Monthly Archives: March 2013

Playlist Thursday

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It has recently come to my attention that today’s date is March 28th, 2013. That means that in less than a month I will be packed up, I will have said goodbye to my roomates for who knows how long, and I’ll be out of this beautiful city forever.

Cue screaming and crying and waving various sharp objects in the air.

Guys, I’m sorry. I know most of you in the States are living vicariously through me and are probably waiting for me to get home already. I think some of you even miss me (to which I respond- what is wrong with you?) . But this is gonna be bad. As in, expect really bad separation anxiety. I’m really not good at letting go. Of anything. I still hold high hopes that my sister and her kindergarten boyfriend will re-unite sometime in the future, Serendipity-style (THEY WERE CUTE TOGETHER OKAY). I haven’t accepted the fact that Pushing Daisies got canceled, and that happened, like, before I even started watching the show. I literally have had”Never Let Me Go” on my computer for like three years and I haven’t finished it yet because I never want to let it go.

So in order to ease myself into the idea that I will eventually have to go home and save myself the existentialist crisis, I’m going to take every Thursday until our last day to put together a playlist of songs that sum up my experiences in Rome so far. Some are in english, some in italian, but all are guaranteed to make you crave some carbonara. That way, anytime I’m homesick, I can just put on my headphones and relive the memories and adventures. And you can get a better idea of what it really feels like to be in Rome without having to read my ramblings. A new playlist will be up every week, and it will be a soundtrack of sorts to my last few weeks of school. Which means there’s ONLY FOUR TO GO.

Sigh. This is not gonna be pretty.

Listen to the playlist in full here, or check out the tracklist below. And remember to check back every Thursday for more music!

Roma I from magaliroman on 8tracks Radio.

TRACKLIST

1. Common People- Pulp

2. Dicono Di Me- Cesare Cremonini

3. Not Nineteen Forever- The Courteeners

4. Settle- Two Door Cinema Club

5 . Stardust- Hoagy Carmichael

6. O Mio Babbino Caro– Puccini

7. Postcards From Italy- Florence and the Machine + Beirut

8. Still Life- The Horrors

A special visit, a new pope, and a soccer game!

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IMG_5243_1Dana has arrived for the week!! I can’t believe I got to have one of my besties in Rome with me, even if only for 10 days. I was so pumped to see her that I ran down the street squealing as soon as she was in sight! The Italians passing by thought we were crazy, but of course we didn’t care because we were too excited to see one another!

IMG_5249So Dana and I headed out to see the first voting on the next Pope. It was raining in the beginning so many people had their umbrellas up while waiting in anticipation.

IMG_5254As people began to get off of work, the square filled up more and more as 7pm rolled around (when the first smoke was supposed to be released). It was so crazy and awesome to see so many people from different countries all in one compacted space.

IMG_5257So I was super happy that we managed to get a front row view of the whole event (especially because of me being vertically challenged, it would have been hard to see otherwise)! Pictured here though, is one of the screens they had up front that displayed a close up view of the pipe that the smoke was going to be coming out of.

IMG_5284 copyThe first smoke that came out was black. Everybody was excited at first because it was a light grey before the black actually reached the air. Looking up at the roof though, the pipe was a lot smaller than expected considering all the hype that was driven around it. So in order for you to see where exactly it was I circled the pipe with the black smoke coming out of it. Yes, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see when the white smoke was finally released, but still I felt sort of accomplished to just be able to witness any of these events at all.

IMG_5399Later on in the week I took Dana up to the lookout point in Villa Borghese. I had not previously had the opportunity to go there myself, and it was so cool to see the view of Piazza del Popolo from above. In fact you could even see the Vatican far off in the distance!

IMG_5426On our way back down the hill, we came across this awesome little area tucked back in. It was cool because it not only had some ruins and super green grass, but it was also semi-excluded. I figured that this would now be my new favorite place to go if I just needed some time to myself to relax.

IMG_5827So I finally made my way over to the Trevi Fountain after being here for almost 3 months! The area around it was extremely crowded because there were so many tourists visiting here that week.

IMG_5829Made my first wish in the fountain! 🙂

IMG_5838Some of us students attended the Roma soccer game on Sunday night. It was so much fun to put on the Roma soccer team’s colors and cheer for our city! The Italians around us got so into the game, that it wasn’t hard at all to join them.

