Thursday, December 17, 2009

ho finito!

Some things never change, like my compulsion to speak Italian when I bevo il caffe. Or my compulsion to speak Italian in general. I could go on forever about la bella lingua, but that's not what I'm here for.

I'm done! (That's what the title means) All my take home exams are turned in, all my finals are taken, I sold some books back, I'm in the process of packing and cleaning the apartment, Christmas music is playing...

And I've been reading Isaiah: "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (30:21). Good stuff, especially since I'm still not sure what graduation will mean for me!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Singles and Couples Manifesto

After Wednesday's tardy snow day (while everyone else knew before school started that classes would be canceled, SNC declined to close campus until after I ended up going to my first class before I could enjoy a day off :) ), Thursday and Friday flew by. Today Andrea and I schlepped all of our finals materials to Kavarna to get out of the apartment and accomplish something. And I wrote a pretty solid manifesto on the interdependence of the human race.

Singles & Couples, the class I wrote this manifesto for, is my favorite this semester. We have been reading literature supporting the autonomy versus relationship of individuals and discussing which is more natural, how each one plays out in real life. After writing our initial thoughts on single v couple for class this week, we each had to take into account what our classmates wrote and expand that into an actual manifesto. Anyways, here it is:

It did not surprise me to learn that in the entirety of our class, no one wrote a manifesto on the complete independence of humans. It is clear by our collective thoughts we lean towards interdependence or at least a balance of autonomy and relationship, though that balance might differ from person to person. Caitlyn, Sam and I were the only ones who wrote on the complete interdependence and our manifestos each reiterated the idea of connection even when we think we are alone. Caitlyn writes, “Although one can be physically alone, one can never truly be alone.” The three of us commented on the fact that even when we aren’t surrounded by people, our thoughts are still influenced by everyone we have interacted with and any measure of autonomy we have is just another form of connection—whether to thoughts or memories or places influenced by others.

Jody, Chloe, Tess and Matt each wrote on the balance struck between relation and independence. Chloe believes, “the best situation is a balance of extremes,” while Matt and Tess each agree that the balance differs by individual, since, as Tess writes, “if everyone had the same balance of autonomy and relationship there would be no sense of an individual." Jody brought into the discussion Rainer Maria Rilke’s thoughts on autonomy and relationship: “I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.” These manifestos get at a piece of the truth, but I still believe they are too moderate, too balanced. They avoid the extreme of relation in fear that humans just might be completely interdependent. It’s a scary thought, that each of us is connected to each other, but taking into account ideas from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Michal Cunningham’s The Hours, it is easy to understand the essential connectedness of human beings.

Humans were created for relationships in all senses of the word: familial, brotherly and intimate. We rely on connections throughout our entire lives, from conception to even death, which is the only other shared experience we have with humankind besides birth. Sex, our most essential action as a species, is physically the closest people can get. Two separate individuals become one. If connections weren’t imperative for our growth and fulfillment, why would our most vital action involve such a degree of connection? As individuals, we form our identities through those we do or do not relate to. We are students in relation to teachers and friends or enemies in relation to peers. Clarissa Dalloway may have married Richard Dalloway for the sense of individuality she could retain, because “there is a dignity in people; a solitude; even between husband and wife a gulf; and that one must respect,” (Woolf 181) yet the title of the book remains Mrs. Dalloway, showing the reader that at the end of the day, Clarissa is connected to Richard. In fact, Clarissa herself articulates her undying connection to the entire world through what she calls a mist: even in death, she thinks, “she survived, Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home; of the house there, ugly, rambling all to bits and pieces as it was; part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best” (12). Clarissa even deems herself part of people she has not met, key in the connectedness of the human race.

While everyone seeks solitude at some point, they generally do not seek it permanently. Some solitude is even just a different form of connection—solitude with a book is connection to another world and its characters; solitude with only thoughts is a connection with the inner self and the inner self to the processing of outside stimuli. Those who would believe humans crave solitude at some point, who quote Rilke in his protection of the solitude of humans, have dismissed the first part of that quote which discusses the “highest task for a bond between two people.” Rilke admits solitude happens, but only in the sense of strengthening connection. I view solitude as an inner sanctum within the greater realm of relationship. Yes, sometimes we do things on our own, but we remain connected in our thoughts of others, in our existence within the same places in which others have previously existed.

Peter Walsh gets at this eternal connectedness human beings experience as he muses about Clarissa’s party:

For this is the truth about our soul, he thought, our self, who fish-like inhabits deep seas and plies among obscurities threading her way between the boles of giant weeds, over sun-flickered spaces and on and on into gloom, cold, deep, inscrutable; suddenly she shoots to the surface and sports on the wind-wrinkled waves; that is, has a positive need to brush, scrape, kindle herself, gossiping. (244)

Humans have that need to crash into other humans, to brush against them and connect with “gossip,” or any news of others. Even if we do this as individuals, we do it in our eternal need, eternal quest, for connection with others.

Monday, December 7, 2009

my brain won't sleep

On multiple occasions today people told me I looked frazzled. I don't know why; maybe it was my inability to make eye contact with anyone or the way I was always a little bit out of breath, no matter where I was. Today felt like playing catch up. Like I missed a couple hours somewhere, into some time black hole, and had to run the rest of the day to stay on track. For some reason I felt rushed the entire day and still I feel a couple hours behind the rest of the world.

The good (obvious? anxiety-inducing?) news is the semester is rolling (crawling? racing? I really have no idea if it's time or me moving slowly) to an end. Seven more classes, two more papers, four more finals. And suddenly I'm a second semester senior. I don't know if I should barf or cheer.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

almost finito...

Even though this week of school is only two days long, it's one of my busiest this semester.

I had a paper due in one class today a group paper/presentation in my other one. The paper was on breaching social norms. I did this by bringing a regular mug of coffee to class instead of putting it in a travel mug. I didn't mean for this to be weird at first, but people made comments about it so I continued my experiment at work in order to write the paper on it.

The group project was on the Oneida Community of the 1800s, which became the Oneida Corporation Ltd...yes, that means all of that silverware was first manufactured by a bunch of communists. Communists who believed in complex marriage (all men married to all women) nonetheless.

I just finished the paper due tomorrow morning for art class, the one comparing The Assumption of the Virgin to Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.). Then I have a book discussion and finally I have to do a lesson plan for my tutoring session Wednesday morning.

Then I can come home!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life Options

I've known for quite some time that I'm an internal processor, but for some reason I've forgotten that lately. My journaling--whether by blog or the old fashioned way--has gotten stale. After the conference this past weekend, though, I remembered just how much I need journaling to stay sane.

This past weekend was the Life Options conference in Minnetonka, MN. It was sponsored by Cru, so they provided a Biblical perspective for choosing our futures. I didn't go expecting to learn exactly what to do or to come away with my future all neat and orderly, but I was interested to see what they would say.

Because only juniors and seniors went, it was one of the more mature and serious conferences I've been to. Sure, we had fun--the emcee joked around, speakers showed us movie clips from October Sky and The Lord of the Rings--but they got down to business right away.

The focus speaker for the weekend was Roger Hershey, who I've heard before at Big Break. He's amazing and just a really wise guy who really emphasized keeping an eternal perspective. Other speakers and breakout sessions I went to discussed ways to not go crazy during this transition time and what the workplace can be like.

After one of our campus times where we each discussed things on our minds, I decided it was time to get all my thoughts out on paper. I had a hard time relating to the group what I was thinking, but in a jarbled fashion I pretty much told them about my contentment with where I'm at. During the quiet time I then had, I found this verse: "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you" (Psalm 39:7). It really summed up my feelings.

I don't know where I'll be in a year, or nine months, or barely six months. I do know what I need to do tomorrow though, and the next day. So I'll start there. It's like walking through the woods with only a lighter to see where I'm going. I don't need a giant search light, the small flame will do. I'll get out of the woods eventually.

If Grace is an Ocean, We're All Sinking

Tomorrow I promise I will write something about my weekend in Minnesota.

Tonight I need to share this song with you.

We sang "How He Loves" a lot this summer. We did it during worship at our big group meetings and my five roommates and I sang it around our apartment almost daily. I have the lyrics written out on a giant sheet of paper in my room now because when I read them it reminds me of the summer and I can't help but be in a good mood.

It's an awesome song, both lyrically and musically. Ask Andrea, I've spent the past week listening to every version of it on youtube. Here is the David Crowder Band version with lyrics.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Okay, just to make some things clear. I did/do not mean my last post to offend/discredit teachers or education majors in any way. I think that the idea of me teaching is just so foreign to me, I don't know how to describe this feeling that maybe it's what I'm supposed to be doing.

It's like growing up knowing that I'm not attracted to redheads. Not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with redheads, but just because I'm just not attracted to them. So I base all my dating experiences on that knowledge and come to find out I've somehow fallen in love with a ginger. Yeah, that sums it up. Growing up I just wasn't attracted to teaching; all of my higher education choices reflect the different path(s) I've chosen and yet I somehow still arrived at destination: teaching.

