Archive | January 2014

Rome Wars Episode 5: Revenge of the Myth

Friends, we’re nearing present day — only one email update to go! Since my last post, all that’s happened of note is that I ate gelato by myself in the rain, in a moment that was either a huge success for my independence and the feminist movement, or just really depressing. This email update was shockingly long, so I won’t add much more forced-witty intro, and will instead just attach a photo of the Colosseum (They didn’t actually feed Christians to the lions there, apparently. Whu knu. Also, it’s impossible for Nero to have fiddled while Rome burned, because the fiddle wasn’t invented yet. Get ready to foist that one on your pretentious, fake-literary neighbor the next time he tries to act all superior at the joint-hosted dinner party your wife makes you throw every year to “foster community”).

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Lions, yes. Martyred Christians, no.

Anyway, Overly-Detailed Email Update Numero Cinque, leggo:

 

Ugh.

I’m sure you miss hearing me say that ad nauseum (likely you don’t), but alas, there it is.

In my infinite wisdom of having been here nearly 2 weeks, I have realized several things:

Always be prepared for rain — I had to buy an umbrella from a street vendor on Friday. He spoke English THANK GOD, business interactions are still totally iffy for me in Italian. Case in point, the flea market I went to on Sunday.

As part of class, we also had to go out in pairs to interview random citizens. I, of course, fates, was paired with a football player — the less articulate one. It was marv. I had to approach people (bad) and talk to them (bad) in another language (bad) and understand what they answered well enough to write it down (impossible).

Another revelation: if I aggressively jaywalk instead of making my way to the carefully lighted and metered crossings, I can cut off like 3 minutes of my walk to the bus stop. Perhaps this is why I always now seem to arrive 38 seconds too late. Literally the bus was still at the stop on Thursday, but it had already closed its doors. It couldn’t get anywhere because of the traffic, but I still couldn’t get on. Such is my relationship with public transport here. If I’m not lost, then it is somehow failing me in another way.

Possibly the worst revelation: it is possible to get sick of carbs. Tonight, I had pasta for dinner, and actually had trouble shoving it into my face, because I realized I’ve been eating the same things for two weeks. I really just want some SmartFood. Or a milkshake. Or a fucking steak. There is so little meat here. I ordered fried fish chunks for lunch today. It’s that bad. I also think that I crave cheese. Or milk. Drinking wine with dinner has actually become the bane of my existence. Hidden and repurposed Coke-bottle-filled-with-water is now my secret weapon.

Classes suck balls. There’s a part of my mind that knows I’d be doing this much work, if not more, at Dartmouth, but also it is incredibly frustrating to just feel like an idiot while completing every single homework assignment. It takes me an hour to read like a page, and I’m not used to feeling stupid. Fortunately, there are still the football players.

I was horrendously homesick this weekend, especially because none of the people here wanted to go out and do anything. Their excuse was that a they hadn’t started the homework and needed to get working. But, shocker, today they still had not done any of the homework. Like, just get it out of the way and move on. They wallow in the amount of work we have. It’s obnoxious. They’re obnoxious. I miss hanging out with people I can ugly cry in front of or who tell me my boobs look saggy (never going to forget that one, Sarah >:| ).

We’re spending this weekend in Florence, so maybe that will actually be fun. If this were a lifetime movie, it’d be our opportunity to all bond as a group and then we’d all stop sucking to one another and become friends. More likely, I’ll either end up sitting next to Andrea Dutterman in the world’s most boring game of Kings, or will just go to bed at 9 to avoid them all.

I’m getting better at using the hand shower. The blast radius now extends only to just beyond the toilet (this means about six inches from the doorway, given the size of my bathroom).

My body is definitely changing, and I can’t tell if I’m getting skinnier or fatter. Worrisome.

Petted a cat today. It had literal inch long fangs and got dandruff all over me.

I’ve worn basically all of my clothes already. No laundry protocol has been made clear to me. You all know that this won’t become a problem for like 4 more weeks, but it still seemed of note.

Toured the catacombs. My face did not melt. Though the tour guide had a British accent and was pretty cute. Such a waste that he’s in training to be a priest.

Had the king of all awkward dinners with Doria’s son and nine year old grandson. Doria was not home. I had to try to explain both lacrosse and mock trial to them. My success was nebulous.

I’m attempting to arrange a haircut scenario here, overseas. Theoretically, I just want a trim, but given language barriers, if I come back with a fro-ey pixie cut, you’ll know what went wrong. Promise you’ll still hang out with me?

