Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thoughts about leaving

There are a lot of things I feel about leaving Milan, which has been my home for the past 5 months. How does one exactly put into words the emotions? Sadness about leaving new friends, excitement about seeing old ones, a strange fear I can't quite come to terms with... but what is it? A fear of never coming back? A fear of not being understood when I come home? A fear of being forgotten? A fear of growing up too fast?

Coming here was a whirlwind. I was so sure after I started dating Nick I didn't even want to come here and was afraid to leave, but was also sure that it was what I had to do. It was what I had always wanted to do. Then of course the day that I get here, after an emotional goodbye and a long day of traveling, I was a wreck of sadness as I entered my room and was left all alone 5,000 miles away from my best friends. Seriously it is humorous to look back at my moment of complete sleep deprived, weary traveled weakness and the picture of myself I sent to Nick, along with the THINGS that I said about being here. For sheer entertainment value, I think I could have written the most emo song on the planet that day. I think I might have outdid even the most emo of emo bands when I sent him this picture: 

and described coming here as "the most expensive heartbreak".  

But then I decided to stay an extra month. And now I am what... scared to come home? I was scared to leave there to come here, now I'm scared to leave here to go there. How does that work? It seems as a college aged person I am leaving places right when I start to feel I fit in the most. It's scary. Hell, it's terrifying. It's tedious, it's difficult and it's worth every single tear. I am happy for that and grateful that I have the opportunity to experience so many different places as a home. I haven't really found one to be too much better than the other, they all have their own quirks, their own problems and their own specialities. But everywhere you go somethings are the same. People are mean, people are kind and you're just going to have to find where you fit in like any new place.

“The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” 
― Tahereh MafiShatter Me

But there really never is a good time to say goodbye to something or somewhere that you love. So for now I suppose there's nothing left to do except abolish my one-gelato-a-day rule, because THERE ARE LESS THAN 2 WEEKS LEFT HERE NOW, which is less than 14 gelatoes, and that is not okay.  

So here's to endings or another word for new beginnings--

Ciao for now! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

How I fell in love with Rome

This past weekend I went to Rome with Momoko, my friend from Japan who lives in the dorms with me. Our trip started out like many other weekend trips, an early train to save money but also keep you extremely tired and cold. It was raining when we left (of course, it is Milan after all) and got to Rome around 11. We booked a hostel near the train station because we knew there was going to be a metro strike in Rome on Friday. We found the hostel and dropped off our bags.

This is when the trip got a little interesting. We had to walk to the city center and it wasn't exactly the nicest neighborhood. It just seemed like a gross version of Milan. At one point it was even so windy that a tree branch fell out of a really tall tree and crashed into the car five feet in front of us. It was seriously like some All-state insurance commercial where that would happen and then that guy would be like, "having a bad day? call all-state" or something like that. Very stereotypical of someone's bad day. Then we had to walk through Rome's Chinatown or something and finally Momo said, "WHERE IS ROME?!" We had yet to see any beautiful fountains or ruins like we had been led to believe existed in Rome.

After finally stumbling upon a church, we went in and it was very beautiful and then we promptly left after one of the security guys came up to me with a large cloth that looked like gauze telling me to wrap it around my legs because I was wearing shorts. We decided to stop in a cafe to get a coffee for some energy, where we were asked FOUR times if we really wanted to drink our coffee standing at the bar instead of sitting down (because obviously we are tourists and only real Italians do that) and then they double charged me for a coffee. At this point Rome was not living up to any expectations.

Finally we found the Colosseum. It was a long line and we finally got in, although I'm not much of a fan for ruins so it wasn't the coolest part of the trip. Then we went to the Forum and when we were trying to exit it was almost impossible because there was a concert going on and all the entrances and walkways were blocked off in the most inefficient way (another Italian way of life, urgh).

After that we decided to go to the Trevi fountain, and this is when I fell in love with Rome. It was so beautiful and way better than I imagined. Afterwards we walked to the Pantheon and then along the Tiber and then ended up in Piazza Navona, one of my favorite places of the trip. There were artists selling their beautiful paintings of Italian landscapes everywhere, if only I had enough money to buy one! Someday... Then we ended up in a cute little restaurant where we ate outside and had a nice little candle that kept blowing out in the wind and our waiter probably relit it twelve times. After that we went back to Trevi and hung out before taking a cab back to the hostel. (Metro strikes = expensive ripoff cabs FYI, but what can you do when you gotta avoid the ghetto at night).

