Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BTW...

The weather here is pretty warm and sunny today. After rain and cold all weekend. I think the weather went crazy cold just for me, because my roommate was commenting yesterday that winter was unusually cold and long this year. Which means come May 8th it'll be nice and warm here. Which is fine, as long as it is in California too =)

So I was reading my textbook, studying for my medieval history test, and in 887 Carlo il Grasso (I have no idea what they call him in English) paid a ransom for Paris to free it from the Vikings. This of course brought to mind the famous quote attributed to Henry of Navarre, Paris is worth the price of a mass, and I said to myself, Reva, was the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre indeed in 1572, or does your memory fail you? Well I finally remembered to check today, and don't worry, my memory served me well indeed.

lol =)

Thank God it's Tuesday!!!

Oh my God, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so bored in my life. I have no classes and so nothing really to do. Now, that’s awesome, I’m thrilled to have a few months of break between college and law school (notice how they are two separate things). But the thing is, this weekend I didn’t just have nothing required to do, I didn’t have anything for fun to do either!! The library closes at 12:30 on Saturdays, and that’s it for the whole weekend, so I couldn’t get any books. Stores have been closed all Sunday AND Monday because of the worst timed holiday ever. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store! And it’s been rainy all weekend so I couldn’t go outside and sit in the park or something like that and enjoy nature. So I’ve pretty much been ready to shoot myself. I have plenty of stuff I need to get done today, but I couldn’t do any of it all weekend, plus Monday! Couldn’t even get online—stupid university buildings were closed too. And so was the gym! Basically yeah, everything.

Now, I’m all for supporting the end of fascism in Italy, but come on, when we celebrate our independence we have sales and all kinds of things going on. They just stay home! And do nothing!! All the time!!! I’m just going nuts. Or went nuts. Thank God that weekend is over with. (Although I’ll reveal one of my secrets and say that I am actually writing this on my laptop on Monday in anticipation of posting this tomorrow, so I am in fact at this very moment still caught in the bear trap of boredom, contemplating gnawing off my leg in attempt to escape…but unfortunately the bear trap is only a metaphor and really gnawing at my leg would only result in really weird looks from my roommates and possibly a trip to the emergency room, followed by a psych evaluation. Which would take up a fair chunk of time…but no, I can come up with something better than that, I’m sure).

Ok, so in attempt to relieve my boredom this weekend one of the many films I watched was Con Air. But there’s always been one thing that’s really bugged me in that movie. And not even Nicolas Cage’s accent. No, the thing I never got was how on earth the man ended up with the stupidest attorney ever. (This stuff happens in the first three minutes of the film, so I’m not too worried about giving anything away) I mean, the man is out with his pregnant wife, three men are harassing her, witnesses in the bar could attest to, and he ignores them. Out in the parking lot, the three of them attack him first, he doesn’t even hit them til he’s already on the ground. Then, a guy attacks him with a knife and Nic Cage kills him with the same damn knife, in self-defense. And the attorney is telling him to plea bargain?? I mean, ok, maybe if it was Berkeley or something he should be worried about what the jury might do, but in Alabama? A man attacked by three others, responding to defend a pregnant wife? And the lawyer doesn’t think he’ll be acquitted?? Yeah, they need a reason for him to be in jail and still be a good guy, but come on, that’s just ludicrous. That’s just always bugged me.

Something I forgot to mention in my super-long recap of last week’s trip: When I was at the Vatican, to get into St. Peter’s Basilica, you have to go through metal detectors. Being Italy, this of course took forever. But there were lots of priests and nuns visiting too, and they had to be in the same crowd as the rest of us. Now, I’m just thinking, if you’ve decided to dedicate your whole life to the Church, isn’t it altogether fitting and proper that they should get their own special line? Like, I’m not saying they should always get special treatment or anything, but if they’re in line to see the center of the church they have decided to spend their lives serving, it seems like they should be able to get in a little quicker. Maybe that can be part of Vatican III or something.

Oh, and you know what’s sad? I can’t remember my cell phone number. Not my Italian one, that one I have memorized, but my real one, the American one. No idea what it is! It begins with 858…but that’s all I got. I start with the 858 but every number I can think of with that area code is either not mine and I know what it is or not mine but I have no idea whose it is. Either way, I have to turn it back on and check, because it’s driving me crazy. I did bring it to Italy with me, it’s been sitting in a drawer since January, which is so sad because my Italian phone sucks. I think as soon as I hit DFW on the 13th I’ll just start calling everyone in my phone book to celebrate the fantasticness of my phone and Verizon (which, however much you think it sucks, it’s way better than TIM or Vodafone or Wind, I assure you).

So I couldn’t go online til Tuesday, which sucks supermuch, and I now I’ll be gone for a week again. But, for a good reason, because my mom will be here! She arrives Wednesday morning, and so I’ll be waiting for her at the train station (you don’t realize how hard it is to coordinate meeting spots at generally unknown locations without the use of cellphones until you try to do it…damn Europe and us not able to use American phones). Then we explore Milan, then Torino, Cinque Terre, and Florence (and whatever else nearby we wanna see, like Pisa or Siena). We’ll arrive back in Trento next Wednesday, so until then you’ll have to wonder how our adventure is going (unless you’re one of the two people I talk to on the phone, in which case don’t go ruining the surprise for everyone else ;-) ). We’ll be in Trento for four days-ish, and then we leave Sunday morning for England! Where we will stay for another four days, and then finally go home. I have no idea if I get any internet access in England or if I have to do my wrap-up post from Italy. Yes, I of course have been pondering this. I have nothing else to do!!