There are ambulance sirens at all hours. I have realized that not only is this because I live near the hospital, but also because cars just do not care to get out of the way when ambulances are behind them. Cars also drive on the train tracks. I saw a car pulled out horizontal to the flow of traffic today, just waiting. It’s anarchy over here.

I finally realized that I look like a homeless man in my big army jacket, but today I also fit an entire full water bottle in the pocket, so tradeoffs I guess.

Doria finally let me wash dishes for the first time yesterday. I broke nothing. Success.

I miss you all ferociously, hope the term is going well, and that Jingya wasn’t too intimidated to read this email.

Love you ALLLLLL can’t wait to get back,

Stacy

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Rome Wars Episode 4: Attack of the Crones (And By That I Mean My Art History Tour Guide)

Like I’ve said, I’m in my 4th week here in Rome; I’m just catching you guys up. Four weeks is a pretty long time, and I was thinking about such this afternoon as I said, “I’m cold. Maybe I’m finally becoming Italian.” For those of you who subscribe to rational logical patterns, let me explain. I am originally from Maine, and I go to school in Northern New Hampshire. It was 21 degrees (Fahrenheit) there today, and in the single digits last week. In Rome, it’s 50 degrees. If I have the audacity to be cold, I took that to mean that I must be acclimating (heheh puns) to the temperatures here.

But of course, I’m not really becoming accustomed to Rome, and this is how I know:

-I still miss the light switch 6/10 times.

-I think I accidentally ate a fish bone today.

-I keep texting people from home without remembering that I got a new SIM card and therefore have a new number. The amount of “Um sorry, who is this?” texts I’ve gotten recently would make a grown man cry.

-I did not buy hand soap for my bathroom until yesterday.

-Whenever a shopkeeper speaks to me, I run away.

-I still haven’t learned a polite way to say “huh?” in Italian

-I still say “a la darecha” (Spanish) rather than “a destra” to refer to the right-hand direction.

-Asking for directions is completely useless. I just say a decisive, “ok, va benissimo, grazie!” wander in the first direction they point, then consult my iphone like I should’ve in the first place.

-I bought a box of Ritz crackers for 3 Euros because I missed American snack foods so much.

Basically, I’m a total gringa still, as evidenced by this photo, as well as Overly-Detailed Email Update Numero Quattro, to follow.

Yo.

Much has happened since we spoke last, but it is finally Thursday and my school week is over! (Isn’t that the life? School starts at 10, ends at 4, we get either an hour or two hours to eat lunch, and class often involves going for cappucinos as a group…) Anyway, now I finally get to sit down and write! In English!

First and most importantly, I opened the questionable Peanut M&Ms last night, and I can report that I have not yet died.

I talked to a transvestite on the bus. She invited us to a transvestite party. This was somehow funnier because I was on the bus with the football players.

Speaking of the football players, the group has decisively split into two cliques, one that includes the A-Side frat boys and one that includes the rest of the group. I am the only person that hangs out with both groups, and it’s weirding me out some. The frat boys are actually hilarious, though, and they just go sit in bars and drink beers.

In other news, I made friends with a Senegalese musician in the streets of the Ghetto district. (Literally called a ghetto, used to be the walled community of the Hebrews yada yada history lesson over) He wrote down his info for me so I could watch him on YouTube. I’m totally going to.

We took a tour of the Colosseum yesterday, and it was ALKSDGH:SLKA cool as fuck. I took a zillion photos.

I’ve also discovered that being alone is better than having any wingman, because men stop and talk to me all the flipping time. I had conversations with 3 random men today alone. This does not include the stranger in red corduroy jacket, blue pants, and yellow sweater who wrote “CIAO!” in the window fog on the bus. After this shockingly did not instigate conversation, he assumed the problem was linguistic and proceeded to write “HY!” underneath.

I’m adding to my Cats of Rome collection. There was an obscenely fat cat at the Prospettiva di Borromini yesterday. So. Fat. The art was cool too, you should google.

I discovered, not one but TWO times, that there do exist types of danish I do not like. Both were somehow soaked in rum/soda/liquid. Soggy Danish: not my thing. Croissants: totally my thing. Also, for Shaggy, the name of the FRIED CROISSANT is a cornetto fritto, and I have not yet had another, but I fully intend to.

I am getting better at showering with the hand-held, sitting, fleur-di-lis on ass shower.

I think the middle aged son was definitely smoking pot the other night.

That’s all for now, hope y’all are having fun. If any of you have time to Skype me or something tomorrow slash this weekend, I’d love that. 🙂  I miss you guys. And having friends in general :/ Have a good weekend regardless!

