A Travellerspoint blog

Paris: Come and Gone

Carb Fest for 7 days

semi-overcast 8 °C

March 16, 2009
Yogurt with nuts puréed inside topped with corn flakes

1 orange
1 apple
1 pear
Bread with Nutella
Homemade apple bread slice with powdered sugar sprinkled on top

Spaghetti and cheese mixed
Cold sliced cooked potatoes with finochi and salt
Steak rolled with potatoes inside drenched in a red tomato sauce with spices
1 kiwi

March 17, 2009
St. Patrick’s Day

I wore green today, only because I didn’t want to get pinched. As I hopped on the crammed bus with my head against the sliding door as a pile of tourists, Italians, and babies leaned against me… I looked around, and no one was wearing green. I was now the ethnographer doing a case study on the scene and I noticed I was faced with being the “outsider.” As I made my way to school, dodging the traffic, and almost getting hit by a car, I continued to see the absence of green clothing. I thought nothing of it and continued throughout the day keeping the idea to myself.
At 9:25 in the morning I took my Italian oral exam with Rita, my professoressa (professor). I think I scored brownie points by explaining to her in Italian that our classes are too big and should be adjusted to help us improve on our speaking and writing abilities. She was delighted with the idea and continued to speak to me in Italian. I did not grasp all of the details, but I knew where she was going, and that was happy. She liked my idea and we continued to talk about the subject for a while. Keep in mind; this was only supposed to be a five minuet test, and we were rambling longer than all of the other students. I didn’t care, as long as I was sounding Italian and passing the test, I was in the green zone. She smiled and told me that I did well and I left the silenced room to call out the next victim. Every time we have an oral exam, it is like our death calling for the week. None of us like talking for five whole minuets! Sometimes she asks us to just talk. This is very hard to do in English let alone Italian if you have nothing on your mind to talk about. Most of the time, I just make up a story so that I will not make a mistake on the verbs and/or sentence structure.
After waiting for the other students to finish, I walked with a girl to Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps as we say in America, but it really means square of Spain). We were on our way to our site visit for our literature class on “travel writing in the 18th century and today.” Once we landed at the site, I saw an abundance of tourists and young teens sitting, eating, dancing, and laughing on the hundreds of steps which lead to a church on the hill. This is where I really noticed that no one was wearing green except me and all of the other Americans that were completely noticeable. I asked my professor if Italians wear green, and she said, “No, everyday is a saints day, so why is this one any different?” I just agreed and proceeded walking into the museum of Shelly and Keats (which were two poets/authors).
Once inside the tiny museum we were sat down in chairs and listened to a British young lady explain what the museum was meant for. She explained how Keats was a young man who had lost four out of six members of his family due to TB. I shall mention he also died from TB at age twenty-five. I was absolutely fascinated by his story because it resonated with me as I listened to his adventures. His father passed away when he was eight, then his mother left him, returned, and then died when he was fourteen. Then his brother died, and then he found out he was diagnosed with TB himself! He moved to Italy with his close friend because he knew he was going to die soon after seeing his loved ones pass away in front of his eyes. He grew up very poor and underprivileged within the educational system, but managed to teach himself so much that he caught up to very famous writers and poets. He was also a doctor, but he did not like it as much as writing poems, so he stayed poor writing poems due to his passion of writing as quit being a doctor.
After listening to the story and visiting his death apartment, my class and I ventured out to see another site in the center of Rome. We went to Piazza del Popolo, which is the square of the people. This is where all of the people entered into Rome even dating back into the very first travels of time! I was amazed and loved learning about the history of Rome and the travelers it attracted.
I have a midterm tomorrow, but I have yet to study. I think the senioritis is creeping up on me. I still can not believe I am going to Harvard! I have stayed up late every night just thinking to myself about how it will be to study there. Last night was the worst because I was tired from not sleeping yesterday, and I had a midterm yesterday for my Culture and Identity of Rome class. I did not sleep well over the weekend either. I took Advil PM to make me sleep on Saturday, and I did, ten hours. It did not feel like real sleep because I do not remember sleeping. I just remember waking up feeling tired and restless. I think I need to look into meditation because my brain is scattered at night, and all I can do is lie in my bed and think. I think about everything ranging from going to Paris in three days to reading for one of my classes. Then I dwell off and start thinking about how awesome it would be to go to Harvard and actually study. Every night I can feel within my heart that I am very blessed. It is all so surreal for me to even think about the topic of me going to graduate school, let alone a really prestigious graduate school. I just hope I will pull through and try my best to earn good grades and to not get distracted by the pure essence of being there.

