Tuesday February 14
Today started out as a normal day of classes and going out to eat but it ended with having the best gelato I have had this trip or the last time I was here. Frigidarium which was about a 5 minute walk from where we had dinner is known for their Frigidarium flavor. This flavor consists of caramel and hazelnut with chocolate cookie pieces. If that doesn't sound good enough they top the cone with a whole chocolate cookie and then dip the ice cream into chocolate that forms a crunch coating on the outside. It was AMAZING. Not only did it taste amazing, we got two scoops with the chocolate top all for only 2 euros. This was an amazing cone and price for a huge scoop of gelato. We spent the rest of the night discussing how that is going to become our new Tuesday ritual. I cannot wait until next Tuesday.
Wednesday February 15
One of our assignments this semester involves pairing up with a local school and working together with an Italian student. Today was the day that we met the students. My partners name is Diana (shes 19 like me) and luckily her english is really good. It was pretty cool being able to learn about the differences between our schooling. One of the main differences is that she only goes to school till 1:30 and she also only has about an hour of homework a day. I cannot believe that our schools are so different. I took her on a tour of the campus and we had a nice conversation getting to know each other. It was an interesting experience and I look forward to seeing her again.
Thursday February 16
Today started out as a normal school day but ended with a wine tasting. One of our professors this semester is a well known tour guide in Rome and has given tours to actors and famous people from around the world. Well it turns out in addition to being a well known tour guide she and her husband are sommeliers. She was going to be leading us through our wine tasting this evening. We head downstairs after dinner to find what is usually our classroom transformed into a room where we can sit and experience this tasting of wine. The room was filled with snacks, glasses and even a program that included what we would be tasting. We had 6 wines total; 1 Prosecco, 2 white, 2 red, and a dessert wine. Turns out I don't really like wine. I definitely preferred the Prosecco over any of the other and the white over the red but honestly I would just stick with my glass of water rather than wine. It was a nice experience though to learn about the 5 S's of wine tasting. They are sight, swirl, smell, sip, savor. I am happy that I got to experience this and know the proper way to drink wine even if I don't necessarily like it. The best part about the fact that my professor lead the wine tasting was that I had class with her that morning, then saw her again for the wine tasting and then I would be seeing her everyday this weekend as she was leading my group on our tour around northern Italy. I am going to be spending a lot of time with my professor. Better make sure I brush up on my church design plans and fresco painting techniques. We leave nice and early tomorrow morning.
Friday February 10
Our day starts out nice and early for our departure for Perugia. We head outside to catch our bus at 6:30 am. My goal for the bus ride was to do homework but it was pitch black out so that didn't work. I ended up taking a nap instead. Before I knew it we were getting off the high way and driving through the mountains to get to our first destination; truffle hunting. When we finally got up the steep winding mountain to the farm the view was amazing. You could see the whole city. I wondered for part of it how the bus could possibly make it up but apparently we had a very good driver who knew exactly what he was doing. When we get to the farm we are greeted by the tour guide, a truffle hunter, the truffle dog Camilla, and the owners of the truffle company. We start the truffle hunt which is basically letting the dog run around and sniff out the truffles. When she finds ones she starts to dig it up and then the trainer has to run over so that she doesn't eat the truffle (she ended up having a couple snacks). It was really interesting being able to see how she was able to find the smallest truffle. Once the truffle is found we then used a little shovel to dig it up and I even got to dig one up! Sadly i didnt get to keep it. After finding about 15 truffles we headed to the factory for lunch. We were going to be eating lunch that was everything truffle.
When we get to the factory we start out with a tour of how the truffles are cleaned and packaged. Then we head over for a little lesson about truffles. Finally it was time to eat. We sit down to lunch with no one knowing what to expect. The only one who had any idea of wether they liked truffles or not was are Assistant Resident Director in charge of the trip who had already done this excursion before. The first course was served which was just 3 pieces of bread with 3 different types of truffle on top with some olive oil. We were introduced to each truffle and then we were allowed to eat it. We glanced nervously each other before taking a bite. It turns out they were nothing like what I would expect. While I didn't love all of them, they were actually okay. I was excited to try them in some food rather than just the raw form. The next course was bread with different types of sauces with truffle in them. One of them was even a pesto with truffle which was pretty good. They also served cheese with honey infused with truffle, and flan with truffle in it. The honey was pretty good but I am just not the biggest fan of flan. Our next course was definitely the best one. They served us nochi with a cheese truffle sauce, mashed potatoes with truffle, frittata with truffle, polenta with truffle, and chicken with truffle. Everything was amazing but the nocchi was definitely my favorite. After that we had a light dessert that no did not have truffle in it and then lunch was over. I was stuffed. I never imagined that i would like truffle but everything i ate was super good. We even got certificates that we were "official" truffle hunter now!
After lunch we headed back onto the bus to head toward the Perugina chocolate factory. When we get to the factor we are taken on a tour where we first learn about the history. Perugina is known for their Bacio chocolate which is a chocolate hazelnut middle with a whole hazelnut on top and covered in chocolate. After learning about the history we are then taken to a tasting where we get to try 10 different types of chocolate. It was all so good. My favorite was one of the special versions of the Bacio which has candied chocolate pieces in it and is covered in extra dark chocolate. It was so good. Then we go on a tour of the factory where sadly we weren't able to take pictures but it was so cool being able to see the chocolate being made. One of the things we got to see super close was them making their chocolate easter eggs which was pretty cool. After seeing the chocolate being made of course the natural thing to do was to head back to the chocolate factory and try some chocolate because why not. Then our tour was over. It was so interesting seeing everything be made. The gift shop was the next stop where of course I bought some chocolate to bring back to school.
