May 23, 2013
Today Rachel and I took a day trip to Parma. It was a BEAUTIFUL day to explore! I liked the city a lot, but not more than Reggio Emilia. It’s really beginning to feel like home here! Parma was prettier though. We really didn’t do much, just walked around, and stumbled upon some great statues and a really peaceful park that contained the former palace of the Dukes of Parma, circa 1600. We ate at a little café in one of the piazzas. I had a salad… FINALLY. Seriously, that salad contained the only vegetables that I’ve eaten here pretty much. The Italians eat so much bread and pasta and fruit! SO MANY CARBS. I expected lots of food, but not so much of this kind of stuff all the time, for every meal. I like the way that the Italians take their time with food and really enjoy mealtimes, but something is missing in the way that health is portrayed in this culture. True, the people are generally more active, but they also smoke and drink all the time. Like, after soccer practice, the whole team went out for beer. It’s just not something that I really like about the Italian culture. It’s like, as a whole, the people are skinnier, but they’re “skinny fat.” They’re thin, but not necessarily healthy. I also don’t like eating so late at night. It’s one of the worst things that you can do to maintain a healthy weight and we don’t eat until about 9 o’clock every night, and that’s if Rachel and I are lucky! Usually it’s much later than that. I’m not saying that American culture is better at ALL in relation to food is better at all. I’m just thinking about my experience with the Italian culture in comparison to my ideal vision of a healthy lifestyle. I can’t quite put my finger on it (and maybe it’s only this way with my host family) but something is just slightly askew when it comes to healthy living.
May 24, 2013
Today, another preschool and shadowing at Bergonzi in the afternoon. It was unbearably cold and rainy. It snowed in the mountains not far from here… the first time there has been snow in May in 120 years! CRAZY. I was miserable walking around in the rain. If you’re ever going to Italy, PACK RAIN SHOES. The only shoes I had were tennis shoes and I didn’t want to wear those out to the schools today shadow because I didn’t think they would be appropriate. So, I wore my flip flops thinking they would dry out. When we were walking out of the house our host dad said (in his cute Italian accent), “But izz raining, you go outside wit no shoes?” So basically, tennis shoes may look dumb but you look even more ridiculous walking around without good shoes on in the rain. Getting your feet wet is just stupid to the Italians. Generally, they don’t wear flip flops at all. Sturdy shoes are a necessity since the people walk so much. A nice sandal is fine, but flip flops are considered poor house shoes. If I ever go to Italy again (and I’m SURE one day I will!) I’m not going without better shoes. Anyways,I was disappointed with Bergonzi today. We had a better experience reading to the children because there was a translator with us, but the teacher didn’t do anything special. In fact, the lesson was pretty boring. However, her students did pay attention the entire time. She was an older lady and obviously a seasoned teacher so we asked her about advice to give to young aspiring teachers. She said, “The secret is to love the children.” I really enjoyed hearing her say that because it just pointed to the idea that love can make all the difference. Good teachers, no matter where in the world they are, love their children. Teachers everywhere can bond over that same passion and love. Also, tonight, we went out for dinner with two of our professors! Wewent to Il Nicio, a little place on a backstreet loved by the locals in Reggio Emilia. It was SUPER delicious and really neat to get to know our professors in another way. I literally ate a five course meal and drank so much wine but it was SO WORTH IT. You’re only in Italy once, right? Wrong… I plan to come back and eat just as much again and again but this was my one BIG meal while I’m here this time. Well… I’ve eaten a lot at every meal but this one was my one actual Italian dinner at a restaurant.
May 25, 2013
Day trip to Verona! I LOVE THIS CITY! Yes, it was pretty touristy, but it was super precious. We saw Juliet’s balcony but didn’t pay the 4 euros to climb up. Apparently, you’re also supposed to rub the right boobie on the statue of Juliet that’s in the little garden for good luck. Our tour guide told us that was a myth so it was funny to watch all the people crowd to rub the boob! We also climbed to the top of a tower in Piazza Erbe. It was harder to climb this one because the steps were those grate things that I hate! Eeek! Verona was pretty and picturesque but it rained so we really didn’t do too much. We did sit in a cafe and split some different deserts. I finally tried tiramisu… I liked it, but my sweet mama makes better cake at home! When we got back, I watched the Champion’s League finals with Chiara and Gio. It was really cool to watch a big game because soccer is such a big deal here.
May 26, 2013
VENEZIA. Venice was absolutely gorgeous. There really are no words. Cinque Terra was still my favorite thing so far, but Venice and the Gondola ride are up there among my favorites. No one in my group was super interested in going into any of the museums so we just wandered around. We just got lost in the city, exploring, and observing without any real intentions. The gondola ride was so worth it… it’s definitely just a touristy thing but you just have to fork out the money and do it, at least once. The crowds in Venice were a little ridiculous, making it frustrating to get around. But despite all of the gaudy tourism things, the salty sea air charmed me, making me love the beautiful city in the water.
May 27, 2013
LAST LANGUAGE LESSON. Yes! I’m sad that I didn’t get a better grasp on the language, but we were here for such a short period of time. I’m thankful for the language lessons… but they didn’t really help much. Sometimes I wonder why I God opened the doors for me to go on this trip instead of going to France or somewhere else that speaks French, but I know there’s a reason! Rachel left today so it’s just me now with our host parents. It’s so sad! I really enjoyed getting to know her as my roommate for these few short weeks. It’s going to be so awkward staying alone with Chiara and Gio. I’ll be using google translator more than usual!! Hopefully it won’t be too bad and I’ll get a chance to do some fun stuff with them. I really want to learn to make pasta before I go home! I’m going to soccer practice again tonight and that’s always fun! These were all short entries because we were just so busy. I took a ton of pictures! I’ll have more time to reflect on what I’ve learned on this trip about myself, about my culture, and about Italy since I’ll have more time alone in these next few days.