Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Days 18-20

Sorry for being so silent these past few days! There really hasn't been too much to report, we've had a lot of homework and a lot of class! Monday we only had Italian for two hours for some reason which would have been awesome EXCEPT that meant we made up that time by having italian for three and a half hours Tuesday and today. Rough stuff, I can't sit through three and a half hours of anything let alone Italian class. Non va bene.
Monday was a work day, we went to the school around 11 to get our work for business ethics and Italian done. Then we had business ethics and had to go to Italian pretty shortly thereafter, but naturally we stopped at our favorite pizza place along the way. I know it's boring, but even their plain pizza is so good.
Tuesday our Art & Architecture class got cancelled, which was kind of unfortunate actually because we were supposed to be on site and I think we miss that now, because she said we'll be in the classroom next time. Three hours of art and architecture slides is not exactly my idea of fun. This meant that Marie and I got to explore a little bit though. It was a beautiful day so we walked to the Spanish steps and decided on a whim to eat at the Tea Rooms right at the foot of the Spanish Steps, which we knew would cost us an arm and a leg, but we thought why not just this once. We pass it every day and it looks old timey and cute so we thought we'd give it a shot. Well naturally it was crazy expensive but it was really good. We got fantastic earl grey tea which in our own little kettles which tasted so good, the italians really don't do tea and it's something I actually miss a little. Then we got pumpkin soup and finger sandwiches. It was a fun outing at a cute place, really nice. Then three and half hours of Italiano. The good news is I have a fun class and great teacher, otherwise I don't know how I'd make it. Maria made a fritatta for dinner yesterday with the leftover pasta from the night before (she knows it's our favorite) and fettucini with peppers and sausage. It was incredible as per usual. We went out with everyone last night to the bar we go to every Tuesday because it has karaoke. It was really fun, but as Marie and I always say, we all could probably have fun in a cardboard box, it's just fun when everyone goes out together.
Today was pretty mellow, we had business ethics in the morning and another 3 and a half hours of Italian which seemed endless. But then we had Maria's dinner when we got home. Tonight she made this incredible fish and pasta with an olive sauce. I have never had anything less than an incredible meal with her it's crazy! And it's something completely different every night! We also got to meet her son who lives in Rome the other day, Adrianno. It was so funny, he's just like her, energetic and friendly and very talkative.
Tomorrow we have class in Santa Maria Maggiore which means we can really sleep in! That should be great, I'm looking forward to hearing more about the church. This weekend we have the mozzarella farm trip which I am probably unnaturally excited about. Literally cannot wait. People say it's the best meal you will eat here and to not eat for days before hand. And on Sunday we go to the Roma vs. Parma soccer game which will be quite an experience I'm sure! Oh and almost forgot to mention Marie and I had our first experience with laundry over here! There is not dryer, which I'm used to because we hang most things to dry on Cuttyhunk all summer, but the washers are SO SMALL I can literally fit maybe a quarter of an American load in one and that's being generous. So that should be interesting...
That being said, every day I love this city more and more. I'm starting to feel more comfortable with everything, more like I'm living here and not just a tourist. I still think every day how lucky I am to be here, how lucky I am to be able to say I studied in Rome for 4 months.

More to come soon!



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Days 15-17

We had such a fun weekend. Unfortunately it started out with a crazy hard Italian midterm, but we made it through with the promise of Chinese food for dinner. For some reason this sounded really appealing. Like I've said before, I will never be one to complain about Italian food, but a change every once and a while is always welcome. Our friends Emily and Alyssa who live in our neighborhood had great take out from this place so we decided to try it out. The food was great, but the vibe was interesting to say the least. The place was really busy and obviously quite popular, but we were sitting under massive banners and pictures of Kim Jong there was that. Not really sure how that works out considering it is definitely a Chinese restaurant...but still great food so we'll probably go again....just maybe take out next time. 
After dinner we went to a real Italian discoteca which was really fun because we've mostly been going out to American places. It also forces us to use Italian because most people there are Italian. As great as it was there was a 10 euro cover charge so we probably won't be doing it all the time. A really fun experience though and change of pace. Also, side note, they are big into American music here, in particular Beyonce and Miley Cyrus, we hear them everywhere, even in cafes and coffee shops. 
Saturday we mostly hung out around the house and did some homework, not very eventful. We went with Emily and Alyssa to a restaurant next to our apartment that Marie and I found last week. It's like an Irish pub but with Italian food, and we weren't sure how that could go but the food is really pretty good (and pretty cheap) and now they love us there because Marie and I went again tonight. They gave us free bruschetta, and as I'm sure many of you know tomatoes are literally the only thing I will not eat, but here I have to say, they just taste better. 
Today we slept in which was really nice and took our time getting going. We ate at a cafe by our house and then went to the school to print out some papers we needed to read for tomorrow. We decided since we were already all the way up there we should go check out the Vatican (it's only about a 15-20 minute walk from school). I was so excited it's really the one thing I really wanted to see but haven't yet. I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
We went around 5 and there was nobody there. It took us about 30 seconds to get through the line into Vatican City. I was really excited to go into St. Peter's and couldn't wait to finally see Michlangelo's Pieta in person, as it actually happens to be my favorite piece of artwork since freshman year of high school when I first saw it in my western civ class. We walked in the door and it was immediately to our right. I walked over in complete awe, and tears started streaming down my face, which I am aware seems quite dramatic, but tt was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It looks life like, it is absolutely unbelievable. I stared at it for a while and finally looked up at the rest of the basilica. It is the most magnificent structure I have ever seen, and I have seen some of the biggest and most beautifully decorated churches in Europe. St. Peter's puts them all to shame, at least in my opinion, which I suppose makes sense, it being the center of the Catholic church and all. Marie and I walked around the basilica, mouths open in complete and total awe (and she had been there before!). The thing is, it is insanely huge. It's crazy. And there are statues everywhere. There are tombs of popes and beautiful renaissance artwork covering the basilica. We got there just in time for mass so we decided to sit down. The entire mass was in Italian (only high mass is in Latin I believe) and it was absolutely beautiful. We couldn't understand everything but we got a bit of it. The cardinal who said mass spoke with a deep passion that I have never seen before. Everything he spoke was with a quiet conviction, like he so believed what he was saying and it wasn't just routine Sunday mass. I really have never seen anything quite like it. And I just looked around me every so often and could not believe we just walked into mass at St. Peter's. Once it was over Marie and I just looked at each other speechless. We want to go back and climb the dome and see the Sistene Chapel and the Vaticam Museum, and also come for a high mass. 
It was the perfect end to our weekend. No off to do some more homework and get ready for the week!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Day 14

