14.09.2009 - 20.09.2009
Although I'm not positive anyone besides my parents are reading this, I have more to share! Haha.
This week was a week of independency for me. After running around our neighborhood, I found this really cute cafe about a block and a half away and did homework there alone. I came home in the dark alone one night (the full block and a half lol) and felt completely safe. I went there three times this week. They accept our stipends (meal coupons that we prepaid for) which is refreshing. An old couple owns it and a young man works there. He laughed at me while holding his hand to his lips as a bottle and asked if the beer helped pointing to my homework. I like it there a lot and will likely spend too much time there doing homework. They also serve gelato which made me like it even more, in my heart not my waste line.
After venturing half a block alone, I got gutsy and made an attempt at the city. I successfully went into the city, went shopping for a gift for my mother, and sent the package home! I even bought a bottle opener and was able to get home to use it haha. I found a beautiful cafe with umbrellas close to the duomo and people watched while writing a letter home. I know that I have already been here for two weeks, but honestly, I have always been with someone while navigating through the city. I take full advantage of our roommate Shani, as she is better than a compass! As simple as it sounds, I was just happy to be able to ask directions for some places and not be tricked by a Nigerian into buying a bracelet or being pick-pocketed! It's the little things.. lol.
Today I did some laundry for the first time. After all three of my roommates have done laundry successfully in our machine, it didn't work for me! They all tried to help too and nothing but flashes of light! I pulled out the manual, but you know it's obviously only in Italian. My skills aren't that advanced. We were left behind some laundry detergent, but we were out of that too! On a Sunday, I didn't even try to go and find any. I basically ended up washing my clothes in our bathroom sink with shampoo. I wasn't positive about what soap to try but Marha recommended the shampoo. I just checked to see if my clothes dried, and they smell lovely of garnier nutrisse. Marha says we're on Italian welfare with the way we get food coupons and live, and now I see it! Haha I'm only joking, things could be a lot worse!
After being mega stressed over a midterm presentation in Italian for Friday, we went out Thursday night haha. I had a lot of fun. I am starting to wonder though about the mirrors at the clubs here. At one bar I went to, you could see right through the mirror into the guy’s bathroom while you were washing your hands! I put my hand up to be met by a boys hand against the mirror, and at the time, I considered whether it would be the start to a cheesy love story. The next day I just found it creepy. At the bar from Thursday, not-so-subtly called "The Club", they had full wall mirrors in the bathroom stalls. I wore a skirt and literally watched myself pee head on. I didn't find this appealing in the least bit! Anyhow, after dancing the night away, a coin I had stored in my bra (didn't bring a purse!) fell lower.. and it stayed there until I woke up the next morning in the same clothes I wore out. I seriously thought it had just fallen out! Sacre bleu - what a night.
Apparently I get around alone just fine. Getting around with my friends the next morning, however, I made an error in Italian law. Oops. The way that public transportation works here is you buy tickets either by the day/week/month, or by the ride/rides at the "tabbachi" (tobacco shops on nearly every block). When you get on the tram/bus/metro, you validate your ticket. We are waiting for our student passes to come, so we have been buying tickets with 10 rides. When we go out we take the tram into town. I had stupidly lost my ticket (surprise surprise right?) the night before. This wouldn't be a big deal unless the ticket nazi's didn't come onto the tram that morning (which they NEVER do). I was yelled at in Italian and forced off the tram. My wonderful friends came off with me, even though we had a midterm that morning!! The man was so rude to me even though I had told him in Italian that I only spoke English and that it was fine to just give me the ticket. If I hadn't drunk a whole beer to deplete my nerves for the presentation, I would have been pretty upset with how he treated me!! I was fined 34 Euros and needed to pay them on the spot. I had to go to a Bancomat (bank machine) to get enough money. Unfortunately for the rude ticket man, one of the euro coins I necessarily had to give him had been dancing around in my underwear all night. Karma sucks!
