Monday, May 30, 2011

Ciao, bella!

New posts will be up soon! I went to Assisi and Rome this past weekend so I am behind on homework and typing up journals. After I write my paper for Renaissance art, I will type up my journal entries and post them. They will most likely be up tomorrow at sometime. Well I am on a half hour break from class, so I better get back. Post later! Ciao!

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 26, 2011 "Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul." -Thomas Merton

This morning we slept in until 10. I think that my problem is our blackout blinds that keep out all light….which is what makes me want to get up in the morning.
Our bread has gone stale but it is really all we have in the apartment so I had stale bread with nutella for breakfast. I had to make sure that I wore an outfit that covered my shoulders and legs because I went to religious sights today. It was the hottest day so far so the extra clothing made it that much hotter.
I went to the school so I could update my blog. Then Ashley and I sat in the shade by the fountain to do homework. I worked on my reading for my Art class and took notes.
Around 2 we met Jill at the apartment and had lunch. I had the same leftover pasta I have had all week, except this time in order to spice it up I put worcestershire sauce on it. It make is very tasty.
I then met my class at the main fountain at 3. The 6 of us headed down to the Mini Metro which is a very tiny train that runs above the city. It is about the size of a car and goes very fast. We took the Mini Metro to a train station where we got our tickets and boarded the train. The view of Italy passing by was stunning. Fields of every shade of green and little towns with red and orange roofs stretches as far as the eye could see. We took the bus to Assisi

and walked up to the church of Saint Francis. We crossed the large square to the towering church and waited in the shade for our professor. There is no talking within the church so we had to wear headphones and my professor used a microphones directed to our headsets.
The church was built for Saint Francis shortly after his death in the early 1200’s. However, sure to its large and lavish nature it was not kept by the Franciscan order because Franciscans believe in simplicity and poverty.

I was breathless upon entering the church. Every inch of the walls and ceilings was covered in fresco paintings. This was the building with the most fresco paintings before the Vatican was built. The entire center of the church is a huge church and then the groves on the side contain small chapels.
There is a lower and an upper church. The upper church was constructed by artisans from Northern Europe. This is known due to the large amounts of stained glass which is not typical of Italian art. The upper church does not have any small chapels. Famous painter from all over Europe would come to paint sections of the church. The paintings depict different moment in Christ’s life, Francis’ life and important religious moments. Some scenes are depicted multiple times by different people. This is interesting because of everyone’s different ideas of events. In particular, we looked at different representations of the crucifixion and Francis receiving the stigmata (Christ’s wounds). I have a paper sure on Tuesday comparing and contrasting the 2 paintings of Francis receiving the stigmata.

We then went down to the basement to see the tomb of St Francis. It is a simple praying area with the tall tomb in the center.
When we left some girls stayed behind to explore but since I will be coming back with the school on Saturday I decided to go back.
I grabbed something to eat at the train station so I stayed behind when Ashley and Jill went to eat. I journaled and did some homework. We plan on getting up early to go grocery shopping since we have no food in the apartment. Then I have class from 11:15 to 2:45. Ciao.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 25, 2011- "I have been a wanderer in distant fields. I have sailed down mighty rivers." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Even with the thrill of being in Italy, my body is still tired getting up. Between the hot sun, constant motion and crazy schedule, I am constantly tired but happy.

I had class at 11:15 today so I got up at 9. Everyone else in the apartment was still sleep. I showed and put on my favorite outfit so far. Black flowing skirt, green tank top, yellow fishnet scarf, yellow flower in my hair and green eye shadow. I had the usual breakfast (piece of bread with nutella on it) and headed out. I picked up my Renaissance art book (which weighs 1000 pounds) and checked the computer before heading to class.
This class is called Modern Italy. It is a study of the history, culture, food and “la dolce vita” or the sweet life. Our professor was flying in from the U.S. so we watched a movie for the first half of class (classes here are 4 hours long). The movie was in Italian with subtitles which I usually hate but it was a great movie about the holocaust, love, family and perseverance. The movie was called La Vita e Bella….if you haven’t seen it, go get it now!!
Our professor arrived and gave an overview of what the class will be about and what we will be doing. One day we will be going to a vineyard and learning about wine tasting. Then we will be taking a trip to Tuscany to see a butcher and learn what he does.
After class ended at 2:45, I came back to the room for leftover pasta and start reading my large art book. Ashley came back because she had been creeped on by some guys. So we went out together.
First we went down to the train station that is built in the underground of a medieval building. We walked around outside for a while looking for a place to sit. We found a shaded area in a park. She painted flowers while I wrote in my journal.
As I looked around I couldn’t help but marvel at the sights. Trees of everything tall as buildings, beautiful flowers and paths all nestled in the center of the city surrounded by builds that date back before Christ. I am still learning to take things slow and enjoy the sights.
We had a bit of time before dinner so Ashley and I went back to the room to relax for a bit. She went to take a nap and I sat on the loveseat in our kitchen to do more work. Next thing I knew, it was 6:30 and Ashley was waking me up because it was time for dinner. Jill and Ashley were laughing because they couldn’t understand how I had fallen asleep in just a tiny, uncomfortable couch. I must be more tired than I think I am.
A professor from school came over to Italy and took us all out for dinner.