Off to the bed and breakfast where we will be staying for 2 nights. It was also where we will be doing the cooking class tonight. When we get to the place we are showed to our apartments. The apartments were super cute and the owner even baked us a cake for breakfast the next day. We got about 20 minutes to unwind before we headed upstairs for the cooking class. I was so excited for this part of the trip. Our menu for the night was onion pizza, margarita pizza, handmade pasta with tomato sauce, and tiramisu. We split into groups of about 4 and each group got go do a portion of the cooking. I ended up doing the onion pizza. The owner had previously made the dough because it needed time to rise so i was tasked with kneading it, rolling it out, and assembly. So i wasnt told what shape to make the pizza so I assumed a circle. Good assumption right? Turns out it was suppose to be a square so i made a perfect circle to only have to cut it. Then i had to put the toppings on which was just a TON of onions, olive oil, salt, and sage. As i was assembling it i was wondering whether this pizza would actually be any good. We sit down to dinner and the first thing out is the pizza. It was surprisingly very good. I never would have imagined it would be but something about Italy makes really simple ingredients taste 10 times better than they would at home. The other pizza was great also but my favorite part of the meal was the handmade pasta. Nothing compares to pasta that you make yourself. After finishing the tiramisu we headed to our rooms to collapse and go to bed. However, when we got to our room it was an icebox! It was so cold and we couldnt figure out how to increase the heat if we even could. We ended up huddling together in the bed together to stay warm. We got all 4 of us in the bed with room to spare! That really helped us warm up and then we finally went to our beds we were definetly warmer. We set our alarm for our early day the next morning.
Saturday February 11
Today started out with yoga. We headed down the hill to the casa yog were we were going to be lead through our yoga class. Having not done yoga before it was an interesting experience. I definetly ejnjoyed it an would maybe do it again. However, there was one weird part where the leader was able to suck his stomach in so it was like an inch thick and it was kinda creepy. After a nice meditation session we headed back up the hill to change and relax for a little bit before lunch. The owner cooked us lunch and it too was really good. We had pesto pasta which was also hand made and amazing. After lunch we had some free time again where we did some homework and then we departed for the city.
Perugia is a reallycool city. We were given time to walk around, shop, have a snack and look at the scenery. There was one spot in town where you get a really good view of thescenery around us and we made sure to head back around sunset. We spent our free time doing a ton of walking and then it was time for dinner. Dinner was another great 5 course meal. However, i was exhausted by that time and loved the opportunity to sit down. After dinner we head back to the bed and breakfast which was actually warm. We were exhasutedbut we packed up because we left earl he next morning for Assisi.
Sunday February 12
Assisi is situated on a mountain and to go anywhere you have to walk up a ton of hills. I think i ended up doing the equivalent of over 70 flights of stairs from walking up the hills. We go to mass where I was freezing and then we go on a tour of the city. It was very interesting learning about the history of the city. We then had some free time to do some shopping and get lunch. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to our meetin gpoint to get on the bus to head back to Rome. I immediately fell asleep on the bus even though I planned to do some homework. Before i knew it we were back at campus. This weekend was amazing and it was great getting to see parts of Italy that I might not have been able to see. While this weekend was exhausting it was amazing. Now to go do some homework to prepare for this next school week.
2nd week of classes are done. It is great being able to get into a normal schedule again. Sadly, I already have a quiz next week so I will be studying hard for that. The classes all don't seem too bad but I usually have about 70 pages of reading that is due for each class (or for my film class a 2 hour movie). Luckily, the classes are all interesting so the reading is not too bad. Tuesday we went out to dinner again with our vouchers and this time I got eggplant parmesan. It was really good. I love being able to sit at the long tables having a hour long meal getting to meet knew people. The bus system is getting a little bit easier. There is an app we can use to determine when the bus should be arriving in front of the school which sometimes works. The worsts its been has been 10 minutes late. This helps prevent the need to leave 2 hours early for everything. Other than getting the lay of the land and figuring out the best schedule, this week has been relatively uneventful. I am excited though for this weekend were I will be doing a cooking class and truffle hunting. Stay tuned for next week where I will tell all about my trip starting nice and early on Friday.
On of my favorite things this week was riding a bus other than the normal 3 I ride daily. On my way back from my on-site class all we wanted to do was get back to school for lunch. We were hoping that when we got to the bus stop in Boccea we would be lucky and the 906 wouldn’t be too far away. However, this was not the case and when we got to the bus stop the sign said 45 minutes. We waited for the sign to cycle again before we got disappointed. Turns out the 906 just didn’t like us today and the only one listed was the 45 minute away one. We all looked at each other and then decided that we would try taking another bus to the end of Boccea and then walk the rest of the way. This meant we only had to walk one mile instead of two. We examined the bus sign and then chose a bus that had 8 stops in Boccea figuring if it only had 2 it might not stop where we needed it to. The ride was interesting because every time we approached a bus stop we wondered should we get off here or wait it out for another stop or two. We successful got off where we needed to and then we began walking. About 5 minutes after we started walking the 906 passed us. So, it turns out the sign was wrong. Whoops. As we continued walking thinking why didn't we just wait for the bus, I began to take in my surrounding. We were walking through Rome! It was a beautiful day and there was nothing to complain about. The thing that I loved the most about this experience was being able to notice things that I would never have been able to on the bus. For instance, there is a garden store on our street. Who would have know. Whenever we drive past its speeding on a bus with fogged up windows. There was also a food truck parked outside what I believe is a school and amazing views. The fields were all so green and the views we get of surrounding areas and neighborhoods were amazing. The typical view a person sees when they go to Rome is of the major attractions; the Trevi fountain, colosseum, and Spanish steps. Not the suburbs that have beautifully colored homes. The oranges and yellows of the houses is something that we typically don't see in the United States especially where I live outside DC in a suburb.
