My future home!  If I could pick a place to live in Italy, I choose Milan!

I have not shared much about the behind the scenes of our trip. The schedule ALWAYS CHANGED!! It was very frustrating for me personally, because I like knowing what is going on when I’m in a new place.

So the joke about our last day is that for some reason, I thought we were playing earlier in the day. So when I got up that morning I just decided to kill two birds with one stone and wear my volleyball uniform and warm ups. This was not a big deal until 11 o’clock hit, and we were all walking around in the city of Milan and I was ridiculously hot! I had no choice but to take off my warm up pants... so if you can imagine this I was walking around Milan in my USA Jersey and my navy spandex! 

Phil McDaniel would not have been happy. He didn’t like it when we walked from the HPER to Larson commons with just our Spandex on. But by this time of the trip, all the looks and points didn’t even faze me; I was numb to the gawking eyes and stare downs from all the locals in every town we had visited in the past nine days. 

Milan has everything I could possibly want. Shopping centers eight floors high, the most gorgeous cathedral I have ever seen in St. Stephens, and the galleria, which basically contains all the higher-end designers such as Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Lacoste etc... Oh yes, I was walking around in the Galleria spandex and all! :)  I have no shame in admitting it; it was pretty hilarious to see the store manager’s reactions. 

The Galleria has four entrances each leading out to the different corners of the Main Square. Each entrance is adorned with huge exuberant arches, all connected by a big dome in the very heart and center of the Galleria. Something that blew me away was that the interior four corners of the Galleria were inhabited by these four stores Prada, Gucci, Armani and McDonalds!  CRAZY RIGHT?  But Oh yes, the almighty McDonalds franchise made it’s way to position itself next to the elite designers of the fashion world.  I couldn’t believe it! 

My favorite place in the entire city, besides the shops, was St. Stephens Cathedral. This was such a holy and sacred place that there was a dress code to get in. You had to have your shoulders and legs covered completely also closed toed shoes were preferred. 

Now, after I passed the security checkpoint I entered the enormous cathedral. The interior was breath taking, I was almost moved to tears!  Between the choir, the wooden pews, stained glass windows, the internal décor and overall ambiance; I had never seen such a beautiful place!

But all good things must come to an end. The shopping/self-touring day was over. We all met up at the bus station and were shuttled to the gym. This would be our last game overseas. It was very bittersweet. We ended up playing several games and each team took wins.

I truly enjoyed getting to know and play with all my teammates. From the beginning of the trip, I was extremely excited to meet all these new people; coaches, teammates, basketball players and all involved with making the entire trip run as smoothly as possible. 

This trip opened my eyes to the world! Not only to meeting different people across the U.S., but learning about different cultures and creating contacts within the volleyball community worldwide! 

After the match we went back to the hotel and deliberated on how we all wanted to spend our last night in Europe! We decided to go out and party! 

We showered, got ready, called the cabs and were on our way! The bars in Milan are very similar to the bars in America, most are themed. There are pubs, clubs, tropical, country, rock etc...

There were vendors walking the street with flashy roses and light-up bracelets and necklaces trying to coax men into buying them for the women they were pursuing. It was very entertaining watching the European men work their ‘A’ game and try and win our attention.

Side Note: I still cannot get over the fact that every bar we went into the music that was playing was ALL AMERICAN; rarely did I ever hear any European music being played.

After all was said and done, the bars began to close and we jumped into some cabs. Upon our return, the night was creeping into the dawn and our tour group was leaving at 5 a.m.!  Most of us slept about 45 minutes to an hour, maybe, before getting up to leave for the airport.

...........Homeward bound to the USA..........