I haven’t figured out what to do with this blog when I get home. Let it die? Change it so instead of just daily life I’m recounting my endless opinions, like everyone else, and report on how law school is? That wouldn’t be every day updating, though. So yeah, other things to ponder. You know, I never used to write when I was bored, but it’s kinda fun. Like I’m dictating to myself when I’m talking in my head, instead of just talking, which really makes it seem much less strange. Gives me something to do (checks clock…2:24pm…good Lord! This day will never end). I should do one of those running blog things…shoot, I can’t remember what it’s called, LiveBlogging, that’s it! I should have done that for this weekend. Except they’d probably have invented blog police just for the purpose of arresting me for boring people to death.

10:30am, ate cereal. 10:40 am, washed bowl. 10:45am, watched end of ConAir. 12pm, watched 10 minutes of strange Mel Gibson movie about farmers with Sissy Spacek. And so on and so forth. Yeah, that was my Monday morning, by the way. Cry for me. Of course, now I have to cry for you too, because I’m actually gonna post this crap. Sucks for you…but you get a week break after this, so you know, it balances out. And besides, you can skim this, I can’t fast-forward time! Although I was thinking about how to donate my spare hours to people short on time. Like right now, a 16 hour day would be plenty, it’s too bad I can’t give my extra 8 hours to Matt or my Dad who could really use them right now. But you see, I just come up with the ideas, I need someone else to actually invent the stuff. So someone reading this, who studied something useful in school or happens to be a genius, hop to it! But I’d rather you started with the teleportation machine, really. Now see, then I’d have had something to do this weekend! =)

Friday, April 22, 2005

It's cold again...the weather needs to make up its mind! (and choose warm)

Went and signed my last form so my grade is officially registered with the university...yay!! They have such a dumb system. Living here has made me appreciate America so much more, and I already thought we were awesome! But I've noticed with like all the Americans here that we all are so grateful for how great America is in comparison to the rest of the world. It's kinda bad, but we get really annoyed with some of the things here and we just end up bitching about how ridiculous some things are here. America has rules! It's such a concept.

Monday is a holiday, Liberation Day, so I'm not sure if economia (and thus the computer lab) will be open, but we'll see, fingers crossed. Yay for not being fascist anymore! =) Too bad the holiday means everything will be closed.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Randomness

Ok, I already wrote a whole bunch, but just a couple of separate observations:

Spring sprung while I was in Sicily for spring break, and all of a sudden Trento is gorgeous. It's green everywhere, there's all kinds of flowers (tons of tulips for Liz!) and the hillsides are green now, too! Who knew. But it's really amazingly beautiful. And all over Italy, wisteria is in bloom, which is one of my grandmother's favorites and always makes me think of her.

Is it sad that I would cry during an episode of Newlyweds? I mean, it was the one where Nick surprised Jessica on her birthday (he prentended to be out of town, but it was a trick!), gave her a puppy and all that. That seems to warrant a few tears at least. I vote not silly.

I'm pretty sure I'm getting dirty looks from people for typing to loud in this room right now. Typing!! I mean, for heaven's sake. It's a room with computer hook-ups for a reason.

We're still getting weird looks for wearing flip-flops. In mid-April! Very odd.

Our stalker has left me and my friends alone since they sent him a very strongly-worded text message. And my friend's stalker has left her alone since her roommate said heaven-knows what to him at a party one night. So I guess you just have to be really firm with them.

Ah, back to internet access

There’s always so much to write when I go away for a few days! So sorry for the superlong entry again. So Saturday morning I left Trento to go to Bologna. Liz sucks and so she decided not to come with me (she had “reasons” but she wasn’t in the hospital or anything, so they really weren’t that good an excuse), but luckily my friend Ashley, the girl from West Virginia (the only girl from her school here! Poor thing is totally lost in a sea of Italian craziness because she’s the first person to come from her school and thus is the guinea pig for the whole program) came with me for the weekend.

So we left in the morning and arrived in Bologna before noon. Even the train station is huge! I seriously feel like such the little small town girl arriving in the big city every time I travel now after living in Trento. We made our way to the center of the city amongst a sea of people. It is crowded, too crowded, imo. But I must say, they have nice public bathrooms that are free! I mean, they only have like four of them in the whole city, but hey, free is free! (the train stations usually charge) So we got to the main square and there is this big fountain with Neptune that is quite interesting…the mermaid-type women have water shooting out of their nipples, and if you stand behind and to the right of the fountain, then what from the front you see is Neptune reaching forward with his hand looks like…something else. I took a photo, you can see for yourself =)

They have two towers in the medieval section, one which is leaning and the other which you can climb. 498 stairs you can climb. That was some work. But it was a cool view from the top. You can see why it’s called Bologna the Red, all the roofs everywhere. But the best part is that you can see at the edge of the city all the greenery that is on the outskirts, and that was really pretty. The duomo (cathedral) was also really neat, and it’s huge! In fact, the papacy made the city take away the funding they were using for it and made them put it towards something else because it was going to be bigger than St. Peter’s. So in the photos you can see that the fa├žade only was done to the bottom third, and the rest is rather ugly brick and mortar. Unfortunately photography (I just spelled that with an “f” at first…good heavens) was prohibited inside so I couldn’t take pics of the cool stuff inside.

We also went to a medieval history museum, which was pretty nifty, partially in part to the fact that I just did medieval history so I was able to give my oh so fantastic descriptions of the Longobardi and other such people to my friend ;-) Unfortunately most of the museum covered the later medieval period which isn’t the class I did, so it didn’t actually apply that much, but it was still cool. I have some pics of that! It was really cool seeing the manuscripts and such. And I also took a picture of a dog statue—still man’s best friend, not much has changed in a thousand years.

By like 5 or 6 we were just exhausted from walking around, so we took the train and headed to Ferrara, about a half an hour away, because that’s where we were staying the night. Hotels are cheaper there, so we decided to do that. We got there a bit before seven, and it was still daylight when we set out for our hotel. Unfortunately the map I had was not fantastic, and the tourist office was closed so I couldn’t get a more detailed map, so it took us a long while to find the darn place. I had the street name right in the book but the map showed it on the opposite side of this one landmark, so we were looking in almost the right place. But I asked someone and we finally got there.