Stacy

Rome Wars Episode 3: Return of the Red Eye

I am fabulously tired as I write this, hence the title (Also, what else sounds like Jedi and is Rome applicable? The struggle). The jet lag for going 6 hours ahead isn’t terrible, so much as the travel time itself. I didn’t sleep at all on my overnight flight, partially due to my aisle seat, partially due to my paranoia that someone would steal one of the 675 things crammed under my aisle seat, and partially due to my having an adrenaline level comparable to a citizen being charged by a rhino in Jumanji. Since it’s been almost a month now, though, I guess I’m not really allowed to blame it on jet lag, and should instead place the culpability where it belongs, which is on the 17 episodes of Girls that I’ve been watching instead of doing my homework (Not me, no, too sensible).

Another red-eye inducer, if you’ll permit me a sidebar, is this webpage.

http://brobible.com/life/article/budweisers-new-commercial-rip-you-apart

Because my attention span is akin to that of a particularly schizoid chicken, (and because my mother sent me a Facebook message, snicker) I took a break from writing this blog post and viewed this link. Multiple tearjerkers, let me explain. Firstly, the BroBible people have mislabeled what is clearly a yellow lab as a Golden Retriever. Egregious. Thing two: The reference to Chive on the sidebar (32 Sexy Girls in Sports Bras…………) reminds me of the fact that a classmate showed Chive to 3 other boys in class the other day, and all 3 of them said, “hmm, that’s distasteful.” These are 3 A-Side frat boys. Maybe there is hope for the world. Thing three: I’m remembering last year’s commercial and it’s about to make me cry again, because I’m a big softie.

AT ANY RATE. You’re here for a Rome update. Overly-Detailed Email Update Numero Trè to follow after this image from our sponsors, and by that I mean a pic of me within inches of an inquisitive pigeon.

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Okay, now you’re ready for the email update.

I slept for a normal amount of time last night!!!! This is more incredible than you might think, seeing as the past two days I’ve woken up at 5 am and 4 am. THIS MORNING: 8:15 AM whoot and that’s just because Doria woke me up, afraid I might be late (I wasn’t going to be late).

I’ve gotten good at making my couch-bed. In the process of pulling the mattress away from the wall I found an unopened bag of italian Peanut M&Ms that expired in November. I fully intend to eat them.

I’ve come to the realization that I will be having the same exact thing for breakfast for the next 10 weeks: two pieces of pre made toast from whatever the Italian version of Pepperidge Farms is, with this red jam in which I’ve been studiously avoiding the chunks of peel (not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up. By March will I be eating exclusively peel?!?) and a little cup of “caffe latte” on a flower saucer. I am not complaining. I like the caffe latte.

I’ve also come to the realization that I will never be served water. I am turning into a withered crone. All they drink is coffee and wine. I’ve started sneaking into the kitchen at night to furtively drink glasses of tap water. Thank god I’m not in Mexico.

After class today, I went on an “eating tour” of the city with a professional food critic, and I ate pecorino cheese, and pizza bianca, and this cool onion bread thing, and A FRIED CROISSANT WHICH WAS BASICALLY HEAVEN, and then we had expensive artisan beer ALL PAID FOR BY DARTMOUTH YAY. Repeating that for emphasis, Dartmouth just bought me a beer. Yep. I was also the only girl to finish my beer, so don’t fear, the frat star in me remains.

We met our other two teachers today, and they’re cool. Both dudes. One confirmedly gay and one possibly gay.

There were nuns on the bus.

I saw a dog pee on a BMW.

After our beer slash tour, Matt, Keaton, Amelia, and I went to dinner (because we are gluttons, there’s no excuse) and I ate spaghetti carbonara with bacon, and it was possibly the best food I’ve ever eaten, unless it’s second to the FRIED CROISSANT. Apparently they use a different kind of butter in Rome, with a lower fat percentage, but the FRIED CROISSANT was made from real french butter with extra fat or something. Fun facts. Fun… Butter facts.

I just met Doria’s grandson. She said something to him and I thought he was trying to get into the kitchen so I backed up, but really she’d told him to air kiss slash hug me, so I awkwardly accidentally rejected a 10 year old.  Typical.

That’s all for now. I’m not sure if I’ll always have so much to say or if things will calm down as I become a jaded veteran, so enjoy these while they last! 🙂

Stacy

Rome Wars Episode 2: The (Roman) Empire Strikes Back

I promise that nothing new has happened between my most recent post and now apart from my host mother serving me a dinner of 2 hot dogs (so Italian), half a plate of mashed potatoes, a whole bowl of pesto pasta, a piece of bread, and an orange. She feeds me like I’m fucking Hungry Jack. I don’t want to go home looking like him.

