Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My brief take on the semester

This is a little something I wrote up for the KSU Orvieto blog that my professors posted, and I thought I'd post it up here too... Words after more than fifteen weeks of studying in Italy… Well, it’s not easy. In January, 21 of us were submerged into a unique culture without adequate preparation for what the semester was about to bring. Now, we are heading back home with countless unanticipated lessons in our hearts. We have all experienced enough to write multiple novels, but to name a few–every single K-State student living in Orvieto this Spring 2010 semester has: designed & completed two studio projects using the metric system; taken more pictures than could fit into a legitimate photo album; become accustomed to walking down the cobblestone roads at an ‘Italian pace’; learned why there is such a saying as “When in Rome”; cooked Italian meals successfully (more or less) entirely from scratch & via experimentation; seen more cats than ever realized even existed; tasted more wine + cappuccinos than would be considered normal back home; worn the same clothes for so long that Orvieto’s local trash bins will most likely soon carry the majority of them; said the word “whispie” too many times as a regular reminder to one another without concern for explanation; learned how to speak Italian fluently….; experienced some of the most admired cities in the world through regular field trips; and realized just what it means to appreciate the beauty that is given to us throughout our everyday lives. I think it’s safe to claim that each one of us will be more than slightly disheartened to leave this amazing city, not to mention this beautiful country, come May 8. We have absorbed more than we could ever calculate throughout this valuable time. It has been an unforgettable, life changing, beyond what could have ever been expected study abroad experience, and I’m certain we are all departing as changed individuals. Sarah Pink

Monday, May 24, 2010

So much more to come!!!

I am in the midst of traveling with the Pinks in Italy!! Before the arrived, I was in Barcelona and Paris for a week.. Since the fam arrived we've been to Florence, Orvieto, Sorrento, and now Rome, and it's been fantastic!!!! I have sooooo many pictures to upload..... I'll do that once I'm home ((this Saturday!!!!!), for anyone who's still keeping up!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Val D'Orcia

Last Friday was our very last field trip for the semester. We took a bus through the Tuscany countryside and saw Val D'Orcia and Pienza. It was a pretty long day, and the weather was really rainy and foggy the whole time, which was a bummer. Our stops were Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Sant' Antimo--where we saw a Gregorian Chant in person, and then Tempio di San Biagio. I tried my hardest to take a few reasonable pics despite the rain, and they are posted, so feel free to have a look!! We're all trying our hardest here to not get too overwhelmed in our last week in Orvieto... It has been the most intense and exciting semester ever. I'll have one more blog entree I'm sure before we leave this beautiful town.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Day of Modern Rome

Wednesday, April 21, 2010::My seminar took a day trip to Rome to see modern architecture. As much fun as ancient Roman Cathedrals are, it was nice to throw in some different sights. It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day. We went to Parco della Musica first, an auditorium by Renzo Piano. Here, we got a tour of the entire complex by a lady architect, which was very cool! Then we headed to the Maxxi Museum by Zaha Hadid; the exterior of this is finished, but the inside is not yet completely set up so the building is gated off. So we basically walked around it for a bit and tried our hardest to take photos over/through the gate. This was difficult for me, as I am a midget. Then we went to our last stop, the Ara Pacis Museum by Richard Meier. I like this very much and loved to photograph this building, but apparently it's a very controversial one throughout Rome because it houses a 2000+ year old Roman memorial for St. Augustan--"Alter of Peace", and many don't agree with the modern architecture that Richard Meier brought this piece. After sitting around this building for a while, Alyssa, Carrie and I stayed in Rome until later that evening and went to Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, and an Indian Restaurant that was basically in the Indian ghetto of Rome. Piazza Navona is awesome in the spring time, it's just so alive and entertaining. There was a band that marched through, and a countless amount of artists displaying all their work to purchase. The Spanish Steps were awesome, it was my first time seeing them, and they were covered in beautifully colorful flower pots that are only there for the month of May!! So pretty. And the Indian restaurant... well, I was scared for my life for the brief walk there, but no worries, we lived to tell about it. We took a 9:45pm train ride back to Orvieto and decided to get individual mini bottles of champagne for the ride home to :) Thursday was our last Italian class for the semester! It's crazy. I've enjoyed studying Italian more so much this semester. That's all for now. I'll write about last Friday--our last field trip for the semester--later.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So much going on

