Sunday, May 8, 2011

forget what you've heard. it's not true.

Day 3 in Rome and I'm already worn out. After yesterday's 20 mile hike in heels, I spent today riding around the city's centre by bike. Now, you may have heard that everyone in Italy likes to do things leisurely. Either this isn't true or I am living with the exceptions to the rule LOL I think everytime we go somewhere, it's like being in a triathalon. I cannot ride bike very fast- it's always been a slower-paced, scenic activity for me. Hiking is not a common activity in the flat area in which I live. Neither is Nascar-style driving but I've driven in crazy conditions in MN. However, we don't just park wherever there might be room, in any direction, or on sidewalks.

Today, we got our bikes (mine rented) and rode to the Museum of Modern Art. It was 15euros and it had art from different galleries around the world. One of the pieces, Home For The Homeless (I believe) was the scariest thing I've ever seen. It was in a tent, and a separate exhibit near the artist too. There were dummies made out of garbage bags and wearing hoodies with REAL people's faces on them talking. When I got to the artist's exhibit area, she showed me how it worked- the faces were projected onto white masks. It was cool but FREAKY. Best pieces there, I think. Very original.

Then we continued riding around the city, along the Tiber River, through (in no order) Piazza del Popollo, Trastevare (my favorite & where the American University is that I was going to attend), near the Vatican and other areas I am now forgetting. We didn't really stop so the pictures I took are all while moving. We rode for 6 hours and I don't think I've had that much cardio in years. It was a nice, quick way to see the city though. It's very beautiful.

As for forgetting what you've heard: Italians do, in fact, wear jeans and tennis shoes daily. You do not eat gelato every day. There aren't THAT many people that know much English. Nothing is close to anything else. I'm sure I am forgetting a lot of things here but future entries will include more.


Friday, May 6, 2011


Salve from Italia! Yes, I will mix the two languages together here, or translate. The family goes to sleep at 9:30pm but know I will be talking to family and friends back home after with the 7-9 hour time differences. Plus we get up at 7:30am so that offers me an adequate amount of time to sleep.

Only problem so far: plug-ins. I have to use the big converter to plug my computer power chord into and my flatiron, which does not appear to work here. Frizzy hair from day to day- hope no one minds! Since I have to use the wifi downstairs at the moment, I can only use my laptop until the power runs out. I'm at 39% now.

Yesterday was really long, with being at MSP at 3:30am, flying to Newark on a small plane in a lot of turbulence and 19 people on board, and then sitting at EWR for 8 hours between flights. None of that is really interesting enough to describe in detail so fast forward to Rome.

We landed and were told that "since it is a nice day out, we are bringing the stairs to exit on the tarmac." So all 500 of us (or whatever) had to exit the plane outside and then hop on a tram to bring us to the actual building. There is no going right to the baggage claim- you have to go through Immigration first. Imagine several planes landing at the same time and everyone crowding to try to get through one of only TWO lines of Immigration to check passports. I thought I was going to be there for hours. Some British ladies that flew in from Singapore felt bad for me, being alone I presume, and brought me with as they fought their way through the crowd. The process for me probably was a total of 45 minutes and would've been much longer without those ladies.

By the way, not one single person here has had a stigma about me being American. The Italians *are* as welcoming as people claim and even though I haven't met any that speak English yet, it is still possible to sort of communicate.

The luggage turnstile took forever and I began to think my luggage went MIA after MSP. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to re-claim and check it in Newark or not but the tag did say EWR and FCO (Rome). Luckily, both of my suitcases showed up and only 1 thing in my bag exploded/had a mishap- my eyeshadow pallet. I hadn't even thought to put that in a separate baggie from my cosmetics case. Anyway, I wasn't sure where I was supposed to meet my family and had already passed a few people holding signs. I ventured outside and low and behold, there was my Italian dad, Mossimo, with a sign reading my name. He knew who I was right away and he, along with mom Alessia and the youngest boy, Filippo greeted me. We hopped in the car to get some breakfast and since I'm not a coffee connesseur yet, I ordered a standard cappuccino and brioche (a croissant). The guys working at the bar, which is their coffee shop, were about my age and the one making my cappuccino drew a heart in it for "the American" HAHA! I did take a picture of that via iPhone so I'll add it to this post later.

