Saturday, September 29, 2012

Making Something of my Saturday

As proven by previous posts, many a Friday, Saturday and Sunday have fallen prey listless lethargy, barely leaving the apartment. While lazy weekends are always appealing, they can get ironically tiresome. So this Saturday, I had the hopes of making something of the day, of actually being productive. I slept in, which I believe no matter what you have planned, is always a good idea. After a morning (slash afternoon) of nothing, I decided around 3 to go on an excursion to see the Spanish Steps, since I had not seen them yet. You might remember, a couple of weeks ago a few of us tried to find them. Emphasis on tried. But in that instance, we tried to walk part of the way and this time I did not.

So I struck out to find the Spanish Steps and I did! It took a little work and when I actually came upon it I didn't think it was it! It was remarkably crowded, but what else would you expect on a warm Saturday afternoon? Really though, I think the massive amount of people belittled the piazza in comparison. All the same, it was still lovely. I wandered away in search of some decently priced gelato (which was still slightly overpriced) and then found myself a seat on the steps, among the masses. I enjoyed people watching while doing the same with the gelato. Post snack, I sat and read my new Steinbeck acquisition for about half an hour. I wanted to stay longer, but  I figured since I wasn't certain of my route back I shouldn't waste the daylight. All the same, I have no doubt I'll be going back soon for some quality reading time. Before leaving the piazza though, I visited the church that's at the top of the steps.

on the steps

the Spanish Steps

a sculpture inside the church

All in all, I was thoroughly satisfied with my little excursion. When I got home, I spent some time relaxing some more, then rounded out the day by making penne with garlic and pesto and some tiramisu (for the first time ever on my own)! Again, another success! Tomorrow, unfortunately will be filled with homework, but at least I'll be doing my homework in Rome!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Take Me to Trastevere

This week flew by. Really. Just flew. Most of it was pretty average, but Tuesday had a couple extra gems. Before class, Lindsey, Abbie, and I set out to find an English bookstore that some of our roommates had found beforehand. It was in Trastevere just off the Tiber and (supposedly) right by a tram stop. As it happens, we ended up getting a bit lost, but getting lost in Trastevere is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in Rome. Thankfully we did find it and it was nice! After classes that day, I had my second Interscambio with Marco. We walked through Villa Pamphili, which is a huge park, all the way back over to my neighborhood. It was so enjoyable just to walk along, enjoy such a beautiful park and work on my Italian! The week was rounded off with my first Italian test in my last class on Thursday, after which was the start of a very happy and relaxing weekend. Emphasis on relaxing. Checking on my calendar, this weekend is the last weekend I have free for quite some time. If you want to peek at my future exploits, just think Sorrento, Capri, Venice, Cinque Terre, Paris, London, Dublin, Florence, Switzerland. I'm drooling.

Today, we met with some of the ISA staff and some other students to go on a Mideaval walking tour of Rome and of course we started no where other than the lovely Trastevere. The tour consisted mostly of churches and a few old buildings. At one church, it was arranged for us to be taken up into the nun's choir loft by one of the nuns! Walking around Rome you see your fair share of nuns, but this one was just so classic - a little old lady in the traditional black and white, who only spoke Italian! I wanted a picture with her but figured that would be disrespectful. WOMP. Oh well. There were only about eight of us so it was a really nice, small, and relaxing tour. About an hour in we stopped for a cappuccino to warm up from the rainy weather. One of the churches we saw (the same one with the choir loft) was the church dedicated to Saint Cecilia. She has a really great story, which you can read about here

the first church we visited

the courtyard of St. Cecilia's church

St. Cecilia's church, all set up for a wedding 

A sculpture of St. Cecilia in the position in which Bishops found her remains in the catacombs, after which her remains were moved to the church. The sculpture now marks her crypt.

After the tour ended, we decided to backtrack into Trastevere to drop by a couple places we had seen. We found our way back to a precious secondhand English bookstore. I absolutely adored it and will most certainly be going back again soon. I came away with a Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie and Flaubert's Madame Bovary. And they were cheap too! Just next door was an equally precious little bakery overflowing with delicious smells and goodies. So naturally we dropped in a picked up some little Italian dolci and thus concluded our morning. We headed back to the apartment to get some work done, relax and (at least for me) write on our blogs. 

