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19 posts categorized "Flo Fusco"

Spring Break

Every person knows the most fun thing about being a teacher are the vacation weeks. I just had my first spring break. Unfortunately, it was an experience I never had in university due to extracurriculars. I mean, I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.

I got back late last night after spending eight incredible days in the South of Portugal. I went to Lisboa, Cascais, Sintra, Lagos....I did it right.  

Since a blog post only really allows a writer about five hundred words, I'll try and not waste lines. 

I noticed an immediate difference between Lagos and Lisboa. I am drawn to places that are not overcrowded with tourists. I can't imagine a place like Lagos not being well-known around the globe, but for spring break, it was relatively calm. Families and friends, including mine, gathered around the town square every evening with cones of gelato. Every girl fresh with that Sun-In + tanning oil combo. The classic babe. 

There is one thing that every beach hottie is required to do when traveling to Lagos. If you are young and if you are cool, then you hit up Camilo Beach. Walk down the 247 stairs. Find this rock:

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Then, take a picture with this rock. Take a picture standing on the rock, touching the rock, smelling the rock. Around the clock, all ages, people wait their turn to catch a photo with this rock.

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Me 2
Me 2

It's not famous or well know, in fact it has no name. It's only important because it gets you a lot of likes on Instagram, and a few more followers on Twitter.  

Lisboa (very noble, always loyal #preach) is a little different. Stunning in it's own way, it's a real young city. I would even go as far as saying it's more romantic than Paris- but, what do I know? I've only lived abroad for, like, forever. 

Lisboa

In 1755, an 8.5 earthquake hit Lisboa, destroying most of the city. The people ran to the main plaza in the center of town in hysterics. The plaza, was considered a form of comfort. Unfortunately, an hour after the earthquake hit, a tsunami crashed down over the city. The neighborhood of Alfama is the only neighborhood left with buildings and architecture since that awful year. 

Mayor

It's a sad story, my tuk tuk driver told me. A tuk tuk is a tourist form of a taxi that drives throughout the city and tells stories about ruins and sites. 

I've seen a lot of unique places in my lifetime, and Portugal is a country I plan on returning to. Saying I loved the culture, the people, the atmosphere- it's not enough. It's indescribable. I believe it's an underrated country and I do hope it's popularity will skyrocket. I believe it will. 

Remember!!! Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo

The Winter Travel Bug

Europe is real cool. That sums it up well. No complicated sentence, no GRE vocabulary necessary. Europe is real cool. Smooth. It's a jazz song and every city has its own rhythm. Especially Spain. 

I'm based in Madrid, clearly. Recently I took a trip up to the Basque Country. Made my way north. Some friends and I rented a car and took the long route through the mountains and Spanish pueblos. We drove through the clouds. We pulled over to watch the clouds rise up from behind a mountain. Some people watch sunsets, my amigas and I, we watch clouds. 

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We landed first in Bilbao and then hit San Sebastian. Bilbao was on my list. I created a Spanish travel list. It's not long, in fact only two places are on it.

  1. Bilbao
  2. Sevilla

I can't tell you what it is that captivates me about the names of these cities. I would be a happy girl going home in July having only seen these two cities in Spain. Though, I will have seen much more. 

The Basque Country speaks its own language.  The citizens have a unique accent. Their food is...interesting. They specialize in pintxos. These are small snacks that sit out all day long at bars. Spaniards will have a drink at eleven o' clock at night and munch on these plates that were made at nine in the morning that day. This includes eggs, fish, ham...and other categories that some might agree taste best fresh. I think we can all see where I stand on this issue. Not my fav. Culturally amazing, but not my fav. 

Bilbao is famous for the Guggenheim. It's a small city, but this museum is home to a few Pollock's. I didn't go in to the museum, I spent most of the time with the giant spider that chills behind it by the river. It's as weird as it sounds. I don't expect anything less, coming from an art center. 