It's been two weeks! I can't believe it. Part of me feels like time is flying by, but I also feel like I've been here forever. Not too much to report, I had to go back to St. Paul's yesterday for my History of the Papacy class which was interesting and everything but since we were there for almost three hours on Sunday, it felt like a long class. We did, however, get to see this time the garden in the back which is where the Benedictine monks go for their contemplative prayer which was beautiful amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. The walls were filled with pieces from ancient graves which sounds kind of morbid but the ancient carvings are really cool. Dr. Dawson explained to us how these carvings changed over time and it was interesting to be able to see that. There was also a little museum we got to go in that had to do mostly with the second vatican council, because it's coming up on the fiftieth anniversary I believe. Next week we have class at Santa Maria Maggiore, which is AWESOME because Marie and I can pretty much roll out of bed and because I'm really interested in learning more about this church, it's so beautiful. Speaking of Santa Maria Maggiore, Maria told us a few nights ago that the bell we hear every night at 9 pm is called La Campana della Sperduta, or the bell of the lost girl. Apparently, a long long time ago this area used to be all woods and a girl went into the woods and never came out, so the bells we hear every night are for "the lost girl". Pretty cool.

After class at St. Paul's, Marie and I went to go find some lunch around the Spanish Steps before Italian. We ended up eating at this little place far enough away so that the prices weren't horrendous, and both got fettucine bolognese, which naturally, was amazing. Italian was long, we spent the whole time preparing for our midterms tomorrow ('s been two weeks...?) and all Marie and I could think about was Maria Grazia's dinner. We rushed home and Maria made spaghetti with pesto, a salad, bread, and a fritatta from the leftover pasta from last night, which Marie and I agreed might be our favorite thing ever. She took the pasta and added sausage and mozzarella and it was insanely good. Marie and I finished Roman Holiday which I loved by the way, and it was so fun to see Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck at all the places we go to every day. Tomorrow we'll study for Italian because all we have is the test at 4 and then meet our friends for dinner! We're going to try a more authentic Italian discoteca tomorrow which should be interesting...

More to come



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Days 12 and 13

These past few days have been full of mostly classes and homework (had to happen sometime I guess...)  I had a three hour class at 9 am which was brutal especially because we had no time of coffee beforehand. We had to wake up around 7:30 which already just isn't my time of day, and we were out the door by 8, which unfortunately is prime commuting hour so Marie and I had to wait until the third metro to even be able to squish our way on. Thank god this is the only morning we have to commute this early. That being said, the class we had to go to was Art and Architecture of ancient Rome. This first class covered a lot of ground, but it looks like it's going to be a very interesting class, and a lot of the classes meet on site out in the city which is awesome. It's so cool to actually be able to see these things and understand the history behind them.
As soon as we got out of class Marie and I got a cafe AND a cappuccino which was much needed and I felt so much better afterwards. We also found yet ANOTHER lunch place right on the same block as our school. It's called Pizza Colonna. From the outside it doesn't look like anything special at all, but some of our friends told us the pizza was incredible so we decided to give it a try, and it was insanely good. They make their pizza in huge rectangles and then cut them as big or as small as you want them. It might be a new favorite spot.
We did homework in between Italian, we had to read more for business ethics in The Pope and the CEO which is a really good read, I would recommend it for sure, if nothing else this man's anecdote's about his time as a Swiss Guard for Pope John Paul II are fascinating. I got a gelato on the way to Italian, which went by pretty fast for it being three hours, and we had Maria Grazia's dinner to look forward to! Last night she made a potato fritatta (with lots of garlic as per usual. so good), a salad, and this incredible pasta in a red sauce with calamari! As always, it was out of this world.
We went to Scholars, an Irish pub we went to the week before for karaoke night which like last week was so fun. I didn't sing but who knows, maybe one of these days I'll go for it! It's so nice when we all go out together, I still feel lucky we ended up with such a great group because I really didn't know what it would be like before I came here. Everyone really looks out for one another, it's really nice.