What I initially was a little hesitant on doing became one of my favorite things. I gained a better appreciation of where I was living. I also think learning how to take another bus is more important than getting back to school 20 minutes earlier. This experience was a really interesting one for me because I was stepping out of my comfort zone. Rather than sticking with only the buses that I know exactly where they went. I both gained a new view of where I was living and the confidence to ride the bus system without having the route planned ou
Now, while that was my favorite experience there was also one situation that I disliked the most. This weekend we traveled for Florence where while Duquesne helped us with some things we were left with all of Sunday to ourselves. I am someone who loves to have a plan and schedule to hold onto. However, the people I travelled with are very much the opposite. We spent all of Saturday doing the planed schedule of Duquesne and then while at dinner, when everyone was around, we discussed our plan for Sunday. The plan we made was super important because one of the people in our group was living in a hotel with a different set of people to make all 12 of our housing cheaper. However, she wasn't friends with them just doing a favor. Anyways we had the plan of on Sunday we would get to the bell tower at 8:15 right when it opened. I set my alarm for 7:45 giving myself 30 minutes to get ready which was more than enough. Well, when my alarm went off I woke up to all the lights off and nobody making any noise. I looked around the room where four of us were sleeping and made eye contact with the one other girl who wakes up at 6:45 every morning. I texted her why no one was up and she wasn't sure. However, our other friend was going to be coming to our place any minute to drop off her bags. She had to check out of her hotel early while we could stay in our Airbnb until our train left at three. I ended up getting ready super quick so I could go outside and meet our friend, however, before I left the other girls in the room told us that they would come meet us at the bell tower at 9. We figured they might not have stuck to their original plan, at least they were planning on still getting up and not wasting our last day in Florence. Soon enough it was 9 am and pouring out. They were nowhere in sight. At 9:30 we decided enough and that while they might not care that we just wasted an hour and half waiting for them to get up we were going to enjoy our time and go on with our day. We ended up climbing the bell tower where they eventually joined up with us. While I was initially very frustrated with them for making the plan and not even being able to keep it, I was grateful that we didn't let that stop us.
While I will always someone who prefers, a schedule made, I am learning that it’s not everything. I also learned that while we may be a group of six who are all friends, it doesn't mean that we must stay together. While I was frustrated schedules aren't everything. It is the experiences that we are forming and nothing says these experiences must be done in a group of six. Breaking out of my comfort zone is important and doing so will allow me to grow personally, socially and professionally.
Friday February 3
Time to catch our first Italian train. We get out of class at 5:15 and our train leaves at 7:50. It is about a 15 minute bus ride and a 20 minute metro ride. However, the bus is super unreliable and it could take over an hour to catch it. Turns out when we get out of class we are in luck. The bus is leaving in 15 minutes so we sprint upstairs to grab our already packed bags and run to the bus stop. We even have a couple minutes to spar. We end up getting to the train station with about an hour and a half before our train so we spend the time getting some dinner. We are finally given a track number and head to the train. The train is one of the fast ones so we should be in Florence in about an hour and a half.
The train ride is uneventful and it was also super empty. I ended up having no one sit next to me which was great. When we get to Florence we hustle to where we will be staying; an airbnb. 6 of us will be staying in a one bedroom one bathroom apartment. I guess mornings will be alot of jumping over people trying to get ready. When we finally get to the place and walk in it was super nice. It was well decorated and clean. We decide on who is sleeping in what bed and who is sharing a bed with who and then it is time to head out and explore the city. Our first stop, the Duomo. Our place was only about .3 miles from the Duomo so it was amazing being able to walk for less than 5 minutes and it suddenly appeared in front of us. We stop to take pictures we a group of guys ask us to take their picture for them. Turns out they were students from Washington State. What was the likelihood we found another group that spoke english. After taking pictures for them and them doing the same for us it was time to walk around a little more before heading back and getting some sleep. The next day starts out super early with a tour of the Duomo.
Saturday February 4
This trip is one that Duquesne sponsors. While they do not do everything for us, they do take us on the tours. We meet in front of the Duomo at 9 to be assigned to our groups and given our listening devices. The tour ended up being super interesting and informative. The tour guide was great and made everything come to life. After the tour it was off to Tour the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo. There we were able to see some very interesting statues before heading to the roof for a view of the Duomo. It was amazing. After that we headed to the Academia Gallery to see the David. It was amazing. I could not believe how tall the David was and how Michelangelo was able to make him continue to stand all these years later. I am definitely happy that I decided to go on the trip. We now were given an hour long lunch break. I ended up at a pizza shop were I go a piece of pizza with some vegetables on it. It only cost 2,70 euros and it was a super big piece. It also tasted great. After resting it was time to head out on our tour of the city.