So this past week was overwhelming, and I feel like I need to gather my thoughts/life before I explain what's going on in these last few weeks of living and traveling in Italy... But I just posted pictures to picasa so I figured I'd write a small jaunt for now to let readers know that the explanations are coming! Here's some random previews...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Latest Field Trip

This past Friday, our class took our second to last field trip of the semester (sigh) to Tivoli and walked Villa d'Este, Hadrian's Villa, and a suburb of Rome to see Richard Meier's Jubilee Church. I think this was a day high up on my list of trips we've taken.. It was definitely one of my favorite field trips of the semester. Tivoli is such a cool little town, although I thought it was surprisingly touristy.. Villa d'Este was not what I expected. (Let's be real, I'm not a landscape architect...) But it was stunning! Everything was so green, and the flowers were so colorfully vibrant--gorgeous!! I took a TON of pictures... Hadrian's Villa was really cool to walk around, also surprisingly pretty. It's always so amazing to see any ruins and imagine what it all looked like thousands of years ago when it was all occupied. Then Jubilee Church... well, what is there to say about that one except Richard Meier. It was one of the few modern architectural sights we've been to in Italy, and it was verrry cool. Basically, it was a very long, but very fun day. When we got back to Orvieto, my roommates and I raced around town to get fixins for a small dinner party we threw that night for our British neighbor Hazel. That was a fun night! Okay, that's all I've got for now. Ciao!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Overdue Update..

So I suppose I haven't updated this since we got back from spring break... Things got a little crazy when we got back from our travel madness. Our second project was due a week after we got back, so we were all working madly that week to finish. And our presentations all went well! (I think.) And our crits were on a Monday, and the entire rest of the week was a celebration... The group of k-staters studying in Santa Chiara came that Wednesday to visit Orvieto, and so that was fun to see all of them! Two boys studying in Germany this semester were visiting us that week also. And then two of our friends studying in Prague this semester came and stayed with us for one night that week while traveling through Italy! This is all the week before Easter, by the way. We went to Caprarola and Villa Lante a week before Easter weekend-that was a fun field trip! It was beautiful. The Friday and Monday of Easter weekend we had no classes. And this past Friday we went to Siena, which was awesome. That city is very cool, similar in a lot of ways to Orvieto. It was a beautiful sunny day and we basically spent the afternoon laying in the Campo! Fantastic. I'll post pics soon!! I can't believe the semester is almost over. We have less than a month left her in Orvieto, then I'll be off with my roommies to Barcelona + Paris for a week. Then the Pinks arrive. yay :):)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break + Preceding

