've started sightseeing throughout Europe. My pictures won't do it justice, but just look up pictures of the palace or take my word for it and visit... Really cool experience.
Kika caught me eating a cookie, but what else do you do while your friends take 10 pictures each?
Joana and I had a solid heal-clicking moment, and then Ana suggested we recreate it here...
I'm super thankful for these friends, and how much fun we always manage to have together. 
My favorites pre-pouring rain. (Thanks to the random international students visiting from Barcelona for taking this for us!)

Post pouring rain.

Saturday night and Sunday are blending together in my memory,

but we did a bunch of fun stuff like exploring Montmartre where we enjoyed a fab cafe called Pain Pain where they took extra care to make sure I was happy with my café au lait. We also enjoyed visiting Sacré-Cœur, and seeing the view of the city from another perspective. Somewhere in this time we also enjoyed crêpes from a random downtown crêperie, tried macaroons from Ladurée, and wandered through insanely priced mall shops. We also saw Paris's Opera House at night, and it was beautiful. The weather continued to be uncooperative with us, but at some point we just embraced the soggy shoes and ruined hair. Overall, we had such an amazing time, and possibly the best part was how inexpensive the trip was. On top of free accomodation, we made number of our dinners at home which was both fun and clutch for budgets. 

That's a wrap. 

I'll be back in Paris in a month and a day with best friends from home, so let me know if it seems like I missed anything special!

Love, Jules
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home."

P.S. I'm still overjoyed to be here in Strasbourg, but this week was definitely the first time I've genuinely missed home. 

Springboro home. 
Bowling Green home. 
Ann Arbor home.  

My American friends and I discussed how between Thanksgiving and football rivalry games this past weekend, it felt weird to be away. 

With that said, a HUGE 'thank you' to my countless friends here; for spending time with me, for wishing me Happy Thanksgiving, or for spending Saturday watching an American football game. 

The holidays are special because of the love that surrounds family and friends when they come together, and my friends showed me that love here in Strasbourg this week whether they realized it or not. 

I have a lot to give thanks for this year. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

>> Bom día, Strasbourg <<

exchanging is Strasbourg is best case scenario...

Strasbourg at night is absolutely stunning; oftentimes when I run at night it looks just like this.

Let's talk about Stras, baby

  1. big enough to be exciting, but small enough to feel like home in no time
  2. safe -- like BG safe --
  3. student life is a thing 
  4. centrally located in Europe
  5. just look at it

(this is also the background photo for my blog, but I just can't get over how pretty the bridges are)

I wasn't finished:

6. La Marne exists & it's not expensive (1o/1o would recommend my housing) 7. Alsatian wine is great 8. if you put yourself out there, your international family will be forever precious to you
9. you can join teams and organizations

After our first W... Fear the Storks

Speaking of teams:

More or less accidentally, I became the soccer team's goalkeeper... 

This is new and exciting, and I need to learn some French like yesterday to communicate with my defense. I haven't played soccer in forever, so I'm still laughing as I lace up my cleats and put on the gloves the team had for me. In my junior high prime I was on a competitive team, and soccer six days a week paid off for a number of my teammates who continued to play in high school and college for competitive programs... I stopped playing then because I was burnt out, and my knees weren't cooperating with my athletic goals. I feel silly for picking it back up now because my mobility is a joke compared to when I was thirteen, but I'm having a lot of fun with it. The girls on the team immediately embraced me and my other international friends who joined, and even though we struggle to communicate, I really feel that comfort of working for a team.

Last note on why Stras is great, then I'll stop I promise:

The Bachelor of European Management (BEM) program EM Strasbourg offers is killer.

10.) I'm graduating with 2 degrees (acquired in 4 years) 11.) French skill recommended, but not at all required (I studied Spanish, whoops) 12.) it's designed to accommodate travel 13.) we have cool opportunities here like our Role Play European Parliament... I'll explain this later.

