January 31, 2013

Day 24: Overslept

Today I somehow managed to sleep through an alarm, my roommate getting ready for school, and my phone ringing, not to mention other daily noises such as construction down the street, my apartmentmate's elephant-thunder-like footsteps and my host mother's fire alarm sounding telephone. I woke up, thinking it was still morning, to discover that it was in fact 12:45pm. I had missed my class visit to see art at a church. I got dressed quickly, then went to school. I talked to Laura, told her what happened, and that I had a sore throat the last few days and had worked out a lot the day before. She told me that I had obviously needed the sleep and that it was no problem that I missed my class.
I then went to the library and did homework I had planned for between my two classes. I read my art history reading for next week and the assigned cantos for Dante. Then I went to architecture class where we learned about the emergence of secular and civic architecture. I apologized to Luca for missing the earlier class and explained to him what had happened. I also got my first paper back and got an A-. I was a little disappointed, but I will strive to get an A next time.
I went home, watched some random youtube videos and then worked out again. Today I stayed in my room, so I just did squats, lunges, planks, arms and abs. I then had dinner, then did arms again and planks. I am really enjoying working out, especially since my diet here contains so many carbs.
My dinners for the last few nights, since I haven't talked about food in a few days.
Mon: chicken, salad, some starch (I honestly cannot remember); pudding with chunks of  bread or something (ickkk!)
Tues: gnocchi cakes, cooked spinach, thick sliced turkey; mini-donut like pastries filled with lemon and apples
Wed: small chunk of beef, cheesy rice, zucchini sliced long ways with cheese on top; same as Tues
Thurs: fish, cheese on pita/ pizza-like thing, zucchini (or something similar); thick cookie, rolled  with cream filling (kinda like pigs in a blanket, but the cookie was hard and filled with cream instead of a hotdog)

January 30, 2013

Day 23: Room Tour

Not much happened today. I had two classes, Italian and Dante. Afterward I had lunch in the library, did my homework and then went home.

So instead of the typical blog post, here is a video tour of my bedroom featuring songs by The Lumineers.


Do you like these kinds of posts? Should I make more videos? Interested in seeing a full apartment tour or a walk to school video? Let me know in the comments below :)

I also worked out today for the first time since I have been in Italy. I went for a run, then stopped at a park to do circuit training such as lunges, push-ups and jumping jacks, then I did some sprints. I went home when it started to get dark and did stretches before doing sit-ups, a Jillian Michaels ab workout routine, planks, more sit ups, twist crunches and an arm workout.

January 29, 2013

Day 22: Teaching, Wine Tour, and Live Music

Today was a busy day, so I'll break up the post into sections.
My class's seating chart
I began with my permanent assigned class this week, 1D. They are a level one class (6th grade) and I ABSOLUTELY love them. They are well behaved, energetic and smart. I am so excited to be working with them for the rest of the semester. One of my favorite students so far is named Eric. His father is from Finland and his mother is Italian, and he has the most gorgeous blue eyes. He also speaks English very well.
Heather and I were working together this week. Unfortunately she was switched to another class next week, but we are hoping to sort that out since we work well together and both feel the class we were assigned is a good fit for us.
We began the class by holding up a fake clock and having the students tell the time in English. They were split up into teams and were very competitive, but in a sweet and well-mannered way. Instead of saying 7:35, they would say its 25 until 8. I found this interesting, since I never say the time in this way.
At the end of class, they sang the "Happy Days" theme song as a way to practice their days of the week. The kids were so happy, danced and all sang along. I was really impressed with their energy and want to learn.
My lunch: Nutella & Jelly sandwich, banana and peach tea
Wine Tour

One of the professors at my school is a member of the Frescobaldi family, a prominent Tuscan wine producer. She took us to two of the estates of her family, gave us a tour and we had a tasting.
1st Estate

A cool chair in the house

2nd Estate

Wine and Olive Oil Tasting
I do not like wine. Not one bit. It is sour, bitter and acidic. Despite this, I tried three wines today. The first was a chardonnay from the first estate we visited. The last three were from the second estate and were reds. I disliked them all. Bread and cheese was provided to taste the wine with food. The best part was the olive oil, which is also distributed by the family. It was the best olive oil I have ever had!