The second we got to the meeting place for the tour it started to pour. Luckily I had my rain coat on but I wish I remembered to grab my umbrella from the bottom of my backpack. I ended up sharing one with the different people around me. Our tour guide decided to start the tour at places that were undercover. We were able to see the different architecture of the city, small road barely large enough for a car and we even saw a replica of the David. However, this replica was outside and because of its location in front of a very tall building it looked about half the size of the real David. I could not believe that they were both the same size but I guess our eyes can trick us. However, nothing I had seen today was as amazing as the scenery of our last stop. Ponte Vecchio. This is a bridge that houses the gold shops of Florence. However its location over the water next to yellow and orange apartments makes for an amazing view and pictures. After stopping for a photo shoot and to learn some history about the bridge it was time for a gelato break. Despite the fact that it was still raining, kinda windy, and cold because we were by water free food will always be accepted and this gelato was amazing. Just what we needed after walking all day.
After our gelato break it was time to part ways with our tour guide and gave us some free time. We headed to the bridge to look at the jewelry (it was all so beautiful but expensive) and then we slowly made our way back to the room weaving in and our of markets. There were so many leather bags and scarfs for sale. There was mass at the Duomo so while my friends all went to that I went into different stores that I encountered and then headed back to the room to get ready for dinner and warm up a bit. After dinner was one of Duquesne infamous multi course meals. I was so excited. Turns out my excitement wasn't well met. While the food was good the portions were tiny. They served the food family style, but only enough for the 6 people sharing to get about 5 noodles each. We did however, go through at least 15 bottles of water which since you have to pay for water in Italy, made up for the small portions of food. After dinner was over it was time to head back to the room before our day of exploring tomorrow.
Sunday February 5,
We have today to do whatever we want. Our train does not leave until 3:13 so we have a lot of time to get souvenirs. Our day starts out early at 8 am to get ready. Luckily, its still raining outside so I guess we will all be bundling up. We head out to breakfast before walking throughout the whole city. Our first stop was to head back to bridge so that one of the people in my group could buy a necklace. While she was buying a necklace I strolled up and down with another friend admiring all the jewelry and being stunned by some of the outrageous prices. afterwards we then admired the view some more before heading back to visit some markets. We ended up stopping on one market that had a lot of leather bags and scarfs. While some got bags, I headed over to the scarfs. I ended up purchasing one after negotiating with him to lower the price. Now I had something extra to protect me from the rain. While wandering into and out of different shops we eventually made it back to the Duomo. There, we ended up getting pizza to bring back to the place. After walking back trying to avoid as many puddles as possible, we finally made it. We sat down to eat our food which tasted amazing after walking so much. Despite walking around the city for a couple hours, we still had 2 hours before we needed to be at the train station. The train station is only a 5 minute walk so we don't have to leave too early.
The amount of walking finally caught up so we decided to take this time to relax and do some homework. Before we knew it it was time to head to the train. We get there and we are early so we stand around staring at the military officers with their huge machine guns. When our train finally gets into the station we board and choose our seats. This train, because it is a slow train, is situation with 4 seats facing each other. We all sit in our own row facing one other person. It was amazing because we were able to spread out and get comfortable for our 3.5 hour ride. I love when the trains not full!
Turns out the slow train is not slow just because of its speed but also because it had 12 stops between Florence and Rome. Luckily the train did not start to get full until 3 stops from home so I only had to share a seat with someone for about 30 minutes. The train ride was filled with homework, sleeping, and people watching as they got kicked off the train. Turns out they really will cook people off the train when they don't have a ticket. When we finally got to Rome we were so excited to get back. However, our train seemed to stop at the farthest track possible. It was at lest two full trial lengths until you reached the main platform. We were in Rome yet we were so far away from being back at campus. We still had the walk to the platform, metro ride, and bus ride before we were home. Luckily we had very good timing for the metro and bus so we barely had to wait. By the time we got to campus it was time to have dinner and I was starving. The night was then filled with showering and some homework before an early bedtime. Florence was an amazing trip and I am glad that I went on it. I cannot wait until next weekend for my trip to Assisi, Italy.
This week was the start of classes but it was also the first weekend where I could travel throughout Italy. After an exciting orientation period that I wished would never end, it was finally time to start learning again; the real reason that I am in Italy this semester. My favorite thing that I did this week was eating dinner at a table that was half people I already knew and half that I couldn't even remember their names. Every Tuesday and Thursday for dinner we eat off campus somewhere. This Tuesday January 31, we to eat at the old bear. Before dinner however, I have an onsite class where rather than sitting in a classroom for 3 hours, we meet at some point in Rome. This week we met at the Capitoline Hill which was very cool. Once class was over a group of about 15 of us set out on the adventure to figure out where dinner was. Turns out we headed in the wrong direction before we pulled out a map but that’s all part of the experience. When we finally got to the restaurant we ended up having to be split into two tables. The table I ended up at was a table of 8. Two of the people were ones who are physical therapist like me and the rest were ones who I recognized but had never talked to and didn't know their names. When we sat down at the table we did the customary going around the table saying names and eventually later at dinner our majors. While the dinner started out slightly awkward not knowing anyone, it ended up being one of the best dinners I had. The food was great and the conversation never stopped. Because we didn't already know everyone it was interesting being able to get to know one another. We discussed what summer jobs we had, sororities/ fraternities that people are in want to join and at one point the topic of wisdom teeth even came up. No topic was off limits.
this experience has taught me that while I typically try to hang around people I already know, I should avoid that, go out of my comfort zone and talk to new people. I do not regret for one second not trying to force myself to the front of our group so I could try and sit with the people I already knew. While this may not be a situation I would have typically chosen, only been forced into. I now know I will get more out of this trip if I try to meet other students than just focus on those who I came to Italy already knowing.
