Time Flies

Time is going way too fast. I can’t believe that it is already November. In the beginning of October, I started my University of Padova course in the history of literary criticism. It is definitely the most challenging course I have ever taken but I am working really hard so hopefully all goes well. My midterms for my other classes fell the week that this course began, so the beginning of October was super busy for me. My other courses at BU are going well. The workload has definitely picked up and there are several due dates coming up for projects and papers. Two weeks ago I began volunteering at an elementary school as an English tutor. I will be doing this every Tuesday from now on until I leave. For someone who is studying to be a teacher, it is fascinating to see the school system in a different country and be able to compare it to the school system in America.

Having my parents visit me in Padova was incredible. As much as I am loving everything about being here in Italy, I miss home a lot sometimes and it was great to see them and be able to show them where I am living. Even though they were only here for a few days, we saw each other a good amount and they were able to come over to my house for dinner twice to spend time with my host. I am really lucky to have such caring parents and I realize this more every day. I miss them both a lot and I am looking forward to seeing them when I arrive back in the states.

From the 17th to the 19th of October, I was in Rome. The first day and a half were programmed by BU, but a group of us decided to stay an extra night and return to Padova on the Sunday rather than the Saturday. Rome is the type of place that is amazing no matter how many times you have been there. This was my third time in Rome, and I was more impressed than the other times. There is so much to see and do and the history of the city is incredibly interesting, especially having studied Latin and Roman history. I am so happy that I was able to stay the extra day because I spent the entire Sunday with my cousins Marco and Andrea. Having not seen them for the past 3 years, it was amazing to be able to spend some time together. My favorite thing that I saw in Rome was the Roman Forum. I could have stayed there for hours…

From the 23rd to 26th of October, I was in London with my friend Daniela from the BU program. I absolutely loved it. The feel of the city is much different from Italian cities so it was an interesting change of scenery. On the Friday we did a walking tour of the entire city and got to see most of the major tourist sites. On Saturday we hit the places that we were not able to see during the tour on Friday. Trying fish and chips was definitely an experience. My favorite places that I visited in London were Covent Garden and Hyde Park. London has been a city that I have wanted to visit for a long time so I was so glad to have seen it, even for a short time. It is definitely not possible to see everything in one weekend so I will just have to go back…

On Friday the 31st of October, our whole BU program took a trip to Ferrara with our Italian language professor Claudia. I really enjoyed our day in this city as it was very green compared to how Padova is. We saw some tourist sites and ate in a really nice restaurant that makes food typical of Ferrara. The weather was perfect so we enjoyed walking around as a group. Claudia is a great person both in the classroom and out and I have learned so much from her this semester. She has really taught me a lot both about the Italian language and how to teach a language in an effective way and I am truly going to miss her when the semester ends.

On Friday the 7th of November I am going to Paris for a few days to visit Kacey, one of my dearest friends from BU. She is studying in Paris this semester and I am so excited to see her and be able to experience the city together. I will also be visiting Amsterdam at the end of November which I am looking forward to very much.

Even though I still have over 6 weeks left here in Padova, I can’t help but already start reflecting on how great of a semester I have had so far. I have seen so many beautiful places, met so many interesting people, and have really grown up as an individual. I get sad just thinking about how I am going to have to leave next month. It is funny to think about how I was having so many doubts about studying abroad before I got here, because now I would never change this experience for the world.

Xo LR

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Roman Forum

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Rome with my cousins

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Kensington Palace in London

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London

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Ferrara

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Roasting chestnuts in my backyard

One Month in the Books

Now that I’ve been in Italy for a month, I am fully adjusted to some of the bigger changes I encountered upon arriving. My body is completely adjusted to the time difference (finally). I’ve picked up on the changes in etiquette that are different from those in the United States. I have also picked up on mannerisms that are specific to this area of Italy that differ from those that I was used to in my previous visits to Italy, as I was always in a different region. Though it still makes things difficult, I have adjusted to having limited internet access at my house. I am not able to be on the internet as much as I had been used to in the United States, which in some ways is a good thing. I am much more disconnected from things back home than I was anticipating, which makes me sad some of the time. But, this is the way things are here and I can’t spend time being upset about it. I’ve finally mastered using my Italian cell phone (having to use a key pad to type out messages is much more difficult than I remember from when I was 13). The biggest thing that I have had to adapt to here seems obvious, but it is the fact that I am going to school here. When I first arrived in Italy I was concerned with making friends and getting back into the swing of using my Italian. Going to school kind of seemed like something on the side since the classes are less frequent than I am used to at BU. There were so many changes going on in my life that it hadn’t really hit me that I was here to study. Now that I have had my first exam and have written my first composition, I am definitely back into school mode (I was still way too much in summer mode when I got here). My grades have been great so far and my professors are amazing people that I truly enjoy learning from.

