Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ciao everyone!!
Today, Jess and I finished off our trip by visiting all of our favorite tourist spots - the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the wedding cake building in Piazza Venezia! It was so nice to see all of our favorites once more, and then to watch the sunset from the bridge on our way back to our apartment. We enjoyed our last (few) gelato servings and said goodbye to a few of our newfound friends. It's going to be so bittersweet to leave in the morning! We can't wait to go home and see all of our families and friends, but it's so sad to leave this beautiful city! Ciao Rome!!
xoxo, Natalie Hostetter

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 27th

Today is a studying day for me. After wake up in the morning, I started to do my final research paper and final presentation. My research paper focused on Chinese immigrants in Italy. I felt so lucky that I had a Chinese background and I could use my bilingual skill as a resource to talk to Chinese immigrants in Italy. I found many good information about how Chinese immigrants view Italian people and education. I also found many good articles to improve my research. Cloudia and I, we studied the whole afternoon. After the long time studying, we felt really need a break. We went together to get gelato place called Blue Ice in the piazza near our apartment. The piazza was full of tourist, and we saw a performance there. While we were eating, we were eating gelato and joining the sunshine. I suddenly felt how interesting Rome’s life was. I realized I am leaving this lovely place in two days.
After gelato time, we went back home and kept working on our final presentation PowerPoint. I hope the time go faster because I hope I can finish my works, but at the same time, I want the time just stopping here because I wanted to stay in Rome a little bit longer.

Today we had our final presentations!! We're officially done for the year! We arrived at the Rome Center at noon to a beautiful spread of food that Stephanie had prepared for our lunch - so much delicious food! We started our presentations off with Julie, Natalie, Lorraine, and Shontia's presentation on "Immigrants living in Italy as non-citizens", followed by Christina, Veronika, Sydney S, Claudia, and Madeleine's group, whose presentation was about "The setbacks and advancements of intercultural interactions in Italian schools". Next was Sydeny P and Rainy's presentation on "Special Education in Italy", and lastly was my group, consisting of James, Rebecca and I, and our presentation was on "Educational funding in Italy". It was a nice way to wrap up the quarter and after each presentation we had a group discussion to make sure we all were up to date on the topic. Afterwards we went to check out, since a lot of people leave tomorrow! (I hope everyone traveling after the program has a wonderful time!!) We got back to our apartment after class and did as much packing as we could, and now we're about to leave for our very last group dinner! It's going to be so bittersweet to leave, but I can honestly say I've never been so homesick and I can't wait to fly home to Issaquah, Washington early Friday afternoon. Ciao, Roma!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blog by Sydney Staples

For starters, Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all who served our country. You are appreciated and never forgotten! Today was a special day. My roommate woke me up because I no longer have a cell phone with an alarm! I threw on some clothes that wouldn’t rub against my burnt body too harshly, brushed my teeth and was out the door within 20 minutes! I headed to class a little early to prepare for my last final as a junior at the University of Washington! Where has the time gone?! I feel like I was just a freshman at UW. Now I am preparing to fly home from Italy as a legal adult, about to start her senior year of college! After I killed my final, I walked back to my apartment to grab my laptop and meet my final presentation group at the Rome Center. We needed to work on our powerpoint presentation for Wednesday! After spending some time on creating an appealing slide show, we grabbed lunch at our favorite kebab shop near school. After I ate, I met Veronika at Stephanie’s coffee shop near Campo di Fiori. I updated my journal for an hour or so and then went back to my apartment to take a nap. I am currently as red as a tomato, and the sun sucked the energy out of me yesterday, so I needed some rest. I woke up at 6pm and skyped my mother and little sister, and it made my day. I love skyping my friends and family because I feel so close to them again, rather than half way across the world. It was great to hear their voices and see their faces. Two more weeks and I’m comin’ for ya!! Then my apartment and I left for dinner with the program at a fancy Italian restaurant James picked out. Because we have a lot of money left in our food budget, we were each able to spend about 40 euro on our meal. I got bruschetta with tomatoes, a caprese salad, mixed vegetables, and 3-colored pasta with smoke salmon and provolone cheese! It was delicious! For dessert, most of the group got a Tiramisu. Being the garbage gut of the group, I cleaned two other plates because they were too full. I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world! We caught the 44 home and I tried to skype my grandparents, but they didn’t answer my call. I decided to plug in to Pandora and catch up on my social media, and chat with my friends on Messenger. All in all, it was a chill day, filled with fruit, friends, family, and fooooooood. Now it’s bed time! Thanks for listening to my blog these past two months! I had an incredible experience here in Italy. Off to Paris on Thursday! Ciao everyone, and take care!

