Friday, June 22, 2012

Home stretch!

Hello all!

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I've either been too tired to blog in my free time or I just haven't had free time. But since I sort of do right now and I just don't want to do homework (bad decision making, by me) I will update you all on my life now!

So last week I went to the Vatican. Which was the one thing I wanted to see ALL TRIP. And let's just say, I wasn't let down at ALL. We stopped in the museum first. Which I'm sure has got to be at least a mile long. If not more. And there were tons of people in it, so it was not a fun time walking through the crowd for your tour. It was super nice inside though. I got to see some classic works from Raphael and Michelangelo and Caravaggio and all those famous Italian painters. Observe:


So that was cool. I got to sneak some pictures of the Sistine Chapel when we went inside. It was much smaller than I imagined it to be, but it was still just as awesome. My neck hurt from staring at the ceiling so long. And then there was the big moment.


Basically, the best moment of my life. Honestly, I took about 25 pictures of the inside but it was definitely no match of the beauty inside. I can't even describe how amazing it was besides the fact that I felt like I died and went to heaven. And that is what heaven looked like. Absolutely gorgeous.

After some more random shenanigans during the week, we went to Florence for 3 days. Honestly, it was probably my favorite trip of the whole semester here. It was a huge difference in size compared to Rome. It was so much quieter and I didn't have to worry about getting run over by a motorino or a car (unlike my walk to school every day...) We got to be in a pretty nice hotel (with AIR CONDITIONING) and an "American Bar" in which you could order alcoholic drinks to coffee to cheeseburgers. Had some pretty great food in Florence too.

I got to see The Birth of Venus AND David, both of which were pretty awesome. But hands down, David was beyond amazing. Literally, I stood in front of it for 15 minutes just staring at it and all of it's marble, chiseled glory. I even snuck a pic of him:


We went on a 3 hour trip to Pisa while we were in Florence, as well. It was such a small town. Literally the only thing you could do there was see the tower and possibly see the Cathedral. But seeing the tower was pretty sweet. I mean look at it.

Unedited glory.

So cool, right? And of course, I just HAD to get this picture:

You know, just chilling.

So it was pretty cool. Now we're in the last week! It's the home stretch! I can't wait to come home and have American food and do American things like watch fireworks and eat peanut butter and jelly.

You don't understand. I really want some peanut butter and jelly.

Tomorrow I'll be going to a cooking class with my roommate and learning how to make authentic Italian food (and of course, I'll be kick-starting my career as a perfect Italian mom/chef) (just kidding about that career thing) and then later that night, I'll be off to Hard Rock ROMA for a birthday dinner. Sunday I'll be going on church tours with a friend. Monday and Tuesday I'll have my last two days of classes, Tuesday night is our farewell dinner, Wednesday is our packing/do-whatever-the-heck-you-want day, and then Thursday I'll be driving over to a hotel and relaxing by the pool all day long by myself (what a blessing in disguise), and Friday I'll be flying home!!!

Be on the lookout for random posts before and after I get back to the states. I'm sure I will be recounting things like good Italian meals I've had and random stories that I never posted.

Hope you are all doing well, readers.

XO, Steph

Monday, June 11, 2012


Hello all!

Sorry about not posting since (I don't even know when?). I was trying to log in to my Blogger the last few days and started freaking out when it wouldn't work! (Che stress.) But after an hour of messing around with Blogger and Google+, I stupidly realized I was using the wrong email.

It just isn't my day.

So this weekend was very chill. It wasn't spent like last weekend with Dan the Man and the ridiculously strong vodka in Sorrento. (Thankfully). Instead, I went to dinner with a few of my friends Friday night and stayed in, chilling with a bottle of vino. Saturday we went to Siena!

It was a 3 hour bus ride at 8 AM. Yes, it was as painful as you think it was.

But we got there, ate, and went to the Duomo.

Gorgeous, right?

Basically, the Duomo is a huge church on top of another church with a museum attached to it. There's probably a much better description of it, but whatever. We went inside the chapel, which had gorgeous marble floors and beautiful paintings on all the walls. They even had busts of each Pope lining the upper walls.

Sup, holy dudes?

There was a crypt downstairs, which was part of the old church that wasn't excavated until 1999. And the Baptistry had such pretty ceilings! And the museum had so many old relics from Popes and priests.

So. much. Jesus.

But for those of you who were wondering, no, this place wasn't where St. Catherine's head is located. As much as I would've wanted to see it, I had no idea where it was and was wondering all afternoon if it was in the Duomo. But alas, I get home and find out that it was somewhere else. Next time, I guess.

On the bright side, we went to the top of the tower. It was part of the Duomo that was never finished. But I am SOOOO glad it wasn't torn down. Why? Look at the view:

Hello, Tuscany.

*in Fran Drescher voice* Gaw-juss honey.

So yeah, after all the Duomo excitement and climbing back down the scary tiny spiral staircase, we went back to the plaza for dinner. I had my first Italian lasagna and it was pretty fantastic. As was the Tiramisu I had for dessert.

American moment of the weekend: When getting dessert, the waiter told my friend a "Frappe" was like a milkshake. So what do you think of when you hear that?