Today we just had business ethics and Italian. It wasn't a super exciting day, and it rained but I got a lot of work done. We went to the new pizza place again and this time I got a white pizza with thinly sliced zucchini on top, which was fantastic. It's also super cheap there which is always a plus. Italian class dragged on today so Maire and I ran down to grab a cafe during our break. We've now made friends with the woman in the gelato/coffee shop...I think that can only work in our favor.
Tonight Maria made pasta with peas in a béchamel sauce which naturally, was fantastic. Now Marie and I are watching Roman Holiday in my bed (I can't believe I've never seen it!) A perfect way to end our day. Even the "boring" days here just seem better. Every time I'm sitting in the classroom or doing homework and I get bored I just think "hey wait a minute, I'm in ROME" and my day instantly gets better. I know I say it a lot, but it's true, I love this city more and more every day.

More to come tomorrow!



Monday, January 20, 2014

Pictures from the 1st week!

Top of the Spanish steps (they're renovating the fountain now which is a bit of a bummer) 

St. Paul's 
Tomb of St. Paul 
Side chapel we had mass in 
View from the top of the seminarians college(the done is St. Peter's)  

Days 10 and 11

We've had a busy couple of days! I was able to sleep in again on Sunday which was really nice. Marie and I got ourselves up to meet at the school at 2:45 with our group to go to Saint Paul's Basilica which is outside of the Aurelian walls, which means that it is still very much within the limits of Rome but a little bit outside the heart of the city, so it took us a little bit to get there, as we had to take the metro and then two buses. That being said, it was so worth it. This was an optional visit but most of the group went. We got there in enough time so our program director who also happens to be my History of the papacy professor, was able to give us a bit of background on the basilica. It is one of the four major basilicas of Rome, which are interesting because when you enter one of these Basilicas they actually belong to the Vatican so technically speaking you're entering the Vatican. It was beautiful and MASSIVE. It's got kind of a somber feel to it, but it is absolutely extraordinary. St. Paul (the one who wrote the letter to the Corinthians, love is patient, love is kind and all that) is buried beneath the church and you are able to kneel in front of the entrance to his tomb.
They organized mass for us on one of the side chapels which was gorgeous, white all over, and such a beautiful mass. Nice and intimate, as it was just the kids from our program. After this we went back to dinner with the Seminarians which was really nice. They cooked a huge pot of chili which tasted fantastic. I will never be one to complain about only eating Italian food, but I have to say the chili tasted really good, especially because it was gross and rainy all day. They also had some of the best wine I've had since I've been here, and the Seminarians were so nice. They took us up on he balcony of their school and it was incredible. You could literally see all of Rome lit up (I will post pictures!)

Today we had business ethics at 1, and we planned our first trips today!! Spring break is all set! We fly from Rome to Barcelona on March 8th, Barcelona to London on the 11th (Shoutout to Michelle Fink I'll see ya there!) and Paris from the 14th to the 16th. Most of our group, that being the Catholic U boys and the Loyola girls are going to Barcelona and then a pretty big handful of us are also going on to London and Paris together which will be so fun. We also booked a flight to Amsterdam for the weekend after we get back from spring break which I am so excited about since it was at the top of my list. We managed to book all of these flights for less than $400 which was AWESOME. I am so glad to have some of the planning behind me because I'm pretty sure all that planning literally took years off my life it was so stressful. But I'm sure it will be well worth it! We had Italian for our usual 3 hours today, which was good but long...all Marie and I could think about was Maria Grazia's dinner because we hadn't had her cooking since last Thursday! Tonight she made this great winter soup with risotto like rice, onions, and chicken, a salad, bread with her homemade olive oil and garlic, and this amazing beef with red and green peppers. Literally melt in your mouth meat, it was incredible. We are so lucky.

All is well over here, I love the group of people I'm with, for the most part everyone gets along really well and we all really make an effort to spend time with one another which is really nice. It's great because there are people from loyola I only really knew in passing, or not at all, and now we've gotten to be good friends, or people who I was friends with but I've had the opportunity to spend a lot more time with here which has been so awesome.

Tomorrow classes start at 9 am which is pretty unfortunate but I feel like I can't even complain here!

more to come



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 9

Such a beautiful day today! sixty degrees and sunny for most of the day in Roma. I got to sleep in for once which was wonderful. Marie and I took our time getting ready, because today we had nowhere to go. We ended up walking from our house to the Spanish Steps which is not too far at all. We love walking here but unfortunately, when we have class it's not always possible since we have time constraints. So being able to walk yesterday was great. My favorite thing is to get of the main roads and walk on the little side streets. They're so beautiful and quintessentially Italian. Not to mention the city explodes on weekend and the main roads are super busy.

We got lunch on one of the side streets off the Spanish Steps which was alright, not great, but we knew that going in because we were so close to a major tourist attraction. But the prices were good so we went for it, and the thing is, I've never had a bad meal here, some are just better than others.