Live Music
I went to a few bars to hang out with my classmates. Some drank, but I didn't since it was a school night. We went to a few different places: Rex, The Red Garter, The Lochness Lounge and K? (can't remember the name.. whoops).
At the Lochness Lounge, a band was playing and I recorded part of a song. Sorry the video is sideways, I can't flip it and also can no longer imbed videos (I don't know why, but it just doesn't work). Click on the link to watch:

January 28, 2013

Day 21: How I Spent 7,40€

My meal plan in Florence consists of 4 dinners and breakfasts at home (MTWTh) and a 40 Euro supplement for my other meals. This, however, does not cover the cost of 3 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 3 dinners. So instead of spending between 3 and 10 Euro for lunch like my classmates, I go to the supermercato and buy things to make meals. The trick is I do not have a refrigerator, microwave, stove, oven or any other food preparation equipment. Every week I buy something different. So here is how I spent 7,40 Euro:
1) 3 apples= 1,37
2) 3 bananas= 1,10
3) 6 pack of water= 1,00
4) Loaf of wheat bread= 1,00
5) Jar of "nutella"= 1,86
6) Bar of chocolate= 0,92
7) Reusable plastic bag= 0,15
Total= 7,40
Now an explanation of my purchases:
1 & 2) fruit is a cheap, filling and healthy option for meals. They are good for snacks, a lunch side dish or breakfast. I bought 6 this week so I could have one each day for lunch and then for breakfast Friday.
3) A bottle of water can cost anywhere from 0,50 to 2,50 at restaurants and vending machines. This week San Benedet was on sale for 1,00!! I was so excited! It was a pain to carry home, but it will last me at least through the week, if not longer and save me probably 5 to 8 Euro.
4 & 5) I wanted to get peanut butter for sandwiches, but it was too expensive (3,00 for a tiny jar). Instead I got store brand nutella. Its not the healthiest thing, but paired with fruit, its still better than greasy pizza or salty meat sandwiches. I figured I can also cut up bananas to put on the sandwich some days. The jar should last me a few weeks and the loaf will hopefully stay fresh through next week. Even if it molds, I will just get another loaf. I also plan to get jelly next week.
6) Obviously the chocolate bar purchase was not a necessity, but I got for fun (also chocolate here is DELICIOUS).
7) I couldn't fit everything in my backpack, so I got a plastic bag. The bags are thicker and bigger than their U.S. counterparts, so I will just reuse it every week.

Now, a quick overview of my day:
7:10- 8:30 Wake up, get dressed, breakfast, walk to school
9:00- 10:30 Italian
11:00- 12:30 Library (Dante was cancelled due to a death in Alessandro's family)
12:30- 1:00 General Meeting- distribution of schedules and food allowance
1:30- 3:00 Art History lecture
3:30- 5:00 Architecture outing to Barello and Palazzo Vecchio (SOOOO COLD!!!)
5:20- 5:40 Grocery
5:50 Home
8:00 Dinner-

January 27, 2013

Hostels- A First Experience

Rather than crowd my Barcelona trip posts with my impressions of the hostel, I decided that it deserved its own post. So read of for general advice, my thoughts and tips if you decided to visit Barcelona.

I have never stayed in a hostel before, in fact I am used to staying in nice hotels or with family members when I travel. Knowing this, I braced myself for the worst. I mean, for 12 Euro a night, this was not going to be a Ritz.
My first impression was.. well, this will be interesting. I stayed in a 8 bunk room with 6 of my friends and were told no one else would be placed in the room due to the fact that we had reserved a 6 person room (I assume they had overbooked the 6 person rooms?). I chose a top bunk, which was extremely difficult to get into since the ladder was small and right against the sink. There was a fitted sheet and a pillow. A top sheet cost 2,00 and a blanket or towel 3,00. I chose to use my pashmina as a blanket rather than pay. The room had lockers that you put a 2 Euro coin in and locked, then you got the 2 Euro back every time the door was unlocked. I "payed" for the locker with a coin and shared with Cella.

