Monday, May 13, 2013

a giovedi!

Italian Conversation exam: done
Italian Written exam: done
Part 1 of 2 for Literature: done 
Part 2 for Literature: in progress
Italian oral exam: tomorrow
Art History Final: tomorrow
Photography: done

The end is near! I have 5 precious days left here in Siena. 
This past weekend was a blast. So many things to do in the city center now that the weather is nice! 
Sunday I went to a picnic lunch at Orto di Peci, which is probably the coolest spot in Siena. A small park with goats, a mule, and fabulous play area! I went with Gioia and her children. They have become my younger brother and sister!!
Happy belated mothers day mumma! We had a great dinner at home with Anna Maria and her kids and Giuseppe and Davide joined us. (Anna Maria's boyfriend and his son). I bought her the cutest group of creamsicle colored roses. She LOVED them. She was so excited and so happy that I had thought of her! Her kids didn't even get her anything!! I was SHOCKED! She is an amazing cook, mother, and friend! 

Saturday we visited Boboli Gardens with the Lit class. Amazing when I can compare it to the other gardens we visited in the last few weeks! I was hurried to get back to Siena for some studying and took the night off. I joined a few of my classmates at Corte di Miracoli (Court of Miracles) .. the miracle was the next morning NO hangover! We had a blast for our last big Saturday night in Siena together. We also went to the fortress for an italian style "carival" ... it was NOT like the coconino county fair at all! The rides were so dangerous! I was shocked! The junk food was pretty much the same, popcorn, cotton candy, but the crepes were Nutella! They looked yummy! We went on the 'scary' ride and laughed the entire time .. can't even explain how cheesy it was. I also ran into two of my favorite students, Lorenzo and Pietro at the carnival with their parents. It's nice to see the kids outside the school environment, and trying to speak English to me! It amazes me how far they have come!

This afternoon when I was taking the bus home and one of the students I teach English too was with his mother. His eyes lit up and his mouth broke into a huge grin. He started waving and when I walked over to him we had a conversation in Italian! I met his mother and she did not speak English at all so I really had to use my Italian! I found out that they live in the same neighborhood as me. When he got off the bus he yelled "a giovedi!!" [meaning see you Thursday] and waved to me until the bus took off again. His smile and excited nature made my day! I really hope I do make an impact on the students I teach. I learn so much from them! 

I will post pictures as soon as this week calms down. I am going to start traveling here pretty soon and will TRY MY HARDEST to post my weekly happenings, but I am so unsure of internet and such. Facebook (or my mother) will have to keep you posted if I do not have the time to blog!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why it's grease lightnin' !!

Holy hills! I just got home from a beautiful Sunday morning run. These hills will be the death of me though!
Christos Anesti!! Happy Easter to all my Orthodox Christian family and friends! I was really hoping to attend a service or two in Florence this weekend, but it didn't work out. 

Yesterday I went to the town of Chiusi with three of the teachers I work with who are putting on the Grease performance. The students did AMAZING!!! I was so proud of them. They made it to the next round next Sunday! Everyone was impressed with their singing in English and their acting in Italian. They really had a blast.
It was nice to be back stage again.. it reminded me of my days at NDP  and my high school drama family. Mrs. Wilson has inspired in me such a wonderful love for theater and I will forever be thankful for that! Wilson-- I was thinking of you the entire time :)

Two more weeks left of the actual school semester. And as finals approach I am more and more anxious for my travels this summer. I am a planner and I am learning that with men nothing gets planned, I am the only one stressing and the three boys are just 'going with the flow' .. I guess this means I need to learn to just let things be and let things happen!! Such a learning experience. 

Friday night my friend Connor's parents took a few of us out to dinner for his late 21st birthday dinner and then we went back to their apartment for wine and conversaton :) It was nice to be with parents, I miss mine. Got to hear my mom's voice yesterday [hope you two are staying out of trouble in VEGAS!] 

Will try and post pictures soon. For now, I need to study!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Family is everything

The gardens we visited for our field trip we utterly amazing! I was astounded to see how well preserved the ancient gardens and villa's were.

The rest of the week flew by, with a local trip to the Duomo for my Art History class, we are now learning more about High Renaissance artists. And luckily the famous Pinturicchio is very well known in Siena because of his fresco cycles in the Siena Cathedral Piccolomini Library. The frescos are is such great shape, full of amazing color, and tell stories of Pope Pius II's life.
I am currently writing my final paper on Pinturicchio's Annunciation, located in Rome  in the Capella Bella (1500-1501) and the Library fresco's were painted shortly after in 1503-1508. It is amazing to see them in person after studying his work for so long!

