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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 67) Another Thursday

9:22 pm

Been getting caught up in the sudden appearance of more homework than I thought I had, so sorry for the continued absenteeism — and thank you for your continuing patience to those who have sent me emails, I will have replied to all of you by tomorrow.

Still actually have stuff I have to do tonight, so this will be kind of brief, but I had a good day today and happy moods are worth sharing.  So:

  • This morning, everyone had to meet at Linguaviva at 8:00 so that we could all go down to the police station / immigration center and deal with the ongoing visa checks.  This necessitated getting up at an ungodly hour to catch a bus downtown, but it also meant that I got to wander around for a couple of minutes when the sun had just risen and the streets were still more-or-less empty.  The only people around were some nuns, and some vendors in a state of pre-pushiness as they set up their stalls for the day.

 

  • It is also important to note that the street in ^that picture^, with the stalls, smelled like apple fritters.  They have no such things here, so I know I must have been hallucinating, but it was nice.
  • The police station stuff was no big deal (although they got all our fingerprints, so I am now in the system D:), and after that we were all told to go to a cafe near the station, where our professor bought us each a drink and a pastry.  Day instantly better, and also meant I scored a free lunch ; )
  • Came up with an idea for my final paper in the Medici class, got books, getting started.
  • Had another successful exchange with a random Italian, and a fairly long one at that.  A woman came up to me at the bus stop to ask a question (I get this at least once a day, apparently me surrounded by other people at a bus stop = glowing symbol of trustworthiness), and I gave her a one-word answer and then apologized for not speaking Italian.*  She made my day by replying that she thought I spoke very well, with a ‘buon accento,’ and proceeded to pursue conversation for the entire 20 minute ride back to the station — and by God, ~I got it.~  Even though she spoke very quietly, and even though she ultimately insisted on using English so she could practice, talking with locals has been achieved \o/
  • In the evening, went to drawing class, and actually came up with a finished project that I don’t hate (or at least not yet).  Plus, we get to spend the entire time before Rome continuing to work on figures rather than casts, and this makes me one happy camper.
  • Learned over dinner that “mm” may translate into Italian, but “mmhmm” may not.  Requires further investigation, but made for a good talk.
  • I go in tomorrow morning to keep working on the library’s catalog process, and can already officially say that we’re almost done.  Or rather, that we’re ALMOST DONE! 😀
Have to do a project/paper and preparation for an oral report this weekend, but shouldn’t be bad.  Then it’s a week and a half until Rome, three weeks until Thanksgiving, five weeks til home.  Woah.
*Funnily enough, all of my truly successful conversations have started with me explaining that I don’t speak Italian.  God bless low expectations?
 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Classes, Language, Persons & Peoples, The City

 

(Day 56) Heads Up

Sunday, 8:47 pm

Week of freedom over, back to work — now with the knowledge that we are over halfway through our time here and are now counting down instead of up  O.o

I am carefully squeezing the last drops of permitted laziness out of my Sunday (it’s called being ‘pigre’ here, and I’m a big fan), but just wanted to let you know that it’s very likely I won’t get to post again until next weekend.  The last week of October was always going to be one of the busiest times here, because we’ve got those visiting professors here on top of regular classes, and now this insanity is finally upon us.  Over the next four days, currently looking at:

  • Two sessions of Weaving the Tale, one of which takes us to Palazzo Davanzati.  Have to keep doing the readings and start wrapping up our assignment for the “Decameron,” including one 8-page assignment and then an essay that’s 5-6 pages and needs a visual component.
  • Three sessions of Italian, one of which involves another test.
  • Three sessions of drawing, and work on the sketchbook assignment.
  • Two sessions of the Medici class, one of which takes us to the Uffizi and the other to the church of Santa Trinita.  Study for the midterm, and prepare oral report.
  • A definitely scheduled guest lecture on Tuesday at San Marco.
  • A guest lecture Wednesday morning.
  • A guest lecture Thursday at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
  • And at least one shift in the ACM library.
…Just move, don’t think, look up and it’s the weekend.  Fingers crossed : )
BUT, in the meantime, more Italian YouTube, because it is an addiction that cannot be helped.  I am sorry to inform my father that there is no such thing as an Italian Sesame Street, but I hereby offer to screw up your sense of the familiar* with five minutes of the film known here as “La Storia Fantastica.”  This was one of the first things I made sure I knew how to say, so:
Have a good week ^^
*Just a sort of fyi, but anyone who’s going to be studying here may want to pay attention to that feeling of so-close-but-so-wrong, because it’s going to be like that ALL THE TIME.  It’s fun if you let it be, but just make sure you’re not overly attached to your comfort zone ; )
 
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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in Classes, Language, Meta

 

(Day 53) Pro-Procrastination

Thursday, 9:56 pm

It only took me most of my break, but I’m finally feeling good and productive; spent most of today tearing back and forth between readings for class and a couple sketches and lots and lots of notes about ideas for my senior art show, and while I have *finished* nothing, I have put an admirable amount of energy into getting things kinda-started.

