Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Finding home

When we were in Madrid an Irish guy we met there said that he was traveling around with his friends and found that Madrid just fit him, and he never left. At first I didn't understand, how could you know that you would want to stay in one place after one visit? Love at first sight when concerning a city was not something I had encountered before. Until I went to Dublin.

As soon as I got off the plane I could feel it. The smell of damp ground and barley from the brewerys, the consistant smile on the faces of the Irish, well, it's just hard not to fall in love. I felt nothing but pride, happiness, and acceptance in the people of Dublin. No anomosity for tourists, just a gracious hospitality in every pub we went to. And we went to a lot.

in all I think we went to 10 different pubs, and in each one I had one or more pints of beer. I'm pretty sure I drank every hour, it was awesome. We went to the guinness storehouse and the national museaum and just generally walked around the wet streets and the beautiful parks. A full but generally tiring weekend as most of the time we had to walk a half mile from place to place in near freezing weather, something we're not used to in Rome.

This weekend I'm going to Paris again to visit my Emily. We're going to have a double date!! There is seriously nothing that I would like more to be on a double date in Paris.

On the much more relavant subject of my actual life in Rome, things are going really well. School is fine, though I know work is going to explode on me in a matter of weeks. And I've made some really good friends here. I have a routine and favorite foods, I know the streets, and the way to get around all of the obstacles of a day in rome(like CONSTANT transportation strikes, monsoons, and creepy men following you).it's strange to say it, but Rome is beginning to feel like home, and not a foreign country.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

As I said in the beginning of this blog, I would hope that my life would be so eventful that I would have no time to update. But I have arrived at the point in my trip that I think I can finally catch my breath and inform you all what my time has been like in Roma. If I didn't express this now, I think I might explode, there's that much...

When I first arrived back in Europe I was completely caught off my guard. It's crazy enough to spend a month in a foreign country, but to return so quickly after a brief stay at home is just...surprising! I think I was in a state of shock. I might also have been nervous, I didn't know what to expect of the other people in my program or how my life was going to be like. But no matter how much I worried the day came that I separated from my parents in front of my new apartment and started my journey.

Turns out I have 5 roommates in our 3 bedroom apartment in the Marconi district. It's a beautiful, Greek Isle themed apartment that looks over Piazza Enrico Fermi(which is less beautiful than it sounds, it's mostly a parking lot.) and has a beautiful breeze that made living in the heat of September bearable. I go to school right next to Piazza Navona(that IS beautiful, look up Fountain of the Four Rivers and you'll understand) at a costume design school with only about 5 rooms placed in one of the most amazing 500 year old buildings I've ever seen(When the doorman isn't there I have to crawl through a door about 4 ft. tall to enter what used to be the hall where the carriages were received). When the accordian player is playing beneath the balcony and I look up at the restored greco-roman moldings, I think, well, I'm happy to be here.

My usual week involves making dinner with my friends at my apartment or my friend Colin's apartment then watching the office, eating at an Irish pub(where they know my name! and drink!), or going out with friends to various bars. generally my life focuses on the next meal, which I have no problem with, I'm not yet tired of italian food...it's...so...good...

So far I've only traveled to Tivoli, the vacation spot for Ancient Romans, and Paris for Emily and I's anniversary. though within the next month I'll be traveling to Barcelona with Em, and Dublin with 4 of my friends. Turns out I like beer! yay! I'm so excited.

To tell the truth I've never been so happy to be someplace. It's different than visiting everywhere because at a certain point you have to stop forgiving yourself for being a tourist or a foreigner. At a certain point you have to change. you have to dress a certain way and know the language and cook the food. I think maybe I've reached this point(or I'm at the point that I'm realizing I should be reaching it), and i'm quite ready to start living "as the Romans do"...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

hooommeee...and prague, berlin and amsterdam...

Because an upward shift of distraction and laziness I have not been able to update this blog, but it's 5:30 in the morning and I'm completely jetlagged so I think I should do something useful.

Prague will be the only Eastern European country I will visit I think for a long time. it was gorgeous and old and was classic in a way that many other cities couldn't pull off. but there is something about being able to read your own alphabet that makes me crave for the comforts of Western Europe. Also...people in the other countries smile. The first time we got on a metro there wasn't one person smiling or even talking, not that the metro is always the most lively of places, it's just not as depressing. we did however walk around the palace and charles bridge that, despite the whole tourist thing, took my breath away. The nightlife also took my breath away. We ended up, going to a sort of underground cave/wine cellaresque club that was filled with beautiful women and men wearing iron maiden t-shirts with mullets or shaved heads. very odd sight...

Then we moved onto Berlin and to be honest I didn't see much of it. the first day I waited around the hostel waiting for my friend Rachel who was meeting me there while the rest of the group went to a concentration camp. That night emily and I got a hotel room for my birthday and basically just relaxed. and the next day(my birthday) we hung out more with Rachel in a little neighborhood. In the evening though we went to a fun mexican restaurant with everyone and ate our hearts out. Afterwords we went to my only real berlin experience: a biergarten. it was great. our last day was started late and all we saw was a museum on museum island and the parliament building(which has a glass dome to signify that the government should be open for everyone to see and it shouldn't hide anything).

