Monday, March 3, 2014

Days 40-54

Time is FLYING by. The fact that it is already March makes me a little nauseous...I'm exactly halfway through my program! When did that happen?! Again, sorry for being silent for two weeks now, it's been an absolutely crazy time. I've been so busy with classes and midterms were last week which were brutal, naturally. I'm also sure many of you have heard about the terrible tragedy that occurred a few weeks ago now, which was terribly upsetting and unnerving. My thoughts and prayers are with the Durkin family, I cannot even imagine what they are going through.
On a happier note, Michelle came to Rome last week! Marie and I met up with her the night she arrived (Monday the 24th) at the Trevi Fountain and we walked around the city showing her some of our favorite spots, the Spanish Steps, the Roman ruins, and Vittorio Emmanuelle II to name a few. We got to catch up a bit which was so great. It was so wonderful to see her, like a little piece of home. Unfortunately we didn't get to spend too much time together because that was midterm week which was absolutely horrendous. We did get to get lunch the next day but because of studying, classes, and Italian we ended up not being able to meet up again which was a bummer. We weren't too worried though because next week I'll be staying with her in London!
That's right, spring break is right around the corner...SO weird. We our last Italian class on Friday!!! I have to say, it's actually kind of bitter sweet. On the one hand, I'll be able to do so much with those extra 15 hours a week, and I won't have any classes on Fridays, which means weekend travel. That being said, I have loved the classes. I would venture to say that not only are they the best language courses I've taken, but two of the best academic courses I have ever taken. Both of my teachers have been fantastic, genuinely interested in us doing well, and really willing to do whatever it takes to help us understand. They make class fun, some days they let us just talk in Italian for a half an hour if we're particularly excited about something, like a trip we just took or something we did the day before and this I think, is really where we learn to speak. I was actually thinking about it today and I took French for 9 years, ages 9-18 and I'm better in Italian then I ever was in French. Pretty crazy.
This past weekend was one for the books. After the stressful midterm week we needed to get out on Thursday night so we all went to a club called Nur Bar we've been to a couple times. Marie has befriended a promoter who texts her when there are events at certain bars and clubs and lets us all in for free which is awesome because cover fees are always between 10 and 15 euro. Rome nightlife is not cheap...that is the only downside of the city I'd say, though I think that's true of most cities.
On Friday, me Marie and Emily went to this new place we've found with THE BEST paninis (and cheap!) called Sanwicheria. I got one with artichoke paste, this really thinly sliced Italian brisket, lettuce, olive oil, and thinly sliced parmasan. You literally watch them slice this parmasan off a HUGE block, and the meat as well. It is unbelievable. I also forgot to mention that prior to these paninis we got gelato, but not just any gelato. We recently discovered that the most famous gelateria in Rome is 5 minutes from our house. It is insanely good. It literally has ruined other gelato for me. They also hand make their whipped cream which is the best part. So good. That night we went to a pasta place by school with all the girls and our Catholic guy friends. It was incredible, the boys found it so credit to them. I got gnocchi with tomato sauce and buffalo mozzerella. Melt in your mouth and the mozzerella was fantastic. We went to a club we go to a lot that night and all had a great time. However, we had to be up and at the Roman forum by 9 am for a 4 hour site visit for our Art and Architecture class. That was a bit rough, but between the two sections of the class, almost every one of my friends had to be there so we made it fun. I also had not been to the Roman Forum yet, or inside the Colosseum because I knew we'd be doing it with my class. It was really interesting especially inside the Colosseum, it was different than I expected. It's so massive with a maximum capacity of 50,000 people.
That night we had Chinese and I met up with one of my best friends at Loyola, Chris! He is studying in Cork, Ireland and Rome is one of their program's included trips. We took him to Chinese with us which was great because it gave us a chance to catch up. I've missed my Loyola friends a lot so it was wonderful to have even a little bit of time with him. Naturally, we had to show him Rome at night so we went to a new club near Villa Borghese we'd heard about. We think it's the best one we've been to yet, probably because it was almost all Italians.
The next morning after only 2 hours of sleep, we woke up bright and early at 6:15 to make our 6:50 train to Florence! I was beyond excited, as the last time I was here I was 15 and it was where I thought I was going to be studying for five years. It was a really easy train ride, only a little over an hour and a half long. I went with Marie and my friends Emily, Meghan, and 3 of the Catholic boys. We had beautiful weather which was a fantastic surprise because the weather said rain! We got there and wandered around and decided first to go into the Palazzo Pitti which is a museum that we explored for a bit but also has beautiful gardens that we wandered through for hours with gorgeous view of the city. When we finished there we were all starving. We found a place to get paninis which were SO good, I got one with turkey, mozzerella, and truffle spread. We walked over to the Ponte Vecchio which was just as beautiful as I remembered. I had flashbacks to walking across it with Dad the first night we got to Florence. Exhausted from the trip, but not wanting to miss anything the two of us walked around Florence at night while everyone else went to bed. For me I still think it was the best night of the whole two week trip.
We wandered around the open air market in one of the piazzas trying the bread and cheese and looking at all the fresh food they had to offer. After lunch we went inside the Duomo  got in line to climb up the bell tower. I think we all almost died, but it was so well worth it. Such an incredible view from up there it was amazing. We went into church of Santo Spirito which was beautiful and had gorgeous art. We also went to see the David! That was definitely one of the highlights of the day. It is absolutely massive, bigger than I would have ever imagined and so beautiful. The attention to detail is astounding. At the end of the day we made the trek up to Piazza Michelangelo which is a piazza that overlooks the city. We were up there just before sunset and the views were breathtaking, definitely worth the walk. I will post pictures soon! We finished with a great dinner and then back on the train to Rome at 9. It was a long day but we had a great time and were so lucky to have such a beautiful day. Florence is still one of my favorite cities of all time. It is so beautiful and so quintessentially Italian. Part of the fun is just wandering around and seeing what you come across. It's also such a small city its very easily navigable and walkable. We didn't get to go to the Uffizi (again!) so Marie and I are really thinking we're going to go back, maybe just for half a day, because the train ride is so easy.
Now one more week and then spring break! Could not be more excited for Barcelona, London, and Paris!!

More to come

baci baci (we learned in Italian today this is their equivalent of xoxo! it means kiss kiss literally)

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