23 June 2009

Being home means:

A mishmash list of the pros and cons of being back in the US

- (kinda) looking for a job
+ using a washing machine AND a dryer
- snobbily scoffing at Olive Garden
- $5 cappuccinos
+ cooking, dinnering, snacking with the roommate
- expensive Italian wine
+ being in the same time zone as friends and family in the US
- not being in the same time zone as friends in Italy
- American gelato
- half-stalking Italian families at Target to hear some of the language

20 May 2009

Oy, It's been awhile

As of tomorrow, I will only have ONE week left in Florence! Somehow I don't know how that's possible. The past month in particular has been really busy: weekend trips to Amalfi (Capri, Sorrento, Positano), Roma, and Venice.

My sister is arriving this Friday for my last few days in Italy. We're going to Cinque Terre with some of my friends for the weekend.

I'm feeling pretty lazy about posting, so I'll wrap this up with much-needed and belated pictures of what I've been up to.

Perfect weather and friends in Pompeii. We didn't end up hiring a tour guide, but we found an amazing security guard who ended up giving us a private tour, bypassing lines and security barriers. It helps to speak Italian!

Our group: American, Australian, German, El Salvadorean, Mexican, and Scottish

Da Michele's in Napoli: According to Elizabeth Gilbert, it's the best pizza in Naples, and thus, in Italy, and thus, in the world. I must say, I have to agree. It was pretty fabulous. As my friends and I inhaled the pizza on the street (eating on the street = no wait time), two Italian guys passed us and said to each other, "Una maratona! - A marathon!". I started laughing and they were embarrassed that I understood them :)

During the boat ride around Capri, our driver said that we can jump in the water if we wanted to. I think this is the most spontaneous I've ever been, ever. Of course, I had to walk around sopping wet for the rest of the day (no towel! no change of clothes!), but it was well worth it.

27 April 2009

sciroppo per la tosse

Unfortunately, the pesky frog that appeared in my throat two weeks ago has grown into a full-blown hacking cough. After a few days of oranges and fluids, I've finally given up and made my way to the local farmacia (pharmacy) to buy me some meds. I've put this off for two weeks because I generally don't like taking medicine and because le farmacie are so expensive here. As charming as Europe is, sometimes I just need a freaking CVS to pick out my own preferred brand of sciroppo per la tosse (cough syrup).

The pharmacist gave me a Vicks brand sciroppo per la tosse, and being sick and uncomfortable, I was happy to recognize the name. While I was there, I also learned a new vocabulary word: Muco (mucus), nice.

He also gave me directions to take the medicine three times a day before each meal. But since I like to read instructions anyway, I took a look at the box. The recommended serving amount read: Adulti e ragazzi di età superiore ai 12 anni: 15 ml (equivalente a 3 cucchiaini da caffè). (Adults and teens older than 12 years: 15 ml (equivalent to 3 teaspoons of caffè or, as it is in Italy, espresso).

Seriously, only in Italy would the measurement of 15 ml be clarified as 3 teaspoons of caffè. Not to mention that the bottle had no sort of safety/protection seal to prevent tampering.

Anyway, here's to feeling better!

23 April 2009


Welcome to my Ikea filled apartment!
The desk is an old artist's table that's pretty banged up but has a ton of character-- remnants of paint and cup rings and just regular wear and tear.

My (nearly empty) closet! I love the plastic orange Ikea hangers- fun. I didn't post up a picture of the other side of my room, but I have an old baby-diaper changing cabinet as another dresser. I also have more art hanging above my bed-- My host mother is the director of her own art school here in Florence.

My favorite part of the apartment-- where the magic happens in the kitchen. It's a small, narrow kitchen, but my host mother makes SUCH great use of all the space. If I didn't feel creepier doing this, I'd totally take close-up snapshots of all the shelves. Note the kickass hand-made wooden table. It was the wooden panel underneath an old bed that was stained with a hot pink wash. Very cool.