When we got to our hostel there was a man in our room even though we had specifically booked (and paid a bit more for) a female dorm. So Momo showed them our reservation and he moved.

The next day we went to Vatican city and went into St. Peter's basilica. Then we discovered that the museum was going to be free on Sunday so we decided to do that the next day. We went along to Piazza Spagna and saw the steps but it started raining so we went in and got some tiramisu from Pompi, I got banana chocolate. Rome definitely has delish tiramisu! Then we tried to go to the museum of pasta, but we couldn't find it and it was pouring so we stopped in a restaurant for wine because...

After the rain let up we moved along to Villa Borghese, a beautiful park in Rome. We rented bikes there and it was so beautiful and lovely we were like little kids on their birthday riding around on those bikes! Only 4 euro for one hour. We also decided that we were going to cave in and go to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner because sometimes when in Rome you are homesick and although the Romans might not do it we wanted to eat buffalo sauce and brownies. After dinner we met up with Larisa at the Trevi but everyone was so exhausted that we went back to our hostels. There was a man in our room AGAIN, but this time we didn't kick him out because he was already tucked away in bed. He was from Sweden and had actually been to St. Louis! I kept psyching myself out about him because I was thinking he was going to be like one of the evil dudes from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (set in Sweden) but I finally fell asleep after brain mapping out how to attack him if he was really like Bjurman or something. Sorry for the book references for those of you misfortunate souls who haven't read that book yet (go read it! It's awesome). This guy was actually very nice though I just was freaking myself out. 

Sunday we woke up, checked out and then went to the Vatican museum. Everything was very beautiful but it was also so overwhelming! Then we went to get a picture by sticking our hands in the mouth of truth. We talked with a very nice couple from Georgia. Then we had a few hours before our train so we decided to walk to Travestere and get something to eat. We found a really cheap place and got HUGE wines on accident ;). Our waiter was very Italian and nice and it was the perfect ending to our Roman holiday. 

Our train was late but overall it was a great great weekend with new friends and new adventures! I'm really glad I did finally make it to Rome after several failed attempts! 

Collage by Momo: 

Ciao for now! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Life in Italy post-classes (read: I'm an intern!)

Well! It has been quite a long long time since I have updated my blog. Sorry to those of you who actually read this (hi, Mom).  I did have some articles though for MOVE between my last blogs so you might be somewhat aware of what's goin' on like Donkey Kong.

As many of you might know, I am STILL in Milan even though I was supposed to come home May 12 because I accepted an internship at Neri Pozza Editore, a publishing house, here in Milano! I have already started it a couple weeks ago and I love it! I read a lot of books in English and write book reports and make suggestions on whether I think it was good or not. I have also been working on translating some material from Italian to English to pitch Italian authors to English-speaking publishing houses in the USA, UK & Australia. So that's pretty cool! The colleagues are great & we drink a lot of coffee. (Random fact: they DELIVER coffee here, like little shots of espresso or cappuccinos to our office sometimes! Bars here are cool.)

The office is right in Brera, which is a super cool area of Milan with lots of little cafes so I have been exploring on my lunch breaks and stuff. I have been working from 9:30-6:30 which is good for me because I like getting up late.

Lots has happened since Spring break, I went to Tuscany to visit Madeline in Terriciola and we went to Volterra, I went to DUBLIN!!!, then was the big family week in Europe where we went to Barcelona, then on a cruise to Marseilles, Genova, Naples, Messina, Tunis and then we went to Venice! Then finals week and then last weekend I went to Cinque Terre so I have been pretty busy! I'm thinking about making individual blog posts for some of the main events so stay on the lookout! Tomorrow I am going to Rome with Momo and then next weekend is SCOTLAND!!!!! Then one more week and I'm home June 12 which I can't wait to see all my lovely friends and family and mexican foods that I miss so much.

Anywho, forgive me for forgetting about you guys for a hot minute, but I hope to have some good stories up for you soon!

Ciao for now! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Running in airports

And then like a scene from one of those movies, I ran and hopped on the stairs to the plan just right as soon as they were closing the doors, almost missing my flight. I felt like Jim Carrey during that scene from "Liar Liar" only I actually made it to the flight.