I have to say, so far Ferrara is at the top of my list of Places I Will Live in Italy if I Move Here. It’s small, a bit bigger than Trento but still kinda quiet and relaxing. There’s green everywhere, too. But, it’s even better than Trento because things are actually open! The gelato place near our hotel (which had mint!! With chocolate chips! Oh what a happy girl was I—it’s been so long, and that’s my favorite) was open til 12:30 or 1!!! (I say “or” because that’s what the girl told me—long hours, but it’s still Italy, so you know, flexible schedule) That’s incredible. And on Sunday, stores were open! And there was a mercato-type thing going on!! Just amazing. So yeah, Ferrara is like Trento, only better. She says after a day and a half of exposure, but still.

So on Sunday we went to the castle they have there, which belonged to the Este family and was pretty neat. We got to go in the dungeon and everything. It’s very different from Trento’s castle—here it’s just basically walk in and see it on your own, but there there’s a whole (trying to think of the word in english) kinda path to take, a set thing to follow, with TONS of written explanation, which was pretty nice. So we spent a while there, and then just before noon one of the contradas (kinda like neighborhood) did this presentation thing which meant we got to see people in Renaissance costumes doing all kinds of cool show stuff! It was really neat. You could almost pretend to be back in time. And, may I remind you all, no such thing as a history nerd.

We spent the rest of the day going all around Ferrara, and we saw a Renaissance-era house, piazzas, a really pretty park area (several, actually), and walked everywhere! The town is a bit spread out. Once again, we were dead by like 5 or 6. Ashley left Ferrara that evening, and I was on my own. I was glad that I’d started off the trip with her, because then it was like I got into traveling mode and I felt more prepared to do the rest of it by myself. I spent that evening in Ferrara again, oh and I had Chinese food again! Sounds like nothing special to you people, but trust me, it was like a holiday for me. It’s pretty much the only non-Italian food I’ve had since coming here.

Monday morning I left for Rome. I took the bus to the train station, because it was kind of far, and I took a bus that said it eventually went to the station, but not the one advised to me by the hotel lady, because this one came first, and I swear it went all over town before it finally got there, and managed to give me a mini panic attack as I wondered where the heck I was going. But I got there in plenty of time (mostly because I got up early just in case it took forever, which it did) and made it to Rome by early afternoon (1ish). When I got there I called hotels from my guidebook (sidenote—Andrea and Mike, thank you so much for the guidebooks from my last birthday! You guys super rock. They have been fantastic!) and the first five were like all booked! But luckily the sixth or so was free so I went there, checked in, and then headed out to explore Rome.

Speaking of guidebooks, I'll go off on a brief tangent, and tell you that one of my guidebooks is by 20-somethings written for 20-somethings, so they have funny stuff in there. Like the following passage: "Guys, any old notions/fears/stereotypes you might have of the ultra-protective older Italian brother are justified--I saw some guy get his ass beat by, like, five of 'em, just for looking at a girl too long." I thought that was funny. As a girl, I can't comment on the validity of this observation, seeing as it hasn't come up. I can say that they were right when they said it's hard for American guys to meet Italian girls, though, because my American guy friends here have had like no luck in that department, and say it's really hard. Ok, back to the story now.

Rome has no Italians. They’re all French, German, Russian, or english-speaking. I’m pretty sure. I went to look at the ruins and walked around all over, and all I heard was foreign languages. Even in April it was packed. Which just was not my thing. So I walked west into a neighborhood more actually lived in, and it was nice, like going back to Italy after being in an international amusement park. Saw some churches, etc. Continued all around, walking walking, and made it back to the hotel like 8ish.

The cool thing about my hotel room is that it had tv! So that night I ended up watching this tv-movie about the life of Giovanni Paolo II when he was still Karol, which I think was dubbed from English, but I’m not totally sure, because it’s like impossible for me to read the lips while listening to the Italian. Like all the names of the people involved were either Polish or Italian, so I was a bit confused, but I’m assuming it was American, because does Poland make tv-movies? Who knows. But let me tell you, life in Poland sucked under the Nazis! Not that this is news really. But two hours (part one of two, second part on Tuesday) were just WWII Poland, so we saw a lot of it.

Ok, so Tuesday I got up early and headed straight to the Vatican. I took the metro, which I remembered hating from years ago when I was there with my family, and sure enough, still awful! I waited for the third train before finally pushing my way into complete packed-ness. And some bitch tried to push me out of the way to get in while I was waiting for everyone to exit who was going to, but I pushed her back and got on first. I never did figure out what she and her overly-metrosexual husband were speaking. But I definitely hate her.

Got to the Vatican a bit before ten and headed straight to St. Peter’s Basilica. Here’s a little tip for you: if there are two lines, one for the basilica and one for the tomb of Giovanni Paolo II, and there seems to be no line for the tomb, don’t assume that that’s always the case!!! I went into the basilica first and a half an hour later (I think) all of a sudden there’s a huge line for the tomb! Hmph. But I waited my turn, and it turned out it only added like 10 minutes to the wait because there was a whole internal line you couldn’t even see.

It was kinda like the Indiana Jones line and Disneyland—once you get inside the building you think you’re done, but no, there’s another whole part of the wait. But it was only like a half hour total, so it wasn’t as bad as Disneyland. His tomb is very white. I took a picture, you can see that too. We were only allowed to walk past, no stopping, so I had my finger half-pressing the shutter already so I could take the photo (damn! Did it with an “f” again) quickly. Another side note—batteries are ridiculously expensive here, over a euro just for one! But don’t by the cheap ones from the cheap asian store instead to save money, because then you’ll have to change the batteries twice in one day because they’re so crappy!

