Top 13 of '13 - A Year in Review

It's now 2014, and everyone is excited for having another chance at a fresh start to accomplish our goals. But before embarking on a new year, here were my highlights of 2013!  It was hard to pick just 13 things because so much happened all year long, but these were all times that impacted my life in some way.

1) Hardest semester of pharmacy school (Spring of second year) -  I will admit that this past fall semester of the 3rd year was pretty difficult, but I was only able to succeed through it because of  growing tremendously during the PY2 spring semester. I "perfected" my study habit (about time, right?) and, along with the help of friends, survived monthly calendars that looked like this:

2) Seeing my parents finish their first half marathon in Disney - My parents were once again examples of perseverance and dedication by completing their first half marathon, and I even got to see it! The Princess Half Marathon was fun to watch, with all of the costumes and the free entrance to the park.  I even saw an old friend from UF! You can read more about my parents' experience in my Mom's blog HERE.

3) Walking through the Colosseum in Rome - The Colosseum was the first site Errol and I visited during our summer trip to Italy. I'll never forget the excitement I felt walking through the entrance for the first time and seeing the massive structure. In that moment, I thought "Ahh... I'm finally in Italy."

4) Seeing Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica - We did so many things in Rome that it was difficult to cut down to two things, but seeing the Pope was something I never thought would happen. I planned that trip down to the hour, and seeing the Pope was something I thought I would have to wait in line and pay to do so it was never on my radar (and I also assumed he was out of town). To be able to see the Pope after attending mass in St. Peter's Basilica was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5) Wine tasting in Greve in Chianti - In the Italian wine country, it's almost required to do a wine tasting. My first introduction to red wines was a positive experience, and I'm hopeful that some day I will graduate to that level. But the really special part was the food plate we got to try with the wines, full of meats and cheeses (and that delicious 10-year-old balsamic vinegar).

6) Riding a scooter through the Tuscan hillside - I know, it's super cliche. But it's cliche for a reason... it was an amazing experience! Lucky for me, I didn't drive so I got to spend 95% concentration on the amazing landscape (5% concentrating to stay as still as possible so that I didn't cause imbalance with the scooter). Honestly, the entire time in Greven should be counted as a "Top 13".

7) Attending a cooking class in Florence - While this class was pretty basic (i.e., teaching how to properly cut an onion), I have made dishes from this cooking class numerous times already and will always have it to talk about. The experience also started with a cheese and balsamic vinegar tasting... yum.

8) Getting lost around Venice - Venice in itself is an experience. It was a good thing we did Venice last because at this point in the trip Errol and I were a bit arts'd out (see what I did there?) and the entire island is a labyrinth of things to see. The best part about Venice is to simply ride the vaporetto and get off at every stop, seeing something new each time. Don't walk across the Rialto bridge, ride underneath it and see it's beauty.

9) Attending the Utah School of Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies - Right after the trip to Italy, it was less than 48 hours before I was off to Salt Lake City, UT for an experience that changed my views on the disease of addiction and those suffering from it. It opened my perspective and increased my understanding and tolerance of this deadly, chronic disease.

10) Road trip to Ann Arbor, MI - One of my closest friends in pharmacy school went to University of Michigan, and since our first year to see each others' football stadiums. It took 3 years, but we finally did it! We didn't go to just any game, but "Under The Lights 2" against Notre Dame (and the last time they would play them). It was only their second night game ever, and the halftime show was pretty amazing! "The Big House" did not disappoint.

11) Road trip to Gainesville, FL - Second round of road trips was back to The Swamp where we got to see the Gators actually win against Tennessee. I'm so glad we went earlier in the season. It was so much fun to be back in the stands for a game, and for the first time as an alumna!

12) Finding out my aunt was alive after Typhoon Haiyan - In November, one of the strongest typhoons in recorded history directly hit the city of Tacloban and surrounding islands. Tacloban is where my mom is from, and her only sister and 2 aunts still live in the city. For days my mom did not know what happened to her, and only had devastating pictures all over the internet to search. It wasn't until someone wrote on her Facebook that she was alive, that we could finally have a good night sleep. My family was even on the Central Florida news! You can see the clip HERE.

13) Celebrating the end of the year with a progressive dinner and fireworks - This was a unique way to celebrate the new year! Between 3 different families, one family did appetizers, another did entree, and we did desserts. Festivities began at 6PM and it was a nice, relaxing night with good company. There were even some leftover fireworks from July 4th so we got to shoot some pretty nice ones! It was a great end to 2013, and start to 2014.

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