Author Archives: Erin M

About Erin M

A Cornell College junior, double major in Studio Art and Philosophy with a minor in English, studying abroad in Florence for the fall semester of 2011. Let's go get into trouble in Europe :)

The Last One

Hey there : )

So I wanted a little time to get home, soak it in, see what seemed important about the whole ~abroad~ experience once I’d had the opportunity to mull it over.  That was four weeks ago, and I head back to my home campus a day from now, so pretty sure time’s up.

Summary’s impossible, of course, but big takeaways (or at least those coming to mind):

1) I can no longer not hear language as a construct.  You always know that it’s just sounds with assigned meanings that people combine in various ways, but after 3.5 months in another country with a brand new language, you *know,* and there is no unknowing.

2) I still miss Florence/Italy incredibly, and even more now than when I first left, but I also have a new appreciation for my native area — I’ve just found it stunningly beautiful, every day.  Increased love of everything everywhere = …idk, success?

3) The studio class has a very specific range of efficacy, but it rocks that range.  I believe I have improved my drawing : )

4) For any ACM students: the handbook was quite prescient and remains a trustworthy source of information.  Specifically when it warns of the the possibility of reverse culture shock, and of an inability to really communicate about the trip with friends and family.  Neither was especially a *problem*, but they’re very real experiences.

5) The desire to emulate the cooking remains (somewhat sadly) overwhelming.  I have attempted one Italian dinner, with middling success, and will have to adjust some recipes and resign myself to the fact that I will have to make my own bread.  Aside from that…god almighty I just miss their tomatoes.

6) Relationships are…interesting when tested by a semester abroad.  Of the ~30 of us, most came in with significant others, and for many the situation devolved very quickly into high drama that was by turns entertaining and honestly tragic.  So, if you’re going to do this, be solid with your boyfriend/girlfriend, or accept the possibility that your budding romance may not survive the experience.  (In my own case, it was in many ways horrible to only get the occasional skype date, because I’d get just enough time to feel all warm and fuzzy about seeing him and then the time difference would demand that one or both of us get going.  At the same time, though, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ definitely applied, and ultimately we got through it and just managed to tack 3 freebie months on to our running total.  So I’m certainly not saying it’s hopeless ; )

7) I’m going back to Italy and to Florence at some point.  Have to.  Will probably be years from now, and will probably require much scrimping and saving to make it happen, but I’m going back.  And will hopefully be dragging some people along with me because it’s magical, dammit.  (And yes, I know that I have explicitly stated before that you can’t go in expecting a constant land of enchantment, because you can’t, but that doesn’t mean it can’t sometimes just sneak up on you.)

Long story short: a rare opportunity no matter who you are, but an astounding, amazing, fill-in-the-adjective etc. one for those actually prepared for the realities of it.  Not everyone took it seriously, and I’m sure that will still be the case for future classes, but even a month later I can still say without a doubt that it was an honor to be part of this.


And P.S. —

Still love you, Duomo. Don’t ever change ❤


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Posted by on January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


Day 104 L’ultima mattina e mi manca gia Italia

Saturday, 5:57 AM

And just like that…

Still haven’t even begun to wrap my head around it, but I’m leaving for the airport in one hour, and will be out of the country and heading home in less than four.

Had my last dinner — spaghetti al pomodoro, pollo, finocchi, biscotti.  Had my last celebratory glass of Vin Santo (which, out of all the alcohol I’ve had here, probably comes closest to being my favorite when it’s done right).  Finally learned the Italian word for ‘to return something.’

Took my last pictures with my host mom.  Finished packing.  Spent a few hours out on the street and on buses soaking in the last Italian I’ll hear for…I don’t want to think about how long.

This is not quite the last blog post here, as there are still at least a couple things I want to cover, but this is the last time I’ll be writing from Florence.  And all I find myself able to say is that this has been undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I already miss it like I can’t even believe.

BUT, flip side is that I’ve been away from home from far too long, and if I’m going to miss this city when I leave then at least I’ll get to stop missing everything (everyone) else.  And honestly, it’s hard to really let the melancholy sink in when I’m also feeling so ridiculously euphoric.  Home! Favorite people! Christmas!


So, Dear Everyone:

I’ll see you in 16 hours : D

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Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Family, Food, Language, Persons & Peoples


DAY 103

Friday, 12:15 pm

I’ve spent every spare moment since the last time I wrote doing stuff for finals week, and now I am DONE with every academic component of my semester abroad and I don’t even know what to do with myself.  But I’m going to go figure it out, and it is absolutely going to involve leaving the house, so just wanted to say that I’ll be back in later to start wrapping everything up and in the meantime will be trying to deal with the fact that I leave tomorrow.


…See you soon 🙂

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


(Day 97) The Heartfelt *Headdesk*

Saturday, 11:40 pm

I am still working on the paper.  Incredibly, outrageously, horrifically, I am still working on this paper.  I think it may just have an ethical objection to existence, but that has never yet been accepted by a professor as a reason for not doing your homework.

Anyway.  Still can’t write much (which is very frustrating, as there’s actually a fair bit to say), but I’ve been taking photos lately and how about we just look at some pretty things and don’t think about typing anymore.


Alright, back in as soon as I can, and let us just acknowledge for the moment that A) it is December, B) we have six days left, and C) this means that I can only have paper + presentation + project + presentation + final exam + library + last-week events for so much longer.  C is obviously not the most significant implication of us being down to less than a week here, but turns out that it’s awfully hard to think grand-scheme-of-things when you’re on a deadline, so C makes me happy anyway.