Then made my way to the Vatican museums, and spent another couple of hours there. All told, I didn’t leave the Vatican til 3:30, which is a lot of hours, in case you’re counting. I proceeded to meander around Rome looking at more famous stuff, stopping for a while in the park to relax (which wasn’t so relaxing after all because apparently sitting by yourself reading is an invitation to come talk to you…sigh) and collapsed back home that night. I’d thought to stay in Rome the first part of Wednesday and then leave in the afternoon, but I’d managed to hit most of the sites I’d wanted to see, so I decided to just go home in the morning. I went to the train station to check the schedule for the next morning, and what should I find there but the very thing I’d been looking for, a grocery store! How perfect.

While I was in there I heard on the radio about the new pope, Benedetto XVI. To think I missed it by a few hours. That night watching the news, though, I was glad I wasn’t there because it was a huge mess of people, even more than during the day! And I would have not been happy stuck in that crush of people. So I watched all about that on the news (he speaks Italian well, the German accent is obvious but he doesn’t speak haltingly or have trouble finding words usually, and as a foreigner I admire that =) ) and then decided part two of Karol, un uomo diventato papa, which was all about Poland under the communists (now that the Nazis were finally gone) was just too depressing, so I watched Smallville instead (yay for dubbed American shows!) and just saw the last few minutes where he becomes Pope. I wonder if he was really as endlessly patient as he seemed in the movie. Because if so, no wonder he became Pope!

Wednesday morning I went to the train station a bit after ten to catch the 10:30 train, which was direct on the fast train to Trento, but it turns out I remembered wrong (Why didn’t I check my damn post-it??) and it left at 10:05, rather. Crap. So I tried booking for the next train, and the next, and the stupid machine told me they were all booked! I mean, I was looking at trains at like 4:30pm and they were still coming up booked. Which is weird! It’s Rome, so tons of trains, and to Trento??

I got interrupted during this panic attack by the study center lady, who called me to tell me that the director guy with whom I need to sign that stupid form about which classes I am “going to” take is actually coming into town the day before, so I can go in Tuesday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning to sign the form. Which means, I can meet my mom in Milan and be there early instead of late! Yay. After this I went to another ticket machine and apparently the one I was on before was broken, because this machine showed everything nice and open. Stupid thing!! So I grabbed a ticket for the 10:30, ran to the platform and got on like two minutes before it left. Sadly with this train I had to change in Bologna to an interregionale train, which is much slower and stops freakin’ everywhere, and was late of course, so instead of getting in at 3:30 I got in after 5. Hmph. It just pissed me off because I’d been up since 7:15 anyways, so it’s not like it would have been difficult to catch the stupid 10:05 train instead. Note to self, always check!

But I finally got in, had to rethink stopping at the grocery store because once again it’s Wednesday afternoon and though there are some open, the two nearest me (and cheaper than the one open) were closed. I don’t know what kind of evil curse it is that the time I always want to go grocery shopping happens to be Wednesday afternoon, but so it is. So I just came home instead, took a shower and tried not to fall asleep. I hung out with my roommate Cinzia a while, I love her!! She is so my favorite. I’ll definitely miss her. She is incredibly nice. I finally had an espresso after dinner, and boy did I have to add a lot of sugar, but not bad. My roommates were amused, this is the first time I’ve finally said yes when they’ve asked me if I want to join them (they do it every meal without fail…amazing). But I was still falling asleep after dinner. However, intrepid as I am, I sat down with my trusty laptop to write this incredibly detailed account, just for you. Oh, the sacrifices.

There are many pictures to see, as always, at photos.yahoo.com/berkeleybunny. (Picture notes—when you’re looking under Bologna, you’ll see something that looks like a mask. But that’s not what it is! Right answer? Chastity belt. In the Ferrara section, in one of the pictures inside the Duomo, it looks like the Pope is really sitting right there! But it’s really just a cardboard print with a light shining on it. Just warning you in case you got worried or confused. And Ferrara is famous for having its people bike everywhere, so I took a picture of the many bikes outside the train station. Also amazing! So many indeed. In the Rome section, one of the pics is just of an Italian government office, but I thought it was cool because it was built in the fascist era and so it has both dates written above the doorway. In the Vatican section, you can see the tv screens they had set up all over just staring at the smokestack indicator of the pope status, which sadly enough took me a couple of minutes to figure out what the heck it was. I mean, really, it looks like a spaceship landing! All I could think of was Men in Black. ).

And now today I have begun my week of relaxation and boredom before my mom gets here. I'm liking it, so far. But I know I'll go nuts without something to do before too long.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Free!!!!!!!!!!

So you know that really great feeling you get when you've just finished your last exam in spring and you realize your summer vacation just started? Well that's me today =) Only instead of finishing my last exam of the semester, I just finished my last exam of college. And instead of just going home, I get three more weeks in Italy to play. Oh life is good. I was told by a girl who studied here last year that classes here are a lot easier than at Berkeley, at it seems that way to me. I mean, I studied a heck of a lot for this test I had today, really, cause it was such a huge topic. But these classes, for most of them there's no papers, not too much reading, and you can take the test as many times as you want! I of course am just a temporary student here so I don't know what it's like if you actually have to go through all their degree requirements, but it seems to me that if you worked hard at it you could graduate way less than the five years it takes them (they get to be called doctor, too, after five years). But as I said, this is just my opinion as a semi-outsider.

I was planning on celebrating my freedom by going to Vienna and Budapest, but sadly 36 hours advance notice wasn't enough and the train was all booked. See, here's what I don't get: the Italian system doesn't encourage planning ahead (I did that for my mom's visit and look what happened! They give me new dates and requirements all the time), and yet when you don't, then the train tickets are all gone already. They are just mean, is my conclusion. It's ok, though, there's still a ton in Italy that I haven't seen yet, so I'll do some exploring here. Hopefully Liz can meet me for a weekend in Bologna or something. So if I'm not here for a while, that's where I am, running about in Italy, and enjoying being able to ride the train and read a novel without feeling guilty that I'm not reading a textbook instead. Because I'm freee!!!!!!! Sorry, not trying to rub it in, since I know most people reading this still have another month to go. It hasn't even really sunk in that this means I'm really done with college now.