After lunch we strolled down Via Condotti which is one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world, and it was PACKED. Our goal was to find Zara which we had seen when we were taken on our walking tour of rome on the first day. We finally found it and it was FOUR FLOORS and absolutely everything was on sale. Being that this is my favorite store ever, it was like a died and went to shopping heaven. We needed to find more going out shirts because we didn't bring enough that are appropriate for Rome. They dress much more casually here than they do in the states, but still dress up a little bit from what they'd wear during the day, which is great because this means no heels all semester.

After a successful shopping trip, Marie and I walked over to one of our favorite coffee places near the Spanish steps and got an espresso and a gelato (only my second one since I've been here surprisingly!) I got half chocolate half lemon and had flashbacks to our time at Ca di Pesa! It's still just as good. Walking back to get on the metro I was just thinking I can't even imagine what it would be like here in the summer if this is what it's like on a weekend in January.

Marie and I got back and took a nice long nap in preparation to go out again tonight. We got ready and went to a little place next to our building for dinner that was actually not bad at all, and will definitely be good on weekend nights. The mozzarella was pretty good. We met up with all of our friends at Campo di Fiori which was so fun, AND I met up with Theresa's best friend from home who goes to BC Christina which was SO much fun because I feel like I know her, and she felt the same way. We hung out for a lot of the night which was so great. It will be so fun when Theresa comes and we can all hang out together!

All in all a great Saturday in Roma. Tonight we're going to mass at the basilica of San Paolo which is the burial place of Saint Paul. and the seminarians that are associated with our program are cooking dinner for our group so we'll go there after.

More to come,



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day 8

Today was a bit of a lazy day. Marie and I slept in, which was much needed as we have really been running on fumes for the past week. We woke up around 11, got dressed and went to the school to get the work done, but first we saw that the basilica right across from our apartment was open and very busy. Santa Maria Maggiore, a basilica dedicated to the virgin Mary, I read is one of Rome's oldest churches built in the 300s. It is massive and we have wanted to go inside every since we first got here but never had the time. Well we stopped in quickly today and it was INCREDIBLE. I mean one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen, and at this point I've seen my fair share of Italian/ European churches. The only way I can describe it is kind of like the experience i had when I went to Notre Dame. It isn't like it in style or decoration, it was beautiful, stunning even, but not in the in your face kind of way some churches are. Partially it's a feeling you get when you walk in, a feeling I can't even really describe. Words can't do it justice, but that is the way I feel about most of Rome. But anyways, it was pretty incredible, and we want to go back and explore some more soon, and conveniently, next week out papacy class is meeting there to learn about it.

We took the metro to the school, had a cappuccino at our new favorite place, and did work for a few hours. We had to do Italian homework and a whole bunch of reading for various classes but it really is cool because in this program, other than business ethics, my classes are really focused around Rome itself which is so interesting, and I find myself being so much more engaged in class. I was reading my art history textbook today, which obviously is not super exciting, and as I was reading about the Roman Forum I thought about how I pass it all the time. In the cab home tonight we passed the colosseum and although now I've seen it a bunch of times but I'm still in awe every single time. Every day I fall more and more in love with this city.

Italian today was great. It takes up three hours of my day, every day so it is fairly significant in my day to day life. I actually genuinely enjoy the classes sometimes (not all the time of course, it's a long time to sit still) which is not something I ever thought I'd say about a language class. Out teacher is amazing we all love her and she is so patient with us. Simply being there around only Italian for such a big chunk of time I think helps a lot.

Friday through sunday we are on our own with dinner so tonight we went to a place in Trastevere with some friends because we were going to meet everyone at the bar in that neighborhood later. We were so hungry so we ended up going to what looked like a massive tourist trap but actually it turned our to be fantastic, and pretty cheap. I got spaghetti bolognese which was really good and only 8 euro for a pretty big plate. My friend Emily got gnocchi (which I love) with mussels and clams and tomato sauce. I had a few bites and it was insanely good. Marie got a huge, really good pizza with mushrooms and proscuitto for only 2 euro! We think this place is a keeper.

We all went out tonight which was so fun, it'a great when everyone is together the group meshes really well and everyone looks out for one another, we are so lucky.

Another great day in Roma!



Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 7

It has been a week in beautiful Roma! I can't believe it! It truly feels like we've been here for months. I absolutely love this city. Today, Marie and I got up and met our Papacy class (which counts as our upper level theology class) at San Giovanni in Laterano a major basilica. This was the first time we have had a class "on site", thought according to our syllabi this is quite a frequent occurrence which I think is so cool. I had no idea what San Giovanni was upon my arrival, however, I came to find out that I was actually quite significant. the Emperor Constantine had this church built in the early 300s as he was the first to declare Christianity legal. This is actually the official basilica of Rome, NOT St. Peters. The Pope who's title is actually the bishop of Rome, Pope is actually a tern deriving from affectionate nicknames such as papa technically presides over that diocese. San Giovanni also served as the official papal residence until the Renaissance when the Pope moved to St. Peters. There is an obelisk in the square (on of the 13 in Rome) which is apparently the oldest thing (for lack of a better word) in Rome as it was made in around 1500 BC by the Egyptians and only brought over to italy by the Romans later on. The church itself was gorgeous, the decorations were in the Baroque style, but a mosaic one one of the back walls was from the medieval period. There were also a number of relics, the most notable being the bones of Pope Innocent X, the heads of Saint Peter and Saint Paul above the alter, and supposedly the table from the last supper. While that is most likely speculation the heads probably are from Peter and Paul apparently so thats pretty cool.