I thought so, too.

So yeah, seems legit right? Nope. Instead she gets something that looks like a bottle of chocolate milk poured into a fancy glass.

Shaken, not stirred.



After getting home that night we all just chilled in the house with a bottle of vino... and slept until the afternoon.

Overall, a pretty awesome weekend. Here's the schedule for the week (sort of):
Wednesday we visit the Vatican!!!!! So, so, SO excited.
Friday is my friend's birthday, and what better way to spend a birthday in Italy than going to Hard Rock Cafe. And of course, a discoteca. Awwwww si.
Sunday we leave for Florence! We'll be spending 3 days in a fancy hotel (hopefully with hot water) and chilling with the Davide and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Last full week of classes too! And only about 18 days until it's time to return back home. Sometimes it feels like time is flying and other times it feels like it's moving too slow. I could never do this study abroad thing for a whole semester.

Miss you all, readers.

Wishing you well,

Monday, June 4, 2012

Real World: Rome edition


I feel like I'm on an episode of the Real World. 20 kids who didn't really know each other that well thrown together for 6 weeks straight. And even though we all don't live in the same apartment (thank GOODNESS) the apartments are still 4-6 people.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way...

Hi. I feel like I haven't posted in a really long time. And since I am unable to get to sleep right now (and I have to get up in... 5 and a half hours?) I figure now can be the best time to give an update on my life.

I have come to the realization that I would never be able to live here. As much as I would love to come back to visit the bagillion churches and monuments that I probably won't get the chance to see, I really don't see myself ever living here. I miss hot showers wayyyy too much.

I know, I'm a spoiled American. #firstworldproblems

I went to the coast this weekend. Note to my lovely readers: if you EVER study abroad in Europe, which I highly suggest you do, DON'T go on a trip through Bus2Alps. It was probably the worst service I have ever received.

Don't get me wrong - I loved being at the beach all weekend long, and I got to see Pompeii which made my little Humanities nerd freak out a little. But when the "dude" who is supposed to be your tour guide is flirting with all the girls on the trip, pre-gaming in a restaurant before taking the entire group to a bar (and Italians really don't appreciate sloppy American drunks... not that that stopped half the kids on this trip), and giving terrible directions to places that really don't even exist or telling people that the area is safe and hearing about your friends almost getting abducted, that is not the kind of tour I would like to be on.

I realize that was an incredibly long sentence. I don't care.

Dan the Douchebag (as we affectionately called him) didn't ruin the trip for us by doing what he did, but he definitely put a damper on it. I saw no amount of professionalism about him and the other guides weren't a whole lot better.

On the bright side, I got a sweet tan from staying at the beach for 2 days in a row.

Yes, I realize now that was a pun. It was not intended.

But I had some good food too. And swimming in a cave was pretty freaking sweet. I saw and did things this weekend that I probably won't do ever again, or for a really really long time. Like dipping my feet in the Meditteranean and taking boat tours of beautiful islands.

Awwww, si.

So yeah, overall good experience with some Bus2Alps bumps along the way. I'd go back to the beach but definitely not through them.

I'm going to the Villa Borghese tomorrow, which is basically Rome's version of Central Park in NYC. Apparently we're going to some museum that has all these awesome Bernini sculptures and famous paintings and other things that I didn't really know existed. I mean, I knew they did... just not there.

To be honest, I only thought the Villa Borghese was a huge park with a zoo in it. My bad, I guess.

But yeah, it should be awesome. This weekend is still in question, but I definitely plan on visiting some places and possibly exploring by myself. You'd be surprised how much you need a break from the 18 other people you know on the trip. Even though most of them are leaving to go to Paris. #jealousface

I'll post some other random stories when it isn't late at night. Staying up this late is probably a very bad idea, and I'm sure I will feel it tomorrow morning when I'm crawling to the kitchen to make myself some cappuccino...

Good night. Good evening. Good morning. Whatever time it is when you read this.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Il Colosseo... and other things.

So I went to the Colosseum today! It was amazing. For something you see all the time on TV and in pictures you think that it's sort of big, but then you see it and you're staring at it like

Almost as crazy as 1.21 gigawatts.

Sadly though, it was raining the whole time we were there. And chilly. Not a super awesome Colosseum expedition but we may be going back tomorrow to see it, the Forum, and some other historical monument whose name escapes me. And it's supposed to be sunny. So we shall see.

I went to my first Italian mass the other day. Well, sort of.

After searching endlessly for the mass times, I finally found one that said it started at 10:30. So we get there at 10:35. Not enough to miss most of the service, right? 

Apparently the mass actually started at 10 and we were just incredibly late watching the Italians say the Our Father in a different language and me and my roommates standing there like stooges. Sooo maybe next time there will hopefully be a translation. Or a cue card. Or something.

Went to a flea market after that and bought some sandals. Tonight I'll be getting some dinner and walking around... and of course, putting all the calories I worked off walking back into my body by eating gelato.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Week one complete!

...only five weeks to go.

I just realized the other day that I will be spending literally every moment in the next five weeks with the same 18 or 19 people. I'm still not sure how to feel about it.