The Open Door Bookshop

the bakery

Tomorrow and Sunday will be filled with much of the same, relaxing, working, and possibly some more exploring too! As for now, I'm going to enjoy my night in, start reading my new books, and work on the plans for when family comes to visit! 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Milan Fashion Week

Yes, you read that right. Milan Fashion Week. We didn't even know it was fashion week when we booked the flight, and that's just the tip of the iceberg of how unbelievably lucky we were with this weekend. I mean really though, how lucky can a girl get: "accidentally" booking a trip to be in the fashion capital of the world for fashion week. Seriously. Are you ready to hear the magnificence that was this weekend? Ok, buckle your seat belts. Here we go.

So Lindsey, Abbie and I had our flight out of Rome at 7 am on Friday morning. Since it was so early, we weren't sure that public transportation would get us there on time so we ordered a private car. Tony (the driver) picked us up at 5:15 (am) in his posh Mercedes. (Recap: We took a Mercedes private car to the airport to catch our flight to Milan Fashion Week. Who's life am I living?!) He was such a nice driver. When we got to the airport, he even took a picture of us for us. So sweet.

at the airport at 5:30 am

We walked right into the airport, made it through security, and got the gate with ease. We were worried that we wouldn't get seats together on the flight but that was no problem at all either! On the 150 passenger plane, there were about 30 people. I'm amazed they didn't cancel the flight! Just another stroke of luck for us! We took advantage of the flight to catch up on the sleep we had sacrificed for the early morning start. Slightly refreshed, we landed in Milan by 8. At that point we had yet to figure out how we were actually going to get into the city. When magically, we came upon the bus ticket counter! We got our round trip tickets, walked outside and the bus was right there. It took about an hour to get into the city and the bus dropped us at the Milan Central Station. Once there, we bought our 48 hour unlimited public transportation tickets for a mere 8 euros. BARGAIN. Since we needed our tickets to stretch until we left on Sunday, we decided to spend a few hours near the train station before we validated our tickets. So we made our way to a bar where we got a cappuccino and sat and talked for about an hour, just enjoying ourselves. After that, we walked around some more, window shopped, then grabbed a pizza at a cafe. 

Post lunch we hopped the metro, took it four stops, and found our hostel - again, with total ease. It was in a gated building and we had a room all to ourselves. On our way up the stairs inside the building, we met a very nice group of British boys. They were so sweet and their accents were to die for. We locked up our things and then headed out to see Milan. We took the metro to the famous shopping street Via Montenapoleone with the creme de la creme: Armani, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dolce, and more. The stores were gorgeous, the clothes were luxurious, and the people were interesting - as only Milan could provide. Then we walked down another street where we saw La Scala (the Milanese opera house) and Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II (supposedly the first shopping mall) which then dropped us off right in front of il Duomo (the Milanese cathedral). We toured it then walked down one more street with some more affordable shopping and then took the metro back to the hostel for the night. 

Lindsey and I in Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II

in la piazza del duomo

That night was the best night of sleep I've gotten since I came to Italy. It must have been a combination of how tired I was, the fact that the mattresses were orthopedic, and that we spent the night with air conditioning for the first time since we got here. But who cares the reason, it was heaven. We started off the morning with the traditional Italian breakfast of a cappuccino and a pastry at a cute cafe near the city center. Then we went and toured the grounds of a castle, where we found a huge tent for the fashion shows! It was unreal, actually seeing where Milan Fashion Week takes place. It's like getting to see Santa's workshop. But prettier. After the castle, we made our way around the city hopping from place to place to shop in some recommended vintage stores and see a church that one of the ISA staff had recommended touring. Nearing the end of the day, we took a tram out of the city center to a more obscure neighborhood where we walked several blocks then turned down a carport between two buildings to find a hidden and huge designer fashion outlet. I'm talking all those shops on Montenapoleone, but discounted. So. Great. 

inside the castle grounds

inside the castle grounds

the fashion show tent 

After that last round of shopping, we went back to the hostel to drop off our purchases and get ready to go to dinner. We had been told about a neighborhood in southern Milan called Navigili where there were canals lined with wonderful restaurants. So we made our way down there and walked the canal until we found a cute little pizza restaurant where we sat inside a garden just in front of the entrance. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was perfect. It was just such a beautiful way to end our last night in Milan. 

