A Spanish Halloween

Hey all. So, I know it’s been way too long since I last wrote, but I have some pretty good excuses: I just got back from my ten day break, which I spent in both Barcelona and Altomonte, in Calabria- with a little pit-stop in Siena in between, and I have been without internet for some time because I couldn’t get to the store to pay a ridiculous amount for credit.

Anyway, I guess this blog will be solely about Barcelona as the three days that I stayed there are packed full of events.

Getting to Barcelona was not in the least bit easy, and actually took a ridiculous amount of time out of the trip (I will get more into my disgust for the actual process of traveling later). I, along with six other girls first headed to Rome via city bus, then took the metro to the Rome airport. In theory this sounds relatively easy, but wait until you step into the Rome airport, where no one else knows any better than you how to get from one place to another. We took a nice walk around the entire airport before we ended up in the same spot that we started- which of course was ironically where we needed to be all along. From there we took a plane to Barcelona, and finally a city bus and a taxi to our hostel. Arriving at 3am is not a good idea- so I suggest anyone who thinks they will arrive at midnight but has yet to factor in all the traveling mishaps: be warned! We sat, a bit slap-happy from overtiredness, and a bit desolate because we couldn’t get in the barred door that would lead us to what we hoped would be our beautiful beds, for about 20 minutes before I decided to ask two random people who “looked american,” if they new of another hostel that was open at this hour. Amazingly, the two men happened to be walking by at that time because they stayed in the same hostel and were returning home from a night out! Although they played jokes on us for a while, and wouldn’t let us in without first getting the attendant (which isn’t a bad thing… but was a little upsetting considering our current 3:30am state of being). Finally we were let in and basically crashed until around 10 ish the next day:

Emily and I took it upon ourselves to feed our caffeine addiction as soon as possible that morning. But not before snooping around the hostel a bit- which turned out to be incredible. I would recommend San Jordi’s Hostel for anyone traveling to Barcelona in the near future. First there was the factor of cleanliness, then the part with free internet (okay, I guess I had access while I was there, but I was too busy trying to jam pack my three days there too stop and update), high pressured showers, a kitchen, communal food, and AMAZING people (and I’m including both the people who worked there and the people that stayed in the equation). Anyway, Emily and I found a really nice place to eat, (thanks to our blues-guitar-playing attendant), and ended up having the first semblance of an American breakfast I have had here. I got an omelet with mushrooms in it, that came with some tomato tapas, and Emily got a fried egg and fried potatoes (which, to her dismay, implied french fries, and not hash browns).  We walked around the entire day and I noticed that despite the big-city look of Barcelona, there was something in the air that made me feel lighter and happier than I find myself accustomed to feeling in either Chicago or New York. I think some of the Italian ideals towards efficiency may have trickled over to Spain, where I found everyone to be equally as lax and easy going as I have in Italy. This first occurred to me during a conversation with the same attendant I mentioned before- where the possibly disastrous fact that Emily and I booked a different San Jordi’s hostel than our friends- turned out to be a don’t worry about it- pay later when you want- type deal. After walking around for a bit and returning to the hostel for a short nap, Emily and I set out for some good Spanish food only to arrive at a Subway about half an hour later. Because Europe actually has food standards, Subway, (and the McDonalds too- which I refused to try but my friends did), had really good quality food and we were completely satisfied.

A day with Emily in Barcelona

A day with Emily in Barcelona

Our Hostel, too add to the list of it’s immense awesomeness, plans events every night in which all antendee’s are invited to. These events aren’t some card-game or costume party type deal, they are getting VIP access into all of the best clubs around the city center (the hostel was located in the best part of the city)- and really means passing all the hour long lines and going straight into the bars for gratis. Yea, that means free. So, we got a bit dressed up in celebration of the day before Halloween, and set out to a club called Elephant.