So here's what happened: I brought a regulation sized carry on, but when I got to the gate for my flight in Munich, the flight attendant at the door was stacking bags with wheels. She blabbed something fast as lightening in German, which I could only come to understand meant: "Ein Bier Prost wie alt bist du Gazundheit tschuss". AKA I had no clue what she said, I just did what I always do in language barrier situations like these and what is probably not what you should do; I follow suit and pray for the best. I gave her my bag and boarded the plane.

As soon as the same flight attendant began giving the safety speech in perfect English, I knew I was screwed. I should have just told her to let me carry the bag on. To top it off, a baby was hollering and our flight was delayed. I knew it was about time something went horribly wrong and I closed my eyes as they iced down the plane and I tried to convince myself the worst that would happen would only be a cost of about 100 euro and our plane wasn't going to crash and I wasn't going to end by fire, combustion or any other cause of death in an airplane accident. I started at this point to crave a specific date situation in which Nick and I went to Applebees on a date and then got so homesick on top of my stress that a tear leaked out of my eye. I then mentally noted to schedule a good cry for when I landed in Paris in some secluded bathroom or something before getting on the metro to meet Blair.

When the male flight attendant came around to serve drinks, I asked for a coke. As if by some miracle he not only responded in English, but he responded to ask me if I wanted ice cubes in my Coke. ICE CUBES!!!!!!!!!!! (Side note about my excitement: No one anywhere puts ice in soda ever in Europe and I have inherited from my mother the habit of overloading all of my drinks with ice, so this is why I was so excited.) The ice fairy visited me and bestowed a great gift upon me that day. After this it was now certain that something bad would need to happen to even the playing field.

I got off the plane at 6:15 and asked the woman flight attendant from before if they checked my bag at the gate, how were they going to know that I was going to Paris? She said I should have told her because she let the people going to Paris carry on their luggage. She told me to go up the ramp and tell the girl in the yellow coat so there wouldn't be a delay. I walked up and there was no such woman in sight. I found a man in yellow, but he didn't speak much English. He did manage to give me directions to my gate, however, which came in handy later. Finally the luggage started coming up and literally mine was the 7th to last to come up. I grabbed it, saw ten minutes until my flight was scheduled to leave and started sprinting to a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TERMINAL. Of freaking course. As people stared, I sprinted by like a cheetah (because of my coat, not my speed). The duty free jager shot I bought in Germany fell out of my pocket and had to be left behind. The weakest link never survives, right? I had to go through security AGAIN, so I suppose it was a blessing in disguise that the jager fell out.

I made it to the gate and a man ran me out to the plane and said, "Where ya been girl??" If I had been thinking right I would have said: "Just robbed a bank and barely made it out alive, duh." But alas I did not. As the French would say: L'esprit de l'escalier.

As a reward for my marathon running, I was greeted with a beautiful bird's eye view of Berlin as we flew off into the sunset.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring break

Buona Pasqua tutti! 

Sorry I have been so absent from ye olde blog lately. This past week was spring break, so I have been out of the country (although I suppose I'm always out of the country now). Last Friday after class, I walked the hour long walk to the train station with my luggage because the transportation service was having a strike. How convenient. But it was a gorgeous day, so I didn't mind the walk. I took a train to Verona, where I met up with my friends Asha and Luca for our train to Munich! 

It was a little delayed right before the Austrian border, though, because of a "human accident". We assumed this meant that someone had not turned the right switch and they had somehow messed up the engine, and that's why we had to wait an hour for them to switch out the engine. Later, we learned that was the code word for someone jumping in front of the train and they probably had to change the engine because of the "shotgun effect" that sometimes happens. Not quite a good start to the trip...

When we got to Munich I was amazed at how pristinely CLEAN the U-bahn and all the streets of Munich are. It looks very orderly. We navigated our way to Corrine's apartment where Asha and I would be staying and found the hidden keys since Corrine was on a ski trip for work but still letting us stay there because UM, she's amazing. (Thanks, Corrine!) Then we went to meet Luca's friend at Man Fat, the Chinese restaurant where he works, where we had some delicious dinner and our first Deutsches Bier. Soo delicious. And the tempting gummy bear bowl which Asha made best friends with. 