at dinner

After another heavenly night of sleep, we checked out of the hostel the next morning and spent our morning shopping in yet another area of Milan before heading to the train station to catch our bus to the airport. Overall, I made it home with a new skirt, top, and belt: just enough to have from Milan without spending too much money! Yay! At the gate at the Milanese airport we met some nice guys who had just spent two days in Milan and were heading to Rome for one day before going back to Barcelona where they were studying abroad. Ironically, one of them was from Wake Forest - so it was fun to happen upon a fellow Demon Deacon while abroad! We made it back to our apartment by about 8:30 last night, dove into our homework, and then made it to bed. 

I think the most amazing thing about the first day (and really the whole weekend) was just how perfectly everything happened and fell into place. We talked about it once we were back at the hostel on the first night and all three of us agreed that it was just too perfect for luck. We thoroughly believed that God had orchestrated the day, guided us, and blessed us with the day. It sort of seemed like a gift, a gift to say "I'm in control, you don't need to worry about anything while you're in Milan, while you're in Rome, or at any other point in your life." Time after time things just worked out too perfectly. We never got lost, we never got turned around, and we did absolutely everything we wanted to do while we were there. It's amazing to see how his sovereignty reigns here in Milan and Rome just as it does at home in Texas.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back to Rome We Go

Just a quick update - I'm back in Rome! In case you missed me, I spent my weekend in Milan and it was INCREDIBLE. Everything went so well, we saw all that we wanted to see, and it was in a word, perfect. I only got back to my apartment about two hours ago and have a good bit of work to do tonight for classes tomorrow, so I just wanted to drop a post and let you know that I'm back and I'm safe! I have so much to tell y'all, but don't quite have the time to do it tonight. So keep your eyes open in the next couple of days for a post about Milan, because TRUST ME you'll want to read it.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Hi friend! Sorry, I've been absent for a few days, but I didn't feel like boring you with the mundane-ness of life as of late. But don't worry, I'm writing because the mundane has been broken! Before I jump in though, I would just like to observe how this seems to happen cyclically every week: the weekend is a blast with no shortage of things to write about, then Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday come as dull as ever and I can't find a single interesting word to write. Not one morsel. Luckily, the weekend is fast approaching and I have no doubt it has many wonderful stories in tow.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me give you a recap of a couple of the interesting things from yesterday and today. As previously mentioned, Mondays and Tuesdays can be very blah, so to combat that, yesterday evening we decided to go to dinner. One of our roommates had been told by a native Roman of a place in Trastevere (a Roman neighborhood) that was delicious, cheap, and authentically Roman - the trifecta! We had been to Trastevere many times before, but had stuck to the main street. This restaurant, however, was off the beaten path and it was great! We had to wind our way through adorable side streets and miniature piazzas, past old, forgotten churches and adorable architecture until we finally came upon the gem that was il Ristorante di Carlo Menta. When the Roman said it was cheap - she wasn't kidding. 3 Euro pizzas, 5 Euro pastas, and the list just goes on and on. I had the spaghetti alla carbonara (spaghetti with a sauce made of egg yolks and cheese, along with some bacon) and it was bellisima. Really and truly the best pasta I've had to date. All in all it was a wonderful way to unwind from two very boring (yet stressful) days.

Now, onto today! Today was more exciting than I thought it would be - which is always a nice little bonus. After my 9 o'clock class, I ventured down to Via del Corso (the main shopping street) in search of some things I had seen during Vogue Fashion Night Out. While I didn't find what I was looking for, it was truly enjoyable to wander in and out of the stores on my own time table, just enjoying being there. Ultimately, I returned empty handed aside from the packet of 20 postcards that I found at a tourist vendor stall for 1Euro. Talk about budgeting.

