Midterms

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged! I’m just about done with midterms (thank goodness) and will be leaving for Spring Break tomorrow night! I just have to get through my Italian midterm first. It shouldn’t be too hard, I feel like I know more than I think I do. We have been reviewing all week but nothing can prepare me for the listening part because the Italians talk so fast and it’s impossible to hear through the little speaker that my teacher plays it through. Oh well. My other three midterms were easier than I thought, and a lot shorter. Basically just 10 short answers. The teachers here really want you to pass because they know everyone is studying abroad and doesn’t care much about schoolwork while we’re here.

Last weekend was my first weekend staying here in Florence for a month, and boy was it relaxing! So nice not to have to wake up really early and get on a bus then a plane then a train etc. and we didn’t have to go out to eat every night and actually made our first “family meal” since we’ve been here! Me, Michelle and Hannah made chicken cutlets, steamed broccoli, and a new pasta dish I found on Pinterest – it was all so good! And we had leftover so we could eat it the next day too. Sunday was St. Patrick’s day and even in Florence it’s crazy! We did a bar crawl during the day and all got green shirts that have The David on them with a clover and wig on they’re cute.

Yesterday in my food & wine midterm my teacher made food for us after we finished the test and it was just this saffron risotto that was amazing!!! I had never had risotto before and I’m glad I got too, because that’s probably not something I would order out at a restaurant. I’m all about the homemade pastas. And pizza. And seafood.

Even though midterms are over tomorrow I’m actually depressed that it means we’re halfway through the semester. Tomorrow I leave for Spring Break and will be gone TEN DAYS and miss Easter 😦 and then it’s APRIL. I’m excited because I have visitors coming in April but it scares me how close this is to over. I refuse to leave! This will probably be my last blog until I come home, unless I have some time to blog from my phone while I’m travelling but I can’t promise anything!

Eastern Europe awaits!

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Volunteering

Today was the start of my volunteering!! I signed up to volunteer back in the beginning of February but it just got started this week. Every Wednesday morning from 8:30-10:30 I get to help out in an elementary class during their English lessons! I woke up early this morning to make sure I was there on time (it’s a 35 minute walk) and was surprised when I showed up that barely any adults at the school spoke English. I finally found a really nice old teacher who knew a little and he brought me to the classroom. As we were walking he told me that he used to get coffee with an American and he would speak English while the American spoke Italian to him (I should look into that). He was really cute saying how he missed those times.

The teacher of my class didn’t speak much English either so I got to use some of the Italian I know. It was surprising that once I was forced to use the language I didn’t realize how much I knew! The third graders came in soon after I got there and they were all so cute! Little kids speaking foreign languages is like the cutest thing ever I think. So then the English teacher came in (beautiful/totally stylish/really nice) and I introduced myself to the students in English. I told them my name, age, what I liked and where I was from and they understood it all! Then each of them stood up and said “My name is ___. I’m (their age). I like ___ (usually pizza).” Then the teacher gave me the textbook and told me I was in charge of the lesson! They were learning activity words and it started with me reading them and then them repeating the word. Then they had to match pictures with sentences that rhymed. For example, “I play tennis with Dennis”. I was amazed at how smart they all were and all very quiet. No one shouted out and they all politely raised their hands to answer. So sweet!

After that the teacher wrote “can” and “can’t” on the board and they had to say if they could or couldn’t dance, ski, play the trumpet or ride a bike. So each would stand up and come to the front of the room and say something. It was adorable because they would say something like, “I can ply thu trumpe” and the teacher would say “ask Rosie how to say it” so then I would repeat the correct order and pronunciation a couple of times until they got it. It was really cute because after two of them went they would just come up and only face me and like whisper to me what they could and couldn’t do. Some of them were really good and would get it on their first try! We’re talking 7-year-olds. I’m 20 and can’t say the majority of things i’m learning in Italian and I have it for an hour and a half 4 times a week…

We finished up with a matching game and after just a couple of hours I really fell in love with the children and just the fact that they were learning another language. Yes, I started learning Spanish in first grade but I couldn’t tell you anything about it now. Here, you’re considered ignorant if you can’t speak English! If only that were the case in America with other languages! So naturally (if you know me you know I want to have every profession ever created and always change my mind on what I want to do) as I left the school I decided I want to get another degree once I graduate in Italian language and be a teacher.