March 19, 2009-March 25, 2009
March 19th-checked into our hotel
March 20th – got robbed (well scammed), saw Notre dame, Eiffel Tower, arch of triumph, and walked all the way there!
March 21st-

March 25, 2009
Things could not have gone more wrong today on my way to go back to Rome. The first glance outside from the window of my hostel was drizzling rain and depressing clouds in the sky. I woke up at 8:45a.m. to run down the stairs so I could grab the free croissants for breakfast! They were awesome, but that is about how awesome my day was!

Chrystal and I did not know what to do after breakfast because we had to check out at 11:00, and it was raining outside with blistering cold wind flowing through the door as we looked out. I only brought a light sweatshirt and a scarf to keep warm because I was assuming my California Spring break would be similar to my Spring break in Paris! However, I was obviously wrong! The sun disappeared after three days of staying in Paris. The first three days were okay, not wonderful, but I managed. The nights were freezing to me because I did not have much warmth, but nevertheless it was bearable.

We didn’t know what to do so we walked to Starbucks and sat there looking at our pictures for about an hour. The sun decided to pop out through the clouds so we grabbed our luggage and headed to the Luxemburg garden (which was our original plan until we saw the rain). As we headed up the hill towards the garden park, the sun went away and the wind was icy to my face. I was not feeling well because my knee was in pain, I was cold, and we did not have a plan really as we walked. We were confused, hungry, and miserable with the wind and the dark clouds over our heads.

We both agreed to eat at a small café and enjoyed wonderful sandwiches filled with cheese, meat, and potatoes. When we were done, we drew a mural on their chalkboard that said, “California Love” with a heart and USA flag in the background. We were just trying to waste time until our flight.

McDonalds: they are better than in the US, they are advanced with electronic machines to place your order with just a swipe of your bank card! It was amazing to watch. They also had high end furniture and a café inside with fresh baked goods and coffee.

Later, when we tried to get on the Metro, we could not find a place to buy tickets, then the doors were closed on one side, then we had to walk more to finally find a working station.

I will recap:

I could not find my passport

The flight was late with crying babies

Our bus stopped running once we landed in Rome so late

I froze in the cold for 30 mins waiting for the night shuttle to take me home

I missed my bus exit on my way home because it was dark and the lights were not on…

Then I rolled over dog poop with my luggage! It was disgusting!

Went to bed at 3:00…had to pack for my new adventure to Sicily

Posted by snodgrak 14:12 Archived in France Tagged events Comments (0)

Going to Paris...Depression please go away!

Midterms. Then Fun.

sunny 16 °C

So..., I have not written in a while...because I have been writing papers, and studying. This program is pretty intense, and so for that, I have not been out in the city much. I have felt trapped in my room for quite some time. I still can't communicate very well with my Italian mother! She always thinks I am telling her different stories than what I think I am telling her! Her daughter told me to just stop talking to her and only do hand signals because we always miss communicate!

Over the past weekend I was accepted into Harvard for graduate school. I flew off my bed crying so hard as if I had fallen off my roof! This experience was different for me because I was in another country and had no one to talk to! I just sat in my room waiting for time to pass by so that I could call my mom and boyfriend in California. My Italian mother came in and asked why I was crying, I tried to tell her, but she thought Harvard hurt me! This is why I need to study Italian some more!!

I have been studying for my culture and sociology class this weekend, and I feel so lonely! I am just studying and all I can do is think about how much I have to do when I go back to California, and how depressed I feel that I still have 8 more weeks of learning left! I just want to graduate already! I didn't think my senior year would be so difficult! I just need to suck it up, and quit crying like a baby right? I never thought I would feel so sad over here..but it is kicking in just a little bit. On the weekdays I feel fine because I am super busy! So it is not that bad, and guess what?!

On Friday, I went to Celano, Italy. It is a small village that was surrounded by water, drained, and taken over two times for political reasons. The people there were so nice and sweet, not to mention they were all in their 80s! There, we (my class for culture) went to a castle and learned about the history of the village. I have figured out that Italians last so long in life! I met a man who was 101 years old and talking, walking, and laughing perfectly! It must be all the wine and cigarettes that they consume!

Last weekend, my neighbor took me to her small getaway village which was amazing! It was a six bed, two story house with green shutters and was made of red brick. Peering out from the windows was the water! It was so beautiful and sunny outside! The sand was dark because it is volcanic. I loved breathing in the fresh air and meeting new Italians for the first time on my own. Izetta's son took me with his family to their house up the street and had me over for lunch. We ate a three course meal with many types of meat, cheese, pasta, and bread! It was so delicious! Afterwords, we all went to see the Etruscan tombs. They were amazing and historic as well as the town! I learned so much as I walked inside ancient monuments where people lived B.C.!!! I found it absolutely fascinating to see how other cultures lived and how they believed in an afterlife.

I am off to Paris this week! After my last midterm at 2:00p.m. on Thursday I am getting on a plane with my friend Chrystal and going to France! We will be staying in two different places. I am super excited for both! I can not wait until I get to see the great museums and monuments over there! I will take lots of pictures and post them when I get back.