The next day I decided to do some more sight seeing with some girls that I met at the hostel. The name Salvador Dali came up in conversation the night before, and Alice (a Brazilian girl staying at the hostel) told me that she planned on going to his house- which was only two hours away in a small town called Figures. I was so enthralled by the idea, that I made an entirely unnecessary scene in the kitchen and she promised that we could go together the next day. Unfortunately, and to my horror, we woke up at 12 and didn’t make it until the train station until 2.30, where we discovered that the museum closes at 4, and there would be no point in making the two hour bus ride down there today. I tried to put my upset to use though- instead of heading home, we decided to venture to Park Guell, which was unbelievably beautiful and peaceful.

Park Guell, Barcelona

Park Guell, Barcelona

The park was immense and was decorated with incredible mosaics and sculptures all done by Antonio Gaudi. For those of you who haven’t seen his architectural genius, you should look him up. We sat in the park, listening to live music and taking in all the sun possible (because it’s already freezing in Siena), for about 3 hours before we decided to go back to the hostel.

Preparation for Halloween: I was a policeman. I know, it’s not that innovative, but all I had to buy was a hat and a badge and I was set. Cheap (ish because it actually was incredibly expensive for what it was) is the way to go. After dressing up in whatever we could piece together, we all headed out to a Karaoke bar where some of my friends and I took the liberty of sharing our oh-so-beautiful voices to the public. It was my first time singing karaoke and I vow to always do it again because singing “Hot in Here” by Nelly was about the funniest thing I have ever done.

Spanish Halloween

Final full day in Barcelona and I yet again missed out on the chance to see Dali. I am still incredibly disappointed, but Lauren and I, (another girl I met at the hostel who is studying abroad in Perugia, Italy), decided to visit the Gaudi museum and make the most of the day. The building was amazing and the rooftop even more so- with odd and beautiful structures jutting out at ever turn. The sun was out too, which made the idea of renting bikes on the beach a great one. First we had another not-so-traditional Spanish dish of chips and guacamole on the boardwalk, and next we headed over to the bike rental, where we were allotted bikes for two hours (both of which were spent either riding along the boardwalk or laying on the sand next to us on the beach).

Lauren, with the remnants of our chips and guacamole

Lauren, with the remnants of our chips and guacamole

Me trying a mask on at one of the stands along the boarkwalk

Me trying a mask on at one of the stands along the boarkwalk


Gaudi Museum

Gaudi Church

Gaudi Museum Rooftop

Returning to the hostel, I felt an immense sense of homliness, which is great to feel when you are tired and you just want a comfortable, safe place to rest. I ended up being somewhat of a couch potato- watching two movies and falling to sleep. While everyone else was getting ready to go out, I was packing for the plane that I would take early next morning. It was really nice to just sit and relax though- especially after having the feeling of needed to see as much as possible in a little amount of time.

I made the long trek home the next day- partly with Emily, who was leaving for Dublin, and partly by myself (which I was nervous about). After not speaking Italian for three days (or really, trying to speak Italian only to realize that English was better understood), I felt like I lost my language skills completely, and was dumbfounded for a while upon my return to Siena. It’s scary to think about how much I will inevitably lose when I leave Italy. Even with taking classes and talking to my family, Italian will no longer be in my every… moment.

When I got back to Siena, I headed over to my friend Rodolfo’s house (he lives in Siena and is currently studying law… I actually met him through my cousin- who I would be going to Calabria the next day to meet for the first time), where I slept the night and most of the next day. Actually, while with him, I probably did about all the cliche “Italian” things possible: I drove on a vespa, watched a soccer game, ate pasta, drank wine, and… well, that pretty much covers it. It was incredibly fun, and I’m really glad I have made some Italian friends. He really helped me get back into Italian mode before I headed to Altomonte, in Calabria to visit my only-italian-speaking- family.

Rodolfo's House

Rodolfo's House

More later.

San Gimignano and a little too much Ice Cream.

The past weekend I ended up taking a day trip with some friends to San Gimignano- which is about an hour away from Siena. It was completely beautiful there, and after climbing up 218 steps, we got to see the scenery in its full glory. After walking around for a bit like the tourists we were, we then decided to splurge the 5.50 euro for a really incredible “tour.” Which in actuality consisted of a ticket that permitted us into various places throughout the town. Splurge was obviously an exaggeration for all those who don’t understand my sarcasm. The museum was amazing- first there was the archeological exhibits, and then a room focused solely on one contemporary artist who I am now in love with- Giannetto Fieschi. There was also an incredible photographic exhibit called “Afinita” by Giuliano Briganti where he documents the construction of multiple projects through an incredibly interesting point of view. All who read this- if anyone really does- you should check it out.