Our next and final stop was Amsterdam. Since I only had a day there before my flight back home we ended up only seeing the area around our hostel. and trust me, it was enough. Our hostel ended up being in the redlightdistrict and had an all night bar below it. the streets were cosy and filled with partiers and tourists and fun music blasted out of every "coffeeshop" we passed. i spent most of the time taking it all in and frequenting a DELICIOUS chinese restaurant a block away. I hear there's a lot more to see than the red light district, but that was enough to convince me to come back any time.

Then at 7 yesterday morning I boarded my plane with many tears of good bye. and 15 hours later I arrived here to see my beautiful parents, friends, and puppy.

Final thoughts on the trip will come, but until then I can only look forward to what Rome brings in September...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Today is the end of my first week in Italy...tonight we are in Milan before our flight into Prague and though we know Milan has a lot to offer, our only activity on our agenda is to recover.

Our time in Rome got progressively more fantastic and more like I imagined Rome. Though I started out with less than satisfactory thoughts about the place I ended with an optimistic view on my next semester. for example, our last day was spent wandering around Campo di Fiori, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona which was nice and touristy but as we walked back to our bus stop we heard happened to look inside an old courtyard only to hear Vivaldi being played by the international baroque symphany orchestra in Rome. they were practicing for a show later that night in the courtyard and for a price 4 of us went. it was fantastic being in a hundreds year old courtyard, surrounded by italians listening to the 4 seasons. to me, it was Rome saying "dont worry, we're actually pretty cool and we'll be waiting for you when you get back."

then we arrived in Venice, only to find that our lodgings were about 30 min.away...in a corn field...when we first got off of the train station there were only a few closed buildings, fields, and chickens to meet us. But when we arrived at our country cottage we found a charming perfect place for us to play card games, drink, and eat pizza (at the pizzeria that was conveniently attached to our home). venice was venice...thats pretty much all i can say. it was beautiful and it has canals and squares but nothing really out of the ordinary. oh! except for the fact that i can haggle like a pro. and have bought my friends some classy frauda and Cucci. and we now know how to navigate the at first charming but then stifling water buses.

more to come...in PRAGUE!!! YAY EASTERN EUROPE...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

yeah. holy. crap.

I'm freaking out a bit here. We just arrived in Rome about 2 hours ago only to find oppressive heat and burnt, fish paste covered pizza. ok, yeah, we've only seen the street our hotel is on but still...I know I am being overly observant but given that i will be living in this city for the next few months, wouldn't you? However, I will not be so stupid as to judge too early. however expect more observations in a few days.

i'm actually pretty sad to be out of Madrid, I really enjoyed our slow pace and the beautiful sights Spain had to offer. I also enjoyed being able to slightly converse with people with my classroom spanish. Rome will not be that easy. I am extremely excited to see the old ruins however, already we have seen ancient walls randomly throughout the city, as if they still serve a purpose. it's fantastic.

let me know how you all are doing! being apart and out of touch is getting to me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

End of Madrid, Beginning of Holy Crap

hola mis amigos!!
We have about 2 more hours of awake time in madrid before we hurry off to Rome on a 6:25 am flight to Rome. Today has been excellent, we started off late, around 1 and took themetro to the gay area of Rome where we found the first ever "gay" restaurant in Madrid which blasted 90s R&B. it was delicious(if you closed your eyes). then we went to the Madrid park, for the life of me I can´t remember the name, where we rented row boats and paddled around trying to find shade on the hot lake. after, we took naps in the shade and chugged huge bottles of water. very very relaxing.

since then I have been relaxing at the hostel, eating pringles, and reading my new book titled ¨the monster of florence¨ which outlines a 40 year investigation of 14 murders. it´s interesting in that it delves deep into the old italian culture and history and it´s getting me really excited about living in rome. I really can´t wait to see my future home tomorrow, but I´m also really nervous. I really hope I like it...

"Most of my treasured memories of travel are recollections of sitting." --Robert Thomas Allen

Monday, July 28, 2008

I think for the first time in 3 days I can finally take a moment for myself. we started on our journey to Madrrid 2 days ago, and due to train reservations, a faulty engine and general nonsense we ended up taking 20 hours getting here(the latter 4 were in 1st class, it was our only choice). it was a terrifying amount of traveling, but I´ve got to say, Madrid was worth it.

Last night we did(my very first) pub crawl through 4 clubs where we all proceeded to get wasted, dance, and meet other international students. Definetely a great night for everyone. (I even managed to find our way home with more than a few "flags of Spain" in me. yep yep, be impressed)

So far my time in Europe has been surreal. from the moment we stepped into our shabby hotel in france, to right now as we all recover from last night in our smallest clothing(it´s freaking hot). All in all I think so far it´s everything I was looking for in this trip, but it freaks me out in the best way possible to think that we have 3 more weeks of this.

Tip #1: When you feel culture shock just think "it´s only Epcot center".