We were there about an hour and a half and then had a lecture in the classroom for the other hour of class (total of three hours). We fond a place across from school that offers "to go" cups for coffee which may be the most exciting thing I've seen since I got here. The Italians drink their coffee at the coffee bar and almost never to go so this is incredibly rare. Ma sono studente e ho bisogno di caffe! So Marie and I got cappuccinos to go before this last hour of class.

Then we got lunch, I had an eggplant wrap and pesto wrap for 4 euros which was incredible, and went to Italian class. It is so long but I learn so much there and our teacher is fantastic. She is so young, probably mid twenties and doesn't speak great English but she's great at explaining things in Italian. We look forward to Maria Grazia's dinners the whole time!

Tonight she made us a special pasta, a very typical Roman dish she said. Pasta with tomato sauce and this bacon made from the pig's cheek that isn't even allowed in the US. It was INCREDIBLE. I had thirds. So insanely good. She also had salad and bruschetta with beans and hard boiled egg which was fantastic.

I went out to a few bars in Campo di Fiori where I believe they normally have a huge farmers market in the mornings which we really want to check out at some point. It was so fun and we got to practice out Italian a lot which was great!

Tomorrow we don't have class until Italian but we will do homework so that we can explore the city over the weekend! More to come!



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Day 6

Another beautiful day in Rome! It was sunny and almost 60 today. I got to sleep in a little bit since I didn't have class until 1:30. Marie had to get some work done at the school early so I took the metro all by myself for the very first time! So exciting, I have to say I am pretty proud of myself, even if I was just doing what I do every day. We got a cafe before class (naturally) across the street. I had business ethics again which I enjoyed better this time. The book we're reading, The Pope and the CEO actually isn't bad. It's written by a man who was a swiss guard under John Paul II and how his experiences shaped his life and in particular his business practices. Parts of it are a little slow, but overall a pretty good read, and easy.

After class we went towards the Spanish Steps because we had Italian at four. As I walked across the Spanish Steps I thought to myself again just how crazy it is that I'm actually here. That my walk to class includes walking across the bottom of the Spanish Steps. I'm so lucky to be here.

 Marie and I and our friends Sophie, Lara, and Nicole ended up eating at a little trattoria on one of the side streets. It was pretty good but nothing super special and a bit overpriced. Then we got another cafe next to the Italian school and went in for our daily three hours of Italian class, which, as I'm sure you can imagine pretty rough. It's hard to spend three hours straight focusing on anything much less a language you don't speak very well that requires a lot of concentration. That being said though, these classes are way better than any language classes I've taken. It's structures so that about 10 of us just sit around and speak in Italian, and only Italian. We do some worksheets and listening activities as well but that is the bulk of it, and I think it's really helping and I've only had two days.

I finally located a hair dryer! Thank GOD because my hair has been a weird poofy mess since I got here. I made the woman at our local Farmacia get it from the window because it was their only one I guess...woops.

When we got home Maria Grazia was waiting for us with dinner almost ready. Tonight we had a great pasta soup with chick peas and lots of rosemary and garlic. She also had a huge salad and bread and this incredible cheese she got in the mountains over Christmas. We have fruit almost always after dinner and the tangerines she's been getting are out of this world. She went to bed and Marie and I got up to do the dishes and a few minutes later she came back out and hugged us and said "I forgot to give kisses!" She's wonderful.

Tomorrow I have my first Papacy class and we are actually meeting at a basilica not to far from my house called San Giovanni Laterano which I'm excited about. More tomorrow!



Day 5

Second day of classes! We had Art and Architecture of Ancient Rome at 9 am which is pretty unfortunate. This means we have to get up around 7:30 or 7:45 to have time to get ready and get a cafe on the way to school (which is definitely necessary). I'm getting more used to the metro which is good. There are only two lines, the A and the B and conveniently it is at our stop (Termini) that you change from the A line to the B line, so essentially we can get anywhere. Well, within reason. Our host mom explained to us that they metro is very limited because of the ancient city. It has gone most of the places we need it to thus far, but I know some kids who have to take the metro and then a tram or the metro and then a bus to get home.
Marie and I found a new coffee shop up by school today that is more local, it's on a side street off the street our school is on. GREAT cappuccino. We got to the school and went straight to our class. the professor seems great, really interested in ancient Rome and so excited about teaching it to us. It isn't really my thing, but her enthusiasm was really encouraging. We have to write a 7-8 page research paper at the end on any monument of our choice, which I thought didn't seem bad at all, as an english major we have to regularly write 12-15 page papers so when I saw that I thought I was getting off easy, but all the other kids in the class complained. One plus to being an English major I guess!
After that class, which only lasted bout half the time since it is supposed to be three hours but it was only the first day, we went to the library to do homework for business ethics which is just a lot of reading. Finally it was time to go to our first Italian class, which is right next to the Spanish Steps (a beautiful walk). We got there and I was placed in the second highest Italian level. Everyone had class 3 hours per day five days a week for the first two months. They went the full length even on the first day. I was pretty nervous because I knew their style was different than I'd ever experienced before. The class is mostly conversational and the professor speaks only Italian. They say in college and even high school that they will speak only Italian but this is NEVER the case. Even if they mostly do, almost every language teacher I've had at least speaks in English to explain grammar. But here it is absolutely none and I was surprised and pleased to find I understood most of what she was saying for the 3 hours. I definitely understand better than I speak at this point, but I guess that's something!
We were exhausted when we got home and Maria had dinner almost ready! Tonight we had simply spaghetti with her homemade olive oil and red pepper flakes, bruschetta with brocollini on top, salad, and then she did something I thought was really cool. She used the leftover pasta from last night and made a little frittata, which I have to say I think might have been the best part of the meal. It was SO GOOD. And what a great idea! She said she would teach us how to make it, so I'm super excited to learn that.
After dinner Marie and I met two of our friends who live in our neighborhood to go to another popular Irish Pub called Scholars, (ironic I guess) that we had heard about from a lot of other people. We were meeting a lot of other people in the program there, as we'd finished our homework in the 5 hours between Art and Architecture and Italian. It took us a while to find but it was an AMAZING walk. We took a wrong turn, but OH it was totally fine because we literally turned the corner and there was the Coloseum. And then we got back on track and the whole time we walked next to the Roman Forum. Just walking next to the Roman Forum on our way out, totally normal. Finally we got there and met our friends and found out it was karaoke night. SO MUCH FUN. Shoutout to my girl Lara Florek who was amazing! It was such a fun time and Marie and I both think it's nice that even though we're all in home stays around the city we all coordinate to go together.
It's getting late, so more tomorrow!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 4