Some pictures from San Gimignano:

We ended up waiting in a long, hectic line to sample some of the “world’s best ice cream,” which was actually, in my opinion, pretty tasty. I got cafe and hazelnut- two of my main flavors here.

Since i got back, i have mostly been taking classes and volunteering around the town. Tomorrow I am teaching fourth and fifth graders english- and i’m a bit nervous actually. Essentially my group director is showing us the school and leaving us there to figure out an hours worth of teaching for ourselves. I have back to back classes tomorrow, so wish me luck!

Unfortunately, Siena’s night life suffers significantly when university starts as most students stay home during the week nights to study. Plus, school is in session on saturday’s here too…so essentially saturday night is a major thing to look forward to each week. There are still bars and cafes open pretty late, so if we do decide to venture out, there is always something to do. Speaking of which- venturing out is not so easy around here. A lot of the time i have been here has been spent waiting for…something- the bus, a call, class to start, etc. My roommate and I attempted to go to the city a couple of nights ago and finally decided to call a cab after an hour of waiting for the number ten bus. Tonight it was late as well- and we were consequentially late for dinner. It’s actually really frustrating the amount of time i am in the state of anticipation. While i have come to terms with the italian idea of “being on time,” I have yet to completely shed my promptness and therefore am constantly in a state of anxiety! Okay, it’s not all that bad, but i cannot deny that I am frustrated at least once a day at the serious lack of any conception of time here.

Okay i’m going to bed because i need to be up early to volunteer at 9! See, there is the promptness again. I can’t get rid of it.

A Month?

My host mother informed me yesterday that it has been an entire month since i got here! Unbelievable. Time passes by so quickly and so slowly here: on one end, yes, I have been here for a month and I can’t believe it, but on the other, the concept of time that I have lived by all my life is obsolete in Italy. Time is not a thing to be set, to be finite, or to be agreed upon by any means. “Al’ ora di pranzo,” or literally, at the hour of lunch, implies a time anywhere from 1.00 to 3.oo in the afternoon. I unfortunately learned this the hard way- as I expected someone to call at 12, but had to wait an hour and a half to hear from them. But, I suppose that is all in the name of living the “Vita Bella,” or beautiful life- there is no beauty or enjoyment in constant efficiency: if this were so, you would have no time to sit down and sip your coffee, staring out the window at the mountainous landscape covered in tress.

My life lately has been mostly centered around volunteer work- which I am incredibly happy with. Namely, I have been volunteering at the Mensa de Poveri- or soup kitchen, for the past couple of weeks. Everyone is so friendly here and so ready to accept you into the group. There was no exception with the soup kitchen- which I found to be completely different from the one I volunteered at back in my home town of Oak Park. I don’t know why I was still surprised, but all those who come to the soup kitchen are greeted with three course meals and as much bread and water as they please. Everyone crowds to sit over a delicious, large, and warm meal- which I thought perfectly epitomized the very essence of life in Italy- good food, and good friends/ family. Though my language skills are sufficient enough volunteer without worry of totally misunderstanding, I can’t believe how much simply being there has helped me improve my abilities. Whether talking with the attendees, or with the staff afterward (all the volunteers are welcome to a family-style meal after work in which we similarly all crowd around one long table and eat pretty much the same delicious food that was served while the Mensa was still open), my vocabulary and ability to hold conversations in general has significantly improved. In addition to all this good, I met some really interesting/ incredible people while working there, and can never wait to go back.

Group picture on the beach at Viareggio

The most spectacular gelatto place I have ever seen, Florence

Mi in the Piazza del Campo, Siena

Via Del Amore e La Vita Bella

So I have been without internet for a while now, and let me tell you, it feels pretty good to not rely on technology once and a while. For the last four days I have been traveling Italy with my Siena Italian Studies group to Pisa, Viareggio, La Spezia and the Cinque Terre, and finally Lucca. Mostly we just walked until our bodies couldn’t take it anymore and then ate until our stomachs were more than fully satisfied. The food was incredible, and I’m pretty sure we were supplied food or a hundred instead of thirty.