Sunday May 25th, 2014

Today on this beautiful HOT sunny Sunday in Rome I woke up very early for beach day! I always wanted to go to a beach near Rome and I decided to go with Sperlonga! I went with Sydney, James, Rebecca and this guy name Matteo who was Sydney’s friend. We all meet up around 10am to catch the train at the Termini and we barely made it in time to catch the train. The train was headed towards Naples and it was super packed and there were no seats so we had to stand for half of our journey. That was my first time having to stand on a train and it wasn’t fun lol. Then when we got to Fondi-Sperlonga we also had to take a bus that was jam packed! But when we finally arrived to Sperlonga at the beach it was all worth it because it was beautiful! I mean I felt like I was in paradise, the sky was clear and the water was aqua blue. We went down to the beach and just laid out and they all tanned and we got in the water! It was just such a fun but relaxing day which is just what I needed! I haven’t went swimming in so long, it felt so good to swim! We also had these drinks on the beach that reminded me of snow cones, it was crushed up ice and flavored syrup on top of it… Yummm J We stayed there until the last bus came around 7:40pm and I we didn’t get back to Rome until around 9:30pm so we were all beat. Also Sydney and James got sunburn and were really red after we got back lol but I think we all thought today was just amazing! I can’t believe many of us are a few days away from going back home! I’m going to enjoy my last few days here but look forward to being home with my loved ones!

- Shontia Copeland-Walton

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday May 25!

So today was my last Saturday in Rome! It's crazy how time has flown by. Today Shontia and I decided to go to the park Villa Borghese. It was such a beautiful park! We went specifically to row a boat! It was such a great experience. It was my first time rowing a boat and it is harder than it looks. We got some cute pictures and enjoyed the full 20 minutes on the water. We saw a turtle floating around and it was fun watching other people struggling to row their boat just like we were haha. After the park I went to my favorite coffee shop in Trastevere called No Name Bar where I interviewed an Italian about his schooling experience. I learned new things about the education system in Italy and it was just nice getting to learn more about a person in Italy. After that, Sydney and I walked to Shontia's apartment to watch a movie. We watched The Walk of Shame which was such a hilarious movie! I totally recommend it if you want a good laugh :) Sydney and I then headed back to our apartment and we were just loving the night life atmosphere in Rome. Everyone seemed to be out having a great time. As always there were so many young people out and that is something that I will miss a lot when I am back in the U.S. I will miss walking out of my apartment at night and feeling safe to walk around the streets, seeing young people, being able to go in and out of restaurants, bars, and clubs at a late hour at night. My time here is getting bittersweet. I am taking in as much as I can but at the same time I am excited to be back home with my friends and family!

May 23rd, Friday!!

May 23rd, Friday!!
Today we don’t have class, but it is still a busy day!! Tilling our program finishing in one more week. It’s time to planning to packing and returning trip. I am planning to go to Pairs with Sydney S. and Rebecca before going back to Seattle. But I had struggling with storage luggage in which place while I will be Pairs because my flight come back from Pairs is at 23:30 in the night, and my flight going back to Seattle is in the next day morning at 7:00am.  There is no place I can storage and pick up in 24 hours. So I was worrying where to put my luggage, and finally I found there is storage agencies in Rome, which have 24-hour picking up and delivery service. Today I went to their store, which near Rome termini and make a reservation. They will delivery my luggage to FCO airport in 2am to me. They are the only one agency in Rome serve 24-hour delivery, and I am so appreciate for them.
It is no time to waste here in last weekend, and I already felt miss Italy.  However, there are lots of works left and we have to be done in this weekend: last week reflection paper, research project, final presentation, and preparing the Italian exam on Monday. Hope all of us will enjoy the last week.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday, May 22nd.

