Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The End

Fun Fact: Adjusting to your normal life after an amazing trip sucks.

The last few days were some of the best, and I made a ton of memories. I can't remember if I've said this in a previous post, but I'm so glad that I experienced this i with such a small group of people. The smaller the group, the more you get to actually experience the culture. In large groups you basically just shuffle around and go to all the touristy sites, but with us, we had the chance to really dive into Italy. I also have to thank Dr.Tanta and Professor Matson for that; they gave us soooo much freedom.

When it came down to the last day I think most, if not all of us were ready to leave. Not because it was a bad experience, but two weeks away from what we're used to was enough-at least for me.

But once I was back home I really missed Italy. It's so hard to adjust back to American time after being in a totally different timezone for two weeks.

Yes, I was ready to come home, but as soon as I got back I found myself missing:

1. The simplicity and smallness of Italy
2. The food
3. Late nights with the girls/ the whole group
4. The night life
5. Being able to walk everywhere
6. The views/ all of the scenery

Even though the trip was only two weeks, I seriously feel like I changed. I learned quite a bit about myself and the people I traveled with, and about Italian culture. It's so different from America but I would go back in a heartbeat.

Friday, July 1, 2016

David Day!

Fun Fact: Apparently birds pooping on you is good luck. I didn't feel very lucky.

Today was David Day!

First we went to Bargello and we saw three different Davids-from the story of David and Goliath. Two of the sculptures were by Donatello and I can't remember the third. It was pretty interesting to compare all of them because they were each very different from the others. One David had the typical heroic build and made him look a lot older than he was actually supposed to be. Another was smaller and the age was more accurate, and the third was very, very feminine. We learned about the controversy that circled around that statue because it hinted at promiscuity and homosexuality, both of which were not acceptable at the time.

In Piazza della Signoria there is yet another David, and it is an exact replica of the David (Michelangelo's'). There is another David in Florence as well and it's similar to Michelangelo's, except that it is green.

Later on we went to Academia and finally got to see THE DAVID. After seeing it in pictures and on tv it was amazing to see the real thing in person. He was around 17 feet tall and made out of one block of marble, which is insane to thing about.

Dr. Tanta told us to watch the other people around us and how their reaction to seeing David, and that ended up being pretty funny. People kept averting their eyes (David is naked) and some people just smiled and made jokes with the people around them.

Each of us chose an artwork to present on, and David was mine! It felt great to learn so much of his history and tell everyone all of the secrets/not well known facts about him.


Italian Night Life

Fun Fact: When travelling to a new country you will look like a tourist, now matter how hard you try. 

Fast forward through our entire day, to about 9:30pm.

We decided to go out and see what Italian night life was all about. The night before we had actually gone out and walked around, getting a feel for what we were supposed to wear and where the best places were to hang out.

Italians are always dressed up, even if they're just making a quick grocery store run. At night specifically, the men are usually in tuxes and suits, and the women are wearing dresses and heels. The younger women usually wore shorter, tighter skirts and simple tops. They wore mostly plain colors-lots or navy and olive and beige.

So taking all of that into perspective, we got dressed up and after meeting our professors at Santa Croce for a quick send off (it felt like prom), we were off. First we had dinner and wine at Cafe Duomo. I found out that I'm not a fan of wine, whether its's red, white, or even a desert wine.

After that we went to a club called the Red Garter, and just walked in. Cat-calling is different here too. In America it is considered rude, but here the guys are a little different. Instead of yelling obscenities they actually compliment you (although they may still be thinking rude things).

Anyway the club was okay, but we left after about ten minutes because random we encountered the first set of rude guys thus far, and they thought it was okay to grab our faces and arms.

Then we went to a lounge bar, and finally we just walked around until we came to Piazza della Repubblica. There were lots of people our age there, and I noticed yet another cultural difference between America and Italy.

We were never carded in Italy, not once. Not even when buying alcohol. The drinking age here is 18, so at night people literally walk around with bottles in their hands, and even sit in front of churches and drink. It's not as big of a deal as we make it out to be.

Don't Worry, Be Healthy

Fun Fact: I don't like wine very much.

Today was our first full day in Florence. Something that was interesting was the fact that even though the nine of us were split into three different apartments, every single one of us had trouble sleeping the previous night. We all woke up at about three am (8pm in Illinois) and had trouble going back to sleep.