In the last three weeks, I have been to Venezia (again), Verona, and Firenze. A small group of us from the BU program went to Venice on Friday, 9/12 for the day and met up with the 3 girls from BU studying there this semester. We went to their apartment to have dinner and had a really nice time all together. We’ve realized just how easy it is to get to Venice from Padova (26 minute express train). Our whole American group (11 of us) travelled together to Verona on Saturday 9/13. Verona is definitely my favorite city so far out of the cities I have seen. Despite having an incredible amount of tourists, it was such a beautiful city to enjoy. My favorite things that we saw were the Roman Arena and Juliet’s house and balcony. The BU program organized a trip to Firenze for both the Padova and Venice programs (14 students all together) for Friday, 9/19. We all talked about it and decided that a day in Firenze didn’t feel sufficient enough for us, so we all decided to make plans to stay for the weekend. So, we stayed until Sunday afternoon. On Friday 9/19, we walked around with Laura, a professor for the BU Padova program, and Piergiacomo, an art history professor from the BU Venice program. The weather was not very cooperative this day, so we were not able to do all of the things we wanted (thankfully we were staying the weekend). Friday we saw the Duomo and the Galleria dell’Accademia. Piergiacomo had so much knowledge about these places that it was like having our own personal tour guide. After Friday night, we were all on our own since the trip funded by BU ended there. On Saturday 9/20 I went to Santa Croce, Galleria degli Uffizi, and Museo di Palazzo Vecchio. The thing I noticed that surprised me the most was how amazed I was at these places even though I had already seen them. I visited Firenze during my senior year of high school with my Latin program, but I appreciated all of these things even more after seeing them a second time. On Sunday 9/21 we all wandered the markets in the morning before getting on the train back to Padova. I think we (the students at the BU program) all got a lot closer after spending this weekend all together.

I’m looking forward to doing some more travelling. I will be visiting Rome in the middle of October which is very exciting because I have plans to see my cousins who live there. I am also in the process of planning trips to London and Paris. Travelling here is so much easier than it is in the States and I wish I had time to see everything!

For the past 2 weeks I have been attending a language exchange program where we are placed into groups mixed with people who are native English speakers and native Italian speakers. We have a conversation for an hour switching back and forth between the 2 languages. Through this program, I met an Italian girl who will be attending BU next semester which is a really great connection to have made. One of my professors offered me a job working with a retired professor from the University of Padova. He wants to maintain his level of English fluency as he doesn’t use it as often now, and therefore every semester asks BU to recommend a student to help him by conversing once a week. I will also be volunteering as an English tutor at a local elementary school in Padova.

I’m having such a great time here but I am also super excited to see my parents in just 2 weeks. They have never been to Padova so I think it will be really cool to be able to show them around the city and show them where I go to school. I wish my brother was able to come too but I know he is doing great things at his new job in NYC.

In short, I’m eating well, sleeping well, and living well.

Xo LR

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Verona

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Verona

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Firenze

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Firenze

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Firenze

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Firenze

Happy, healthy, and never hungry

Now that I finally know how to get around this city, I’m feeling much better about being here. All of the people at the BU Center in Padova have been so great about helping me adjust to this new lifestyle. My professors are all amazing, the people who work in the offices are so nice, and the other students from BU have already become my close friends. My class that I will take at l’Universita` degli studi di Padova begins in the beginning of October, but my 3 classes that I am taking at the BU Center began on Monday 9/1. My BU classes include Advanced Italian Practicum, Italian Migrant Literature, and an Italian music history class. I’m already really busy and have a lot of reading to do every night, but the classes are really fun because they are so small and the professors are really dedicated to us. I have class Monday through Thursday but some Fridays we will be taking trips for certain classes.

