Ciao Ciao for Now Rome

So now at the start of senior year, I finally ended my procrastination and finished writing the last post for my study abroad blog. Knowing how challenging and straight-up sad it would be to write this, I obviously took my sweet time putting it off. Being a week into my final year at Hendrix College, I think it’s more than time to write my thoughts about the last week abroad and about the semester entirely.

Starting my last week in Rome I was weirdly excited to enjoy these last few days here without always having to worry about classes. Finishing my Italian language final that Wednesday, I was done with studying for the semester! So my friend and I had the one of the best afternoons since being here, eating pasta on the Spanish Steps. Dina took me to this tiny shop, where they cooked only two types of al dente pasta everyday, selling them in 3 (or 4?) euro containers. Together, still wearing our backpacks from class, we slurped on our noodles and people-watched sitting on these historic steps. It felt so unreal that I was able to casually do this and live in this ancient city for 4 months. Seeing all the tourists take pictures (a.k.a. selfies), with the now blooming azaleas, I was so darn thankful that I got to experience this place so much differently than most who visit Rome. Looking back on this day now, I really crave that chewy spaghetti that you can really only have in Italia. Not a bad way to celebrate my finishing of final exams!

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Tourist season truly gaining speed

The two of us continued to walk more around the city and stopped for gelato next to the Pantheon. I love this city and all it has to offer, but as it grew hotter each day with its tall buildings and endless cobblestone paths, I was very appreciative I decided not to study abroad here during the summer. The weather got to be pretty distracting.

As my time in Rome was winding closer to the end, there were some pretty important places I had yet to take part in. I hadn’t toured the Coliseum, the Forum and its surrounding ruins, the Borghese Gallery or the Capitoline Museum. That Wednesday night, I planned out my schedule to do each one of these and booking my tickets accordingly. When I then also began to pack up my various bags that evening, I realized I had never felt so conflicted in my emotions. I was dying to see my parents and pets, but leaving also meant saying goodbye to a wonderful culture and new friends that all lived far far away back in the states. At this point however, you really just have to make the most of it and not stress.

The next day, Bridget, Paige and I “souvy” shopped and enjoyed each other’s company, while taking in Rome as well. Taking potentially our last photos at the Spanish Steps, I pushed away that sadness so I keep on loving the city. These feelings still proceeded due to the CIS Abroad farewell dinner being that night. I loved getting to know the other people in the program and especially our on-site director Romina. Eating a very authentic and homemade meal together, I realized how CIS always opened my eyes to places that I would not have discovered on my own. Although not going through any Hendrix study abroad was more expensive, I don’t regret for a second choosing the program I did. As a going away gift, Romina gave us all special edition Nutella jars for the Milan Expo. I’m still refusing to eat mine.

I really miss these people!
I really miss these people!
Thank you Romina for all your generosity!
Thank you Romina and CIS for all your generosity!

The next day I visited the Capitoline Museum, which is two massive buildings both stocked full of ancient Roman ruins, statues and art. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved seeing this insanely historic relics and buildings for the past semester, but this area of art doesn’t have me staring at each individual piece. My pal Bridget, the classics major, was pretty surprised how short I was there compared to the lengthy time she spent there. I can appreciate this history without having to stand closely and scrutinize each individual artifact… Then that evening my group of friends dined extremely early for Italy (around 7:30); I’m pretty sure we were the first ones there. We ate, laughed and drank plenty of the house wine.

my favorite artifact at the Capitoline
my favorite artifact at the Capitoline
thanks mama wolf for allowing rome to be here!
thanks mama wolf for allowing rome to be here!

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dinner is always my favorite - minus the splitting the bill difficulties
dinner was always my favorite – minus the splitting the bill difficulties

For our Saturday, we went to the beach that’s only a 30 minute train ride from the city. It’s incredible how easy it is to get there too. With a train station only 2 blocks from our apartment building, we just hop on the 8 euro train and can then magically lie near the Mediterranean sea. All of us managed to fall asleep on the sand, gaining some pretty pathetic sunburns, but other than that it was a very relaxing day. I continued to grow sadder about leaving as I became better and better friends with these awesome people. However, still having some some tourist attractions to check off, so I spent my Sunday morning and afternoon roasting in the ruins. I woke up around 9 and headed to the Coliseum. Being by myself to visit these major monuments, I was able to capture some awesome photographs, sans distraction (unless you count the Italian heat frying me).