After my classes ended for the day at 5, I headed over to the ISA (the program I'm studying abroad through) office to meet up for my interscambio. What is an interscambio, you ask? Well surely you know. You know in Eat, Pray, Love when Liz is living in Italy and she has that speaking partner? And they meet regularly so she can practice her Italian and he can practice his English? Well that's it. To a "T". Except I'm not a middle aged woman trying to find my identity half way around the globe. But other than that, we're identical! It's set up through the program and the person I'm paired with is a personal friend of one of the ISA staff members. (For instance, my interscambio partner is one of the staff member's roommates.) His name is Marco, and he's a very nice Italian guy who is from Naples, and lives in Rome and works at the Roman Education Federation Office (or something like that). We had a really great time talking and I'm hoping that meeting with him will really help my Italian. If anything, he can at least teach me some things about Italian culture. For instance, today we were getting coffee while we were talking and it was about 5:30pm. He had a coffee (espresso) and I had a cappuccino. He told me that Italians never get cappuccinos after noon, because the milk slows down digestion. So by getting a cappuccino after noon, I was pegging myself as a tourist and sticking out like a soar thumb. So already I've learned some valuable information! Aside from that, it really was quite entertaining: him trying to help me learn Italian and me trying to teach him some English! I'm really excited to see how this goes!

Finally, the last event of the day was an ISA cooking class held in the ISA office. It was just nine students and then the two staff members and it was so much fun! Apparently when Italians give cooking classes, it's not just a cooking class. Oh no. It's a full blown meal. It lasted 3 full hours, and I loved every minute of it. We started out by learning how to make pasta all'amatriciana (a pasta with a tomato, pepper, guanciale, and cheese sauce). While that was cooking, we made tiramisu and in the process finally learned what the weird tea kettle looking thing in our kitchen is - it's how Italians make coffee! While that was setting in the refrigerator, we enjoyed a variety of Italian breads, then a simple salad, then a fritatta, and finally we had the pasta followed by the tiramisu. And of course, as seems to be the  trend here in Italy, it was all delectable! It was supremely enjoyable to polish off the end of the day with hours spent cooking good food and enjoying others' company. I really couldn't have asked for a better end to my day.

I realize that was an extensive amount of dense writing, so if you've made it this far, let me give you a reward. One of my laughing points for the day was this quote from one of my professors: "You try sending one thousand Bulgarians a survey monkey!"

I'll just let you ponder that and make of it what you will.

I'm sure you're sad the post is almost over and I know you've missed me, but take heart because I'll be writing again soon! I've got a big adventure on the horizon for this weekend!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Vogue and St. Francis

Really and truly this weekend is epic. While other weekends will hold many wonderful adventures in other cities and foreign countries, this weekend is packed with self-made fun. And it was much deserved, for some reason, classes this week were stressful. Yech. But, that's ok because this weekend by far is making up for it! My last class on Thursdays ends at 6:40, and yesterday, we skipped back to the apartment and then made our way to Via del Corso for the one, the only, Vogue Fashion Night Out. So. Great. The streets were packed and almost every store had a DJ blasting music. Several stores had promotional giveaways, coupons, and even cocktails. We shopped around a little bit but really just took in the atmosphere and it was wooooonderful! Even though I was walking dead from such a long day, it was such a great experience!

On Via del Corso before the crowds

Getting home last night, I was exhausted, but this morning we were out the door by 9am to head to school. Usually, 9am + school = ugh, but not today! We were meeting to go on a day trip to Assissi, which is so not ugh. When we woke up this morning it was cold (in the 50's!) and rainy rainy rainy, and the forecast was the same for Assissi. Since we got to school a bit before we were supposed to leave, I ran down to a bar (not an alcoholic bar. fyi bars in italy are where you get coffee) and had my very first cappuccino! And it. was. amazing. Really and truly, SO good. I've found my first Italian love. 

the glorious one and only

about to dive in! 

After the coffee, we hopped on the bus and started the 2 hour excursion to Assissi. The drive was nice, I fit in a couple naps and plenty of watching the Italian scenery roll by. And then we finally made it to Assissi, a beautiful little town perched on top of a hill in the Umbria region, home of the most notable St. Francis of Assissi. Our time there consisted of a great lunch at a hole-in-the-wall cafe, a tour of the Basilica di San Francesco d'Assissi, a tour of the town, and some time left to wander on our own. The cathedral was really wonderful, unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any pictures while inside. But some interesting tidbits: St. Francis started the institution of Friars in Assissi, embracing a life of poverty. For this reason, there are no paintings in the cathedral, only frescoes (paintings done on the existing walls and ceilings). Additionally, there is only one nave, while as many larger cathedrals have multiple naves, this was done in keeping with St. Francis' value of poverty. And by far the most intriguing thing about this cathedral is that below it, a crypt was built, and the stone coffin containing St. Francis' remains is distinctly and visibly set within an altar. (Really it was actually installed so it's practically hovering over the alter. You can see a picture of it here.)