I promise I'm going to stop making a big deal out of this soon (though I'm not sorry that I am making such a fuss--I'm allowed to obsess about my future a little). Tomorrow I meet with a representative from career services so he should help me figure out if I'm at all suited for educating--and if not what would work better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've been looking at volunteer services lately, thinking maybe that's something I'd like to do after graduation. It's all a part of my grand plan to not get a real job (ok, not exactly that, but to not get an office job or a job that requires me to wear nylons). Anyways, these volunteer organizations are very similar to the Peace Corps, except they are all faith-based so most operate out of churches or other spiritual organizations.

When I first started looking I narrowed down the nearly 200 options to about 50 and just today I got my list of options down to 28. It's hard, though, to know which ones are most suited to me and which ones will provide the best opportunities for post-service. They are all between 1-2 years long, though there is an option to renew, and they all provide things like housing, insurance, a stipend, and this really awesome thing called loan deference. The biggest differences are the locations (urban, rural, domestic, international...) and the actual placement (healthcare, education, human services, youth ministry...).

I'm not sure if I mentioned this already, but lately it seems all I do is teach, which makes me wonder if that's what I'm supposed to be doing. My entire life I've avoided association with any sort of "education" background--going so far as to take offense when people ask me if I'm going to school to be a teacher or if I'm in English Ed as opposed to "just" English. To set the record straight, I'm English, emphasis in creative writing and minor in sociology. No education classes at all. And I'm completely pleased with my decision--in fact, contrary to statistics they gave in high school (that the average student changes their major 6 times) I never once questioned my major.

Slight digression. Back to me, teaching. I do work at the Writing Center, where I consult students. I'm teaching writing to a home-schooled teen. And lately I've had several people tell me I should be a teacher. It's weird. And now that I've been looking into these volunteer programs, there are several teaching ones--some that would provide me with a grad school education upon completion of the program.

I still feel like a move into the education world would be like folding my hand, saying, yep all of you were right, I'm going to end up teaching anyways...and we all know with my stubbornness it'll take a lot to get me to do that.

Oh, how I long for the days of there anyone out there willing to pay me/provide me shelter in return for a lifetime of short stories and poems?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday again.

This past week I was feeling pretty buried in school and stressing about life. My quiet times were rushed and skimmed the surface, but then I decided to revisit Ecclesiastes. Such a good idea.

This book is written from the point of view of a great teacher who has pretty much seen/done it all and finds that most of this world is meaningless, or vanity. He does find meaning in life, though. I appreciated this verse: "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God" (2:24).

Like this week: once I started letting go of all the things I was worrying about, things started looking up. I found a ride to Minnesota for a Project Reunion when it seemed I would be stranded in De Pere, my test on Friday did not leave me wanting to cry, I got a paper written way before it was due instead of minutes before having to turn it in...and I felt way more relaxed.

Then I got to spend the weekend with amazing friends! It was great to reconnect with my summer roommates, coworkers, and all the people I got to know so well. It was like we never left South Carolina! Eric and I even found a balloon from Ryan's (I'm still at a loss as to how it got there?) which led to shenanigan-reminiscing.

The only lament I have? Aaron Rodgers breaks my heart...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

wasn't i supposed to write a paper tonight?

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
yes, they are either open or closed.

2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotel?
yes, sometimes.

3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?
they always come out so i've stopped tucking.

4. Have you ever stolen a street sign before?

5. Do you like to use post-it notes?
i use them like a fiend.

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?
every now and then. most of the time we use our coupons.

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of a bees?
ew ew ew. that wouldn't end good either way.

8. Do you have freckles?

9. Do you always smile for pictures?
ugh...i always make weird faces. it's a little obnoxious.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve?
ignorance? but i'm a hypocrite.

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?
not that i know.

12. Have you ever peed in the woods?
i'm sure it's happened.

13. What about pooped in the woods?
ladies don't poop.

14. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing?

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils?
on occasion.

16. What kind of vehicle do you drive?
whatever kind people let me drive.

17. What size is your bed?
too tall.

18. What is your Song of the week?
anything by sufjan stevens.

19. Is it okay for guys to wear pink?
of course.

20. Do you still watch cartoons?
sometimes, yes...

21. Whats your least favorite movie?
alien vs. predator

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?
in my bank account. :)

23. What do you drink with dinner?
water. milk. more water.

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in?
no nuggets for me!

25. What is your favorite food?

26. What movies could you watch over and over and still love?
The Little Mermaid? Pride and Prejudice.

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you?
mom/dad before coming back to school

28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?

29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
Friday night! to Marina.

31. Can you change the oil on a car?
in theory.

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket?

33. Ran out of gas?

34. Favorite kind of sandwich?
i love me some nutella. or peanut butter and honey.

35 Best thing to eat for breakfast?
banana pancakes.

36. What is your usual bedtime?
usually before midnight. i'm getting old.

37. Are you lazy?
i'm never too far from it.

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?
princess. witch. princess. crayon? princess.

39. What is your Chinese astrological sign?
i have no idea.

40. How many languages can you speak?
fluently? one.

41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions?

42..Which are better legos or lincoln logs?
legos all the way.

43. Are you stubborn?
you better believe it.

44. Who is better...Leno or Letterman?
Letterman, actually.

45. Ever watch soap operas?
ugh. no.

46. Afraid of heights?
not really.

47. Sing in the car?

48. Dance in the shower?
i have done this.

49. Dance in the car?

50. Ever used a gun?

51. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer?
senior photos? summer 05...dang.

52. Do you think musicals are cheesy?
they have to be.

53. Is Christmas stressful?
it shouldn't be.

54. Ever eat a pierogi?

55. Favorite type of fruit pie?

56. Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid?
ballerina. something that allowed me to wear heels. doctor. gardener. taxi cab driver.

57. Do you believe in ghosts?
no, Mom calls them spirits.

58. Ever have a Deja-vu feeling?
haven't i taken this quiz before?

59. Take a vitamin daily?

60. Wear slippers?
to class.

61. Wear a bath robe?

62. What do you wear to bed?
whatever i fall asleep in...sweats usually.

63. First concert?
oh jeez...Skillet? Or Coldplay.

64. Wal-Mart, Target or Kmart?
TARGET. always.

65. Nike or Adidas?

66.Cheetos Or Fritos?
Fritos, yes.

67. Peanuts or Sunflower seeds?
sunflower seeds w/ shells.

68. Ever hear of the group Tres Bien?
i think so actually...

69. Ever take dance lessons?
yes. tap for a tiny bit and ballroom.

70. Is there a profession you picture your future spouse doing?
that's a weird question.

71. Can you curl your tongue?

72. Ever won a spelling bee?
in third grade.

73. Have you ever cried because you were so happy?
i think so.

74. Own any record albums?

75. Own a record player?

76. Regularly burn incense?
no. candles.

77. Ever been in love?
i'm in love with Jesus.

78. Who would you like to see in concert?
Michael Jackson

79. What was the last concert you saw?
Ben Harper in Roma.

80.Hot tea or cold tea?
hot unsweet. cold sweet.

81.Tea or coffee?

82. Sugar or snickerdoodles?

83.Can you swim well?

84.Can you hold your breath without holding your nose?

85. Are you patient?
um...most of the time.

86. DJ or band, at a wedding?

87.Ever won a contest?
yes. a coloring contest.

88. Ever have plastic surgery?

89. Which are better black or green olives?
i like both, in moderation.

90.Can you knit or crochet?
knit my first scarf this past week!

91. Best room for a fireplace?
the library room.

92. Do you want to get married?

93. If married, how long have you been married?

94. Who was your HS crush?
Orlando Bloom, Anakin Skywalker.

95. Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way?
i might, on occasion.

96. Do you have kids?

97. Do you want kids?
yes, i think?

98. What's your favorite color?
i have a lot of blue things...but i also enjoy a good red every now and then.

99. Do you miss anyone right now?
lots of people!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

i miss sugar!!

I have never craved milkshakes so much! I'm not even being as strict as I started out--I ate tortilla shells and popcorn--but I have not had any chocolate or cake or cookies. No Snickers that were available at my Writing Center meeting last night. No caramel apples that are sitting on our counter. Dang.

Other new things in my life are the two goldfish swimming around their new home in the apartment. Ariel saw that we had an unused glass bowl here and decided to give us a pair of goldfish for a house-warming gift. Now I get to hang out with Jack and Dora when I'm doing homework!

Monday, October 19, 2009

sugar fast update

I already cheated.

I want to be honest, this is way hard. And to be fair, I'm not trying to be legalistic so I'm not going to get too down on myself for not following this thing as strict as some might. I had pasta tonight, not whole grain, so there were your basic everyday carbs involved.

I'm counting today as a success, though, because I did not binge on the leftover apple cake on the counter or eat any of the frosting in the fridge or stick a finger in the Nutella in the cupboard--all things I have done on occasion and sometimes all on the same day. Or within the same hour.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sugar fast

That's right. I'm doing it, finally. I've been wanting to give up sugar for a while now but never actually did it...and I've decided it's time. I am doing a sugar fast for two weeks (I figured Halloween would be the perfect time to break a fast like this).