Next, we are going to Sicily for two days! Hopefully it is sunny and warm! I do not have a swim suit, so I hope what I bring will be fine because I can not spend any more money now that I am going to graduate school. I have read SO much about Sicily and I can not wait until I get to go into the water and see the small towns, people, and shops!

I am supposed to read three books before my spring break ends, but I do not feel like reading since that is all I have been doing for the past 2 months! My brain hurts!

Posted by snodgrak 12:26 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (0)

Spainish for 6 days, and 5 nights

Barcelona, Spain

semi-overcast 11 °C

Barcelona, Spain
February 6-11, 2009

Friday came too fast and I had crammed so much Italian into my brain that I was on an overload, and about to explode. Great news, I did explode! I wrote as much as I could remember on my test paper and continued to answer questions of a foreign language to me that made absolutely no sense. I had no idea what I was doing, but I pushed my way through until the end of the test. I was translating “I have sleepy” which is the correct way to say it in Italian, and “I make a photo with a camera.” Sounds odd, I know; now you get to be confused with me!
I completed my oral exam around 12:15p.m., and had a ticket to Spain roundtrip for me and my friend Mandy. We arrived on time and flew with no hassle. A much smoother travel than in America! They did not make me take anything out of my suit case, or make me wait for ever in a long line! Even when I made a mistake on typing Mandy’s name wrong for check in, they said we were okay, and let us pass! (I was really nervous about the name mistake, but when in Rome they say, “everything is okay in Rome, that’s the problem and the transportation system…”) We had to pay an extra 10 Euro to check in there and then an extra 20 Euro to take a bus to Barcelona from the airport. I did not mind, I was on my way to see another country! It was well worth it I come to find out!
We landed on the rocky cobble stone ally way as we flew out of the taxi that Friday night in Barcelona. Mandy and I thought we were lost as we looked to our right and saw hookers on the corner and to our left it was dark and abandoned. We continued straight as the taxi driver pointed out the building in Spanish. We saw a small bar on our left with loud music, people packed to the roof, and cigarette smoke covering the atmosphere. We just laughed and opened the thin wooden door. One guy, Mike came to us and asked if we were checking in. We said yes with a confused look, and he said with a smile, “this way, let me take your bags!”

Posted by snodgrak 14:02 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Intensive Italian is Coming to an End!


overcast 9 °C

Hello again!

Sorry I have been late on the blog...but like I mentioned earlier, I am so busy with school at the moment. Speaking of school, I take my final on Friday! Then I am off to Spain for 6 days! I am so excited to go to Spain, but not so excited about the final I have to take before my wonderful journey into another country.

Sunset riding the train to florence!

On the note of journeys...This past weekend I went to Florence (Fienze) and Pisa! Yes, I saw the Duomo and the leaning tower! I actually climbed the Duomo for 8Euro! It took me like 12,00093232 steps to climb and a lot of sweat to get to the top! But once I did, it was WONDERFUL! See the pictures below! The night we arrived in Florence me and four other girls booked a hostel which had pink walls and pink curtains in the room! It was awesome, you know how much I love pink! They also served us breakfast for only 3.50Euro (all you can eat). We found a great Pizzeria and ate there two nights in a row. I ordered a margarita pizza--mozzarella and pomodoro (tomato) for 5Euro. It was a big pizza! About the size of our American medium, but thin crust, not thick like in America.
On top of the Duomo

Gold doors!


We also ventured out into the night to a "Discoteca" which is what it sounds! It was a club with a disco ball, strobe lights, and more! We got in for 13Euro, 3Euro for the coat check, and a free drink. The Italian were so much fun. They all just like to have fun and dance with each other... Even the boys! I also loved watching how they greeted one another with four kisses on the cheek, two on each side. They are so happy to be alive in this country. We were able to walk the entire city because Florence is the size of a shoe box! Well about a 10 mile distance shoe box from where we were. I am used to walking about 10 miles a day, so walking in Florence was fine for me! Too bad I bought a cheap pair of boots that needed four pairs of socks because they were too big! Not too bad though...

Going to Pisa was fun as well, however it was raining (Sad face). I went with four other girls and we took a train from Florence to Pisa for only 6Euro! We took many funny and outrageous pictures trying to hold, push and kick the leaning tower. We also meat a new girl from another program and hung out with her because she was traveling alone. We went into two churches and saw the magnificent gold doors, sculptures, saints, and bones! Yes, I said bones! There was a small decorative box (it actually has a name, but I can not think of it at the moment) with a skull and two other bones on display of a saint.

Pisa, Italy

Going home was very tiring since we were running on 3 hours of sleep and took the longest train to Rome for 16Euro. We got home at 12 midnight, and I was out. The next morning I was very tired in class, but was held up by the coffee my Italian mother served me for breakfast. Usually I get tea, coffee, milk, and juice for breakfast! I do not know if this is normal, or she thinks I like to drink a lot because I am a crazy American! She only drinks tea or coffee! I also usually eat a soft bread roll with chocolate in the middle, fruit, eggs, and biscotti (I can't spell it...)