In Pisa, of course, we saw the leaning tower- and yes, it does look the same as it does in postcards. Except a bit more real and a bit more surreal at the same time. Apparently not that long ago, the town made an attempt to stabilize the bottom by putting heave weights on one side and inserting cement into the base. As the tower is built on sand and as underneath that sand there is water- the plan didn’t really work and there was a mandatory evacuation of all surrounding houses just in case of collapse. Now, and again, the tower is stable- but it is also still leaning.

La Spezia and the Cinque Terra was my favorite part of the trip. We began by walking the “Via del Amore” trail which runs along the coast and has the most amazing view. The walk itself was not far, but with the amount of times we stopped in awe, I am sure we were there for at least an hour. After this less intense hike, a few other students and I decided to take the train to Vernazza to try out another path. It turned out to be the most “real”  hike I have ever been on- there were little to no railings to protect you from falling hundreds of feet into the oceany/mountainy abyss. We even were forced to traverse across a waterfall- and by forced I mean were really excited to see if we could survive the current. The air was incredible on the mountain- I actually felt healthier just being up there. I am starting to realize why Italians are known for living “La Vita Bella.” With the unavoidable exercise that comes with walking the hilly streets of Siena, with the inevitable digestive health that comes with eating only organic food, and with the promise of beautiful scenery wherever I go, I am starting to loose my American need for efficiency and opt for a more relaxed and more enjoyable way of life.

Via Del Amore

Via Del Amore

Via Del Amore

Via Del Amore

Am I really here?

Off to Lavinia’s (The program director) for a picnic: We took a very long, hilly walk to Lavinia’s house a couple of days ago for dinner- you would think that the hills become easier to climb after a while, but they really don’t. But the scenery was beautiful all the while, so no one really minded the walk. In order to get to her house, we all entered a narrow passageway, one-by-one, and slowly climbed our way through a long tunnel. It was the most fun I have ever had physically entering a house in my entire life. While there were massive amounts of mosquitos outside, the backyard picnic was really refreshing- especially after the long and grueling walk. I, along with some of the other students, stupidly thought the meal was one course of pasta with bread and then dessert… but after stuffing our faces with pasta, we soon found out that there were in fact three courses (like every other italian meal i have been served), and chose to then really stuff our faces to the point of explosion. The food is worth it here- and the hills, for the most part, make up for the massive amounts of food eaten. Today, I somehow woke up at 1:00 pm ( I really needed sleep), to a three course meal of pasta, chicken, and baked potatos- with an offering of ice cream at the end. That was the biggest breakfast I have ever eaten hands down.

The group at Lavinia’s:

Friday was spa day- or rather, hot springs day.I didn’t know how stiff my body was until after emerging from layers of warm, (and really smelly), sulfer infused water.

And finally: yesterday I went to Florence and had the most incredible time: the architecture is surreal, the streets look like they’re from a different time, and the artwork is breathtaking. While it is essentially the mecca of tourism, (apart from Rome), you completely forget about the millions of people around you when staring in awe at the massive and intricate Duomo. I can’t wait to take the hour bus ride again with my class to visit the Ufizzi museum. Some other girls and I wanted to see the Caravaggio exhibit on display there yesterday, but it cost around 20 euro, and required a long wait in line to get into, so we opted to wander the streets of Florence instead. After some wondering, we came across an outdoor market that sold more leather bags and pashmire scarves than is ever imaginable. Haggling is really not a known part of italian market life, so I didn’t buy much, but I most definitely had an urge to splurge on everything.

Here are some pictures of the day trip:


Okay so a whole bunch has happened since the last post. The intensive Italian language courses that we are currently taking are definitely intensive. I have homework every night which gives me an excuse to go to the “bar” or cafe, and buy yet another cup of cafe latte. Delicioso. Yesterday I went to the sea with my roommate, Emily, our friend Sam, and her really awesome host mom. It was about an hour drive there and the view was incredible the entire time, even when we were driving five miles per hour behind a grumpy old man and his wife. Italians, like new yorkers, are crazy drivers. I would love to rent a vespa and drive throughout Siena, but I am a little too scared for my life to do so. Anyway, the beach was great, the water was the bluest I have ever seen, and the American obsession with censorship was no where to be seen- and by that, I mean there were plenty of topless women around. Oh to be free.