As many of you know, 

I keep up this blog for the College of Business as well as for my personal network. I saw this awesome video, and I think friends and College of Business subscribers alike may enjoy hearing about one of my colleagues' perspectives on her time in Strasbourg so far. (Thanks for letting me include this, Caroline!)

You can watch the video she made here:

Or by copy/pasting this link:

(apologies because Blogger doesn't like hyperlinks at all)
As you'll see, Caroline has also had the opportunity to fit in many exciting trips, and she is also enjoying Strasbourg immensely. There are five students from BGSU here for the whole year, and I have at least one class with three of the others. It's nice to have a few other BGSU students to remind me of home-y things here and there (like BG's crazy weather this November, Ay Ziggy!), but I also think we've all done a really good job not clinging to each other. We have all really branched out of our comfort zones to make new friends while we're here, and I think that's something we all recognize as extremely valuable! (Also, to anyone considering Strasbourg for their study abroad, Caroline's room in the back of her video is a traditional university housing option called Robertsau.)

Life updates in a nutshell:

I love it here. This year I'm learning and growing so much, especially outside of the classroom. Personally, I think this experience is the most valuable opportunity I have ever seized, and I would recommend a year long study abroad program to almost anyone. 

My international friends and I try to pretend it's not real, but the end of the semester is right around the corner. In less than a month, I'll be saying goodbye to around half of my new family. I really could cry every day between now and then if I let myself think too much... We all came here with opens minds and open hearts, and that's been such a gift. Ugh, love and hate this part of exchange. 

This part of the semester also marks about one-third of my time living in Europe. In less than three months, I've really come to feel like Strasbourg will always hold a special place in my heart as my home away from Bowling Green and Springboro. So far I've experienced 9 countries in Europe, and I have definite plans to visit many more. Realistically, I'll also prioritize travel within France, as I've made mostly international trips so far. 

I'm still not missing anything about America too much. At least not enough to detract from the wonderful experience I'm embracing here. Most of my friends here have either visited friends from home, or had friends and family come to visit here. Over the holidays, I have my best friends visiting for a week, and I think if I weren't looking forward to that I might be somewhat sad about being so far from home. I'm happy enjoying my independence, but relationships with family and friends are a huge priority to me; it doesn't feel right to be too far from everyone I care about for so long. Also, next semester I have a number of dear friends studying abroad in Europe, so I'm looking forward to the weekend trips to see each other. It's clutch to have other friends on exchange simultaneously because, as you're both "poor college students", it's perfectly acceptable to consider a floor a very generous offer for accommodation, which makes for a very inexpensive weekend trip to wherever!

On that note, I owe another Portuguese friend, Pedro, a huge thank you for hosting FIVE of us at his apartment outside Paris! When Francisca told me that you offered your place for all of us, I kind of thought she was joking, but it was perfect. I spent more on crêpes than I did on accommodation for a Wednesday - Monday trip to Paris. Score.

Blog posts about that ^ trip to Paris last week, and yesterday's trip to Zürich, Switzerland coming soon! Or relatively soon.           **Blog posts about Paris and Zürich coming at some point.**

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" - Tyler Knott Gregson

P.S. I'm primarily only 'Jules' to my friends here, now. Weird that the most common nickname for Julie took over twenty years to become a thing in my life, but Europe is weird so it's whatever.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

October Trip, Part 2

                     >>> Hello Budapest, Vienna & Salzburg <<<

the crew at the fortress in Salzburg

What an amazing opportunity I had to travel with these dear friends.

15 friends at one point or another.
11 full days.
               8 nationalities.
6 cities.
4 countries.
3 Polskibus trips.
1 train with seats sold separately.
0 severe sicknesses/ lost valuables/ catastrophes. 
I have so much to share about this fall break trip! I collected so many memories, and I have so many new ideas and experiences I never imagined myself possessing. With that said, in order to do the trip justice I've split it into two posts. Here's the second post to outline my time in the last three cities we visited. If you'd like to read my first post about the trip, try this link

It would be impossible for me to document all of my days;  instead, I'll focus on highlights and special moments in each city.