So that’s good : )

But now, while I still have a bit more I’d like to get done tonight, I would really like to waste some time first.  So quick run-down of the last couple days:

  • Tuesday involved some readings and some skype time and an embarrassing number of naps.  But, woke up in the evening and was rewarded by a very nice dinner out with another student and his parents; Alex is one of the few ACM-ers staying in Florence over break, and he and his family were kind enough to have me join them.  All three incredibly nice people, and English speakers to boot hallelujah* — so once again a very big thank you : )
  • Speaking of that dinner, though, it did have its sinister side; this would be because we had wine and bread and ravioli and gnocchi and salad and legumes and steak and sweet potatoes and meatballs, and the next day I STILL WOKE UP HUNGRY.  Be warned, people, this program does seriously warped things to your stomach.
  • Wednesday morning I finally worked up the fit of energy needed to haul myself over to the Uffizi Gallery, so we can now cross that off the ‘to do’ list.  A wonderful museum and well worth the time (especially when you actually get to skip the wait time because you’ve got a free pass \o/), but the trouble is that so many of the really heartstopping works by Italy’s great artists wound up making their way into France’s Musee du Louvre that I feel spoiled by having seen that museum first.  …And this is probably blasphemy but I still prefer the Venetian Accademia.
  • Some random Italian man is right this minute singing out in the middle of the street.  One presumes drunkenly, but ?
  • Today, woke up to storms, which is always fantastic.  Kept my pedestrian self in out of the rain all day, plowed through a ridiculous amount of academic article material, took internet breaks as necessary,** found a totally demented faux-American-English song recorded by an Italian in 1973 (which, hip thrusts aside, gives a pretty nice idea of what this language sounds like to everyone else), and…well, here we are.
Back to work : )
———————————[For reasons unknown this thing is eating lines between paragraphs.  Sorry]——————-
*Still loving Italian, and I am dead set on getting the hang of it eventually, but by this time I can readily admit that having to attempt it every single day is a bit exhausting.  And frustrating, especially at dinner; between Nino, Gabriella and Alessandra, there’s pretty much always adult-level conversation going on (not to mention the times when Nino and Gabriella’s grown children are over), and I can’t really add to it without immediately dragging the whole exchange back down to grade school and feeling like an idiot.
———
The revelation of the moment being, I think, that I just miss talking.  After all, even as a typically non-talkative person one still gets attacks of loquacity, and I think that what I could really use at the moment is just the opportunity for a good old-fashioned rant delivered at high speed and drawing on a superfluously complicated vocabulary somewhere south of the vernacular.
———
Guess I’m just not a fan of baby steps.
————————————————————————————————————————————
**Not at all related to anything study abroad, but I really enjoyed this, and if it is not the nerdiest thing you have seen all day then I owe you an apology cookie:  The Dance Your PhD Competition
 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Art, Family, Food, Language, Persons & Peoples, The City

 

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(Day 51) BRB

Sorry nothing got in here last night, internet keeled over again.

Not too much to report anyway, though; yesterday was a really nice day, and I was still pretty attached to being lazy, so I just went for a walk through the center of town and then down by the river.

     

And, although I had money on me and would have been inclined to part with it had I met with something pretty, it stayed strictly a walk because yesterday was a Monday.  Monday, in Florence, is the day of the week for the half of the city that didn’t shut down on Sunday to finally do so — so you step out to try to go somewhere or do something, and niente.

But as I said, yesterday was a very pleasant day regardless, and today I think I’m going to attempt to make it into the Uffizi Gallery on my fancy museum pass.  After that…we’ll see what it feels like a day for : )

Also, just a heads up: if blog updates thin out a little over the next couple days, that will be because I am (finally) updating that student resources page.

….

P.S. — This ties in with absolutely nothing, but did you know that being in another country makes your internet automatically present itself in that country’s language?  So that if, for example, you go to look up the trailer for the “Avengers” movie, you will always get the Italian version first?

It is also important to note that Italians prefer dubbing to subtitles.  And that, for someone who is already familiar with the actors‘ Samuel L. Jackson’s voice, this is hilarious.