I mean, I'm sure it will be great because it's an opportunity to make new friends and all that. It has been so far. But I'm sure it will get a little crazy when I want time by myself. Though, since I am pretty sure everyone else in the apartment is sleeping right now, this isn't so bad.

That's another thing. Not that I don't love my roommates, but whose idea was it to put 6 girls together? It's been okay so far but really? I'm glad our apartment is big otherwise I'd be going insane.

All in all though everything is great. Went to a place called Ostia Antica the other day, which is an ancient Roman city (now in preserved ruins). With earthquakes and weather in general, the city isn't quite what it was say, ten or 20 years ago. I can only imagine what it would look like in 20 more years.

Time is going so fast. I feel like I just got here yesterday and already a whole week is gone.

Actually, no, it feels like I've been here a while. Probably because I've been so crazy busy the last few days. Sure, I've had free time. But I don't think there has been a day yet where I've just sat down, stayed in, and relaxed.

Not that I don't mind exploring or going on excursions or whatever. Because that's fun too.

I think I need to go back to sleep. This post is going nowhere.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 3... and first day of classes.

You know what I miss? Washcloths. They don't exist here.

This morning started off (POURING) sort of early. A couple of my roommates and I went to a nearby cafe for drinks. Cafes, first of all, are all over the place. You can literally find one at every block if you tried hard enough. Same with pizzerias. You can also stand at cafes. If you sit, there's something called a "tavola fee" - meaning, if you have to sit down somewhere, you'll get charged. On the bright side, it's in place of a tip.

It's so nice being in a touristey area, because since we all forget most of our Italian, it's hard to order and, in return, it's hard for them to understand what we're trying to say when we sound like bumbling fools. I'm sure once we start remembering things, it will be much easier. And people won't look at us funny.

Really though, I feel like we walk around with a huge sign on our foreheads that says "AMERICAN." Just saying.

We started our classes today. Conversation and the next level in Italian. Talk about diving into the culture head first.

My roommates and I also made dinner for the first time. Call me a sheltered American, but gas stoves are a pain in the butt. But after messing with it for half an hour we got it to work and I made linguine with marinara. Nomnomnomnom.

Recycling is a pain in the butt too. There are four different colored bags, each one recycles something. One's for food, one's for paper, etc. And each one gets taken a different day of the week. It's actually quite interesting.

Alas, I must go. Not sure when I'll post again - I don't know if anything is going on until Friday (unless, that is, it's something spontaneous). Friday we are taking a day trip to a place called Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman port town. Should be fantastic (and of course, an opportunity for me to take a bagillion pictures). Saturday a group of us may possibly go to Ostia's beach, but I personally would rather not bring my camera. I'll be really pumped to dip my feet into the Mediterranean though.

Hope all is well with you, America. I miss you and your chicken nuggets. And your washcloths.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Il giorno di la tourista.

...that means "the day of the tourist." Meaning myself. Because I felt like a dopey American tourist today.

The morning started out with standing at a bar on a corner cafe asking for espresso. Not gonna lie, if you thought espresso in America was strong, this is MUCH worse. I didn't finish it and the guy gave me a really funny look when I left.


After our orientation and lunch in a cute little cafe (most cafes in Italy have outside seating), we went on a 3 hour tour of Rome. And to be honest, I'm not even sure if we got to the whole city. Monuments and historical sites EVERYWHERE. We visited like 8 different churches but only went inside about 3(?) of them. My favorite was St. Ignatius.

Gorgeous outside, and even better inside.

Take that, Sistine Chapel.

So, this is the ceiling of the St. Ignatius church. I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture, but it's pretty much 3D right? The ceiling is actually flat and it's all an optical illusion. They actually had another one further into the church. If you take a few steps away and look up, this is what it will look like:

Not so 3D anymore.

We saw what was mostly in the historical section of Rome. Basically everything I wanted to see in Rome besides the Vatican and the Colosseum. But we are getting our own tour of the Colosseum and the Vatican museums, so I think I can handle waiting.

After dying from our 3 hour tour, we came back home and people from the host school taught us how to use our apartment. We have like 4 different recycling bags because they're crazy here and recycle a LOT. And we had these weird bugs in one of our bathrooms and there were a lot of minor problems for maintenance to fix.

We had an orientation dinner after that. The restaurant gave us 10 different kinds of appetizers anywhere from cooked onions to bruschettas to cheese and tomatoes (which actually isn't that bad). And that was all before our actual pasta dish. And dessert. In Italy they don't believe in rushing you out of a restaurant (which is awesome) and they also believe in having a full course dinner with antipasti (appetizers), pasta, the main course, and dessert. But to balance it out they don't eat a lot during the day.

A few of my classmates and I went to get gelato afterwards. It wasn't the best, but it was still pretty amazing.

And then we ran home in the rain. Without umbrellas. In skirts and nice clothing.

So that was basically my day. Long, yet I'm still not very tired. The jet lag is pretty much gone which is fantastic. Tomorrow I'm going to a fresh fruit market with some friends and then going off to my first day of Italian class. 

...and I forget almost everything. So it will be an interesting experience.

Ciao, y'all.