Budapest, Hungary

When we got to our hostel to drop off our bags and ask if maybe, just possibly we could go to our rooms early (7:30am), the first receptionist insisted it was not possible until check in at 1pm. Fair enough. We were exhausted after the Polskibus, so it was worth a shot. About twenty minutes later after we had all changed, used the restroom, and locked our luggage, a new receptionist came in for the morning shift.

My friend Natalia asked him for a pen, and he replied with "Do you want me to check if you can go to your rooms now?" Yes, yes we really do. Receptionist #2 gave 12 sleep-deprived international students unexpected naps at 8am. He was a fan favorite for sure. 

We left our hostel around 11am and spent our first day exploring Pest. Budapest is interesting for many reasons, and partially because it used to be two cities Buda and Pest, split by the Danube River, whereas now it is all connected as Budapest. We set up our days to spend day one in Pest, the same side of the river as our hostel. Then we spent majority of our second day in Buda. 


The Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest is the third biggest parliament building in the world, and oh my gosh. I'm including pictures we took outside of the parliament building, but mine definitely can't do it justice. Budapest was one of my favorite cities because its just so grand... The unique architectural styles found in Budapest reminded me of my first days in Strasbourg when I looked around and everything took my breathe away. I've become conditioned to a lot of the beautiful architecture in Europe, but Budapest really did take me back to those first days where I just wanted to spin in circles with my eyes wide open so I could maybe take it all in. 
Hungarian Parliament from the south, below it can be seen from the southwest. (I'm still sad blogger can't upload videos because there's a super fun video of Kika spinning on my shoulders)

St. Stephen's Basilica

After seeing parliament, we split for lunch. Some of the girls and I were a little bummed entering a restaurant called Hummus Bar since we would've preferred to find a traditional Hungarian restaurant, but none of them had space for us. The joke was on us because this restaurant was FABULOUS. So fab that we went back the next day with more of our friends. For around five euros we all had huge portions of super yummy foods. After lunch we continued exploring Pest and eventually came upon St. Stephen's Basilica. My friend Natalia was abnormally excited to inform us all that St. Stephen's 'Holy Right Hand' is mummified and can be seen inside the basilica. It's also well known as the most important church in Hungary, and the inside is just beautiful, as you can see here:

Here's a picture of my friends and me on the steps of St. Stephen's

In the afternoon, we met up with one of Joana's Portuguese friends who is studying in Budapest this semester. He led us through Heroes' Square to a really nice park, and we enjoyed the fall colors and each others' company. At the park a few of us broke into a two minute game of tag, and I enjoyed the personal victory in 1) outrunning my friend Aaron and 2) causing him to slip and fall on the slick grass in pursuit. A football or a disc would've made for an even more fun tourism break, but we survived without. 

We headed back to the hostel to shower and get ready for dinner and the night out in Budapest. The first restaurant we tried couldn't accommodate all of us... Surprise surprise... So we ended up grabbing dinner at a burger joint, and I think we all enjoyed this alternative, too. After dinner we headed to Szimpla, which is Budapest's most famous 'ruin bars'. 

I have to say I've never seen anything like Szimpla. If I had to guess I'd say it's three floors, but I swear I have no idea. There was no ebb and flow to this place, it was just complete chaos. Everywhere I turned I was surprised by what I saw... Be it the random decorations or the random people in Halloween costumes (it was solid timing to be in Budapest for Halloween, by the way)... It was quite the experience. We hung out in Szimpla for a bit before our group decided to split. Some people went home to rest up for the next day, and about half of us headed out to Instant, another famous ruin club in Budapest. I went in with an open mind, and it's a good thing I did. I swear Instant was just Szimpla plus a coat check and dancing. We hung out for a while before we decided we should get home to the hostel since the alarms would be ringing early for our next day in Buda. 