The last two weeks have been the most eventful of my life. They consisted of a short class trip to northern Italy, followed by spring break. So for the sake of this blog, any readers, & my fingers, I'm going to sum up the highlights with as few details as possible.... I spent 13 days + 12 nights living out of a backpack traveling through 3 European countries on a total of 21 trains & more than a dozen buses/subways/railways, stayed in 6 hotels/hostels, ate many of my meals out of a Coop (grocery store) shopping bag, took a few short of 1000 pictures, & experienced buildings and places I've been dying to see for years. The first 4 days--starting on March 9--our class went to Verona, Vicenza & Venice. I loved these cities so much. THINGS we saw: Castelvecchio Museum (by Carlo Scarpa), Juliet Capulet's house and famous balcony, the ancient Verona Arena, Villa Rotonda (by Andrea Palladio), a cemetery by Carlo Scarpa, Doge's Palace, San Marco + Piazza, Frari Basilica (one of my favorites), Rialto Bridge, San Giovanni e Paolo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli. After the class trip ended, Saturday the 13th our spring break officially began. It was the craziest, busiest, greatest, most travel-packed week ever imaginable! I spent the week with 4 other kstaters, and after Venice we traveled to Milan, and Chur & Lugano Switzerland. Aside from seeing, sleeping in, and traveling to & from those 3 cities, we took day trips throughout the week to: Padua(Italy), Zurich(Switzerland), Vals(Switzerland), & Ronchamp(France)..OH what we saw.... In Padua: a 9/11 Monument, the University, Cafe Pedrocchi. In Milan: the grand train station, an A.C.Milano Futbol game, the Duomo, a large 'City Life' project (currently in the process of being constructed) by Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind + others. So, similar to how I gushed about seeing St. Peter's, the Duomo in Milan is #2 on my love list; we spent 2 1/2 hours on the top of that beauty. And the soccer game.. well, it was by far the funnest sporting event I've ever been to. Those Italians love their futbol! We all bought Red A.C.Milano scarves to represent... we still looked American. Ronald Dhino & David Beckham played; Milan scored in the last minute of the game to win 1-0; and Beckham ((sigh)) tore his achilles tendon (?), now has to have surgery, and we may very well have seen him play his very last professional game of his life... After Milan, well, we traveled and saw: the teardrop chapel (San Benedetg) by Peter Zumthor, the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) building, the Thermal Baths in Vals by Peter Zumthor (most relaxing 7 hours of my life!), Notre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier. Other than all these highlights, every single city we went to was outrageously gorgeous. I have a ton of pictures, like I said, and I'll upload them asap!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Assisi + Rome-again

