Andrew ’13 RSS feed

About Me:

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

Check us out on Facebook Follow us on Twitter! Butler's YouTube Channel Chat with a Student

Posts Tagged “travel”

Flyin’ Thru Lightnin’

I should have known that my luck was too good when I got onto my flight from Roma Fiumincino Airport to Toronto to find a half empty airplane. I had to seats next to a window. I was living the life: I took a nap, read a note that I had written to myself at the beginning of the semester, and watched “Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy.” That last one comes highly recommended.

My luck failed me on the second flight to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. The plane was twice as small and packed to the water closets. It was here that I received a forceful reminder of the American norm. I was surrounded by business men who spent the majority of their time on their Blackberry’s, loud voiced and all just a bit overweight. I’d say culture shock, but it felt more like culture punch.

Sleeping through much of the flight, I caught bits of ominous announcements concerning “weather” and “delay.” Maybe I had hoped it was a dream, or part of my worsening sickness (when I wasn’t coughing I was blowing my nose into used tissues), but I figured I must have heard them wrong. Until we landed.

“Welcome to the Indianapolis Airport.”

Muttering multi-lingual curses I strained my ears to discern the problem. Storm. Hail. Redirecting. What had been planned as a two-hour flight was deteriorating into a four, maybe five hour flight.

The situation was redeemed when, during the return flight, we flew through a lightning storm. As odd as that sounds, I had been hoping for a lightning storm for four months and this was more than I could have asked for. Staring transfixed at the searing, undulating flares of light I remembered that there was some beautiful aspects to this land. The fact that this may turn into a fitting “silver lining” metaphor does not bother me one bit. YouTube Preview Image

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.

Andrew? Andrew? …Beuller?

I’m coming to the end of my semester here in Italy. Well, quasi-end. I’m actually about to take final exams, but I will still have one more month of classes, which I will take at the next level (B2 instead of B1 which I have been in for the next semester).

And I must say that I am quite ready for the change. I made the decision before I came to study solely language here in Italy, and it has gone fantastically. However, there were a few things I didn’t account for:

It's certainly not the most brightly decorated room either.

-1 subject, as compared to the 5 or 6 I normally have at Butler University
-4 teachers, with 80% of my time spent with two of them
-Also, 80% of my time spent in the same classroom
-When I arrived, I was way behind. After three months of speaking Italian on a regular basis and devoting all of my studies to the language, I’m way ahead.

So I have my two final exams this week (Wednesday and Thursday) and how did I decide to spend the weekend studying? Well naturally I took a trip to Lake Trasimeno a half hour away from Perugia with my two American friends and two Korean friends. What proceeded was a lovely day of cultural exchange, a good amount spoken in Italian, all while appreciating the quaint town resting on its banks. (Turns out the Koreans have a game almost identical to Rock, Paper, Scizzors, but when you lose you get flicked in the head. On a related note, my forehead is sore.)

But all of this drives me to a slightly longer post today than the usual. For a period of the semester I was frustrated with the pace of my learning. With my friends, we would always imagine ways in which our learning might be quickened. Part of this comes from a massive stress that I am certain falls on every  student who decides to go abroad. The problem is simple. There is a infinite number of opportunities to pursue, yet all of them are limited by two thing: time and money.

The greatest stress for me is that all of Europe’s experiences are only a decision away, yet I know that I shouldn’t because if I, say, decide to take a train to Switzerland this weekend, I won’t have the time to go to Palermo at the end of April as I am also planning. At the same time, I couldn’t stand the thought of spending a weekend relaxing in my room, appreciating the city that I’m staying in. Why is that? Because I have only been given four months to live here, and I would feel as if I were wasting the little time I have. As it is, I have accepted that I will only spend my trips inside of Italy, to save on costs but also to enter as completely as possible into this culture that I have invested a semester of my collegiate career into.

NOSTALGIA!!!

Two weeks ago I became so dispirited (as my bank account plummeted viciously) that I longed for the weekends at Butler where I could just lounge on the mall for hours without worry. Yet, simultaneously with this thought is the realization that when I return to the mall, I will miss the hill country of Umbria.

In somma, I have had to deal with a number of disappointments, either with too-slow classes or too-limited travel plans. In the end, I need to accept all of this. Why? If I fail in this, I will end up tainting my entire experience with negativity. Attitude makes or breaks an experience. And always I can appreciate that I have so many opportunities available to me that I can’t take in all of them. Any economics class will teach you about cost-benefit analysis. As I enter into the final stretch of lessons, final stretch of time here, I’ve promised to myself to keep a positive attitude. Without this, I met as well as remain in my room for the remainder of my time here.