The only downside of going alone was having to awkwardly ask someone to take my picture. Other than that, I loved getting to take in the mind-blowing history of a place like this. After I finished touring the entirety of the Coliseum, I was pretty tired, but I knew if I went back home to my apartment now, I wouldn’t be able to get back out into the weather. So I put headphones in and played some RadioLab and This American Life podcasts and strolled the Forum and Palatine Hill. It grew hotter and more crowded as the day wore on, but I plugged away and took more and more photos of the historic grounds. I am proud of myself for seeing everything, despite with my sunburn searing under even more UV rays.

On the evening of the 10th, I finally made my stop at the world famous Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese). I had to book this one way in advance, because it always sells out. I don’t think my parents even got to see it. I know now it is for good reason. Bernini, Rubens, Caravaggio, Raphael, and many other well known artists fill up the rooms in the villa. It was an amazing final museum to end my semester abroad with.

Now I have finally reached my last day in the Eternal City. Like I stated previously, the day was entirely too bittersweet; I was feeling guilty that I was pretty ready to go home. However, knowing I wouldn’t see these new friends for a long time, made this night lean much towards the sad end of the spectrum. The goofs I call my friends fortunately are not as big of saps like me, so very little sadness ever displayed itself. We all went to dinner in a well-acclaimed, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Trastevere. Since it was the last night in Rome, I even bought an appetizer. The lightly-fried zucchini blossom stuffed with cheese was worth every euro I spent on it. My pasta and white wine was incredible as well. We all left the place feeling extremely full and happy, but even with a really filling meal we of course still got gelato.

Together we walked the city one last time, reminiscing and laughing. Our stop at the Trevi Fountain (which was still annoyingly under construction) was my favorite part. After throwing in our coins, complete with a photoshoot by Danny and some wishes, a man taking and selling polaroids caught our attention. Despite this being extremely touristy, with a steep price of 3 euros, we had to get a couple taken. I am really glad I decided to splurge in this particular occasion, because it has turned out to be my favorite from the semester. Only one time did I actually cry this night, which I would consider a personal best for me. Packing the rest of my things and hugging Bridget, Danny, Kasey and Paige goodbye was pretty tough, but I think we will all remain faraway friends for a long time to come.

miss these goofs
miss these goofs
the best souvenir
the best souvenir

This time of living in a foreign country and an amazing new city blessed me with so many wonderful new experiences and ways I got to learn more about myself and other societies. Getting to live in a place surrounded with such history, culture and beauty felt like a dream, as a cliche as that sounds. Some days it would feel completely normal to be walking in such an iconic city, but others it would hit me how surreal and unbelievably cool this opportunity was. I got to see and appreciate so much influential and ancient art and architecture. I was so lucky to the point that I got to travel to other parts of Italy and other countries in Europe, which let me see and learn even more about the art field, such as Claude Monet’s Parisian wall-stretching oil paintings. Learning about myself abroad was equally as incredible. I learned how I like structure more when I travel, how I wanted to stick to a budget, and that I love meeting and befriending people with similar interests. (This seems like a no-brainer until you’ve hit 4 museums in a row alone). The American and Italian friendships I earned have made me so incredibly thankful and happy. Even though some parts of being abroad weren’t perfect, like when I was pick-pocketed, each bizarre and confusing experience was enlightening and still allowed me to grow from it. Studying in Rome was a wonderful part of my life I am so thankful for and really wouldn’t change it a bit.

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Expecting the Dreaded (April 29 – May 5)

Every time I left Rome, I always was happy to return “back home” after an exciting weekend away. This time I was even more excited knowing my next two weeks were going to be less homework and more romping around and discovering more new spots and returning to beloved ones. But sadly, I also I had to keep the thought that this might be the last time, seeing as I left on May 12 for the States. The excitement weirdly blended with the pressure of visiting all the places I had put off going to. I was determined to enjoy this time and overcome the anxiety of not doing everything, like succumbed to in Paris. This time would be stressless (is that a word?), only slightly sad, and leave me in result feeling content with all my experiences. My friend Bridget and I started forming a list of things we needed to do, but in all honesty, there was not enough free time for us to complete them all.