Today was just another sunny day in the beautiful city of Rome. Early in the morning, Sydney S. and I went to the coffee shop next to our apartment in order to productively work on our projects for a couple of hours. After we got a good amount of work done we went to Piazza San Cosimato to buy some fruits from the local market. Around twelve o'clock most of us headed out to Tor Piggnatara for the service learning. When Lorraine and I got to Pisacane we found out that the classes that we do service learning at weren’t in school today. I still went to the garden to say hi to a few second-graders that I play with every time I come to Pisacane. The kids were very happy to see me and asked me to go to their classroom today since my regular class wasn’t there. I went to their class with them and enjoyed helping them with their crafts during an art lesson. I was really impressed by the amazing skills and the creativity level of these children. Some of their artwork was absolutely astounding. Also, I never leave service learning empty-handed. The lovely kids always give me all kinds of flowers, bracelets, their drawings and today I even got a pen. J These are the most precious little gifts that I’ve ever gotten. After the service learning Lorraine and I headed to Via del Corso to do some shopping. We went to some of our favorite stores including Zara, H&M, and Brandy. Once we were exhausted from shopping we headed to Rione Monti to get some gelato and walk around in that lovely neighborhood. Soon later we got hungry and decided to get dinner at our favorite restaurant in that area. When we were taking a tram back to Trastevere we met some cool people from New York who were visiting Rome for a week and were able to recommend them a few of our favorite places. Tomorrow many of us are leaving to different places for the weekend and then we are on to the last week of our study abroad journey. It is definitely a bitter-sweet feeling. Have a great weekend everyone. Be safe and have fun!

Wednesday, May 21st

Wednesday, May 21

I think today was the hottest day we have experienced while in Rome! It was a beautiful, sunny day.  We had our last Italian and Education classes, as we prepare for a final exam and projects.  Today, we met writer Igiaba Scego, and she spoke to us about growing up as a Somalian 2nd generation Italian.  We read her short story, Sausages, before she came and it was a major point of conversation.  We commented that her character that purchased sausages to eat was balancing her Somalian identity and religion, which forbids the consumption of pork, with her Italian identity.  As food, especially pork, is a prevalent piece of Italian culture, Scego's character had an internal war to wage in deciding whether or not to eat the sausages.

After class, Rebecca, Veronika, and I walked to the Vatican because our chances to see beautiful places are becoming limited.  On the way there, the highlight of my afternoon was purchasing a terrific sandwich salame, grilled peppers, and pistachio sauce.  When we reached the Vatican, we decided not to go in, as long lines in the heat suck.

In the evening, I grabbed a few beers with a friend, and we sat on the Tiberina island for a few hours and watched as the sun faded into the river.  I am going to miss these days in Roma!

James Norris

Tuesday, May 20th Blog

Tuesday morning, I got up and took a nice cold shower because our water heater YET AGAIN has failed me. I got ready quickly so  that Lorraine and I would have time to get breakfast at our favorite bar. After a cappuccino and a croissant, we went to the market by our apartment to buy some peaches and bananas. She left me to catch a bus to her service-learning site, and I returned to the apartment to drop off our fruit. I then met up with Rebecca and Claudia to head to our service-learning site. On the way to the bus stop, an American girl approached us with a free cup of gelato promotional card to Old Bridge Gelateria. The three of us took a quick detour to retrieve our free gelato at our favorite gelateria, and also signed up to win a trip to Prague! After we scarfed down our ice cream, we caught the H to Termini, and then the 105 to Iqbal Masih. The bus rides never fail to amuse me! When I arrived at my school, my students were outside playing “jump the rope” at recess. I joined in. They asked me to be the one who spin the rope in the center so the rest of them could jump over without stopping the rotation. After about 15 minutes of spinning around, we went upstairs to their classroom for a geometry lesson; I helped Paula, the head teacher, teach the lesson in English. It was very gratifying, and after class today, I concluded that I wanted to teach English to non-English speaking students. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face yesterday afternoon. It was rewarding to see a light bulb go off in my students’ heads when something registered and they were able to make an Italian and English connection. For the first time, I felt like my class could understand me, and I was able to communicate with them. After service learning, I returned home to the apartment where I met up with my group to discuss the order of our final presentation. Then, we left to dinner with the program. We ate at a wonderful restaurant, Pizza Re, and were able to spend up to 20 Euro per person. I ordered a pasta dish, side caprese salad, and a chocolate cake for dessert! I was too full by the end of it! After dinner, some of my friends and I went to a mini mart to buy something to drink and then we headed back to the apartment. I took a short nap and then Claudia, Veronika, Shontia and I went to Scholar’s Pub to sing our hearts out at karaoke night! We had a blast and returned back to our beds early in the morning. All in all, it was a good day, with good company, and good food. Ciao!