Here are pictures from our first afternoon and evening in Budapest:

A day in Buda

Morning came early, and we started in Great Market Hall, which is actually still on the Pest side. Clara and I found cheap espresso, and we enjoyed looking through the different foods and souvenirs that vendors were selling. I was very impressed by the hand painted stacking dolls, and many of the other trinkets. I've made it a rule for myself that I'll only buy souvenirs if it's really a must have for me... My luggage was full coming here, so I really don't have space to bring extra stuff home... That saves my wallet from a lot of these little shops. :) 
Great Market Hall

After the market we walked along the river to meet up with the guys who rode a 17 hour bus to meet us in Budapest for the rest of our trip. 

Together we walked north along the bank to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorializing the Jews who were ordered to remove their shoes before being shot by Arrow Cross Militiamen and falling into the Danube in 1944 and 1945.
Shoes on the Danube Bank
After visiting this memorial, we crossed the Chain Bridge to Buda. We spent the day exploring Buda's beautiful Castle Hill and Old Town. The views of Pest from the top of the hill in Buda were amazing, and we enjoyed our time here. We had fun getting lots of great pictures from all of the outlooks. It's fun traveling with the girls who have great cameras, and we can always count on factoring in an extra 20 minutes for photos. I have to laugh because Natalia took 1500 pictures one weekend in Slovenia, but has actually restrained herself a lot since. Once everyone was getting hungry, we realized it would be easier to head over the bridge back to Pest to eat because everything where we were in Buda was unreasonably priced since we were in a touristy area. 

A view of Parliament to the north from the Chain Bridge
In the evening, most of our group visited The Citadella and saw beautiful views during the sunset, but two friends and I were lame and snuck back  to the hostels for quick naps. In the evening we all hung out and had a good time in the hostel before going back to Instant. Sunday morning's wake up call came early, and we were off to Vienna.
Warning: If you buy a train ticket in some parts of the world, you should check to make sure you are also buying a seat on the train; there can be a difference. The jury was out on whether friends preferred standing on a train or riding a Polskibus. Personally, I choose train because there is the possibility that you will have a comfortable seat compared to the Polski where it's not even a reasonable hope. Three hours of floor-sitting/standing/awkward seat shuffling later, we made it to Vienna. 

Vienna, Austria

What a BEAUTIFUL city!

We spent our first day in Vienna with a tourist map rushing to see each of the numbered landmarks since we only had two days in this crazy city... This tour included the Imperial Palace, the Vienna State Opera, MuseumsQuartier, Michaelerplatz, and so many more. I really enjoyed this day of tourism, but, as beautiful as Vienna's architecture is, it was extremely overwhelming to take it all in. 

For dinner we found a traditional Austrian restaurant that could hold all 13 of us. I ordered a cordon bleu, and I really enjoyed my meal. Many of my friends were less impressed with the schnitzels they ordered, but after such a long day we I think we were too tired to care too much.
Schönbrunn Palace

Our second day in Vienna, we began by visiting Schönbrunn Palace. This palace was magnificent. The gardens were maintained so well, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the park in the middle of such a densely packed city. As we walked through the trails in the woods, I really felt like I was back in Ohio running at Sugarcreek or Wintergarden. The fall colors aren't as much of a thing in the parts of Strasbourg I tend to peruse as they are in Ohio, so this was really fun for me. (Sidenote: I do miss fall at BGSU. Fall on campus is beautiful, and I'm seriously deprived of fall sports.)
3 Portuguese, 2 Brazilian, 1 Colombian, and 1 American try to take a picture.
At least we tried.
After visiting Schönbrunn Palace all together, we split for the rest of the day. We knew we needed to be back to the hostel by 5pm to make our train to Salzburg, so we wanted everyone to be able to make their priority visits with our remaining time. Seven of my friends and I ended up finding a great lunch spot on the way to the Wiener Riesenrad (big ferris wheel). I ate a great zucchini dish with potatoes. Everyone was really impressed by their food at this restaurant, and the lunch special pricing in Vienna is hard to beat. 

