Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pisa, Puffy Coats and Pizza

I can't believe I have been here for over two weeks already. It is FLYING by. After sitting in the apartment the first few nights I didn't think I was going to be able to make it thru the next 4 months without my family here with me but after getting over the homesickness with a few amazing people here to help me I did it. I successfully made it through the first week without having a mental breakdown. And now being here for a few weeks I wonder how I ever thought I couldn't do this. This is the best opportunity I have been given so far and I am so lucky.

Sorry for the deepness of that last paragraph but it was something I needed to share!

This week was full of class and the typical "syllabus week". We learned what we were going to be doing for the semester and when all of our tests/papers were due. Not the most exciting week out of the semester but it is necessary I guess. We ate at the apartment a lot more this week which was good because we didn't spend as much money eating out. I am becoming the world's best pasta/frozen pizza/dried soup maker. Who knew it was so easy to make meals at home?! Don't get me wrong I still love to eat out here because the food is all so amazing. Speaking of great places to eat out, we were all craving some form of chipotle and we found this place called Mesopotamia Kebabs. The burrito consisted of gyro meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and gyro sauce. While eating that mess of goodness I am pretty sure I died and went to heaven.

Also talking about eating out reminds me of the past two days. Yesterday we went to the Medici Village and saw the house they lived in, OMG it is beautiful. If only I could live in one of those palaces I would be set for life. Anyway, after returning from the bus ride there we had to go to the train station to purchase our tickets for Pisa (which we visited today). After we bought our tickets there we were famished. So a few of us set out to find a new place we have not tried yet. Where do we end up? A chinese restaurant! It was fantastic, I had (and this is where no one can judge me), sesame chicken, white rice, and spring rolls. THEN we found the McDonalds. Of course we had to try it to see if it tasted the same. I got a small fry and a small coke. Not to bad I guess but I was sooooo full! It was very worth it though. The rest of friday night we just hung out at the apartment.

Today we went to Pisa. It was very quaint, nothing spectacular, but worth going. It is somewhere you have to visit while are in Italy. The Leaning Tower believe it or not really does lean. I mean I knew it was going too, but it was totally different seeing it in person. I have no idea how it does not fall over, its so weird to look at. Back to the food. When we first got to Pisa we were all hungry (go figure) so we stopped at a little bakery and I had a croissant. After we saw the tower we decided to eat at a little restaurant that a guide book recommended. I had spaghetti with tomato sauce, not anything too spectacular, but it was good. Then we were going to go shopping but all the stores were closed for their lunch break. I wish Victoria's Secret had 2 hour lunch breaks where our store was closed! So after we discovered that they were all closed we stopped at another bakery and I got a little cream filled doughnut and a cream filled coconut, chocolate bar. And I am sure you all think this is all that was consumed in my belly within a 3 hours period but you are so wrong! We then stopped at a gelato shop and I had Lemon and Strawberry gelato. Now that it has been 5 hours I am kinda hungry again. I will say though with all the walking we do in a day I need all the food I am eating. I should probably add a salad or veggies in there somewhere but the other stuff is just too tasty!

Enough about all the food, it is making me hungry again. Now on to the weather. When I was packing up my life into my two suitcases I was thinking to myself "it is not going to be cold there, no need to pack a winter coat". Boy was I wrong. It may not snow but the wind that whips through this ancient city is unbearable. So the Columbia jacket that I packed for my "winter coat" was just not cutting it anymore. So in-lies the hunt for a winter jacket. My conclusion about Italians and their pea-coats, they are all a size two and none of them have boobs. I am pretty sure I tried on every single coat that was for sale in Pisa and Florence. Not one of them fit. They were all too tight in the shoulders and did not button across the chest. That was so disappointing. Now let me tell you about a trend that is here in Europe. They are called Piumonios. AKA: Puffy Coats. One can buy them short, medium, long, with/without hoods, shiny/not shiny. They are everywhere. That is on indication that you are a true Italian, if you were wearing that coat. I was so against buying one because I though I would look ridiculous in it, my body has enough puff already. I was wrong again. We stepped into this store down the street from the train station, and there it was my very own grey, long, non shiny puffy coat. It was almost calling my name off the rack saying, "Meghan, buy me, buy me!". So I did. It was the best 30 Euro I have ever spent. It is warm and I no longer have to freeze my ass off walking everywhere! Sweet success.

Sorry for the novels about everything I am doing with my life. I like details.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who knew the Laundromat could be so interesting...

So before even thinking about what I want to write, my blog decided to change to Italian, so that was interesting trying to find out how to post a new entry... Now that is settled, here we go!

