Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Midterms/Spring Break

‘Tis the week of midterms already!  Thankfully, all of them are completed and went very well (or so I think).   That means that it is time for Spring Break!  Before spring break, however, the MCAS program has a four-day stay in Tunisia.  This trip has many interesting events planned for us to experience the Arabian culture of Tunisia.  I am EXTREMELY excited to experience one of the major influences on the Sicilian culture.  If I’m not mistaken, we get to take a camelback ride!  After this brief stay in Tunisia, a few students (Nate, Frankie, Katie, and Nicole) and I are going to Amsterdam!  During the second half of the week, Frankie, Katie, and Nicole are going different places while Nate and I are renting bikes and taking a tour of the Netherlands.  Our destinations include Den Haag, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.  In my next post, I promise to have MANY many pictures of my experiences and travels!

This past week was rather low-key.  Much of my free time was devoted to relaxing, enjoying the sun, and trying to get over the cold that has been going around the program.  Of course, my free time was limited due to my black and white photography project due after Spring Break.  Many hours were devoted to making prints of some of the better images I had taken (again, I will have those for the next post.  I promise!)  On Sunday, our Spanish friends, Paloma and Gonzo went for a walk with us (Frankie, Nate, and me) along the cliffs of Syracuse (not quite as stunning as the cliffs of Dover).  These provided stunning views of Syracuse/Ortigia, on a sunny day, Etna, and, of course, the Mediterranean.  Here are some pictures:
                                                        Anti-Berlusconi Graffiti

Well, I need to start packing for my Tunisian endeavors!  Until after spring break!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another Week Past!

Oy vey!  It’s been a long time since my last post.  I’ve been busy busy busy!  For a change, the weather was actually enjoyable for the week!  It was sunny and warm-ish (by warm, I mean 50s).  However, today the rain picked up again and looks to continue throughout the week.  We were lucky with the weather because of all the traveling we did.

On Tuesday, a few classes had field trips open to all students, so of course I went!  A World War II history museum and a film history museum (both in Catania) were part of the trip as well as a bread maker in Lentini.  This bread maker was such an artist and made sure to get all of us students in on the action.  It was quite remarkable to see him work.  The rest of the week was devoted to school work and such.

                                                         A Valentine Sunrise

                                                    The Breadmaster at Work

Saturday, a few of us went to Ragusa just to explore the city.  It turned out to be a great adventure!  We really enjoyed the architecture of the churches and the beautiful scenery of more inland Sicily.  Other than the scenery and architecture, there was not a whole lot to do here.  Regardless, it was a wonderful experience to share with some of my new friends.  Sunday evening, the students in my program went to Palazzolo to celebrate Carnivale with the locals.  This turned out to be one of the most exciting experiences I have had!  There were so many people crammed into a tiny area to see the procession.  The floats in the parade were all works of art and… words are hard to describe how fantastic they were.  Most (if not all) were mechanical and moved around to music being played.  As if that wasn’t enough, they were all made from paper mache from newspapers throughout the year.

                                                         Beautiful Ragusa

                                  People crowding the stairs of a church for Carnivale

This week, I couldn’t be as adventurous with food because my card has yet to arrive.  I’m hoping (nay praying) it comes in today or tomorrow.  I did have a really good cannolo!  I think that’s all this time around.  Mid terms are next week, so I have quite a bit of studying ahead of me.  Ciao!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Joys of Running Out of Money... Already!

So three weeks have gone by since my arrival to Sicily, and I’m already down to my last 50 Euro.  I know what you’re probably thinking… ‘How could someone blow through so much money so quickly!?!’  Well, the answer to that is simple: my bank cancelled my debit card due to a fraud warning.  This is understandable seeing as I live in America, am in Italy, and my latest purchase would be from Italy.  Therefore, they would think some person in Italy is using my card.  However, before I left, I made sure to call the company to inform them I was going abroad!  This person in Italy using my card is, well, ME!  So I have money in the bank, but no means to access it.  Hopefully the new card I requested will come soon, but with the notorious Italian postal system, lord knows when that will be here.  So note to future study abroaders: MAKE SURE YOUR DEBIT/CREDIT CARD COMPANY KNOWS YOU ARE GOING ABROAD!

In other news, another mostly uninteresting week.  Most of my time out of class was devoted to either homework or internship essays.  At least the weather is getting better.  And now that I’m finished with these applications, I should be free to do whatever I want almost whenever I want!  In black and white photography, we developed our first roll of film and made our first prints.  I printed a picture of the sea during the storm last week.  The waves were violently crashing against the rocks.  I’m really excited to see what else will come of that class!

In Italian class on Wednesday, we went to the Syracuse open-air market for a challenge.  Which team could stretch the value of 5 Euros, and which team could find the most bizarre thing at the market.  While the practical use to stretch 5 Euros would be to get a whole lot of tiny, knick-knacks and such, our team purchased 5 Euros worth of potatoes… nearly 22 pounds (thanks Evan and Nate).  Because of the surplus of potatoes, the 13 of us got together last night and had a hodge-podge of potatoes: chips, mashed, home fries, hash brown, etc.  To finish, here are some pictures of non-potato things I have seen around:
                                              Another gorgeous sunset over Ortigia
                                                    Moon over the Mediterranean
                                                             My crab friend!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Rainy Week

The second week here was characterized by rain.  Thankfully it was only rain.  Upper Italy, from what I hear, got snow!  “The Cave” feels like it could snow in here…  Not a whole lot happened due to the rain.  There was a huge storm on Monday and Tuesday that caused the sea to act violently:

Friday, we took a trip to Agrigento to see the ancient ruins there.  It was a marvelous experience.  Born and raised in a small town in New Hampshire and never traveling very far in my life, it was amazing to experience such things that I would only be able to Google Image in the past.  It goes tot show that Sicily is a melting pot of culture with Norman influences, Roman influences, and Arab influences.  I feel privileged to be able to study abroad and expose myself to such different cultures and history.

Us in front of the temple of Concordia

Because I can’t think of anything else that really happened, I will share some of the challenges faced so far.  First and foremost is the language barrier.  Sure some people speak English, but the majority of people only speak Italian or their English is spotty at best.  Therefore, I’ve had to study extra hard to even try to communicate with the local people here.  As mentioned in the previous post, I am trying to do some volunteer work with the locals, but it will be extremely hard if I cannot speak with them.  It just encourages me to try harder!  Secondly, there are foods here I would never have tried.  Carne di cavallo (horsemeat, again mentioned in my previous post), squid and octopus, and I guess in Palermo, spleen is a delicacy.  I’m really starting to miss good ol’ Vermont cheddar cheese.   Finally, the housing, again mentioned in a previous post, is difficult to adapt to.  The shower is barely big enough to stand in, the kitchen as well.  I just have to jump right in and make it normal or else come mid-April, I’ll still be frustrated about my inability to speak Italian or having to substitute horse for beef.

Hopefully there is more sun in the near future so I can share more experiences and pictures instead of complaining.  Ciao!