Sydney Staples

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday, May 19th

We had Italian class this morning from 9:30-11. I left my apartment a little early to get a couple apples from the market outside and also stopped to get a cappuccino and a croissant. I'm going to miss these Italian breakfasts! During our lunch break we walked around, went to the cafe Stephanie took us to where they have delicious fresh juices and beautiful coffee art.

During our class in the afternoon, we reassessed our frames of references since we've gotten here. This is an assignment we did at the beginning of the quarter, its purpose is to identify our own perspectives on the world, to understand why we see the world the way we do and to learn about our peers as well. We all took turns sharing, and it was really interesting to see how people have changed over the past two months. I think we've all grown and matured a lot, so it was really nice hearing how everyone has think they've progressed.

We also had a guest speaker, Marco Wong, who is a second generation Chinese-Italian who is running for city counsel. It was really interesting to hear about his experiences growing up as a Chinese-Italian in the 60's and 70's. One thing that stuck out to me was that a lot of people assumed he was adopted.

After class, a couple of the girls and I went to this local cafe with wi-fi to work on our projects. They had aperitivo also, which is when you buy a drink (I got a soda) and then get a plate for the buffet. So I had endless food while doing some research. ;)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sunday May 18th!

I spent Sunday in Barcelona!! Shontia and I had such an amazing time enjoying Barcelona's beauty! This day was full of adventures! We started off our day by going up a tower to watch a great view of Barcelona! It is such a beautiful city and very different from Rome! As I was walking through the streets of Barcelona it was refreshing not running into people smoking cigarettes! So I'm glad that I took a break from that. Also, I was so happy to be able to understand everything and everyone. I got to use my Spanish and interact a lot with the locals to find more about their lives and about Spain in general. We found a very nice restaurants to eat where the staff were so nice and friendly! I really liked the environment and the people. In one of the restaurants we got free slices of cake for dessert, free glasses of wine, free appetizers and we got our entree discounted! It was great! I plan to go back to Barcelona next year so I will definitely go back to that restaurant to eat their delicious plates and visit the staff who were so nice to us.
We also rented a bike in order to get a better tour of Barcelona and that was such a big highlight of Sunday! I hadn't ridden a bike in years so the kid in me came out as I was bicycling through the streets of Barcelona. Even though I was struggling at first to ride the bike in a straight line and almost bumping into people, it was so much fun! We rode our bikes all the way down to the beach. The beach was beautiful and such a fun atmosphere. Later on that night our hostel staff invited us to go out and see a Flamenco show which is a form of Spanish folk music and dance. It was great! I had always wanted to experience watching that and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to do so.
Our stay in Barcelona was marvelous! It was a weekend full of adventures and new experiences.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hola from Barcelona!! Jessica, Madeleine, and I had the most wonderful day here in Spain! We woke up early to get a head start on the day! We got to the beach at around 11 and were there until around 5 pm...needless to say we got enough sun. Jessica is currently holding a water bottle on her back to help alleviate the burn. Oops!! The beach was the most wonderful place. It was perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky and mid 70s. We went swimming, met some French people, and ate Paella! I think we have all fallen in love with Spain. The air is so fresh, the people are so welcoming, and the scenery is to die for. We are now off to Park Guell for sunset and have heard amazing things! Can't wait! Adios! Xoxo Natalie

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hola from Barcelona!!!

This morning we visited the metropolis of Rome - an ex slaughterhouse turned into a living community for all different kinds of people. It was a fascinating area to visit because it was such a diverse community all living together in harmony and democracy. They have weekly meetings to decide on their political goals and their future direction as a community. A lot of the children that live in the metropolis go to school at Iqbal Masih, where me and a few others do service learning! One of Rainy's students found her in the metropolis and we all got to meet him! It was adorable.

After the visit we took the hour long bus journey back to Campo do Fiori, got a quick kebab for lunch, printed our boarding passes (which was quite the ordeal) and took a taxi to the airport. I'm still not used to how crazy the drivers are in Rome - they drive all over the place!! We made it to the airport finally and through security no problem. Our flight boarded late which was frustrating but we still made it into Spain almost on time so it all worked out. Our cab driver from the airport dropped us off a couple blocks in the wrong direction but we met some kind Americans who told us where to go. Turns out the apartment we booked was more like a flat, shared with some nice French men, so they helped me with my French a little bit which was nice, and complimented my accent! We wandered around the surrounding area a little bit and found some cute red bikes to rent tomorrow to wander the city. It'll be hilarious and adorable and I can't wait!