Now, while I loved going out to eat after class, attempting to get to my 8 am on- site class was super stressful and something that I did not necessarily like. On Thursdays, our class begins at 8:30 am at a random location throughout the city. This week the meeting spot was in front of the metro stop Colleseo (can you guess whats there?). We set out with directions of what we had to do. Get on the 906 in front of school, take it into Boccea, get on the metro, get off the metro at Colleseo, find the exit and stand there. Thats not too complicated. However, as we were standing waiting for the 906, it kept getting later and later than when the app said the bus should be there and it still had not come. We had left an hour and a half early like they said but I was still worried that we would not make it on time. When the bus finally came I let out a huge sigh of relief but could not help look at my watch the whole time. I am someone who loves to be early to everything. 15 minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is super late. I could not help but think we should have left earlier. When we finally got off the bus we ran to metro and then hopped on. It was so crowded and every stop further it got more so.
Monday January 30
First day of school.
Sadly my time of being able to explore the city with no homework to do has ended. Now I have to focus on the real reason I was able to come to Rome this semester; school. Today started out at 9 with a meeting about the alcohol policy for the school. They also taught us about general safety and earthquake safety. After this class ended it was time for lunch which was some great ravioli along with bread, salad, cheese, meat and dessert. It was great and super filling. The pefect thing I need before my first 3 hour and 15 minute class. My first class of the week is a film class where we will be analyzing different things about Italian films. Turns out that the 3 hour class doesn't include the time to watch any of the film so thats another 2 hour class on a different day. My film professor seems great. His name is Pino and he comes to campus from the city of Bologna. He likes to make a lot of jokes which is great for helping the time pass. Soon enough it was the end of class and I had a little bit of free time until dinner. For dinner we had chicken (veggie patties for me), cauliflower, rice, bread, cheese, meat, salad and dessert. The cauliflower was amazing. I have learned that lunch will usually be a starch and dinner will be a meat along with a veggie and starch. The first day of class was generally a success and after dinner it was time to get started on all the homework I already had before some of my classes even met. I will be doing a lot of reading this semester it turns out. After studying for a while a bunch of my friends and I got together to plan our trip to Florence for the next weekend. This trip is half through the school and half through us. We pay the school a small amount for our admission to the sights, tour guide, gelato, and a multi course dinner. We are so excited but we have to now figure out where to stay and how we are getting there. But, after contacting some places to stay we decided it was time to go to bed before our first on-site class.
Tuesday January 31
Time to sign up for some excursions
6am- Time to get up and go sit downstairs for an hour in a half before I can sign up for excursions. Duquesne sponsors trips to different regions within Italy where they take us on tours, food adventures, and beautiful scenery. The trips they were offering were to Perugia and Assisi Umbria Italy, Matera and Craco Basilicata Italy, and a day trip to Tivoli and the Lakes in Italy. The trips all sound super exiting and I am hoping I can get into all of them. However, most of the trips only have about 18 spots and there are 57 of us at school right now. The odds are not in my favor to be able to get into all of the excursions but I figured the earlier I wake up, the more likely I am to get into them. I headed down to sit in our lobby and the whole time I was walking down the steps I was hoping that there would be less than 18 people already down there. As I rounded the corner I heard voices and as I got closer I saw there was only 7 people in front of me. I was number 8. I was going to get into all the excursions! I was so excited but now I had an hour and a half to kill. We immediately set a rule that no one who came down later could cut in line but we could go to the bathroom or get food if needed. Luckily, breakfast was going to start being served at 7 so I only had a little time to kill before I could go get some food and much needed coffee.
Soon the time has come and I pull out the pen I had been holding onto this whole time. I signed up for the three excursions, the trip to Florence and a wine tasting they are holding. I am going to come home seeing all parts of Italy and also knowing a lot about wine (hopefully I find one I like but at least I can tell people about it). After the excitement of signing up it was time to head downstairs for the super early showing of the movie assigned for this weeks film class; 1900. This film was..... interesting. 2 hours and 45 minutes later I was finally done with the movie. Well just the first part. The second part of the movie running at 2 hours and 30 minutes is due Monday morning.
After watching the movie it was time to venture into the suburb near us and attempt to get an Italian sim card for our nokias that are virtually impossible to type on after using an iPhone for so long. When we get to the store the first thing we ask is "parli inglese" or do you speak english. Luckily the employee spoke a little english so we were able to get the smallest plan they offered and get out in less than 30 minutes. Then it was time to head back to school to get some lunch before heading back out on the bus to go to our first on-site class.