…Yup, back later.  Buonanotte : )

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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Classes, The City, Travel and Touristing


(Day 96) Sorry!

Friday, 9:33 pm

Apologies for not coming in to write when I said I would — and sorry for not writing now, because as it so happens we are still doggy-paddling our way through that river o’ work.

Doing a blog post will, if all goes well, be one of my many rewards tomorrow night for *FINALLY* finishing this paper and presentation, so I’ll try to get on that.  See you tomorrow : )

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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Classes, Meta


(Day 90)

Saturday, 4:40 pm

Slightly embarrassed to say that there is no reason whatsoever for me to be writing right now — it’s just that I realized that today was our ninetieth day in Florence, and turns out I’m shallow enough to want a post to mark that.

…Nope, there is truly no other reason to be here.  So, although all I want out of life right now is the chance to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I suppose it’s back to procrastinating on my homework.


Urghh *shudder.*  But, in the immortal words of King Arthur (and discounting “Run away!” as unhelpful):

“You make me sad.

So be it!”

(And carnage ensues.)

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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Classes


(Day 88) Buon Ringraziamento

Thursday, 9:00 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, American people : D

Finally made it back in, and what I would like to do now is provide some variation from the bullet-lists and make up for the posting delay with a giant picspam.

However, what my internet and available time will *allow* me to do is post a couple photos (with more to come as soon as the month rolls over on my internet key) and do a quick bullet list.  So.

  • ROME, from last Thursday to Sunday night.  Second wind, feels-like-vacation time.  A *LOT* of walking, and on very terrible cobble streets.  A *LOT* of museums, which were much more enjoyable.  An exclusive trip up to the very top level of the Coliseum, normally closed to the public.  A likewise exclusive trip to the Necropolis, the preserved ‘city of the dead’ under the Vatican.  An amazing, once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Sistine Chapel almost emptied of people but all lit up — because we happened to be there around closing time when a famous soccer coach was getting a private tour.  (This also meant we could sneak photos, as the coach’s group was doing it and the guards were all lining up for photos with him anyway.)  Possibly the best gelato I have ever had (white chocolate and dark chocolate from a place called Giolitti’s) paid for by our professors after a walking tour.  And on Sunday, the Galleria Borghese found to be a new contender for favorite art museum: (A) I knew I had a good feeling about this place, and (B) Bernini’s sculptures are in actual fact better in person and I could not. stop. staring.  Oh, plus Raphael ❤


    Wait for it…


  • Got back into Florence late Sunday evening, and found that we now have a new house-mate.  The Brazilian girl who lived down the hall had departed Saturday (which we knew about), and in her place there is now a middle-aged Japanese woman who will be here for two weeks studying at Linguaviva.  She (Toshiko) already has a little Italian, but astonishingly mine is actually much better, so I’ve been helping her out at Gabriella’s request.  I like her, she’s friendly and enthusiastic and she gave me a Japanese keychain : )
  • Also, found out when we went into the city center Monday morning that Florence has officially switched over to Christmas.  Don’t know what the trigger was, but the grocery store is all decked out and so are most of the other retailers — and I know it’s all commercial, but Christmas lights!
  • Monday, Tuesday,  Wednesday — homework.  Now that we’re done with Italian class, all attention is turned to the paper I have to write for the Medici art history class (Raphael’s work as a reflection of Pope Leo X’s court), the final exam I have to take for the same class, the final project for Weaving the Tale (the creation of a visual narrative and a 2-page statement about it), and more sketches for the Studio class.  Two weeks, readysetgo.
  • Today, though, a little break in the form of a field trip.  It was still technically a class day, in that we visited a Medici villa (Poggio a Caiano) and talked about its signficance, but after that we got a tour of a little place that manufactures both wine and olive oil, and were then treated to a magnificent oil-based meal.  (And seriously, after all my time here I can say that Capazzano has hands-down the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted.)  It was a traditional harvest meal, and we were to think of it as our Italian Thanksgiving — there was wine, more wine, bread with spinach and beans, penne, slices of ham and mashed potatoes, and we ended on an apple tort (by special request of Jodie as a pseudo apple pie).*  Weather-wise it was a perfect day, and I think we all walked away pretty happy…and, in some cases, rather tipsy.  Made the bus ride interesting : )
  • Got back to Florence, did homework for a while, and geared up for dinner.  And I’m very glad I went a little light on lunch, because Gabriella had prepared bread, slices of turkey, peas, corn (which she is unfamiliar with, and apologized for making “with love but no experience”), and ultimately a very impressive apple crisp.  Yay non-English-speaking double Thanksgiving \o/
  • Tomorrow, of course, have to start walking off all the food, and then it’s back to work.  If there are any interesting developments I shall pass them along, and otherwise I’ll probably be back in Wednesday night or Thursday after we have gone to ~the opera~.
  • Buonanotte : )

*The names of all these foods sound so much better in Italian: crostini con cavolo nero e fagioli, penne ai tre cavoli, arista all’olio nuovo con puree di patate, torta di melee.  Italian changes the off-putting ‘eggplant’ into my favorite ‘melanzana’ (which I can and will keep talking about), turns the baffling ‘pineapple’ into the ever-fun ‘ananas,’ makes plain broth into ‘minestrina’, and even ‘broccoli’ can be softened into ‘broccolini’ (which, incidentally, is delicious and is weirdly *the* thing on which I am most likely to overeat).  It is the world’s unparalleled language at dinnertime.

…But then again, English does have snickerdoodles.  Tough call.