Today was the first day of classes! Very exciting. We woke up around 9:30 because we didn't have class until 1:00. Maria had gone to the bank but she wrote a note for us and left milk and biscuits (which are like cookies) because this is what Italians eat in the morning, not very much since they have such large and late dinners. She came back just before we left and showed us how to use the lock on the door. We were warned by Aurora, our program director who is Italian, that they have very complicated locks. Luckily ours is not too bad, but the key is big and old fashioned. Maria hugged and kissed us on our way out. She is wonderful.
Marie and I had to mail our Permesso di Soggiorno and to do this we needed to buy a stamp so we had to go into a Tabacchi for the first time. These are small stores on almost every street corner that sell cigarettes and lottery tickets and some sell coffee, but apparently this is also where you get stamps. I guess it is sort of like a convenience store. That wasn't too bad but our next stop was the post office which was quite something. We walked in the first door and then you had to go through sliding doors into a box type thing that I guess scans you. So you stand there for a minute and then they let you in on the other side, which is the post office. It was pretty busy, and we had no idea what to do. We knew you had to press a button to get a ticket with your number but we had no idea which button to press (there were 4). As we were looking an old Italian woman nudged us out of the way to get her ticket and we think she was speaking to us but we still aren't sure... We almost gave up, the whole scene was very overwhelming, but we stepped outside and called Aurora who told us what to do so we went back in, and pressed the right button for the ticket. There is a board and your number appears next to the desk number you're supposed to go to. The man at my desk spoke no English so that was interesting, but he let Marie and I go together since someone took her place, and it all worked out ok! Now we just have to get fingerprinted on February 5th...
After this we headed over to the school. We got a cafe and headed to the school. Our first class was business ethics, and only five people are in it! Crazy! It's me, Marie, my friend Lara who I've known since freshman year, another Loyola girl, and a Catholic girl. The professor is nice and I think it will be an interesting class because it's something really different than what I normally take. The class is very religion heavy though, as the professor is from CUA and this is not something I'm used to, even at Loyola, except maybe in theology.
After class we had to go right to our Italian placement tests at the Italian school which is a few metro stops away, right  by the Spanish Steps. We all sat in the room nervously waiting to be called for the oral part of the test. I finally went and it wasn't horrible but I am pretty rusty since I wasn't able to take Italian this past semester. So we'll see how this goes...
We took the metro to the area of Trastevere after the placement test but didn't have too much time to walk around because we had to be back for dinner. We definitely want to go back though because apparently this is a great place to go out we've heard, so we want to scope it out in the daytime first. It was a different neighborhood than what we've seen so far though we've noticed.
Maria made pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs for dinner (side note, meatballs are served on a separate plate here, not on the pasta) they were fantastic. She also had a salad and bruschetta again this time with fennel instead of tomatoes. UNREAL. And tonight I learned that we've been eating HOME MADE olive oil. It's insane. And she also told me she rubs the garlic on the bread before she puts the oil and fennel on. Definitely the way to go.
Now Marie and I are in bed watching the Lizzie McGuire movie because we've been to all the places in it now! So exciting. Tomorrow we have Italian Art and Architecture and Italian again. In between we're going to look into locating a hair dryer (it's much needed)
Ciao for now!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day 3