San Sebastian had it's beach. One of Hemingway's go-to vacation spots, if anyone is curious. You can Google Image it. Something about lying down in the cold sand, the same spot Hemingway dug his feet into decades ago. I felt an overwhelming connection with this stranger of a writer I never met.

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Basque Country, Basque surfing. Just out here, keeping it trill. Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo 

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Cage the Elephant

Similar to the Cheetah Girls, there is one more band that takes over the life of a millennial. Three words: Cage the Elephant. The truth, you are either team love or hate.

When I was in seventh grade, I was new to town. When everyone at the local bus stop would gossip, I had my headphones plugged in playing "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked." 

That was over ten years ago, because I was a fan before their debut album dropped. 

Three Italians and I, made our way to Sala Riviera. We got lost, seven months in Madrid and still getting lost. You have no idea how many Concierto Riviera's there are in the La Latina barrio. Several.  A few times we had to use the aseos, this required stopping for cervezas because local shops obvi want our financial support first.  

We missed the first act, which I was personally okay with because I still don't remember their name. We arrived on time and I jammed out, singing every lyric, every word, with three Italians who were equally involved, but lacking similar memories that I used to connect with C.T.E.

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The group members were lit. Matt and Brad Shultz, Daniel, Jared, and Lincoln. Lit names. First, I'm in love with Matt. He owned the stage. Everyone stood still, working their instruments, but Matt, he didn't stop to take a breath once. He ran from one side of the stage to the other, screaming "Nashville, Tennessee." He swung his arms everywhere in his "Tokyo" studded jacket. His flaming reddish hair dripped in sweat. Daniel stood right-downstage, strumming his bass guitar, lighting cigarettes, and living in the music he produced. 

The passion was there. I've seen Beyonce. I've seen T-Swift. I've even seen Kanye. They all bring it, they do. But Cage the Elephant was another level of beauty. 

One side of this story is, I'm in Madrid and I went to go see a band from Nashville Tennessee... I get it. The thing is, sometimes a taste of home in a foreign city can be comforting, even when you don't realize you need the comfort. Many times I forget celebrities have international fans. I think of Drake and I only picture Americans singing a long to his songs. I forget that Italy, China, Australia, Denmark, Chile, and more are singing the same chorus in another time zone, another hemisphere. To be placed in a pit of Spanish speakers all waving their arms and singing the wrong words to songs they maybe listened to as much as me, it was, for lack of a better word, breathtaking. 

Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo

Spanish Resolutions

I know I promised a post on my new years resolutions. Hinting at it the numerous times that I did. There's just a couple issues with that idea of a post which I didn't think about at the time. The good news, while teaching, something better got my attention. 

I gave my students an assignment to come up with three new years resolutions as a class. This took me about thirty minutes to carry out. This is because it takes me five minutes to get to class, four minutes to let the kids file in, another seven to take attendance, nine minutes to get them as close to under control as possible, and finally five minutes to give the assignment. Long story simplified: yes, it takes thirty minutes for me to say "I spent my New Year in Boston, these are my resolutions..." Teaching the lower levels ain't easy. I finally understand how my high school Latin teacher felt while trying to educate me. Probably no surprise I can only remember one word, "est" translates to "is" in the present tense. And even that might be wrong.

SO, I provided examples of my own:

  1. Eat healthier (more veggies)
  2. Exercise three times a week
  3. Travel around Spain
  4. Expand my vocabulary, both English and Spanish

^I call these my fake resolutions. Because I'm twenty three years old and I can promise you that eating healthier while living in Spain where three out of their five main dishes are deep fried in oil, and their only beverage being beer- it is just not going to happen right now.

I can't post my real resolutions in public, for reasons...

but these are my resolutions as sugared down that I could make them:

  1. Stop sending raunchy snapchats
  2. Free the Nip 
  3. Don't smoke as many cigarettes
  4. Eat more sushi

SO, I didn't get mad at my students for coming up with the following three resolutions as a class. I simply, just understood.