That Wednesday my other pal Dina, in our level 100 Italian class told me how her plans for the weekend was the AS Roma game, which happened to be their last home game that the Americans would be in town for. Hearing this made me instantly NEED to go, and responded by contacting Bridg. Eventually, after her sloooooow consideration, we did go on to purchase our fairly priced tickets in order to attend an authentic European football game (In italian it’s called calcio, taken from the verb calciare, meaning to kick). Sadly we couldn’t convince our other pals to tag along due them all wanting to put studies ahead of their social lives, how lame (Hendrix officials if you’re reading this I usually do this too, but in this moment I happened to have a lot less testing and studying to do than most other students).

After studying most of Thursday, I headed home to work some more before a group of us hung out and went spent some primo friend bonding time including getting more amazing frites, at our favorite night-time exclusive fry shop. Most of the weekend including eating amazing food, including my favorite gelato at La Romana, and preparing for the last bits of finals. Both Bridget and I were in a group with two others working on our final project for the class Art Gallery Management, with our cool, but unexpectedly picky professor.

By Sunday I was so excited to experience the AS Roma game. We had to trek to Stadio Olimpico with a long and hot tram ride to another hot bus, to take us to another hot tram ride, where we concluded our journey by a long walk in the heat. Being the true fans we were, we bought some bootleg jerseys with a player’s name on it that we had no earthly clue was or even looked like. However, this high-quality attire made us feel extremely team-spirited and had us hoping that we looked like we knew what was going on. Still, I had to wear a skirt with this jersey since I didn’t have any shorts, definitely counteracting my any chance at appearing Italian.

Bridget & me feat. my favorite enthusiastic AS Roma fan (the one I mentioned)
Bridget & me feat. my favorite enthusiastic AS Roma fan (the one I mentioned)

Both of us were giddy the entire game, cheering, stumbling upon Dina, enjoying the dramatic ways of the true Roman fans. One kid flipped off the one tiny section of the opposing teams’ fans almost through the entire event. It was all pretty interesting and hilarious. We cheered on numbers, since we didn’t exactly know the players’ names. Even better was when AS Roma ended up winning, so we got to her the stadium sing what I believe was the Rome anthem… “Siamo Roma” (we are Roma). Truer words have never been sung.

Heading back to Trastevere, we were a little tired and overheated, but eventually we made it back only to return to studying and projects. That week we presented our gallery project, but the other group’s was far more professional considering they got to use one of the actual Italian student’s father’s fancy apartment as their exihibtion space. It pretty much blew all of four us in my group away. We tried our best, but without any real contacts in Rome, we lacked more professional art pieces or exhibition space. That night of faux art gallery openings for class lasted forever, and I didn’t get home until much later.

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How were we supposed to compete with this?
How were we supposed to compete with this?

Then on Tuesday night, I had to relocate to Bridgets’ place in order to study for an exam, because my apartment was way too loud for anyone to actually concentrate on anything. My last final/exam was the next day, in my Italian class, and I had to go back and remember particular grammar rules in the language. I honestly am terrible at studying past a certain hour, so this was struggle, but once I did this test I was done and free to explore Rome as much as I please. My final post on this abroad blog will talk about what I filled my last week with and more importantly what kind of effect this phase in my life had. Until I get a another free moment, ciao!

Buda Buda & a little bit of Pest

So as I recovered from my relaxing weekend in the south of Italy, I had to come to terms with the fact that crunch time was approaching. I slept very little amounts this week, due to my Art Theory paper, Art Gallery paper and the student art exhibition occurring. I went to classes and would then immediately started doing homework again. The outside world barely saw the likes of me, and vice versa. I also knew I had to get a lot done before I left for Budapest that Friday where I would I get to meet up with Hendrix friends.