Here we go again with the food descriptions. The first course was pasta and sauce as usual. I am not sure what the Italians do to their pasta and sauce but it is so sweet, smooth and full of tomato flavor. The second course was pork and potatoes. The meat was cooked so perfectly that it was falling off the bone and melted in your mouth. The potatoes were very similar to the ones form the hotel. They were just crispy enough on the outside but very soft on the inside and were seasoned with fresh rosemary. I need to figure out this recipe…maybe it is the kind of potato …..hmmmmm The last course was the salad. I will try to describe this but won’t give it justice. I have never tasted lettuce that was so crisp and fresh and green. The tomatoes were bright red and tasted as if you plucked them from garden at the exact second they were perfect for eating.
Over dinner were talked about everything and even exchanged recipes. All the students sang happy birthday to one of the guys who was turning 21. He was so red.
On the way back to the room, we got gelato (again). I tried pistachio and it was good. While we ate we sat under the Italian night sky. Nights are very popular here because the weather is finally cool enough to be outside.
We get to sleep in tomorrow because Ashley and Jill don’t have class! Ciao!

May 24, 2011- "I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine." - Caskie Stinnett

I did not sleep well last night. Before bed I was very tired but once I laid down I stayed awake all night. Ashley and I got up at 8 and got ready. Then the 3 of us went to the school and used the internet to check email and update social networks. My boyfriend, Chris, was online and I finally got to talk to him. Unfortunately the internet disconnect us….hopefully we will be able to Skype soon. I miss him.
I then decided to walk back to the apartment for lunch so I didn’t spend money. The girls were in class so I had the place to myself. I opened our window and ate my homemade pasta in the fresh Italian air. Then I packed my bag and went to my first class.

I was the first person into my Survey of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist Art class. Our whole class consisted of 5 girls and out professor. My professor is originally from Norway but has lived in Italy for 25 years. Her Italian is beautiful with a Norwegian accent, it is very unique. She is a tall woman with a very thin pointed face and high cheek bones. She has one lazy eye and high eyebrows. Her hair was very short and all cut sharply at the same length. She is very interesting to me. At the start of class I was a little bored and intimidated and considered switching to another class. It reminded me of a class I took my freshman year of college. But once we got past the technical parts, she pulled up slides of paintings and sculptures that we were able to discuss and compare and contrast. I really enjoyed that and became very interested in the art. Our class then went to the art museum in the center of town. It was beautiful and the building was very medieval. We looked at many different interpretations of Christ on the cross. This class is going to be very difficult. Within the 5 weeks I have 3 papers, a presentation, 2 tests and over 100 pages of reading a week. By the end we will be given a painting or sculpture and will need to know who did it, where they were from, what is it made of, when they made it and the meaning behind it.
After class I tried to contact some family in Italy but the number would not go through. So I went back to the school to send them a message. I hope to visit them soon.

Once again, Jill, Ashley and I could not get the stove to work so we decided to go out to eat. We went across the street to the place Jill and I got our Panini’s the first day. Jill got pizza and Ashley and decided to try the kebob wrap. This is the best thing I have eaten so far. He carved the meat off a spit right in front of us and the juices were literally dripping off the meat. He put it on a wrap with fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion along with a zesty sauce. I am hungry just thinking about it.
After dinner we got invited to go out at 11 so we got dressed and headed out for the night. We got to bed around 2.

May 23, 2011 - "Adventure is worthwhile." - Amelia Earheart

My first full day in Perugia! What a day. I slept pretty well-weird dreams and temperature changes but a good night. I got up at 9 and took a shower. The showers and bathrooms are different in Italy so you have to open the window as a vent to make the water evaporate and every time you take a shower you have to mop the floor in the bathroom. Weird but at least it keeps the bathroom clean. I was just about done getting ready when Ashley got here. There had been plane problems and she missed a flight to JFK, was sent to England for 5 hours and then stuck in Rome overnight. To make matters worse, her luggage was lost and won’t be here for 2 days. Luckily she has some stuff in carry-on that she can live off of for a bit.
After Ashley unpacked, we went out with Jill. We showed Ashley the little that we knew about the town. The three of us decided that our mission is to find an awesome coffee shop (or “bar” as they call them here) and become regulars. We found one of the many in town. This one had a beautiful view of the main fountain. The three of us drank coffee, ate croissants and talked while sitting in the Italian shade. The coffee and food was good but we will keep experimenting.
At noon we went to open house to sign up for our trip to Tuscany and make sure our classes are in order.
At one Ashley had to go on the walking trip so Jill and I decided we would go on it again with her. It was a good idea that we did it a second time. I listened more and she also explained things in new ways and I got a better feel for the town.