  1. Buy more video games
  2. Be rich
  3. Pass English class
  4. Eat more fish

I think I would be best friends with those angsty pre-teens if I was born post 2000 as well. I like where their mind is at. They never fail to send me surprises like this. Who would have thought, eat more fish and your life will be at peace.

Peace, Love, Fish.

Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo 

12 Grapes

Happy 2017! Here's to the new year and the new me, I guess everybody is saying it. I came home for the holidays, it's been a while. I miss Spain. I need to get back. 

I have a story I want to tell the world. I thought, no better place to write it. Three weeks ago I was in Madrid, in Valdebernardo, teaching my super cool high schoolers. I just finished a presentation on my holiday traditions. Their task was to write a paragraph discussing similar topics. I walked around, reading over shoulders, editing, correcting grammar. It took me a good half a period to realize Diego, Jesus, Maria, Alba, Manuel, Jorge, Gemma, and every other thirteen year old in the classroom were attempting to form sentences around the same noun: grapes. Uvas

Grapes are good, delicious if it's hot outside, but I'm not crazy about having grapes as a winter holiday dessert. I didn't understand the obsession. Apple cobbler, hot chocolate, and peppermint bark por favor. It was eventually explained that Spain has a New Years Eve tradition, which involved grapes. 

Supposedly Spaniards count down the new year with the last twelve seconds instead of the last ten. In those twelve seconds, you eat twelve grapes. The goal is to eat one grape per second. I believe it's meant to bring you luck, wealth, love, and all that fun stuff. 

I was in Boston for the new year. I told all my friends about the grapes so we went to the seven-eleven down the road and picked out a bunch of grapes. Grapes from seven-eleven sound a little sketchy now that I'm reflecting back on the memory. 

12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1... I couldn't do it. It's not easy to chew that fast. My older brother once peeled and ate a clementine in ten seconds, he was going for the world record. 

I should have got my grape-eating countdown on video, as proof. Just believe me, I guess. Mostly it was me giggling, screaming, and shoveling grapes in my friends' mouths as well as my own. My friends and I made a pact to practice our grape-eating on the last Sunday of every month until new years eve came around again. Surely twelve days should be enough. Surely...

Keep life trill. Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

Flo

5 Spanish Trends

I don't consider this my New Years resolution list, because I have particular things on that list that I will be sharing for another time. 

Since living in Spain, I picked up on a few cultural trends in the lifestyle and fashion department. I'm turning this into a check list of things I want to add to my life in the new year- again, these are not my resolutions. 

1. Number one is going to be rollerblading. Rollerblading was my childhood. I would say I used to rollerblade with my next door neighbor the way some kids used to ride their bike. This was before the iPhone of course. Everybody rollerblades in Spain. Three kids I tutor: Jimena, Javier, and Gadea, rollerblade every Monday and Wednesday evenings in Retiro Park. Once, while walking out of The Good Burger (McDonalds on steroids) at around eleven o' clock at night, a couple was rollerblading by, holding hands and wearing light-up jewelry. 

I don't think about my rollerblading years too often, but Spain is sparking that part of my brain into action again. 

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2. Number two is dark lipstick. The kind of dark lipstick that Kylie Jenner is obsessed with. Dark purple, almost brown. Dark blue, almost black. Nobody wears pink lipstick. 'No pink lipstick' kills me. Anybody who knows me would say I was born with bubblegum pink lips. Pink lips are my thing. I've decided if picking a new lip color is what's required to fit in with the local chicas, then I choose a dark plum purple. I'll photograph my final selection.

3. The white sneakers. This could have been a trend in America as well, I've heard rumors about it. But everyone knows I was in Africa last year, so give me a little break- the trends still new to me. There isn't much to say about this other then, you must own a pair of white sneakers. Preferably Adidas, Puma, or Nike. If you wear New Balance, the Spaniards prefer those to be in color. It's about the only thing they would ever be caught dead wearing in a color other than black, dark purple, gray, or brown.