That Tuesday, my study abroad program invited to take us for dinner at Eataly, just a little outside of Rome. However, only one of my roommates and I signed up so our directors drove us here and we were lots of goodies to eat. These outings always make me thankful I chose to work through CIS. Eataly was created out of super interesting circumstances; basically it is like a whole foods with restaurant as well. From my Italian language class we also learned that it was created in response to McDonald’s coming to Italy for the first time during the 80s. Eataly emphasizes quality ingredients and taking time back into food. Food is such a large part of Italian culture that highlights values completely opposite from what “fast food” does. Enjoying the process, meal and company is all what Eataly tries to bring back to everyday culture and life. After learning about it and its manifesto from Italian class, I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit it with the three others I went with. Our directors bought us delicious things, such as this amazing touch bread with organic butter and slices of anchovies topped on it. I had always turned away from those stinky guys, but when in Italy, or Eataly, you know you are really having the best of the best. I felt so blessed to have our program directors guide us and show us their true Italian perspective on food and customs while I was in Rome.

the many floors of Eataly
the many floors of Eataly
part of the outstanding Eataly seafood section
part of the outstanding Eataly seafood section

Come Thursday,  I was thankful that I had decided to fly out of Rome on Friday instead of that evening. I felt very relaxed my entire traveling time to Hungary, a rare occurrence in my time abroad. I have really grown hating to fly, most of it is just waiting your turn. Once I finally landed in Budapest, I had to find out how to get to the hostel my friends and I were staying at and planned to meet up at. The only challenging aspect of this was the EXTREME language barrier and the different currency. My advice to fellow and future students abroad is to take advantage of those information booths. I have utilized them in almost every city I travelled to, and each time I’m happy I did. The man was able to tell the bus and metros I needed to take exactly in order to get where I needed. Something I know I would have struggled with. So after the long bus ride with multiple stops that drove me through Hungarian countryside, and the many metro stops I had to make, I found the hostel (I did walk around in a complete circle once before finding it though – the people at the TGI Friday’s were definitely amused).

Getting to the hostel, meant seeing Taylor Pate, one of the Hendrix pals I was getting to see during this excursion, and I was too excited. After a long hug, I loved getting to meet her friends that she made during her time in the Czech Republic and jumping into my first experience at a hostel while abroad. Despite the interesting shower situation and our bizarre roommate with terribly smelly shoes, I was pleasantly surprised about how nice it was considering the cheap cost!!

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With the four of us and the city of Budapest awaiting, we started to explore. It was nice having Taylor be our little guide, since she had visited once prior. The weather was incomparable, I think we were all ready for some sun. The weird and cool vibe Budapest put off instantly attracted me. I was overjoyed to get to experience this, especially with one of my closest friends and future roommate Tay. Her friends were super nice as well – seeming pretty surreal that we were just goofing around in such an amazing European city.

View of Parliament from Fisherman's Bastion
View of Parliament from Fisherman’s Bastion

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Matthias Church
Matthias Church

Something I learned that was pretty amazing is that the city is actually divided by the Danube in two parts, Buda and Pest. Supposedly, at least my friends said that Buda is much nicer and there is more to do on it. I really would liked to have taken the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular, but sadly it was still under restoration… The walk up the beautiful Castle Hill was equally enjoyable, getting to see how klutzy both Taylor and I truly are. At the top, we all talked and took pictures of the incredible views the city had to offer. The Fisherman’s Bastion and the church created for St. Mathias both have amazing views of the Buda half of the Hungarian capital. After a glass of wine on the Bastion (a terrace) restaurant, we explored more of Pest and more of Buda.

Later that night also allowed me to see another Hendrix friend, Mitch, and enjoy his company all while being in an amazing European city. After the group of us failed to find the ruin bars, we went to bed rather late, waking up early to enjoy more of our weekend together. I’m so happy I got to see all these incredible things with some of my closest friends, a change from what I had been feeling back in Rome.  After a relaxing brunch, we strolled around the city, seeing many of the important sites. I loved the how the historical architecture and design blended so nicely with the modern aesthetic that covers Budapest, how well meshed the two styles are made it so much cooler and weirder.