At three we went to orientation. It was in a beautiful oratory. They went over things such as housing, events, trips, etc. It was a lot of fun. One of my favorite quotes from the one of our staff members was “Italian women run in high-heeled running shoes, while talking on the phone and smoking a cigarette.” Everyone burst out laughing. The chief of Italian police then got up to speak to us about safety. Buff arms, tan skin and perfect hair…..he looked nothing like our police men and every girl in the room seemed to notice his wedding ring….He was a very good speaker. He was funny while being serious, informative and getting his point across. He spoke about how to protect yourself, staying in groups and what to do in certain situations. It was a bit scary, but it is just like anywhere you travel. He turned the topic to the men and women of Italy. He asked a student, “What is the main sport of Italy?” and the guy answered, “Ummmm, soccer?” The police man turned to us and with a smile he said, “Women.” He went on to talk about how Italian men are much more forward and touchy that other men. “And women,” he said, “are evil. They would not give you attention for anything, they just ignore you. Even if you were in the street dying they would not call an ambulance.” He said that that is the way we have to be to the men, cold and just keep walking. I am really bad at this. It is my natural reaction to smile and interact….
After orientation, the three of us went shopping. We got some stuff for dinner and breakfast. It is very hard to shop for food when you can’t read any of the labels. We then went to the bakery and got a loaf of fresh, warm bread for only a little more than a euro!
Making dinner was quite an experience.

We decided to make pasta with garlic, salt, pepper and oil. It took us about 20 mins to get our gas stove lit…..and the whole apartment smelled like gas. We all we going to break the pasta but when Jill did, the pasta flew everywhere. We were walking on pasta until we cleaned after dinner. After cooking the pasta we, we couldn’t get the stove going again to cook the garlic so we skipped that part. While Ashley and Jill were finishing the pasta, I was looking for something to put the pasta in. Apparently I freaked out when I found the perfect big bowl and I yelled “Oh my God we can put it in this!!” I got a little excited….hey, I like a good presentation. We then sat down to our pasta with parmesan and olive with a glass of red wine. The wine was sparkling and fizzy which we probably would have known if we could read the Italian label.
After dinner, we all went out for gelato at 8 so most places were closed. We kept walking but ran into our friend Liz who was eating gelato. We basically attacked her and she showed us where to go. I for coffee flavored and it was so strong that it was like drinking a cup of coffee. Liz then showed us her apartment down a really creepy street. Her view was amazing because she lived on the fourth floor….unlike our first floor. We stayed awhile, drank wine, and talked until about 10. When we left we had to walk down the creepy street in the dark. Just as we were mentioning how scary it was, the loudest whistle I have ever heard blew and echoed down the street. The three of us jumped and moved close together only to find out it was a woman looking for her dogs. An Italian man walking by laughed as us. Our hearts we pounding from fear but we laughed at our stupidity all the way back to our apartment.
When we got home, we cleaned, wrote down our expenses, wrote in our expenses, wrote in our journals and got to bed around midnight. Another great day of new experiences in Perugia, Italy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 22, 2011 Headed to the apartment

So far so good at keeping a journal. Today was wonderful. When the alarm clock went off this morning it took me about 30 seconds to actually remember where I was. When I through open the window to a beautiful view, I defiantly remembered. We went to a delicious breakfast at the hotel: orange juice, yogurt, cressants, jam, fresh fruit, and coffee. Our shuttle driver then took us to our apartment. I felt bad because I had no idea what he was saying to us….I need to learn.

Our apartment is so cute. It has a little kitchen, table and chairs, loveseat, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. Jill has her own room and I am rooming with Ashley ( Ashley still isn’t here yet, she got stuck in JFk, then England and then in Rome, she will be here tomorrow).
After getting dropped off, Jill and I went out. We got the lay of the land and then had lunch at a shop across from our apartment. We had panninis. It was funny because when Jill got her sandwich, she was waiting to eat until I got mine. The man behind the counter said to her in Italian “Eat! Eat!” Haha ohhh Italians and their food. While we were eating, we were practicing some Italian and the man laughed and said “Easy Italiano.” He spoke in broken English and helped us with some words and grammar. So far I have mastered “hello, goodbye and thank you.”
We then walked up the street and had gelato (this place didn’t speak English and I am gradually getting better at ordering in Italian).