For lunch, I take my left over breakfast because I can never finish all of that food! My signora packs it for me, and it has now become a ritual.

For dinner, I have been eating an array of dishes! The other night I had pesto with pene pasta and bread, mashed potatoes, and fruit for dessert. Tonight, I served myself because she was out. I ate mozzarella with thin ham baked with a flat piece of bread. On top, I served sliced tomatoes with olive oil and white beans. She prepares EVERYTHING with olive oil. I am not a huge fan, but it is okay to eat. I am now used to eating it, but at first it was not that tasty (for me...) others in my program love the oil with bread and their meals.

I need to finish my late homework now because I did not copy it off of the bored today and it is now 11p.m. I need some sleep already, but I wanted to update you on my Italian adventure!


Sunset! Beautiful! I took this when the train stopped

Ciao until next time!

Posted by snodgrak 12:40 Archived in Italy Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Week Two: Yummy Food, Awesome Places!

Sorry I have not written much...

overcast 10 °C

January 28, 2009

I have been super busy, sorry I have not written for about five days…
(Tiber River on the other side of town)

Last Friday I took my first oral and written Italian test! I got B’s on everything. I am bummed because I studied a lot, but this language is very difficult for me. I noticed that I am having difficulty because I learned Spanish and now it is interfering with my words in Italian. They are similar, but not the same at all! Only some words sound like Spanish, but they are not spelled the same! Also, the verbs are extremely hard to conjugate. There are regular and irregular verbs, and at the moment…I don’t care what kind they are, they are all hard to remember!

On Sunday, I went to the Porta Pertase outdoor market to buy random items. I spend 22 Euro and got two sweaters, gray boots, a long black Mango (used) jacket, a pink scarf, and an “Italian” lettered zipper jacket that is blue. I bought the used jacket for 1 euro! Too bad the jacket smells like oil and I have to take it to the dry cleaners for 8 Euro!

(After a long day of shopping, we passed by the Colosseum to rest and ate bread and spaghetti!)

On Monday I went to school and had to get my Italian residence permit, and then I had to report my damaged luggage from when I arrived later that day. Since I had to do many tasks plus my homework, I did not go sight seeing.

On Tuesday I went to the Jewish Ghetto with my two friends. I had already been there last week, so I just walked there and then walked back to the post office with my friend Mandy. By the way, there was the best pizza in the town of the Jewish Ghetto! I am in love with Italy because of the great food!

Today is Wednesday, January 28, 2009.
For class, we had to pick partners and use the map to find a random destination in Rome! I was paired with three other girls and we walked about 2 miles south of our school. We walked past the Jewish Ghetto, past Chiesa Nuova, and crossed Tiber River. As we walked past the river, there was a lot of trash in the water. The water was also very thick looking with a dark green almost yellow color within the stream.



Once we arrived at our destination we found THE best bakery ever! I bought three cookies for 1.29 Euro and they were to die for! One was lemon with sprinkles wrapped in a flaky crust, and the other two were long crispy wafers filled with warm Nutella inside! If you do not know what Nutella is, you must look it up, and then try some! It is a hazel nut and chocolate spread (the consistency of our American peanut butter). I am now considering living in Italy just for the small bakeries filled with bread, pizza, gilato, and desserts! (just kidding)


I can not describe how wonderful the food is over here! the pizza is wonderful with flavors bursting in your mouth. Warm, melted mozzarella cheese with fresh tomatoes on flat bread. mmmm I am getting hungry thinking about the pizza! The gelato comes in about 50 flavors! All made fresh every day! It is creamy and thick, plus better than ice cream! They have Nutella flavor too, which is what I love to order! I usually pay 2 euro to get two flavors in a cup or a cone. However, the cones are not that good, they taste like card board, but I think so do the ones in America!

I walked to the Pantheon today with 4 other girls that go to my school in Italy. It was a sight to see! I can not describe it, because it is too much. Not even my pictures can describe it! The building was tall and huge, I felt like an ant in comparison! The inside was even better, lined with marble everywhere even on the walls! Inside were the two first kings of Italy too with fresh flowers on their tombs!
I have been walking about 3-10 miles per day; every day is different depending on if I have the right shoes, the right bus pass, the right jacket, and the weather outside.

Today I have a lot of homework to do for my intensive Italian class, so I will have to get to work! I have a weekend trip to see Venice, so when I come back I will write the details and take pictures! My four friends and I rented a car and are driving up north to check out the towns and the snow (if there is any left).

The local flower shop!

Posted by snodgrak 10:01 Archived in Italy Tagged educational Comments (0)

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