Alright, this entry may be a novel.... Friday we took a field trip to Assisi. What is there to say about this city, it was beautiful. The weather was kinda rainy and seriously windy at one point in the day, but other than that it was nice and the sky looked, well, awesome. ((I've formed a new obsession for clouds, don't ask.)) We saw the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, as well as many other churches, buildings + piazzas in the small town. There was so much that Marco had to say throughout the day, it was very cool. And the bus ride there and back was gorgeous, I'll post pics I took from that part too. Soo then comes my favorite part yet.... Saturday morning, my roommates and I all decided to get up early and take a train to Rome for the day to see the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's. And okay, I've been just dying to see the Basilica of St. Peter's in person for years now, so needless to say I was more excited than I've been in, well, years. I had dreams about it the night before.. anyways. We got to Rome at a little before 9am and we went straight to the Vatican Museum first and spent hours walking through it. (The 5 of us kinda split up cuz 2 of the girls were staying the night, so it was just myself, Brooke and Alyssa the whole day.) We finally got to the Sistine Chapel after going through a maze of museums, I swear we were starting to wonder if the place actually existed it took so long. But it was packed with people like you wouldn't believe. Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside the chapel. But we stayed and stared for a bit, and our necks hurt upon leaving. And at that point it was about one o'clock, we were supposed to meet up with the other girls at 2, so we kinda hung out outside for a bit before going to our meeting place-St. Peter's. By the way, it was 60 degrees and amazingly sunny and gorgeous outside all day. (Basically I was just in shock the entire day.) So we started to walk to St. Peter's, and I couldn't really breathe the whole way there. I could (did) take as many photos as I want of this and every other amazing building but when it comes down to it, nothing's gunna be as good as when you see it in person. This applies to everything I've seen here so far. So I'll just say that seeing St. Peter's was a dream come true. We wanted to see the Basilica at around 5pm when it's starting to get dark outside, so once we took a few (a ton for me) photos, we got some lunch, went back to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon for a second time, basically just walked around Rome enjoying the afternoon for a bit, and then headed back to St. Peter's at 5. Here's where it started getting a little crazy... We got back to St. Peters and went inside where there was a mass in session, (and oh my heavens, the interior is just as spectacular..) and we figured we'd stay until 6pm cuz we had a train to catch at 7. Once we got inside, however, all 3 of us realized that it was actually 6pm at that time and not 5pm like we thought...?! Not sure how we forgot how to read time and lost an hour. We also realized once inside that the mass that was in session was a 'special ceremony', as the guards told us, and they weren't sure when the church was closing. So we figured we'd hustle through the inside, take as many photos as possible, and head to the train station to catch the LAST train back to Orvieto for the night... We went toward the papal alter & the baldacchino, where mass was being held to take more photos, and we're still not sure what the special service was about, but we may or may not have seen the pope while we were there. Yeah, we're not exactly sure. So we left & started booking it toward the subway station to take us to the train station, and when we got to the ticket machines, they brought up No Seats Available for our 7pm train... So us 3 are thinking we're stuck in Rome for the night, but we got in the very long line to ask an assistant just in case, frieking out the whole time by the way, and when we finally got to the front we asked the very kind old worker man if he spoke English (cuz at this point we were all so frustrated and grumpy that we didn't even want to try speaking Italian) and he told us to try Italian. So I spat out some Italian phrase asking if it was possible for us to get back to Orvieto that night, and he found a train that left an hour later that stopped there. We were so relieved we were able to go home since for a while we thought we'd be roaming the city of Rome all night long until the first train in the morning left!! So yeah, we had the longest day of our lives, we went home after one incredibly successful day, and that is the end of this entirely-too-long story.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Throughout this semester, we have a few longer field trips--meaning longer than just a day. Our first one was a trip south to Pompeii this past week. We went Wednesday morning and returned yesterday (Friday) late afternoon. We travelled by bus, which was a nice change from the train, and we stayed in a pretty decent hotel just in walking distance to the main Pompeii area. We stopped Wednesday on the way in Herculaneum and saw a bunch of ruins.. It was very close to Naples, which is pretty trashy & sketchy, so.. Wednesday night a group of us went to our professors' favorite restaurant and got amaaaazing pizzas, it was a pretty nice restaurant and it was just so good that Alyssa Paul + I went back the next night too... Then we saw Pompeii roman ruins on Thursday--got a lot of cool pictures, and Friday we stopped in Caserta and saw the Royal Palace, which was awesome! (Seriously, if you don't know it-look it up. cuz I didn't take my camera in on account 'a it was mostly inside + then raining when we left...hard. But it's gorgeous.) Seeing all the ruins was pretty incredible & neat cause our two professors have pretty much spent their lives studying & exploring all of them. They were very knowledgeable. The ruins are thousands of years old, and much of what's been uncovered is not even half of what's all burried... (the pic is from Pompeii) For those who are reading and don't know about the pictures I've been posting to my web albums, you can see those through this blog site, I just added the link it should be at the top right. Also, random, but I just wanted to mention how different it is to go grocery shopping here, because I just went. I mean, I've talked about the weekly market already, so that was this morning. But going to grocery stores is an adventure. Sometimes they charge if you need a bag, so we often bring our own, and they just kinda throw your stuff down the end of the counter and you have to bag it yourself and pay. It can be flustering. My roommies and I just this afternoon went down to a large grocery store at the bottom of the hill of Orvieto called COOP (pronounced co op), which you have to take this little tain-like thing that takes you down the hill, called the funiculare-it's really cool. The weather has been funky today too.. It was nice when we went down, but when we came out of the store there were some serious storm clouds brewin above Orvieto, and by the time we got back up near our apartment it was raining pretty good. And now its sunny. But yeah, that's about all I got now. Here's a cool pic from the last night in Pompeii downtown. Oh yeah, and lastly--I'm going to Milan and Switzerland for spring break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

non lo so.