It rained the whole time, but it really was beautiful. Although one thing  I will say: that town is nothing but hills. It was quaint and beautiful and charming, but everything was on a slant. All the same, it made for a precious day trip, and it really was nice to get out of Rome for a bit and get away from the city. 

in the main piazza of Assissi

exterior of the Basilica di San Francesco d'Assissi

view from the hill

Assissi in the rain

One last tid bit, on the drive home, we saw sheep! Yes, sheep! Tons of them all along the side of the road! And of course this made me think of my sweet friend, Beth! Beth, I wish you had been there, you would have loved it!

look at those precious little blurs!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cappuccetto Rosso e Yoga

I can't believe I'm saying it, but the last few days in Rome have been uneventful. Relatively. And I guess relatively uneventful is better than just plain old uneventful. Right? But today and yesterday have had some notable tid bits! For one, I finally had coffee! Granted, it wasn't a classic Italian cappuccino at a coffee bar, but hey, it was coffee. My first coffee since I've gotten to Italy. It's lame-o instant coffee out of a packet but it smells like coffee and tastes like coffee and it's good enough for now.

A big mile marker for today - it's the two week mark!  I can't believe I've been here for two weeks! I can not wait to see what the rest of the semester holds!

For some reason I'm stale on my writing currently, so please excuse this poor transition....

Here are two more highlights for the day:
1. In my Italian class today, my professor told us the story of Cappuccetto Rosso. For 15 minutes. Anybody want to whip out their Italian dictionary and figure out who Cappuccetto Rosso is? I didn't think so. It's Little Red Riding Hood! I just got such a kick out of how here, in Rome, at a unversity, my professor took up 15 minutes of our class to tell us the story of Cappuccetto Rosso. 

2. After Italian class ended at 6:40, I went with Lindsey and Abbie to a university provided trial-yoga class on the terrace of one of the campus buildings. I had been up there once before and it has a gawgeous view of Rome. It was so wonderful to finish the day off with yoga, on a rooftop, in Rome. I mean really. It was timed so perfectly that we got to watch the sun go down, the city light up, and the stars come out. 

Finally, I'll leave you with this: this upcoming weekend is going packed to the brim with excitement. I can't wait for it and I especially can't wait to tell you about it! 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Andiamo alla Spiaggia!

What a couple of days! They've been so full of relaxation but filled with so much! Yesterday we spent most of the day in the apartment, just relaxing and doing nothing - which was wonderful. Our plan was at the end of the day to head out and try to make our way to the Spanish Steps. We knew where they were (sort of) we just weren't entirely sure about the technicalities of getting there. All the same, we set out with the knowledge we had in the hopes we would find the steps. Naturally, as these things usually work out, we didn't make it to the steps. I like to think that we could have, but even though we didn't it was still a great night! In our wanderings we found the most adorable back alley Italian restaurant that embodied all that you think of when you think of a little Italian hole in the wall restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't stop to eat there but we will undoubtedly be making our way back there very soon. Instead, we centered ourselves at Piazza Navona and decided to meander the nearby streets in search of dinner. We found a great little restaurant that offered bruschetta, pizza, and a drink for a bargain price. And I mean, it was not a slice of pizza, but a considerable 12" pizza. And it was undoubtedly the best pizza I've had since I've come to Italy. Really and truly ah-mazing. If you come to visit me, and I haven't found better pizza by then I will be taking you there. 

Excuse the poor photography but NOM. 

In our wanderings we dropped by the Pantheon to see what it looked like at night.