On-site classes take place at different points throughout the city of Rome. This weeks class takes place at the Capitoline Hill or where the capital of Rome is. We ended up going on a tour of the Capitoline Museum where we learned all about the different sculptures and art located in the building. It was a pretty interesting class and we were able to get some really nice pictures both inside the museum and of the city. After class it was time to eat dinner. On Tuesdays dinner is located at a restaurant in the city where we get vouchers for whatever we want to eat. The only problem is none of us who were walking from class had been there before and we weren't quite sure where the restaurant was located. After many wrong turns we eventually did make it. Todays dinner takes place at the Old Bear which has a lot of pastas and salads. I ended up getting some spinach ravioli which were amazing. They were super light and the filling was really flavorful. It was nice being able to sit at a table with people I don't normally get to talk to and learn all about them and make new friends. Afterwards our group of 8 headed out to find a gelato place before attempting to find the bus stop back to school. After cramming into the crowded bus and waiting over an hour for both of them we finally make it back to school. We were all exhausted and all we wanted to do was sleep but instead I stayed up and started on the massive pile of homework already forming. And tomorrow would most likely bring even more.
Wednesday February 1
I can finally sleep in! Today my first class doesn't start till 11 am and its my only class of the day. I took full advantage of being able to catch up on sleep and slept until 10. It felt so good to be able to catch up on all the sleep I have missed. My only class today is a cultural awareness class where they basically teach us about the Italian culture. It was very interesting to learn different greetings in Italian to say to people. Soon enough that class was over and I had the rest of the day free. I used that time to organize my room and get all my school stuff set. I also decided it would be a good time to do some laundry. Laundry here costs 2 euro a wash or dry cycle which is so different than in Pittsburgh where its free. Luckily they give us 50 euro of laundry money but I am starting to wonder if that will be enough. Turns out I didn't shut the washer correctly so I ended up paying twice to wash one load of clothes. And then I learned the dryers are a lot weaker than home so they weren't even able to completely dry my clothes. I ended up laying them out to finish drying. At least I wasn't like some other students that spent 10 euros for a single wash and dry cycle. After the failure of laundry was over I had dinner and then spent the rest of the night watching the second half of 1900. I would have to say I definitely do not recommend this movie and have wasted 5 hours of my life in watching it. I wonder what the class discussion would be like. I will find out on Friday because while usually we don't have any classes on Friday we have all our Monday classes again to make up for the fact we have a Monday off for Easter later in the semester.
Thursday February 2
Today starts off at 8 am where I get onto a private bus for my second on-site class of the week. Usually we are expected to take public transportation but since we are going to a location outside the city they give us a ride for this class. It was nice being able to sit comfortably while listening to our professor talk and be able to take notes on our lap. Our destination this morning was the Catacombs. The catacombs were very interesting. Some of the paints that were done on the ceiling and walls were spectacular. The technique they used left them with only a couple hours to finish the complete design. Sadly we were not allowed to take any pictures so I don't have any examples to show. After the class ended our professor was nice and asked the bus driver to take a slower way back to campus but one that allowed us to see different parts of Rome we otherwise might not have. We even drove past where the hotel I stayed at the last time I cam was. The tour was great and we got back just in time for lunch. After lunch was time for homework before heading into the city for dinner.
Thursday is another day where we are provided a voucher for dinner and this time it was at a pizza restaurant by the Vatican. We took the metro there which a much better way of traveling than the bus. I ended up getting cacio e pepe pizza which was pretty good. (Not as good as the pasta from last time though mom. ) We even had enough money left that we could get dessert so I got a chocolate mousse that was so rich I could only eat a couple spoonfuls. After dinner when we were stuffed we headed back to the metro so we could get home and do more homework before bed. It seems like I will be staying up late most nights. Good thing I am in a place with really good coffee.
Friday February 3
Back to my film class. The discussion turned out to be more of a history lesson than discussion of the movie which was nice but boring at times. Soon enough class was over and it was time to sprint up stairs to grab our bags. We had 15 minutes to get to the bus stop to catch our bus that would take us to the metro. It was time to go on our first trip outside of the city! We were headed to Florence. Stay tuned for how the weekend in Florence is!
Sunday January 29,
Today was the day where we would be lead on tours of the city. I was so excited to finally be able to see the monements Rome is known for. The day started out with breakfast at 7 am where I felt like I was still half asleep. It was a good think I packed my bag with everything I would need the night before like money, copy of my passport and water. Today was also the first time I would be riding the Rome bus system.
We head out as a huge group of 30 with some stragglers behind us. While we walk to the bus spot which is only a couple feet outside the campus, one of the Assistant Resident Director (ARDs) taught us the rules of the buses and crossing the street. Her first rule was that you have to cross in a cross walk or else if you get hit its your own fault. Simple enough, look for the white lines on the road and walk over them. Well, turns out it wasn't that simple as about only 1 or 2 lines are still visible and the rest have faded away. It appeared as though the ARD chose to cross the street at a random shrub until I asked her once we were one the other side and she pointed it out. Rule 2: Cars don't stop to give you a clear path. You have to walk with confidence and make eye contact with the driver so they slow down. This goes against everything I have been taught about crossing the street. Why would I want to start crossing when there is still a car speeding at me rather than at a complete rest letting me know I could go. This method of crossing the street will take some getting used to as my heart pounds every time I have to attempt it. When we finally get to the bus stop we were told that on our stretch of street there is only 1 bus to take us into the outskirts of town where we would then transfer buses to get into the center of the city. Yay, I have to take 2 buses to get anywhere... Well it turns out the 905, or the first bus I have to take, is very unreliable and comes about every 45 minutes... I hope I never miss it when I have to go into the city for class.