Everybody have fun at CCR this weekend (or whatever else your plans may be)!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Still morning here...so not much new to say

So last night I was so super cool and made it to the store at like 7:20...but I'd forgotten that it was Wednesday and so they're closed afternoons anyways. Argh! Lol

And I forgot to mention, at the castle yesterday I was helping this group of british people, and we'd been speaking in English, of course, and after a few minutes the guy says to me, so you've spent some time in America, eh? Which just cracked me up. Yeah, some time, like my whole life. I told him I'm actually American just spending some time in Italy, rather. But I thought that was funny.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Last day woo!

Today was my last day working at the castle. Already! I can't believe so much time has passed. The people there were really nice though, and so even if I didn't get to really do too much of anything, it was fun anyways =)

You know those days when you check your e-mail and there's just nothing but a bunch of random mass e-mails you don't care about at all? And you've waited all day for your one chance to check mail and it's such a disappointment? (ok, the one chance thing doesn't happen that much to us, but imagine if your internet was out or something and you had to go to a computer lab). And then there are those days where everyone has written you and it's super awesome. Today is one of those days =) So yay to all you people who write me! Except for my medieval history professor, who responded to my e-mail conferming the exam for Friday, but told me that he's changed it from a written to an oral since it's just me. Now, he gave me a choice before and I chose written. Written!! I mean, it's one thing to think on your feet when you know the language well or it's on something simple like elizabethan theater.

But I mean, they killed each other a lot in the medieval period, so there are a lot of names to know. And dates, and groups of people. And come on, look at these names: Alboino, Autari, Agilulfo, Adaloaldo, Astolfo--they're all damn Longobardi, all within 200 years of each other, and I have to remember who was who when doing what! That's a lot to remember in direct questioning. I was really counting on being able to think while I did it written. So this will be interesting...I'm hoping, though, that since it's oral that means he'll go easier on me and give me simpler questions that what he puts on the written (he gave us last year's exam as an example).

Dammit, I wanted to go by the store but it's already 10 minutes of 7 now and it closes at 7:30. Argh. I got distracted forever because my friend and I are trying to figure out how to get to Budapest and we were looking up flights. Looks like the train is the way to go, though. I would have a flexible schedule except now I have to be back on the 22nd to spend two minutes signing another damn grade form for a test I did weeks ago!! I just don't understand them. And now I have to be here the day my mom arrives (she's visiting me in two weeks!) to sign a form binding me to the classes I've already finished! Which means my poor mom has to wait for me to take the train over to Milan, just because I am not allowed to sign this form any other day. Evil system.

Oh, somehow after yesterday being all cold and rainy, today is sunny and like 20 degrees. Of course, the day I remember my umbrella! But don't worry, I never complain about sunny weather =)

Tram left a comment asking about the Pope a while back, and I have to say, there was really no evidence here in Trento about the Pope's death. I mean, in church of course they talked about it, but the city itself was really no different, and certainly not empty because everyone went to Rome. It's been my experience that Italy really is in general passively, not actively, Catholic.

I had more to say (don't I always?) But it's flown away for now. So I leave you in peace. Maybe in time to run to the store! =)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Oh yeah

So my roommate has an intership three days a week which involves her getting up at 5:15 because she needs to take a train to a place two hours away, which isn't so bad because it's early enough that I don't really wake up, but to make up for it she's been going to bed super early. Last night she went to bed at 9!!! Which means I really can't do anything in my room. So I'm sorry she has to get up so early, but that really sucks for me too, getting basically kicked out of the room so early. Studying in the kitchen, not so fun.

Tuesday needs something special...like more cowbell

Today is cold and rainy, like it's been the last few days. It's like winter has come back again. I could not disapprove of this trend more! Plus I forgot my umbrella today. Luckily the rain so far has kept to times when I've been indoors, so that's good.

Last night I was hanging out with some friends briefly (two americans and two italians) and politics finally came up in more than a brief, avoidable manner. I'd been not talking about it, because I know that the people I'm here with are all really left and I just rather not get into it. But last night the guys brought up Bush and Clinton, and surprisingly enough, one of the italian guys likes President Bush and thinks that the war is the right thing because, as he said, Saddam and Bin Ladin are brothers. The other likes Clinton and all that, and then one of the American girls chimed in with my least favorite argument of all time, that Bush is more dangerous that Saddam and will kill way more people. I basically just said that I support Bush and then my friend Katie and I tried to change the subject (she's a super hippie too but also seriously one of the nicest people I've ever met and thus wanted to avoid controversy). But it just got me frustrated and reminded me why Berkeley drives me nuts.

But on a funnier note, one of the guys doesn't speak and english at all, and he was wearing a shirt with english written on it, and he didn't know what it said. Which may have been for the best, but we informed him anyway. It was the kind of shirt that has something written in the style of "coca-cola" but says something else. Here, instead of saying "Coke, taste the difference," it said "C*ck, taste the difference," and we told him he definitely couldn't wear that in the states because then the guys would be all over him. I think he was fairly horrified to realize what he'd bought having no idea what it said. Which was hilarious for the rest of us, of course.

Oh, something else interesting. I was hanging out with a bunch of international people last weekend, and I was talking about computer use with this guy from India, and he was saying how hard it was for him here because he's used to having internet 24/7, just like us, and here he just gets it at work, and that he has to get some sort of wireless thing because he can't live like this the next four months! I was sympathizing, saying how I hated it as well, and my Italian friend was just like, I don't even have a computer, I can't even be online more than ten minutes at a time before I can't take it anymore. Funny to think we have more in common with India than western Europe on this one.

