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One year more. It's going fast. Am I taking advantage of every opportunity? You betcha.

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Archive: April 2012

Ways to Spend My Final Days

Watching TV of course! But not just any TV. FOREIGN TV!!! [Enter triumphant music]. Okay, maybe I’m over-playing this [Ba-dum pssh], but the truth is I’m looking for anyway to channel [Ba-dum pssh] my Italian energies. And I’m not trying to show off [Ba-dum pssh] but if I don’t listen to Italian with the remaining days I have, I’m just going to screen [Ba-dum-…]

I found a fantastic show called “Nero Wolfe.” Set in Rome in 1959, it’s a remake of a series that aired in the 70’s. Wolfe is a big shot detective from America who has returned to Rome. From what I can gather (there aren’t subtitles) he is a grand fan of cooking and orchids, a bit proud, and observant. I didn’t see that last one coming.

It’s fantastic because with TV in Italy, you don’t need to own a TV to watch it. Every state-sponsored show streams live on Rai.it much like America’s Hulu. I’ve got my finger’s crossed that I’ll be able to find it and make it work back in the states, but there’s no guarantee of that. My search for Italian will not be in vain!

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Moving out time!

The two suitcases sat stuffed to the zippers and still a mountain of clothes weren’t going to fit. I sat on them. Packed in as many individual socks as I could. The furniture of the room encircled my four months of living turned-two-suitcases, leering at me with a forlorn emptiness.

Goodbye bed, goodbye room

Let’s put it this way. I’m sad. I’m happy. I’m looking forward and back and inwards. This has been an incredibly eye-opening semester of my life. I’ve expressed on several occasions that it has perhaps been the most incredible experience of my life…I’m sorry band camp, you almost made the cut. It was a tough decision but one that had to be made.

I’ve officially moved out of my apartment. I’ve still got a few more days in my apartment, but it has come with much heartache. One of those bits of heartache come from saying farewell to the incredible city that is Perugia. I stayed here for four fabulous months of my life, a city that I didn’t even realize housed many centuries of history in its very structure. I was given an in-depth tour of the city, and now I can still by the building materials of any wall in the city if it was Etruscan made (pre-Roman Empire), a medieval construction, or constructed by the Papal States.

Architecture aside, saying goodbye to friends is undoubtedly the hardest. Friends from America who, although living in the same country as me, will be difficult to see again or often. Friends from Korea (I prefer not to even consider the logistics of seeing them again). Italian friends, from Perugia and Rome. I’m not trying to brag (although it’s pretty impressive right?) just expressing how fulfilling this experience has been, and how difficult it will be to tear myself away.

Andrew! You told yourself you weren’t going to cry. Stay strong…You’re a man…

Preparing for…the End

What do you do when you’re running headlong into the future and then you come to a cliff? I’ll tell you what you do, you stop running. If it were possible to set time in reverse, that’s certainly what I’d do, but given that this is an impossibility, I’m doing me best to slow down the daily routine and appreciate everything that I have here before it vanishes.

Class these three weeks have probably been the most unreal of the semester. With only a week left of classes, I have none of the motivation to continue as I was before. And it’s not that I’m planning to bojangle (slang: avoiding things of a productive nature) the final days, but I don’t want them spent in my room reviewing all of the irregular conjugations of Passato Remoto. I’m still going to class, but I’m realizing that pretty soon my progress is all going to come to a halt. How do you deal with a change like this? I have yet to figure out. I almost feel suspended between the time of intense work I had for three months, and the final day or two of packing that will inevitably come before my plane.

As such, I have compiled a list of things to accomplish on my final days here:

1) Play Pool at the local pool hall: this is a dream I have harbored since the beginning of January, and have yet to realize. But it will happen soon.

2) Visiting the South of Italy: Will be discussed in future posts

3) Souvenirs for family and friends: Oh how I’ve worked on these, yet I feel far from completion.

4) Souvenirs for me: Weird to say, but it was actually quite easy to forget.

5) Goodbyes: To friends American and international, I am now fighting an uphill battle to have goodbye celebrations, say goodbye and thanks to everyone who affected me. The hardest part.

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Classes Registration: It’s Great to be a Senior

I registered for my classes this semester, and man am I loving my future senior status. For instance, I registered in the first time slot available (thanks to the Honors Program) and I felt like I was holding all of Butler University in my palm. Thankfully, my crazed fit of power was short lived. I really should never be in a position of ultimate power…what am I saying, no one should!

In these, my final two semesters at Butler University, I will be taking advantage of everything that Butler has to offer me. For instance, I will be taking two independent studies, one for literature and one for Italian literature. When I relayed this information to my friend who goes to a state school in South Caroline that has upwards of 30,000 students, he was amazed by the idea of working one-on-one with a professor for a semester.

