Wednesday, December 5, 2012

General Apology...

This was an undertaking that I was clearly unprepared for. I have since realized that I am a slacker who knows no bounds... As much as I enjoy writing these posts (truly, I do... I crack myself up) I find that not exerting any effort at all is just so much easier.
Spark Notes:
Europe is super fun.
Baguettes in Paris, beers in Munich, the inexpensive glory that is Prague, fake British accent and those red phonebooth things in London, salsa dancing and exhaustion in Madrid, truffles in Bologna... maybe I'll post more detailed stories when I get back to America.
But probably not.
(but it's probably best if you do...)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sigh of Relief

Dear Precious Reader,

I can practically hear you squeal in excitement wherever you are because yes, I am back, and boy do I have some stories for you.
I must apologize for my lack of posting... It has been a month since my last post, on my honor, or may I be chopped up and turned into soup. 
Let's start from the top:
My last post told the story of the adventurous adventure park and that, my dear friends, was my final day in Cortina.
I spent the weekend in Venice at the Biennale- an art exhibition held every year which featured both a film festival and an architecture feature this year. This event marked the beginning of my temporary job.
Carlotta and Nicola produce an architecture magazine called The Plan, and they decided to launch their new social platform at the Biennale this year. I went with them and functioned as an intern- handing out invitations to randos, putting up signs, giving out free goodies, and getting people to subscribe to the magazine.
Even though I was there to work, Carlotta and I did take a night off to visit the film festival... Zac Efron's new movie was premiering and we decided to get tickets. Unfortunately, the premier Zac was going to was already sold out, so we were forced to watch in the theater next door with the general public... how humiliating. So much for my plan to casually rub elbows with Zac, have him realize that I have "it" and then have him make me famous... Maybe next time.
I didn't even get his autograph! Ughh.
My Venetian weekend also included some museums, and a touch of sightseeing (Piazza San Marco at night... wow). We also left just moments before the entire Grand Canal was shut down for the Historical Regatta. The event has been held annually for thousands of years, so they're clearly still trying to get it to catch on...
Once back in Bologna, I immediately began working for The Plan. I created a twitter account, helped update the official Facebook page, and edited the English translations. Shameless plug. 
I worked for two weeks, taking a day trip to Verona in the process (that day requires it's own separate entry), and finally, it was time for my semester to start.
On September 16, I headed to Florence.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Aptly Named "Adventure Park"

August 27
I spent the day at the local ropes course (literally called “Parco Avventure”) and needless to say, it was aptly named. The park itself is a sort of obstacle course, but built into tall larch trees. There are many different courses, each varying in their degree of difficulty, but whether it’s the smallest course designed for 8 year olds, or the most difficult course available only to adults, each ends in a glorious zip line, making up for such discomforts as shaky knees and emasculating squeals.  
However, the afternoon’s story has nothing to do with the park itself, it simply provided the unsavory characters and unstable terrain upon which the story unfolded…
As we were going to spend the entire afternoon outside, Anna decided that rather than leave her dog, Spike, home alone, it would be prudent to bring him with us. What started as a reasonable decision turned out to be the “if only we hadn’t…” part of this anecdote.
Anna, being the most responsible/only Italian-English translator in our party, headed into the main office to negotiate ticket payment and the signing of the waivers, so it fell to me to hold Spike. Surveying our surroundings, Spike and I spotted an adorably friendly-looking black lab, so naturally we went over to make his acquaintance. However, much to our surprise, this dog was in no mood for friendly butt sniffing, and decided that Spike would make a better chew toy than a sidekick. I found myself caught in the middle of this tussle, tangled up in two leashes, and desperately kicking at Spike’s assailant. Carlo, seeing my distress, ran up and threw a sweatshirt over our foe’s face, momentarily disorienting the dog while he pulled Spike away from the scrap. However in his haste, Carlo failed to see the steps behind him, and fell backwards, breaking his fall on his arm. He eventually righted himself and appeared fine, but we later discovered that he had slightly fractured his right wrist, but Carlo is a tough grandpa and sports his new cast proudly (though he waited until we were done climbing before he deemed it necessary to visit the emergency room).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