You may be thinking "oh what a great day!" but oh no no, it wasn't over yet. We made it back to the apartment to find it dark. Pitch black dark. Again. For the second time in less than 72 hours we were without power. We called it in the next morning and a maintenance guy came to show us how to fix it - yay! We're self-sufficient! Apparently we have to turn off the water heater in the bathroom before we can use the oven and we can't use the oven and the washing machine at the same time. And on the off chance we do cause the power outage, we can't just flip the fuse that's in the apartment. Oh no. No no. We have to walk down to the creepy basement and go into the creepy closet to flip a lever. But on the bright side, at least we know how to fix it! 

Since it was still before 10am when we conquered our electricity woes, the day was wide open. And this brings us to the title of the post: "andiamo alla spiaggia." Any guesses? Any? No? None? Fine, I'll tell you. Let's go to the beach! Yes, you read that right - THE BEACH! An Italian. Beach. We navigated a tram to a bus to a train and an hour later we arrived in Ostia Lido and finally made it to the beach!! Now, it was not terribly glamorous, but who cares, it was an Italian beach! The sand was dark, the water was frigid, and the sun was warm. Somehow I managed with an 3 oz bottle of sunscreen and escaped sunburn free!

I think this is the most successful I've felt since arriving in Rome. We made our way all the way there without a single hiccup! Our next big adventures are to come next weekend. On Friday, we have the pre-planned trip to Assissi which I'm sure will be great. And as for Saturday, some of us are dabbling with the idea of having an all-day-excursion to the one and only Rainbow Magic Land - Rome's best theme park. I truly believe that only good things can come from this. I mean the place is called Rainbow Magic Land. I think the only thing that would make it better would be if it was followed by ": home of the unicorns." But let's not get ahead of ourselves - there's still a whole other week of school to conquer!


Friday, September 7, 2012

The End of Week One

Heloooooooooooo friends! The most recent update - week one of school: conquered and owned. WOOT! I've told y'all about most of my class experience, but oh my word, yesterday was a day of it's own. Let me just tell you. No, really, let me just tell you. Thursdays are a beating, really and truly. My first class was at 9, it's a once a week class on Thursdays from 9-12 and it's Art of Rome. The professor is really great and he seems like a pretty cool guy! Oh, and his name is Tim Allen! Since it's Art of Rome, and we're in Rome, all but three of our classes are held on-site at various museums and monuments. This means that we have the lovely task of navigating Rome at 8 in the morning to find these obscure places! Yaaaaaay! But back to yesterday, we spent the first two hours in class going over the basics and for the last hour we hopped on a bus down to Piazza Venezia (the center of Rome) where we walked around and our professor showed us a few of our main meeting points. (Sidenote, Piazza Venezia is as I said "the center of Rome" so when they say "all road lead to Rome" they really mean "all roads lead to Piazza Venezia!" Also, it's the Piazza with the big wedding cake monument that's pictured on Thursday's post.) We finally made it back to the bus stop at 12 to head back to campus. However, due to complications (switching bus stops and then the next bus blatantly drove by us) we didn't make it back to campus until 12:45. Eek. Luckily my next class wasn't until 2. So, back at the school, I took care of a few necessities (bought my books, got some lunch) then piddled around on the computer until class.

After my 2 o'clock I had 1 1/2 hours to spare before my 5:15 Italian class, so I spent in the library brushing up on my Italian. Italian ended at 6:40, and I was back home at the apartment by 7:15. Now I'm sure you're all thinking, "But Bonnie, did you have your electricity back?!" Well I'm so glad you asked! Why yes we did! We called a couple people during the day and by the time we got home everything was lit! YAAAAYY!! So in celebration of this success, as well as us surviving our first week of school, we decided to dress up and head out for dinner at a cute little cafe in Campo de Fiori. And it. was. wonderful. The atmosphere was lovely and the food was divinely Italian: so good! I had spaghetti with garlic olive oil and herbs - perfetto! It really was probably the best pasta I've had since I've arrived in this dear country. Our waiter was so nice and it really just made for a good, relaxing evening. After dinner, we grabbed some gelato, and hopped back on the tram to take us home.
Abbie, me, and Rachel at dinner

Lindsey, Karen, and Meredith

We were all exhausted by the time we got home, but it was that satisfying exhaustion, you know? The exhaustion where you're drop-dead tired but you're ok with it because you know you can just fall into bed and sleep in late. And we did exactly that. I woke up this morning around 11 and have had a wonderfully lazy day since. In a little bit we're going to head out to see the Spanish Steps and who knows what else. Hopefully this weekend on the whole will be nice and relaxing.