I can’t wait to see the kids next week!!

Padova & Venezia

Last weekend I traveled to Padua and Venice with my program! It seemed like the longest weekend ever even though we were only gone from Saturday to Sunday. I had a hard time packing because it was forecasted to rain all weekend long and I didn’t want to wear my boots and ruin them, so I chose to wear sneakers. Also, my raincoat isn’t that warm so I had to wear a lot of layers under it.

We left Saturday morning at 8:30 and I mistakenly led my roomies to the wrong bus stop..oops! Two busses meet at one place and the other two meet at another. Luckily, they let us on one of the busses because there was room. It took about 3 hours to get to this little organic farm in Padua (Padova in Italian) for our first stop. It wasn’t raining out just extremely gross like foggy, cloudy and humid. We couldn’t walk too far into the farm because it had been raining all week and the ground was disgusting, but we did get to see some cows and chickens. They all smelled so bad EW! Then we went inside and had a homemade organic meal fresh from the farm! The first course was pasta with a meat sauce that was really amazing! Then they gave us fresh cheeses, sausage and polenta (a Padovian specialty), and then finally homemade cookies and cake! Lunch was great and then we got back on the bus to head to the center of town for a tour. The tour was really interesting and we learned about how Galileo studied at the University of Padua, which is where he discovered the Milky Way. We also went into the Basilica of Saint Anthony where there was sooo much old stuff. We couldn’t take pictures inside the church and that was kind of annoying. Inside the church there was a statue of the first female graduate ever from Univ of Padua. That night we went out to dinner with a big group and had a lot of fun then went out to this bar where like all of our program was so I got to meet a lot of new people.

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Galileo (with a bird on his head)

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The next day we woke up early and drove an hour to Venice. The city is made of 118 islands with 400 bridges WOW! We parked our bus and then had to take a 30 minute water taxi to the main island and saw the BEST views of Venice. We got off the boat and met for a tour where we saw the majority of the city. It was cold and wet and I was starving the whole time so right after the tour we ate lunch! Then went shopping. I got some Murano glass that is made only in Venice and then we just window shopped and walked around the rest of the day. Venice was extremely beautiful but I feel like all my pictures came out bad because the sky was gray and gloomy.

Finally this coming weekend I’m staying in Florence! It’ll be my first weekend in over a month here and I can’t wait to have so much more time to explore. We plan on climbing the over 400 stairs to the top of the Duomo tomorrow!

Breakfast

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This is my breakfast this morning! I figure why not! I was starving and knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with only the two eggs I have in the fridge. I also found out my pesti goes bad after 5 or 6 days so I was basically forced to make this gnocchi for breakfast. So delish!

Spring?

It’s raining today..and has been since Tuesday..and will continue to until next Thursday! I guess that’s normal for around here during the change into spring. So at least that’s good, spring is coming! It was nice enough to layout and get a tan on Monday, which I guess was just a tease. I had my yoga class this morning and our teacher told us it sometimes will rain the whole month of March. Yuck!! We are going to Padua & Venice this weekend with our program and Venice is already a wet-enough city! I don’t have rainboots here with me so I’m a little curious as to how this weekend is going to turn out. None of us have heard of Padua but apparently it’s a “hidden gem” or Northeast Italy. Sounds exciting!

Tonight we’re going out to eat with a big group of girls to this place called Dante’s where students get free wine and big groups usually get a lot of free food we’ve heard, and then going to a DMB cover band!! We have class tomorrow (on a FRIDAY!) because apparently schools in Italy think it is necessary to make up class time that we have off for Holidays!? For example, tomorrow we have a Monday schedule day for when we miss class Monday, April 1 for Easter Monday! I also didn’t know there was an Easter Monday in addition to Easter Sunday. Hmm…

Let’s hope the rain lets up before my trip to Venice!