America vs. Italy Musings

Aside from being offered cheese in place of dessert, there are a few other things that are rather different over here in Italia. I have been making special mental notes about them in the hopes of collecting enough to make an entry out of them… It’s a work in progress.
1.     Cheese: no matter how many times it’s offered to me, and clearly no matter how many times I mention it here, I still won’t get used to it. Coming from a country that specializes in junk food, it’s quite strange to be offered a hunk of bleu cheese instead of an Oreo and a glass of milk. I absolutely love it, but it’s still a strange concept.
2.     Clothes: this one requires a bit more explanation… In Cortina, the traditional clothing is similar to that of Germany (lederhosen and whatnot). However, I was unaware that it is still considered acceptable to dress children in such clothing on days other than October 31… What I thought was an attempt at irony, turned out to be a widely occurring thing. I will post a picture of one such child as soon as I can get one.
3.     Those 6 Glorious Inches: you know the ones I’m talking about. That small swatch of cloth that covers that critical area of man-thigh just above the knee. That tiny region which American males so desperately cover with long, baggy shorts, are paraded about by Europeans without any regard for common decency. It has been quite a culture shock.
4.     Food: it’s amazing. My afternoon snack looked like something I would serve as an appetizer for an esteemed guest. I think I’ll be okay here. 
5.     Snacks: there are none. I have taken to hoarding a personal stash of nectarines in my room, which I find I have to replenish every couple of days. It’s like these Italians have never heard of secondbreakfast, elevensies, or even afternoon tea.
6.     Humor: I hang out with a 13 year old whose second language is English. Don’t get me wrong: she’s amazing. Very mature for her age, and hysterical, but through an unfortunate combination of the language barrier and our age difference, I find my jokes are often lost on her. This pains me. Without constant access to twitter to vent my constant random musings, or texting to share my latest mishap, I find myself unable to share my more amusing thoughts, my most recent one being this morning’s realization: The house/ski cabin I currently reside in is constructed out of wood (duh), but the floors aren’t the finished wooden floors I’m used to from my own home, they have a more natural feel to them. This is great. It lends the house a very authentic atmosphere, which makes me feel like I should be yodeling with my pet goats. However, because the wood is unfinished, it leaves feet vulnerable to splinters. Unaware of this hidden danger, on the first night I was running around barefoot like some savage. Giovanna nearly had a heart attack, found a pair of slippers for me, and insisted that I always wear them when in the house. It wasn’t until I put them on this morning that I realized how ridiculous I looked: while Guido and Anna donned their adorable blue and red slippers lined with wool and embroidered with snowflakes, I was schlepping around in old, albeit comfortable red grandpa slippers. Without even realizing it, I would put on a skirt or a dress for the day, and then complement my outfits with my slippers, sometimes going so far as to rock my always-patterned socks with them... I cringe even now as I type. Though my father would commend me for my choice of comfort over fashion, my mother would be torn between fits of hysterical laughter, and outright shame. Thank goodness my only witnesses are people who already love me for my wit and sparkling personality.

Here, Where Dessert is Cheese

An Account of 3 Days in Cortina

August 24
A combination of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, interspersed with a walk into town with Anna and her dog Spike, and telling jokes (the same ones as the day before) with Fabio, his wife, and his little son Federico. (Fabio joined Carlotta and Isabella in America for a few summers as children)

August 25
A little bit of seasonal confusion after I went skating and drank the most delicious hot chocolate pretty much ever made. Then came a pizza dinner with Anna’s American friends who recently moved to Bologna.

August 26
Wait a second… it rains in Narnia??
Typical rainy day spent inside: more hot chocolate, and Anna and I made pancakes. Carlo and Giovanna had their friends over for dinner, and Giovanna made me try grappa… Apparently it’s an acquired taste (one I haven’t quite acquired yet). 

Side Note: I’m terribly sorry if my daily reports bore you, but this blog is not so much for you as it is for me. I plan to show this to my children one day, and I work with the material I’m given so calm down and go read Calvin and Hobbes if you need entertainment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

For Those of You Feeling a Bit Lost...

For those of you still with us: I’ve thrown a lot of information at you over the past few entries. Here’s some quick notes that I think will help clear up any confusion.
When my mom was a kid, he parents found an Italian family that wanted to expose their children to America/the English language. Naturally, neither couple having actually met the other, they both decided to do a sort of exchange: every summer there would be an exchange of children. This created a lasting friendship among the two families which is still alive today.
My mother became bestiezzz with the eldest daughter Carlotta, and we try to see them at least once a year. Carlotta and Nicola have two children: Anna, 12 (my little sister Olivia’s age) and Guido, 8. This is the family we went to Croatia with.
Carlo and Giovanna, Carlotta’s parents are still intent on keeping the child exchange alive, so when I decided to stay in Italy for the three weeks between when the family vacation ended and my program began, they were more than excited. I am currently living in their ski cabin, just chillin with the two of them plus Anna and Guido. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

My Life as Julie Andrews (with English subtitles)

August 23
My short-lived stay in Bologna was over. I packed for Cortina and Venice, and went into the city with Nicola and Anna.
While Nicola tied up some lose ends at work, Anna took me shopping in the city. Little known fact: in Italy, all the sales happen AT THE SAME TIME. Guess what time it was when I got there? Yep. You guessed it. Sale time. The two of us shopped for a bit before heading to her grandparents’ (on Nicola’s side) apartment. Once there, I met Anna’s great-grandparents, who taught me how to play a card game called Machiavelli, which is so super fun.  
Then came the 3 ½ hour drive into the Alps, to a little town called Cortina (home of a smattering of the Olympic events when they were held in Torino).
Anna and I then took her dog Spike for a walk. We ended up on this gorgeous hill covered with wildflowers, so naturally I started twirling and singing in a way that I hoped would be even slightly reminiscent of this, but probably ended up being more like this.
Then came the real work. Though both the children I am living with (Anna and Guido) speak English fluently (as do their parents, Carlotta and Nicola), their grandparents (Carlo and Giovanna, whose house I am living in) do not. Neither Carlotta nor Nicola could join us on this mountainous getaway, so I have found myself stranded in Italy, being forcefully taught Italian. (yes, this was the plan, I did intend for this to happen, but that DOES NOT make it any easier, and half the time I find myself standing there, utterly lost.). HALP.