Another picture of the kitchen. Mm... breakfast :) LOVE the green wall and pink dining table. I don't think I'd be able to pull it off in my own apartment, but it just works so well here.
Europeans don't seem to eat much for breakfast-- some of my friends had asked me if I really eat bacon in the morning (rarely) and if breakfast sandwiches in the US are popular. I LOVE breakfast. So while they sip their caffe and have ONE bowl of cereal, I'm slicing several pieces of fresh bread, pouring myself some cereal, taking an extra piece of cake... etc.

The smaller of two bathrooms. This one only has the shower and sink, along with the washing machine (note, no dryer!-- silly Europeans). Again, amazing use of space. Normally, I would consider the red heart bathmat from Ikea incredibly tacky, but somehow it really works in this apartment.

Funny blue afternoon light. We don't actually use the bathtub or bidet, which I like-- it would be a completely different bathroom if there was a shower curtain blocking the window. And I swear, someone I know has that green and blue striped bathmat also from Ikea-- I can't remember, is it you?

The view from my window with the terrible afternoon glare, but you get the picture. The old church bell tower in the background! The palm tree (behind the first)! The statue in his niche! The green shutters!

And thus, my apartment. In total, we have four bedrooms with students always coming in and out. There is one other Swiss-German girl who is here for a long-term stay, so it's really nice to see her on a regular basis. Otherwise, it seems to be mostly high school students from various places in Europe who are doing a one or two week exchange-- I would have LOVED to do this in high school.

My sister is also coming to visit for my last week in May! She managed to snag a seat on my flight back as well, so hurrah for that! We were together in Paris that same week one year ago, so it's nice to be together in Europe again so soon!

22 April 2009

In which, the espresso intake becomes quite severe.

Italians absolutely do not drink cappuccinos after breakfast. I think 11AM-ish is the cut-off mark. Ordering a caffe with milk or creme after that is considered very touristy and very un-Italian.

To my delight and dismay, my host mother got her stove-top espresso machine (also called Moka) fixed and all week, I've been starting off each morning with two espressos. And then of course, during the 30-minute morning break in class, I go to the local bar and have a cappuccino. And as I write this at nearly 3PM, I'm drinking some more.

I asked my Italian teacher about this no-milk after breakfast thing and she thought it was so strange that I thought it was strange. I love the European cafe culture, and I wish more of it existed back in the states. Tips don't really exist here either, and so in restaurants and cafes, you can sit for as long as you like without feeling rushed out (and no tipping bartenders either!).

Mm, just before I left for Italy, I was trying to cut down on my caffeine intake, but after my first cappuccino here, I've given that up. I am definitely going to miss this when I am home.

I have a brand new Bodum French press waiting for me at home, but after I've seen how cheap the Bialetti Moka espresso machines are here, I'm so tempted to bring one home. I'm tempted but I've definitely decided against it, although that doesn't mean that I still don't lust after one every time I smell the caffe in the morning. Illy is so cheap here as well! Ohhh, if I only had the space in my suitcase... :(

15 April 2009

In which, Italy gets a bit more real

Last night, the homeless guy I see twice a day, introduced himself to me, kissed my hand, and offered me marijuana. How picturesque-- I don't think that I've ever walked home so quickly before in my life.

Edit: I saw the same guy again today as I was walking home from class. He recognized me and gave me a really friendly, "Ciao signorina!". Haha, omg, I have a new Italian friend, don't I?

13 April 2009

In which, Easter comes and goes

In Italy, Easter Monday is considered a holiday, rather than Good Friday. So this morning, I very lazily got up to a day of sunshine and no school-- the perfect combination.

Someone is playing jazzy Italian piano music in the courtyard and it's, so, picturesque. The worst part is, it's all spontaneous-- I find myself in all these adorably quaint moments in my day. Haha, I say the WORST because it's almost too typical for these moments to occur in Italy. It's like, too much, Under the Tuscan Sun, ha--

For instance last morning, I was walking with my friend to the Sunday markets, and two cyclists ride by and with a friendly wave, shout out, "Buon giorno bella!". I am not even making that up. They actually say that here.