We started classes yesterday (Monday), I am not sure if I am excited or not to have Italian everyday. It scares me to think about, however it will be a lot better when I can walk down the street and not feel like being deaf would be a better solution. It is slowly getting better, if I could just press a real life remote and rewind what Italians say to me then play it in slow motion I would get a long a lot better in this country. My goal: to write a paragraph on here within the next month in Italian. None of you will understand it but it will make me look good. Enough about that class I am also taking the Roman Achievement, Comparative Media, and our Practicum. What is amazing about having classes here is instead of reading about a sculpture in a textbook or "googling" it we walk across a few piazzas and see them for ourselves. When we talk about Rome and how it was founded and the Empire in which it was created we literally hop on a train to Rome and see it for ourselves. There is no better way to experience life and learn how we got to where we are today. SO moral of the story, books are over rated, just hop on a plane and see it for yourself, or you will never fully appreciate it.

So far the main things that I miss about home is the connivence of food and TV. There are millions of amazing things to eat here, you just have to know where to look. At home it is so easy to get any kind of cuisine that you are craving. I never knew people could be so creative with food until I started living with my roommate Nora. This girl can whip anything out of nothing and I just stare at her creations in awe. I don't even have to ask for a bite anymore I think she automatically knows I want to try whatever she is eating. She definitely shows up my classic grilled cheese but adding little twists to hers such as adding a tomato before grilling. Half of my problem is probably the fact that I can't read the labels that are at the grocery store because it is all in Italian. I stick with the trusty brands such as Kraft or Uncle Ben, who cares if I am paying 10$ for a 5oz bottle of ketchup, I know it will taste fantastic. I don't think I will get tired of the food here, I could live off pasta, pizza and calzones. Another area we are tapping into is big "family" dinners. Every Sunday we all cook together and then a few nights a week just the girls get together and whip up something fantastic. Last night it was Italian Mac & Cheese. The cheese that was in it smelled to high heaven but it tasted really good. We grilled up some fresh veggies to go with it and of course bread to dip in olive oil, our favorite. And of course all of meals are not complete without some kind of dessert wether it be a croissant baked at one in the morning or ones we buy from the store.   

Now to the TV situation. I have turned on the TV here one time just to see what it was like and the only station in English was MTV and it was the show Made in English with Italian subtitle, so I was practically doing homework while simply rotting my brain. It would not even be bad if websites such as HULU and my Netflix subscription worked in Europe. However, I need to get over this TV obsession I have because there are so many amazing things here to do besides watch TV but it would be nice to know it at least works. That just means when I get home in May the first 5 days I am there I will be sleeping and watching all the shows I am hoping/praying my family did not delete. 

This weekend we are going to Pisa and Siena by train. This is what I have been waiting for, traveling. I can't wait to go other places in Italy and Europe to see what they are all like. I love it here in Florence but it is just as exciting as leaving Ohio for the weekend, you just need a little break. Also, right now with the sale season "Salde" this city on the weekends is so unbelievably busy, one would think they were giving away free clothes or something. It will be a good break to go to the country and away from all the crazy shoppers. This weekends extravaganza is just the beginning of the travels we are taking a part in this semester. This list is comprised of the places I am going. Hopefully I can make it to all of them!

21st of January = Pisa/Siena
28th of January = Sorrento
4th of February = Tessa's Familys
11th of February = Paris
18th of February = Switzerland
25th of February = Roma
4th of March = Milano
11th of March = Germany
17th of March = Ireland
21st of March = Greece
1st of April = Barcelona
8th of April = Venezia
14th of April = London
22nd of April = Cinque Terre

This looks like a pretty good way to spend the semester I must say.

Another fun thing my roommates and myself like to do is frequent the laundromat. It is right down the street from our apartment and the fact that we don't have a dryer in the apartment makes it 10X easier to wash and dry clothes. We no longer have to live with crusty jeans and wet socks. That is a fantastic feeling. I am also sure that the Italians who use the same laundromat appreciate us doing our Italian homework and practicing counting to 25. We have to be the highlight of their day, or maybe the reason they don't like Americans? I will have to get back to you on that one! 

TaTa for now!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Free limoncello I will take it!

Here is another post everyone!

Not to many things have happened since the last time I updated. We started orientation with school and they are teaching us the ins and outs of the city. Where to go, where not to go. Etc... Pretty much the same common sense you would use in the states so nothing too different. However we did hear how easy it is to be offered drugs, so that was interesting. The medical doctor came and talked to today about where to go if we are sick and it is pretty close to the school which is nice. The even make "house calls" if you want to pay that much money! lol

I will admit I am getting a little bit homesick but I am working through it and it is getting better each day. Only 51 days until my Mom comes to visit! I keep telling everyone that I am with that they have to remember where we ate and did everything so I can take my mom and grandpa with me when they come!

We have started planning all of our trips for the weekends. This weekend we are going to explore Florence and really get to know the city. We want to go to the top of the Duomo and see the view of the city from there, it is supposed to be beautiful. Then the following weekend we are going to Sienna and Pisa. I can't wait to start traveling and see more of the country. I can't believe I have been here for a week already! It has actually flown by, which I didn't think it was going to at first.

Well here are a few pictures to leave you with. Keep in mind that EVERYTHING is fresh here! I mean everything, you will see for yourself...