Anyway, we all met up at Santa Croce that morning and walked to all of the different locations that we would see throughout the next two weeks-Il Duomo, the Arno, and a few piazzas. It was amazing to see things that I had seen in pictures and movies, in real life.

For example, the Piazza della Signoria because in the book/movie Hannibal, that's the location of one of the murders. There were a bunch of statues there as well, including a replica of Michelangelo's David.

Another thing I noticed about Italian culture is how much healthier their options are. Instead of having a McDonald's on every corner, there was a sandwhich shop. And while most American's go to the grocery store and buy enough food to last two weeks, Italians usually go shopping multiple times a week, buying enough food to last for a day or two.

Their pizza was different too. It's a lot thinner and and has much less sauce. And the toppings are very interesting. For example, when we all went to dinner that night at a restaurant, I ordered a pizza with fries on top. There was also pizza with tuna, hotdogs, and other things that I wasn't used to.

I prefer the way European money works over American dollars. In Italy, there aren't any sales taxes. So you never have to fumble around your wallet to pay a $5.87 bill because everything ends in a multiple of ten. The only downside to that is the taxes are taken in other ways. You actually have to pay to use public restrooms, along with paying for water at restaurants, which is very different in America.

Walking in Florence... And Trying Not To Get Lost

Fun Fact: Florence is beautiful

After settling into our apartments we went to get groceries, and that is when I noticed one of the biggest differences between Italy and America (specifically Florence and Chicago). The streets are extremely small, only big enough for one car to fit in at a time. Therefore there aren't any lanes to distinguish lines, and people freely walk in the street.

And the streets aren't perfect squares/blocks like they are in most American cities; they curve, go diagonal, and even change street names randomly. Even though we were all given maps of the city, I found that the easiest way to navigate was to memorize landmarks. But if we did use the street names, nine times out of ten De Pepi took us a majority of the way that we needed. If we followed it we could easily find the eachother's apartmets, the grocery store, and Il Duomo,

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Airport- Attempt #2

Fun Fact: Animal Relief Stations are not what they say they are.

Today is the day... for real this time!

Obviously when I met up with the group my mishap was brought up. Then we went through security at 5:30, which only took about 20 minutes. Our flight wasn't leaving until 9 o'clock, so we had plenty of time to kill.

Like I said I've never flown before, so I've never been to an airport, therefore Miranda and I decided to explore a little. I didn't want to carry my heavy carry-on the whole time, so I left it at the gate with my professors (This is important to remember).

We walked from one end of the airport to the other, and on the way back we saw a sign for an 'animal relief station'. We got really excited because we think that it's an area to play with dogs for people who are afraid of flying. We follow the signs which lead us downstairs, past baggage claim, and to the exit of the airport. Definitely killed the mood.

We started to go back towards the gate, which meant taking the escalator upstairs. What we failed to realize is that you can't just go back to the gate; you actually end up on the other side of security. No big deal, we were just told to go through security again with our boarding passes and passports.

Ok cool, I have both of those things are with me right? Wrong. They were in my carry-on, at the gate.

So I automatically think that I'm going to die and never go to Italy because something always has to go wrong. After panicking to security they tell me that if I know anyone by the gate, they can just bring my stuff over.

So Miranda calls Professor Matson and long story short my stuff is returned to me and we go through security again, while Matson watches and silently judges us.

The Airport- Attempt #1

Fun Fact:
When you're planning on going on any sort of trip or vacation, make sure that you actually know when your flight leaves.

The trip to Italy is my first time out of the country, and I'm the first one in my family to travel that far. Obviously I was excited- so excited that I thought that I was leaving on June 6th.

When that day came I said my goodbyes (my mom's a crier) and ate my last 'American' meal at Portillos. Then I got a ride to the airport and text the group message, where the following dialogue took place:

Me: Is anyone at the airport? Or really close?
Lexi: At the airport???
Me: I'm here.... a lil lost though lol
Lexi: Nooo!!! We leave tomorrow

................................We leave TOMORROW?

I wanted to cry.

Good Lord, I was embarrassed. Who shows up to the airport AN ENTIRE DAY EARLY??? Obviously I couldn't stay there, so I had to call my mom, and I could tell that she had still been crying. "Hey, I'm coming back!" was the only thing that I could think of to say.