May I say, I never understood all the rave about gelato until today. I get Bocio which was chocolate with nuts. Bonus: my cone had a smiley face on it.
We then went out on the walking tour provided by the school….I did more sightseeing then listening to the tour guide. Everything is just so new and beautiful!
After some more unpacking, we went to the school to check our internet and update our families. Internet is very slow and very rare here.
Our professor took us out to a fancy pizza place for dinner. Sorry Granny, but this is the best pizza ever. They place a whole pizza in front of you and I ate every last piece. I’m not sure how they do it but the cheese it so good and melty and the sauce is sweet and the bread it perfect.
Italians sure know how to cook. The girl next to me yelled “Oh my God” when she bit into it….I thought it was because it was hot….nope it was because it was so good.
Still jet lagged so just reading and then heading to bed.

May 21, 2011 Arriving in Italy

Ciao! I am sitting in my Italian hotel room that we will be staying at tonight until we move into our apartment tomorrow. I was able to sleep a little on the plane but not much….it was mostly dozing in and out due to how uncomfortable planes are. When I landed I got my passport stamped and picked up my luggage (so glad it arrived) and was able to find the rest of the Umbria Institute students. We soon boarded a bus to take us from Rome to Perugia.

It was about a 2 hour drive which I dozed in an out of. I was so tired at that point….I hadn’t slept since the 4 hours of sleep I got Thursday night before starting my travels.
Italy is surprisingly lush. There are so many different trees and everything is so green and full. I am not sure what I was expecting but this is very different from the picture in my mind. Driving to the most of the sights went: field, forest, field with hay bales, large community, tunnel, repeat. I think once I get to the more historic places it will be what I pictured. Right now we are in a very city like section of Italy and the drivers are insane haha.
I have met 3 new people. Jill, who goes to school with me, Anya, who lives in Hawaii and Jess from Boston. We formed a little group (Jill is rooming with me along with Ashley, who isn’t here eat and Liz, someone else from my school). Jill and I went down to a little shop and got a cappuccino. It was so good and was only one euro. This was my first experience ordering in Italian (Un cappuccino isn’t hard) and using euros. I guess I should figure out what all the different coins mean….
I felt so cultured sitting at a sidewalk table, drinking a cappuccino from a cup and saucer and chatting while the busy Italian life passed us by. Jess and Anya met up with us and processes to explore. We went to the market and ooed and ahhhed over the amazing food and wine. We then explored the hotel (which was like a maze) and somehow ended up on the roof. There was a pool and a hot tub not to mention a breathtaking view.
Tomorrow we will be moving into our apartments and touring the town. It is almost 8 pm and time for the welcome dinner (I will have to get used to different meal schedules). I haven’t eaten in 24 hours and haven’t slept in 48….so I plan on dinner and then bed.
Dinner was to die for and the best part? It just kept coming. We started with pasta and sauce. The pasta was twisted in a cool way and it had a hint of cheese on the inside. Everyone wasn’t sure if that was the whole meal but then they brought out salad, then chicken (which smelled like heaven to this starving girl) and then potatoes (my favorite part). I’m not sure if it was the food or because I was so hungry but everything was great. And for dessert? Chocolate mousse with chocolate on top. Mmmmmm
The hotel is giving us breakfast in the morning and I am getting up to take advantage of it….free Italian food! It is 11:00pm in Italy and I am going to finally get some sleep. Thank you God for this wonderful experience.

May 21, 2011 Traveling

I am now in Italy! I arrived on Saturday morning and have been running around since I got here. There is very little internet access here and the internet they have in very slow. I am keeping a very detailed journal so when I get to the school where there is internet I will post a new entry from my journal.
Here we go:

It is 6:30 am….Dublin time. That’s right, I am in Ireland. Sure it is only for an hour (due to plane problems causing us to take off an hour and a half late) but it is amazing. Hearing the pilot say “Welcome to Dublin” in his thick Irish accent was unreal. I have left my once loved English accent behind and have fallen in love with the Irish. It is such a kind and warm accent. Countless very handsome Irishmen have called me “dearie” in the last hour and my heart stops each time. Not to mention how polite they are all.

Oh, random fact: Aer Lingus has amazing flight meals. For dinner they served beef with peas, carrots potatoes (of course) and gravy, a slice of cheese, a salad, a roll with butter, water, cheesecake with milk and a piece of chocolate. They then brought out tea and coffee after dinner. This next leg to Italy is about 2-3 hours….and I plan on sleeping.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Just around the river bend....." - Pocahontas

In 14 days I will be landing in Italy. This is very unreal to me. I didn't think that I would make and it is scaring me. I have never been far from my family with little communication. My mind is over thinking everything.
I am officially done with my Junior year of classes and finals. How did I become a Senior??
Some bad news, I did not receive the $5000 Gilman scholarship I was counting on. They sent me an email saying that they had 300 awards and thousands of applicants.
Oh well. Keeping my chin up.
When something happens, I will let you know...