I should've written something on Sunday, but I've been procrastinating... So basically last Friday was our day trip to Florence for the second time. We went to the Uffizi Museum--one of the most famous art museums. It was a pretty quick day, but of course our Friday day field trips are always pretty exhausting since it takes a couple hours by train to travel there + back, so we leave pretty early in the mornings and by the time we get back it's about past dinner time. However, the long day in Florence apparently didn't stop a bunch of us from going out Friday night to a local Orvieto bar-where we have all become close acquaintances with the bartenders-and where they had a live band playing music, and we danced... Then Saturday morning was our cooking class with Chef Lorenzo!!! Which started at 8:30am and it was awesome! (As tired as I may have been) The group of 21 of us + our 2 professors were split into two cooking class groups--one on Thursday, and one Saturday. And all of us actually had a wine tasting class thing after the Thursday group's day of cooking. Lorenzo is a world-famous chef, and he has a restaurant Zepplin's right down the street from my apartment in Orvieto that is phenomenal. We started the morning off with shots of Grappa and a glass of Champagne, we all went to the market to get the food we were going to make, then we went back to the restaurant and were all assigned to cook a different thing (I made bread) and we drank wine and ate an awesome lunch of homemade pasta, pizza, bread, wild boar, and a delicious cake! The meal ended at like 4pm with yet another shot of Grappa, and espresso+Sambuca...... I mean, needless to say I went home and slept for several hours. And THEN, since we had been cooking with the several chefs at the restaurant all day, who happen to be Americans, they invited us all to go to a dance club with them that night after they got off work which was down at the bottom of the hill from Orvieto. So when we woke up from our day-long-cooking-coma later that evening, we got ready, painted our faces + dressed up all crazy (since carnevale was still going on here until today) and went to this dance club at like 1am!! Oh, and we got a ride TO the club from Chef Lorenzo... What?!! It was epic. Everyone at the club had on costumes like it was Halloween. And we danced, and danced alllll night long. It was the best, most crazy time I've had since I've been here. And there are only more nights to come..... :) We leave tomorrow morning for Pompeii & will be there until I will write again after that!

Monday, February 8, 2010

trip #2

So last Friday (the 5th) was Florence, where to begin... Well besides the fact that it was kind of a bummer as far as weather, it was awesome. We went early Friday morning like all weekly field trips, and a group of about 9 of us stayed the night in a hostel, and came back to Orvieto Saturday evening. It was tiring but so fun, it was rainy and cloudy the whole time so the pics I got have white skies, and we all felt pretty disgusting after walking for two days in the rain with no showers. But it was still incredible and so worth the stink. I lost my umbrella somewhere along the way though, and had to buy a new one for 3 euro. oops. The hostel was nice and cheap for all of us. And the last place we stopped at on the field trip part of Friday morning was Santa Croce, and in the Piazza in front of the church was a huge chocolate convention! It was fantastic. We were all in awe and in a very intense sugar coma later that afternoon! Marco explained how the city's name, Firenze, means the 'city of the flower', which I thought was beautiful. The only thing that was somewhat disappointing about the city was how many english speakers were there... That must be one of the most popular cities for americans to study in or something!! The shopping was just outrageous... I made a couple purchases, as did everyone else... (Don't worry mom+dad, I'm watching my budget! ;) ) We all then woke up Saturday morning, checked out of the hostel, and went to the top of the Duomo (the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore). There were 460+ stairs to climb, it was an adventure, but once at the top it was AWESOME!!!! It was so cool to not only see but CLIMB to the top of a famous duomo we've studied & learned so much about. Brunelleschi is a God, and my life is complete. Or at least it will be after this semester..... I'm off to help out at yet another dinner party in my kitchen :) life. is. good.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

progetto uno completo

We all finished our project #1 tours this week for studio. It wasn't a difficult project at all, but it was a nice short beginning project relating to Orvieto. Each group had to make a one page map with the tour route + sketches + info. Paper sizes in Europe are funky, they don't have 11x17 so it's different. It was cool to go on all the other students tours cuz we got to see spots I haven't been to yet. I still can't get over how breathtaking Orvieto is! It's just so cool to be raised up so much higher than the surroundings and seeing everything below & surrounding the hill, which makes for some spectacular views. The school + classes here are so relaxing. None of us have been worrying about school at all, it's just such a nice change from all the classes, studio + stress we've all been through the last few years. We're all just so happy to be here! We are going to Florence in the morning, and some of us are going to stay the night in a hostel tomorrow night. I'm pumped. And also my roommates and I just discovered a wireless internet connection near our apartment that we can connect to which is awesome!! Now I can get online at home instead of going to the bar all the time! By the way, the tiny tv we have in our kitchen has very few, very Italian channels, and so we frequently watch mtv and they have the craziest music videos--some Italian, some in english!! Hilarious.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rome.. my first time.

