Tag Archive | Marist

Back in America

Let’s just say, leaving Italy was one of the most difficult things I have had to do.  I threatened to chain myself to the Duomo numerous times so I wouldn’t have to leaved.  But I’ve been back in the United States for about three weeks now.  I had to go back to reality and back to the rush of being a native New Yorker.  As much as I love living in the land of the brave, who wouldn’t miss Italy and all the travel opportunities I had while abroad? (10 countries in three months- just saying).

So here is a list of things that I miss from studying abroad:

  • The architecture- I made the Duomo my cell phone background because I miss walking past it every everyday, it’s not the same.
  • Browsing the street vendors-maybe I want to treat myself to a one euro bracelet that day.
  • The language- it’s a known fact that the Italian language is the most beautiful of them all.
  • Field trips during my classes- field trips aren’t as common at my home college.
  • The mini cappuccino machines by my classes- 50 cent cappuccino con cioccolata, yum!
  • Traveling during the weekends with my friends- Prague, Istanbul, Crete, London, etc.
  • The slow pace of life- okay, maybe I struggled with this while there (see above- Native New Yorker), but it’s definitely something I appreciate.  We should enjoy life and all aspects of it, not rush through it.
  • Italian pizza
  • Pasta with amazing sauces
  • Gelato
  • Panino shops
  • Just Italian food in general.
  • Walking places and exploring the town- can’t do that in my hometown, which is unfortunate since I came home to a broken car.
  • Fashion
  • The store fronts- they’re so carefully crafted, they lure me in every time!
  • People calling me bella- okay, sometimes it’s creepy, but other times it’s nice and acts as a good ego boost!
  • Being mistaken as a native Italian.
  • Having traveling and soaking in your surroundings as your biggest responsibilities in life.

I want to thank my parents, family and friends as well as Marist College and Lorenzo de’ Medici for the best four months of my life.

I will continue to write posts about looking back at my experiences as well as offering advice to those considering to go abroad.

A presto!

il Dumo, Firenze- who wouldn't miss this?

il Duomo, Firenze- who wouldn’t miss this?

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Czeching Out Prague

For my last weekend trip, my friend and I went to Prague with Bus2Alps and stayed at the CzechInn.

I did not know what to expect with Prague, but throughout the semester I had heard from various students that it was their favorite city.  I now understand why.

After a 13 hour bus ride from Florence, the first thing we did when we arrived at the hostel was bundle up in scarves, sweaters and gloves. It was a good 20 degrees colder in Prague than in Florence.

We then went on the tram and metro to meet our guide for our walking tour.  He took us around the city, including Old Town Square and the Old New Synagogue.  We had such a large crowd that it was difficult to understand what he was saying to us, but we were able to take in many beautiful sights and its history.

govt building

govt building

Throughout the years, Prague has been subject to many foreign invasions and political unrest.  In the city, we were able to see the German and Russian influence from the second World War.  There are many government buildings that were built when they became the Czech Republic in order to reaffirm their position.

One of my favorite results of the political unrest within the city is the Lennon Wall.  The Wall was built as a dedication for the famous Beatle, John Lennon.  In 1988, the wall was a source of irritation for the communist regime of Gustáv Husák. It acted as a civil protest by the students in Prague, calling their movement Lennonism.  Students would write on the wall ideas of peace, quoting Lennon and his ideals.  The government would return everyday, painting over the graffiti, and the students would continue to come back.

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This piece of art continues to live on today.  People still come by and paint over the wall (as tradition), which encourages people to continue to contribute to the wall. The ideals on the wall are still characteristic of young people; ideas of love, peace, and togetherness.  My friend and I wrote on the wall some of our favorite quotes, in English and Italian (ti voglio bene), and Beatles lyrics.  It was nice contributing to this living history; we’re part of the peace, we are a part of a layer of this history.  There must have been thousands of people that wrote on it before use, and there will be thousands after us, but we all have the same ideals. We all shine on.

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Hi Marist!

Hi Marist!

The wall is located off of Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague (and at one time, the only).  Its construction started in 1357 under  King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century.  It’s a wide bridge that, during the day, is filled with vendors selling jewelry and artwork; there are beautiful pictures of the Wall and paintings of the bridge.  The bridge is packed with tourists, but it is definitely a must-see.  There are religious pieces along the edge of the bridges, probably a result from the Renaissance.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

The Christmas market in Old Town Square had just opened the weekend we were there.  There were lines of shops selling Prague souvenirs, as well as Christmas ornaments and decorations.  There were also food vendors, where they were selling this cinnamon fried dough.  It looked like a hollow cylinder.  Mine had Nutella in it. Of course it was amazing.  We also got potatoes melted with cheese and ham.  I also ordered a chicken skewer on a baguette.  Now picture it, and try to appreciate how I attempted to eat it, because it was very difficult and impractical.

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There was also a huge Christmas tree and stage, decorated with the lights.  The entire square was lit up by the white Christmas lights.

Prague was one of those unexpected beauties.  The buildings and squares all had a unique feel to them; although I was in a big city, I felt like I was in a small town.

As Bus2Alps says, “Prague has shed it’s not-so-distant oppressive past to re-emerge as a culturally rich wonder and a mainstay of every traveler’s bucket list.”

That it has.

Oh. And fun fact- Prague is where most of Eurotrip was filmed.

First day (primo giorno)

We, me and my fellow Marist students, arrived Tuesday morning, 9am here, 3am for U.S. time, ready to explore.  We arrived to our apartments an hour later. I still don’t know what to make of it.  The apartment is fairly large, or long is the more  proper term, with an expanding hallway that on either side includes entrances to two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and two bathrooms.  The bathroom quickly prompted me to Google search how to use a bidet. Not yet a fan of it.  Although the apartment is spacious, it’s old.  Which means, no air conditioning (great in this 90 degree weather!), noisy pipes, and creaky furniture. The view is nice, we’re within a piazza with other old looking buildings colored the classic Tuscan yellow.  We’re also located right next to Ponte Vecchio, which is a beautiful sight within itself.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

My roommate and I decided to do a lot of walking in order to stay out of the apartment and battle the need for sleep (sleep won around 6p.m. until dinner).  We went to a 99 cent store to get cleaning supplies, which took us an extra 15 minutes trying to figure out what was laundry detergent.  After, we went to a grocery store, which proved much more daunting than we expected, especially since neither of us cooks. A half hour later, we left with the familiar items of frozen chicken nuggets, cereal and eggs.  We’re really hoping for improvement on that part.

Later on, we walked around the different plazas and past the various vendors. I love the fact that the Florence symbol is the fleur de lis (also KKG’s symbol) and it’s on everything. Potential gifts for my fellow sorority sisters? I think so.

Firenze Fleur de lis. Courtesy of italiannotes.com/wordpress

For dinner, my roommate and I met up with our friend at a restaurant across the river. The owner of the restaurant convinced us to eat there with his charming Italian ways (and the fact that he knew English) when he saw us viewing the menu outside where we were trying to compare prices.  Our friend managed to insult the owner by asking him specific prices about everything (typical Americans, obsessed over money).  The owner was surprised when we explained to him that water is free in America.  It’s not like we can drink the tap water here though; the argument is moot. The ravioli I ordered was amazing and the creamy sauce was heavenly, nothing like I ever ate at home.

I’m going to need to learn how to cook more to resist the temptation of eating out every night.