Spring Break II (because one post just isn’t enough!)

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So I realize I was only gone on spring break for a week, but there were just too many pictures to fit into only one blog post, so here is part two: Lisbon, Portugal.

IMG_4768When we first arrived, it was pouring down rain and super windy as we made our way up the hill through winding alleyways and staircases to our hostel. After we dropped off our bags we began to venture out and saw this amazing view, looking out onto the ocean as the sun began to break through the clouds.

IMG_4805Even though we were exhausted from the bus ride all night, we hopped on a train to a local hill town named Sintra. Here we took a bus on a windy road up the mountain to the forest grounds surrounding a castle. Even though it was pouring we decided to explore this castle that was supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. Well lucky for us, the castle didn’t disappoint to say the least. This is a view from one of the balconies of the castle.

IMG_4870An hour later when we came out from the interior of the castle the sun began to peak though. Our reactions were so happy that I just had to pull out my camera and capture the moment!

IMG_4904While the rain withheld for a little, we decide to begin to hike around the grounds and find some of the other buildings and such within the forest. It was so beautiful and probably the most green I have seen since the summer!

IMG_4937At the highest point of the mountain there was a cross marking the spot! We were all overjoyed to reach this point and relaxed while taking in the view around us. I’m assuming the cross has been there for a long time since the grounds used to be part of a monastery before the crown took it over and had the queen live in the castle. Pretty amazing to be standing next to such an ancient sculpture if you think about it!

IMG_4947The view of the castle from the outlook point where the cross was. So beautiful when the clouds began to fade!

IMG_5019Back in the town of Sintra, we decided to try something Lisbon was well known for: a cherry liquor called Ginjinha that was served in chocolate shot cups. You would take it all at once and then eat the chocolate cup so that it all tasted like a chocolate covered cherry. It was actually quite delicious!

IMG_5072A commonly found dish in Lisbon was a meal such as the one pictured here. It consisted of fried sausage, an egg, lettuce, and fries. It seems like a random combination but was actually pretty tasty!

IMG_5082We went down to the water at the edge of town where there was a dock, but not so much of a beach. Although it wasn’t a perfectly clear day we still got the opportunity to take some cool pictures!

IMG_5114Now yes I know we were in Portugal and not Italy, but we still had a craving for gelato. It turns out this was the best gelato we ever had and even beat some of the places we went to in Rome. Who would have thought, right? Pictured here is what I got which was strawberry gelato on the inside with mango surrounding it, creating a flower-like shape.

IMG_5233The view on the last day was so gorgeous because it was finally sunny all day! Lisbon had the typical European costal town architecture colors, which when contrasted against the ocean, always made a beautiful picture!

SPRING BREAK!!!!

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On the Saturday after midterms, we embarked on a journey involving Barcelona, Madrid, and Portugal. Setting out we didn’t quite know what our upcoming week would hold, but we did know that it would be full of adventures and crazy stories to tell when we came back.

IMG_4232Our first destination: Barcelona!!! As soon as we arrived in Spain, the first goal on everyone’s minds was to go find the beach! So off we went in search of our first sight of the Mediterranean. It was beautiful and so of course I ran off in order to stick my feet in the water. It was so incredibly cold but also worth it!

IMG_4285The next goal we had was to go get some sangria at a little place along the beach. We were successful and I would have to say my first sangria was delicious! We also got a snack of some fried shrimp that were also quite scrumptious.

IMG_4307The next day we decided to get some food that Barcelona was known for. Some of us got paella (which is a Spanish rice dish usually containing chicken or seafood) and a meatball dish. It was nice to just be able to sit outside to eat with the sun beaming down on us.

IMG_4337Later, it was time to hit up some sites! This is a picture of the famous Sagrada Familia. This church was designed by Gaudi and is constantly under construction, as they are still not even close to finishing it. This church certainly towered over you and the detail was meticulously beautiful, but still not my favorite of Gaudi’s work.

IMG_4454We then decided to make the climb up to Park Guell to see the rest of Gaudi’s work. The view up on top was incredible and we could see all of Barcelona. The building in the right hand side of the picture though, was the most beautiful of all of Gaudi’s work in my opinion.

IMG_4537This was the underside of the lookout in Park Guell. It had awesome mosaics on the ceilings that were a colorful contrast to the neutral columns.

