Angela's – Beginning my journey! Category
Monday, January 30th, 2006
My First Weekend in Rome!!
Wow!! I have done sooo much. I don’t even know where to begin. I have never been anywhere in my life where there is an endless array of things to do, places to go, amazing sites to see, people to meet, lessons to learn…Roma! When Rome is referred to as the “eternal city,” there could not be a more accurate description. I will admit that I have had my rough moments – utter lack of sleep, aching body from walking, and having those moments where I really miss Bryan, especially when I think of how special it would be to share these experiences with him – but deep down I know that this is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have learned so much in the past couple of days, I have opened my eyes to a new culture, I have already grown closer and closer to my friends sharing this adventure with me, and distance has made my heart grow fonder. Enough of this sentimental stuff, let me tell you what I’ve been up to in the past few days.
I finished my classes for the week Thursday afternoon. That night we had our second lecture from a man named Boem van Ravenswaaij, who has traveled the world and speaks multiple languages. He was a really interesting man and had lots to say about the importance of being cosmopolitan and opening yourself up to other cultures and appreciating your own. He is going to speak again this Tuesday. After the lecture, I went out for some gelato with a couple of girls – Giuliangela, Annie, and Tamara – to Piazza Navona. Yummy!! Gelato is so delicious, and I hear it is better for you than ice cream. Piazza Navona was so beautiful too. The fountains and the church were amazing at night, pictures cannot possibly do it justice.
Later, we went to Campi di Fiori and I got a taste of the night life in Rome. There were so many people out and so many little restaurants to go to. It was really fun trying to communicate with Italians too. It is a little frustrating, though, because I wish I knew so much more. But I guess that’s what I’m here for – to learn some Italian. As I said earlier, distance has made my heart grow fonder, even under the aggressive charm of Italian men.
On Friday, we began our tours. I have seen sooooo much in the past couple of days! In the morning, we went to the Roman Forum and Capitaline Hill on our first tour. I had no idea how massive the Roman Forum is. It just keeps going. Around every corner, there is another large monument to see. It amazes me so much how these structures have lasted thousands of years. How on earth did they build it in the first place? There are temples and monuments and grand meeting halls and churches….There is so much in one place and it is all so old. It is so amazing! This is what Rome is all about.
Capitaline Hill was really cool too. It’s almost like Capital Hill in Washington D.C. – but not at all. The statue of Caesar on the bull extending his arm in peace is so beautiful in person. It was originally covered in gold and I can only imagine what it must have looked like.
On Friday afternoon, we went to the Imperial Foro. It was a little rainy, it has been for the past couple days. It’s really funny seeing everyone get out their umbrellas for a few sprinkles. The second it begins to rain, all these Albanians come out and try to sell you an umbrella. Anyway, the Imperial Foro was really neat. It was really interesting to see the physical changes of Rome from the time of the Republic to the time of the Roman Empire – from the Roman Forum to the Imperial Foro.
Friday night, Giuliangela and I went shopping, we went to the Spanish Steps, out to eat at a cute little Italian restaurant, and then to a movie. It was such a full night and I had so much fun. Shopping was amazing! I could spend days trying on clothes. Everything is so different and unique. When you go into a store, you don’t see the same shirt in a couple different colors, but a million different shirts in every shape and color. The best part of all is that everything is on sale!! The shirts I bought ranged from 3-12 euro. After shopping until I was satisfied, we went to the Spanish Steps. It was so beautiful at night, I can’t describe it, but it almost brought tears to my eyes.
As we were walking around, I saw some amazing shops that I know Katie and Amy would love and I had to stop and take pictures of them while Giuliangela made fun of me. There were purses like you couldn’t imagine. Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Dior…Wow. I know Katie really wanted a purse for Christmas, so here’s your purse Katie – it’s only like $2,000!
We also went to a movie later that was in English with Italian subtitles. The Italian commercials and movie previews were the best part. Apparently, nudity is not shameful on Italian television. Anyway….the movie was an American movie so I didn’t have to worry about that.
