Archive for January, 2010

Now going by that title, is your imagination at work? When you spend ten days in Italy for an Arts and Humanities course, do not think just of endless hours spent in museum after museum, observing masterpiece after another. However, learning about the many artists, such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Bernini, and DaVinci, who created the works out of their imagination was brilliant, but there was much more to the trip. Cause in the end, artwork was not the only excitement that happened. When the professor went on his own way, we were free to explore for ourselves. This provided ample time to entertain ourselves which balanced out the ruthless hours of museum visits.

We explored in lands known as Vatican City, Rome, Florence, and Milan. Now, here comes the first question. Have you ever heard of the man named Bennie? No? Well that’s only his nickname. You should be more familiarized with Benedict or Your Holiness. Along with a few thousand people, I along with the rest of the Dublin crew was in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. On Wednesdays for free admission (if you can get tickets), you can have the Pope come speak to the audience. He first started off with a long sermon in Italian, and then addressed each language, depending on who’s in the audience, in a welcoming speech. Most people in attendance were from either college groups or tour groups. Any group could add their name to a list of what would eventually lead being called off. When called off, that group would quickly be able to stand off and address themselves to the Pope. Some groups jumped up to wave, but others sang chants in their own languages … or just screamed like crazy lunatics. That sure gave an impression to the Pope. In the end, the Pope would bless each group with a hand stretched out towards them. I was hoping our group would be called off and I felt the adrenaline was pumping. Even though there are seven our group, we wanted to cheer the loudest and do “the wave”.

Apparently our professor was late in handing in our name.

So, I ended up being disappointed when we did not hear our name. However, the Pope blessed the audience as a whole. For that, I am thankful. I have been blessed. Woot!

The rest of our time in Rome consisted of visiting St. Peter’s Basilica and climbing to the top of its dome (designed by Michelangelo), visiting the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill, Pantheon, Spanish Steps and many (and I mean numerous amounts) museums. Let’s just say that everything is truly amazing to see. I could not explain all the sites in enough words. I am too enthused by what I saw.

And this girl was exhausted to no end.

But, I did spend my 21th birthday in Rome too!!! Now this birthday girl had one great time. That consisted of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel (the basilica and pope was on a different day). Also, visiting the Castel Sant’Angelo and having some gelato (called gelati there) next to the outer walls of the Vatican city. The day was warm, beautiful, and excellent. To end the birthday off, we had another round of gelato, but we had it next to the Trevi fountain at night! The only thing I could ask for were to have my twin brother with me. But, please save me some cake brother.

Can you freeze cake to May?

…Excuse the passing thought. My family said they were going to save the celebration until May.

Now going from Rome to Florence, we had trouble with gypsies at the train station. Gypsies are everywhere in Rome and try to con you for money. Four gypsies pretended to be workers at the station by escorting us to our seats and helping us with our luggage. Through another passenger who noticed the people were not really workers for the train, he began yelling at them and said in Italian that they were going to notify the police (I knew this because he was saying Polizia). Nothing was taken from me, however another passenger possibly had something stolen from her. But, were not sure. Our professor Piotr (sounds like Peter) was pretty upset about the situation. He has never had this happen to him on any of his Italy trips. I was pretty upset too. When you find out that you were being “one upped” by someone else who was a gypsy…psssh, damn you gypsy.
The second city scheduled for our class, Florence, was amazing. This is the location of where the Cathedral di Santi Maria del Fiore rests, worlds 4th largest Cathedral. It is one of my favorite Cathedrals because as I walk down a street, you hit a corner and it just appears. To try and explain this better, the cathedral is so jam-packed to other buildings, I was not able to see it until I was literally right next to it. I turned around the corner and look up in awe! When exploring the insides of the structure the inside was very plain-looking, however, when you climb to the top of its dome, you get a fantastic view of the city. All roofs throughout the city have a reddish-orange color to them.
During our time in Florence, we saw Michelangelo’s David (the original is actually inside a museum), went to the National Museum that holds many famous works of art that is so cool to actually see in person, saw frescos and sculptures like Donatello’s David. Also, I was able to walk through the outside markets and haggled down the price of a soccer/ football jersey that was the official jersey of the Florence team.

When we were not with the professor, we walked around Florence at night. We met some random American’s studying abroad as well, but they were from schools in Italy. The Cathedral at night was pretty spooky, but at the same, an awesome piece of architecture. The guys and I decided that it would be pretty frightening to climb the Dome of the Cathedral at night, since at that time we were talking about ghost stories. But, ghosts were not the only thing lurking on the streets at night.

The hobo’s (people living on the streets) were taking hostage in the city as well. Two people of our group offered a hobo some pizza. But for some reason, outright refused. Fine, no food for you.

The last day in Italy consisted of going to Milan. World’s modeling and fashion capital from what I have heard. It was crazy fantastic. We spent only half a day there, but we were able to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and I did not realize how large the painting is. We also visited the world’s third largest cathedral. Now, that was a site to see. There was a lot of pretty window shopping as well. I am not too into shopping, but the city has done a wonderful job in fashion.

What an awesome ten days!
Italy over and out!

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The Real World…DUBLIN

That is our study abroad theme while living together in Dublin for four and a half months. Our guide Colum is really stressing the family theme to us. Most of the group wants to travel anyways, so it is perfect for me!

The Real World…DUBLIN!

Next up, ITALY for ten days!!!