To balance out the cutesyness of this post, I should tell a creepy story. Last night, as I was walking by myself to meet up with some friends, this sketchy guy slithers up and says under his breath, "Ciao bella". Ew. It's not just a slogan on a t-shirt-- but they actually say it.

11 April 2009

In which, (some) pictures are FINALLY uploaded

Self-portrait in front of the Baptistry at Pisa: I had a really lovely afternoon in Pisa on Monday with my roommate Dan. We spent a few hours in town before heading to the Pisa airport to pick up Winston.

Ceiling of the Duomo in Pisa: It was dark and I don't have a tripod, but I still like the way it came out.

Showing off my super-hero strength: I am still slightly embarrassed of this picture, but it was obligatory.


A gate inside the Bargello Museum in Florence

Ponte Santa Trinita: One bridge away from the Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio from Ponte Santa Trinita

Piazza SS Annunziata: I live just around the corner from here and walk through here at least twice a day.

Interior courtyard of Santa Croce: I went in just before closing and practically had the courtyard to myself.

The best kind of graffitti in Italy.

And of course, Florence's Duomo. I was listening to this guy conduct what sounded like a business meeting on his cell phone.

07 April 2009

01 April 2009

In Which, Clara starts to overeat...

It's 11:30 pm and we just finished dinner which began around 8:30 pm. This is kind of amazing, but slightly probmatic at the same time. My new host mother Loves to cook and to have guests over, so every other night is like a dinner party. Today for example, she prepared a three course meal in honor of a student who is leaving this week. Some students from her studio and a coworker also joined us for the meal.

The first course is always a heaping plate of pasta, the second course varies but usually involves some sort of meat, salad, bread, etc. And the dessert was this great chocolate tort and biscotti and Vin Santo. At one point there were four bottles of wine on the table. And it's a Tuesday night!

I kept telling her that I couldn't breathe from eating too much but this pleases her and she insists I eat more. Haha, so it's a challenge for my stomach as well as my language skills as we only speak in Italian. Each dinner is like a mini victory for me. I'm updating from my phone right now and although I can't upload pictures from my camera I might be able to upload pictures from my phone! Hopefully tomorrow or at least the day after. I still can't breathe, haha omg really, too much food!

30 March 2009

In which, an update is finally made! Still alive!

Its been awhile since Ive been able to update! With my laptop not working, its been really difficult for me to get to a computer to respond to emails and Facebook messages, etc.

I finally got my stitches out (and by the way, I am thankfully NOT wearing my neck brace anymore)! I spent last Sunday going back to the hospital in Figline Valdarno (and interesting tidbit, I read in the newspaper that Sting has a winery and estate in that town and he will be coming out with his own wine later this year). After I got my stitches out, I called the same cab driver, who drove me to Florence the week before, for a ride to Greve in Chianti, where I was meeting a friend for lunch at a vineyard.

Cab drivers here are interesting. At least Freddie the cab driver was certainly a character, and I found it easy to talk to him in Italian, so I knew that I wanted to call him again. I spent the hour ride from the hospital to the agriturismo admiring the view of all the grape and olive fields while listening to the Beach Boys, of all things. Freddie was just chitchatting with me about how he really wants to learn English and how I should find him a nice older lady friend to speak English with him, ha!-- how cute. And Italians here are so relaxed. While Freddie was using my phone to get directions from the owner of the agriturismo, his phone starts ringing. He throws me the phone and indicated with one quick raise of his eyebrows that I should answer it for him. IN ITALIANO. Meanwhile, he starts driving with his elbows on the wheel as he starts excitedly gesturing with his left hand and holding the phone with his right. And if you have ever been in Chianti... all of the roads are winding right to left and up and down in motion with the rolling hills. I answer the phone and its a customer, who, as it turns out, speaks no Italian and very little English. Even after Freddie hangs up the phone with the owner of the agriturismo, he wants me to speak with this customer and then TRANSLATE the conversation in Italian. I was having heart palpitations at this point-- from the elbow-driving to the customer speaking broken English to me speaking broken Italian. Somehow, miraculously, we make it to the agriturismo. And somehow, miraculously, I was able to translate everything successfully. (I felt so triumphant!) And to top off a fabulous drive through the countryside, Freddie knocked off 10 euros off of the price after I promised to find him that English-speaking lady friend.