Going a bit further back in time, on Saturday, after our Intensive language class, the group took a trip to il Museo Santa Maria Della Scala. I wanted to stay there for hours, but unfortunately my stomach wouldn’t let me. The museum was full of giant frescoes, statues, and religious paraphernalia that was set up in a way to make you feel as if you were alive in the 14th century.

Saturday night was my first experience at a Sienese contrada party. Siena is divided into 9 regions, or contradas that most people hold true to for life. Each contrada has its own flag and respective mascot, colors, ect. Every summer there is a horse race called the Palio in which each contrada enters an elected horse and an elected rider to compete in the race. We watched a video in class of the event (unfortunately i will not be able to experience it in person), and it was so incredible to see how emotional people get before, during, and at the end of the race. It is essentially like the world cup in terms of support and dedication, only on a smaller and more local level. There is a sense of pride here though for one’s contrada that surpasses that of a fan’s love for their team. The race is built into the culture- people live for the race and some have been waiting more than 20 years to experience a victory. The bragging rights of the winning contrada last throughout the year and are in no way seen as snobbery or conceit, but rather as a truth.

Here is a picture of my friend Sara and a poster of the flags of each respective contrada behind her:

more later.

Lost and Found

Caio tutti! I am finally settled here in Siena, after 4 days of near havoc. I have yet to experience the epic-like-feeling of culture shock, but have unfortunately gotten to know life without clothes, without phones, and without computers. The latter two were actually things that I wanted to understand. I wanted to break free of my reliance on technology and enter the world of simplicity; But it could not be so. I quickly realized the importance of a cell phone to not only keep in contact with friends, but to have a means of help when you find yourself lost in the depths of the city. Speaking of which, it is incredibly beautiful here. The town is slowly getting more recognizable, and as it does, I am better able to focus on the beauty of my surroundings.

My host family is wonderful. Ada and Francesco are essentially my parents here- supplying me with all the incredible italian food I can eat and then offering some more to top it off. Gelatto is everything you would expect. I recently tied cafe and muffin (I know, not really a traditional Italian flavor, but still), and couldn’t even finish the two scoops due to the thickness and richness of the cream.

I began my Intensive Italian Language course a couple of days ago, and have found that my grammar is less than great. I can hold a conversation, and have been able to get my point across for the most part, but am corrected often by my host family and other students that I have gotten to know in the past couple of days. I encourage their scrutiny though, as I hope to really perfect my Italian while I’m here. Volunteer work will definitely help with the fluidity of my speech as I have elected to work at a high school, partake in a language course for Italian immigrants, ride in an ambulance and attend to whatever I am asked, and any additional art type activities that come my way. What will perfect my Italian though, in the end, is really interacting with everyone I can possibly learn from- which I haven’t found too hard so far because almost everyone here is willing to give you a few helpful tips.

Off to class for me.

More later.

It’s Finally My Turn.

As my friends slowly dissipate to their respective colleges, I have only had more time to wonder about the semester to come. For a while I was doubtful of whether or not I would actually be able to leave at all- with five days left to go and no visa, it was looking pretty bleak. But all is well now thanks to a very friendly mailman and a not-so-surprisingly ridiculous looking passport picture. (Really though, who doesn’t look sweaty and angry in their walgreens photoshoot)? Anyway, it’s off to Italy in three days, and despite what everyone says about preparing early, I have stuck to my old ways and saved all the packing for last minute. My mom really loves that about me.

