Tales from Italy ch.11: Work, Study, Feasts, and Deep-Sleepers
Since coming back from Paris, I’ve become overwhelmed in studying and work. Exams are coming up soon, and all my books are in Italian so they take forever to read. Sometimes, I read at work when I don’t have students come in. (By the way, I work at Urbino as a TA for English. Sometimes I have office hours, sometimes I work in a class). Up until the last two weeks, I’ve only had one student- EVER. Since exams are close, that number has quadrupled. I don’t mind, especially because the last 3 days I worked I had 3-hour long shifts to make up for time lost while traveling, and having a student makes the time pass much quicker.
Also during my office hours, I’ve been working with Peter Cullen, the liaison for Villanova (a university in the states) students at Urbino. He, Ryan and I are working on our Independent Carrots radio program and trying to set up an internship plan for future students studying abroad here. I think it’s a fantastic idea and am having a blast doing it.
Between all this and the seemingly non-stop studying, it’s always good to reward oneself for hard work. Lately, we’ve all been taking turns at cooking breakfast on the weekend. Twice I’ve made pancakes, ze Germans (+ our lovely Austrian, Monika) have made Fruchtsalat (fruit salad), and Laura has learned how to make bagels- and they’re SO good. Bagels are just one of those things you never think about learning how to make because they’re so mass-produced in the states. You can buy them on a whim for almost nothing. Unfortunately, here in Italy, there are no bagels and the several-month depravity of them has really taken a toll on us Americans. It’s pretty awesome that we can have them again -this time home-made – and be able to share them with our European friends 🙂
Another feasty-type reward has come in the form of brownies. In the package my mom sent me for Easter, she included some brownie mix. Like bagels, brownies are just another American “delicacy” we miss so much here. They turned out pretty good considering I made them in a toaster oven and had to convert all the measurements. Delicious as always, they were a belated b-day gift for Monika, and a lovely accompaniment to our study-reward-party of watching Ice Age 1,2, and 3.
On May 10th, Laura and I were supposed to leave for Germany and visit our lovely Caroline. As you can gather from the past-tense of “were,” it didn’t happen, and we were really bummed. It got to be the night before we were leaving when we learned that the airport, Frankfurt Hahn, is actually 2 hours away by bus from the city of Frankfurt. Since our plane was arriving around 10:40 at night, the earliest we could get to Frankfurt city was 1am, and from there we’d have to take a train to Wurzburg, where our friend lived. The difficult thing was that trains didn’t run at that hour, our carpool plan didn’t work out, and Laura had been sick for the past two days- sleeping in a train station wouldn’t have done her any good. So after making the hard decision to not go, Monika went with me to Laura’s room to tell her. She had gone to bed early, not feeling well. We felt terrible waking her up, but we felt this was important. When we got there, we knocked on her door, called her several times, and called her name, yet there was no response. We could hear the phone going off inside her room meaning she was home, but her complete unresponsiveness made us really worried. So, after a few more tries, Monika left to get the front desk to open her door and make sure she was ok. When they arrived -and with our friend, Chiara as well- the 4 of us opened Laura’s door to find that she was sound asleep in her bed; even the presence of 4 people in her room, with the lights on, didn’t wake her up.
Satisfied that she was alright, and that she was sick enough to sleep so deeply, Monika and I wrote to Caroline ourselves to tell her the bad news. With the promise of visiting Germany one day, I would see her again, just not in the near future 🙁
At this point in the semester, my budget was running a bit tight, and money was a regular part of my thoughts. This all changed when I was paid for my TA job at long last. Apparently the check had been available since March, which I don’t understand since I never even signed a contract saying how much I should earn/ how many hours to work, and at that point I had just started. Nonetheless, pay day actually made my eyes tear. I received 6x the amount I expected- a whopping 1500 euro. I went to the bank immediately and put it into my Italian account here. Afterwards, I picked up some vegetables and chicken with the plan to make a celebration soup for dinner with my friends. When I got home, I wrote my parents about the good news, and told them that they could finally deposit a $360 check I had written them in February for my hostel and other stuff in Athens. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this financially comfortable. It’s going to be a great help when I have to send stuff home, and for the traveling I’ll be doing (Rome, Bari, Austria, and Greece) before heading home on July 2nd.
That evening, the chicken noodle soup was delicious. I had never even made soup before! Recipe for keeping:
-dice potatoes and chicken, add to boiling broth
-add small noodles
-once all this seems somewhat cooked, add diced celery, carrots, onions, and olives
-add spices as desired
In all, it was a wonderful ending to a great/ work-filled week, and that Monday I was off to Padova and Ferrara with Sonja and Laura.