We got up bright and early on Saturday to continue with numerous tours. In the morning, we went to Palatine Hill and the Colloseum. Palantine Hill is a palace and home to one of the emperors. It is very larger and at the top of one of Rome’s seven hills. I can imagine that it was a very nice place to live and through grand parties.
Then we went to the Colloseum. I have been so excited to actually see it and it was everything I imagined and more. The size was so intimidating and the architectural structure was brilliant. I though it was really cool that we could see the tunnels that went under the stadium – where they kept the gladiators and beasts. The view from higher up was amazing, I think that it beats the Notre Dame stadium. The view of the city was also really breathtaking. There is just an awesome aura that surrounds everything there. We even got to take pictures with some of the gladiators and the emperor. I was so excited about the Colloseum that we watched the movie, Gladiator, later.
Our journey back to the hotel from the Colloseum was another story. Let’s just say that when you take one wrong turn in Rome, it may take you fifty minutes to right that wrong.
On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. I had been to both of these places already at night, but it was really amazing to see them both again in the daytime. Like everything else I’ve seen recently, they were beautiful! It was really cool to see the sun beaming in through the eye of the Pantheon. By the way, I can actually see the dome of the Pantheon from my Rome too.
It was also really neat to be at Piazza Navona during the day because there were so many artists displaying their work and people just hanging out on the fountains and walking around.
On Saturday night, we had a girls night out. Giuliangela, Alexandra, Christine, and I went to Tresevere and found this cute little restaurant. They had a cute little patio outside and candles on all the tables inside. We were also able to get chips and salsa, which is like amazing, because nobody from last semester knew any place that serves chips and salsa. So, now everybody knows because of us. Anyway, it was really good and really fun to just spend some time the girls and relax. As we left there were lots of artisans that had just set up shops and were selling cute jewelry and other little things like that. There was also some interesting Italian man entertaining a crowd of people by dancing with a stick a fire on the end of it. I didn’t really understand what was so great, but maybe he was saying something that I didn’t understand. Anyway, it was a really fun night.
On Sunday, we went to somewhere (I don’t remember the name), Tiber Island, Circus Maximus, and the Baths of Caracalla. Tiber Island was pretty cool. Apparently, I saw like the first bridge ever built in the history of civilization, I think. Next we went to Circus Maximus. It was enormous!! I had seen it the day before for a brief moment when we were taking our “detour.” Anyway, we walked around it and I felt like I was on an enormous track. Apparently, back in the day when they had chariot races there (that would be so cool if they still did that) they could fit a quarter of a million people there. The Romans definitely thought size matters because they were all about enormous monuments that could display their lavish wealth and culture.
Another prime example of the rich culture of the Romans is their enormous baths. We went to the Baths of Caracalla. I don’t know why they don’t still have those kinds of places…there are warm pools and cool pools and saunas and gathering rooms…they totally beat modern day fitness clubs.
On Sunday night, we went to church in the Saint Mary’s Chapel. It was a really chapel. I took pictures of it and I plan on taking pictures of the other churches I go to in Rome as well. There are about 800 Catholic Churches in Rome, so we plan on going to as many as possible while we’re here. We’re going to try to go to mass every Wednesday somewhere different. I would really like to go to mass at the Vatican on Ash Wednesday, I’m going to ask Father Mark, my religion teacher, about that tomorrow.
After mass, we went out for Chinese food at this little sit-down restaurant behind our hotel. It was really nice, a lot nicer than the Chinese take-out I’ve had in the past. I know it was a little strange going to a Chinese restaurant while in Italy, but apparently there are a lot of nice Asian restaurants here.