Our group took our first field trip of the semester to Rome on Friday.. Oh my goodness, there are no words to describe it! Pictures don't come close to what you see in person, and all those history classes didn't prepare any of us for how amazing everything is there!! It's beautiful, first of all.. A little trashy/sketchy in some places. But seeing the many many ruins and remains was incredible.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I guess I haven't really explained the actual studies part of why I'm here yet... There are 21 students from Kstate and we have classes at a study center like studio with 2 ksu professors, a seminar, history of Italy, and an Italian speaking class. Our first studio project is really cool; we are split into our apartments as groups and were assigned a different section of Orvieto to explore and map out all the important historical/entertainment venues. Next Monday, we will be giving the rest of our class a tour of our area & what we found as important. It should be really exciting for my group cuz we got the part of Orvieto with some of the more breathtaking views of the edge of the town's cliff & views out below the town... Lots of walking is involved with living here, that's for sure!!!!! Everyday my roommates and I have been finding new cute little shops to look around, and I've gotten a few really neat things like Orvieto chocolate, wine, and paper/notebooks. There is a market every Thursday and Saturday in one of the big Piazzas, and you can get things like fruit & veggies, cheeses, clothes, meats, and other random necessities. We went to a (very) small fresh pasta store and bought spinach ravioli and had it for dinner--fantastic!!! My roommates and I have been cooking every night, and it's always so fun. I'm proud of our new found skills! In case anyone wants to check out the blog my professors are keeping, here it is: Okay that's all I got right now.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Settimana Due

This will be basically the first week that our classes start. Our first studio project is a study of 5 different sections of Orvieto which the professors split up, and will be done with our roommates. We need to study our specific section, i.e. walk around and explore, and then give a tour of what we've found to our classmates next week. The first weekend here was fun!! My 4 roommates and I cooked dinner Friday + Saturday night.. Our first time cooking, a cheese paper wrapper got too close to the stove and caught on fire! Carrie blew it out, it was hillarious. We found a nice little bar not far from my apartment called Blue Bar. The owners are a married couple who speak English pretty well, and we now have Italian friends! Alyssa and I went into a paper shop last week and talked some with the girl who worked there.. They make their own paper with different designs and it's really cool looking! She told us if we get our group together, she could set up a time for us all to make the paper. We did a lot of walking this weekend, just exploring the town.. The edge of Orvieto is awesome since the whole town is basically raised up, so the edges are gigantic cliffs--very pretty! Everything is so green too. Italian is getting easier.. somewhat! My roommates and I are attempting to learn more. I went out to eat last night with a few friends at Chef Lorrenzo's restaurant--a worldwide famous chef.... BEST food (and wine) we've eaten yet!!! I want to eat there everyday. Molto buono. I'm off to studio! Ciao! :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Overwhelmed? si.

So we've been here for about 2 days, it feels like it's been 10, and I have to say I'm a little jet-lagged! We have a history class this morning that we're on break for now, and the professor is Marco and he's awesome! I've already taken almost 200 pictures I think.. In 2 days. Yeah, it's that incredible! I'm posting pictures on the other picture website now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arrivederci gli Stati Uniti!

So we are sitting at the KCI airport waiting to fly to DC! Our flight this morning was cancelled due to fog-lovely. We all had to split up on different flights to get to dc so we could still make the flight to Roma. That's all I've got. I feel awkward writing on a blog where I think very few people even care! Ha! So, hi mom!! :) I'll still be in Roma at 1am Mountain time tonight.. as of now. okay i must go entertain maxie. ciao!

Friday, January 15, 2010


...i've never done this blog thing. but i leave in 5 days!!!!!!