Happy is the only word I can think to describe how I am feeling. Every day is a new experience where I meet new people, learn new words, and become a little bit more immersed in Italian culture. I have made such good friends through the BU program and have met so many local Italians as well. The people here are so nice. Nice in a sense that they really care. They have a true interest in what you have to say and I think this is a tough quality to find in American people. Italians are also very appreciative when one tries to speak their language, even with mistakes. I’ve tried to limit speaking English whenever it is possible. I really just love it here. I can’t lie, the option to extend one semester to a year is tempting even just after a week and a half…

The first week of classes went well. I have long breaks between my classes so I mainly stay at the BU center all day and get my work done. We’ve had a lot of fun going out in Padova this week but I know the work load is going to get heavier so the frequency of this fun will change, but we just decided to make syllabus week a thing here too…

On Friday 9/5 I went to Venice with a group of my friends. We didn’t have much of a plan as we decided to go last minute, but we still had fun walking around and exploring some local places. We also got to meet up with the small group of girls from BU who are studying in Venice for the semester. We had met them while travelling as we were all on the same flight. I will be going back to Venice later in the semester for a class so I’m sure I will learn more about the history and culture during that trip. Venice definitely has a lot of tourists and the people in bars and restaurants aren’t as nice as the people are in Padova. Even so, I enjoyed my little trip to the city of romance.

Tonight two of my friends and I went with my host, Annamaria, to a festival at her church. It was pretty entertaining as we were the youngest people there, but it was a fun cultural experience. It reminded me a lot of my time I spent during my summers in Villa Santa Maria in Abruzzo in terms of the friendly, inviting atmosphere.

Much to my surprise, I don’t miss my lattes from Starbucks. But, I do miss my friends at BU and I get a little sad every time I see a picture of them all together on Facebook. I miss my dog, I miss my family, and I miss the way my hair dries at home (something in the water here). Even though I’m eating really well here, I miss my mom’s food. At the end of the day, this is the trip of a lifetime and I am taking everything one step at a time. I have felt homesick a couple of times, but there is no sense in focusing on the negative when I am surrounded by so many positive things.

Xo LR

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Posing with some gondolas in Venice  

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View from my backyard  

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Piazza dei Signori

 

 

Settling In

I am so excited to finally be in Padova. I am still jet lagged and a bit overwhelmed, but I’m starting to settle in and get the feel of things. This city is amazing.

The flights went very smoothly and I was able to meet up with people in my program at the airport, so we all travelled together. It was about a 45 minute drive from the Venice airport to Padova, where we met our house families. My host, Annamaria, is such a sweet person. I have my own bedroom and bathroom and her house is absolutely beautiful. On Wednesday night after I arrived, she took me for a walk around town and showed me some of her favorite places.

There are 12 students in the BU Padova program. 10 are from BU, and 2 are from other schools. Everyone is really nice. We all have very different personalities and interests which makes for a very interesting group.

Orientation started on Thursday. We learned the history of the University of Padova, where some important buildings are located, and the differences between Italian and American school systems. Later in the day, we all went to buy Italian cell phones so we can contact each other during the semester without getting charged insane amounts of money.

Friday we had the second day of orientation where we took a language assessment exam and learned about the classes we will be taking. One of the professors took us on an extensive walking tour around the city and shared a lot about Padova’s history and culture. We are free this weekend and then classes start on Monday. Tomorrow morning there is a huge market so I can’t wait to see what that has to offer.

Even though I have only been here for 2 days, I have already picked up some new Italian words and have become more comfortable speaking the language. My host does not speak English so we only converse in Italian at home. The 12 of us from the study abroad program are all American but we are forcing ourselves to speak to one another in Italian because we all want to improve our language skills. Overall, so far so good! I’m looking forward to what the next 4 months have in store for me!

Xo LR

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Saint Anthony’s Church.

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My new favorite coffee shop, Café Pedrocchi.

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Lunch at Donna Irene Ristorante

 

 

5 More Days

It feels like yesterday that I was visiting colleges. No matter which school I was visiting, there was always a student talking about their study abroad experience. I remember thinking I would study abroad one day. One day, far in the future. Well, here I am. My freshman and sophomore years have flown by, and I am about to start my junior year abroad in Padova, Italy. Even though I am leaving in just 5 days, it feels so far away. The only things bringing me back to reality are the piles of clothes that I need to somehow fit into one suitcase. I am both excited and nervous. I am going to approach the situation with a positive attitude and keep an open mind. There is a whole new world to explore in Padova.

I will be keeping this blog for my family, friends, and myself. I want to allow people to stay updated on my trip if they would like, as well as use this blog like a diary that I can read years from now. I can’t wait to share fun stories and probably some tourist-y pictures. But before I can do that, I have a lot of packing to do! See you soon, Italy!

 

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Picture at the Vatican City from my last trip to Europe.