So starting today, no sugar for two weeks. Things I will be cutting out include:
-refined sugar (white and brown)
-white breads/crackers
-cold cereal
-things with sugar added (most fruit juices)

Which really leaves me plenty to eat:
-fruit (I am allowing natural sugars)
-whole grains

I've done my homework so I know days 3-5 will be the toughest but once I get to day 7 I'm essentially home free. Also, fasts are traditionally times of spiritual/mental/emotional as well as physical purification and sacrifice, so every time I find myself craving sugar (essentially ALL the time) I'll take that as a chance to instead meditate or think about something outside of myself.
Halloween will mark the breaking of the fast. The plan is to go to Minnesota with friends from Summer Project for a reunion, perfect for breaking a fast--kind of like coming out of hiding back into the community.

Most people probably don't announce their plans for a sugar fast like I have but I find that A. J. Jacobs inspires me to do these things while simultaneously journaling about them and sharing the experience with others. :)

when i stay up late i have questions like this.

When did knowledge become a means to an end instead of the end in itself?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

what i was made for

Today we got our tests back in Singles & Couples, my upper level literature course. For the essay part of the test we had to finish a play that Dr. Neary had set up for us, incorporating a number of characters from the 6-7 works we've read in class so far. That was my favorite part of the test, and to be honest I wasn't sure how well I did on the first short essay part, but no worries! I only had a point off the first part and I made up for it by getting extra credit on the creative section. Dr. Neary wasn't exactly offering extra credit on the test but he wrote that it was brilliant and he actually wanted to see it performed. :)

Thank you Jesus for giving me creativity & a passion for writing.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This weekend was such a great time in Stevens Point, but it was a break from reality--no e-mail, homework (well, I didn't do the homework I have), or agenda--and now I have to face that reality tomorrow even though I'm not sure I'm ready. No Columbus Day for this woman.

When I got to Point on Thursday night, I was reunited with more than just my Project friends...I saw a friend from SNC who was there for Long Weekend as well, friends from CHS who go to Point, a friend from UWGB visiting for the was truly a Small World experience.

On Friday we went out swing dancing and got caught up on everyone's lives. It was great to have so many Project people in one room, remembering our favorite things from the summer. Saturday was for taking a walk by the river, playing games, going out to Grazie's and watching a movie (with a projector and a giant white wall). Today we went to church and carved pumpkins (and ate cheesecake for lunch). I loved all the quality time we had and how we all reconnected so easily.

Now I get to spend tonight reconnecting with Andrea :) and then I have to think about those novels I was supposed to read for this week :( ...Thanksgiving Break anyone?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

long weekend...because we work hard here!

Only two classes today instead of three...a couple hours at work...and then home! That's right, it's Long Weekend--the weekend of the year devoted to not doing homework, getting off campus, doing laundry, stocking up on food at home, and making people from state schools jealous. We're spoiled.

I was so excited last night I couldn't even sleep...I was like a small child on Christmas Eve. Today after work (4ish) I get to drive Greg and Andrea to the airport, where they will depart for Arizona, and then Rachel Schindler and I will make the two hour drive back to central WI.

I'll be home tonight and most of tomorrow, and then I'm headed to Stevens Point. There is going to be a small NMB reunion so I'll get to see people from this summer! I can't wait to see everyone...this time in sweaters and pants instead of shorts and swim suits and work uniforms.

Packing is almost done, now I just want to finish this book before I leave. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

weekend list

This weekend I accomplished a number of things:

-Listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Obnoxiously.
-Learned CCR tabs.
-Read poetry.
-Attempted writing poetry.
-Wished I was a better poetry writer.
-Checked out four new books from the library in lieu of going to class.
-Watched The Kite Runner with Andrea.
-Got my laughs from
-Watched the Chicago Bears make a touchdown off a punt return.
-Turned off TV.
-Helped Andrea bake cookies.
-Ate cookies.
-Started reading Dan Brown's new book, The Lost Symbol.
-Watched Saturday Night Live. On Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grandmas and Brides

Shout out to Grandma! Happy Birthday and I love you!! (PS, Grandpa tells me the candy drawer will be stocked when I come home next week...) :)

In other news, one of my extracurricular activities this semester is being Andrea's Maid of Honor...honestly one of the best out of school things to be involved in. Andrea and Greg don't get married until the end of May (good thing because then I get to live with her the whole school year) but they already have most of the wedding planned: church, reception, caterer, photographer, florist, suits...and THE dress.

Tonight we get to pick up the dress, which took Andrea all of one day to find. I'm not going to go into too much detail (bad karma?) but it's from a little boutique so I'm guessing not many people have this dress. All of us bridesmaids knew it was the one when she tried it on--we loved it, Mom loved it, she loved the design is discontinued and it just happened to be exactly Andrea's size.

Now we just have to make room for it in our closet next to the watermelon and clover-colored bridesmaids' dresses. And we have to make sure no one spills the beans about what it looks like to Greg, who is very curious about this whole thing...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Technically the writing center is not open yet (thanks to some budget miscommunications we had to rearrange hours) but I figured if I pretended like I still had to open this morning I might actually get some work done. Not that I have a ton of work to do or anything, I just always feel pressured when I have some sort of unfinished work. This week and a half before long weekend has always been busy for me and this year is no different: I need to write a creative piece to submit to Graphos by Thursday, I have an art exam on Thursday, two papers due on Friday and another exam on Tuesday.

I still can't seem to get totally into school mode, though. None of these papers or quizzes seem real. I'll get them done, they'll be fine papers, but a part of me keeps thinking: the world won't end if I just don't write them. In the grand scheme of things, these papers and exams mean not a lot. It's not that I'm not learning anything in class or excited by what I'm learning--my classes are interesting. I guess I just feel really sheltered here at school. I'm in a bubble where nothing can hurt me and there is no danger.

Most likely I'm just thrown off balance after so many months of constant stimulation. Now it rains outside and I vaguely remember a time when I lived in a city where it always rained. I see a map of the US and my eyes are drawn to the southeastern region. Are people still riding the tram in Rome? How are the waves today in North Myrtle? Did I actually live in those places or were the last eight months of my life a dream?

And then I think it's just way too early to be thinking these things...I think I'll just listen to some Italian music and look at my pictures some more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

where did you go, weekend?

Almost five on Sunday and I feel like I've finally recuperated from the weekend. On Friday a group of us went to a Barn Bash (bonfire, food, games, wagon rides) and Greg, Andrea and I left from there to drive to Madison. We didn't get there until almost midnight, so after getting a condensed tour of Amanda's house we crashed.

I was up again by 7:30, though, getting ready to meet up with Bailey to volunteer at the Badger game. Once we realized that Amanda's house is pretty much next to Edgewood, we met for breakfast (cereal and COFFEE) at Bailey's apartment and then walked together to Camp Randall with Kelsey, a fellow volunteer.

As is usual on Badger Saturdays, Camp Randall was a flurry of red. Street vendors sold clothing, brats and cheese curds while people paraded to the entrance gates. Bailey, Kelsey and I sidestepped all of this, though, and headed for a discreet side entrance where we signed our names and received limited access passes.

Our job during the game was to fill racks of cups with soda (Coke and Diet Coke) and hand those to vendors who then took them out into the stands to sell them. These vendors were probably between the ages of 12 and 17 from the looks of them but conducted themselves like adults--tossing around phrases like "Give me a half-rack" and "Bad day for business; we need more sun" and handling cash like mini-investors. These kids buy a half or full rack for $30 or $60 and then sell it, bringing back the money for another rack. At the end of the day (which for them was after Jump Around--no vending during the 4th quarter) each rack was counted. The after school program who sponsored the vending station got a portion and the kids also got their own percentage of the profits.

By the fourth quarter our arms were sticky from soda but the Badgers were up and we got to catch some of the game before leaving to make the trek back to Bailey's apartment. Then we met back up with Andrea, Greg, Amanda, Julie, Steve and Tom to visit an apple orchard (no picking but we did find apples nonetheless) and find ingredients for dinner: a chicken/rice/pineapple/pepper dish.

We didn't get back to De Pere until about 11 last night and after a full day of soda-filling and visiting with friends all I could do was shower and climb into bed. Church time came way too early this morning, but I survived...and showed my true colors by curling up on the futon and napping like a champion this afternoon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I had it coming.

I have a bruise on my arm.

I should be more precise: I have a bruise on the inside of my arm spreading out from a needle puncture. I tried doing my civil duty yesterday by donating blood, but while my iron count and blood pressure were fine, my veins just weren't in it.

Usually I find the mini-physical more stressful than the actual donation part--the finger prick for the iron hurts more than the needle I think. And I feel like it's a job interview where your body could get any question wrong and you are automatically disqualified. Iron too low? Out. Temperature too high? Out. Have you gone to remote countries lacking clean water and basic medicine practices? Out. Once my blood pressure was too low so they made me drink a can of Coke to raise it. I passed all the tests yesterday, though.

Then in the donation lounge chair (it's kind of a lounge chair...there are old ladies walking around bringing people water, you get to sit there while everyone does things for you) my nurse, Lynda, searched for a suitable vein.

"Did you drink any water today?"

"Yes..." I did, I drank more water yesterday than usual, I promise.

"Well, let's try this." And she did. Try, I mean. The needle went in and I waited for the warm feeling of my blood flowing through the tube taped to my arm. Nothing. She pushed the needle in...nothing. "We need Julie to come wiggle this," she said, calling her over.