So what have I wondered about Italy, you ask? Well, I only get as far as the airport to tell you the truth- as I have never before been to Italy and have never before traveled abroad. Since I’m going overseas, I imagine there will be one of those fancy touch screens on the back of the seats to play with… that should keep me entertained for a couple of hours at least. Then I wonder a little harder, and imagine missing the bus that is supposed to be both the group’s means of transportation from the airport in Rome to Siena (which is approximately three hours long) as well as the on-site orientation. Missing the bus is actually pretty likely, considering my plane gets in at 12:40 pm and the bus leaves at 1:00. Lavina and Mike (my program leaders) thankfully emailed some very detailed instructions on how to find your own ride in case such an unfortunate incident were to happen. We’ll see what happens!

As I really haven’t been able to imagine what the program might be like, I have had some trouble actually grasping the fact that I am leaving. I have wanted to go to Italy for as long as I can remember, and my dad’s side of the family is extremely Italian, so it’s not like this is a new concept for me; I have experienced shades of Italian culture in from I miei Nonni (my grandparent’s), but have no clue as to what I should actually expect. My nonna, (grandmother), is pretty opposed to my plans to travel. She’s a worrier. I heard some pretty stereotypical stories about Italian men that were supposed to deter me from going to Italy- but in actuality they just made me laugh, as her thick italian accent rambled off american words that I didn’t even think she knew. (Enough said on that front).

All in all, I am incredibly excited to leave and experience the culture that I have heard so much about but has (thus far) been unobtainable in full. I can’t wait to meet my Sienese host family, to begin service work, to start classes, and to meet new people… My friends and I have this long running joke that it is finally my turn to travel abroad: almost all of them have already studied all over the world in places such as India, Costa Rica, Israel, and France- and I am the last one to go.

More later.


Tales from Italy ch.14- Last Exams and the Beginning of the End

It’s been almost a month since my last update and I’ve fallen behind on my entries. These last few weeks have been the busiest in the semester so far, and it has left me little time to write. Fortunately, my poor memory has been saved thanks to the little “Italia” notebook Adrie bought me at the end of fall semester; I’ve been recording my days with bullet points each day (or most, really) and that will really come in handy right about now.

So anyway- the point of my journal entry:

The beginning of June left me with 3 exams to take and plenty of trips to look forward to before heading home. My ceramics exam went well (a 27/30) and I was so happy to not study for it anymore once it was finished. In the weeks leading up to it, I had spent most of my free time studying for the exam. It got to the point where I would respond to my friends with “Sorry, but I have to study for ceramics” so often that the response became its own expression as a response for not wanting to do something (used by everyone, not just me). For example:

“Do you want to go out with us later?”

“Oh sorry, I can’t. I have to study for ceramics.”

My cinema exam was not nearly as pleasant. Janelle, Laura, and I arrived at 9 with the hope to be the first 3 for our exam at 9:30. This was not the case since our professor not only arrived late AND took an hour lunch break, but decided to go alphabetically starting at ‘P’. Of the three of us, Laura went first which was good since she had another exam that day. Janelle and I were stuck waiting for hours before we got in. Our professor wasn’t that nice either. Normally the professors take it easy on foreign students because they know there is a language barrier that can hinder how well we learn, but she expected the same of us as she did the students who could speak Italian fluently. This was topped off with sighs and rolling of the eyes, not to mention she didn’t look at us while we spoke- she went through papers and other things on her desk, only making eye contact once every two minutes or so. At the end of my exam she pointed out that she could see there was most definitely a language barrier and gave me a look that told me she thought I deserved a lower grade than what she was giving me. While all her gestures were rude and uncalled for, rather than return the favor in this entry, I will be the better person and end my discussion of her here.

My last exam was the best of them all not only because it was for my favorite class, but because it was with my favorite professor: Musica per Lo Spettacolo (Music for the Show) with Professor Festa (“It’s a festa with Festa!”). Laura and I were two of his three students and by far the most frequent. When we arrived for our exam, he let us take it in the same room together. I went first. The exam was like our classes: awesomely philosophical, but this time we did most of the talking. This guy is like our Socrates; we could sit and have him explain to us his thoughts on how music relates to life and space all day. The class –and our exam- were the greatest, not to mention we both came out with 30/30 🙂

With our exams finally over, we had to find other ways to occupy our time. While most of my time is occupied by the work I’m doing for my online summer classes at New Paltz, I did manage to join the others much more often once studying for my finals was finished. One evening, we all played a game of Never Have I Ever, and it lasted so long that we stopped keeping points. It was a very educational game into the lives and experiences of one another. While we didn’t get the chance to play the card game, Bullshit (or “Bull Sheißa” as we called it in German) in this last week, I think this would be a good place to point out that this game holds many memories from the semester for me. So many times we would just sit around and pass the time playing near the bar in Tridente or upstairs in the Sala Studio. I will miss these evenings very much.