And now, my hands and elbows have more or less healed and today is the first day Im walking around without my face bandaged. Funny enough, I actually miss the bandages! With it, I stood out apart from all the Asian (okay, Japanese) tourists and the locals have begun recognizing me and asking me in Italian what had happened. In the mornings, the shopkeeper of the flower stand that I pass on the way to school would greet me with a friendly wave and the hairdresser who washes my hair would always throw me a smile and quick, "Ciao!". (Its so picturesque, I know!)

More recently, I moved into a new apartment. Im now living with a host family, or really, a host lady. She owns an art studio in Florence and she has really, a beautifully decorated apartment here in the center of the city. I am now living on a quiet street off of Piazza Annunziata. Breakfast is included in the price and I get a home-cooked meal for a little extra. And Anna Maria, the host lady, is really an amazing cook. There are two other girls in the apartment-- one British and one Swiss. I already miss my old roommates, but I hope that my Italian will quickly improve with Anna Maria. She insists that we speak Italian in the house, although we sneak in some English when she isnt around. My room has huge windows that reach the ceiling and the light in the morning is perfect. My window overlooks a small garden with weathered statues and even a palm tree! I can see the ruins of an old church in the background and I can hear church bells and birds. It is just as charming as it sounds.

If I ever get my computer fixed, hopefully I can post up pictures! Cross your fingers for me!

16 March 2009

In Which, Clara has a bicycling accident and spends the night in a Tuscan hospital

I fell off my bike (and I feel really stupid about it).

Four friends and I were in Chianti for a day to bike around to different towns and do some wine tasting. After biking from Greve to Panzano (about 6 miles?), I started going too fast on the road. A car came out of nowhere and scared the hell out of me. I can't exactly remember what happened, but the next thing I remember, I'm on the ground with my friends all around me. There was a lot of blood down my front and on the road. Luckily, I was with a woman who was an experienced doctor and she used a first aid kit to tape up my chin which had torn open (I didn't realize how bad it was until much later). The two Italian guys in the car stopped and were super nice and took me and one of my friends to a medical center in Greve.

At the medical center, they poured some sort of antibiotic wash on all of the gashes on my arms which (really, really) hurt and told me that I needed immediate medical attention for my chin. The two Italians drove me to a hospital in a town called Figline Valdarno. I think I was in shock the whole time and luckily, was more uncomfortable than in pain.

At the Figline hospital, no one spoke ANY English, but I was cleaned up and got stitches on my chin. Because I didn't remember exactly what happened, they insisted that I stay the night. All in all, I got a LOT of blood taken for tests (two times from my inner wrists, which hurt SO MUCH), X-Rays, MRI, ultrasound, and vaccination against tetanus (sp?)

Everyone at the hospital was SO nice and they were so patient with my Italian. As awful and lonely and scary as it was, it was also kind of an amazing experience. I somewhat got over my fear of speaking with errors and the language seems to be flowing a bit more easily now. (And in one particularly embarrassing moment, I couldn't manage off my bra to get an X-Ray and the cute medical doctor needed to do it for me. I thought I was going to DIE. But he was super professional, for which, I will be forever grateful. Oh yeah, and I had to take my pants off in front of him too. Fantastic.)

The doctors wanted to keep me another night, but I just wanted to go back to Florence. I have to go back next week to get my stitches removed, but for now, I think I'm okay. I just look like such a mess. I can't take any showers, so I think I will make a visit to a hair salon and ask them to wash my hair for me. I can't really chew, so I've been feeding myself bananas with a teaspoon.

Haha, I'm torn between feeling sorry for myself and being excited about my new-found freedom with speaking the language. And even though it has only been two weeks, my roommates have been so amazing and patient with me. Not to mention what a great conversation starter my face has now become.

My computer also broke down again, so my updates via email and this blog are going to be coming a LOT more slowly.

I was hoping to spend today updating with pictures of Chianti which is really beautiful and enchanting, but I guess thats not going to happen.

Things that I have learned this weekend:

1. I finally found out where all the cute, non-greasy Italian guys have been hiding (they all work at the hospital).

2. I will always, always wear a helmet while biking (the front of my helmet was crushed from my fall). Although, I don't know when I will ever get on a bike again after this.

3. I am so thankful that it was my chin that I hit on the ground and not my teeth. Or for that matter, it was my right cheekbone that was gashed and not my right eye, which is about 1/2 inch away from blue/purple-ness.

4. Italians are generous and friendly and patient. Especially with me, the stupid American girl who fell off her bike. :(

07 March 2009

In which, Clara discovers grappa...

So on Tuesday evening, my two friends and I went to a wine tasting at an enoteca, Pozzo Divino on Via Ghilbellina.  For 15 euros (about $18 USD), I thought we were just going to get samples of various types of wine, but we got SO MUCH FOOD and a LOT of great wines.  If there are any wine lovers out there, I would really recommend this for your next trip to Florence.  I think this experience was actually a bit wasted on me (ha).

Our host, Andre, warned us as we started that we would be "exercising our noses".  He brought us to the wine cellar beneath the main floor and showed us around.  The cellar dates back to the 13th century and was also used as part of the Italian prison system.  It was so charming-- there were large glass panels that were carefully set on large wine barrels, which served as our table.  
We started with Parmiggiano-Reggiano dipped in aged balsamic vinegar (which was SO sweet and delicious) and a small glass of local olive oil which was pressed just this past season.  Andre knew SO much about the process and history of the vinegar and olive oil it made it all taste somehow even better (the olive oil was like butter!).  He served us a glass of vino bianco, but made us swirl and smell and look at the wine before we drank it.

We eventually went through some delicious baked pasta, fresh bread, and some meat:  salami, cured proscuitto, and finnochio (sp?  The only way I could make myself remember the name is by telling myself that it rhymed with Pinnochio).  Along with that, we had three glasses of vino rosso, a Chianti, a Dievole, and a Cabernet, all of which he made us swirl and smell several times before allowing us to drink.  It was really interesting to have someone point out all the subtle flavors of the wine, which is usually completely lost on me.  But it was also really so nice to attempt to use my Italian with such a patient listener and host!

And finally, nearly three hours later, Andre served the grappa... which was... interesting.  Haha, my European friends who were already familiar with grappa LOVED it and were raving about how 'soft' and 'round' it was.  And for me?-- I took one sniff (which was definitely a mistake) and nearly poured it out.  Hahah, I politely sipped as much as I possibly could and then hid my half-full glass behind my wine glasses.  It was obviously a really high quality grappa, but I really just COULD not do it.  Andre compared it to sake as he poured it for me, but... it was definitely much much stronger.  All I could do was try not to breathe and taste as I sipped the grappa with as much grace as I could possibly muster.  Meanwhile, my Swiss-German friends are sitting with four empty wine glasses and their now-empty glass of grappa.  Europeans: +2; American: -1.

(I don't have regular access to Internet here and I get a slow wifi connection at times, so I apologize for not being able to post as regularly as I'd like.  Or put up as many pictures either!  I'll get better with time!)

I find myself using the word charming to describe the lifestyle here.  I think I'm slowly falling in love with this city.  Florence is so much smaller than New York City, and already I can get around the city without the use of a map!

06 March 2009

In which...

I don't think pooper-scoopers exist here in Florence-- I wish they did.

04 March 2009

In which, Clara pratica la lingua

Last night I was really disappointed that I was picked out as an American. As I was paying for my things at the grocery store, the cashier and I exchanged a polite 'Buona sera" with one another. After I hand him a 20 euro bill, the cashier says to me, "Do you have any coins?".

How does he know if I spoke English or not?! All I said was 'Buona sera'! I think my accent is pretty good, and it's not that hard to mess up 'Buona sera'. I'm trying to figure out if it's because I handed him a 20 euro with no coins. (I hate touching coins so I never really use them until they start weighing me down.) Apparently, I have "Sono Americana" (I'm American) stamped on my forehead. Maybe I should wear a beret and run around with a fresh baguette in hand so I can start to blend in.

Yesterday, I went to buy a cellulare (cell phone) at the Wind store (one of the four major Italian cell phone networks). Since I was speaking in full sentences, I'm sure the employee could immediately tell that I was American. But even though I didn't want him to speak in English to me, he quickly reverted the conversation away from Italian.

But today, I had my first complete Italian conversation with an Italian wine shopkeeper (And the shopkeeper never once reverted to English, yay!). My friend invited me to a wine tasting meal with a mutual classmate of ours. They had already made their reservations last week, so she was going to take me there to make reservations. It was closed when we went yesterday, so I went back today by myself. On the way, I kept practicing in my head what exactly I would say to explain what I wanted:

Le mie amiche hanno una prenotazione alle sei. Anch'io vorrei partecipare stasera. E possibile? Devo pagare adesso or piu tarde? (My friends have a reservation at six. I would also like to join tonight. Is it possible? Should I pay now or later?)

Of course the conversation didn't go by exactly how I planned, but I understood everything the grandfatherly shopkeeper Andre told me about the plans for the night. Vino e proscuitto e grappa e formaggio! (I didn't know what grappa was, but Andre explained it as an alcohol that is very strong-- piu forte del vino! stronger than wine! Haha, so we'll see how I do with that.)

I'm really excited because it'll be just the three of us for tonight. My two friends speak German with little English, so I think it'll be a slightly embarassing/fun night to practice more of my Italian.

02 March 2009

In which, A three month stay in Firenze begins

Since I'm now without regular access to internet, I'm writing this from my wireless-less computer in my new apartment. Sadly, since my computer is newly recovered from a recent crash, I don't even have Microsoft Word on here, so I'm using the 'TextEdit' application... and it just looks so ugly.

My Swedish roommate in the room right next to mine actually gets free wifi, and I can sometimes see it pop up under my wireless networks, but it really never goes through. It just kind of comes up long enough to sufficiently tease me. Anna, the Swedish roommate, told me that the free wifi works in the bathroom too, so I spent a good ten minutes wandering around the hallways with my laptop in hand trying to get a peek of it (and yes, I brought it into the bathroom to check it out to no avail).

My apartment has five single bedrooms, all females for now. Interestingly, there are a TON of German speakers here on this program. And my roommates are from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden. So at least three of them chat amongst each other in German-- other times, we communicate in a funny English-Italian mix. (And I'm happy to say that I have A Room With A View.)

And I forgot how much Jetlag sucks. Yesterday was particularly really bad. I was a really awful combination of being tired and nauseated from traveling and eating funky airplane food. My roommates and their friends took me out to cute cafe called Hemingway, which is in Oltrarno, the hipster, artsy neighborhood on the OTHER side of the river ARNO. Thus, appropriately named, "Oltrarno". I love European cafe culture. We each got ONE drink each and stayed for over two hours (I guess I'm used to being hussled out of my seat in NY).

After the cafe, we went to get apertivo at a place called Kitsch. Apertivo is kind of like the Italian equivalent to Happy Hour in the states. During certain hours, for a couple of euros (we paid 8), you can get one drink and access to buffet-style food.

The lack of sleep really caught up with me later that night. I woke up three or four times feeling really feverish with chills. I finally took some ibuprofen, which I never do. It must have worked (which always somehow surprises me), and I was feeling much much better by the morning.

I've only been here a day and I've noticed that I'm already noticibly more not wasteful. I take shorter showers (mostly cause the shower stall is so awkward), and I use smaller amounts of shampoo/toothpaste/etc (cause the bottles here are much smaller and anything I brought from home, I want to make last), and I'm eating healthier (because I have yet to venture beyond fresh fruit and pasta in the supermarkets). Haha, anyway, so I guess I'm saying is that I'm proud of my pseudo-pro-choice healthier lifestyle that I'm developing. (This is Not going to last when I'm back stateside.)

Classes also started on Monday. After a written test and oral interview, I got placed in the third level of Italian (yay). I start my day off with grammar and then after a 30 minute caffe break, we move onto conversation.

Later today, my Swiss roommate invited me out to a wine tasting with one of our classmates (yay I am liked!). Mmm... vino rosso e bianco, proscuitto, , etc.

20 February 2009

In which It is realized that there is one week left...

nd I begin to freak out a little.

Not freak out bad. But freak out in a good. The best kind of freaking out possible: Packing. And what to bring. And more importantly, not to bring.

When I was little, I used to LOVE packing. I'd set aside clothes neatly folded in piles on the side a few days before my trip, until I realized, I had nothing to wear during that waiting period. Somewhere along the line, I started to hate packing. Maybe it was when I started buying my own clothes and shoes, maybe it was when my clothes started to become too big and too heavy to fit into a small plastic pink backpack for a weekend trip to Disney World.

Regardless, I hate packing.

I love lists and I love organization, but there's something about packing that turns me into such a procrastinator. I vow not to do that this time. And thus... I Google, "How to pack for Italy" because I am THAT lazy about this.

09 February 2009

In which Clara has a very happy birthday.

his past Saturday, I had threw myself a dinner party for 7 of my close friends. As it was my first dinner party, I was a bit nervous and dorkily went all out with place settings and menus (printed on fancy resume paper).

It was particularly sweet to host my birthday party in the apartment, which has so warmly become home in the past few months. Not to mention all of my lovely, lovely friends, who thoughtfully came bearing gifts and cupcakes.

After snacking on some antipasti, cheese, and wine, we Feasted on roasted pork loin with port and fig sauce. And of course, we finished off with several desserts (it WAS my birthday after all-- and birthdays, like vacations, are an excuse to eat whatever and whenever you want!). A meyer lemon tart, dark chocolate brownies, panna cotta with fresh berries, and of course, courtesy of my roommate's new boyfriend (whom I now fully approve of), cupcakes from my absolute favorite bakery in NYC (Sugar Sweet Sunshine). The night's menu basically consisted of everything I wanted to eat-- but hey, it's my party and I can do what I want to.

I'm now another year older, this year has been pretty darn swell. Already a fine step up from last year!

My friends are such utter Rock Stars.

03 February 2009

In which A day of many firsts begins.

Yesterday was my FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. I haven't had one of those days in awhile and it was nice to feel a bit of the rush of first day jitters. Although I'm clearly the youngest in the class, all of the other students seem really friendly and eager to learn.

(Sadly, our class is only two-hours a day, which is definitely not long enough to bust out my pink plastic Barbie lunchbox c. 1990.)

Our insegnante (teacher) tries to only use Italian inside the classroom, which is a challenge, but it really keeps all of us students on our toes. Surprisingly, even after the first lesson, I've become the young eager beaver in class, and even though I often turn pink and stumble on my words, it's a safe place to do so.

It's also my very first official post to this blog-- something I've been meaning to do for awhile! I used to blog quite often in late high school and early college with the rush of Xanga. Haha, somehow this feels more 'grown-up'.

And if anyone is interested in learning Italian in New York City, there are several great Italian language schools available, but I do highly recommend Parliamo Italiano on the Upper East Side. Helpful staff, amazing teacher, friendly students, etc.

About Her

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a pseudo grown-up: book lover, wanderlust-er, sometimes photographer, blog follower, coffee drinker, dessert baker (and eater), music listener, Italian learner, storyteller, story writer