Friday was our last Art History field trip to Florence. In the morning when we first arrived Roberto did not tell us where exactly we were going, until we got off the local bus and arrived at the most AMAZING church. San Miniato al Monte -- I think this one competes for a spot in my top 5!!! It was stunning and there was the most amazing fresco of St. Christopher when we walked in. When you walk out of the church there is a breathtaking view of all of Florence. You can see the Duomo, the river, Ponte Vecchio, and the mountains in the far distant. Absolutely amazing.

--interruption worth mentioning (because I need to remember it)
I had dinner with Lorenzo tonight and when I speak to him in English he always yells jokingly "In Italiano Kali!! Non capisco!" We always have a fun dinner together, and he is adorable.
My italian sister has her final exam tomorrow and she walked into the area im studying to tell me she has anxiety for tomorrow and that her teacher makes them take two final exams to finish their degree, meanwhile she is explaining all of this in Italian to me, she explains that he is too old to be teaching still! "Lui รจ troppo vecchio e deve GO HOME" (He is too old and he has to go home). It was the perfect bonding moment.
And then Anna Maria, my italian mother, walks in from yoga and was so excited to show Elena and I the move she accomplished tonight (warrior 3). I love my family and I really got lucky with them!

From there we visited the Pitti Palace near the Bobili Gardens. Where we saw miraculous works from Raphael and so many other talented Renaissance painters and sculptors!
Our third leg of the trip was to the Uffizi (of course) and we had our looking assignments. Unfortunately my piece of art work was closed and I was so bummed! Doing research on a specific artwork and then being able to see it in real life is the coolest thing! I was soooo mad!

When I got home from Florence Elena told me we were all going out for Lorenzo's birthday dinner. I HAD NO IDEA IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY!! Schedule was supposed to go like this: Be ready by 7:45, leave the house all together at 8:00 dinner at 8:30.
Instead we were on Italian time.
Of course I was on time. Showered and all dolled up by 7:45 (make up and everything!). 8:07 Elena was still in the shower and Lorenzo hadn't showered yet. Anna Maria was upstairs watching her Soap program, Lorenzo in shower at 8:20. Anna Maria comes down at 8:40, Elena isn't ready. Decides to have her boyfriend come get her instead of come with the family. Lorenzo wants to drive separate so he can go out after dinner. Anna Maria and I leave the house with her boyfriend Giuseppe at 9:00.
I got to meet Nona and Zio (Grandma and Uncle). They are wonderful and so easy to talk to!! We ate, drank, and laughed for hours. When his 24th birthday cake came out family pictures were a must! He got one with his mom and then sister "my girls" he exclaimed. And then after Anna Maria said, "Lorenzo you need to get one with Kali, she's part of our family," he slapped his knee and said "come on!!" It was definitely a memorable moment for me. I love the tradition of have family dinners every night.

Saturday was rainy. I stayed in most of the day, crocheted, talked to mom, and worked on homework. Had lunch with some girlfriends at our local neighborhood bar and worked on homework together. We went out for pizza Saturday night, which was hilarious. I ordered the so called "Devils Pizza" because it was said to be spicy.. it was a let down! Spice here does NOT exist!! I also met a group of women outside the pizza parlor that work for an International Baccalaureate school. They gave me a lot of information about what they do and the places that this international education job can take you. I am going to look into this further, because I have always enjoyed children-- and I think teaching would be perfect for me.

**another interruption.. Elena is sitting across from me and watching me type. "Do you look at the screen or keyboard when you type?" me: "the screen" elena: "How?! "
Oh the little moments. I wish I could remember all of them.

Sunday was also a rainy day, but a great one to catch up on homework!

This week went by very fast as well! Monday- a normal day. Decided to work with a pinhole camera for my final photography project.  Really loving the way my images are coming out with a painting effect, almost an etherial glow!

When I got home from shooting some landscapes nearby my host sister was almost out the door for a run.. i asked if i could join her and she said of course! It was probably the greatest 47 minute Italian lesson I've had yet. I learned a unprecedented amount of swear words that I had to promise not to repeat in front of our italian mother. It makes me really happy to have an older sister figure to talk to about everything (she even understands my boy problems!)

Tuesday I was lucky enough to watch my students dress rehearsal for their Grease performance this weekend!
-- I had no idea until Tuesday night that they are in a competition against 20 other elementary schools! I couldn't be more proud of them! I am so excited for Saturday it's not even funny!