When the bus finally pulls up it is already half full. It turns out only half of our 57 students would be able to make it on so we would have to wait for the second bus to take the rest. However, since we had not already been split into our predetermined groups, we got stuck waiting for the rest of the school at the other end of the bus for 45 minutes until they arrived. Not the end of the world. The ARD with us was able to give us some good advice and we could ask all our questions we had so far.
Finally the other students arrived and it was time for us to break into 3 groups and go on our tours throughout the city. The tour began with a explanation of the bus system. The ARD explain how the signs worked for what route we needed and how electronic signs show estimated time of arrival. We were then shown the metro system which is honestly super easy. It only has two lines that go in a north-south and east-west direction compared to the crazy squiggles all the different lines the DC metro makes. We were then show the train station and how to book/ catch a train. Easy enough. My next stop however was my favorite one of the day. We got out at the metro stop for the Colosseum and after ascending the escalators we were greeted by the Colosseum. It was right in front of us!!! It was amazing! We were given time to take pictures which was great. I later learned that while my group got to visit the landmark Rome is known for, the other two groups visited the Trevi Fountain and a glass escalator that gave you a view of the city. I however, am happy with the attraction I got and am happy I ended up in that group.
After our magnificent view we walked through he Forum to lunch where I had my first Italian pizza of the trip. It had roasted vegetables on it and it was amazing. It was even better considering Duquesne paid for the meal. We then went to the Pantheon and admired its open ceiling and architecture before we continued on to Piazza Navona to look at its fountains. Finally it was time for the best food of the trip; gelato. We arrive to find a ton of different flavors. Duquesne was paying yet again and we were allowed to get a cone with 2 flavors and whipped cream if you wanted. I ended up getting chocolate and pistachio with whipped cream and it was amazing! It was honestly some of the best gelato I have had. As I am standing outside enjoying my gelato, the ARD breaks the news that she is leaving and we have to find our way home. We have one bus ticket left and have no idea where we are besides in Rome. That was a shock but I understand their motives behind it. They had shown us before places where we could catch the bus and while they may have walked us in circles to make it seem like we were far away, we were actually relatively close. We just took out our maps and after a couple wrong turns we were at the stop where we literally missed the bus by 1 minute. Guess well be waiting another 35. In that time though, another group met us so we rode the bus back together. The ride back was interesting because in Italian culture, the bus is silent. However the 30 students from the US get on, we are loud and annoying. We received a bunch of stares from other riders. After an hour and a half we made it back to campus. Just in time to go to the restroom and then head down to dinner. After dinner we then went to plan our travel scheulde for weekends while we are here because sign up for the duquesne excursions starts at 8 am on tuesday. There are so many places I want to go but so little time! Well, we will see what I get a spot to and plan from there cause its time for bed after walking throughout Rome all day.
PS check out my photo section by clicking the 3 lines at the top right corner and choosing the photos page.
Saturday January 27. I made it to Rome today!!! I am so excited for what this semester is going to hold. However, after that 9-hour plan ride where I got about 5 minutes of sleep I am exhausted. However, there is so time to rest as I should go to the grocery store to get something for my Rome like soap and shampoo. The school is located on a street that you just have to walk less than 10 minutes to get to a grocery store that’s kind of like an Aldi, a convenience store thing that sells everything from shoes, to clothes, to towels and electronics, and what I didn't know at the time but have since learned was also in the center a store like a Walmart. A big group of about 6 of us headed out for our first European shopping adventure, but before we could even shop we had to cross the street. Now, why would crossing the street be a problem? Well, in Rome all the cars drive extremely fast. On the bus from the airport while I was enjoying the scenery I was also staring at all the near collisions cars were having on the highways. Cars will random switch lanes, drive like the are late for something important and on top of that you have motorcycles just driving in between two lanes. People drive crazy here. You can now image my worry as we have to cross a two-lane street that is on a straight. This is great for us because we can see all the traffic coming, but as you know, straight road means drive faster.
The time has come. We have made it all the way down the street and see our destination in sight. All that stands between us and shopping is the speeding rows of cars. We stand at the crosswalk that is marked with lines on the ground, a crosswalk signal above and blinking yellow light. No one makes any attempt to stop or even slow down to let us cross. I am confused. At home, while it may take a couple cars to be nice and let you go, someone always does. However, it does not appear as though anyone will be stopping anytime soon. We end up waiting there for a gap big enough that we can sprint across the street to safety. While my head was still pounding on the other side of the street, I still couldn't understand why any of the cars that passed us wouldn't let us cross. And I still had to do it again when I went back to school.
Back at school I learned that in Italy you cross the street by making eye contact with the driver and walking confidently. They then slow down but don't typically come to a complete stop. This is so different from the way that I was taught to cross the street. The look both ways to make sure there are no cars and when the coast is clear then you can cross. Or when a person comes to a complete stop and waves at you then you can cross. I never imagined that moving to a suburb in a different country would mean learning an entirely new way of crossing the street. The fact that something I believe is so simple cause me panic and made me become flustered is why I realized that I can learn from these experiences. I learned that when you integrate yourself into a new culture that nothing is guaranteed to be the same. This also makes me think about when people come to our country. How it’s not customary for someone to just walk in front of a moving car and could cause a car accident. Different countries mean different cultures and customs. Because of this traveling results in expanding of your cultural perspective. While I may still stand out as being a foreigner because of my looks I am hoping that by the end of this experience I can be more accustomed to the culture of Italy and the places I visit.