Breakfast was included everyday and the hostel gave us cards to receive a free dinner with a drink purchase. The breakfast included juice, water and/ or coffee, a pack of donuts/ croissant (changed each day), a chocolate covered waffle, a small roll of bread, jelly, butter and a pack of cracker like bread things. Both mornings I ate some of it and put the rest in my bag. For dinner, the first night I got a sangria for 3,50 and a plate of curry and rice. The second night I got a 7-Up for 2,00 and got a plate of rice with vegetables. I traded some of my rice for Amanda's veggies and it was delicious! The hostel also offered free walking tours and bike tours (with a 5 Euro bike rental), which was really cool. Wifi was also available in the lobby.

Now, here is why I will NEVER stay at this hostel again.
It was cold. I swear they put the A/C on in the middle of the night! I ended up wearing a jacket over my pajamas the first night and then the second night I wore- running capris, fleece pj pants, 2 pairs of knee high socks, a pair of short socks, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt and a leather jacket. It was that cold!
Next, as I said before, we reserved a room for 6, but they gave us one for 8. The manager told us no one would be put in the room, but at 2am, this was not true. Nothing is as terrifying as waking up to a 30 some year old Spanish man walk into your room in the middle of the night. I woke up and Cella, who was in the bunk next to mine, and I made eye contact, like "WHAT IS GOING ON??" The man went into the bathroom, at which point 5 of the 6 of us were awake. Cella and I went down to the lobby to talk to the man at the front desk. The night manager was annoyed when we told him the situation and he moved the man to another room. The next morning, the day manager marked down to block out our room and we had no further problems. Normally, I wouldn't have minded someone being placed in our room, it is a hostel after all. It was a problem because 1. we were supposed to have a 6 person room and not have anyone placed in and 2. he came in the middle of the night.
The last thing I did not like about this hostel was the people who stayed in it. I never thought older adults stayed in hostels, I thought they were students and young travelers with little money. I was wrong. This hostel contained a slew of 30 to 50 year old men and a couple that thought it was ok to make out next to me while I was eating breakfast (ew).
In the future I will be staying in a youth hostel, packing a blanket and be prepared for randos coming in the middle of the night.

Day 20: Bye Barcelona and Hello Home

I woke up at 9, got dressed, packed up and had breakfast before heading out for a last look at the city. I walked by the water and went to the beach. It was my first time seeing the Mediterranean Sea (well, Friday was).

Pointing at some dogs

And talking.. or something?

Falafel for lunch, yum!

Arc de Triomf

I took the bus back to Girona around 3pm and then boarded the plane at 6pm. I had to use the restroom and they called for boarding as I entered it. So Amanda and I ended up near the end of the line for boarding. When we boarded, a flight attendant asked if we were traveling together and had us sit in the second row. For regulation reasons, they need at least 2 able bodied persons for emergencies near the front of the plane. This is basically the Ryan Air version of first class. We were the only people in our row, so we left the middle seat open. I was able to put my legs up on the second seat and sleep, which was amazing. After landing, I took a bus home to Florence.
During the way back I kept saying things such as "I can't wait to be home," and "I want to sleep in my bed." Its funny how quickly a place can become your home. When I walk around, I do not feel like a stranger, I feel like this place, this city, this town is mine. Florence is no longer a city of wonder and distance. I am proud to call Italy my home and cannot wait to spend the next three months enjoying it.

January 26, 2013

Day 19: Barcelonaaaaa

Day 2 of my adventure in Barcelona! I had an amazing time and saw a lot. Pictures are easier than words, but I will put some explanations in here and there.
I went on a free walking tour and saw central downtown.

Former umbrella factory
On a church that was bombed during the Spanish Civil War, 42 people died, 19 were children, the leader that took over pardoned himself for all deaths and didn't allow memorials to be put in place where civilians were killed
Santa Maria de Pi, the second largest round church window (after Notre Dame)

Some street performers with a piano (what???!)
Statue for the national (city?) sport of people stacking
Man dressed as a statue
After the tour, we went to a large market.


I bought a huge bowl of fruit for 1,50. It had kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberry, coconut, mango, some sort of foreign white melon and a bright purple fruit
I took the metro/ subway/ train to the Sagrada Familia.

Me in front of the back of the building
I went to the Cathedral at night and was able to see the inside for free.

I finished off my night by going to a shots bar. I had a Willy Wonka shot. It was chocolate liquor with whipped cream and chocolate candies on top. And the bartender lit it on fire.