IMG_4547Here’s my traveling crew for the week along with me! We were for sure enjoying the warmer weather that allowed us to not have to wear coats.

IMG_4629Next destination: Madrid! After taking an 8-hour night bus, we finally reached our second destination. Although it rained most of the time, it was still a fun place to explore! Pictured here is a view out of the balcony of our hostel.

IMG_4640One of the days we went to this cool indoor market that was like a building full of mini restaurants. Everything in sight appeared delicious, and our eyes for sure didn’t steer us wrong! I ended the food market journey with sangria and a bowl of veggie paella.

IMG_4657A few blocks from our hostel was an area that marked the exact center of Spain (or at least this point was 0 Km and all roads started their markings coming out from here). So of course I had to stand on the exact middle of it and proclaim that I in fact was standing on the exact center. It felt like such an accomplishment even though it was such a small action!

IMG_4707Along with some people I met in other hostels, I traveled to the local town of Toledo. It was this beautiful old town that kind of reminded me of when we visited Todi back at the beginning of the semester in Italy. At the very top of the hill town stood a library, and here is the view out of a window in this building looking out onto the town.

A Night at The Opera

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DISCLAIMER: AllthesepicturesaretakenfromGoogleandTumblrandIdon’tknowwherethey’refrombutthey’renotmineOKAY.

Okay, fine, so I didn’t actually go to the opera (Don’t look at me like that! That Anna Karenina lifestyle is expensive!). That’s just a Queen song. But seriously, you do this job long enough, you find yourself scrambling for clever pop culture references like your life depends on it.

But there was a night! And a theater-oriented event! That counts, right? RIGHT? PLEASE STILL PAY ME TEMPLE  ROME I’M TRYING SO HARD OVER HERE.

So while I remain deprived of my usual yearly showing of “Carmen” (don’t pretend to know my pain), my dramatic self did get a taste of Italian theatrics this week. And about time too- I was really starting to crave Italian drama that took place somewhere other than the metro.  Now, let me make this as clear as I can: I love the theater, but I am not a theater kid. Even though I love going to see plays, and the act of putting a play together has always been fascinating to me, I don’t always come out totally satisfied. Call me a tough critic, but the whole dramatic , jazz-hands act just doesn’t cut it for me. I hate Romeo and Juliet. My favorite part of the Sweeney Todd production I caught at GW last semester was when Sweeney ground up the tenor as burger meat or whatever because that meant I didn’t have to sit through another jazz square. Sometimes, there’s a part of me that literally wants to punch Neil Patrick Harris in the face.

Yes, really.

I like things that make me think. When I go to the theater, I want to be as absorbed in the story as if I were reading a book or seeing a movie. And that’s hard to do when you’ve got noisy audiences, visible light fixtures, and zero CGI effects in real-life performances. How lucky for me, then, that my Italian professor decided to take our Italian IV class to catch a production of Luigi Pirandello’s “The Trap” (“La Trappola”) last week at the Teatro Argentina. Because let me tell you something- if my mind had taken any more loops, I would surely not be typing this right now.

SEXY CAN I AMIRITE

Quick fun facts about Pirandello: He was a really important existentialist writer during the time of World War I, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934, which I guess makes him good enough to attempt to entertain us for 90 minutes. Creator of the concept of a “theatre within the theatre” in the play Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (Six Characters in Search of an Author), he became an important innovator in modern drama. In other words, he’s a real queen. The psychologically astute “La Trappola” is one of his best novellas, and was recently adapted for the stage, which is no small feat considering the book features only one character and he spends most of the time talking to himself.

Not as enciting as “Spring Breakers”, I’m sure, but bear with me. From what I observed and what snippets of Italian I could understand, the premise goes as follows:

1. Nameless guy has an existentialist crisis while moving around his huge 19th-century library.

As you do. 

2. In the next room, his elderly, dying father spends his days crying, apparently for no reason.

Why does everyone always cry in existentialist stuff? Life could be worse, okay? You could have re-elected Berlusconi. Priorities. 

3. Nameless Guy Jr. spends a lot of time walking around the house, yelling at himself, and addressing the audience.

This was actually pretty cool. By making the audience a character and acknowledging its presence as a witness to the absurd, it felt less like a “Vagina Monologues” (I mean, other than because of the obvious stuff) and much more interactive. 