I have arrived in Rome!!! It is so beautiful here and nothing like America. The drive to the campus was full of speeding cars barely missing hitting each other, trees that look like they belong in Africa and beautiful scenery. I am already having a blast and I am still jet lagged so I cannot wait until I am use to the time difference.
Thursday Jan 26
My mom and I decided to head to Philly on Wednesday so that way there was no way I could miss my flight on Thursday because of traffic or have to spend over 15 hours traveling. Turns out that was a good idea because while at lunch on Thursday (6 hours before my flight) we looked at the tv to see protests in the center of Philly and Air Force One was landing at the airport where I will be leaving from.I was so happy that we stayed in a hotel outside of the city and that was close to the airport so that we could get there easily if there was traffic. As we were driving back to the hotel from lunch I even saw, from a distance, Air Force One parked on the tarmac at the airport! Who would have thought that the start to my Roman adventure would begin with seeing the president (well I guess just saw his plane but still).
2 PM. Time to check out of the hotel and head to the airport. When we got to the airport parking was a mess. The garage was a confusing maze full of yellow poles that barely allowed you enough room to make a turn. Good thing I wasn't driving (sorry mom). When we finally got a spot after tons of circling and failed attempts at parking in sports with really short cars pulled up we finally found an open spot. When we got to the ticket counter there were zero people in line! I am able to get my ticket with TSA precheck in minutes. Now it is time for me to leave my mom. I cannot believe that the time has come but I am about to go to Rome. I get in line for TSA and theres 1 person in front of me. I get through in a breeze. It is also around the same time that everyone who flew in from Pittsburgh has landed so I will only have to wait a short time at the gate before I am joined by others. 3 hours and I will be boarding the plane for Rome!
The flight: I was soon joined by all my friends after they landed. I was even able to change my seat to be next to one of my friends and around the rest of the group. I even got an aisle seat! Boarding happened with no problems and we were able to take off only 40 minutes late which was great for an international flight. I spent the flight watching the Secret Life of Pets (which was a cute movie) and attempting to sleep but only ending up getting about 5 minutes for the whole flight. And then we landed in Rome! I made it and am about to have the best adventure of my life. Well, first I have to get through customs. Now, the customs line was a completely different story than TSA. The line was soooo long at 2 people in front of me! I think I was through in about a minute considering the customs agent didn't ask me a single question. Now it was time to get our luggage and hope that all of it made it. Luckily all of mine and my friends did so it was off to meeting the representatives from Duquesne.
Friday January 27
The bus ride into Rome:
We were led to 2 buses where we barely stuffed all our luggage from 57 people under the bus. It was just a short 20 minute ride to the campus. The whole ride was beautiful scenery and struggling to stay awake. Soon we were at the campus where we were greeted and told which our room assignments. Now it is time to unpack. The worst part of traveling. The rooms and nice but on the smaller side. We were given 4 hours of free time with the suggesting of taking only a 30 minute nap max or else we would not fall asleep that night. I decided to go shopping and get a couple groceries for super cheap.
After showing and relaxing it was back to the bus to head to dinner. After a 30 minute drive with some near misses of hitting other cars we arrived at the restaurant. There we sit down to one of the best meals I have had. When we walked in we had no idea how many courses we would have but it ended up being five; a small 3 bite piece of bread with cheese, a huge antipasto platter with all types of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, a pasta course, a meat course, and dessert. It also included 2 wines. It was amazing. I was served a vegetarian meal for every course which included the best eggplant parmesan I have had. At the end of the meal I was stuffed! 4 hours later we were back on the buses falling asleep on the drive home. After 33 hours awake I was finally able to go to bed and it was one of the best night sleeps I have had.
Saturday January 28
7:30 am, time to wake up for breakfast. I slept amazing which I am so grateful for. It was then 3 hours of lectures packed with information and icebreakers. Then lunch and then time to pick up our textbooks that the school rents out here in Rome. They are huge! and it looks like I will actually have a lot of work. It was the off to Mass at the North American College where after we were lead on a tour by the building. On there terrace we were able to get an amazing view of the city where we were able to see St. Peters Basillica. It was amazing. I could not believe how great a view we got. It was then off to dinner.
Dinner at Ristorante Spirito DiVino
We arrive at the restaurant after a short drive. We enter and are greater by the family who owns the restaurant. We end up sitting at the table with the director, assistant director, visiting professor from Pittsburgh and his family. It was interesting hearing the conversations they had and recommendations for things around the city. The owner of the restaurant soon greats us to the facts that the building we were sitting in was the oldest standing synagogue that was built in 9080. Its cellar dates back to 80 BCE! Each step down represents 75 years. It is 150 years older than the coliseum! The chef was amazing at cooking and she was also a nobel prize winner!
Besides the amazing history of the resturant there was also great food. We again had a 5 course meal but this time there was only one type of wine. The food was great however, I think I enjoyed the food of the first night better. After dinner we headed back to the campus where we were able to get to bed for our early day Sunday of exploring Rome.
I'm Sabrina Kirsch a sophmore physical therapy student at Duquesne University. I will be spending the spring semester of 2017 in Rome, Italy where I will eat my way through all the gelato and pasta they offer. My goal is to see everything possible and visit as many countries as possible.