I guess Julie is the expert on veins, and as she held the needle in one hand and felt my arm with the tips of her fingers I believed it. She looked at my arm and seemed to see through it; a quick twist of the needle and blood was flowing. Now the problem was the vein she found wasn't the swiftest flowing one. They let me sit for a while, telling me to squeeze the little stress ball hard each time. When they returned to check on my bag, though, it wasn't filling fast enough.

"I'm going to have to pull it," Lynda said. "Sorry."

I think I was more sorry--I felt like I wasted a bunch of their time and now I was going to go eat the food and walk out of the gym wearing the bandage and purple wrap like some sort of hero when I was actually a phony.

And today I wake up with a pretty purple bruise and a sore arm. Badge of honor? More likely just karma.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

it's been awhile...

...but I've finally decided to get back on here and write. Since you've heard from me last:

-I moved into my apartment in De Pere with my lovely & engaged roommate, Andrea
-I started my senior year @ St. Norbert College
-I started work again @ the SNC Writing Center
-I got a haircut!

...and that's about it.

Just kidding.

The transition from Rome to South Carolina to home to school has definitely done something to me. I don't know if I have culture shock, reverse culture shock, senioritis or if I'm just getting old, but I have been feeling a tad out of sorts these past few weeks.

It took some time for me to get back into school mode, and I'm still not all the way there (although maybe I am because I'm definitely procrastinating like usual me). My classes are interesting for the most part, though, so that helps.

And as a co-senior consultant at the Writing Center I got the lovely job of creating the schedule, revising the schedule, and cutting hours from the schedule after realizing just how underfunded we are.

A lot of days I feel pretty stretched and if I don't write things down I forget them almost instantly, as if there are so many things and nothing for them to stick to inside my head. I've also developed a clumsiness that maybe I've always had and never before acknowledged, but either way it's kind of embarrassing. I run into things constantly--the futon, bookshelves at's like I'm a little out of step with the world.

But despite always wondering where I am and how I got there (honestly, at least once a day I have to stop and think about these things), life is good right now. I don't want this to be a depressing return post--I really have little to complain about. I'm home-ish, I'm a senior, my hair is blond once again (and will be for some time...I promised Mom it would stay that way at least until next summer).

There are a billion other things I could mention now but my alarm is going to go off in about seven hours and I know it will be a much better Friday if I'm not wondering when nap time is. I'll be traveling to Madison this weekend to visit friends and the younger sister and I promise I'll be more specific about my life the next time I post.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beautiful Feet

Ah yes, back in the Midwest. I love that I no longer sweat when I go outside before 9 AM...though I do miss the beach. There are far too many words to say about this summer so I will not even try to wrap it up in this blog post. I can say I'll miss my Project friends like crazy and I hope the things I learned this summer stick. I know I learned a lot about myself- I feel much more patient, more okay with where I am in my life and less like I need to rush around trying to be something I'm not.

The last week and days of Project we focused a lot on what going back home and to school would be like. Here was our theme verse for the last week, a fitting one from Romans:

"But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?
And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?
As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"

[Romans 10:14-15]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two Weeks.

Tomorrow marks the day each student on Project is supposed to hand in their two weeks' notice. Only two weeks of work left! I feel like I just got comfortable, just got settled into my routine of cashiering Monday-Wednesday, having off on Thursday, cashiering again on Friday, serving on Saturday, and off again Sunday.

I finally got the hang of the cash register, how it sometimes freezes up for a second when you ring up too many adult buffets and how it still features menu items that have been discontinued long before I started working at Ryan's.

I finally feel comfortable with my coworkers--Chris and Dot and their passive aggressive arguments, Rhonda's bouncy steps and hairdo full of colorful barrettes, Beverly's sharp attitude punctuated by her Jamaican accent, the way Cortillia slyly asks how I'm doing when she knows my section just got slammed, but then offers me some of her contraband candy. I know I'll miss Willie and Sam, the dishwashers, especially them calling me and the other women at work "Baby Girl" and "Darling" or "Pretty Mama" in the case of Miss Ellen, resident Grandma. I'll even miss Sylvia, who I can't for the life of me seem to please.

All of us here, whether we enjoy our jobs or not, are going to miss some parts of it. Some of the best times we have here are telling funny work stories. Like how all the Wal-Mart kids share the secrets of that mysterious corporation--its morning cheer for example. (Who's number one? The customer, always! What store is number one? 5087! What do we want to be? Accident free!). And then there are the fast food kids--the ones at McDonald's, Chick-fil-A and Wendy's--who love to brag about how many people they got through their drive through that day, how many sandwiches they made and wrapped, or the crazy milkshake creations they invented during down times.

Summer jobs are a funny thing that way--teaching us to make fun during slow boring days and entertain ourselves when our job gets monotonous. There is a song we like to listen to here--Swing Life Away--that has this line: "We live on front porches and swing life away./We get by just fine here on minimum wage." It speaks truth to all of us minimum wage workers--we are getting by just fine. And we only have two weeks left to make the most of free french fries, getting paid to watch people on vacation, and trying not to laugh when we can't understand Southerners.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feeding the Faith

Last Saturday's community event was one of the best this summer. The community team brought us Christmas in July--complete with mashed potatoes and stuffing. They revamped the Grassy Knoll with wrapping paper, streamers and pine cones and called it the North Knoll and we even had our own Santa of July. We made snowmen out of our own team members (our team's looked more like a white tin man but we did get runner up!) and had a "sleigh ride" (pulling people on a tarp across a field).

Then we kicked off "Feeding the Faith" week. The theme verse is 2 Peter 1:5-8: "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours an are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

As a part of the P & WV team, I helped set up a prayer walk we did on Tuesday around North Myrtle. We also sponsored a 36-hour prayer/meditation vigil and had someone out in our prayer tent continuously from Wednesday morning at 8 until tonight at 8.

Another new event here on project is our Wednesday night concert series. There is a bar/dance club not far from us that has live bands every night and on Wednesday an 11-year old girl named Gabbie Rae sings. A bunch of us go listen and support her each week, and she now recognizes us. I don't know what the bartender thinks of us--we all order soda or water and then just dance/sing along or play pool--but we have a lot of fun. And Gabbie Rae is good! She has been on the Tyra Banks Show--check her out here!

Oh yes, and I have to say happy birthday to Quinn today and Mom tomorrow!! Just so you guys know, everyone here knows it's your birthday. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Agape & Answering the Call

Last week was the week our staff left and the theme was "Agape," which is Greek for love, but a specific kind of love--self-sacrificing, unconditional, consuming love.

We had an Agape Dinner on Thursday where we encouraged each other were encouraged by staff before they left for the summer. Now that the staff is gone, we are student led until August.

So far this week, "Answering the Call" week, we have all stepped up into our various roles. We have four new student project leaders (one of them is my roommate!) and then each apartment has a Bible study leader and everyone else belongs to a certain team, each with team leaders. My team is the Prayer and World Vision team; we explore different ways to pray, especially as it applies around the world.

Our weekly schedule is basically the same; the only change is planning meetings on Tuesdays for each team and we do more intentional exploring on Sunday afternoons when the beaches are full of people (not so much high schoolers anymore, now we get a lot of vacationing families).

Monday, June 22, 2009

World Vision week

All for One week ended on a high note here in North Myrtle. We had the staff v. students softball game (Red Fog v. Blu Cru) which the students won by a pretty big margin. The rules varied from inning to inning, but all 94 of us had to bat at least once. We sent different people into the outfield each time, though I am pretty sure we all made it out there at some point or another. It was neat to see such a huge group of people come together, even for something so silly as a softball game. It is cool to know that we are only the second team to beat the staff ever in the nearly 40-year history of North Myrtle Beach Summer Project (last year's students were the first).

After the game on Saturday we switched gears for Sunday and brought in this week's World Vision theme with our International Dinner. As a member of the Prayer and World Vision team here I helped plan it. The goal of it is to help students understand that we are pampered here in America as far as religious freedom goes. It was interactive and forced students to think about different people and not just North Myrtle Beach.

Throughout the week then we will be highlighting our international partnerships (6 total--France, Australia, East Asia, Ghana, Latin America, and another European country). We will get to see the things people are doing there right now and what any one of us could be doing a year from now.

It is so amazing and scary to think that there is an entire world out there so far removed from what we know. I experienced that in Italy for sure, but there are even more dramatic differences in some of these places. Sometimes here in North Myrtle we are so focused on the recent high school graduates partying and living it up for the week that we forget about all the other people in all the corners of the globe.

"What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" --Romans 8:31

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day Off :)

I am blessed with the day off today--the biggest blessing being the fact that I can finally do laundry and have some clean clothes to wear...

In other news:

We have had two creative dates since the last one I blogged about. Our second one was a "Backwards Date" which included dressing backwards and walking out to the common area (Grassy Knoll) backwards. Then the boys served us dessert first (Inside Out German Chocolate Cake), the main course next (Chicken Cordon Bleu) and appetizers last (Pizza Rolls). We finished by saying grace. Then we went to our weekly meeting in our odd outfits.

Us girls did our most recent creative date: "Breakfast for Dinner"--and served the guys pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, and hashbrowns. Everyone had to wear pajamas and all of us girls wore our glasses and put our hair in messy buns.