Hungarian Parliament
Hungarian Parliament
My cute friends and lunch at a food & arts festival
My cute friends and lunch at a food & arts festival

That Saturday night, as we headed to the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Pools, I had another ATM card scare, where it almost decided to steal my card. Thankfully, to the whole lot of us, that pesky piece of plastic I so heavily relied on was given back to me. With only minor disagreement with the lady in the ticket booth, eventually we all made it on the tram and headed to the bathes. In such a strange part of town, near the renowned zoo and bizarre circus setup, we walked inside the large yellowstone building. The baths were so warm and beautiful. They had two baths, and one lap swimming pool. The warmest bath was the best and most popular to all attendees. This was probably my favorite part of the trip, just because of how relaxing it was. We even managed to start talking with an Irish family, who had a son in high school that really wanted to go to an American college. They were so hilarious with such charming accents. I nearly could have fallen asleep in the bathes after a while.

those Buda baths
those Buda baths

My last day in Budapest involved saying sad and early goodbyes to most of our group, Taylor and the other two friends not from Hendrix. I knew I would miss her, but I was so happy I got to spend this time here together. I couldn’t and still can’t wait to live with her on Front Street. So the rest of the day, Mitch and I roamed around more Budapest, dropping by Heroe’s Square and then randomly coming upon part of the Spring Festival. Tons of food stands and amusement rides decked out this section of the park. We loved how fortuitous we were upon finding this place, especially since I was able to get a huge bag of gummies! Not only was it wonderful to walk around this incredibly perfect city, I loved how much Mitch and I were able to spend some time alone talking together. I was particularly excited to see the Shoes on the Danube monument to the Holocaust, the bronze shoes on the side of the river. It was pretty small, and I could how many could miss it.  Going home was sad, but I was pretty sore from how much walking we did the past couple of days. Besides, I still had more papers to work on.

Where the Sunday spring fest was situated
Where the Sunday spring fest was situated
The Danube Shoes Memorial
The Danube Shoes Memorial
Hero's Square
Hero’s Square

Southern Italia

As I began to recover from my back and throat pain, (I’m too much of a grandma sometimes) I was ready for the school trip to Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii and Naples during the weekend. I was particularly excited for this trip because all my newer friends were going on this as well! Plus, I really wanted to go to some warmer, beachier destinations. After finishing my Art Gallery review paper, I was ready for my weekend of learning and relaxation with friends. I did feel a wee bit guilty about needing to get more artwork done prior to the school exhibition the upcoming Thursday. I wasn’t going to miss out on this trip though! Traveling with all these friends to such lovely places was something I was really looking forward to!

Having to get on board the bus by at least 7 in the morning is rather painful, but sleeping in the bus always helps. Of course in my typical fashion, I fell asleep and had to pack super quickly the next morning…. I still made it to the bus with everything I needed luckily! With my bus buddy Bridget, the two of us both passed out once we began driving, until of course they put on Mean Girls for the bus to watch on the road trip. The bus began heading up the treacherous trip up the side of Naples towards Mount Vesuvius. My poor friend Paige was hating the swerving roads; I could definitely see how terrible it would have been if I had been afraid of heights!

Heading up toward the base of Vesuvius
Heading up toward the base of Vesuvius

Hiking up the mountain was a little more challenging than all of us were expecting. I was very excited to have the picnic we all planned to eat next at the top near the smoking volcano. The paths up were steep and coated in gravel, making it hard and slippery to walk up. At this time it would have been nice to have some sneakers instead of my pathetic little Keds…. However, after this exhausting trek upwards, we got to look inside the mountain. Since it last exploded, there has been a lot of time for vegetation to regrow in its pit. Other than the pumice stones, steep sides around the “valley”, the still active volcano looks much more like a mountain. As we walked around the enclave, you see the smoke coming out of it, which isn’t actually smoke, but sulfuric gas being emitted. All of us were covered in dust and were a little tired, so we enjoyed our lunches, took pictures and gazed at the stunning view. Eventually, the entire exhausted school group descended those crazy trails and loaded back onto the bus.