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4. The difference between platform shoes in America and platform shoes in Spain is that people in America just like to say they wear platforms, when in reality it's really only about a half inch subtle heel. Platform shoes in Spain are worn by everyone. Older women, high schoolers, strippers, young adults- everyone is wearing platforms. The platforms look like you just sawed off a block of wood from shop class and superglued it to the bottom of your boot and painted it black. Not going to lie, I love it, I want it, I need it.

5. Last I have pom poms. If you don't know what I'm talking about, the pom pom looks like a ball of fluff pinned to your back pack or purse like a key chain. A ball of fake fur, in other words. Or maybe real fur...

It's cool. It screams posh if worn with the proper outfit. I'm determined to add one of these to my collection of accessories as soon as I get my next pay check.  

I'm not in touch with American fashion as much as I used to anymore. It's sad but I also enjoy the slow evolution of what my wardrobe is turning into. It's a different life out here and sometimes writing these words isn't enough to capture the way I feel.

Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo 

Cheetah Girls

When I was nine, a Disney Channel Original Movie was released that changed my world, The Cheetah Girls, starring Raven Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan, and Kiely Williams. Disney went on to produce a sequel, The Cheetah Girls 2.

YouTube can't seem to produce a good quality trailer. Here's the best its got:

 

The Cheetah Girls 2 is the story of four girlfriends who travel to Barcelona to become *~*SUPERSTARS~ !! I wanted to be just like them. I still do. In fact, four years ago I bought a cheetah print bodycon dress due to the mass amounts of cheetah girl soul that still burns within me. 

My mother, father, and grandparents came to Madrid for a visit. We had no big plans except for eating, drinking, shopping, and more drinking. I could live peacefully if I never ate a croquette again in my lifetime. Aside from this list, we had one other major task on our "to do" list. Can you guess? 

BARCELONA

We woke up at five in the morning to catch the six am speed train heading straight for that cheetah-licious destination. Our boy, Nicolas, showed us around the city. I liked him. He was young, but graying slightly. He had an earring that was not proportionate to his head size, and a flannel print flat cap. He was boss, and by my definition, quite trill. 

Our first stop was Museu Nacional D'art de Catalunya. Standing on the front steps you see an incredible view of the city. Clouds or sunshine, it's breathtaking.

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The four white columns in the picture above were my favorite architectural monuments of the city. I understand this sounds crazy considering Barcelona is the motherland of Gaudi. Sometimes all the grand designs in the world can't satisfy the unexplainable aesthetic pleasure found in the simplicity of these four columns. Who really knows, maybe these four columns are actually real ornate and I sound like an idiot. I didn't ask about their history. I find many times it's better to keep your own imagination than ruin it with facts. 

Moving on.

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This here was Gaudi's church. Gaudi was a famous Spanish Catalan architect if you haven't picked up on that yet. Gaudi died in a carriage-tram accident on his way to this church. It's lovely, isn't it, how the most elaborate, detailed, over the top designer finds haven in a place as bland and beautiful such as this. I get that this picture still portrays Europe, and to the normal eye this might look as far from bland as possible. Google image "Sagrada Familia"....catch my drift?

Barcelona is magical. I truly do love it. But as great as it is, Madrid is home, and always will be home as long as I live in Spain.

Live Large and Sparkle. 

XO,

 

Flo

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Madrid is a different being in the winter. 'Tis the season. I could almost say it happened overnight. The city went from gray and cold, to this:

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In my opinion, I think New York might take the win on the worlds greatest Christmas tree, but Madrid puts up a good fight. The lights are mesmerizing.  Unfortunately all the bulbs like to turn off at around 1:30 in the morning, which is somewhat hypocritical since Madrid sleeps less than the Big Apple. 

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Only a couple weeks ago, half of the Hadid family were represented all over that billboard. 

The lights got hung up around the beginning of November. Santa's elves would hang  the unlit lights late at night. The elves would do it in front of every passer-by on the street. For those who observed, it was easy to question where they were going with the design. Magically enough, it seems to have worked quite well. I need to remember to never doubt the creative minds from the North Pole. The lighting ceremony took place on Thanksgiving this year, how ironic. 

