ciao Roma! It’s been an amazing 4 months!!
ciao Roma! It’s been an amazing 4 months!!
Just got back from a long weekend in Prague, or as the locals call it, Praha. Once again I am completely unsure which country I have visited is my favorite; however, Prague is definitely somewhere on the top of my list.
For the price of a normal hostel in most other countries, six of my friends and I rented an apartment for five days that slept 12 people; had a full kitchen, dinning and living room equipped with a plasma screen TV; had an outdoor balcony deck big enough for everyone; and to top it all off…free cleaning services. Luckily for us, the weather wasn’t too unbearably cold and the Christmas villages throughout the city were exceedingly enticing, otherwise we may not have ever left our pimp crib.
Before we left for Prague, we were warned that the weather would be colder than anything we’ve ever experienced before. Consequently, we all stuffed our bags with oversized flannels, sweaters, lots of layering shirts and leggings, hats, gloves, the works! Our carry-ons were bulging at the seams. To our great surprise when we arrived in Prague the weather was definitely cold but nowhere close to catastrophic. This was an amazing perk considering we toured, a lot. We left our mark on the John Lennon Wall, partook in royal happenings at the Prague Castle, indulged in hot wine and sweet bread while basking in the lights of the Christmas villages scattered throughout the city center, and we did all this before the sun went down…at 3 pm. THIS was something that I simply could not get used to, throughout my entire stay in Prague I had absolutely no sense of time. This was a gift but also definitely a curse. I was stress free smooth sailing for the most part; however, it made things like meal management difficult because my body automatically associates darkness with dinner. This also made touring difficult because the entire time we toured by foot and when the sun went down so did the temperature; therefore, if you didn’t prepare yourself in the morning when it was still mildly cold for the frigid cold of the night, you were not a happy camper.
All in all Prague was a GREAT SUCCESS!!! It’s just very bittersweet to know that that was my last spontaneous trip abroad with the wonderful people I have grown so close to. Only 12 more days till my departure back home, and instead of feeling homesick, I’m already feeling Romesick.
I was absurdly sick last week because I was in denial that I had to wear a jacket outside. Welp Kelsey, news flash it’s practically DECEMBER! In my defense, it has been amazingly warm out for the past few months. In fact, until about last week the coldest it’s been here in Rome has been in the upper 60s. I felt bad because my mom was visiting when during this weather change and I had convinced her a jacket would not be necessary…I even think I laughed at her for even having the idea of “bundling up”. I guess karma really is a bitch because in the end I was the one with the flu. Boo-who.
Family fun!!!! The backdrop really captures the essence of Italy.
I am currently sitting in my school’s library attempting to write a research paper. The good thing about libraries is that they are filled with books containing useful knowledge for writing papers such as my own. The bad thing about libraries in Rome is that all the books are in Italian, and when I asked my director where I could find an English library…he laughed. Therefore, I am forced to reference online sources. Granted, these days most people only use online references and books are viewed as ancient, daunting artifacts; however, I personally loath internet research.
Rome Futbol Game
Being in Europe has made me appreciate the easy access of virtually anything and everything in America. Grocery stores sell limited supplies and close exceedingly early in Rome, if I know I’m going to be hungry at 6 pm (which I always am) I have to plan accordingly to go to the grocery store by 5 pm before it closes. This is often very difficult considering I usually have class until 6:30 pm. I don’t even bothering going anywhere on Sundays; absolutely nothing is open.
I guess I am a pampered princess in love with the lavished lifestyle of American convenience.
Fall in Amsterdam
The other night my roommate Mary and I were recovering from our busy weekend in Barcelona, over an American appetizer of nachos at the Hard Rock Café in Rome. We discussed how sadly one of our greatest concerns about coming abroad was gaining weight. The stereotypical body image in America celebrates being skinny, constantly counting calories, and driving one’s self-insane over exercise. In Italy, carbs are warmly welcomed, dessert is a must, and working out is an unusual plus. Now that I have been in Rome for over a month and am one pants size larger, I realize that though I may not be as slender as I was back home, I am much more relaxed and most importantly very, very happy. I believe that a true cultural experience lies in the food. Allowing myself to let down my guard and let in more than enough carbs, has provided me with a literal taste of Italy. I never realized how American culture had subconsciously trained me to obsess over body image.
The best way to experience a culture is through its food. Every Monday through Thursday, my host mother crafts authentic Italian dinners for Mary and me. Mostly each delicacy is different, with a few occasional repeats of our favorite pesto or carbonera pastas. The dinners consist of four courses: primi, secondi, insalata, dessert. The primi is usually a pasta or risotto, the secondi is a meat or fish, the insalata is typically lettuce coated in oil and salt, and dessert ranges from gelato to wine biscotti. Needless to say, we are usually ten pounds happier by the end of the week. However, on the weekends we are not offered meals from our host families so we often grab a quick slice of pizza, or a kebab, which is an unnatural combination of turkey and beef in a wrap. Although I absolutely love the food in Italy, I will admit that at times it does become a bit repetitive and therefore I thoroughly enjoy getting to try new cuisines when I travel.
In Barcelona I basked in the deliciousness of seafood pyaya and authentic red sangria. In Munich I devoured what looked like a foot-long hotdog, which was really some type of smoked sausage. I also sampled the famous Nuremberger, no relation to the hamburger, which was three little sausages and a side of potato salad. When I travelled to Ireland I was overjoyed to see peanut butter! I didn’t realize how much I had missed this common American spread. I even bought a tub of it to take home to Rome. For breakfast in Dublin, I tested a full-Irish breakfast and was surprised to see that I liked the black pudding made with pig’s blood. When I visited Paris I had the most amazing cheese and meat fondue. And lastly, in Amsterdam, I had absolutely nothing authentic which reflected the melting pot environment, like America, of this crazy city.
One of the things I miss the most being abroad in Italy are bagel sandwiches. In America, bagels are everywhere. You can find them in a local Wawa or Seven-Eleven, a corner bakery and virtually any grocery store, but here they are nowhere to be found. Every Saturday and Sunday at Loyola my friends and I would make the trek to Towson Hot Bagels for our favorite combinations of cheesey, eggy, toasted bagel goodness. Now, all of my breakfasts consist of plain corn flake cereal. I also miss large coffees, iced in particular. Here, coffee comes in the forms of an exceedingly small shot of espresso, a tiny cup of cappuccino, café Americano (a 4 oz. cup of coffee with cream), or the 4 oz. café latte caldo, hot, or fredo, cold. Naturally, the largest coffee size can be found at McDonalds, but even that is only 8 oz. I now understand why Americans are always so on edge; they replace their blood flow with the caffeine running through their veins.
I am excited to devour the delicious mix of American cuisine when I return home; however, I will absolutely miss the freshness of Italian food. Unlike American food, even after I eat a large meal I do not feel sick to my stomach. The ingredients are so fresh that they don’t leave my stomach in knots. Even the dessert doesn’t make me feel gluttonous. I never realized how truly processed American foods are until I came abroad.