Next, our group was to head to the hotel we were staying in Sorrento. After checking into the quaint place, we had free time until the scheduled dinner. Sorrento was much better than I had expected. Charming, with lovely stores, people and access to the Mediterranean Sea, made this town so wonderful. I loved the Mediterranean feel to everything here. We wandered around and saw just about everything lemon-themed, including the delicious sorbetto we snacked on. It was so enjoyable being here with these friends – the entire weekend was full of good conversation and laughter.

The next day we had to wake up early to meet the group downstairs to head to the isle of Capri that Saturday. Taking the humid ferry wasn’t too enjoyable, but immediately after unloading it I was able to notice how picturesque Capri truly is. My friends and I made the best decision EVER to spend the 17 euros on a boat tour around the island. Although I couldn’t the tour guide at all, the trip was extremely beautiful and enjoyable. I felt so lucky to experience this with people I adore. The cliffs and rocky arches along the sides of Capri were absolutely unreal.

Capri shore
Capri shore
Cliffs of Capri Isle
Cliffs of Capri Isle

The tour guide showed us the crazy chemical reactions that made certains parts of the water electrically blue. I don’t really know the science behind it, all I know is that it is super super cool. Finally we reached to the best part of the tour, the Blue Grotto. It’s a sea cave with a small hole that a tiny bit of sunlight shining through that creates an bright blue reflection that illuminates the entire thing. To get into it, you have to lay down in these tiny boats, while the man steering you pulls the boat by grabbing a chain that links the outside and inside the cavern. I felt as though I had been transplanted into a movie scene. The reflection and echoes were haunting, and very very surreal. I had become the little mermaid while being in the grotto. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to visit here at some point.

The crazy reflections of Capri water
The crazy reflections of Capri water
how is this real?
how is this real?
The Blue Grotto!!
The Blue Grotto!!

Walking around the rest of the day around Capri was fairly exhausting due to its unending steep steps. I could definitely see how this place had become such a luxury destination for the wealthy. The beauty here never ceases, along with the delicious sweets, food and fashion. The ferry ride in the evening back to Sorrento was much needed. We spent the rest of day talking, asking each other “sleepover questions” as Bridgette likes to say, and soaking up the Mediterranean sun laying on the beach.

The free dinners left something to be desired, but they were still free. The next day, or Sunday, the school group drove to Pompeii. It was insanely dusty and windy, lots of dust went into my eyeballs. Even the picture I took in front of Vesuvius was super painful. I still loved being taken back in time in this ancient city of ruins. Going inside the still standing bathes and homes made me really wish I could have seen it in its hayday. We then headed to Naples for the afternoon.

Naples’ center emulates the Vatican, which made me feel weirdly happy to live near the real deal. I had heard so many negative things about Naples, but all my experiences there were fairly positive. Before unloading the bus, our leader told us it was imperative that we watch our bags. I had heard things about how poor and ugly it is. Although not as visually stunning compared to other Italian cities I have been to, the town exceeded my expectations. It did this mainly through the cheap and delectable food we devoured. My friends and I found a literal hole-in-the-wall restaurant packed with Italians enjoying their Sunday afternoon. The pizza I ordered WAS THE BEST. Completely different than American pizza, this particular Neapolitan pizza was layered in grease with big crust, and chunks of scrumptious buffalo mozzarella (which actually comes from a water buffalo – this fact blew my mind). I fell in love with this pizza. I also learned how large my stomach can expand this day in Naples. After eating, we walked along the beach and indulged in granites (like an icee) that were everywhere in Southern Italy.

The trip back to Roma was tiring, especially lugging my bags home. I am so thankful I got to experience this trip with my friends in such beautiful surroundings. Mostly, I am thankful I had this trip and my next one before I had to endure my horrible finals.

PS. I can’t get the pics to upload. Sorry!

A night of OPERAAAAAA

This week from Wednesday April 8th to April 15th brought fun and more work and more back pain. It began great that Thursday night, with enjoying friends’ company, while we went out to Trastevere and then eating delicious frites with an amazing curry sauce. That’s my kind of party night.