Pictures from Spain!

BARCA baby!

It’s Tuesday afternoon and we just got our wi-fi back in our apartment! SO exciting! We’ve been without Internet since last Tuesday night and have had to go to bars/cafes with hotspots in order to just check emails! There has been so much I’ve wanted to blog about but couldn’t because of no Internet. Last weekend I traveled to Barcelona, Spain and drank lots of sangria and ate lots of calamari. Delish! Our hostel hosted a mojito night on Friday so we went there for some cheap drinks then went to a club. Luckily, our friend who is studying there had told us a Spanish phrase to say at the door otherwise we wouldn’t have been let in…either because we were American or extremely underdressed I’m not sure. We were like the only people in the club so we obviously got the party started by being the first to dance!! It wasn’t until 2:30-3 that the place filled up – European time is too crazy for me!

Saturday morning we took a very long walk around the city and visited Park Guell, which has the most scenic views of the city and you can just see the Mediterranean over the buildings. As I said, the walk there was really long so we got some waters and sat at a picnic table for a couple hours, just taking in the sun and view. It was the first time we felt warm sunshine since we’ve been here!

The view from Park Guell

The view from Park Guell

We left the Park to see La Segrada Familia a huge church in Barcelona that’s typically under construction. It was ENORMOUS and the architecture was so unique and just really different than any of the churches in Italy. That night we went out for more tapas and I had fried calamari that was the best I’ve ever had! So fresh and SO GOOD! We went to a couple bars that night and found this place called Chupitos which means “shots” in Spanish. The place had over 500 kinds of shots and probably over 500 people in the tiny place. We squeezed our way to the bar and got the most delicious shots that were chased with marshmallows that we roasted ON THE BAR! Ok enough about my night life…I know you don’t want to hear it mom..

Sunday morning we finally made it to THE BEACH! Once we were there we all kind of regretted not spending the entire day there Saturday. The sun was out and we got lunch and I just layed my head back and tried to get my first glimpse of a tan, which I actually did! I have some color on my cheeks and nose now (and because we layed out all day Monday since it was 64 in Florence and we do have a roofdeck). We got paella and my friends from New York had some zeppoles – kinda like fried dough balls/donut holes (?). We stayed at the beach until we had to take our bus back to the airport at 3. Side note – the metro system in Barca was so nice and so easy! Also, this was my first RyanAir trip and I have to say it was not what I was expecting. Everyone says the flights are so scary and you think you’re gonna die the whole time but our flights were completely painless and quicker than expected! Of course I was sad to leave Spain, it was beautiful and definitely not what I was expecting – at all! I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but it was really just amazing. If I studied abroad there I wouldn’t go to class ever, I’d just be at the beach! The nightlife is insane and I couldn’t handle it for more than a weekend but everything else is wonderful! I ❤ Espana!!

The BEACH!

The BEACH!

Barcelona bound!

I’m currently in Barcelona, Spain waiting for the rest of my friends to wake up from a midday siesta. We got here around noon after traveling on bus to Pisa then took out first RyanAir flight (surprisingly not scary at all) then another bus from the airport to the city center and from there the metro! So much transportation, but ya gotta do what you gotta do! We made it to our hostel around noon and somehow we lucked out with what I would say is the best hostel ever. It’s smackdab in the center of Barcelona, they provide a walking tour, breakfast and pub crawls all included for 13.5 euro a night…doesn’t seem real! There are six of us so we have two rooms of 3 with huge bathrooms too!

Once we were settled in we walked outside to find somewhere to eat lunch. We ended up at a cozy cafe where we got tappas, sangria and of course, churros! They gave us hot chocolate to dip the churros in too – amazing! We all sat and enjoyed each other and laughed probably the hardest I have on this trip for hours together at lunch…it was a great way to start the trip!

The wifi has been down at our apartment since Wednesday. At first it was awful not being able to communicate with the outside world but by the second day it was kind of nice to disconnect. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on my trip to Barca by the end of the weekend!

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