Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just Living in Rome

What did I learn on Monday?

The Italian word for "envelope" is the same as their words for paper or plastic bag. I needed to buy envelopes and went to a store that sold them, according to their website, but I was told by the lady that they sold bags. I looked around the store and sure enough, it was filled paper bags of all different sizes. I'm not sure what the market is like for paper bags...

Luckily, she knew of another store that sold the kind of "envelope" I was looking for just around the corner. And when I asked for directions in Italian, I understood the answer!

On my way home from mailing my letters, Marina called me to join her in the botanical garden near John Cabot. I'm glad she called, too, because it was such a beautiful day and we saw not only the gorgeous plants but an uninterrupted view of Rome from a lookout as well.

It's always breathtaking when we find these lookouts, no matter how many times we see them. The first few times it was breathtaking because it was new and foreign--a great big city that we were supposed to somehow figure out how to live in. And now, since we have (sort of) figured out how to live here, when we see it, it's like seeing our home away from home. Now we can pick out certain spots (the church at the top of the Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument) all from our lookout in Trastevere. It's breathtaking to know just where you are and where you have been: Rome is huge and yet we've walked all around it.

I guess it's about time we started feeling at home here. We're halfway through the semester and these next nine weeks are going to fly by!

Today in my art history class we visited the Capitoline Museum. It was nice since we've been running all around the city of Rome to finally stay in one place and see so many amazing things. We got to see the original bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius (the copy is in the center of the square) and a few other bronze statues. Only a few because the rest were melted down during a time when bronze was more important than the art.

We also saw the remains of the Colossus of Constantine--the head, right hand, feet, a leg, a kneecap and an elbow. Even with only those parts you can imagine just how huge the statue must have been. And of course we had to see the bronze she-wolf nursing the (added later) twin babies (Romulus and Remus).

My favorite one was the Dying Gaul though. I think because it's not just a statue of an emperor or someone posing for a portrait, it's telling a story and there is a lot of emotion in the statue.

The common theme, though, was that historians are for the most part unsure where most of these statues were originally located in Rome. They have been moved around, reconstructed, lost, found and who knows what else. It gets kind of confusing in class when my professor says "Well, it's here now, but it was in the Campus Martius we think" or "And those statues were originally in the temple dedicated to Castor and Pollux but not the one we learned about in the Forum, another one near the Tiber..." There are so many things to remember!

In other news, I got an A on my Italian midterm. Apparently I understand it better than I thought! I haven't gotten my stats midterm back yet, though; that I'll get tonight...and that's the one I'm nervous about. That and this social research methods one due tomorrow. That deserves its own blog, really. It only has four questions but they can get pretty intense. Especially since it's meant for political science majors in their senior year, preparing for their theses and I am just about the furthest thing from that.

I'll get it done, though. He said we could do outside research for it, since it is a take-home, something I've had to do since I don't know enough about the crisis in Darfur or the economic situation in China to talk endlessly about them (like my professor can...it makes my head swim sometimes).

But enough about that, I've got to catch the tram for stats class. If I passed my midterm I'll let you know!

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