Let me just finish with this. Yesterday I had an Italian experience I have wanted for years: I had a cannoli. Really and truly I have wanted to have one for years. And it was GOOD. It was a great way to finish off the first week. Can't wait to see what next week holds!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Night of Darkness

Let's see, where to begin. 

Yesterday I had my first Italian class for the semester, aaaand my first test! WOOT. It was just a placement test and I certainly remembered more than I thought I would but three was still a considerable amount of things I did not remember. Whoops. And it was followed by a short oral quiz with the professor so she could assess our speaking skills. It looks like I'm going to stay in the class but I'll just have to study hard! So we'll see how that goes! Yesterday was also torrential downpour day, which of course I LOVED. And to make things even better, I found our university's library yesterday and cuddled up in a little dimly-lit room with windows overlooking the terrace to eat my lunch and do some work during a break between classes. And to finish off the recounting of September 4th, we had another apartment dinner, this time of spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. Classic Italian, right? Have I mentioned these dinners before? Maybe? Just a re-cap, we have some pretty decent cooks in the apartment and so far we've had herb chicken and rice, beef stew, and spaghetti and meatballs. It amazes me how cheap it is to eat in! A dinner in Rome at a dinner-y restaurant would cost about 12When we've cooked in, it's only been about 2! How great is that! If I can save money on dinners and then use that money to travel, you can bet I'm doing it! 

Oh, and I almost forgot (how could I forget?!) post-dinner, we had a major travel booking session. I mean major. Lindsey, Abbie, and I booked our flight to Milan for late September. We're going to try to link in Cinque Terre too,  but either way it's bound to be wonderful! And then, we booked our fall break flights too. Have I mentioned this? We're doing Paris, London, and Dublin! EEEEEKKKK!!!!! So crazy and so fun. I still can't quite believe I'm actually so close to all of this! 

Now, moving on to today. It was a tad bit less eventful (or so I thought). Class at 9, lunch, nap, class at 3:40, home, dinner, gelato. Fairly simple, right? Oh no, Rome threw a curveball. I was getting ready to get into the shower when, boom, darkness. That's right, my friends, we had our first power outage. Hip-hip-not-hooray. We had been told time and time again Roman apartments have an electricity limit and if you have too much plugged in and too much running the power will shut down. (For perspective, one lady told us she can not have the washer running and be ironing clothes at the same time.) Supposedly there's the simple solution of unplugging/turning off a couple of things and flipping a few switches and shabang you've got power. We were a bit puzzled to find that the power had gone out, seeing as we had very little plugged in, especially compared to some other times in the past. Still, we circled the apartment and unplugged whatever we could find...flipped the switches...aaaand....nothing. Nada. Zilch. So here we sit in the darkness, with only our computers and our iPods to light our way. We don't really have anyone to call to fix it because if we call after 5 and it's not an emergency (which we don't suppose this is) we get charged. No bueno. So, we're just toughing it out until the morning light and we'll figure it out tomorrow! Luckily, Rome has enough city lighting to make it bearable. But still, you want to know what our apartment looks like right now? Please, let me show you!
yes, this is an actual picture of our living room. can't you see the TV? ya, me neither.

Oh, and another tidbit, just about 20 minutes before the power went out I had the lovely experience of hearing someone play the piano. Ironically, I've heard people playing the piano a total of three times today and this is the first I've hear since arriving in Rome. This instance was special thought because I was in my bedroom. And the piano is on the other side of the wall. Like right. there. Probably a grand total of three feet from where my head lies on my bead. And what musical masterpiece was this Beethoven playing? None other than the magnificent "Three Blind Mice." And you know when you were a kid and you were practicing the piano and you would get frustrated so you would just bang on the lower, deep keys? Ya, apparently they do that in Italy too. So it'll certainly be interesting to see how this pans out over the next couple of months! 

Oh, and one final thought for you. In case you were wondering, I get to climb 60 stairs every time I come home to my apartment and 90 stairs at 9 am three times a week to get to my morning classes. Yes. I counted. Who loves morning workouts? Apparently this girl! 

So for now, goodnight, from a girl sitting in her dark apartment in Rome!