Tonight is extended quiet time--two and a half hours for Bible reading, praying, meditating, beach-walking, journaling, reading, etc. It is one of my favorite nights here on Project because I get to focus on my spiritual life only and I don't feel like I need to worry about what everyone else is up to or what is going on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Each week here at NMB brings us another theme. They focus on building community, reaching out to others, etc. This week is All for One and we are working on team unity. With 94 of us it gets hard, but so far it has been good.

The staff will leave some of us clues that we have to relay to the rest of the group by word of mouth only, things hinting at a student vs. staff softball game this weekend. We had to choose certain colors and the more unified we are throughout the week the more at bats we get during the game. We also get random strikes for lack of unity.

To figure out these clues we had a semi-secret meeting on the beach last night. We didn't tell the staff about it but it is kind of hard to hide the fact that 94 kids are leaving their houses and going to the beach. We decided on colors (blue and white) that we are wearing not only for the game, but the entire week.

I am really liking this week so far. On Sunday, when they kicked it off they gave us a challenge to see who knew everyone's name and I was the only one who raised my hand. I knew everyone and now whenever I see people they know me as the name girl. I guess I have a thing for remembering names--and it helps that I do a lot of people watching from our kitchen window!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Serving & Sharing

Last Tuesday was our first official Sharing Night--we split up into groups of 2-4 on Tuesday nights to do spiritual surveys (basic questions--> What 3 words describe your life right now? What happens when we die?) and get a basic feel for where people are at as far as faith goes.

I also started work last week Thursday, and now that I am totally trained and have my own tables, I can say I really do love serving. I don't have to take any orders, which helps a lot because I can focus on making people comfortable. People down here love to talk and they all know I'm not from around here as soon as I open my mouth, which makes it even better. In the days I have worked there were no major catastrophes--the worst thing was I once refilled a guy's sweet tea with Coke--and the tips aren't bad either!

Last Saturday we had community night with everyone here; they catered in a meal for us and we went to the bowling alley for Wacky Bowling. We had to bowl on one leg or granny style or sitting down, etc. I actually bowled a 90 even with all of the weird things we did and I think the top score was about a 105. It was crazy to see 94 college kids having so much fun bowling like maniacs. They played music as well so we would have random dance parties in the middle of a frame.

Today, my day off, I got up early for a trip to the inlet with my roommates. The tide is out early in the morning, so you can walk out pretty far and watch the sunrise. There were no dolphins today, but sometimes you can see those as well. It was so beautiful.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Working Woman

The deadline to find jobs for project was today at noon, and I found one!

Yesterday I was checking websites for companies hiring and I stumbled across Ryan's Buffet, which was looking for a server. Two other girls said they had talked to the manager and were going in that afternoon to talk to him so I came along...and he gave us jobs pretty much on the spot. I think it helped that we are all on Summer Project because he knows we will be dependable (we are not allowed to quit a job once we accept). A lot of employers down here know about Summer Project kids and work hard to fit us into their employment rotation.

I will be serving fresh rolls, refilling drinks and cleaning tables for the summer...and I couldn't be more excited! I have never been a waitress before but I've always thought it would be fun. Orientation is tomorrow and I think I'll be starting Friday or Saturday.

Last night then we had our first Bible study of the summer--just my roommates and I plus our staff leader, Jen. We also did this thing where we wrote down all the lies we believed about ourselves (ie, I don't belong here, My ankles are swollen and fat) and then we crumpled them up in a bowl, took them to the beach, and burnt them. Now we have a bowl sitting on an end table labeled "The Infamous Bowl of Lies" for us to add to anytime we are feeling down about things. Each week (or whenever the bowl fills up) we will burn it. And of course we had to end the night with a beach walk.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The beginning

Last night marked the official beginning of NMB Summer Project 09. Our orientation finally over, we got to start in on what we will be doing every Sunday until August. First comes "Sunday school"--our morning time with each other. Then we go to church and enjoy the coffee and donuts provided after the service. Sunday afternoons are free for us to hang out at the beach or the park, chill in our apartments, read, etc. etc.

Then comes Sunday evenings. These are reserved first for creative date nights with each impact group (one guys' and one girls' bible study) and then for night meetings. So yesterday, our very first creative date, us ladies were treated to a picnic under the gazebo in the park by our guys' impact group. To get there, though, we first had to follow a set of clues that took us around North Myrtle Beach because "the most marvelous things in life come with certain difficulty and great patience," (according to their first clue, which led us to "the place named for a Kazaam and former LA Lakers star").

When finally made it to our destination (a cross between a gazelle, a zebra, and a Cheerio), the guys told us they wanted this to be the best date ever and gave us each a rose. What I appreciated most was them feeding us, though. Which is why we have a batch of monster cookies in our fridge waiting to be baked and brought over to them tonight. :)

job hunting

The search is still on for a job here in North Myrtle Beach. Applications have been filled and resumes handed in, but due to 1) the current economic recession and 2) the acceptance of 30 extra students to NMB Summer Project (last year there were only about 60, this year 94) are hard to find here! A lot of us are actually having troubles finding jobs, but we have been staying optimistic!

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Adventures!

Hi again everyone!! Hopefully you are still checking here because I have decided to keep posting blog updates.

This time I am back in America, but it might as well be a foreign county here in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And this blog will remain "as the romans do" even though I am no longer technically living like a Roman because in ways I am. (I'm continuing to eat pasta at every chance I get, at least.)

For those of you who don't know, I am spending the summer here in NMB, SC on something called a Summer Project. It is through Cru, and interdenominational group on tons of campuses across the United States & in other countries. For ten weeks, us 94 students and about 30 staff members will live here & get jobs within the community (fast food, mini golf, coffee places, grocery stores, etc.) while we learn about ourselves, each other, & our personal spiritual growth.

The days are reserved for our jobs (I have not found one yet, but I'm working on it...Italian tutoring, anyone? Personal chef?) and nights are reserved for group activities.

Mondays are Bible Study nights with our housemates (I have five). Tuesdays are spent exploring the community and meeting tourists. Wednesdays are called "Date Night w/ Jesus"--pretty much we get 2.5 hours of quiet time (and for me lots of journaling). Thursdays are group meetings--worship music, speakers, etc. Fridays are our nights off. Saturdays are social activities with our group. Sundays are Impact Group nights (Women's bible study + Men's bible study = Impact (or family) group).

The other night my staff mentor and I got to talk to two women from Russia who are also living here for the summer. We talked about each of our spiritual beliefs and found out what they thought of America so far (it's loud). It was really great to talk to some of the international population here (NMB is a lot similar to the Dells or Door County in the summer) and I felt a connection to them, out on their own in a foreign country.

Besides job hunting and general orientation, I have been meeting SO MANY PEOPLE! With 94 of us, it feels like I am meeting my high school class all over again. By the end of these ten weeks I should have all the names down.

It is getting a little late so I am going to close up now just with another thank you and miss you and love you to everyone!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


We finally made it back. Our flight from Rome to Munich left late, and we thought we were going to miss our connecting flight to Chicago but when we finally got into Munich, we learned that that flight was delayed. So we hurried up to wait another two hours before our transatlantic flight left. The flight from Munich to Chicago was nice--I watched Slumdog Millionaire, part of Inkheart, and fell asleep to Radio Italia. Unfortunately because that flight was delayed, we did miss our connecting flight from Chicago to Central Wisconsin. We were so close to home but had to spend the night in Chicago and catch an early morning flight the next day.

And then after a very turbulent but brief flight, we were home. All I could think when we were flying in was how far apart everything was. So much space between the houses, huge roads, giant vehicles. The weather is a little chillier here than what I am used to in Rome but my bed is just as comfortable as I imagined. :)

I am slowly getting over my jet lag--though I am pretty sure I will be waking up early in the morning for a bit. Right now it is 2 in the afternoon but my body feels like it is 8 PM.

Yesterday I made the family come with me to see Angels and Demons, the new Ron Howard film based on the novel by Dan Brown. It is set in Rome so Dad (who chose to sit next to me) was entertained the entire time with me poking him to say, "I was just there three days ago!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

American Invasion

Visitors are here! We have no wi-fi in our apartment, but we did find this cafe with an internet connection. The week has gone well with the only catastrophe being my and Grandma's time spent stuck in an elevator. With two Italian women who decided the best way to solve our problem would be to pound on the door and shout "Aiuto!" (Help!). We did get out though (obviously!).

I took them around my neighborhood and today we spent the day at the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. Before the end of the week I have been told we need to find a Hard Rock Cafe and a Harley-Davidson store so that's what's coming up!

Our apartment is nice and the beds are there is a gelateria and a bar/cafe not far!

Hugs and kisses from everyone!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finals week overview

Three finals down...two to go.

Art History was probably the hardest since it had the most memorization--all of those statues and monuments and temples and tombs. I was happy with the B+ I got on my Appian Way paper, though.

My next final was not until Tuesday at 6 so Monday and most of Tuesday I spent walking around Rome, around the apartment, trying to find something to occupy myself. This week has been the longest of my life! I am waiting for these finals to be over and for my visitors to finally's like waiting for 10 Christmas mornings, I swear.

My stats final was kind of a joke, sad to say. I got pretty angry when I saw two of my classmates blatantly sharing answers in front of me as our professor twiddled his thumbs at the front of the room. I'm already getting over 100% in that class from extra credit questions on our tests so I'm not worried about my grade. Funny considering I avoid math at all costs.