Anyway, I apologize for taking so long for the update. I’ve been super busy and having a great time. We’ve even started planning our weekend travels and a little bit of spring vacation. We’re planning a trip for the weekend of February 11th. I’m not sure exactly where we’re going yet, probably somewhere in Spain. We’re going to Torino February 18th for the Winter Olympics. We’re taking a night train there, we’ll be there all day Saturday, and then we’re taking a night train back Saturday night. The only event that is in Torino that day (without traveling an hour or two for skiing) is hockey, so I’m not going to an event, but I’m going to walk around Olympic Village all day. I’m really excited about it! Then, the weekend after that, the 25th, we’re going to Venice for Carnevale! It’s pretty much like Mardi Gras, but in Venice. And we’re definitely going on a gondola ride while I’m there. I’m so excited to be going to Torino and Venice!! I’m going to have so much fun traveling around Italy and Europe. As of right now, the plan for Easter is the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I’ll keep you updated on my travel plans for sure. I have to go now, I actually have this thing called class in the morning at 8:00. Talk to you soon. Love you, Angie
Wednesday, January 25th, 2006
Things are going great so far. I’m still a little tired, but I’m finally getting settled in and beginning to go out and see some of Rome. I saw the Pantheon the other day and as promised, here is a picture:
I went at night, so everything is a little dark, but it’s only a couple blocks away from our hotel, so I’m sure I’ll visit it tons more.
I’ve changed my classes a little bit. I dropped art history and added music appreciation. I’m so glad that I did. I like art, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll see tons of it on my own and on our tours and avoid the stress of the class (I’ve heard horror stories about the final). I really like the music class so far. I’ve only had two classes, but I really like the professor and I’ve already gone to see an opera! My first opera ever and I got to see it in Rome! We get to go to four more and a ballet. I’m really excited about the class. I went to the opera last night and it was amazing.
It was so good I almost pissed my pants!!…I mean it was better than Pirates of Pizants. (Pretty Woman)
Don Giovanni, composed by Mozart.
Here’s a fun fact for everyone, Mozart’s 250th birthday is this Friday. I just learned that today.
My class schedule is a little different now. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have classes from 8:00-12:40; on Tuesdays, I have classes from 8:00-11:35 and then one more class from 5:30-7:00; and on Thursdays, I have class from 8:00-11:35. I’m done with classes before noon on Thursday and we don’t have class on Friday. So far, I really like my classes and all of my professors. Philosophy is good, Music is great, and Mythology is really interesting. I’m going to love my Religion class. The priest who teaches it is so smart and captivating and the subject matter sounds really interesting. Italian will be an experience as always. The professoressa speaks in Italian 99% of the time.
I know you’re all wondering about the food. Well….it is soooo good!!! I haven’t eaten a lot since I’ve been here, but what I’ve had is wonderful. I’ve had two meals at the hotel and they’re awesome. I had gelato once so far and it was so delicious. I went to dinner with my roommate, her parents, and her roommate from last semester at this real Italian restaurant and the service and the food was so good. They served bruschetta as an appetizer at dinner the other night, tomatoes on toast is pretty much what it is, but it’s flavored and it’s really good, and I don’t even like tomatoes all that much. I went to a pizzeria by the Pantheon with Emily, a girl from class, and that was interesting. They serve pizza a lot differently here than in the states, but it was good. They don’t really have snack food here. I haven’t really seen chips or cupcakes or stuff like that. Crackers are kinda the snack food and weird, but good, cookies are too. They don’t have peanut butter, but this chocolate hazel nut spread that lots of people like. I tried it with some crackers and it was good. I also go to this cafe in the mornings on the way to class with Giuliangela. I’ve had fresh squeezed orange juice, an Italian version of a strawberry kiwi slush, and a chocolate frappe, which is like a chocolate shake. I have noticed that all their chocolate stuff is really rich, so you don’t eat a lot at once. They’re right when they say the portions are smaller, cuz they are, but they fill you up. I’ll keep you updated on the food as I try more stuff.
The shops are really interesting too. There really isn’t anything like a Walmart anywhere in Italy. Every store is specialized. I have to go to a hairdryer shop to get a hairdryer, a soap and towel shop to get hangars, and a school supply store to get folders. I came at the right time of the year though, because everything is on sale now. Stores don’t put things on sale when they want, but the whole country has a sale everywhere twice a year, and now is one of those times. Hopefully I can go shopping soon, they have tons of cute stores. I’ve been on a bus and tram already, public transportation is pretty easy, but there’s all sorts of people you see. We’re going on tours with everyone this whole weekend, so I’ll get to see so much more of Rome. I’m so excited about it!! Well, I’m going to get going and do some homework and hopefully get some sleep tonight. Arrivederci!!