Anywho, tomorrow we plan on visiting all the beautiful sights in Barcelona as well as laying out on the beach for as long as possible. I can't wait!! Even though it's so close, Spain is so different from Italy and such a refreshing weekend getaway! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!! Ciao! Xoxo

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 13rd, 2014------Julie

May 13, cloudy day with a little bit raining!!!
As always, I did service learning with my cute favorite kids in Pisocana. My students and I have been together for one and half month, and we became like friends. Every time I went to Pisocana, my students grabbed my arms and walked around me. One girl asked me to draw cartoon pictures on a white piece of paper. While I was drawing, every other student brought a paper for me and asked me to draw for them too. (I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I promised to draw all of them a painting before I left. ^^) After one hour free playing time, we went to watch a Disney movie – Cars. Although it was not my first time to watch Italian movie without English Title (the first time was watching Spider Man 2), I still felt so funny to hear the sound that I was not familiar with.
Today was also a special day. We were celebrating another roomie – Sydney S’s 21st birthday. It was a happy day for all of us. We prepared a birthday cake for Sydney, and it was a surprise. The moment while we all make wishes and surprise for her, it made me want to cry. Hope it would be a memorable 21st birthday for Sydney. (We all love you, Sydney S!!! ^^) After that, we were dressed up with black and white, and then we went to a karaoke bar called Scholar. Veronica and Sydney singed a song called I Knew You Were a Trouble, and it was amazing. It was a fun night with full of love and happiness.
This program has been pasted more than half way. I am so appreciate to meet you all in Italy. Love you all! Bella!


Thursday May 15th

Today was just another typical Thursday! We were able to sleep in before we had to catch the bus for service learning at 12:30. This morning Sydney S, Claudia, Rebecca, Lorraine and I left the apartment early to go to this great café in Campo Di Fiori that Stephanie recommended to us. It has amazing fresh squeezed juice; a few of us got the ‘pineapple, pear and apple’ flavor. It was so yummy I had two! After that we caught the bus to service learning. I am starting to get attached to some of the kids; it is going to be sad to leave them! Especially because we aren’t able to communicate with them in Italian, I feel bad that we won’t get to say a proper goodbye.

After service learning we had our weekly group dinner. Tonight we had Thai food, and I think lot of us agreed that it was one of our favorite meals since we have been in Rome! We had Pad Thai, fried rice, dumplings, shrimp, curry, beef and vegetables… I think I can speak for everyone when I say I ate way too much. I really enjoy group dinner, it is a nice way for all of us to sit down together in a non-school setting and enjoy each other’s company.

A few of us are heading off to Barcelona for the weekend and I can’t wait to lie on the beach, eat paella, and speak Spanish (even though it may be a little rusty). This week went by really fast… so crazy to think our time in Rome is almost over. Ciao for now!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday May 14, 2014 (Two Weeks Until Class Is Over!)

Today on May 14, 2014 it officially marks two weeks until our last day of class! The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the wind was blowing! It’s almost surreal that were almost done! Two weeks are going to go by so fast and I think when the time comes I will be more than ready to go back home. Today we had Italian class to start out and it felt like I haven’t been in Italian class in forever because I was very rusty. We just did more conversations together, fill in the blank and learning more verbs in Italian. We only have a couple more Italian classes left and then our final!

After Italian class we had a lunch break and I just took the time to relax and watch one of my favorite shows in the computer lab lol. Today Stephanie brought us some delicious cherries and bread today and they were molto bene. In class we just discuss many things that we had been experiencing so far in Italy. We compared our experience from Turin, to Rome and even to the U.S. Through all of these discussions I think I’m starting to understand that Italy is very complex and so are the people who live here. But I think it’s safe to say that it’s like this in all countries and all people. Overall I think it was a very good discussion for about three hours.

After class later on Claudia and I started to prepare for our trip to Barcelona this weekend at my place. We figured out transportation and how to get to the airport and our hostel. We also looked up things to do and see in Barcelona, Spain. We're so excited and we can't wait to see Barcelona and she can’t wait to speak Spanish! 