Then we were off to the polizia with a copy of my passport, I gathered to report I was living here as a temporary citizen. The Romans really do drive as crazy as everyone says; there are no stoplights and the few stop signs you see are not obeyed. It is pretty much every man for himself on the road. They also do not care if you are a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Almost all of the cars I saw were small Fiats, except the one I will be driving, which is a Mercedes. I was starting to feel a bit ill during the ride with all the craziness on the road and some jetlag but we only had one more stop to get a SIM card for my international phone.

After that, we made it to the house. It's really a bunch of houses built around gardens with a building in the center of it. I'm not sure what that is yet. My bedroom is on the top floor and the French doors to the balcony open up to the garden, which is my favorite part so far. I also have use of a walk-in closet, my own desk & chair, and my king-sized bed. I showered, put away my clothes, and then took a nap. The family was out running errands so I could rest a bit and settle in. I'm not positive how long I napped but I believe it was about 4 hours (and seemed like 30 minutes).

I walked downstairs and Mossimo and Fillipo were down there, waiting for the other boys and Alessia to come in from buying vegetables. The family eats organically, which is awesome. I said ciao to the other two boys, Tomasso and Edouardo and they showed me some Italian singers on youtube. One was a rapper and I wrote his name down because he was too funny. Then I cut some strawberries for dinner and a torta (pie) that we will be bringing to a party tomorrow. I'm not clear on the details for that yet but I think we are going to the Mediterranean Sea first and then the party. Dinner was really good and all new things I'd never had before. I think 3 of the items were meat, there were homemade fries and then greens and bread. We had strawberries with freshly squeezed lemon juice and brown sugar over them. Those were delicious.

After I helped clean up from dinner, I got out the tshirts I brought everyone. They were all perfect-size and the boys wanted to sleep in theirs. They usually go to sleep at 8:30pm and the parents 9:30 or a bit after. We will get up at 7:30am tomorrow.

My first impression of the outskirts of Rome is that I love it. Passing by the shops and cute elderly people and everyone seeming to know everyone else was fun to see. I got to see some Mussolini-era buildings near the polizia. That's all I have for my first update, other than the fact to say I am getting tired. At home, it would only be 3:16pm! It is 10:16 here!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It is cruel, you know, that life should be so beautiful.

In about 30 hours, I will begin my descent into the mysterious skies, en route to Rome with a layover in Newark. This moment has been a long time in the making and it still isn't sinking in, as I sit here with stuff thrown everywhere but my suitcases. I'm not sure why it doesn't just pack itself.

As I sit in the President's Club at EWR, I think that is the moment when it will all become real. No, not even the first plane ride but the one over the Atlantic, when all you see out the window on an overnight flight is the darkness below. By the way, I will be wifi-ing it up from that airport for 8 hours so some of you better be online to keep me company LOL

In Italy I'll most likely use my computer in the morning or later at night (Rome time), since I work late afternoons/evenings over there. I will be teaching English to 3 boys, ages 10, 7 and 4. Hopefully, they'll help me with my Italian too! I am doing a homestay so I can fully immerse myself into the Italian culture. My family there eats organically and they also own a ristorante/pizzaria! I will be living near the Vatican, just across the highway from the Vatican gardens. There's so much to see in just that city alone that I know I won't cover it all.

Now, I had been planning this 3-month homestay with a possible Visa extension/residency if I really became attached. That's why I've called it a move. I wasn't sure if I was actually coming back for good or just long enough to tie loose ends, grab my cats (to bring over) and spend time with family and friends once again before going back. You can't really plan such things. Well you can but life always has a funny way of turning out.

I'm finally trying to take life one day at a time, instead of laying everything out and being disappointed if things changed. Tonight, while incredibly happy, I'm also extremely bummed. Life shouldn't be like that- always having to take the extremely best of the best with the worst. I'm not sure if anyone else has made that observation but I've known this for years. Things don't just get handed to you without a huge obstacle.

In the overall picture, the obstacle I encountered tonight is just a small part of what my life will be like for the next few months. We will cross the bridge of everything else when we get to it. This point in time is when I'm reorganizing my life so I'm not just living to live. I will do the things I say I want to do. I will go where I want to go. I'll take the good with the bad and eventually realize, it all turns out in the end.

Make it happen.