Due to the ridiculous amounts of paperwork "necessary" to live in Italy longer than 3 months, my roomies and I were forced to postpone our Venice trip until Wednesday. I was crushed. We were to be at the police station at 8:15 am, but it took us forever to find the place because the numbers of building on streets are out of order! How bizarre! The paperwork was extremely frustrating. Imagine the DMV times one hundred but with people talking to you in Italian. There was a digital system with numbers and tickets, but it wasn't efficient. Wickets were open with no one being served, people weren't showing up when they were called - it was chaotic. We eventually all just stood in a line and handed our numbers to the ladies without them realizing we were way down the list. All of my roommates were able to sneak ahead, but Murphy’s Law - someone literally came up from behind me while my application was being processed (how rude!) and said that they were number 999. She handed it back to me. Oh well. Found out the night before that I had forgotten the gorgeous travel journal that Amy bought me at the cafe I went to by the duomo; this definitely added to my bad mood. Jesann and I decided to go and find it in between all the waiting. It wasn't there of course. It took forever of course. I will hunt for it on Monday after school again (sniff sniff). By the time we got back to the police station, the people we invited to go to Verona with us were finished and had been waiting ages. I felt awful - especially because it still wasn't my turn, and I still didn't have my journal. My frustration was planted.
After being finger printed, to my utter discomfort, it was 2 pm, and I was literally the last person out of the police station. Were we really still going to Verona?
When we arrived at central station in Milan, I felt like I was about to get on the Hogwarts Express. The train station was fantastic with high arched ceilings and antique everything. We had never been to that one before because it is the busiest - now I know why! I was immediately recharged. I was so happy to be going travelling again! This is what I am here for! It took just under two hours by train to get to Verona. We were not going to have much time in Verona, but I didn't mind one bit.
We got lost trying to find the Old City, but we eventually made it! It is all part of it, I find - the getting lost bit. Plus, by foot you see everything! We saw much more than we planned because we got completely turned around on this bus we thought went to the Old City. It was a fun journey, and it was a beautiful day. We knew we had found the Old City when we came face to face with the Coliseum. Wow, I have never in my life seen something like that piece of architecture. I wanted to go inside so badly, but there was a concert going on inside! How much better would Kings of Leon have been in a Coliseum? I was amazed.
We continued on and found the Casa di Giulietta which is where Romeo and Giulietta is set. It was packed with tourists. I certainly didn't mind being one of them because it was unreal! On the way in, you walk through this corridor filled with post it's and writing on the walls to Giulietta. It is truly a love shrine. Many walls in the courtyard are covered in vines, and you can really feel the story as you look up the wall to Giulietta's balcony. On the wall is a quote carved in stone from the play. The statue of Giulietta is beautiful, dispite the fact that tourists have manhandled her to the point of erosion.
The legend goes.. if you touch the right breast of Giulietta, you will have good luck in love and romance. It is supposedly going to help me find my true love. I think they are right - that day I fell in love.. with Italy!
Verona is much more what I had pictured in my head about Italy. It is enchanting. I really did not want to leave after hitting up a market and eating gelato in the main piazza (square) behind a fountain. My day had blossomed unexpectedly. We were home by 12 pm, and I was exhausted.
Travel fever yet again. I have booked a flight for Paris October 23rd to October 25th with my roommates. It cost me 49 Euros after everything was said and done with "Ryan Air". It is supposed to be the bus of the air without assigned seats, very limited luggage, and advertisements stuffed in your face rather than delightful pretzels.. but 75 bucks to go to Paris - I'm all over it. I will let you know how it goes though haha.
After talking about Paris so much, I wish I was leaving tomorrow! We have a few other trips planned before it though, so I think I'll be ok! I am looking forward to the highly anticipated trip to Venice on Wednesday.
I also have wonderful news! My parents and brother are planning a visit!!! Nothing is set in stone, but I literally started crying when I read the e-mail. I think I am just a little excited. They are coming during my backpacking trip in January sometime before my brother starts his electrician program that he just got accepted to in February! I am a proud sister!!!
I chose my courses this week, and they will be very interesting: Photography for Beginners, International Relations in the Middle East, and Philosophy of Italian Culture: Life in the Bel Paese. I hope that they all work out! I am really excited for each of them. They, along with this whole experience will really vamp up my application into the journalism program. Also, if you guys have any feedback, it will help as well!
As always, thanks for listening,
love and miss you all,
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