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

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Posts Tagged “Italy”

Fontana di Trevi: Tradition

I’ve done it once before and I continued the tradition today, on my last full day in Italy. Going to the Trevi Fountain, I took a coin and facing away from the fountain threw it over my shoulder.

As tradition goes, this should ensure that I will come back to Rome. A necessary precaution to take. I did it when I was 12 years old and visited Italy for the first time, and I will do what I can to make it work again.

No photo record exists, thanks to me deceased camera.

I spent the final day here walking around, getting lost a little, and soaking in the Roman atmosphere. Gelato, cobblestone streets, tourists, pizzerias, churches, ruins, and more gelato. I leave this country contented with where I am, what I’ve done, and in what direction it has pointed me.

Ciao, Italia, ci vediamo fra poco.

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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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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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?

Juventus Overcomes Napoli 3-0

Here are the highlights of the Italian Championship between Juventus and Napoli. Juventus won 3-0! It was a fantastic game (given that I have been won over by the ever charismatic Juventus) and I now make it my mission to see their games whenever I can. The most amazing goal of the game comes at minute 4:00 of this clip.

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Naturally, it would have been impossible to avoid the soccer fever, given that I already find it to be one of the most entertaining sports to watch. I appreciate this side of the Atlantic quite a bit more given that when I tell people how American football is a brutish, ugly sport for the weak of mind, I don’t receive cold shoulders, icy stares, or a string of words that are better left unrepeated.

What I remember vividly from the States are the complaints that soccer is just “too boring.” Well, to aid in the inculcation of culture into my readership, I offer hear a list of the ways to make soccer an enjoyable sport–advice taken straight from the actions of Italians.

1) Like the fans of Roma, choose one team to become a fan of. Then, despise all other teams regardless of nationality, skill level, or reason.

2) While watching the game,  work yourself into a great fit over every little thing that happens. If things are going poorly, lament to the heavens that all is lost. Then, when things turn around become ecstatic.

3) Physical movement: jump, pout, shout, storm out, clap, slap, don’t nap, bang the wall, let your head fall, shake your fist at the ref’s call, cheer, sneer, and above all bear in mind that you have now become very entertaining to your friends.

4) If your interested in learning a bit of Italian, the more vulgar side, watch with Italians.

5) Pay attention! In the fifty minutes that pass before the first goal is a subtly building tension that makes that one goal a thousand times more satisfying than the bevy of points we experience in every game of basketball. Hockey fans might be better equipped to understand this.

Of course, all of this cannot go without being said that Butler has a fantastic soccer team, and that unfortunately I have not frequented their games as much as I would have liked. Consider this a promise to see them more when I return!

Regionalism in Italy

One of the first lessons we had in this country was on the vast diversity contained within the various regions of Italy. Even within Umbria, the heart of the country, you can travel a city or two over, and you’ll find a new dialect, history, and culture than the one you came from.

Monastery yo.

Although it’s been a pleasure visiting the famous cities of Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice, etc.) a deeper connection is formed between me and the country when I visit the out-of-the-way cities that contain the normal people of Italy, the salt of the earth, if you will.

It’s always a pleasure coming to a “paese,” or town, and learning what differentiates them, what they are famous for, and also in what ways the other cities poke fun at rivals. Gubbio is one city that has gotten this roughest: called “The City of Crazies,” they are famous for being full of crazy people. Story has it that if you walk three times around a particular fountain three times, you become a “Gubbian,” and therefore crazy.

One of the fantastic views of Norcia

This Goes Out to All the Cereal Lovers

Comfort foods. That’s a huge obstacle to overcome when studying in another country. I’m fortunate, seeing as how my parents raised me on pasta, but I still miss certain aspects of the American cuisine. It’s very easy to drop into a cycle of thinking about food you miss, then complaining about it, which re-reminds you how much you miss it. I’ve seen it happen, it’s not pretty.

The key of course is to enter into the culture around you and appreciate that for what it is. You must throw out what you know and start anew.

My greatest difficult lies in cereal. It’s not possible to find Lucky Charm’s, Honey Bunches of Oats, or even Reese’s Puffs (OH THE HUMANITY!!!…alright Andrew, keep your cool, you can get through this. Just deep breaths). Thankfully I have been able to shed my past obsessions for the trends raging across southern Europe. Choco-Krave. It’s new. It’s gimmicky. It’s chocolaty. It feels like home.

It's Actually Quite Fantastic

The Prob-lution

I’ll admit, that based on all of this, class became quite dull. It was not the fault of the professors, I’m the one who asked for the full-immersion semester. And I would be lying through my teeth if I said that my Italian wasn’t light-years ahead of where I started.

However, when I arrived, I was challenged heartily by my classes. Since improving myself inside and outside of class, the pace of our learning has slowed as new students have entered the class from lower levels. So here I am, two weeks before an exam that will allow me to enter the next level, and I find myself incredibly under challenged.

What I have resorted to practicing and learning Italian outside of class. What this means: I am reading Harry Potter in Italian, which is a great way to see more advanced grammar. I’m also watching films in Italian, which is great practice for understanding. But above all, my skills are put to the real test when hanging out with Italians.

 

Class: A Snapshot

It’s been an interesting ride this semester. When I got here in the spring, I could speak just about…well, nothing in Italian. Honestly, I don’t think I can even judge how far I’ve come since then, because all of the days and weeks just meld together.

One of the most interesting aspects of this semester is the difference in routine. At Butler, I’m normally throwing myself into five or six different classes with a wide range of subjects or even departments, all while keeping up with a number of activities outside of class.

Here, it’s one subject: Italian. I have four professors, but eighty percent of my time is spent with two of them. That eighty percent of the time is spent in the same classroom. In terms of outside activities, I must organize them on my own, can’t rely on a generous university to walk me through my day.

But what does this all MEAN?!?!

Elevators and Shenanigans

I’ve been quite disturbed by one factor of Italian life: the public transportation. I have absolutely no problem with the system itself; it’s great for the environment, fantastic for a budget minded traveler, and is normally very efficient. I only have a problem with the people.

There could be ten people on our mini-metro for five minutes, and not a word would be spoken. It’s like all of the outgoing, happiness in their souls dies moments after stepping through the doors. I do my best to combat this with a number of jokes, but if I’m not getting cold stares from strangers, then I’m being politely asked by my friends to “shut my butt.”

So today, my dream came true when an Italian girl used one of my favorites in the public elevator. We entered and before pressing the only button for up (there are two levels), she asked, “Wait, where are we going?” I immediately responded, “UP!” and applauded her while expressing my relief at finding a fellow appreciator of public humor.

Thus, in honor of elevator jokes, I bring to you the masters of public comedy.

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