And then I had my history final this morning, another hard one with a lot to remember. This time it was most of the emperors from Augustus down to Romulus Augustus plus all the extra events--the third century crisis, Roman entertainment, Roman funerals, Mithraism. (Would you like me to elaborate? I just finished the final so it's all still fresh in my head. No, I won't bore you... :) )

Now I'm waiting around until 3, when I have my social research methods final. I already have 25% of it finished by bringing in an abstract of my thesis project and the rest won't be bad. The professor already told me he grades mine differently since I am an English major, not political science like the rest of the class.

And Italian is tomorrow morning at 9. Again, nothing to worry about since it's Italian 101 and our professor loves us. Seriously, she has tried her hardest to make Italian a breeze for us. It's sad that Italian is basically a dead language - only Italians speak it, it's not like they have any colonies like the British or French to spread their language around. I would enjoy continuing with Italian if I could find it at home, even just to speak it for myself. Sure, Spanish and Japanese and Mandarin are all useful languages to know...but they aren't beautiful like Italian!

But that's my finals it's just about time for me to start packing up! It so feels like I just got here and unpacked. The time flew. Luckily I will have a week to say goodbye to all of my favorite places while I play tour guide for Mom, Donna, Grandma, and Ruth!

Friday, May 1, 2009


I'm done with classes, as of last night at 8. All I have left is five finals--starting with Art History on Sunday. Don't ask why they started finals so early--there are ones on Saturday as well--and they go until Friday. There are only maybe 700 students here so it should be easy to fit all the finals within one week, sans weekend. I'm pretty sure most schools in America manage that. But leave it to John Cabot to stretch things out.

John Cabot isn't a bad school in itself, it's just the administration is so Italian, ie, nothing ever gets done. There is an extreme lack of organization that unfortunately hurts the students the most. It's hard to believe there are actually degree-seeking students there, people who have decided to go there all four years. I know I couldn't do it. As much as I love Rome and know I am going to miss it when I come home, I really miss SNC and having a good, solid school.

Oh yes. But I only have finals to get through, and I'm not too worried about any of them. These grades only transfer as pass or fail, meaning I need to get a "C" and then I get credit for the courses. The actual grade doesn't factor into my GPA.

But yes, John Cabot has decided to fill our last weekend with finals. Not any today since today is Labor Day in Italy--everything is closed. It's kind of funny since they close shop every Sunday anyways and now they get Friday off as well.

What to do with these Italians?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rain & Rainbows

Capri pictures are up! Check them out here.

Today was my last Art History class and Rome decided to grace us with more rain. The weather has been so weird here--rain since January!

I also got my stats test back--110%, which is funny considering that is the class I spend the least time on.

And when I got out of class I saw a rainbow in the was so beautiful, ending somewhere near the Synagogue.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Vatican, Carpi, Appian Way

What a busy weekend!


First I had an on-site visit for one of my classes at the Basilica di San Clemente. We got to go down to the lower levels of the church to see the ruins of an ancient worship temple devoted to a lesser god Mithras.

After that Marina and I tried to go to the Corsini Gallery but found it closed due to short staff. So what do you do on a Friday when your plans don't work out? Go to St. Peter's Basilica of course! Marina had never been to the top of the dome so I took her up there--all 551 steps--so she could get the amazing view from the top.


Shannon, Marina and I were up and ready to go early Saturday morning--our bus to Capri left at 4:30. We got to the port at around 8 but our tour guide was late. So we waited...and waited. Finally the leaders of our group decided we would just leave without her and she could meet us later. So we got to the island and waited some more.

At least the views as we were waiting were absolutely stunning. We hung out in some gardens as we waited and could look out over the ocean, at the bright blue water. Finally the tour guide arrived and we got on tiny buses that took us to the top of the island. Those drivers were crazy on the roads and hairpin turns, but we made it! At the top we found a place that hand-made leather sandals and most of the girls went nuts over that. I myself was more interested in the other side of the shop, the side that handed out free limoncello shots and chocolate samples.

After lunch and some more shopping by the other ladies in the group we headed back down to the coast and relaxed some more on the beach. On our boat ride back we circled the island and got to see Capri not only on land but from the water as well. When we got back to Sorrento, though, we were an hour late and our bus driver was not a happy camper.

We ended up stuck in traffic for most of the way home and didn't get back to Rome until after midnight so we were all quite tired. I was happy though--finally a day where it was warm and I even got a little pink! We haven't been having the best of luck with the Roman weather so Capri was like heaven!


Marina and I somehow made it out of bed and down to the beginning of the Via Appia antica where we were outfitted with some bikes and a map for an ancient bike ride. We rode down a street over 2,000 years old (and it showed in some places) and got to see all of the ruins along the way. The Appian Way is close to traffic (besides those who live on it) so it is filled with bikers, runners, and families spending the day in the country. The scenery was gorgeous and the weather even cooperated for the most part. It was pretty warm and only started raining near the end of our trip.

After our bike ride we headed back to the Corsini Gallery, which was at last open, and enjoyed all the paintings and sculptures for free since it was still Culture Week.

And then it was time to start that 10-page research paper due today. I'd been mulling it over in my head for a bit but never actually got down to writing it...and surprisingly, once I started, it came out pretty easy. I wrote nearly the entire thing late last night/early this morning and now I just have to reread it and add the finishing touches!

Friday, April 24, 2009 weekends...

Okay, last post about the Ben Harper concert. I forgot to post a link to my own pictures. Check them out here!

This weekend is our last hurrah before the end of classes and finals...I had an on-site visit for one of my classes this morning and Marina and I are headed to the Corsini art gallery this afternoon. Tomorrow Marina, Shannon and I will be off to Capri for the day with a group from school and Sunday Marina and I are taking a bike ride down Via Appia Antica, one of the oldest and most important roads in Rome. (I actually wrote a 10-page research paper on the Via Appia just last week!)

We're coming to the home stretch!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Under Pressure - Ben Harper & Relentless7

I found the link to Ben Harper & Relentless7 singing Under Pressure. I'm somewhere in all of those people!!

Happy Earth Day!

Yesterday was Earth Day and in Rome that meant a free Earth Day Concert featuring Ben Harper and Relentless7 plus Subsonica, Nnekka, and Bibi Tanga and the Selenites.

The concert was held in Piazza del Popolo--which is huge, but barely held all of us. And since Italians don't believe in personal space we were CRAMMED in. A guy in front of me had dreadlocks and would not stop swaying to the music so I kept getting hit in the face by them.

The concert was sponsored by National Geographic Music and they even planted trees in Rome to offset the carbon footprint the concert would make.

Here are some links to each group so you can get a sample of what they sound like:

Bibi Tanga and the Selenites



Ben Harper & Relentless7

The best part was when Ben Harper came back on stage for his encore and sang Under Pressure...finally a song that both Americans and Italians knew!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday....Roma!

That's right, today is Rome's birthday. It turned 2,762 years old today and is celebrating with historical reenactments, concerts, fireworks and free museum entrances. The free museums are actually a part of Italy's Culture Week this week and we took advantage of it during my art history class today when we visited Trajan's Markets. I guess you could compare Rome's birthday to our Independence Day since they both celebrate the creation of a people.

It's funny to think, though, that Rome has been here (according to tradition) nearly 3,000 years and America just over 230 years. We're babies!

Update on the papers: one done, two to go.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Homework? In Rome?

It's been a while since I've been on here. I've been mentioning papers to work on and I finally stopped talking about them and actually wrote some. I nearly have my ten page paper done for Tuesday and I'm getting closer to having something substantial for a meeting with my professor on Wednesday about my 20-page thesis. I pretty much devoted my weekend to getting stuff done. The weather cooperated by raining, making sure I wouldn't be tempted to just give up and spend the day at the Spanish Steps.

I did get out to get the stink blown off me and so my eyeballs wouldn't dry up from staring at a computer screen all day. I took some pictures of my school since I won't be able to see it for much longer and I walked around the center, seeing how things have changed since we got here in January. Since it's tourist season they are finally finishing up some of the construction they had going on and cleaning things up, making everything look nice.

This coming week promises to be a full one with papers and tests continuing but I'll try to get on here for updates!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Getting Used to It

On Tuesday I gave a presentation on the statue of the Hellenistic Boxer for my art history class. The only thing was, the actual statue was on loan at another museum meaning I gave a presentation on a picture of the statue. It was a little disappointing, to say the least.

And speaking of things that are missing, I think my memory of what it is like to be American is lost. I've noticed that fewer of my blog posts have to do with the differences between Americans and Italians...and I think it's because I just don't notice them anymore. Either I can't remember what they are or I've become so used to Italians I've just grown numb to the differences.

I only have one month left here in Rome and this might be one of the hardest months. Sure, the first month had its trials, but now we've settled in and we have to try and figure out how we are going to re-adapt to life in America when we leave. Not to mention we have to say goodbye to this place that has become our home. This place where we learned so much about not just Europe or Italy or even Rome, but about each other and about ourselves.

I'm getting sappy now, but it's hard not to when I can hear the Italians in our courtyard singing songs slightly off key (it's someone's birthday) and the motorini zipping up our one-way out front. It's going to be weird not hearing the garbage truck every night, watching life happen from my balcony, smelling my neighbors cooking a floor below us.