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's Monday! I really shouldn't put an exclamation mark there

This weekend was full of studying. I feel like a real student! Sometimes I'll be sitting on my bed studying (cause I don't do the whole desk thing) and then I look around and my roommate studying at her desk, and I think, wow, it's just like on tv! I don't know, studying always looks so much more impressive when other people do it, I feel like I'm just reading or taking notes, which yes, technically could be called studying, but it doesn't feel like that much work, it's
just so damned time consuming. Hmm, not so much with the coherent thoughts this morning. Oh well.

So Saturday morning I got a phone call from a guy who had the wrong number again. Fine, no problem. Then he called again ten minutes later, but I didn't answer it because I figured he was just trying to reach his friend again and he'd figure it out. Then he called again ten minutes later, and this time I answered it, and the exchange started out the same way as the first call--he asked me where I was (??), I asked him who he is and who he is trying to reach, and he replied, and then I told him he had the wrong number. Then things took a different turn. He proceeded to tell me why he was calling, and I thought perhaps I'd misunderstood, so I told him I'm not Italian and I didn't understand, and he repeated himself, but no, I'd understood him correctly the first time. "Voglio fare l'amore," he said to me. Voglio meaning I want and fare being the verb to make or do. To which I responded that he needed to talk to someone else and hung up. And then he called back again! But I didn't respond, again. Weird, anybody?

So I was talking to my mom on Sunday and she was saying, hmm, what else exciting is going on to tell you? And I jokingly asked if anybody else was pregnant, because for the last few years (using my 2-7 definition, closer to the 7 than the 2), one of my cousins is almost always pregnant. And my mom has a terrible habit of never remembering to tell me this stuff. So she says, well, you know about so and so already...But of course, she didn't actually tell me this before!! This is like the third or fourth kid she's done this with. And she's known for a long time too...oh how sad, as soon as you go away from home the parents never tell you anything anymore. But congratulations to Michelle anyways! =)

Friday, April 08, 2005

*smacks head*

How did I not know that Brian's had a blog since September?!?! That is abominable. And he's in England now, too! I wonder if he'll be in London when I'll be there...hmm...

Five weeks from today, back on CA soil

I had all these things (well, like several) I meant to blog about or e-mail people about yesterday and somehow in the rush of things I like totally forgot them. Hmph. So anyways, yesterday I was talking with one of the girls who works at the castle, who is French, actually (she moved to Italy because her boyfriend is Italian, and she studies art history, so Italy is a pretty good place to be). We were talking about hours of work and vacation time, and she was saying that her mom, in France, works 39 hours a week instead of the prescribed 35, so that means she gets extra days of vacation, so she gets 6 or 7 weeks instead of just 5. Can you believe that?!?! She was asking about the american style of doing things, and she cried for us when she heard people only get like 2 weeks vacation, and they work unlimited hours when the project calls for it. No wonder our economy is so much better than theirs.

Today I got to watch some of the Pope's funeral on tv. It's kinda cool being able to see it live. It was quite a bit in latin (which reminds me: in my medieval history class the professor gave us handouts with excerpts from sources, and one of the times he didn't bother having the translation in italian, he was just like, yeah, I left it in Latin, but you guys can understand it anyways), and just packed with people. I saw President Bush on tv, too. I got two text messages (or SMS, as the call them here) from the protezione civile, which I assume is a branch of the government, advising me on things for if I go to Rome for the funeral (ie don't go alone, it's hot during the day and cold at night, etc). Which seemed kind of funny to me, the government sending me text messages and all.

(ah, my computer just shut down randomly on my again, but I hit "publish post" as fast as possible and I got to save all of the above already written stuff. Yay!)

At my gym there's a break dancing class some nights (I guess it's a class anyways) and last night they were in the room next to me, and they were dancing to "Let the music play" by Shannon (a song I'd heard many a time but never knew the name of before I just googled it). Which, if you don't know the song off the top of your head, I think is a really weird song to be breakdancing to. Not really a good "18 year old guy" song, says I. But then again, they're italian...they don't know any better.

Oh, guess what I've discovered is good? Cereal with milk. Yes, I've spent almost 22 years eating it dry, because I don't really like milk, but it turns out it's pretty good! Especially with the frosted cornflakes because then you don't have to add any sugar. So yeah...I guess there's something to this. Perhaps I should have tried it before. But then again, this is why I periodically try foods I don't really like, just to make sure I still don't like them. And what do you know, sometimes things change. Like cereal with milk. What a concept! This could revolutionize breakfast!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

It's hard to title a boring day

Ah, ok, so yesterday I took care of the evil paperwork and got into intershipping by 10, so not too terrible. Good thing I'm a fast walker! I worked with people I'd never met before, two brand new and one who'd been there before but has been gone the last few months, so that was interesting. Of course, I didn't get too much studying done because it's easy to get distracted and hard to concentrate...especially when people like to talk. Not that I talk, of course, I'm an innocent bystander who gets sucked into it. Of course, I actually do talk less here than at home, believe it or not, but that's just because of language restrictions. =)

Today I was there again all day, thankfully at the right time, and again didn't get as much work done as I wanted, which sadly means I'm gonna have to make it up tonight again. I hate studying after dark! But I suppose it's easier here than at home because I don't have tv to distract me really (we have one, but it's sadly never under my control).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Damn 9:30!!

So on Monday I e-mailed one of the coordinators here at the study center to ask her what I need to do to let the office people know I'm moving out of my apartment early, and she wrote me back yesterday and told me that I need to go in person to the office at least one month before I leave, ie April 7th at the latest. Today is April 6th, so I have today or tomorrow to do it. Problem is, I have to be at the castle all day today and tomorrow, in a show of perfect timing. So this morning I got up early to go to the office to drop of this letter thing and talk to the woman, since I have to be at the castle at 9:30 and any office should be open by 9, right? Wrong! The hours of this place are 9:30-12. That's it. Tuesday they're open from 2-4 as well, but the rest of the days, just 9:30-12. I was joking this morning about Italians barely working, but come one, people!! So now I'm just waiting til 9:30 so I can run into the office and get trapped in Italian bureaucracy and then run to the castle late. Which probably doesn't even matter, seeing as I am not really important to the running of things, and the people in the biglietteria don't even know that I'm coming in today, but it matters to me. Hmph. Damn office! I just wish I'd known yesterday, would have made life so much easier. Plus given me something to do other than study all day.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

No more medieval history!