We had originally hoped to go to the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Art History Museum). This museum is known to be on the level of the Louvre, the British Museum, and others. We were bummed to see it was closed because it was a Monday. This was frustrating because it was 100% avoidable since it was open on Sunday, but we just didn't plan ahead. My friends from home and I joke that you win some and you lose most, so unfortunately October Trip encountered a loss here. The good thing is by "winning some" my friends and I found that the ferris wheel in Vienna was right beside a fun street carnival/amusement park. This was especially fun to me since it was Halloween. I've never been huge on Halloween Haunts at Cedar Point or King's Island, but it did feel homey to end up at an amusement park on Halloween. Another nice perk of this place was the lack of lines. My friends and I all decided to ride the swings, and it was a memory I think I'll keep for a very long time. As you'll see below, my eight friends and I rode the swings to see a 360 degree view of Vienna at sunset, and it was really perfect.

Once we were off the swings, we had to rush back to the hostel in order to make it to the grocery before getting the bus on time, but we pulled it off. Our train to Salzburg was three hours, and it was easily the most comfortable leg of our whole trip. 

Last Stop: Salzburg, Austria

We arrived to Salzburg in the evening on Monday, and we headed straight for the hostel. The hostel we stayed at was A & O Salzburg Hauptbahnof, and the workers here were super accommodating to us. They gave us towels and sheets for free since we were such a large group even though we were supposed to pay a fee, and they even switched our rooms to fit our friend who had a separate reservation from the other twelve of us. We called Monday an early night since Tuesday was our only day to enjoy Salzburg, and we set the alarms early to begin the next day.
A view of the Fortress in the distance.
As we planned our trip, we questioned whether or not to include Salzburg. I think many of my friends would agree with me that this was a beautiful city, and I'm so glad we did include it. We spent our day exploring the Old Town and enjoying the museums and views from the Hohensalzburg Castle. While I had no part in planning our itinerary for our day in Salzburg, I did message my friend, Codey, who studied abroad in Salzburg of the whole academic year last year. I asked him what we should do during our one day to make sure we weren't missing anything super important, and his recommendations matched my friends' plans exactly. 

I went to Salzburg without expectations. I did not have any idea what to expect, and I was so surprised by this stop. The panoramic views in Salzburg from the fortress were the most amazing I've seen since I've been in Europe. The riverside walks were so peaceful, and the water was so clean. After ten plus days of traveling with so many friends, I was happy to spend the last day in such a relaxed setting. 

Cíntia and I at the fortress
Portuguese princesses and me on the fortress
We all made it back to the hostel with some time to spare, so we enjoyed playing foosball and pool before heading to the bus station. When the time came, we headed over to the station and started on our way. We had a quick change of buses in Munich, and we arrived back in Strasbourg around 2:40am. When we got off the bus we all said very unenthused goodbyes to each other... I was lucky that I had a fairly relaxed Wednesday ahead of me, but some of my friends had exams and other big responsibilities to study/rest up for.

In the Uber home, Cíntia, Clara, Kika, and I joked about detouring to Jimmy's (one of our favorite clubs here in Strasbourg for various reasons including the Portuguese owner and employees), and the Uber driver was all about it... Instead we just blared The Chainsmokers song "Closer", which has become somewhat of an anthem for us, and drove to the previously determined destination, Residence La Marne, to sleep.

(Panorama of me, Francisca, Cintia, Aaron, Ana, Floris, Joana, Tomas, Clara, Benjamin, and Natalia in Budapest)
This trip was one of, if not the most exciting long weeks of my life. I got to experience six new cities with approximately twelve somewhat-new friends. These people have become a family to me, and the time we spent together will always remain so precious to me. I still pinch myself regularly when I remember that this is my life, and I'm so thankful for all of the people who have supported me in preparing for this year along with those who are making it such an amazing experience. 

Obrigada pela leitura! Thanks for reading!

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" - Tyler Knott Gregson

Okay, so this is from Ljubljana with Nati,
 but I just discovered Blogger makes these and I'm pumped

P.S. I've been in Europe for more than two out of my eight months here. More than a quarter of my time has flown by, and I still feel like I just stepped off the plane.

P.S.S. Sorry for the terrible formatting on some of the text... I swear Blogger has a mind of its own.