Friday, January 23, 2009

Che Stress!

    My Italian teacher always said "Che Stress!" when a piece of her computer equipment failed to show the powerpoint presentations she'd tirelessly constructed the night before. It means what it says, but hearing this phrase five times a day made it stick quite firm in my mind. Therefore, I give you...


    She would be proud she taught me something. 
I started packing (finally) tonight and bought all the needed medication, school supplies and other necessities for this trip (including a box of CoCo Wheats, because I plan to introduce this chocolaty breakfast treat to 'dem Italians while I'm over there)  
However, I have yet to actually put anything in a suitcase, so whether that classifies as starting or not is up to you to decide.

    I am getting a little nervous, but more so ready to just leave. Besides, these abstract weather patterns are getting even weirder and I just want to be in the Mediterranean lounging with some beautiful people (something Venango County surely lacks in).  I have one more work day left (Sunday) and after that it's wine tastings and cheese festivals for four and a half months. Who could ask for more? I'm salivating so I better get a tissue.

    I'll leave you with this fun fact:
    The average Italian consumes half a pound of bread a day.
    (SCORE! I'll fit right in.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

It began before it has begun

    Right now I should be writing obituaries and compiling news stories, but the prospect of leaving in less than 14 days is a bit exciting. Regardless of work, I can't help but looking up facts, weather, stats and whatnot about Florence, while sitting at my desk for eight hours of course. So to pass the time, I called the State Department of Health to see if I should acquire any type of shots before this excursion. Yet instead of information, Connie (my helpful telephone buddy) decided to relay her accounts of her own European adventures with her daughter.
    Connie seemed to be a bit excited that I was going to her old romping grounds, familiarizing herself with me to the point where she said I could try and find her lost suitcase in Barcelona if I happened to travel there.
    After I laughed and thought she would direct me to some useful tips, she just continued on talking; I guess even if you aren't really Italian, being captivated by such a place is far too easy to get lost in.
    I listened intently however and responded appropriately and after 20 minutes Connie finally did help me out. No shots needed (Hallelujah for that at least)
    Hopefully everyone in Italy is that excited and if they aren't, I could always give Connie a call for some good laughs.
    Har. Har.
    On a side note, I started a packing list today (because lets face it, I am way too far behind in planning this trip) and decided I was going to attempt the monumental feat of lugging things into suitcases come this weekend. I am a bit afraid, seeing as how I have no idea what I am going to take with me besides underwear and deodorant, but I feel like if I wait long enough it may just pack itself? Maybe not. It seems that I worked so hard to get my passport, visa, program application and everything else that goes along with this harder-than-applying-for-college-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-and-will-be-broke-for-the-next-five-years experience, that I forgot about the details that happen AFTER you get accepted. 
    I say oh well though, because I should not complain, how many people get to go to Europe at 21.
    Get over it.
    Oh shit. It seems I should probably get back to work, seeing as how my boss is staring at me and weezing a bit. Oh, those disgruntled noises, how I'll miss them so. Greaaaaat.

    I forgot to tell you I found out my living arrangements. I got emailed Saturday and discovered I am living with four other guys in a three room apartment building called "Lo Pizzo" (the masculine form of pizza? What?!) But the best part is I got the SINGLE ROOM. I have no idea how, but two rooms are double and I scored big with a single. 
    Let's take a moment to ponder some thoughts with this new information:
    1.) Single room
    2.) Florence, Italy
    3.) Holy shit
    Now all I need is a string of Italian women age 25 and under feeding me grapes and speaking in their native tongue. Hey, don't rule that thought out just yet, anything can happen!

    Anyways (the weezing is getting louder) updates will be provided soon. Miss you all already. 

    P.S. Some of you may have a tree house in your backyard, but here is what will be steps from my home...(try not to be jealous)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cue the Nomad

Ready or not, I have decided to write a blog capturing my trip to Florence Italy from the very early moments, until my ending days. Writing about my experience will allow me to share with you (all my loving family/friends/etc.) by way of words of course, all the beautiful things I have seen and heard while in this distant land. Be prepared for a wacky adventure of a nomad seeking his land.

So here goes nothing:

I said it was to help with singing in a foreign language when I first started college, but taking Italian has progressed into a passion for learning fully about another culture. Attending my first day of class at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, the sound of "ciao" was a distant and unfamiliar feeling. I couldn't understand a single word of my more-than-fluent classmates and don't even get me started on my native speaking teacher. Nevertheless, I decided to stick it out for the chance to learn something new -- challenge myself. And after countless exams, speaking finals, conversing one-on-one and generally being miserable when I got poor grades (or ecstatic when I got A's), it paid off.
I can speak the language well enough to survive (Dov'e' il bagno?...That's right, I can ask where's the bathroom!) but look forward to the moment when I can go to a market and order food without a single word of English used. Lord help me.
Florence Italy is a city of over 300,00 (compare that to Rome's over 6 million and it's like water in a bucket) but that "small town" vibe was the one I decided on. After two and a half years of Italian classes, countless Tavolas (Italian conversations at a coffee house in Oakland) and a bit of a struggle to comprehend the congiuntivo form versus the imperfetto, I prevailed. I will be leaving for the city on January 26th.
I will fly thousands of miles, deprived of sleep and doped up on sleeping pills I'm sure, to a land where I barely know the language and will be living with complete strangers, whilst taking classes taught by NATIVE ITALIAN SPEAKERS. Needless to say, I am more than excited.
I have always been one to take on a challenge and living in Florence for four months will be just that. Whether it's the pane (bread) or vino (wine), I will certainly be enamored with the smells, sights, sounds, tastes, images (you get the idea) of a place totally unfamiliar.

Here is me, donning an American Tourister luggage bag (ironic, no?) with a Nikon D80 slung around my neck (oh God, they'll hate me!) and I will single-handedly (that's right, I will be totally and utterly alone) take on Europe.

I guess after that vivid image I think: "Is Italy really ready for me?"

And as I sit in the Tuscan sunsets, sipping wine and reading E.M. Forster's "A Room with a View," while listening to Jovanotti and eating biscotti, I will be thinking of all of you. Stick with me. I am sure you, and I, can make it through.

And if nothing else, I'll have a wicked story to tell anybody that's willing to listen after it's all said (written) and done.

Fino alla prossima volta!