Fortunately, since I’m lost all the time, I end up walking about 23856834 miles a day, so hopefully that will stave off the onslaught of poundage. I’ve also taken to dancing vigorously to aggressively profane rap songs in my room. It’s a comfort knowing that the host family doesn’t understand the words and therefore cannot judge me.

Besides that, all I’ve got for you is Overly-Detailed Email Update Numero Due:

 

Ciao belle,

More awkward stories to report. Exciting things that have happened during days two and three:

I ATE FCKING GELATO AND IT WAS LIKE EXPLOSIONS OF JOY IN MY MOUTH. Half strawberry half chocolate. Delicious. One of the beloved football players got whiskey flavor, so Natalie, it’s not only possible, but someone has beaten us to it.

I saw many cats, including a three-legged one lumbering through the cat sanctuary at Piazza Argentina. Adorable. Sad. Gatti.

I was quite late to my first day of classes, due to being lost for 30 minutes in the neighborhood of my apartment before finally finding my bus stop, waiting for 15 minutes before the bus arrived, and then getting lost again after I got off. Good first impressions of Stacy. My only comfort was that the football players were even later.

LSA hookup prospect number 1 has been revealed to have a girlfriend. Wahh Wahhhh. Whatevah. A guy in his 30’s tracked me down as I was trying to walk around the Colosseum today and asked me to be friends and said he would show me all of Rome and that “we could go to the movies together, we could do anything, there was a girl from Texas five years ago, we were not just friends,” so basically I’m set for life, yeah? It was actually a little frightening because I was by myself and was planning to walk home, but I didn’t want him to follow me, so I had to get back on the bus. Run awayyyy.

I managed to lock myself out of my apartment for half an hour. I had the keys, but couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door… How do I go to Dartmouth? Finally, Doria came home and saved me.

Apparently pickled weird broccolis are a thing here. I had them for dinner… I have also had pasta during 4 of 4 possible meals. That is not a complaint. Bring on the pasta. Since the first night, when she witnessed me struggling to gracefully eat the spaghetti, she’s been trying to serve pasta in easier and easier shapes… I think my IQ while I’m here is approximately 25.

There is a casual grown up son who has children staying in the house. He’s been here since I got here… the children are not here. I thought he was only here for one night… He isn’t… Where are the children? What is going on? He was in the kitchen as I attempted to stealthily get to my bathroom earlier. We were forced to speak. I think he feels just as awkward about me being here as I do about him.

I bought a slice of pizza for less that one euro today. Amazingness.

There is no sink in my bathroom. I’ve been wetting my toothbrush with water from the “shower” and then spitting into the toilet…

There are BOOTS SOLD JUST EVERYWHERE AND I WANT THEM ALL.

I went inside the Pantheon today and it blew my mind. It’s enormous. The football players told me my face would melt. It basically did.

I guess all that’s left for news is that I finally unpacked everything, and that I MISS YOU GUYSSSSS. I still have basically no life, so I’ve been hardcore creeping on the social medias, but keep me posted anyway, aight?

LOVE N THINGS,
Stacy

 

Rome Wars Episode 1: A New Home

(These titles are a play on Star Wars, since I realize that’s not clear. I forsook using the title of episode 1 for this, my first post, because I’m saving it for “The Phantom Venice” in two weeks. Forgive me)

So, I’ve set off on my excellent journey, studying abroad in the Eternal City. I arrived on January 6th, so I’m now in the throes of my 4th week without McNuggets, subzero temperatures, or Keystone Light (miss u Darty). Why haven’t I been blogging since I arrived? Excellent question, my non-readers. I don’t know. I think that instead I’ve opted for writing overly detailed email updates to my Dartmouth friends and vacillating between pining for the States and pretending that they don’t exist. No more of that, though, as I’ve decided to post my email updates here! Yes, celebrate, all two of you!

This isn’t really a travel blog, and I’m not really a travel writer. All I can do, though, is share the experiences that I’ve had, good, bad, and hilarious, and let you laugh at my expense. I was nearly hit by a motorino this morning. A blessing of not speaking enough Italian to say so is that when a middle aged man on a Vespa curses you out in the middle of the street, you don’t know how embarrassed to be.

I complain a lot. I do it because it’s funny and self deprecating, and less obnoxious than a play-by-play of the inside of the Colosseum. I have my extensive Facebook photo album for that. I assure you all, I’m having a great time. As proof, here is a photo of me petting a sanctuary cat in Largo Argentina.

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But I do complain a lot. I complain much more than I explain all the awesome places I’ve been and gelatos I’ve eaten, so if you want to read a cool blog about “the experience” of Rome, you’ll have to find that elsewhere. WordPress tells me that there are like 13945tq0345876 of them (yes, I just used t and q as numbers. That’s how many travel blogs there are). What you’ll find here isn’t about “The Rome Experience,” it’s about my Rome experience. I make no apologies for that.