I've never felt such a dramatic change within a community, simply due to an upcoming holiday. Every plaza has its own market. Although, I'm somewhat confused, the most popular market items up for sale are a variety of colored wigs (more on that later). You can have your choice of red, pink, dark purple, blue, glitter green, and red violet. I'm confident when I say every store has been officially stocked since last Monday. 

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Starbucks holiday cups clutter the hands of locals, tourists, and me. I'm a regular order of the Gingerbread Latte Christmas Blend, grande.  Every corner has some sort of merry-go-round. I even saw a cotton candy stand chilling on the side of the road today. A young adult was eating a pink wad of it while dressed as a cow. It's all kind of incredible. The city turned in to a giant festival. 

All of the merriment floating around in the air is making me even more excited for the month of December to finally begin.

Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo

High School Never Ends

I'm twenty-three years old. I went to high school in a small suburban Connecticut town called Cheshire, or as we locals call it, "the shire." I still know very little Spanish. If we are on the topic of "subjects  I struggle with"- there's also science. 

I'm not going to discuss how I got in to AP senior biology, and I'm not going to brush up on the mitosis exam from level one sophomore biology- those are stories for another time. 

Thus, it must have been my personality that convinced IES  Valdebernardo biology teacher, Myriam, that I was a perfect fit for the excursion to Casa de Campo.

Casa de Campo is: an amusement park, a swimming pool, a lake, a running trail, and from my observation, much more. According to locals, it's the largest park in all of Europe. Kind of cool. 

I was joining an older crowd for the excursion to Casa de Campo, the seniors. The English program was after their time, leaving Myriam and I as the only English speakers. 

Should be interesting.

It started with a Spanish lecture that I quite enjoyed. Continuing with a hike to the lake and a Pokemon Go session. Once we arrived at our destination within Casa de Campo, we dropped the science kits, the netted poles, the gloves and the garbage bags.

Meanwhile, I was doing my own experiment: am I intellectually capable of piecing together what this senior biology class is testing. 

Stand by, here I provide the following observations:

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I watched as they taped the garbage bags to the ground, strapped on rubber gloves, and dunked the netted poles into a highly contaminated lake. I carefully took note as the kids opened their science kits and unfolded a chart containing colorful squares.

Thats when it all came together: PH Values, how acidic is the water! I don't know what that means, it's only what I remember. The lingering left-overs from my high school experience.

The rest of the excursion went by smoothly. We hiked back to the main building and I helped the kids unload their bacteria into the microscopes.

With the conclusion of our day, I was struck with a thought: Truly, no matter which country, which high school, or which language, it will always be the same PH Value science experiment. These small outings to places like Casa de Campo just adds to the fact that this world is much smaller than people believe. In a way, the PH Value science project unites us. 

I think it's beautiful.

Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

Flo

The Cutest and Most Basic Thing to Do in Madrid

The cutest and most basic thing to do in Madrid is obvious. What comes to mind when I say, "melted dark chocolate, dough, and calories?"

It's easy.

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Churros. 

This picture is documented evidence of my first-ever churro. On a cozy and chilly night, a few of my girlfriends and I checked out Chocolatería San Ginés, the oldest chocolatería in Madrid. It was cute and quaint, located in the center of Sol. Although crowded, I didn't feel trapped. The staff was inviting, and the kid at the register didn't say a word when I ordered twelve. 

Of course, every girl, basic and non-basic, takes a pic with a churro. It's kind of a thing. 

My conclusion on the product? Good not great. I personally felt the chocolate could have been darker and slightly more bitter. Still, I'd go back.

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I don't expect this to be my last time eating chocolate con churros considering I only have a handful of months before they disappear from my life for a while. I'm currently in search of new basic foods to post. Stay tuned for next month!

Live Large and Sparkle.

XO,

 

Flo

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