Wednesday I went on an amazing walk with Gioia, her children, and their visitors to all of the Contrada Fountains. I am so lucky to be in such a beautiful city with one of the longest running traditions in Italy-- the Siena Contrada's (small neighborhoods).

I apologize for waiting so long to give updates but as the end of the semester abroad ends an even bigger adventure starts with my trips around EUROPE! If anyone reading this has friends in the following areas PLEASE let me know!
Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Barcelona, Madrid, Portugal (anywhere-- this leg of the trip is completely unplanned), Ireland (anywhere in the Republic), Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Switzerland.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Spannocchia e Cinqueterre

The weekend after spring break our school had a field trip to Tenuta di Spannocchia. It is an all organic farm out in the countryside of Siena. In the morning I took a trip to a Panforte factory, which makes many of the local traditional Sienese goodies. We got a tour of the factory and then had the opportunity to taste the product fresh. Ricciarelli will still always be my favorite. Eryn Beechey - I will get the recipe for you and you have to make them!!

From the factory we took a bus to Spannocchia. When we arrived we were herded into our respective "villas". We were staying in the castle Friday night. A REAL castle. The views were magnificent and breathtaking. The weather could not have been more perfect, sun, heat, PRIMAVERA (Spring!)
When we took the tour of the castle we got a bit of history about it. It has been a family farm that offers a unique internship in three different areas: animale (the pigs), verdura (fruits and veggies) and lastly field work. We got to have dinner with the current interns on the farm. Dinner.... probably the best meal I've had here-- and most the ingredients were from the farm!
My roommate for the night, Evie, and I woke up before everyone else on the farm and went downstairs to an amazing spread for breakfast. Honey, yogurt, milk and granola all produced on the farm was offered. We grabbed cups of coffee and sat outside on the terrace just talking about life and how simple life in Italy is. How we feel so much more relaxed and calm here versus NAU!
The departure came too soon and we headed out for a picnic lunch. When we returned to Siena my literature class took a field trip to the Siena aqueducts... I was amazed! If you EVER get the chance to see an aqueduct take it. It was a bit chilly under the ground and seeing how water was distributed to the city before piping and modern ways was interesting. It was so fun, especially because Gioia's children joined us, and they were having a blast. It was very dark so we all had flashlights and headlamps!

The next week couldn't fly by fast enough. I had planned visiting Cinque Terre with two gals in my program. We left Thursday after school and went right to our hostel in Biassa. Everything went smoothly the entire weekend and we got really lucky with weather!
Friday we woke up and were shuttled to Riomaggiore, from there we took the ferry from Riomaggiore all the way up to Monterosso. Spent most of our morning on the beach sipping sangria and enjoying the sun. The water was SO cold but I had to go in! I wasn't going to be there in my bathing suit and not go in! Debrah-- put this on the list. We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza that afternoon. 2 hour 17 min hike along the coast. It was beautiful. Stunning. And coming into the next town was a true kodak moment. We had a wonderful seafood dinner in Vernazza and headed to Corniglia for the night.
In our hostel we met Charlotte. I have decided something, that meeting other travelers is probably the coolest thing about traveling. Charlotte is from Perth, Australia and has been traveling for 7 months. Her goal is a year. She finished schooling with a degree in nursing, worked hard for a year and a half and is taking her year off to travel. She was definitely inspiring! Our second day we hiked from Corniglia to Manarola about an hour and a half (took a long lunch break with seafood and white wine). Another amazing hike. Not too hard-- and the view wasnt too shabby either!! The weather was very humid and overcast which made for good Ansel Adam's like photos. We caught the next train to Riomaggiore from Manarola and met up with Charlotte in Riomaggiore for yet another SEAFOOD meal.
*if you are traveling in Cinque Terre and are a money cruncher like I am.. get the 5 euro pass for the trains that include all of the cities. We took the train back to Corniglia. By the time we got home all the gelato shops in our little town were closed BUT there were two men outside one of the shops talking and overheard us complaining that everything was closed for 'dulci' and one of the men said 'oh.. okay. come on.' and he was the owner of the gelato place we were standing in front of! HE OPENED THE SHOP FOR US! Needless to say we were 4 happy girls.
Sunday morning I woke up early and Charlotte and I decided to hike the only part of the path that I hadn't conquered. I then split from my two traveling mates and Charlotte and I grabbed coffee and breakfast at the bar (the barista was the nicest man I've ever met, Stefano, and i forgot to mention but Friday night we sat in his bar for about 3 or 4 hours chatting!)
The sun coming up while we were hiking made me feel accomplished and really alive! Charlotte is an amazing young women. For 24 years old she's way beyond her years. We had very intelligent conversations and of course girl talk. We sat on the beach in Vernazza for a while before I headed back and she continued on her travels to Milan and then to Budapest. I know (thanks to facebook) we will definitely keep in touch.