-Shontia C.W. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lorraine Yu
After a few days in Torino, it was a bit difficult to readjust back to the busy streets of Rome.  Stephanie and Amara took us to Piazza Vittorio, the immigrant neighborhood that is right next to Termini Station.  This neighborhood reminded me a lot of San Salvario, where we stayed in Torino.  Amara mentioned that he thinks immigrants tend to gravitate towards living next to train stations because it’s convenient to leave the city and also because immigrants tend to believe that they will only spend a few years there before moving back to their original home.  However, that is usually not the case and they tend to stay where they end up.
We walked around the area for about ten minutes before heading to a huge market that is reminiscent of the one we visited in Torino.  The main differences being that this one was indoors and far less crowded.  Both markets offered fresh produce and food on one side, but the one in Rome had a smaller selection of clothing compared to the one in Torino.  James and I paired up to interview two different people about their views on immigration.  The first person we interviewed was a man who moved to Italy from Bangladesh ten years ago.  He did not really have any opinions on immigration and said that Italians tend to be friendly and are able to coexist with immigrants, especially the younger generations.  He also mentioned that he has children in Bangladesh but it is too expensive to bring them to Italy so he sends money to them instead.  The second person we interviewed was an Italian man who happened to be Roma.  James and I didn’t realize this until after we asked Stephanie.  It can get confusing since Roma and Rome are so similar and Roma means Rome in Italian.  He lives in the Piazza Vittorio area and he loves it.  He owns three clothing shops in the market and was kind enough to show us one of them.  He says that it is hard for both Italians and immigrants to find jobs and also mentioned that he doesn’t believe there is much discrimination towards immigrants in Italy.
After our tour of Piazza Vittorio, Stephanie and Amara took us to get gelato!  At first we were going to go to Palazzo del Freddo, the oldest gelateria in the area but it was unfortunately closed.  We wandered around for about ten minutes and found another one that was open.  I opted for vanilla and tiramisu and both were pretty good. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blog: Saturday, May 10th

Sydney Staples 

This past weekend we were up north in Turin to study how immigration may differ between north and south Italy. However, on Saturday, we had the opportunity to leave Turin for the day and night to explore other northern cities. I left for Venice, Italy with Rebecca, Claudia, Shontia, and James at 5:30am! Our train ride was about four and a half hours long, and we didn’t sleep much. When we got off the train and walked out of the train station, the first attraction we saw was one of the town’s famous canals! There were water taxis everywhere. It was incredible. We started heading to our hostel with bags in hands while trying to make our way through the crowd of people also just getting off the train. There was not a cloud in the sky; it was probably 75 degrees at 11am! The streets of Venice are like a maze, it’s extremely easy to get lost in the neighborhood. We found our hostel after turning down a few dead ends, and changed out of our comfy traveler’s clothes. We headed out to the canals and walked around, soaking up the sun and taking photographs of the breathtaking views. The five of us decided we wanted a cheap lunch, so we bought ham and arugula wraps for a few euro. We then explored St. Marco’s Square and experienced the architecture inside St. Mark’s Cathedral. Afterwards, we were offered a ‘deal’ to ride a gondola for just under an hour for a good price… So we took it! Franco showed us around the canals of Venice, and filled our ears with the history of the town. The ride was probably the highlight of my trip. It was so peaceful and perfect, I didn’t want to get out of the boat! After the gondola ride, we wandered along the side of the Grand Canal and ordered drinks and gelato and basked in the Sun’s rays for over an hour. I can’t stress how perfect the day was. It would have been impossible to wipe the grin off my face! After tanning/burning for a couple of hours, we went to the grocery store to buy some snacks and then returned to our hostel. We took a short break and then headed back out for seafood and tiramisu. We read online that St. Marco’s Square is the place to be at night, so we went to go see what was up. There were three live bands playing jazz at a few restaurants, one being the Florian, the oldest café in Venice! We took a lot of pictures of Venice’s nightlife. Once it hit midnight, the bands packed up to go home and so did we. We found our way back, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and crawled in bed. Bliss. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day- Sunday, May 12th

Today was Mother's Day, and it carried with it a nostalgic feeling for most of us.  I am very pleased to be in Italy, but its hard to be away from my mom on this day.  Phone calls were made and lots of pictures were posted on social networking in distant celebration.  Let's face it, if not for all of you, we might not have been able to come to Italy! Thank you so much for all you do! We love you.