4. He looks into his library, opens a philosophy book, and reads “The horse does not exist because he does not think he exists”

Basically, he’s looking at his father, whose vocabulary range is probably shorter than a Teletubby, and wondering whether being alive makes us human to begin with. You can sort of understand where he’s coming from- I mean, what is the point of being alive if Winky-Dinky can beat you at a battle of wits?

5. He repeats that he hates all women, who are master trappers, only to be seduced by a creepy upper-class nurse who has as much sex appeal as Edith from Downton Abbey.

Seriously, I cannot even begin to properly explain how creepy this woman was. I sat through SWEENEY TODD and was totally unshaken. And they CUT PEOPLE UP ONSTAGE. But bring a sexually-aware live rendition of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and I’m left shaking. The way she waltzed around the room and spoke slowly, only to cackle in laughter at the end of the scene was superb. If you can’t properly imagine that, think back to that scene in Sleeping Beauty where Aurora pricks her finger on the wheel and maybe you’ll get a taste of how disturbingly unsettling that entire scene was. 

I WILL FRIENDZONE YOU SO BADLY YOU HAVE NO IDEA BAHAHHAHA

6. After he realizes he has fallen into the trap once again he panics, takes out a revolver, relieves his father, and kills himself as well.

As you do.

In spite of all the yelling, the unceremonious deaths, and the various phrases in Italian that I’m sure must be a departure from the regularly scheduled programing (what, people here don’t speak English? What is this witchcraft?!). I loved the play. I loved, loved, loved it. More than a performance, it felt like a lesson in philosophy, albeit hardly an optimistic one. Due credit must be given to Gabriele Lavia, who employed elements from comedia del’arte and improvisation to bring the audience into his point of view, which is very difficult to do when you’re practically leading a one-man show. The show itself seemed more like a film than a play- there was a strange instrumental soundtrack that would have been right at home in any Tim Burton film, and the rising crescendo of the music every time the story would reach a climax left me pretty shaken. The set was incredible, with vintage objects strewn all over the place as if to remind us all that even though objects are lifeless, they will still outlive us. We eventually realize that the house itself is a trap. The room, meant to symbolize the mind of man, is also a trap. His crisis, so it would seem, was a cry for freedom- if what differentiates us from animals are feelings and memory, what’s the point of being alive if those same feelings are just going to screw us over in the end? He presents a weird Catch-22 of sorts, because his dad, who is senile and hardly speaks, could hardly be considered alive by that definition. Yet, he’s still a human- or is he?

Women especially are master trappers- they entice you with their feminine charms and leave you drained and hopeless once you are of no more use to them. To be born, to love, and to feel anything is to fall into the trap. So why live at all?

Moral of the story?

everything suxx

This might sound like a lot to digest for a study abroad blog post and for anybody whose GenEd requirements do not demand they read post-war existentialism (thankfully, a majority of you), but the thing I’m getting at is this: even though these topics were pretty complex to understand, it was amazing how much of the plot I was able to follow relying on barely three months of Italian language practice. It was crazy how much easier understanding the language got once your mind entered the realm of a story. And even if you missed some words or couldn’t understand a certain phrase, you could pick out clues through the actors’ motions or voices to give you some idea. Anyway, it’s existentialism – even when spoken in your own language it makes zero sense.

So to all my Temple Romiez, if you feel like you’re up for the challenge, make sure you head down to Teatro Argentina and check it out. I really couldn’t think of any way to let out my broke-college-student-what-is-the-meaning-of-life-if-I-can’t-get-Neutral-Milk-Hotel-On-Vinyl woes.

 

 
 

One Week: Francis and Ireland

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One of the coolest things about studying abroad is how much can happen in just a few days. This past week has just been overflowing with incredible experiences and wild moments (and mishaps, naturally). Thinking about trying to contain them in one blog post is overwhelming- but it’s worth it.

Pope Francis

Ahh! So cool!

I will never forget sprinting to St Peter’s Square with Avery around 7pm Wednesday on March 13, 2013. The bells were ringing all around us and we couldn’t stop laughing and smiling while we raced with thousands of other people to see the reveal of the new Pope! Amazingly, we made it into the square and were witness to the newest Pope’s first reveal and blessing. Seeing the curtains pull back to reveal the College of Cardinals in bright red filling the large windows still gives me chills. It was a surreal moment to be in the most watched place in the world right then.