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Once I unloaded my things into the apartment, I was picked up by our counselor Colum. We walked through part of the city over to the other apartments to grab the rest of the students that arrived the same day. However to get everywhere, the main thing to do is walk. So, it took about ten to fifteen minutes to get to the other apartment, grab them, then walk to the school which is around another fifteen minutes. So, my transportation this semester is walking, however to get to class everyday is going to take about 25 minutes one-way.

We were given a quick tour of the school, which is really 10 houses together on the same street. One of which is Oscar Wilde’s old home. Crazy history right there!

Anyways Colum told the rest of us that it was a bad idea to go out to a pub tonight, considering we just flew in, etc, etc. Something about Jet Lag and busy day tomorrow…ear muffs what? We basically ignored him and went out anyways. So on the first night, the 9 of us (not all the students flew in yet) went out and had a good time.  But, the accent, clothes, and just the way we act just scream American. I along with two other students were picked on. But Colum said it was the past time here, everyone picks on everyone for joke. I hope so.

The next day consisted of what called Colum calls it “a blizzard outside”. That is pretty hilarious considering its natural that back at home we get around a foot of snow and still will not have school cancelled. The blizzard consisted of an inch of snow on the ground. Apparently this is the most snow they have gotten in over 20 maybe 40 years! So, it takes them longer to realize that they can still live on with snow a little snow. While they figure that out, school cancels, transportation is at its minimun, and the airport closes. So, while we were walking down a street, we watched three ten-year-old kids each carrying a bundle of snowballs. When I was crossing the street towards them, I pelted a snowball at one of the kids chests. That ended up causing causing the kids to scream in retaliation, while me being slammed with a few in the back. Way to start an international snow war. One of the guys from our group was actually was hit by a snowball on the second floor of a pub while exiting a bathroom. Apparently, someone opened up a window directly in front of the bathroom and had people from below target practice on people leaving the restroom. So, the guy was pelted in the chest with one. Pretty hilarious when the guy from our group came walking down the stairs with a big round impression of a snowball on his shirt.

In that same pub, we had one really inebriated old man talk to us for ten minutes. He actually said he has been to Upstate New York before, and randomly kept spitting out random words such as…popping popcorn and mexicans. What? Anyways we left from that pub do go look for some place to chill out at next and watch some football. Eagles lost what!!!? Quite disappointed. Maybe next year? I keep telling myself that. Moving on….we decided to go to another pub and while walking to it, one local actually came up to us looking to ask if we knew where a specific pub was. Maybe meeting with some friends? Anyways, we had no idea where it was at. But we convinced him to join us. His name was Seamus. Cool dude. I think after we said we were Americans, he jumped onto the band wagon. Were just very too resist. Sweet deal.

The following day, AKA today, we ended up going to the Guiness factory. A twenty minute walk from my apartment. I forgot my camera and missed out on some really cool views. The factory/ museum was designed to look like a pint glass! With around 7 floors worth a museum tutorials surrounding it and some taste testing. I was taught how to poor beer as well and was given a certificate of accomplishment. That should count as a three-credit course right? No? Oh well…

The most wicked part of the factory consisted of the top floor.  A 360 panorama view of the city! It was wicked.

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the arrival

Greetings all! So here is the start of our wonderful adventure in which I shall tell you of my life while living in Dublin and other places for the next four months. As a friend of mine put it, Anarchy in Dublin. That is right. Dublin won’t know what hit them. I have already been immersed into the cultural life tagging along with the rest of the study abroad students.

But lets start with me getting from home to Dublin. I mean seriously, who does not want to hear that? Psshh, I got this.

So, after saying farewell to the new world (trying to see as many people as I could before I left and spending time with my family), I boarded on my four passenger flight to Toronto. That’s right, I had a quiet flight with 3 business people, one which actually gave me some altoid mints. Nice old lady. It was one of the oldest planes I have flown in before, in which my seat was smack dab next to the engines. That engine was constantly shaking, which gave me one of the biggest butt massages that I have ever had. Okay, that was  my first butt massage, but still it was pretty bad. My next flight from Toronto was delayed for two hours, which made me late for my final flight from London to Dublin. However, I meet this cool Irish kid name Jon. He was flying back and forth from Ireland to Vancouver these past few months to visit his girlfriend who has been working out there. Anyways we spent the 7 hour flight comparing and contrasting the United States to Ireland in a long conversation. And we ended up teaming together to make our next flight which was already boarding. In a mad dash through the airport, anyone around me could either hear me wheezing for air our giggling in joy (since it was the first excitement that I had, or just watch me running through, do not mess with someone about to miss their flight. Which did end up happening. Probably because I had to file custom papers and had one of my bags in Heathrow being checked thoroughly. That took 5 minutes. The woman actually sampled each liquid by putting each sample on a small glass film and sent it through a machine. Ohh and then made me gulp all the water I had with me, even though I had it on me in the previous plane.

Yeah I missed my first flight.

But Jon waited for me, which was super nice of him and then we took the next connecting flight in from Heathrow to Dublin.

Once we departed ways in the airport, I met up with a counselor from the school and another study abroad student who ended up being on the last flight as I.

The taxi driver whisked us away through a very slow drive through the city of Dublin who gave us little snippets of some of the places we passed getting to our apartments. My apartment has to be around 50 yards from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Which is really amazingly beautiful I might add. However, not so beautiful when you wake up to blaring church bells that sometimes may last up to seven or eight minutes on Sundays. Yup, that was my alarm clock this morning.

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