Besides Mother's Day, it was also a long day of travel for the five of us in Venice.  We woke up for an early morning cappuccino and hopped on a train to Torino.  After a 4.5 hour ride, we were able to spend a little time in Torino again.  It quickly became one of our favorite cities because of its open areas, friendly people, and tasty food.  One of the highlights of my day was visiting the Egyptian Museum.  Many of the group members visited it on Thursday, and I was able to check it out today!  There were great people Sadly, it came time to hop on the train for Rome once again.  After another 4 hour ride, we finally made it home.  The final stretch of the program is upon us, and I am hoping to finish strong!

Happy Mother's Day! 

James Norris

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Friday, May 9th--Torino Day 3

Veronika Patrashko

Friday was another great day spent in Turin. We visited one of the most amazing preschools that I have ever been in. It has a big property with a nice garden and a playground. The school is wonderfully decorated inside with kids art work and many other creative posters. I was very impressed by one of the many posters in the lobby that had a world map in the middle and many children around it. On the sides of the poster there were flags of the countries from where all of the children come from and their names under the flags. I found it very creative and inspiring. The children in this preschool do many interesting projects and also participate in the initiatives for contemporary art. All around the school there a many pictures documenting many activities. Another fascinating thing about this preschool was a library where children spend time reading and preparing to participate in the book fair. Also the building of this preschool was built by a famous Turin architect in 1980s. He focused on the open space and structured the building "to be open and not closed to the outside world". There are a few great workshop areas with many different materials that are located at the level of the children so they can easily access them. Personal hygiene and autonomy is very important in this school. All of the classrooms are very intercultural and have mixed age groups. Visiting this preschool and meeting the children was an unforgettable experience. 

After the preschool we visited the biggest market in Turin. It's a huge market where you can find pretty much anything you can think of. It's a very intercultural market and a few of us met some interesting people. 

After the market we walked around Turin, did some shopping, visited beautiful piazzas, and even tanned in the park by the fountain. Finally, before the sunset we went up to the viewpoint of Turin with one of the girls that we have met on our high school visit the day before. It was a gorgeous sunset with the beautiful view of the city. Overall, it was a wonderful day and all of us absolutely loved Turin. Now we're all headed in the different directions for the weekend: Aosta, Venice, Nice, Verona, and Milan. Have a great weekend everyone!"

Thursday, May 8, 2014

March 8th, 2014

Ciao from Torino!

Today we woke up early because some of us got breakfast with Stephanie near the hotel/hostel before class. The cornet (croissants) there were to die for. I really want to go back again before I leave Toronio. Afterwards we ended to a preschool that is literally 2 seconds from our hotel. We stayed there for most of the morning. It was really awesome! The preschool basically changed their thinking to be much more of a progressive and intercultural school. They work with children from 0 to 6 years old. They also mix a lot of their classes so you can find four, five and six year olds all together in class, which is super unique in Italy. We watched some of the younger kids paint, before some of the older children joined them. Afterwards we went upstairs because some of the older kids had a surprise for us. They spoke to us in minimal english and gave us italian or american flags that they had made in class. They also sang many songs, including on I knew from girl scout camp, I almost cried from the nostalgia  - I hadn't heard the song in several years. I also met a woman at the preschool who is a special education aid, she told us she is 70 years old. I hope to be her some day.

After the preschool we ran to the market to get some delicious fruit before heading to high school that Stephanie had taught english at. At the high school we spoke to an english class and they showed us many presentations about intercultural programs at the high school. It sounded really interesting, all of the different programs. Their english was superb (even if they told you otherwise). We had a break after the high school to take a nap or walk around the park. At 5 some of us met up to go to the Egyptian museum. I always had a huge interest in Egyptian culture from a young age, so I loved seeing the museum and walking around. We then headed to this incredible pizzeria for dinner before having a chat with a religion teacher and an intercultural mediator. It was quite an intense, long, but worthwhile day.  I can't wait to see what Torino brings tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Turin Day 1

Today we all met up bright and early to catch the train to Turin. It took about four hours to get there so we were all pretty tired today. After we got off the train, we checked into this adorable hostel called Tomato and ate lunch. Afterwards, we had a couple hours to relax and explore if we wanted to, so I took a walk to a close by park where there were a lot of people out running by the river.

After we met up, we got a tour of the neighborhood which included a lot of different religious buildings. We were really lucky and was able to go inside a large synagogue which is usually only open to the public one day out of the year. We also saw a large church and then a mosque. After walking around Turin, I have really noticed some differences from Rome. Turin feels a lot more welcoming and home-like, streets are clean and less crowded, and it seems quieter with less tourists.