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The next Friday, my friends (who all live in the same apartment) and I attended the opera Carmen at Teatro di Argentina. I had been wanting to attend one, and I was excited to see the one I had always heard about. The theatre was stunning, and we all had the nose-bleeding seats. We were very close to the ceiling and there weren’t any ushers so we just picked the ones we wanted. The show was all in Italian, of course, so I was just taking direction from the music tones and the actors reactions. All of us were a little skeptical of what actually was occurring. The play wasn’t too long and I’m thankful I saw an opera in Roma finally, despite it being a little odd…

Teatro di Argentina - look how high up we were..
Teatro di Argentina – look how high up we were..
Bridget and I in our lovely velour seats
Bridget and I in our lovely velour seats

The next few days of the week, I spent painting and trying to plan out my finals and essays for the upcoming weeks. I had a lot to do and I wasn’t sleeping as well I should have. Remember that back pain I was having before during Easter weekend? Well, it came back, and it came back bad. I went to the school doctor twice, for my extreme throat pain and my horrible back. I was tired and achey and overwhelmed with work. Thankfully the day I was very very sick my nice teacher let me have an extension to continue to work on my paper. I think otherwise I would have had to turn in a very unedited piece.

I desperately wanted to get better, so I slept and longed for home, but I knew a fun weekend would be ahead if I just got better. My mom sending me baby pictures definitely helped me feel better too. That much back pain and throat pain at the same time should be illegal to anyone. Thankfully, I finished my paper and started to regain strength. During this other round of sickness I was definitely homesick again. There’s nothing like being sick to make you want your bed and your mom.

A Quiet Week in Rome

Another day, another catch-up blog post. I know this catch-up style is highly unorthodox, but I really am trying my best here! Also, thanks to those who have actually been reading this, I know who you are…to some degree, since on my views map on this WordPress it doesn’t say who you are, just what country you’re in. However, I only know a few people in Czech Republic, so shout-out to y’all!

So continuing my week of April 1st, I wasn’t too excited about my weekend or week for that matter. Only a few of my roommates were town, including me, so the apartment was bizarrely quiet. Not to mention that I had some homework to do! However, I was pretty excited to have time to hang out with my roommate Katie solo-dolo,

On that Thursday, my inner grandma came out again due to the fact that my back was in severe pain. I struggled to find a solution, class was a very trying struggle as well. Despite being in pain, I persevered and went to the school film showing of A Clockwork Orange with Katie and enjoyed the bizarre cinema and free snacks together. My back only screamed for help a few times. Katie and I both took it easy that night, and next day sleeping in very late.

I woke up and did a full yoga routine for my back, which does help if part of a consistent routine, but barely made a dent in my pain. I kept using the heat and correct posture and this allowed me to enjoy going late shopping on the main avenue, Via del Corso. Of course, I forgot to mention that this was Easter weekend. This holiday made Rome uncomfortably busy with obnoxious tourists walking. It’s interesting to me how easily annoyed I get with visitors to the city, especially since I was one of them three months ago. The streets in the historical center were just brimming to burst with tourists however, making it near impossible to get anywhere or do anything here! Katie and I, in the mid of our annoyance and shopping, we decided to find the fancy McDonald’s I had only heard rumors about and seen on the travel channel years ago (on a special about McDonald’s with my granmama).

Eventually we discovered it! You walk in with a gelato and caffè area greeting you, then walking through a stone tunnel with a seemingly ‘ancient’ artifact towards upstairs. The upstairs holds many areas to order, then dozens of fancy seating areas. It is truly the most posh (as Katie deemed it) McDonald’s either of us had ever been to. If you are ever in Rome, and need a fast meal in between sight seeing, try stopping in here. Or you could just go in to just see it. It truly contrasts with any one in America.