Also during this last week, Ryan and I had our last radio show of Independent Carrots. We left the theme as a surprise for most our friends because Ryan and I had something special planned. We decided a great way to end the semester would be to make a playlist that encompassed all our favorite songs from the semester and songs that highlighted our experiences. In the end, we came up with these songs:

  • Fly Away”- Lenny Kravitz (to signify ‘flying away’ to study abroad)
  • Stereo Love”- Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina (THE song in Urbino, and a favorite of Judith’s)
  • Me and Julio”- Paul Simon (Laura and I put together a great harmony to this and some sweet guitar playing with ‘Pattie,’ my guitar)
  • King of Spain”- Moxy Fruvous (Introduced to us by Laura in the beginning of the semester)
  • Rocket Man”- Elton John (this song has 2 meanings: 1- “Rocket Man” was easily replaced with “Moroccan Man” in reference to the attractive Moroccan boy Laura is friends with; 2- I had never seen the “Rocket Man” rendition by William Shatner (I had only seen Family Guy’s parody of it), so Stefan sent me the video)
  • My Life Would Suck Without You”- Glee Cast (Glee was really popular to watch together this semester. Every Wednesday or Thursday, Laura, Monika, Sonja, Ryan, Janelle, and I would sit in my room and watched streamed episodes online. The title is also pretty self-explanatory for the strong friendships we formed ^_^).
  • Friends”- Flight of the Concords (The title needs no explanation with how it relates to us. We also find Flight of the Concords to be absolutely BRILLIANT).
  • With a Little Help From My Friends”- Across the Universe Cast (self- explanatory)
  • Mr. Sandman”- The Puppini Sisters (Countless hours spent on the terraces above Tridente playing chess, having tea and cookies, and soaking in the sun while listening to the Puppini Sisters).
  • Mama Ist Stolz”- Sido (A German song about pimps and mom’s being proud; introduced to Ryan by Stefan on their trip to Cinque Terre. Sonja also raps this pretty well lol)
  • Countries of the World”- Yakko Warner (We had the goal to learn this song by heart. While that didn’t actually happen, it was fun to try).
  • We Like to Party”- Vengaboys (While explaining 6 Flags Theme Park, and the dancing old man from the commercials (who Laura hates btw), Monika pointed out that this was the song in the background).
  • Just Around the River bend”- Pocahontas (We had the pleasure of watching Disney’s Pocahontas this semester)
  • Can’t Tell that to the Administration”- Rob Hanlon & Nick Petrasino (An Urbino original, written and performed by two Villnova students)
  • Freedom”- David Hasselhoff (The previous radio show (an 80s theme), we meant to play this for ze Germans but ran out of time. Because David Hasselhoff sang this in a lit-up leather jacket at the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, our German friends have taken to calling him their hero).
  • Good Riddance”- Green Day (This song is one of the first songs Laura taught Monika and I on guitar. It is also a beautiful goodbye song reminiscent of our experiences).

We hope that we left the radio program well prepared for future students. We always had a blast.

The night of the 10th, Judith and Mike had a dinner with all of us in town because they were leaving the next day. Sonja, Janelle, Ryan, Matthias and I were also leaving, but only for a short while. The next few days we would spend in Rome before heading back to Urbino for one last week 🙁

Tales from Italy ch.13: Endless Studies and… Kittens??

Last week and this week in my life I have been utterly consumed by studying. It seems endless and a burden- not to mention all my exams (and their study materials/ books) are in Italian which takes me twice as long -if not longer- to read. It’s a slow and difficult process, but I’m chugging through nonetheless.