Today I have spent most of the day boringly studying. I'm reading the textbook (finally) for my last exam, but it's not the best I've ever read, plus it's in that crazy language they speak here, so it's kinda slow going. Although I think that's mostly because I'm taking notes as I go (because I borrowed it from a friend so I can't/don't want to mark in it).

So here's your cultural awareness bit for the day: Italians cannot walk down the street in a civilized manner. That's right, they have virtually no comprehension of the standard practices you see in America. Like, when there are three people walking towards you taking the whole sidewalk up, the person on the edge does not hang back a bit to let you pass without walking in the street. They do not move, the whole lot of them. And they have no problems with banging into shoulders and just keeping on walking without a scusi to be had. Which just drives me crazy. But oh well.

Monday, April 04, 2005

And today, quick I promise

I went in and got the results of my cold war exam, and I did well! Woo. So now I'm totally done with two of my three classes and just have to panic about that one text next week. But the way the system works here is that I have to sign a form for her and she has to sign my little booklet of exams. A bunch of people lined up when she got there and I assumed in typical Italian fashion it was totally disorganized and just went up with them. I realized right as I got towards the front that it was just for people who said the "didn't have time to wait" and she was gonna sign mine and then she said, you have to go, right? And I foolishly, foolishly! said no, I was just up here because everyone else is up here and I don't know how it works! And she told me to go sit down. And then I spent the next hour and a half sitting there. Waiting for 30 seconds of signatures. Why didn't I just say yes?!?! I don't know. The memory pains me. Ok, now you can get back to my long recap of last week. =)

There's a lot to write about when you're gone for a week...

Wow, over a week without going on a computer once. I think that’s gotta be some sort of record for me! So even though I’m going to kind of summarize the trip, I think it’s still going to be a long entry…so you might want to print it out to read for the plane ride, dad. But on the plus side, I took a million pictures, so you can just look at that instead of reading everything and it’s practically the same thing. =) photos.yahoo.com/berkeleybunny, as always.

I left on the train Friday at like 6:30 to go down to Reggio di Calabria, which is the very tip of the boot. The train was an overnight, arriving at 10:30 the next morning, which meant a very long night for me. The first three or four hours I was actually alone in my compartment, which was super awesome but sadly got my hopes up for the rest of the trip which would be dashed come Bologna. I slid two of the seats together and it made a little bed almost, and luckily for me I’m short and I fit perfectly! I even took a picture of me lying down, before anyone got there. You can see it with the rest of them—terribly adorable, I assure you.

Anyways, at Bologna the whole train filled up, and so I spent the next 12 or so hours not sleeping because I could do nothing really but sit up, which I have to say is not comfortable. Around 6am half the car emptied out so I was able to lie down and sleep for a bit then, but my two remaining companions (well, really just one of them) was a chatter and normally that’s ok, but when I’m sleepy I just wanna sleep…but I had to talk anyways. Oh, tis a hard life I lead. So anyways I got quite tired to the tip of the boot and met up with Liz and a girl from her program named Gina (who I didn’t know before but she’s super cool, as luck would have it). And we took a ferry and a few more trains and finally made it to Catania, Sicilia, on the eastern coast.

Our stay in Catania lasted two nights, and was interesting. It was my least favorite of the three cities we really visited, it was just crowded and not too much to see really. Our hostel was really near this outdoor fish/meat market, and I kept slipping because I was wearing flip flops with very little traction and the ground was always wet, and knowing me, of course I slipped! Which of course provoked rounds of shouts from the guys working there. Damn flip flops. It was really warm when we arrived, though, which was nice. We went to the beach, but it was too cold to swim so we just sat on the beach and read. Which was nifty—I got a book by James Patterson, whom I’ve read some of his stuff in english, but one translated into Italian, and I totally read the whole thing. Oh yeah, that’s right. I rock. :-p

We had some interesting roommates in the hostel. There was a guy from VA Tech, so of course I had to point out that we beat them in the Insight Bowl. In a friendly way, of course. =) Then there was a really strange guy who was from Napoli (which, I gather from many an Italian, really explains it all) who’s been living on and off at the hostel for the last like 3 or 4 years. Years!! He’s 30, too. I mean, come on. He really liked talking to us, gave Gina a nickname and sang a song for Liz and kept having “heart to hearts” with me. It was…something to remember. =)

Then we left Monday morning to head to the Aeolian Islands, but first we decided to spend the night in the port town of Messina. This was a mistake, we gathered later. It’s kind of a terrible city, being a port town and all. And the Monday after Easter is a holiday, meaning that everything, everything was closed. We saw some of the sights, which consisted of a church “faithfully reconstructed,” but the highlight was when we tried to get lunch but the bar we went to, one of the only two open, didn’t have sandwiches (how can you not, she asks?!), so instead the guy brought us a “traditional Sicilian breakfast,” which consisted of many kind of pastries, something called granita (actually very good, kind of like the frozen lemonade stuff you can buy at football games), and then, to top it all off, a shot glass full of cream. Yup, just cream. And a spoon with which to eat it. Needless to say, we all felt pretty gross after that. We went to the movies that night to do something (only thing playing—Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, so Liz was happy), and then prayed for daylight.

The next day we made our way to another port town and then headed of to the largest of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari, on a hydrofoil. The Islands are still part of Sicily. We arrived that afternoon and stayed in the best place ever. We had a super cute, nice room, our own bathroom, and even a little kitchenette! So the whole time we were there we made our own meals and stuff. We actually were gonna stay three nights, but we liked it so much we stayed four instead. The first day we walked to a beach, which we thought was like a half an hour walk but forty minutes up the hill, we were only like halfway there. And I do mean hill. We ended up getting a ride the rest of the way from some friendly locals, which really helped a lot.