Just a fragment of the seating at the McDonald's
Just a fragment of the seating at the McDonald’s

That night we again took it easy, and sleep in late again, I then spent my day with homework and only slight walking around. Then Sunday, or Easter, was the day of more excitement. I finally saw the Trevi Fountain for the first time since the three months being here; it’s under repair so I have been reluctant to get over there. It doesn’t disappoint, despite having scaffolding and no water running through it. Together on this Easter, Katie and I also walked by the Laudrée shop in Roma and took some macaroons to go, and continued our day by walking around the couture shopping by the Spanish steps that was flooded with the hundreds of Easter tourists. I loved looking at the decadent Harry Winston jewels. On our way home via the tram, we stopped for me to get some lunch, (thanks KT) getting a small panino and a tall cup of to-go sangria with green apples and oranges soaked in the wine. I will probably never find that tiny shop again, but I’m glad I got to enjoy it on Easter!

Thank you macaroons for exisiting
Thank you macaroons for exisiting
The still beautiful, but under repair, Trevi fountain
The still beautiful, but under repair, Trevi fountain

That next Monday off was even better, I got the delight of meeting up with a friend from Hendrix, miss Emily K., who was studying in Morocco this spring semester. Her roommates and her stopped in Rome for part of their spring break and I got the opportunity to share a meal with them.  I love meeting new people and it was especially enjoyable getting to show them the city I fell in love with. We enjoyed traditional Roman pizza at the tiny and amazing Dar Poeta, then munched on a freezing dessert of gelato. Sadly, they didn’t get to see Rome with beautiful weather, but hopefully they still enjoyed its beauty. It’s always nice to see a familiar face and loved getting to show them a little bit of where I’ve been living. Since most of the people I’ve met studying abroad here have had friends or family visit, it was nice for me to have this opportunity as well!

Love seeing this fellow Warrior :)
Love seeing this fellow Warrior 🙂

 

Here is my bad attempt at a wrap-up – so until my next catch-up post, ciao!

The Week of March 25th to April 1st (Sorry for the lack of creativity..)

On the Friday the 27th, I explored some side streets of Rome and dropped into the gallery of Lorcan O’Neill. This place took me two separate occasions to find, both times it rained. Of course, this gallery was in a completely different area than Google Maps told me… I would have been less annoyed if I hadn’t gotten rained on. The gallery was tucked way in an like little cave, with a little courtyard. The space was tall and white, very pretty, but the art exhibited was very odd. The artist Eddie Peake enjoyed using materials such as lucite plastic. If someone was to ask me what I thought the deeper meaning of this work was, I would have no idea what to say. All in all, I’m glad I took the time to visit it.  This was also the same day as a food truck festival taking place in the Testaccio area of Rome. There were all types of stands, but it was interesting how the food being served was imitating American style dishes. I saw lots of barbecue and hamburgers, with lines that went on forever. I’m not complaining though, because the cheeseburger I ordered was amazing.

Getting lost in Rome has its perks.
Getting lost in Rome has its perks.
I managed to snap one picture without the receptionist getting suspicious at the Eddie Peake exhibit .
I managed to snap one picture without the receptionist getting suspicious at the Eddie Peake exhibit .

The next day, Saturday the 28th, was the school day trip to Assisi. This town in Italy is home in the Umbria region, also known as the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. It is home to some incredible churches and history. Assisi is incredibly old and beautiful, with unsurmountable views. I was also glad some of my roommates and other friends in my building were attending the trip, so I wouldn’t be totally isolated.  AUR provided us with a tour, led by totally biased guide towards religion (he keep trying to get us to convert). The tour was still helpful though, since I didn’t know much historical background of the town. He led us around Assisi and took us in all the main sights, like the Basilica of San Francesco. After the tour, the group I was with and I had lunch in a tiny restaurant then walked around more of the town. We even climbed up to the top of the hill, where an ancient fortress still stood. Descending this took time, but we got back down and stocked up on souvenirs and gelato. Before we knew it, our time in this ancient place ran out and it was time to head back to Roma.

The beach in Santa Marinella (featuring the Mediterranean Sea!!)
The beach in Santa Marinella (featuring the Mediterranean Sea!!)

That Sunday I spent the afternoon in a small beach town called Santa Marinella right outside Rome. It only took my roommate and I about 30 minutes to get there by train – very convenient.  I loved reading under the sun on the sand and then grabbing a delicious seafood lunch by the water. It was only a couple of hours, but it’s always nice to escape the same surroundings for a bit, especially when I knew the next few days would be filled with homework.

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