I think what I'm trying to say is, this is not the study abroad experience I imagined. It's so much more.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Buona Pasqua!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter (Pasqua) yesterday! Today is Pasquetta in Italy (literally, "Little Easter") which is basically a day of eating leftovers and enjoying another little holiday. All of the stores were closed, even our grocery store, which meant we were forced to eat leftovers here!

That's okay, though, because we made an amazing meal for Easter which only got better after sitting in our fridge overnight. We roasted chicken and potatoes with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and lemon and then we made breaded artichoke hearts. We also had our now famous gelato sundaes with almonds, bananas and our homemade chocolate sauce.

Before we sat down for our Easter dinner, though, we had to of course check out the Easter service at the Vatican. Let me tell you, it was crazy!! There were so many people from so many different countries. It was pretty much standing room only in St. Peter's Square, except in the parts where they did set up a few chairs (unfortunately, not having tickets left us in the standing crowd). It was cool to see how many people were there, all dressed up for Easter.

Again, the earthquake was a major topic of prayer as was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here is a link to Pope Benedict's "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and to the World) Message, which shows more of the things he talked about. He gave this address after the mass; it's a tradition every Easter.

With all of the happenings this week it's a wonder he had the energy for Easter Sunday--we're talking about a man who turns 82 this Thursday!!

I added in the few pictures I took in the Vatican album!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Today was Good Friday, and in Rome that's a big deal. Tourists have been flooding Rome ever since Holy Week started last Sunday and tonight I saw a good number of them at the annual Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) procession at the Colosseum.

The theme this year was prayer for the persecution of Christians in India, but there was also a lot of focus on the earthquake victims. Even though there is traditionally no mass held on Good Friday, they made an exception this year for the funeral of the victims.

The Way of the Cross started tonight at 9:15 and I got back to my apartment at 12:15--but it didn't seem like it took that long. When I got to the Colosseum I squeezed my way through the crowd trying to find a place that gave me a good view but wasn't too crowded. As I was doing this, I saw two people faint--the crowd was so dense and the air was stifling at times.

Most of the procession was in Italian, but when they announced each station they did it in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese. At the end of each station the crowd said an Our Father (in Italian). At the very end, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to which the crowd responded with much applause.

The amount of people there was unbelievable--priests and nuns, families, old people, young people. And people speaking all sorts of languages. The atmosphere was somber, yet charged. As everyone was leaving I found myself in front of some girls with British accents. One of them was talking on the phone and I overheard her say, "Well, it was nearly two hours and there were no fireworks, but it was cool." I'm not sure exactly what she was expecting at a ceremony held on the day Jesus was nailed to the cross...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ostia Antica part II

We went back to Ostia Antica today for class (pictures are uploaded, at the end of the Ancient Roma-Art History album like the others). We saw more baths, which is kind of funny because I'm starting to think ancient peoples must have smelled better than the Romans of today. We also saw the ancient world's equivalent of a laundromat and fire department. It was cool to see something that wasn't another temple, forum, theater, or marketplace (though we did see those too).

There were a few aftershocks from the earthquake again today, but nothing major has happened in Rome. It's strange because some people felt next to nothing (like me) while others said their beds shook or they could see the ceiling moving back and forth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Raphael!

Today marks another important date in Italian/Roman history as both the birth and death date of the painter Raphael. When I researched Raphael to see what works of his I could find in Rome, I was pleased to see I have already seen most of them.

One of the first things I saw in Rome, the Pantheon, houses the tomb of Raphael, who died in Rome in 1520.

The Villa Borghese houses a few portraits and the Palazzo Barberini houses "La Fornarina" (the bakers daughter), a portrait of Raphael's lover and a model for many of his portraits. Raphael was also the one to suggest the "Latin Cross" design for St. Peter's.

Still on my list of things to do in Rome is see the Vatican Museum, where one can walk through the Raphael Rooms and admire other paintings by Raphael. He also painted the frescoes in the Villa Farnesina.

It's just the beginning of an eventful week in Rome: yesterday was the start of Holy Week with Palm Sunday and the Pope's blessing in St. Peter's Square and today saw the biggest earthquake to hit Italy since 2002 plus the anniversary of Raphael's death and birth. Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday and continues on Thurdsday--and even though Rome is traditionally seen as Roman Catholic, there is an area called the Jewish ghetto and Jews are actually quite numerous in Rome. Holy Week festivities continue Thursday through Sunday, beginning with the Mass of the Chrism Thursday morning then the Mass of the Lord's Supper in the evening and going until the final event, mass on Easter Sunday.

It's all enough to keep me busy! Not to mention now I have to work my way through crowds of tourists just to get to school--and they will only become more and more numerous as the weather gets better and we find ourselves in the midst of high season.

Earthquake in Italy

Good Morning everyone! I don't know if you've seen/heard/read the news yet, but Italy was hit with an earthquake earlier this morning. The story is on but I first found out from my roommates, who have class earlier than I do on Mondays.

I was still in bed when I heard them talking about something that happened last night--something that scared Ro so much she couldn't sleep. Apparently she felt the earthquake, just little tremors. The rest of us slept right through it.

Anyways, just wanted to let you know everything is okay here--my study abroad advisor emailed this morning to check up on us so I figured I should let others know as well, in case you saw the news already!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Small Worlds, Close Friends

It's such a small world! Marina's mom has a friend in California who in turn has a friend who lives here in Rome, which is why Marina and I spent Friday walking all around the south part of Rome with a short Filipino nun named Rosalie.

When we met Rosalie she immediately greeted us with the traditional Italian baci (those cheek kisses you see), grabbed our hands, and said "Now we will walk."

Rosalie, who is in her 60s, has been living in Rome for about four years now and wanted to show us some of her favorite churches--and by some I mean about six. That woman took us up and down so many streets, in and out of churches and chapels...and she never got tired!

She always had something to show us in each of the churches. A painting in a small side chapel, the way certain candles were lit and others weren't, stained glass windows high above the doors, in one chapel she even showed us a chapel in one church holding relics from Jesus' passion.

At each church Rosalie made sure we took time to sit or kneel and pray quietly. She was so grateful for the opportunity to show us around and kept repeating how lucky we all were. "If you two did not come to Rome, you would not have met each other! You would not have met me! But look at us, we are all friends now because of this miracle," she would say, clasping our hands in hers.

Yes indeed, we are all friends now. And it's getting to that point where we realize our time in Rome is dwindling. Already Marina and I are planning a reunion because we don't like to think of a time when we won't be making dinner or exploring Rome together!

It really was a miracle that we met here and not in the United States--who knows if we would have become such close friends. And now we are like an old married couple with our routines. After we make dinner she washes the dishes and I dry them and put them away. Her boyfriend is here visiting this week and I've already been over for dinner at the apartment they are staying in. "I miss you already!" she said when she called to invite me. It had been all of five hours since we saw each other last (when we had breakfast together).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ostia Antica

In my Ancient Rome & its Monuments course on Tuesday we traveled to the ancient harbor city of Ostia Antica. Ostia Antica literally means "old mouth" as it was located at the mouth of the Tiber River and was the first stop for goods headed to Rome. It's a cool site because all of the buildings and things are pretty well preserved and haven't been built over as they have in Rome.

We got to see some of the public and private baths and the market area, the main temple and other odd buildings. We also got to go inside a house with the best preserved frescoes in the city. Restoration is still going on in this house so it isn't open to the public yet, but our professor knows the woman in charge of the restoration so we got a sneak peek.

I posted more pictures in my ancient monuments course album so you can see some of the sites and the frescoes as well. Be sure to check back for more pictures after next Tuesday since we are going back for class again!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final days of spring break: Greece

Okay, now for the part of spring break where we left Italy behind. We spent just over three days in Greece. Overall, it was great. The weather was gorgeous and the people were nicer than ones we've experienced in Italy. At first it was a little strange since Greece has an entirely different alphabet than English or Italian, but we soon realized that most people spoke at least some English and all of the street signs were in both Greek and English.

On Thursday we got up way early for our one-day, three-island cruise. The first leg of the trip took a long time, but finally we made it to Hydra. This island is your typical Greek island, though a bit touristy now. There are still no cars, only donkeys and carts, and the island is filled with quaint little shops, winding alleys, and the most breathtaking scenery.

After spending about an hour on Hydra, we boarded the ship again for lunch. It was a traditional Greek lunch, meatballs, a coleslaw type salad, and moussaka. We ate it because we were starving, but it was slightly disappointing. A far cry from the pasta dishes we were used to.

The other two islands, Poros and Aegina were more modern, with cars and paved roads. They were still beautiful though and relaxing. The ship itself was also a fun experience. We were probably the youngest ones aboard, not counting the children along with their families. Mostly the ship held Asian tourists of the 40 and above female variety. We also met a couple from Iran during lunch, which wouldn't be remarkable except for the fact that we saw them again the next day as we were both walking around Athens--quite the coincidence for a city of over three million people!

Our cruise lasted the entire day and when we got back to Athens we just wanted something to eat and our beds. And I have to admit, we wimped out and went to the McDonald's in one of the main squares of Athens. We were all craving chicken McNuggets and wanted to see if they were any different in Europe. Not so much--it was all the same. The menu board was a bit different; it offered regional foods as well as the typical Big Mac. They also have a Greek Mac, which is a Big Mac inside of a pita.