Monday, January 23rd, 2006
Hello All. Today was my first day of classes and they were great! I also got a cell phone today and some minutes from the Pantheon internet cafè. Oh, and I saw the Pantheon!! It is so beautiful…pictures to come later. I dont (cant find the apostrophe button) have much time now, but I thought Id leave my cell phone number if anyone would like to call me. Its free for me to receive incoming calls, but it will charge you whatever your phone company of cell phone service charges you. Okay, so my number is 334 803 1638 and you have to dial 01139 first, the area code to Europe and then Italy. The other option of calling me would be to call the Hotel, the number is on their website, and then ask to be connected to Angela Forss in room 303. Well, I have to get going, I will talk to you later. I will have a great evening while you all have a great afternoon. By the way, I bought my cell phone talking completely in Italian because the lady did not know any English, I was so proud of myself. Okay, Buona sera!! Love, Angie
Sunday, January 22nd, 2006
Well, I did it. Bryan dropped me off at the Chicago O’Hare airport, we said goodbye, and then I flew from Chicago to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Rome.
It was a little overwhelming, but I did it! There were a lot of Saint Mary’s girls at the airport in Chicago so I wasn’t alone. I also met a girl named Francesca, who was on her way back home to Venice. It was really interesting talking to her…Once we boarded the plane, the never-ending journey began. We had to sit in the Chicago airport for at least 1 ½ hours. Then it was an 8 hour flight to Frankfurt. At least I got a window seat. I was pretty pumped about that. Anyway, the flight went well once we took off, I tried to sleep a little, but it was really hard to…Once we landed in Germany, our next task began – how to get to our gate. Our gate was A21, and there were signs that told us to go both ways, so we were a little confused. I got my passport stamped, which was cool, and we had to go through customs, I’m still not sure if we went the right way, but we got to our gate eventually. The flight from Frankfurt to Rome was fast, only 1 ½ hours (we were sitting in Chicago for longer than that and sitting in the Frankfurt airport waiting to board for longer). Anyway, I totally passed out and the flight attendant had to wake me up as we were landing in Rome. I was awake long enough to watch us fly over the Alps which were so pretty and then I woke up in time to see the Mediterranean Sea which was so clear and beautiful too.
After we got all of our luggage, we went to load the and then we had to figure out how all of our luggage was going to fit, it was quite comical to say the least. Anyway, we made it to our hotel and eventually got all of our luggage up the one small elevator. My room is 303, but I’m really on the 4th floor. (Giuliangela let me know that it’s 110 steps total, haha.) So, I’ve started moving into my room, it’s a little quaint, but I’m sure I’ll love it. I’m so glad I’m rooming with Giuliangela!
She’s going to be a lifesaver. She’s already eased a lot of my nerves and answered so many questions. She’s practically fluent in Italian now and she know her way all around room and knows how to travel. It’s going to be so much better because of her. Alexandra and Christine live one floor below me. I have every class but one with Alexandra so that’ll be good and I’m trying to get to know other girls too. This has been a very overwhelming and tired day, but I’ll settle down soon. I have classes tomorrow and then I’m going to go to dinner with Giuliangela and her parents. I should probably go to bed soon since I have class at 8:00 tomorrow morning (2:00am Notre Dame time!!). This time thing is a little weird to get used to, but hopefully it won’t take too long.
Here’s my class Schedule:
On Monday & Wednesday:
I have Philosophy at 8:00-9:30; Mythology from 11:10-12:40; & Art History from 3:55-5:25
On Tuesday: I have Italian at 9:35-11:05; & Religion from 5:30-7:00
On Thursday: I have Religion at 8:00-9:30; & Italian from 9:35-11:05
Then I’m off for the weekend….
I love you all and miss you. I made it safe and sound, so no one needs to worry anymore. Tomorrow I’ll begin class, buy my books, buy a phone, and who knows what else. I’ll try and keep you posted. Love, Angela <3