The beach was a disappointment, because it was too cold to swim, and there was nothing but rocks, so you couldn’t even lie down on the sand. We met a couple of locals and one of them had a super cute beagle puppy named Ringo (there’s a picture of him, too =) ). They were very nice, and gave us a ride back to town…after asking us to watch the dog for two hours so they could go to the gym, which we declined. Oh, there’s also a picture in there of a Scrabble board from when we played that night…you’ll note it’s in English, because no one else wanted to play with the Italian version. Anyways, see there, someone used Xenon. Was it a science major who did this, you may ask? No sir, no indeed! Heh, that’s right!

That’s one thing about the islands, there were dogs everywhere roaming around. But the thing is, most of them appeared to belong to people, the place is just so small and safe everyone lets them run around during the day. It was kinda cool. Anyways, the next day we took a boat tour of two of the other islands, Panarea and Stromboli, a name which should sound vaguely familiar. It’s a volcano, famous from a movie from the 50s, and pretty nifty. We realized this part of our vacation was like a grown-up vacation, with a kitchenette and boat tours and everything. We made another doggie friend on Stromboli, who followed us around most of the time we were there. He was really sweet and energetic. He went down to the water with us, and we tried playing fetch with him, but he didn’t want to play fetch, he wanted to play “go where the rock goes.” We’d throw rocks in the water, and he’d go where they landed, and then wait for the next rock. It was hilarious.

The next day we went to the island of Vulcano, also volcanic, imagine that. We went in this sulfur mud bath and hot springs thing. We were advised not to wear bathing suits we liked because the smell would never get out, so we went to the Target-like store and bought cheap underwear, little girl underwear as luck would have it cause that was what was cheap, and just went in that. Which meant we were all wearing stuff that was too tight…and nothing else. Yeah, I’m pretty sure those German tourists thought we were hilarious. There were five of us, because two of my friends from Trento were also on the islands at this time, and I think us trying to cover ourselves and laughing hysterically was quite the spectacle.

The last day we tried renting scooters, but the guy got scared when I said I’d never driven one before, so he took me to a parking lot to see how I’d do and gave me all of a loop and a half before deciding that I was not meant to drive one. Now, I’ll admit I sucked, but I think having to get used to controlling everything with your hands instead of feet is a big change. I think if I’d had at least a full five minutes I’d have done better. :-p But it was fine, we just chilled all day and read on the terrace enjoying the island view.

On Saturday we left quite early and caught a hydrofoil back to mainland Sicily and took a train to Palermo. The train was late, so we didn’t get in til after 2pm. Poor Gina tried desperately to sleep, but the guys in our compartment (who oddly enough are military guys from Sicily but stationed at Trento!) were big with the chatting and she was trapped in conversation. It was hilarious. We spent the rest of the day wandering around looking at many churches. It was pretty—I liked it a lot. And the duomo is super pretty. Again, there are pictures! =) But I don’t know if you’ll be able to identify specifically that church. I’d always imagined Palermo as a city just covered in palm trees, and it didn’t disappoint. Like, there not everywhere everywhere, but there’s a fair number, and several like “palm tree forest parks” around the city. So I was satisfied that my vision was correct. Liz and Gina had an 8am flight on Sunday, which meant they had to leave on the train to the airport at 6:10. Ick! I got to take the 9:10 train, yay, which meant I got at least a bit more sleep.

The flight itself was interesting—so much faster than the train, I gotta say. Italians have a particular defect, we’ve all noted. They are physically incapable of getting in lines. Everything ends up being a giant crowd of people pushing and shoving to get to the front, no order whatsoever. It’s ridiculous, we all hate it. Mercatos are just nuts! Anyways, somehow it didn’t occur to me that the airport would be the same way, but it totally way, which meant getting through security was like trying to get through a crowd of people trying to get to free money. I don’t know how they can live like that! I finally made it to the gate, but instead of taking the little gangplank to the plane, we had to walk outside to get to it. That’s fine. But instead of walking to it, they parked the plane about 400 feet away and then made us take a damn bus to get there! Which meant we had to wait there like 15 minutes for this stupid bus to come, and we took off like 25 minutes late.

Finally, though, I made it to Verona, and then caught a train to Trento an hour north. And thus came to an end my spring break vacation. Trento really feels like home now, it’s so nice to come back to my own place. I can’t imagine how good it’ll feel to get back to California! Of course, my apartment is gone, so that’s kinda sad. Now I basically have two weeks worth of work and I’m totally done and free! Basically all I have is another 30 hours worth of internship at the castle and my last exam to do, on medieval history.

I’m kinda worried about that exam, since I haven’t done like any work for it (since I was focused on the other two exams, and then on vacation), but I have til the 15th, so hopefully that will be plenty of time and I won’t fail horribly. And then after that, I’m free!! Yeah, basically next Friday and then I just have like 3.5 weeks of beauteous freedom. My mom is coming end of April so we’re gonna travel around together which will be super yay. I’ve already made reservations to see The Last Supper and everything. I really am like starting to be an adult. Of course, I’m graduating soon, so I suppose that’s a good thing. I realized on the train (or was in the plane?) that this test I have next week will officially be my last test of my undergraduate career. And it’s not even in Berkeley! Lol. That’s some craziness, though.

So sorry this entry is so long, but I warned you. I typed it at home and then just got it off my laptop, which is how I could spend so long writing this. Just think of it as making up for all of last week. Or read it piecemeal, it’s ok, I won’t quiz you on it. Unless you’re my mom, in which case, yes, you need to read it all right now!! But that applies to a very small group, so don’t worry about it. Of course, this is all the way at the end of the entry, so it’s possible only she is reading it anyways. ;-)