After the tour we got aperitivo, where you buy a drink and get to eat a buffet, with some members of the Young Muslims group. They were fellow college students, most of which were second generation young adults, so it was really fun and nice to talk to them during dinner. We had some great conversations and got to get their input on what it was like to grow up as a second generation immigrant in Italy. I talked to one girl, Dalia, who was also a psychology major here and got to compare our education experiences and possible tracts for the future. It was a tiring, but really great day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday May 6th, 2014

Today was another beautiful day in Rome, Italy which is exactly what I think we all needed! Some of us have been getting sick and the nice weather made me feel better! It was bright blue skies and it wasn't too hot to be in the sun. Since it was Tuesday we had service learning and today Stephanie visited our classrooms which was nice. In my class my teacher went over one lesson about the different sounds in Italian que qua quo qui and had the kids write different words that have these sounds in them. After they wrote different words we went over what they mean in English and then the kids drew pictures of the things (kite, oak tree, eagle etc). 

After service learning Claudia and I went to re-visit the Colosseum and took pictures next to it which was very fun! We took pictures at different angles and it was beautiful. Then we went to grocery store to get some food for dinner. We then came back to my place so I can cook dinner for us and then plan the rest of our time here in Italy. Overall it was very stressful to try to figure out what to do but were going to ask Stephanie a few questions tomorrow to help us! :)

- Shontia C.W.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Today was a typical school day with Italian class in the morning and regular class in the afternoon. This week’s topic of our class is emigration within Italy as well as emigration to northern Europe and America. After the lecture, we went to the National Museum of immigration near Rome Center.

It’s an interesting museum that mainly introduces emigration history in Italy, such as during World War I, World War II and emigration of present days. In the museum, there are old pictures and old suitcases that showed the history of emigration. It was very surprising to me how Italy was once portraited as a hopeless land and full of crimes. Many Italians emigrated to northern Europe during and after World War I, but many Italians later shifted their emigration direction to South American and then the United States for job opportunities. As many other immigrants from other parts of the world, these Italian emigrants are many that had no financial resources or with insufficient language skills, but filled with hope going to a different land. However, something very interesting at the museum that drew me a lot attention was that nowadays, the number of emigration of Italians to other parts of the world is almost equal to the number of Italians who returned to Italy. This is a very interesting phenomenon to me. I wondered about it a lot and it reminded me of the movie “Bread and Chocolate” of how many Italians took the train back to Italy from Switzerland. I also saw many interesting animation pictures that depicted the way to Switzerland and the way to Italy.

After the national museum of immigration, I wanted to go to other museums since I haven’t spent a lot of time in Rome and I haven’t really been to any museum in Rome yet. However, unfortunately, many museums are closed on Monday. This is another interesting thing to me about Italy, it seems many restaurants and museums are closed on Monday rather than the weekend. I think it must have something to do with its high tourism volume during the weekend rather than the weekdays.

The more I learn about Italy, the more interesting I feel about this country. Every country has its own complicated yet interesting history, but Italy, somehow, attracts me a lot. Its contradicted attitude toward immigrants, the relationship between Vatican and the government, the hospitality of Meditereanians, the peaceful atmosphere of a coffee shop, etc., have drawn so much attention from me and I have certainly fallen for this “messy” country.
Natalie Hostetter
Blog 5/4/2014

            Hello all! Today was a beautiful sunny day in Rome! Because it was Sunday we didn’t have any planned group activities so Jessica and I just went off to explore on our own! Saturday my foot got ran over my a moped so I was lagging a little bit behind Jessica (sorry Jess), but nonetheless we went out as tourists to explore this beautiful city. Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain, both of our favorite places in Rome and quite possibly the whole world! We hadn’t seen it yet on a completely sunny day and it was just absolutely breathtaking. It really doesn’t get old. We also hadn’t seen it on the weekend and holy moly it was packed!! There were mass crowds of people everywhere we went. After the Trevi Fountain we went back to the Pantheon because we hadn’t been inside it yet! Then we were starving and my foot was hurting so we decided to meander back toward home. Per usual we were craving some sort of American food to get us a little taste from home. We decided to go to a place called T-bone Station right next to our apartment to get our hamburger fix. It’s a little pricey but it was to die for! We’re rested and ready for the long week ahead. Ciao!