Well, I've barely slept in the past four days but it has definitely been worth it. Today, everyone had a bit of a rough time getting going. We had wanted to go to mass at St. Peters in Latin this morning, but it took too long to check out and move all our bags to the school where we would leave them until our host families came to pick us up. Although we missed mass, a group of CUA and Loyola kids went to go check out the Vatican today. I, however, was not that ambitious today unfortunately, but to be fair at least half the group stayed behind. Around ten of us feel asleep in the lobby of the school for about an hour, which I think ended up being a good call because we were all barely functioning. Once we woke up we ventured across the street to find some lunch and made a GREAT find; Mondo Arancina, which in Italian means Rice Ball World apparently. For 2.50 euro they sell these risotto balls as big as my hand filled with all kinds of things. There was one with tomato sauce and eggplant, one with mozzarella and mushrooms, one with proscuitto and mozzarella, and the list goes on and on. They were insanely good and right across from the school. They also had some really good looking pizza and sandwiches, and it was filled with locals which is always a good sign. After that we got an espresso and a mini cannoli at the bakery next store (so good) and headed back to school for the last part of orientation.
Once we arrived, we filled out our permesso di soggiorno which is our residence permit and it took forever. Now tomorrow we have to learn how to mail it so that will be an interesting adventure. After this they took us through a powerpoint about host families, what to expect, what the Italian customs were and so on, which I think was actually really helpful. It was small weird little things like, Italians apparently never go barefoot in the house, or even wear socks. They wear flip flops or slippers and they said to us its totally ok if we want to go barefoot but they will tell us "oh no you're feet/socks are getting dirty". The powerpoint was full of a bunch of little helpful hints like that. At this point Marie and I are freaking out. We really didn't know what to expect and we were the first ones called out to meet our host mom. As soon as she saw us she gave us a huge hug and said "i miei bambini!", or "my kids!" and was so excited we were there. She told us she was so happy, she was starting to get lonely. We took a cab back to her apartment which is beautiful and located in a big piazza. Marie and I got our own rooms, which was not something we expected at all. She went to cook dinner while we unpacked and then she called us when dinner was ready. The whole apartment smelled amazing. Tonight was a light dinner she said, tortellini soup, mozzarella and salad, bruscetta (with TONS of garlic it was incredible), and fruit after dinner. It was all amazing, she is a fantastic cook and she was so excited Marie and I appreciate Italian food and are so willing to try anything. Tonight only, she said, she spoke English with us, which is good I think because it will force us to learn, and she seems like she will be very patient. We talked over dinner about our families and our hometowns and the differences between America and here. She is so incredibly sweet and fun, we got so lucky. She hugged and kissed us before we went to bed and just kept saying how excited she was to have us here. After all that worrying  about my host family it's working out great so far!!
I absolutely love Rome. People always talk about how it's such an amazing city because you have both the modern and the ancient, and it is so true. I didn't realize how everything is so spread out, there is no "historic district" or anything, you definitely feel like you're in a major city, but you turn a corner and see a massive gorgeous basilica, or see the dome of St. Peter's, or a beautiful fountain made by a master sculptor. Just yesterday Marie and I wandered around in the evening before dinner and found ourselves sitting on the steps of a basilica which was not ugly at all, but fairly unassuming on the outside. It seemed like a place lots of locals were hanging out and it was only a little bit away from the Spanish Steps. All of a sudden we noticed people kept going in so we thought we might as well check it out. Well it was absolutely stunning. It was in the baroque style and the paintings all around were incredible. I've seen a fair amount of well known European churches and this was as beautiful as any of them, but I had never even heard of the Basilica and forgot to write down the name. I feel like we are always finding something new and I love walking everywhere here. I am so lucky to be in such an amazing city. 
Tomorrow is the first day of classes and my Italian placement test, so we'll see how that goes!


Pictures from our first 2 days!

Trevi fountain!
First meal in Rome!
Colosseum! (They're cleaning it)
Spanish steps
These lights are everywhere! So pretty!
The pantheon 
St. Peter's from afar 

Day 2

Day 2 was jam packed. We woke up (late) at 8:15, missed breakfast, and went straight to orientation at the school which was a total of about 4 hours of power points. Then we got our Italian phones (yay!) which is great because I felt nervous about carryin my my iPhone, apparently they are 800 euro here and about 7 people in the last group got their pickpocketed. Marie, two other girls and I went to find coffee as soon as we got a break. There are shops everywhere and the coffee is amazing. There is no such thing as the coffee we drink in America so we usually order  a "cafe" which is espresso or a cappuccino. They are AMAZINGim already addicted. In the afternoon they let us walk around Rome and find where our host houses were. Mine and Marie's is far on the map but in reality it's only 5 metro stops away so it doesn't take a long time together. We walked EVERYWHERE yesterday which was really because we're starting to get oriented. The metro is quite an experience. It seems pretty reliable so far but they aren't very nice and you really do need to watch your things. It's not unsafe in terms of my safety but I do worry about the pickpocketing there more than anywhere else so far. I'm definitely getting more comfortable with it thought because we took it all over the city yesterday.
We walked to the trevi fountain and WOW it looks just like the postcards and pictures. If possible I think it's even more beautiful. I took a couple of pictures there, which hopefully I'll be able to post soon! After that we walked to the Spanish steps and sat and talked for a while and hung out on them until a street vendor really aggressively tried to sell us roses. They DO NOT let up and god help you when they find out you're American. So we just got up and walked away. We found a little cafe/bar and  Marie and I had a glass of wine and bruschetta. Then we need to meet the group for dinner and luckily we were already in the right area but even so it took is forever to find it. We aske about 5 Italians! Sidenote: we've noticed that at least trying to speak Italian to them goes a long way. Most of the time even when we do they can tell we're American and switch to English but they are so much nicer if you just try. And everyone we asked for help was so nice and genuinely tried to help us out and took time to look at the map and figure it out.
So we finally found the place and we weren't even the last ones there! It was a cute local pizzeria hat was really really good. Marie and I got mushroom pizza that was fantastic and pretty good wine too. After dinner we all went back to the hotel and got ready to go out for the first time! What an adventure.
We've been in the hotel with all the catholic kids which has been fun. The girls are mostly a bit standoffish but the boys are nice and there around 10 of them. So almost our whole group and all the boys from Catholic went out to a bar we'd heard of called abbey theater. It was an Irish pub so not very Italian but that was ok for our first night especially. We all walked there together it was probably around a mile away maybe a little more. Good thing it's so warm here now! We got there and it was a lot of English and Irish people and some Italians and we made some English and Irish friends who live and work in Rome and were very welcoming. It was a great night, so much fun.
Today we meet our host families! So excited to finally get settled but also nervous. Thank god I have Marie with me or I'd be a wreck! I'll update soon!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Day 1