School is overwhelming. I won't name all the projects and homework I have to get done but it's alot. And all i want to do is plan my trip! Since meeting Charlotte there are so many things I have to research!! Joseph (my summer travel buddy) and I have skype dates more than I talk to my mother because of how much we are trying to plan everything out! I learned from Charlotte not to try and fit it all in (.. like I normally do).

Ah, well back to school work for me. I have a field trip to see Celsa gardens and Villa Cetinale gardens on Wednesday. Soccer Tuesday and Thursday. And elementary school English teaching Wednesday -- which, their Grease performance is coming up very fast and I am so proud of all my students!

a presto,


Sunday, April 14, 2013


Hey everyone!
So mainly I am writing because my mother wanted me to and because everyone comments to her about my blog! There is a comment section below if you ever want to ask me anything/find out more about something!
(Deborah-- I'm keeping tags on where you need to visit while you're here).

The best way to describe the past two weeks is in pictures.
Spring break started in London with Mom, which was amazing. Fish and chips all the way! We got to see Wicked in wicked awesome seats!!! It was my first time seeing it and I was utterly amazed. Such a powerful story and the lyrics truly inspire! Seeing Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, and Windsor Castle was probably my favorite day! The QUEEN was in residence during our visit! My old colleagues Mia and Ryan would have loved that visit! It was very special. I also had the best french martini I've ever had at Henry's Bar right next to Green Park. The weather wasn't so great but being with mom made up for it :)

Our train ride to Paris was actually really cool! A nice break from flying cheap airlines like ryanair!!
After MUL-TI-PLE attempts to get my father to come up from Toulouse to Paris, HE and my MOTHER surprised me!! He arrived really late and my mother made me stay up (we went to the bar, naturally) when all I wanted to do was sleep!

Here are just a few pictures from Spring Break.

Queens flag! 

Roman Baths!

It was FREEZING at Stonehenge

The past week has been busy getting back into routine and trying to get all my reading done for classes. I'm not sure, but I feel like I have more reading required here than I have in any of my science classes! Crazy! Nonetheless I'm enjoying the book we just started for my Literature class, Italian Environmental Literature -- a series of poems, prose, and environmental literature by Italian writers. Simply a beautiful translation into English.
The elderly are currently my favorite part of Siena. I am so impressed with how old they are and still managing to walk up tedious hills in the city center AND step on and off busses as swiftly as the teenagers. It is truly amazing and I am learning it has to do with food-- its so fresh -- and lack of personal transportation so they WALK every where. I'm amazed and hope I can initiate that type of routine in my everyday life in the States.

Tuesday at soccer practice I met a young girl, age 7, named Matilde. Because I am not on the "team" I practice/scrimmage with the WAAAAY younger crowd... but it's the best because I partly get to coach and I have an undying passion to interact with children.
Matilde was very shy at first. She doesn't have a team or any teammates because she is the youngest girl. The high school team is 13-18, middle school group 10-12, and Matilde has no one. We were doing our warm up laps and she got so tired of running and dribbling and asked if she could run without the ball. It was so precious. We had a short conversation during stretching-- simple stuff: age, where do I live, why I'm in Italy. And we just clicked. We were partners durning a few skill drills and every time she didn't get the ball back to me she would exclaim "Scusa!!!" When I had to leave to catch the last bus home she asked with a sad face if I was ever coming back and how many practices I would be coming to, I told her I'd be there as much as I can :)
Thursday I missed the bus to practice so I ended up running to Uopini, about a 5k UPHILL. You want to know or talk about hills? Oh Mio Dio! I ran a race this morning with my host mother Anna Maria. 15k. I was 'Margherita' for the day because I didn't have the proper health form.. we had a blast and the best part was that a bottle of WINE was our 'medal'. I finished in an hour and a half and am so happy I got the opportunity to run it with my host mom! It made for a good mother daughter bonding morning.

I'll try and fill you in more in the future, but for now (as you may know I have a passion for photography) i'll just post some pictures!