Last Thursday I had my dreaded Storia della Ceramica (History of Ceramics) exam. Studying for that was difficult in terms of both reading in Italian and retaining a decent attention span. Luckily Sonja and Janelle were also in this class with me so we divided up the reading material to study. Sonja covered the small book on the chemistry and basic methods of making ceramics; Janelle and I split the larger book on history (though Sonja read most of that one on her own too). I was assigned the second half of the book which mostly covered tiles. I spent the good portion of a week turning down events and social get-togethers to read through this monster only to discover later, after days of work and more than half a notebook of fine-print notes written by hand, that as a foreign student, I was only expected to know the basics of ceramics and their families- none of which was in the portion I had read. This was nice in that all the information I had gathered didn’t need to be memorized, but disappointing in that I had just wasted AN ENTIRE WEEK READING SOMETHING THAT DIDN’T MATTER. Ugh. So I was to rely on Sonja and Janelle, and lets just say the last few days up to the exam were really stressful for me. In the end though, I got a 27 out of 30 on the exam, and am so happy to be done with it.

In the time since then, I’ve been doing a lot of work for my classes back home that I’m taking online: ‘Media and Society’ and ‘Intro to Advertising.’ It’s a lot of work to handle on top of the additional studying I have to do for my last two exams that are coming up this Wednesday and Thursday. But, like everything else this past week or so, I’m chugging through it step by step and am spending a lot of time in the Sala Studio (Study Room) upstairs with Monika (who’s been studying for her law exam) and Laura (who’s studying for my exams and a Religious Anthropology one as well). Occasionally we are also joined by Sonja and Ryan and the group of us is very encouraging. Most of our time is silent as we study, but occasionally we’ll distract ourselves in skype chat rooms (these even include Stefan sometimes, who’s not studying with us because he’s already done!!!! argh!) and attempt to keep our laughter to quiet levels (I regularly fail at this). Our chat topics vary from discussing the ridiculous emoticons of Skype, to making Glee references (specifically Sue Slyvester quotes like “I may buy a small diaper for your chin because it looks like a baby’s ass!”), to complaining about our studying, to making fun of our studying and most importantly learning German!
Just yesterday I had this conversation with Laura:
Laura: “regretfully i am afraid of the muppets. miss piggy, specifically” ….
Me: “what do you hate more? Ms. Piggy or the 6 Flags guy? I think i’ll chose between those for my halloween costume”
Laura: “dont make me choose”
Laura: “yous a hoe. i will kill you.”

Occasionally between all my studies I also get distracted by the occasional passers-by of Judith, Mike, and Stefan who walk past my window in search of Lola, the cat. Sometimes I bring her a can of tuna to her new home: a cardboard box adorned with a chair cushion (purchased from the Super Conad!) as a bed under the windows and overhang of Braccio 1, fashioned for her by Kevin. Since the discovery and suspicion of her being pregnant, we have taken the upmost care of her, especially because she’s a stray. Of course all of this was before I received the news on June 1, 2010 that LOLA HAD BABIES! Yes! Lola became a happy mother to 5 adorable kittens and together they now live inside Braccio 1, under the stairs of Kevin’s blocco. :)!!

Today marks June 5, 2010 and I guess you could say I’m still procrastinating on my studying… at least for a little while. I slept in this morning for the first time in a long while and after lunch came here, back to the Sala Studio, to study. Our favorite table may be taken (meaning I am subject to poorer lighting and a less awesome table that lacks the elevation and sunlight of our precious spot) but I still managed to get through about 10 pages of my Media and Culture textbook. …Argh who am I kidding? Normally, I would be proud of this, but this book is in ENGLISH not Italian- 10 pages isn’t enough. Ugh. My goal is to at least finish the chapter asap today. I don’t mind though- I’m really enjoying the book even if it is a textbook. Changing my major to Communication and Media was a wonderful choice. At lunch today I was talking with Ryan about his Media Production classes that he’s taking here, and I’m considering to maybe get a Masters in that or directing- it sounds cool and fun. Oh jeez. “Cool” and “fun”? Since my apparent loss for more creative adjectives has begun, I think it’s time I ended this study break of mine, and returned to the wonderful world of my Media textbook. As always, I should turn to the studious Monika for guidance and learn to imitate her ways so that I may better my own study habits: