Posts Tagged ‘Study Abroad in Rome’


Holly: Checklist

January 5, 2012

January 18, 2012. 91 days.

That is the day that I take off from Milwaukee, WI, USA and head to Rome, Italy.

It seems a long way off but I just know that it is going to creep up quickly. Especially since now almost all pre-departure items are turned in and complete!

Next week I have my orientation and I am really excited to meet the other kids that will be going to Rome as well!

I have already made a list of things I MUST complete while in Italy (’cause how many times does a kid get to go to Italy??!):

1. Throw a euro (or two)  in the Trevi Fountain

2. Visit The Colosseum & The Pantheon

3. Go on a Wednesday and see the Pope speak at the Vatican

4. Walk through the magnificent Sistine Chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica

5. Admire the beautiful ancient art and the gardens at Galleria Borghese

6. Take a canal ride through Venice

7. Visit Il Duomo and Il Ponte Vecchio in Florence

8. Drink wine and appreciate the Tuscany countryside

9. Take a weekend off and go to Cinque Terre


In addition to this list, I hope to eat lots and lots of great Italian pasta and gelato. I’m also hoping that my host family will teach me their exquisite cooking ways.


Lauren: Milan, Verona, Venice

August 8, 2011

Friday, July 22 – Rome to Milan
It was another early morning of travel for the crew.  Everything was going smoothly enough as it can in hectic Rome, until a girl we were with, Alyssa, realized she didn’t have her passport with her, which caused her to miss our flight to Milan. However, she made plans to meet with us in Verona the next day, so her weekend wasn’t completely ruined.

We made it to Milan bright and early.  It looked much like Rome—except more industrial.  We checked our bags at the hostel and set out for a day of Shopping.  We made our way to Milan’s famous duomo, which is the third largest cathedral in the world.  It was awe-inspiring, and probably one of my favorites for the entire trip.

It was interesting (and refreshing) to find that a lot of the shopping in Milan was cheaper than that in Rome.  However, this prompted me to do a lot of damage with the credit card (oops).  That night we found a Tex-Mex Restaurant near our hotel and decided to take our chances with tacos and enchiladas, italian-style.  It was excellent.

July 23 – Milan to Verona
The next morning, we took an hour long train east from Milan to Verona.  When we entered the station, it was down pouring, which wasn’t fun.  We struggled for a bit finding the right bus to our hostel, which was somewhat outside the city and located on a vineyard, but eventually figured it out around the same time the rain stopped.

After finding our hostel, which turned out to be a huge hotel, we ventured into the city center for some Shakespeare exploring.  First stop, was the Capulet’s house, where we saw Juliet’s balcony, which was completely overcrowded. Afterwards, we went upstairs to write our love letters to Juliet, asking for advice and whatnot.  I felt weird writing to a fictional character.

We then walked along the river, did some souvenier shopping, and tried to see Juliet’s tomb, only to get there and find that it was already closed.  That night, we had a private wine tasting at our hotel with a middle aged German woman who was absolutely hilarious. 

July 24 – Verona to Venice, Venice to Rome
The next morning, we packed up and it was off to Venice, which was the city I had been most excited for. And it did not disappoint!  I’ve never been anywhere quite like it.  The city is truly unique.  We simply let ourselves get lost in the city and somehow ended up everywhere we had wanted to go.  Much of the day was dedicated to glass shopping, and we all spoiled ourselves with jewelry.

We went on a gondola ride, which may have been overpriced, but it was still totally worth it.  We drank Bellini’s and took in our surroundings.  It was magnificent.  We then climbed to the top of the bell tower and got a view of Venice from above, which was just as surreal.

In the early evening, we made our way to the airport, and it was back to Rome.  The entire weekend was wonderful, with my favorite city being Venice.  However, I hope that one day I have the chance to visit all three once again.


Lauren: Week 5

July 25, 2011

Tuesday, July 19th –
We returned from a trip to Paris the night before around midnight.  I had two papers to finish writing, one for my Media Class, and the other for my Art History final.  I finalized both Tuesday morning, and it was a relief to be done with the both of them (especially Art History).  For my media class, we had a guest speaker.  He was a very intelligent man, but not entirely good at public speaking.  It further confirmed how important it is to be able to communicate with others.

In Art History, we received our final exam grades (I got a B+).  Soooo happy to almost be done with this class.  My teacher, Pia, is absolutely terrible.  That night, we went out to celebrate finishing our research papers.  It was Scholar’s again for Karaoke, which was great, as always.

Wednesday, July 20th –
I spent the day out and about in Rome with friends.  We went shopping on Del Corso and I picked up a few gifts for my loved ones back home!

That night, we tried out a new place called “DJ Bar”, which was great!  We had a ton of fun dancing the night away…and it really hit me how much I’m going to miss all my new friends!!  Especially the ones from Michigan State, who I won’t have the ability to see for quite some time!

Thursday, July 21st –
We went to Vatican Radio Station to have a personal interview with our professor, Sean Patrick.  It was weird being in a recording studio and being asked questions based on my resume, but it was also a very eye-opening experience!  This has been one of the best classes I have ever taken.

The rest of the day was dedicated to packing for the weekend, which consisted trips to Milan, Verona, and Venice!  Stay tuned for more on that trip


Lauren: Celebrating America, not in America

July 10, 2011

It was another beautiful week in Italy!

Monday we celebrated the 4th of July.  It was a very bizarre to celebrate a holiday like that in a foreign country, where it was just another day for the Italians.  It was also weird not being in America to partake in Independence Day Traditions—no fireworks, no parades, no family get-togethers, no barbeques!  We did what we could though to make the evening memorable—and memorable it was! 

For lunch, a group of people went to McDonald’s (one of the very few American “restaurants” in Rome).  The food was typical quality for the place – however I was surprised to learn that it’s not cheap here, at all!  What would cost me roughly $6 in the US cost me 10 euro here (which is $15)!  I felt absolutely ridiculous spending that much for a simple meal…but I consoled myself by keeping to the motto, “I did it for America”.

Getting by with what we have!

After that, there was some downtime until dinner, where we all got together at the boys’ house and had an Independence Day pot luck!  Each apartment was in charge of bringing something different—and they knew to trust me with the simple stuff (like ketchup, mustard, and frozen fries).  All together we had a very nice spread of boiled hotdogs, fruit salad, and about 2.5 pounds of pasta salad!  We drank Budweisers the boys had picked up for the occasion and eventually went to a piazza in Rome, referred to as Campo de’ Fiori.  Campo de’ Fiori serves as a marketplace during the daytime, but at night it is typically an American draw, having bars on all sides that serve US beer and play American pop music.  We usually do not go here, as pickpockets tend to target the area, but in honor of the 4th we decided to take our chancing and party with our fellow Americans!  In all, the evening was quite the success!

…so much of Tuesday was dedicated to rest and relaxation, with Wednesday providing more of the same since it’s my day off from class.  During these two days, I read both the first and second novels in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  It’s a complex storyline, but actually a very easy read!  I strongly recommend reading them!  But if that’s not your cup of tea, the first movie of the franchise (starring Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence) will be out in March 2012.  Going slightly off topic, but still speaking of movie franchises, I’m going crazy trying to find an english speaking movie theater here!  I originally thought that Harry Potter would be kept in its original language, but with Italian subtitles—but it turns out it’s completely dubbed over everywhere we’ve looked!  Seeing as the movie comes out in a couple days (which is the last Harry Potter and will be my first in six that I haven’t attended the midnight premiere) it’s been very VERY stressful!


At TG5 with the rest of my class

On Thursday I went to one of the media centers under Berlusconi’s control, MEDIASET.  A couple posts back I referred to the fact that Berlusconi controls all of the media here, including print and online, which results in a lot of bias for the controversial prime minister.  His programming often included dubbed over American soap operas, VH1 type shows with barely dressed girls, and bias political programs in which he reigns supreme.  It’s ridiculous how much control he has here!  Security to get into the center was more strict than even the Vatican, as we had to go through several metal detectors, have our passports verified, and had to be patted down.


However, once we were in the center it was very interesting!  We saw where their most popular talk shows take place (in which the audience consists of paid actors), and even got to be news anchors for a couple minutes!  It was an eye opening experience into how communications vary across the globe.  In fact, the station was still in the process of fully switching over to digital!

Afterwards was my Art History midterm, which was much harder than I thought it was going to be.  Keep your fingers crossed for me and my knowledge of doric, ionic, and corinthian style architectural orders!


Lauren: Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento

July 4, 2011

Flying Penis

This past weekend was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  On Friday morning, our group, led by my Art History professor, Pia, met to take a (very nice) bus for to Naples and Pompeii for the day.  In Naples we visited the Naples Archeology Museum.  Here I saw the original statue of Atlas holding up the world, and several other very beautiful and famous pieces.  We have been in a lot of museums lately, but what really set this one apart was the artwork they had from Pompeii.  Before the eruption, Pompeii was a prospering city that had a great love of…uhm…sex.  They regarded the male genitalia as lucky and powerful, and a lot of their artwork depicted this.  Much of the Museum felt like a collection of ancient porn, and judging by all the giggles from us girls, I think my professor may have overestimated our maturity. 

However, in all the Museum itself was great, but Naples isn’t somewhere I have a desire to go again.  There is a strike going on right now involving the government, the mafia, and the garbage workers.  I’m not sure of the details, but the result of whatever conflict this is was disgusting.  I did have some of the best pizza I have ever had while there though, so they at least get kudos for that.

After the Museum, we took the bus another 30 minutes to the ancient city of Pompeii.  This experience was very exciting.  Our tour focused more on the architecture of the buildings rather than the greatly preserved bodies, but we were also able to see some of those as well – which were very eerie.  One interesting thing I learned while there is that the ruins now serve as a home to about 30 stray dogs.  There are signs up saying not to touch the animals, and one might wonder why they are there, but what I have noticed in Italy is that they are much more relaxed about allowing animals indoors, which would explain why they do not care if the dogs have decided the ancient city is their new home.  Two of the dogs took quite a fancy to our group, and walked with us for a majority of it – made me miss my puppy dogs (who I hear are doing great and are being well cared for!)

The group inside an ancient Theatre in Pompeii
Paige and I


Once we were done with Pompeii, we got on a half hour train to Sorrento.  Sorrento and Naples are both the same distance to Capri, however a lot of us felt much safer staying somewhere other than Naples for the night.  After some confusion finding the way to our hostel, we were happy to see just how nice it was!  The owners were great and very friendly, and our rooms overlooked the beautiful bay.  That night we went out for dinner at a seafood restaurant by our hostel.  I was very excited to try the fish here, as we were so close to the Mediterranean!  But much to my surprise, and I don’t know why I didn’t expect it in the first place, but my meal came out with a face!  It was a whole fish!  Not a filet!  It had a head!  And a tail!  And bones!  Not knowing how to react, I began laughing hysterically, along with everyone else I was traveling with!  I remember my Grandma bringing over fish like this to our house when we were younger, and I remember always refusing to eat them.  I hope she’d be proud to know that I finally overcame my fear and grossed-out-ness and I ate this fish!  It was delicious!  I don’t regret getting it in the slightest.

That night some of us indulged in the local wine, but overall it was an early night – as we had to be up early the next morning for our day trip to Capri!  At 7 am, we all met in the lobby and ate a so-so breakfast provided by our hostel.  Then it was on to the ferry to Capri!  It took about 30 minutes, and provided us with some great views of Sorrento by sea!

More exciting parts of the tour included….It’s hard to find the words to describe the beauty in Capri.  So I’ll let a lot of my pictures do the work.  We rented a boat around the island, which lasted about 2 hours.  Unfortunately, the Blue Grotto was closed due to a dangerously high tide, but we were still able to see both the White Grotto, and the Green Grotto – which we were also able to swim in!  Swimming in the Green Grotto was an experience I will never forget.  It was hard to swim, so you had to let the waves carry you.  In the arch that blocked out the sunlight, the water was illuminated to the most beautiful bluish/green color.  You could see everything in the water it was so lit up!  It was one of the coolest things I have ever done.
The Island!


Capri’s Famous Arch

After our tour, we ate a pretty expensive lunch on the coast.  This time, I decided to skip the fish and went with the safe option of Chicken and a side salad.  Next, a small group of girls decided to take a ski-lift type contraption up to the topmost point of Capri.  This was TERRIFYING.  After buying our tickets, we discovered that you had to travel up the 15 minute ski lift BY YOURSELF in a wooden seat that looked about 20 years old.  I was convinced to do it, and instantly regretted the decision – but once I was on, I had to stay on, until the very tippy top.  There were even points during the trip that we were traveling at an almost vertical incline.  As we got higher and higher, I became less anxious, and was able to relax slightly. 
While it was very scary, it was also 100% worth it once arriving from the top.

The scenes from up above were breathtaking.  Here are a few:

The million dollar yachts turned into little white ants…


The Arch from Above!


Found an awesome statue at the top!


Capri is spectacular.

In all, it was one of the best days of my life.  I wish that my family and friends could have been there to share the experience with me.  That night we took the train back from Naples to Rome (where I met one of the doctors for the US Women’s Soccer team!  Having taken care of the team for the North Korea match, he was allowed to go on holiday for the week – and wouldn’t ya know it he chose Rome!)  He was very nice and helped us find our way from train station to train station.  He and I discussed the World Cup and what chances the US had at winning – it was very exciting!  I couldn’t help but think how jealous my sister and dad would have been!

It’s another week of school for me now, but today has been a chance for my roomies and I to catch up on SLEEP!  Hope you all enjoy the pictures!


Lauren: Week two

July 1, 2011

It has officially been two weeks since I arrived in the Eternal City!  I know I said I was feeling homesick—that feeling has passed (although I do wish I could be home to help out my mother, who broke her ankle two days ago.

I have had many more adventures since visiting the Colosseum.  We were supposed to have a field trip to Tivoli on Friday, but while we were at the Roman Forum the day before my art history professor, Pia, became sick, so the trip was postponed.  My roommates and I instead used Friday and a large part of Saturday to catch up on rest!  We also visited Villa Borghese (a park shaped in a heart—comparable in atmosphere to New York’s Central Park).

Sunday was a very exhausting, yet funfilled day.  In the morning, we traveled with my art class to the ancient city of Ostia Antica.  In its prime, the city served as Rome’s harbour for imports, and was then located on the banks of the Tiber River.  It is said to have been founded in the 7th century, and grew to be home to almost 50,000 citizens!  The experience was very interesting, although the tour we were on did get a little long…the 90 degree weather and lack of shade was very tiring!

Because Ostia is close to the coast, we then traveled 10 minutes to the Mediterranean Sea, where we swam in the refreshing water and tried to relax at the very crowded beach for several hours.  I didn’t much enjoy the salt water, but it was very nice to cool down from all the heat.

That night we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Rome, Tony’s, where we have become regular customers.  They spoil us at Tony’s, with free bread, free italian ice, and even free limoncello!  Plus they have amazing food!  We have gone there 3 times in two weeks, and I have a feeling we will be there many more times before the trip is over!  After dinner, we went to Scholar’s Pub, an irish bar that attracts many American students due to the fact that they have Karaoke on Tuesday and Sunday nights. Needless to say, it was a good time.

Fireworks for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Monday was a day of rest in which I finally got around to watching Gladiator.  The battle sequences that occurred in the Colosseum gave me chills.  It’s crazy to imagine that people used to watch these warriors kill for entertainment!

Tuesday involved a guest speaker, James Walston, in my Italian Communications class.  An expert in Italian Politics, James told us many interesting facts about current situations in the country and also about their current (controversial) prime minister, Bersculoni.  Turns out he owns/controls most of the media here, so newspapers, magazines, and even television programs are all very bias (in favor of him).  It astonishes me that this is the case – just imagine if Obama had the same control!

Wednesday was a very religious holiday in Rome celebrating the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, so much of the city was closed.  I was supposed to go to a mass led by the Pope at the Vatican that morning, but due to a severely annoying miscommunication that was unable to happen. That night, however, a group of us went out to dinner at a Spaghetteria, where we had some of our best food since arriving!  We made sure to inform our waiters that we will be returning in the near future!  That night in honor of the holiday there were amazing fireworks!

Today I visited an ancient Palace in the middle of the city, in which the original owners still live, having had it passed down through their families for generations upon generations.  Today, the palace serves as both living quarters for the remaining family members and a private gallery. It was absolutely beautiful!

Tomorrow I am going to Naples/Pompeii with my Art History class, which I am really excited for.  We then are planning on staying in Sorrento for the night and going to Capri for a day trip!  I can’t wait to see the Blue Grotto.  Seriously, google “Capri Blue Grotto” – you will be amazed!


Lauren: Exhaustion

June 16, 2011

Greetings!  I am writing to you from somewhere over the continental United States!  So far the journey (from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, back down to Chicago, and onto the plane to Rome) as been going smoothly enough, with the exception of some confusion as the massive O’Hare airport and a bit of turbulence we experienced leaving rainy Chicago.

It has been quite a process getting me prepared for my trip to Rome – with several shopping trips and extensive fashion research to ensure that I don’t look like a hunky-dory tourist my entire stay (which I probably still will anyways).  Monday night I finally had to stop the procrastinating, and my mom and I worked hard to check off every item on my VERY extensive packing list.  Since I’ll be away for six weeks in a foreign country, it’s hard to know for sure which material items I will miss the most and which will be most helpful.  Being a chronic over-packer, I can say with positivity that a good amount of stuff in my suitcase will probably never be used or worn in Italy.  Oh well.

One thing I am glad to have packed is my handheld mini fan, since Italians apparently don’t believe in air conditioning.  As childish as these neon battery-powered fans may be, I have a feeling that they are going to become quite a luxury item for me.  Funny isn’t it?  The things that you take for granted everyday?

My mom and I drove up to Minneapolis yesterday along with my (adorable) puppy, Oliver.  Although we had a connecting flight in Chicago, and it would have been easier to drive down there and fly directly, I am glad that I chose to travel with the group.  This morning I met about ten people in my program, most of whom are from the University of Minnesota or a college nearby.  Everyone seems very pleasant and excited to start our adventure!  So far I’ve met two of my Roman roomies, Heather and Janel.  We all share a love of Harry Potter, along with quite a few others on the trip, so we have so far been able to bond over our love for all things HP.

I had a lunch of parmesan cheez itz and a casear salad wrap before leaving Chicago, and was just served a chicken dinner on the flight (which actually was not bad, especially considering that it’s airplane food).

Before dinner I was able to see the hook of Massachusetts and a lot of the US shoreline as we began to travel over the Atlantic Ocean. I lucked out with a window seat!  It is beginning to get dark outside, which means I should probably start considering going to sleep so the jet-lag isn’t so bad.

So goodnight and goodbye America!  See you in six weeks!



Eric: Excerpt from Italian Media assignment

April 14, 2011

Here is a typical weekly essay that I have been writing for Italian Media. This one happened to turn out pretty good, so I hope you enjoy:

QUESTION: How has Silvio Berlusconi used his media model to create the same pop culture that now sustains him?

Silvio Berlusconi is what Italians love about Italy, but are ashamed to admit.  Italian history, at least the interesting bits, is consumed by conflict.  Fame, fortune, sex, glamour, mystery, extravagance, and controversy are things that have fueled the Italian political opera since the Romans, therefore Silvio is simply playing the role he was assigned.  So, when I attempt to understand how Silvio remains in office despite his shortcomings, I remember why I like Shakespeare or why I like the Romans.

Sure Silvio brought smut to the 21st century here in Italy, sure he has figured out ways to become untouchable, but this is what Italy needs.  Italians are a people who like to live a life that is stable, but spicy, and this is what Silvio does.  Silvio is a tabloid hero, and he gives people something to talk about.  Newspapers, water cooler conversations, the democratic opposition would become insipid without Berlusconi, and I think Italians all know this.  Sure, if you own the news you can influence people’s opinions, but there comes a limit.  I do not feel that people are being brainwashed by a neo form of yellow journalism, but simply succumbing to the carnal thirst for conflict.

I feel that Berlusconi’s media model that promotes himself as one who is a lively, likable, and unbecoming of a politician is something that has kept him riding the wave of power for so long.  Italians honor their history, they are proud of it and in a way wish to embody it.  Romans in particular have this connection to their past and it is through this connection that Berlusconi is allowed to get away with his behaviors.  Every great politician in the ancient times, from what we know, was a narcissistic, sexually explorative, and corrupt.  We do not come to Rome to see the works of great humanitarians, but we come to Rome to see the works of great emperors and gladiators.  Humans are obsessed and accepting of a culture that is not outright evil, Nazi’s, but not exactly perfect either.

Life can be much simpler than we live it, but is a simple life even worth living?  If Italy had a leader who fixed all of its problems I feel that Italy would lose its charm.  There is something appealing about the unpredictability that life in Italy awards its residents.  This sence of unpredictability is what remains constant in Italian pop culture, and this is what Berlusconi based his media empire upon.  Berlusconi created a name for himself in the entertainment industry by allowing people the option to watch shows that amused, captivated, and angered any and all viewers.  What he offered to viewers was something that they could not refuse: excitement.

Although Silvio may do some questionable things, he has the power to do them, and to do them well.  Silvio gives us a reason to turn on the news, or open a paper.  What Silvio gives us is pop culture.  Silvio offers liberals a scapegoat, and conservatives a work horse.  Silvio serves as role model and bad example, in unison.  What Berlusconi has done is rejuvenate the poetic tragedy that begs one to pay attention.


Eric: Classes and Profs at Accent in Rome

March 14, 2011

So I was finally able to speak to my mom over Google calling, which was completely free and functioned very well despite cutting out every once in a while. She requested that I talk about my professors here in Rome and go in depth on the nature of my scholastic experience.  I agree and cannot believe that I have neglected to write about this very important part of the journey.  So here it goes.

I am enrolled in four courses and an internship.  I am taking a marketing course, made in Italy, a course on sustainability, Italy a case for sustainability, a communications course, Italian media, and last but certainly not least an Italian language course. All of my classes are in the same room, which is a smaller classroom and features a white board, a LCD projector, a laptop, a space heater, 15 desks, and a window that overlooks the atrium.  The school is housed in a building that was built in the 15th century and was intended to be used by the Vatican.  The building is old, but feels light and fresh.  The administration part of Accent is housed in a different part of the building down the hall from the UofM classroom building.

The plaza that our school is in is piazza l’orologio which houses a church that has a wonderful clock that faces a clearing that is cobbled over and a common meeting area for students.

My teachers are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.  All of my professors are fluent in several languages and teach at the center part time. I will begin discussing my Profs in order that I meet with them through the week.

First there is Fabianna who is a typical Italian working professional.  She is beautiful, stylish, intelligent and kind.  She frequents class with thousand dollar purses, fantastic scarves and footwear.  She has tan olive skin and wears tasteful makeup.  Her full time job is for Salvatore Ferigamo as a marketing liaison for the US markets.  She has worked in the United States in Florida, New York, and California.  Fabianna also has extremely important and noteworthy personal connections such as Luis Vuitton, executives in Prada, Gucci and I am sure many other important luxury brands that do business in Italy that she has not mentioned.  Her class is as interesting as she is.  She also invites her friends to come give guest lectures about doing business in Italy and reinforce the “Made in Italy” reputation.  There are no tests, and no official homework or essays.  The grade will be completely based upon a final project in which the class was split into pairs to complete.  The projects is to create a product idea and develop a business plan in which the groundwork for launching the brand in a US market with limited startup capital is available to synthesize a common situation that new Italian brands a faces with.  The project will be graded on originality, innovation, presentation, timeliness and respect for the 50,000 euro budget.  In the project detail there is talk of a “lucky winner” which I am thinking might be an opportunity to turn the business plan into a business reality which would be incredible.  I am partnered with a friend and likeminded student and have developed a plan that we think is likely to be successful, in which case we are determined to win and hopefully be aided in turning our dreams into reality which could change my life drastically.

My Italian professor is a man of the world who speaks English, Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic.  He is full of energy and absolutely hilarious. I cannot say enough nice things about this man! The class size is small with only six of us in the classroom so there is no way to blend in and not be persuaded to learn the language.  In addition to our classroom practice we have gone to the coffee shop near our school. Bar Amore¸ and a fruit and vegetable market in Campo Di Fiori.  At the coffee shop we were treated to a coffee as long as we ordered in Italian which was really fun, albeit something that I do on a daily basis.  At the fruit market we were given the task of asking vendors how much ten items cost per kilo in Italian.  In order to accomplish this feat we needed to use our salutations, knowledge of different fruits and veggies, numbers and any other niceties that were thrown to us.  Read the rest of this entry ?


Eric: Salve!

March 6, 2011

So I have been sort of lazy recently and fallen into a routine here in Rome, but finally with a couple days worth of rest I am back and have some catching up do.  So I suppose I can start where I left off.  So Marley and I went to our interview and got the job!  Alessandro is our immediate boss and contact, and he is incredible!  He is only 29, but has accomplished quite a bit in his lifetime.  He studied law and practiced business law for a while until he came to the conclusion that as a lawyer you have to be, uh, devoid of morals to put it politely.  So he and his best friends Mateo and Antonio decided to open up a magazine that is geared toward English speaking tourists, students and expats.  The magazine is meant to highlight lesser known parts of the city, and help people unravel the tight knit roman “underground” social events.

Marley and I so far have spent most of our time developing a survey with Alessandro in order to gather information on the development and improvement of the magazine as well as demographic information to be used in ad space sales.  We work for three hours on Mondays and Thursdays at the Romeing office on the Northern edge of the city, but we have fun and get into lively discussions about people, music, and life.  In addition to discussing the survey we were given the opportunity to write a restaurant overview that will be featured in the March issue.  We were treated to dinner at Antica Taverna, a classic Italian restaurant near our school, and had to write a short blurb about the food and ambiance of the location.

Our group also did a weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain which was fun, but sort of set me back in my Italian studies.  The trip was sort of a blur because we only had half Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and half of Sunday to see Barcelona.  Thursday when we got off the plane it was raining and cold and it stayed that way the whole day.  We went for a walking tour in the rain which was interesting, but the weather prevented us from being fully engaged when we had our introduction to the city.  On the first day we saw some of Gaudi’s best works and went for a tapas dinner after the tour at around nine which was pretty incredible!  Some of the highlight dishes were the seared potatoes with aioli and the calamari. Before the dinner we had a guest speaker from the Cataluña separatist movement. He gave us an overview of the political situation in Barcelona which is exceptionally complicated even if the turmoil is undetectable to the casual tourist.  The feud between Catalonians and Spanish is a delicate issue involving a historical tradition of racism against the Catalan people who retain a culture of their own despite being technically speaking Spanish.  The feud is ultimately about finances and language.  The Spanish is apparently taxing the economically advantaged Catalan region in order to subsidize other regions in which the local economies are not as developed.

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