The Avengers (2012) guarda il primo teaser trailer ufficiale

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Culture, Language, The City

 

(Day 49) Doing Nothing, but with Great Vigor

Not much to report today, as I was sleeping a bit too much to have time to really start anything.  So instead, random updates related to Italian:

  • After about 7 weeks, I am at a basic (basic basic, and I cannot stress that enough) conversational level.  My Italian class is somehow behind all the other Italian classes, but one of my goals this week is to look through some grammar books on my own and see if I can’t speed up the process a little, because I would really like to improve my speaking confidence.  That’s not to say I can’t already speak (to a certain extent), but the only *real* win right now is how much I’m able to understand.
  • Example: The other day I decided to break out an old Josh Groban album to see if I could make out the meaning of the songs that were in Italian.  And I absolutely could (\o/).
  • On one hand, this is exhilarating; most of the words came easily, and this feels like a huge step forward.  On the other hand, it’s kind of wrecked these songs for me, as the actual lyrics are so incredibly intense and sappy that it’s really hard to listen to them without laughing: “I breathe you in the universe” / “I will live for you” / “Love will win!!” / etc., it’s all rather unfortunate : )
  • The big reason I’m proud of my level of comprehension is that I’ve never studied a romance language before.  Unlike many students here who have taken French or Spanish, and unlike the Brazilian girl who lives with us who speaks both Portuguese and French, I’ve got no familiarity bells whatsoever rung by the words I hear.  Absolutely everything is new, and I think that in light of that I’m taking it all in at a fairly decent rate of absorption.
  • Be that as it may, though, the nice thing about learning a language in the place where it’s spoken is that it is absolutely impossible to get a big head about your progress.  One moment you step out into the world feeling confident and on top of things, and then the cashier uses a word for ‘sack’ that you’ve never heard before.  *sigh,* hello again humility.
Overall, it remains a complicated situation, but I guess the briefest summary is as follows;

The other day, learned a new word in Italian — ‘bruciare,’ and it means to burn.  Immediately after this, learned a new word in English — ‘extradiegetic,’ and it means existing outside the narrative reality.  

I will have to be working on that gap in my vocabularies.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Classes, Language

 

(Day 7) L’italiano

Just a quick-ish blurb about class tonight, because I wanted to talk about the living situation but it rained all afternoon and I couldn’t get the pictures I wanted to go with that post.  *Sadness.*

So: as mentioned before, this entire first month of the program is dedicated solely to an intensive course on Italian.  Three 9-student classes, each meeting with a different teacher from 9:00 to 10:30 and 11:00 to 12:30 — in other words, a pretty lenient schedule.  Also the environment is relaxed and cosy and has a door onto a balcony, so it’s hardly an excruciating place to spend the morning.

Assisting with the non-excruiating pleasantness is our teacher, a man going by the very Italian name of Umberto.  He’s funny, encouraging…and kind of *always* cheerful.  Really: last Wednesday(?) he missed class, and we found out the next day that this was because (to paraphrase what we were told) he’d been in the hospital on account of being beaten up by a hobo at a train station.  Aside from being one of the best excuses for absenteeism I’ve ever heard, this is also a very not-happy thing to have happen — but in comes Umberto on Thursday, gesturing his way through the story (“Pow pow!” / *exaggerated shock face*), and then getting on with the lesson.  Which, as always, included a single Italian pop song playing on repeat while we did our exercises, and therefore also included our teacher’s musical accompaniment.

…No comment.  BUT, I think we do all realize how lucky we are to have the Linguaviva staff and guys like Umberto to be showing us around the language.  Just all over molto carino, and it’s making the entire stay in Florence so much less stressful than it could have been.

As far as the Italian itself — it’s actually amazing how much you can learn in a week.  Still have nowhere near enough, of course, and I think we’ll get to the end of the 15 weeks having only just realized how much we don’t know, but it’s exciting anyway.  For right now, we just need WAY more vocabulary, and then we really just need to keep going to class and making progress on our grammar and usage and pronunciation.  You know, so that we can do stuff like say “faccio” (pronounced “fah-tcho”) without making it sound like “fack-you.”

…And that’s pretty much all I have to say about class, I guess. It clips along at a good pace but is completely doable, and the quiz we took on Friday morning was the next-best thing to a joke; if you studied at all, you were fine.  So hopefully that will continue, and non-stressful + very useful + fun = we may well be in for an excellent September.

And now I’ve got to go bed while I can still stay upright enough to change into pajamas, and you all have a great..afternoon?  Yeah : )

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Classes, Language, Persons & Peoples