This Spring Break was a blast, I traveled to Munich, watched a friend get us free shots of jager by 'donating' her bra, went on a self-led bicycle tour of the English Garden, saw people surfing while it snowed, toured the Residenz, ate German pretzels, Spezi (Germans drink Coke with Fanta and it's surprisingly good), Schnitzel, Bier Bier Bier, made new friends, caught up with old neighbors, laughed, got caught up in a dinner party birthday celebration with some Germans wearing traditional Bavarian outfits, tried Bavarian snuff, spoke German, decided that some travel is best left for next time (such as visiting a concentration camp with a friend for a shoulder to cry on), visited Neuschwanstein, drank a beer in the most famous beer hall in the world, pretended to speak French, almost missed my flight, ran through airports, saw a magnificent view of Paris at night, got a lot of sweet vintage clothes, ate crepes under the Eiffel Tower, saw the crowds in front of the Mona Lisa, waited in lots of lines, rode lots of trains, saw lots of golden fancy rooms in Chateau Fontainbleu, lived my Nancy Drew dream of visiting the Catacombs in Paris, visited the most unusual museum in the red-light district of Paris, bought a book at the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, took a jumping picture by the Eiffel Tower, attended a night Easter mass at Notre Dame, encountered some really mean French people (and a few really nice ones), drank a flaming blue drink, saw lots of lovers and their signs of love in Paris, and spent a lot of time in airports and buses. 

I would say it was an unforgettable break, and I can't wait to share all my stories and pictures with you all! But for now it is time to sleep. Although I can't be with my friends and family for Easter, I am excited for my adventures to come as well as to see everyone again in five short weeks! Time is flying by now. :) 



7th sin of breakfast

View of Berlin from my plane at sunset

Corrine, my wonderful neighbor who let me stay with her! :) 

Blair, reading a book at Shakespeare! Thanks for letting me stay at your little abode :)

Some of the more tame art from the Musee de l'Erotisme

Notre Dame

Super crowded service at Notre Dame

I love you written in 200 languages

The Alps on my way back to Milan! 

Ciao for now! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Marching forward

One part of me wants to shout, HOW IS IT ALREADY MARCH? Another also wants to say... I've only been here for six weeks and it feels like an eternity.

Living here is so weird, and I'm not sure if it's because it's such a big city or if it's because it's another country but I'm pretty sure it's a combination of both. Last weekend I went to Florence. It was so beautiful. Completely different from Milan. It definitely looks like what you picture the "typical" Italian city to be like. Cobblestone streets, little accordion players everywhere, windy streets, beautiful views, olive trees and gorgeous architecture. However, there were so many people there speaking English! And so many students.

Sarah got punched on her birthday, which you can read all about in my MOVE article. But honestly the trip was still amazing. We had a great time other than that. After we finally got there and Asha pulled a track star move running all the way back to her apartment to get her passport, Florence was a blast. On Friday we went to an aperitivo and then to a pub and gelato. We got free champagne for Sarah's birthday and Rhianna made the bar play a ridiculous chipmunk happy birthday song when it turned midnight. Ana and I also decided that when the men selling flowers all the time try to bug us we will just react like crazy buffoons and say "ciao ciao ciao prego prego prego" like broken robots. I'm sure everyone thought we were legitimately off our rockers when we were walking around that night, but it was definitely worth the good laughs.

On Saturday morning we got kicked out of the hostel for a lock-out so they could clean our rooms. We went on a little walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo where we saw some fantastic views. I got some really great gift as a prank for Nick. The prank was real good though, and I executed it perfectly. It's really a shock he's still talking to me because I play such mean jokes on him. We then went shopping and I got to see the statue of David. It is so much bigger in real life than I imagined. We also ran into a weird little festival and the Gucci Museum. That night we went to dinner at Za Za's for Sarah's birthday. We had terrible service, but it was still a fun night! Afterwards I went to a pub with Nardi for some Phi Mu fun Italian style.

Sunday we got breakfast at an American style diner, HALLELUJAH BACON. It was good, and I'll probably kick myself when I get home for wasting a meal on diner food, but it was well needed after a long weekend. Ana and I then went to the Uffizi. So many historical pieces of art. Florence really would be the perfect city to study abroad in for art or design. Not so much for Italian language though. After Uffizi we went shopping for a little bit and then caught the train back to Milan. I was so exhausted afterwards... trains can really drain you.