Chio everyone!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

7 American girls and one Italian lock...

Finally made it here to beautiful Florence, Italy!

The flight seemed to take forever, however the movie selection was fantastic I am pretty sure I watched 4 different movies with no sleep at all. Which led me to sleep an hour or so when we arrived here in Florence. After me and my roommates woke up we were all starving so we decided to try and find something to eat with a few of the other girls. We passed about 25 different gelato and pizza shops and settled at this pizza shop on one of the main streets with shops (names will come later, I have to learn them first). We sat at a table with 7 of us and the cutest old Italian man brought us a menu to order from. First off when you want a drink here you order a huge bottle of water for the whole table and then pour it into smaller glasses. If I tried to order a coke with dinner I think that little old Italian man would have killed me with his eyes. Now too ordering, thank god one girl in our group Tessa speaks Italian, or I am sure we would have ordered some god awful concoction trying to satisfy our hunger. We preceded to order 3 pizzas, two "Margherita" and one "vegetarian".  I would be lying if I didn't say this was the best pizza I have ever had. There was olive oil dripping off the sides as the cheese melted into your mouth. (I am trying to be descriptive so everyone can experience it with me!) And the crust was completely homemade which made it 20X better. I think I might have to eat that pizza at least once a week. Then of course we had to try gelato, (my other new obsession) the first place we ate it was okay however the place that Deborah took us to yesterday was absolutely amazing. After dinner we came back to the apartment for a while trying to decided what to do next. And now is where the tittle of this entry comes into play. Our apartment is considered "historical" we even had to sign something saying we knew it was really old, so the key to get in this place is called a "skeleton" key and looks like something from Cinderella. It took us an hour with 7 of our girls and an hour to get the lock open to our apartment. In the midst of this we locked one of the girls in the first time we got it open just in case we couldn't open it again. Needless to say 3 phone calls later on phones we don't know how to use and various words being used we finally mastered the lock. Then we ended up walking around the city trying to find a bar so we could all have our first "legal" drink. We ended up behind this amazing square called Piazza della Repubblica at this strand of about three bars, one being an Irish Pub. Me being a bit slow about what to order at a bar wanted some kind of wine and somehow ended up with champagne because I wanted "something sweet". However, the bartender did speak english so that was a relief. So we all got our drinks of choice and sat at a table right outside of the bar with the one guy we had with us. This led to a Italian/Mexican/African American man trying to sell us roses on the dime of the guy Stephon that was with us. He ended up paying 20 euro for 5 roses for each of the girls at the table. Lesson of this story: DO NOT smile at men/women/children trying to sell you something on the street, you will end up buying whatever they have to offer.

On to the second day:
We met Deborah at the Duomo, this gigantic old church in the city. There is nothing like it in the states I have ever seen. There is so much attention to every detail, like everything else in the city, you do not know where to look. It is the prettiest thing I have seen thus far. After meeting here and taking about 500 pictures of the place and the group we were with we were off to see more of the city. We went to lunch at this place right around the block from our apartment and I blindly ordered what I thought was spaghetti and meat sauce, which it was! It was again amazing! And mom guess what, we thought the bread you dipped in oil at the Macaroni Grill was good, wait until you come here it is a million times better. So after lunch is when we had the best gelato so far. Then we walked around the city some more. Did I mention we walked and walked and walked. I have never done this much walking in my entire life, I am pretty sure I am going to have the best toned legs in all of Italy. The city is like a free gym who knew! The we all kind of hung out around the apartment, did some laundry and the place down the street because it has a dryer and that is a hard thing to find here. Then we went to dinner at this sandwich shop which was not very good. It was like eating bread with warmed up salami on it. I will probably not eat there again. Also another note: DO NOT get the water bottle with the blue top, its fizzy water which tastes like bad coke. You drink the first sip expecting water and get bad flat coke in your mouth, not so good. So far I have tried about 3 different wines in hopes of finding one that I like, this is going to be a challenge they are all dark, red, dry flavors which I am not a fan of. I am determined to find one that I like though, it will take sometime and many sips of other peoples wine they order.

This is probably the most I have typed about anything since the last paper I had due. I just want you all to get every detail. This will probably not last the whole time but I will try my best.

Ciao everyone!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Time to put the big girl panties on.

I spent the entire Fall Semester counting down the days until I leave for Italy. It is so hard to believe that I only have 3 days until I board the plane to the adventure that is going to change my life forever. This is something that comes around once in someone's lifetime, and opportunity like this.

This is not something that I would normally do, you know pack up my life in two suitcases and leave my family/friends/house/job for four months. However, that is what makes it so exciting. I get to be whoever I want to be and in the process discover who I really am. This is something that really makes or breaks a person. This will be my time to show myself that I am capable of doing it on my own. I'm not sure it gets any better than that!

There will be many more of these to come...hopefully. I am new to the blogging thing so hopefully you all bare with me.

Ta Ta For Now!