Besides these, I will be immersing myself in a broad array of subjects. I have the time because I am quite ahead of my schedule for graduation. I have signed up for a class that will have me teaching creative writing in a local school, one that will teach me advanced techniques of HTML website design, Chinese (it seems about time to start in on my second language), and I’ve got my fingers crossed for ballroom dance. (The video below illustrates what I expect my life to be like with ballroom dance. YouTube Preview Image

Calling All High School Seniors!!!

I’m going to take a break from my normal routine of speaking on all of my doubtless fascinating stories and adventures through Italy, and focus instead on one wonderful person in my life: my sister!!! She is currently a high school senior embroiled in the internal and external struggle over the college choice. I’m writing, for her and others, tips on how to make this choice easier.

Obviously, we need to start from somewhere. I’m going to assume that at this point in the game, one already knows the basics of the school they want (student body size, urban or rural, liberal arts or specialized, etc). The problem comes down to those schools that are close enough in the external qualities. The secret is getting a closer look at what the school really holds.

Campus Visit: Obviously, brochures will only give you about 10% of the information necessary to make this choice. If you were to make a visit to Butler (link here), there are also many things to consider.

1) Professors: Meet with the men and women who will be instructing you for four years. If they have similar academic interests as you, you will garner more from their classes. Trust your gut: a professor that appears fascinating in a conversation will probably turn out like that in the lesson (and this holds for negative qualities).

2) Students: Meet with students, preferably in your area of interest. You will get the best feel of the campus from them: what are the classes like, what’s the energy of the student body, do they enjoy themselves on campus, etc. Not to mention that it’s about a thousand times easier to feel connected to a school if you make the effort to know the students.

3) Extracurriculars: You probably have an idea of what you want to commit yourself to for the four years of college. Get out of the academic buildings and see how the university shapes up to your expectations. Let’s say you were into rock climbing: I can guarantee you the the president of this or any Butler Club would love to meet with perspective students, show them what the life on campus is like outside of class and on the…wall? I’m regretting this hypothetical situation.

Dream On

I was sitting in my old Italian class in the United States with my Professoressa Lucchi-Riester and all of my old class. I was charged to be back in the states, because I would be able to show off my new found skills. Unfortunately, the rest of the class preferred speaking in English. Infuriated, I turned to my professor: “Ma perche parliamo in inglese? So esaurito con questa lingua, preferirei di parlare italiano!”

Fade to black-END SCENE

It was an Easter miracle! I don’t even remember the last time I had thought about the possibility of dreaming in Italian, but it finally happened. This is significant in two manners, because I hardly ever remember my dreams. Maybe once every month, if I’m lucky. But this one came through the fog and it wasn’t until an hour after I woke up that it struck me. I dropped my toothbrush and ran through the house, rejoicing at the news.

I take little credit for it. The only thing that facilitated this was being surrounded by Italian for Easter and Easter Monday (which is a phenomenon over here that involves an extra day or two off from classes. I’m officially a fan). Maybe, just MAYBE the language is finally penetrating my subconscious and working its way from a conscious thought to a subconscious reaction, like a mother tongue.

My only fear at this point is whether to see this dream as a prophecy or not. How frustrating will it be to return to an English speaking country? Will I be continuously exasperated? For the most parts, I see dreams as generated from the subconscious, not from some outside influence. Maybe it’s just an irrational fear!…Right?

New Classes

Last week the final stretch of classes commenced, and what a relief it has been. To give you an idea of the new velocity we’re learning out, here’s a rundown of the first week:

-Due to the time at which my schedule was given to me, I missed the first lesson. Three hours. In those three hours, I missed approximately five different past tenses, all of which I had expected to be covered over the entire month. On a related note, I am coming to appreciate the simplicity of English verbs.

-The difficulty of discussion has advanced: rather than spending the entirety of three months talking about what we did over the weekend (vocabulary barriers tend to deaden a conversation) we spent one class talking about xenophobia around the world and another discussing euthanasia.

-I feel the need to study! It’s a fantastic thing. The motivation no longer has to be entirely internal.

The biggest difference of all between the classes is the speaking level of everyone in the class. While before we had a wide range (skilled to barely uttering syllables) everyone is much more ahead, with the exception of our Australian friend Tim who is quite a hoot: maybe in his 70’s, speaks as if unaware that an Italian accent exists, but with a reading level far ahead of all of us. He casually dropped once that he’d read a number of books in Italian, and it shows in his eclectic use of massive words.

Metaphor of a moment of introspection

Other things going on in my life: I visited Milano, one of the most modernized cities in the country. It was a fantastic experience, because I got to see what a “modern” city in Italy would be like. Originally I had imagined grey, dark streets and towering skyscrapers that blocked out the sun. In fact, the city managed to combine the beauty of most Italian cities with modernity, transforming it into perhaps one of my favorite cities. Not to mention the fantastic Argentinian burgers I ate there.