Anyways, the next day saw us waking up early once again, this time for a walking tour of Athens. Our guide, Walter, took us all over and showed us every major six hours. We were tired when that was done, but it was worth it to be able to see all the things we saw: the Parthenon, the ancient marketplace, the Olympic Stadium (from 1896), the Park...I have my pictures online here for you to see all of the sights as well! (Don't forget to check out Naples and Palermo as well!)

After the tour Walter took us to one of his favorite Greek restaurants so we could have authentic Greek food. I got the thanassis kebap--basically the Greek equivalent of a hamburger. It was so filling and after we were done eating we were reminded just why we loved Italy so much. As cool as Greece is, none of us could have studied there and survived with that food! We love our pasta way too much. Plus, I somehow picked up some sort of bug and I think it was food poisoning. Either way, something didn't sit right in my stomach!

On Saturday we just hung out in downtown Athens until it was time to head back to the airport for our flight back to Rome. We sat in a lovely cafe and enjoyed the free water along with our tall coffees and sandwiches (some things we actually can't get in Italy) as we people-watched. Our flight back to Rome was filled with Italian high-schoolers who sang the entire flight and clapped as we landed. I almost felt like clapping too, though--we made it back home!

After showers and some pasta it was nice to sleep in our own beds and wake up to our garbage truck like normal...but now it seems as though the fun is over as the final weeks of class get rolling!

Monday, March 30, 2009


We spent a glorious two and a half days in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. There aren't a lot of tourists in Sicily right now (high season starts around Easter and continues the entire summer) so we got the chance to relax and slow down a bit.

We checked out some of the shops, wandered through street vendors, and since our room at our hostel had a TV, watched some Italian shows. That was one of the best parts, which sounds awful, I know, but we experienced a lot of culture by watching our Italian MTV, La Fattoria (like Survivor), and Amici (like American Idol.

We also had the chance to make our own picnic lunches. We went to a local grocery store and got bread, cheese, and sausage to make sandwiches plus other fun Italian foods. (Think chocolate). We ate our lunches in a park one day and near the water the other day. It was the best feeling, just eating our sandwiches and enjoying the weather. By this time it had warmed up compared to the chilly/rainy weather we had in Naples.

At night we found some small mom 'n' pop diners--at one we had an amazing minestrone and traditional Sicilian sausage. We aren't sure if that restaurant was even open that night. The owner saw us peeking in the window (we were checking the place out) and opened the door for us, invited us in. They served us, but we were the only people there the entire time! At the other place we found, right below our hostel, I ate the best gnocchi of my life. Gnocchi is similar to pasta, but more like a dumpling. What I had was gnocchi all'amalfitana--seasoned with tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

So far on our spring break we had eaten quite well--the best pizza in Naples, the best pasta in Sicily, plus the best picnic lunches we could create from the small grocery stores we found. We were still in Italy, so of course we should be eating well! On Wednesday it was time to leave Italy, though...we packed up and headed to our final destination: Greece.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

back to business: Napoli Day Two

Alright, so day two. We woke up early and went downtown for a cappucino and cornetto. We found the main square, Piazza del Plebiscito, to see the Royal Palace and San Francesco di Paulo. There was an event going on in memory of all the people who have died as a result of the mafia in Naples so the square was full and a parade added to the crowd.

We walked along the water to see Mt. Vesuvius and trekked back into the center of Naples. We pretty much saw all of it and it was getting colder so we found our way back to our hostel and to get some more pizza.

Our hostel had a ping pong table so we played a bit and then met some guys from Canada and Scotland and played with them as well. After ping pong we all went to the club inside the hostel for some dancing. The Italians there were so funny--not like Americans at all. They would come up to us girls and ask us where we were from then tell us we were beautiful and ask for our numbers. No American boy is that forward!

We danced until the DJ stopped playing music and then decided it was time to get ready for Sunday. We had to pack up and leave early to get on our plane to Palermo, Sicily. Sunday was pretty uneventful--we just flew into Palermo, found our hostel, took a nap until 10 when we thought maybe we should find something to eat.

All in all, Naples was nice and I'm glad I got to see it. It's definitely dirtier than Rome and in two days we saw everything we wanted to see, but it was neat to experience a slightly different Italian culture. For example, when they drink espresso in Naples (southern Italy in general) they first drink a glass of water to clean their mouths and get it ready to fully taste the espresso. And for sure pizza will never taste the same after having it in Naples!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I went to Greece and all I got was Food Poisoning.

We made it back to Rome safely--and I've never been so excited to take a shower and sleep in a twin size bed. I know I promised more posts about the rest of spring break, but I somehow managed to get food poisoning our last day in Athens and my only thoughts right now are to sleep this bug off and hope I feel better tomorrow!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Break--Napoli Day One

Well, it's our last night of our spring break trip and I finally found some time (and an internet connection) to begin updating this! We are flying back to Rome tomorrow, where I will be uploading all of my pictures and adding to these posts but for now I can start with Napoli.

We left Friday morning for the train station, all packed and ready with summer dresses and warm weather clothing. It was a little chilly in Rome, but we reminded ourselves that we would be going south where the weather was supposed to be in the 60s and sunny. Our train to Naples took just under two hours--enough time for me to fall asleep in our little cabin.

Our first impressions of Naples were that it was dirtier than Rome (though Rome is pretty dirty itself). Our train was nice enough, though decorated with graffiti, but the streets of Naples were filled with garbage. Not to worry, there were nicer parts away from the train station. We found our hostel, the Fabric Hostel and Club (it is a renovated fabric factory) and decided to nap since most eating places don't open until later anyways.

Eventually we made it to downtown Naples. We walked around (compared to Rome, walking around Naples was a piece of cake) and saw the cathedral and the National Archeological Museum. It was getting pretty chilly after that and all we wanted to do was find a cafe for some espresso--which Naples is known for. When we finally found one and ordered, though, what came was a spritzer. Apparently our waiter misunderstood us so instead we had a pre-dinner drink. That was disappointing, but our next stop, Pizzeria Brandi, made up for it.

Naples is the birthplace of pizza and after eating it there, no other pizza will compare. The pizzeria we went to was suggested to us by one of my roommate's boyfriends. His great uncle is the owner so we mentioned that after ordering our pizza margheritas (the classic Neapolitan pizza). We got a visit from him at our table and at the end of our meal he bought us a round of limoncello, a traditional Neapolitan drink.

After our meal we headed back to our hostel. Naples is not the safest place in Italy, and since it was nearly 11 the man at the bus station suggested we take a taxi instead of the night bus. He called one for us and told the driver to take us straight to our door to make sure we got back safely. We were so grateful for him!

That was our first day of spring break...and I would write about day 2 but unfortunately my time is up on this hostel computer. Tomorrow I'll be able to write more from Rome!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Arrivederci Roma!

Tonight's my last night in Roma for a bit--until next Saturday actually. Tomorrow we are taking the train to Naples, staying there until Sunday when we fly into Palermo in Sicily. We'll stay in Palermo until Wednesday and then we'll be in Athens, Greece until Saturday.

It'll be a busy nine days, but should be gorgeous! If there is any internet availability at our hostels I'll be sure to update you, otherwise you'll get a slew of posts when I get back!

A presto, ciao!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Itanglish? Englitalian?

I had a strange experience tonight in my social research methods class. We were discussing our thesis paper topics/hypotheses and one girl was having trouble articulating what she wanted to argue. Our professor then sat down in front of her and said "parli italiano"--and they proceeded to hash out her topic in a blend of English and Italian.

True, it was easier for her that way. She is Italian so she could find the words better. But I have never been in a class (besides a language class--Spanish, Italian) where multiple languages are spoken like that. It's actually happened twice this week--tonight and last night in stats. A student asked the professor a question in Italian and he answered in Italian.

Tonight was neat though because as my classmate and professor switched back and forth between English and Italian I caught most of what they were discussing. Out of the four areas of language (writing, speaking, reading, listening) I have found that reading comes easiest for me, followed by listening then writing. Speaking is the hardest.

Anyways, this made me wonder, what language do bilingual (and tri-, quadra-, etc...) people think in? Their native tongue or the one being used? Or both/all of them at the same time?

Another thing I've noticed about language--though maybe this is just something my stats professor does. After explaining something, he will ask if we appreciate it or will say something like, "That should be easy enough to appreciate." He substitutes appreciate for understand. So maybe there is only one word for these in Italian and they essentially mean the same thing? Except they are quite different in America. We can appreciate something without understanding it (case in point, Italian culture). But if my stats professor is typical of Italians, they apparently have to understand something to appreciate it (hence their annoyance with American tourists?).

I'm pondering all these questions as I write this blog and listen to Laura Pausini, my new favorite singer. Ro and Marina went to her concert in Rome last weekend and now she's all we listen to here in the apartment. Our favorite song is her duet with James Blunt: Primavera in Anticipo. It's a love song and it's great to just sing loud and Marina and I did the other night, to the amusement of Ro, who actually understands Italian and knew we were doing a horrible rendition of it.

Either way, listening to Laura has helped us learn new words and makes it easier for us to pick up more Italian on the street. Maybe someday our favorite phrase won't have to be "non lo so" (I don't know) by default.