Jesus and Jolie

I spent my birthday weekend relaxing with Mama Kulka in the beautiful country of Malta.

Don’t know where Malta is? That’s okay. I’m not completely sure either, and I just spent five days there.

Malta is a little country below Italy, half way between Siciliy and North Africa, and it encompasses five islands. It is the world’s most catholic country, second only to the city-state of the Vatican. Also, the film industry is a big deal there; Troy, Gladiator, Pompeii, World War Z and Game of Thrones were all filmed on Malta.

In fact, the Maltese man who picked me up from the airport informed me that Angelina Jolie had sat in the exact same car and the exact same seat as I was sitting in. He then told me all about how nice of a lady she is and how stunning she is in person. The news on Brad Pitt is that he’s aged significantly, but is also nice.

Almost everywhere you go, you are bound to see a signed photo of Angelina Jolie or have a native tell you about the time they met her. For such a devout country, I wasn’t sure who was more important: Jolie, or the big J.C.

Anyways, I think that the reason why it took me so long to write about Malta is because nothing really happened.

Well, lots happened. My mother and I toured the main islands with very pleasant tour guides, ate at great restaurants, sampled local liqueurs and had relaxing massages at our resort’s spa.

But nothing really happened.

There were no flights that were almost missed, no peculiar strangers to talk to, no crumpled maps to decipher. In fact, things were almost too easy. We even stumbled upon an International Fireworks Festival, with competitors from all over the world, that just happened to be going on in a village we visited.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved having another relaxing vacation from the vacation that is my life, and I enjoy massages, nice restaurants and sitting in the same Mercedes Benz as Miss Jolie herself. But, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing.

Clearly, I’ve been spoiled by a steady dose of adrenaline running through my veins these past few months.

Resort life isn’t too bad I guess…

21 Before 21.

At the start of this year, I decided that I wanted to have 21 incredible experiences before my 21st birthday as a birthday gift to myself and motivation to constantly be seeking adventure. These were the moments that made me feel alive, took my breath away, made me smile or made me cry from joy. Without further ado, here are the top 21 experiences of my semester abroad up to today.

1. Moved to Barcelona for the semester.

2. Saw the Les Misérables musical live in London.

3. Climbed the Eiffel Tower.

4. Saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum.

5. Ate macaroons at the famous Ladurée bakery in Paris.

6. Returned to Chicago for the 76th Annual White and Red Ball.

7. Did yoga at 5 a.m. with GRiZ in Switzerland.

8. Had a Turkish bath in Istanbul.

9. Hiked all 15 miles of the Cinque Terre in Italy.

10. Ate at a 3-star Michelin rated restaurant in Rome.

11. Experienced Easter at the Vatican, and even saw Pope Francis up close.

12. Saw the masterpieces of Italy: Michelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s Last Supper and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli.

13. Ran a 10k for the first time.

14. Visited the island of Formentera, the filming location of my favorite Spanish Movie, Lucía y el Sexo.

15. Spent a day completely naked in public.

16. Met a man who makes me happy. Plot twist, not a Spaniard.

17. Visited over 21 European cities.

18. Flew on 21 flights in four months.

19. Was blessed with a few new best friends.

20. Hit 10,000 views on my blog.

21. Celebrated my 21st birthday with my mother at a five star resort on the island of Gozo, in Malta.

Just being fabulously 21 in Gozo
Just being fabulously 21 in Gozo