This week was fun filled with friends, foods and dancing. And a few good long sleeps. And my stupid permisso di soggiorno appointment. Italian bureaucracy sure is fun! But I can't complain I'm sure it's a much bigger hassle to come into the USA than it is to come here.

Today I have locked myself indoors so as not to spend money. It's so hard here! I'm surrounded by beautiful clothes and delicious noms. Although I have made it to a few museums here now, so I don't feel so ridiculous that I haven't done any cultural activities here in Milan. I think I might be going to Dublin sometime in April (hopefully) and might be getting visited by Jacqueline in May!! With so many trips to look forward to, how can I possibly be expected to study for midterms? Just kidding... I will mom, don't worry.

I suppose I should go do that, now instead of rambling on about nothing. Ciao for now!

A drawing by Ana to sum up our trip: 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Steal me with a kiss

I've been really bad about keeping up with my blog. Oops. Last weekend wasn't too eventful besides a a lot of shopping. I went shopping around Duomo on Saturday and bought a new cheetah coat! And some socks. Ana and I went looking for some "culture" but all the museums were closed by the time we finally made it out of the dorm and then we tried to see a movie but we couldn't find any in the original English they are all voiced over in Italian and we didn't want to do that.

So we went to Duomo and met Rhianna and Sarah. We saw some street performers and we stopped to watch them do their breakdancing routine. And during the middle of the routine one of the dancers came up to me and said, "Can I have a kiss on the cheek?" And it was the middle of the show so I felt socially pressured to do give him a peck on the cheek and he turned and kissed me on the mouth! Those Italians are so damn sneaky.

It was a little like this except he won. -__-

But we finally escaped and went onwards to Mango where I found my beautiful cheetah coat and all was well.

The crazy guy who stole a kiss. -__-

Another break dancer.

Then on Sunday we went to the vintage markets at Navigli. It was so cold! But I scored some vintage Valentino sunglasses for 35 euro and a little clutch thing for just 5. Ana got a gorgeous red purse! 

I haven't done too much this week because we have been getting so many projects in our classes for our midterms. I have to write a ten minute short play with two other girls for Methods of Illusion, I just got finished making a book cover for my Publishing, Publicity and Cultural Journalism class and we also have a big Transmedia project due soon in the Digital Media and Journalism class. Who knew I actually came here to learn stuff?? Ugh. 

I have also been trying to lock myself in my room so I stop buying so many things. I got this sweet bracelet and I discovered Pull & Bear which is basically like another awesome version of H&M or Forever 21 or something. And it has lots of clothes with bears. I love bears. So it was bad news. On the plus side I have gotten a lot better at grocery shopping! Next week we are doing an American night for the other people in our dorm and I think I'm going to make gooey butter cake and we are going to have chicken nuggets or PBJ sandwiches or something. American delicacies at their finest! 

Tomorrow I am going on a field trip for my Publishing class to a real Publishing house here in Italy that my professor works at. Since I've wanted to be a book editor since 6th grade, I'm totally geeking out over this project and this field trip and this class in general. Later in the semester we are going to get to visit the offices of Vogue Italia and Glamour Italia! 

This weekend I'm also going to Florence for my friend Sarah's birthday. It's supposed to be really nice weather so I am excited! Although I can't figure out how to buy a bus ticket sooo that should be interesting tomorrow. Might just cave in and buy a train ticket for the fast train. Trenitalia and Eurolines have the most stupid websites for purchasing tickets and finally after hours of looking for the tickets and trying to make it work I was like: 

Today marks my one month of being here! Lots of things have happened and I can't wait for the many more adventures to come. My parents are coming in April for a cruise! I can't wait to see them :) 

I like having my own room here and all but sometimes it gets scary because I always think there is someone behind me...

Well, I actually just wish this guy was hiding in my room somewhere! But I will see him again in 2 1/2 months, and he got us tickets to see Ludovico Einaudi in Chicago for my birthday since I missed him here in Milan! I can't wait to see everyone that I am missing who has probably forgot about me! Just kidding. Love you all! Don't forget to check my new column tomorrow about fashion week and getting lost etc etc etc. Ciao for now!