First Mall of the World!

Beautiful Stained Glass from Milan's Duomo

Buona Pasqua!

I woke up this morning refreshed from a day of relentless traveling, rain soaked socks and backpack wearing shoulders to find myself in the shadows of the Piedmont mountains under a glorious sun on this, the most important day in the Christian world. Easter. Pasqua. This is especially relevant in Italy, a city home to the head of the Catholic church and with a high percentage of Catholics (practicing or otherwise).

To arrive in the north of Italy, I took my first flight with Ryan Air, which was expedient enough to Milan, with the only catch being that I sat through a solid hour or stewardesses pitching sales for all of the things that are apparently necessary for a 40 minute flight (headphones, caffe’, panini, and my favorite: lottery scratch-off cards). Our bus from the airport to the city outpaced the storm clouds sweeping across the region, and we scraped together about an hour of rain-free touring.

In Torino, the city famed for its world class soccer team, we strolled to a local church to celebrate Mass. Like every church in the United States it was packed beyond capacity. After asking, I found that there is no Italian synonym for “Chreasters,” but that the idea is well understood.

After a fantastic morning, involving a walk through the old Fiat factory-turned-mall, we reposed in the apartment of my family friends to a lunch brimming with the most delicious foods: meat balls in tomato sauce, zucchini, carrots, fresh salad, a type of keish made from nettles (it was counter intuitively good), beef filled ravioli and more deserts than my stomach could handle. All of this occurred with the Vatican mass droning on in the background, the soft-spoken words of Pope Benedict XVI blessing the world on this sacred day.

And now, with my eyes drooping as I resist the urge to fall into a blessedly-stuffed nap, I attempt to read a bit of an Italian newspaper, quietly amazed that any of this is happening to me, but careful to avoid questing a good thing.

Looking Ahead

I’m the kind of person who exists where I am. What that means is when I come to a new place I put the majority of my attention into dwelling there. I’ll frequent facebook every now and again to keep in touch with family and friend, or skype here and there. But ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I keep in touch less than the desired amount.

This normally isn’t a huge problem, but it certainly hampers my ability focus on Butler activities (such as registering for classes, looking for a summer internship), as well as life beyond school. I consider this semester something of a “pause” semester. I’m taking a break from the English classes, the Butler routine, and getting out into the world to experience…whatever there is to experience. Life, I suppose.

Yet certain deadlines pull me back into this world, and I know already that I’m approaching everything a bit differently with this new point of view impressed upon me. For instance, when I contemplate what I want to do with my life beyond Butler, my interests have expanded beyond the original:

-go to grad school

Cool. Irrelevant, maybe, but cool, definitely.

-write a best-selling novel

-become the American/Male J.K. Rowling

A commonly held belief in the creative writing community is that one does not go directly from a Bachelor’s degree into a Master’s program. A writer needs one very important thing: experience. Something to draw from for their stories. For instance, this past semester I read the works of a grad student who had served our country in the Middle East. Anyone can write about these wars, but there is a certain amount of credibility given to someone who has experienced said event.

On this point, I’ve broadened views for viable options post-graduation, and I’ve landed on the idea of teaching English abroad as a second language. Why English? Why abroad? English, as I’ve learned during my time in Europe, is incredibly widely spoken. I’m sure there are a number of historical reasons for these, but suffice it to say that English has become the neutral language. A person from Greece and Korea would be able to communicate, solely because both grew up learning English.

Being a native born speaker immediately makes me a candidate to teach the language; we’re in pretty high demand in some countries.

So it seems that in one fell swoop I’ve solved a number of issues, including how to utilize an English Literature degree, what to do after graduation, and how to keep traveling the world.

Of course, carrying out all of this will be a whole different story. But for now I can be contented with an idea of the future, as hazy as it is exciting.

I'm living on the edge!...of realizations

What’s Up In America?

Every once in a while I need to remember that a whole country is continuing on with life as normal without me. I don’t think about it all that much, but pangs of regret flit through me whenever I remember. Here are some of the bigger things going on/have happened.

1) Burger King delivers. Enough said. I already know the first meal I’ll be eating when I get home. And I also know where I’ll be able to eat it. ANYWHERE!

2) The Jersey Shore TV show still exists. This aroused a feeling of regret, but of a different kind.

3) March Madness: I’ll admit, without the Butler Bulldogs representin’ I probably wouldn’t have been that involved anyway. But I give them a tip of the hat: it was very nice to put an off year exactly when I exit the country. I’m sure they’re already preparing for the next year.

4) My youngest sister Maria’s confirmation: only days before I return. ARGGGGGHHHH!!!

Of course, it’s not all bad. I have managed to find creative ways to unleash my pent-up frustration. The picture below is a prime example.

AY CARUMBA!!