 Wow! What a crazy day (or I guess really 2 days?) We're finally here in Rome which is insanely exciting, but it wasn't easy getting here!! First our flight from Newark to Washington Dulles was delayed by a solid hour, and not only that but it was probably the tiniest plane I have ever seen. I wasn't even sure it would actually hold all of us up in the air. As soon as we landed in Dulles we got an email that our flight to Rome was delayed by an hour and a half, which soon turned into delayed indefinitely. Just as we all set up camp on the airport floor however, they became to board (3 hours after our schedules departure). It was a long flight, which was to be expected, and I got lucky and sat next to a girl I had met a few times before the program and was actually Amanda's (my freshman year roommate) current roommate, who is really nice. I barely slept, and even when I did it was not a good sleep, so upon our arrival in Rome we were all exhausted. We came to find out that the reason our fort flight on the tiny plane was delayed was that they were balancing the plane, and in doing so taking of people's luggage, which they neglected to put on a flight to Rome once it got to Dulles. So we all waited as half our group went up one by one and filled out paper work for their missing luggage. 
Once we finally got out of the airport, it was great. Sixty degrees, but cloudy, but no one minded because everyone was so excited. We took a bus into the city itself where we dropped off our luggage at the campus and brought our carry ons to the hotel, which is nice and clean but nothing really fancy. I am in a room with the girl I say next to on the plane and another girl id never met but seems very nice. We were able to shower and sleep for about an hour and then we were to meet in the lobby at 3:30 to begin orientation (which was probably the absolute last thing on this planet any one of us wanted to do at this point)
They planned this day well though I think. It was a walking tour of Rome and in total we walked about three and a half miles but it didn't seem like much because we stopped so often. We got a gelato at one of the best gelato places in Rome in the Piazza Navona. We got there around 5 pm which was a great time because it was just beginning to come alive for the evening. It was a gorgeous piazza with the center being the Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini. In almost every piazza it seems there is a work by a significant artist it is really incredible. Interesting fact (dad I feel like you'll appreciate this) in many of these piazzas, including piazza Navona have these Egyptian obelisks which in ancient times were set up in key public places to celebrate Rome's occupation of Egypt, according to Rick Steve's travel book. They kind of stick out compared to the other architecture so it's pretty cool. After this, our guide who is the director for the program here in Rome, casually pointed out the pantheon (as if you could miss it) as we emerged from a side street to another piazza. It is BEAUTIFUL and just unbelievable when you think about how old it is. It's incredibly well preserved. We also saw the Spanish steps and St. Peter's from a distance. It's dome can be seen throughout much of the city, I can't wait to go the Vatican! 
The city itself is incredible. It really is this mix of modern day and ancient. The historical sites are not all in one place but really spread throughout the city which is so cool. We learned how to use the metro today as well and literally came up the escalator to be greeted by the colosseum, which by the way is MASSIVE. I mean I thought I had an idea but I didn't. I can't wait to go inside at some point. The side streets of Rome are adorable and quintessentially Italian. There are cobblestone streets and cute little cafés everywhere. The gypsies do this thing where they try to sell these laser pointers or these things that fly in the air so they shine the laser or throw one of the toys up really high so you look at it and are therefore distracted. And they are EVERYWHERE. Absolutely everywhere, but we learn to ignore them. 
After the walk which took almost 3 hours we had dinner with the whole group, catholic university and Loyola students. It was fantastic. Not the best food I've ever had but pretty darn good, and they have the tables bottles of red wine. The first course was prosciutto and fresh mozerella over arugula which was fantastic. The next was pasta; pasta  carbonara and another tomato sauce that I can't remember the name of, both great. And then we had a strawberry cream dessert which actually wasn't wall that great. Overall though, SUCH a fun dinner!!
It was a fantastic day. I'm beyond excited to be here and can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!! Working on putting up some pictures but the wifi here is awful! Hopefully ok figure it out tomorrow...


Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Post

It's almost time! Just 5 days until naturally it's now that I'm scrambling around getting everything together. Michelle flew out yesterday and the Newcastle girls fly out today, can't wait until I'm finally in Europe too!