It's like this Bacione. If I tried to eat it all, I'd have a stomach ache! As they say, don't bite off more than your digestive system can handle.

 

 

The Beach

Spring arrives, and I did everything I could to live it up. As I already mentioned, when I visited Rome, I spent a day with my friends at Ostia, a beach city an hour outside of Rome.

Bellissima!! In typical American fashion, we threw around a frisbee on the beach, which is always my favorite because it doesn’t take a second thought to dive for a sick catch. Sand doesn’t hurt (it just gets everywhere).

Then we settled into some more clichéd activities, such as collecting shells, soaking up the sun, and taking photos of the local graffiti. Okay, so maybe they weren’t all cliché. But I think I can speak for all of Italy when I say that I am breathing a sigh of relief at the departure of winter and the coming of cool breezes, blossoming flowers, and inevitably short-wearing weather.

Rome: Travel Woes

You learn from your mistakes right? Well, a few of my friends learned quite a bit from a weekend in Rome. I can walk you through some of the snafus (and who doesn’t love that word?).

Traveling by Coach...Always Preferable

1) We arrived in Rome, and I stayed with a family in the city. They rented a bungalow on the beach about an hour away. They got lost on the way there, taking the wrong bus and advice from a crazy-eyed man that landed them in an unlit park. On the bright side, they found a lemon.

2) When I visited them at the beach, we wanted to take a bus to a grocery store, but after two hours of waiting, we took the first bus we saw back to the bungalow. Two seconds after we left, we saw the bus we had been waiting for pull into the parking lot.

3) These mistakes and others culminated in the final train back to Perugia being missed, which lead my three friend to spend a few hours chilling by the Roman Forum and Coliseum as they waited for the next train.

Tip: with a good attitude, any trip riddled with mistakes becomes an adventure.

Piazza Spagna: Reflections Atop History

I am blessed to know a family who lives in Rome, a family kind enough to take me into their home for a weekend, feed me incredible food, teach me the joys of cooking, and walk me through historical, religious, and contemporary center of the city while giving me extensive background on every church, monument, and museum we came across.

Not to mention every second was spent speaking Italian, a great weekend of practice.

The first night, I took a walk and ended up at the Spanish Steps. The night struck me with two contrasting images: the solid, imperturbable weight of the Steps, the fountain in the square, the cobble stone street all contrasted with the chatting tourists, couples enjoying the evening, and vendors pushing their flashy goods.

A Beautiuful, Pensive Night

See the incredible conclusion HERE

Manar

It’s like the “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants,” only with people of all genders, and pants aren’t a major player. I’m talking about the companionship of travelers, whether they’re local or international. Let me lay it out for you: it’s like going to a new school or away to college, and everyone is a little bit nervous, resulting in more open interactions (no one can act superior or aloof, since you’re all in the same boat. Or plane, for that matter).

The smoking booths we both found funny :)

On the plane from Chicago to Frankfurt, I met Manar, a 38 year old Palestinian woman who had spent six years studying to be a Pediatrician in Italy, and who was returning to Italy to renew her license after several years of travel. She speaks four languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, Italian, and English. You can’t make this stuff up.

So, for the three hours of lay over that she shared with my five, we wandered around the Frankfurt airport—which couldn’t be more bland—talking about whatever. We made fun of the German accents, marveled at the “Camel Smoking Stations,” and she even showed me her pictures from trips throughout Italy, offering pointers on places to visit. I know that I haven’t even reached my final destination, but for some reason I feel like I already made it.

Italy: I leave in HOW many hours?!

Because I am blessed with the incredible ability to put off worrying about something pressing (in this case packing for my semester long excursion into Perugia, Italy), I started packing within 24 hours of my departure. What I didn’t realize is that while I need to pack, it is such an overwhelming task that I often invent a number of minor tasks that I somehow justify in my mind as being relevant, in order to put off the hard decisions (do I need an electric razor as well as a regular one in Italy?) These events are chronicled below.

My room, as it stands now.

1. Went the the gym, got my buff on

2. Showered

3. Got a haircut

4. Listened to my mother telling me I need to pack

5. Napped

6. Woke up to my mother telling me to pack

7. Watched tonight’s episode of Modern Family

8. Wrote a blog

9. Cut my fingernails

10. Learned that my mother has become so disheartened by my willy-nilly lollygagging that she has started packing without me

It seems I must now throw in the towel, so my next post will most likely come from abroad. Ciao for now! (One last question, should I bring floss? Yes, I should use it, no I probably won’t. But I could buy some there. But it’d be more expensive…GAHHH!)