Monday, September 3, 2012

First Day of Classes

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! It's here! Today was my first day of classes! CRAZY! Tell me, when did I become old enough to travel to a foreign country to go to school? Because I feel like a 7 year old lost in a mall, a mall where nothing's in English. For the first day of school though, it truly went surprisingly well! The bus was running close to schedule this morning so we hopped on (or i guess we really pushed our way on) at 8:35 and were at school by 8:50 - 1 point for Bonnie! After climbing the three lengthy flights of stairs I successfully found my classroom - 2 points for Bonnie! My first class was Intro to Public Relations from 9-10:25. It was a nice small class with only about 12 people and the professor was nice. He was funny too, but the kind of funny where he really thinks he's funny too...which makes him slightly less funny. But at least he's not boring! After that class, I went in search of the registrar's office to do some work for my classes and I managed to get into a class I was waitlisted for and drop the class I didn't want - 3 points for Bonnie! After the registrar's I hopped back on the bus to return to my neighborhood because I didn't have a class again until 3:40. Once home, Kelly, Abbie and I grabbed a sandwich at a cute cafe down the street from our apartment which was a great little break in the day. Post lunch I hunkered down in bed to fall asleep to the giant rain storm that was rolling in.

watching the storm roll in from my bedroom balcony

I woke up at 2:40, made it to the bus stop by 3 and reached the university by 3:20 for my class at 3:40 - 4 points for Bonnie! My class at 3:40 was Intro the Mass Media (the class I got into earlier today) and i was good too! My professor was very nice and most of the other students are resident students (aka they are getting their whole degree here in Rome, not just studying abroad for a semester). After class, I rode the bus home with Abbie and then she and I went to a shop near the bus stop to grab some folders and notebooks. And guess what? They were cheap! 5 points for Bonnie! Then we headed back to the apartment for the evening where we settled in and finished off the day with a lovely beef stew made my Kelly - yum! Now I'm sitting in the living room with some of the girls, currently watching Scrubs dubbed in Italian (it's a hoot!). That's pretty much it for today! Tomorrow I get to sleep in (my first class is at 2) and I only have two classes. 

Oh, and one last lovely tidbit, for my family, I saw an Italian Hodgie on the bus today!!! BAAAAAHHH!! He was so adorable! Really and truly, Hodgie has an identical twin who lives in Rome. It made my heart happy to see a familiar face! 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lazy Weekend

The past couple of days have been slow. We've had a couple of things to do every day but it's also been pretty chill. Yesterday we slept later than intended (which is always enjoyable - the forbidden sleep is the best sleep) and eventually made it to the barbecue at the university which started at 11. I think we showed up at 1. Whoops. It was really enjoyable, though! We got to meet and socialize with other university students which was really eye-opening, I hadn't fully processed that there are more university students than just the students who are in the same program I am. In addition to meeting everyone, we were also able to sign up for extracurriculars and clubs. Aaaaand since it was a barbecue, naturally there was cookout food, and not just any cookout food, but American cookout food: hamburgers. What a wonderful taste of America! The rest of the day was rounded out with a good measure of leisurely walking, napping, and just relaxing.

Today, we tried again to get up ealy aaaand failed, again. We had planned to leave the apartment at 8 for the Sunday open air flea market of Porta Portense. All of our alarms went off at 7:30, but naturally none of us got up. None of us wanted to be the one to get everyone else up. Around 8:15 one of our friends from downstairs rang our bell because she was coming with us. Ironically, she thought we had left, but we were still asleep. So when she rang, we got up, finally got moving, and actually made it to the market by 9:30. Whoops. But the market itself was wonderful! Of course it was made up of your tacky vendors with a few good ones thrown in for good measure, but the best part was the atmosphere. It was just so Italian. Everywhere you turned vendors were yelling at you in Italian "regazze, regazze, belle regazze!" or "saldi! saldi!" It was just delightful! My only purchase of the day was a towel, but a much needed towel. The towels we were provided (one per person) were less than sufficient. But there was so much more than that and I have no doubt that we'll be going back for many weeks to come! I spent the rest of the day relaxing, doing wash, and preparing for the first day of classes tomorrow! Eeeep!!!

Let's hope it all goes well!