(I do apologize for the fact that I use sub-perfect grammar and punctuation in the emails. I’m trying to assimilate myself into the “online lingo ‘hood.” I apologize additionally for the egregious smiley face usage. It’s a front, I promise. You guys know the real, ice-hearted, stoic-expressioned me. Scout’s honor).

Thus, with only this much further ado, I give thee: (The Minorly Edited Version of) Overly-Detailed Email Update Numero Uno:

I’m not sure how seriously you meant the “send me updates” thing, but it’s 7 a.m here and my host mom assumes I’m going to be sleeping for the rest of the day, so I’m sending you an update! 🙂

First, some cool things:

There is a man who sings opera in an apartment near ours. I could hear him through the window last night as I was falling asleep. That really happens.

Apparently “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is a thing here as well, because I hear it right now and I’m not sure where it’s coming from.

Instead of a shower in my bathroom (I have my own bathroom. It’s about the size of your armoire, but it’s all for me 🙂 ) I have a tub-like contraption that apparently you’re supposed to sit in and use the hand spigot to shower. There’s a mat in it so I don’t fall down, and it has little fleur-di-lis cut outs in it so the water can drain. Consequentially, I now have a fleur-di-lis stamped on my ass. Shoulda been a Kappa. Also, I got water just everywhere. There is no curtain. It’s a sight.

I had my first glass of wine with dinner. Which was spaghetti. And was delicious.

I’ve already seen the Colosseum. Casually. There was a guy dressed in gladiator costume outside. He was wearing work boots. #SoOldRome

Now, a more sensical telling of my arrival:

I had to wait in the plane from Boston for an hour while they de-iced the wings. I made friends with my Greek seat mate, Marilyn. We totally chilled in the Frankfurt Airport, and by that I mean she waited for me after passport control, so basically we are now besties. She was going home from visiting her half-Greek half-American boyfriend. She visited Maine. I was also the only one who talked to people in the airport while we waited, and I met Meghan from Champlain College and we discussed study abroad plans. She’s going to Scotland. Then I met this guy and his wife. He’s a private school guidance counselor going to Germany on a recruiting trip. I was terrified trying to get through security bc I was like oh no I have to take my shoes off and get out my liquids and put my laptop in it’s own bucket and aalfghaldfjhjalf, but that went fine too. I got selected to be x-ray screened. Perhaps they were suspicious because I was wearing eight thousand layers. The airplane food was not as disgusting as I thought it would be, and the toddler to my left was actually fairly well behaved and did not cry at all. His name was Thomas. I told his mom she was a champ on the way out. In Frankfurt, I had to get from Terminal Z to Terminal A, which was basically a marathon inside a maze. But, my buddy Marilyn was going the same way, so we braved it together. I was waiting in the terminal for maybe seven minutes before we boarded. It was awesome. The flight to Rome was beautiful, and I got to see the sun come up while we were flying over the Alps. It was gorgeous. I also tried to eat German yogurt. It was incredibly sour. I was taken aback. Not in Kansas anymore. My friend Matt was supposed to meet me in the airport, but that got all screwed up and I was pissed at him for being late and absent and not on top of his shit. Blah. Whatever. I took a train to the Termini in Rome (I walked into the train station and this girl was immediately like “do you need help???!??!!?” I must look very lost all the time) and then ate my first piece of Italian pizza (it tasted pretty much like American pizza, only I was starving so it was basically nectar of the gods). Then, we walked around the city some, which I was not really down for at the time. It was nearing 24 hours that I’d been up, and I was carrying my 27 pound backpack, and I was wearing every clothing item I owned and sweating my balls off, and worried we wouldn’t get back in time. All in all, non-optimal. But, eventually we got back to the train station and met up with our host families. Doriana is excellent. She is old but still cool, and she told me I was pretty, so I like her already. 🙂 My house is awesome, and quite near the center of the city. I have my own room and my own bathroom, and there is a balcony that looks out over the house of the British ambassador to Rome, Villa Wolkonsky. My host mother tried to explain that to me, but I for the life of me could not understand, though the power of Google later enlightened me. I also could not explain the word “fun” yesterday. It was a low point for my fluency. Beyond that, there is not much to say yet other than that I’m quite excited, and I know it’s going to be a great term 🙂 I have a welcome party later today where I will get to see my school. I hope that you enjoy your time in Hanover as much as I enjoy my time here. I miss everyone back home, keep an eye on them for me 🙂

Pounces,
Stacy