The atmosphere was so joyful and positive- everyone was either in tears or just contagiously smiling. I hope this new chapter for the Vatican brings healing and joy in a way that’s been lacking in the past. I still can’t believe I was present for a moment like that- wow.
Ireland
Thursday marked the beginning of our adventures in Ireland!We hopped on a plane and made it into Dublin by 3pm. Everyone is so nice in Ireland; it is easily my new favorite place in the world. I would love to bring my family back here to visit again!

Friday we had the pleasure of visiting Galway and the Cliffs of Moher and I can’t begin to do them justice with words or photos. This place is the most breathtaking location in the world- I absolutely have to return. If you’ve never been, make it number one on your bucket list.

We were extremely lucky to have gorgeous weather for the right side of the cliffs, but once we reached the left, the sky shifted to a violent hailstorm. That’s Ireland for you… we experienced sun, rain, hail, and snow over the few days we were there.
Temple Bar is a complete riot, and was only magnified by it being Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. I am a huge fan of pubs in general (this is a little known fact about me and slightly surprising I’m sure), but Dublin takes the prize for having some of the most fun ones I’ve ever been to. People were just happy to be exactly where they were and that’s always a special thing to experience. Most pubs have live music as well which is always a huge bonus!
Saturday, Casey and I went on a walking tour of the city and saw all the major sights. Dublin is full of interesting and silly landmarks, a solid reflection of the overall city atmosphere. We also got to visit the Guinness Factory! I have an innate gift for consuming Guinness in great qualities at a remarkable speed so this was a real treat. We learned all about the history and brewing process and then got to see the famous Sky Lounge. I was terrified by the heights and pretty much stayed against the wall. It was like having to walk next to the railings in the mall- unnatural and physically uncomfortable. Everyone else seemed to really like it though, go figure.
Festival Highlights:
Guinness and Jameson and Ginger ales first thing in the morning!
The streets were packed with extremely happy people!
The Food:
I finally got to have a Shamrock Shake! After having a meltdown when I found out McDonald’s in Italy do not take part in the tradition of mint shakes dyed green, consuming this was a great moment for me. The US and Ireland are the only countries to carry them and I was so upset I was going to miss out. Score! It tasted like a candy cane on Christmas- perfection.
I’ve happily been a vegetarian for about 8 or 9 years. That being said, I wanted to be a badass this weekend and try something new: I ate meat. Cottage pie to be specific and it was pretty delicious! I even tried a bite of Guinness Stew. I’m still not sure how I’m going to move forward at this point but meat might be back on the table… possibly. Most likely not. I’m glad I ate it though!
Nando’s! I finally got to go to a Nando’s! It was SO good, just like everyone says!
bean burger on a pita with hot sauce
Homemade vegetable soup and soda bread at the Hairy Lemon. I am obsessed with Irish soda bread. Monday night our waitress gave Brian and me an entire loaf at the end of the night. Praise Jesus!
I carried this soda bread around like my baby

Here are a few more photos of Dublin, Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher- I wish I was still there!

Brian spilled an entire Guinness
on my new chucks.

Ahh the dreaded midterm week

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Ok so unfortunately I’m going to have to apologize now about the duller blog post this time. The reason being is that this week was the dreaded midterm week! So instead I decided to focus on some of the common things to be seen around everyday Rome as well as the dreadfulness of studying. But first of all, I think I’ll begin with a little photo collage I created to portray the mood of the surrounding Catholic community throughout this whole commotion of the Pope stepping down.

IMG_3890Originally this picture was taken while doing street photography for my Photo I class, but while playing around on Photoshop, I decided to take picture of the Vatican from my explorations earlier in the summer. Look closely! You’ll see it!

IMG_3694So now I’ll show you all a little around the norms of Rome. This, first of all is a little boutique that is connected to a piazza. Here, you won’t find basically any department stores but rather smaller boutiques in square, alleys, and larger streets.

IMG_3842Another commonly found item on street corners are these little things. They are fountains that are constantly flowing water at all times. Believe it or not, the water that streams out of here is perfectly clean and drinkable! I always use it for rinsing my apples I eat for lunch, before walking down the street munching on them.

IMG_3696Here, is also something oh so common everywhere you walk. Even in the dead of winter, you see people eating outside of restaurants and cafes. Oh but don’t worry, there are the little heater things running that are supposed to keep you toasty. Though from my experience, they don’t do anything unless you are in the lucky spot directly next to it!

IMG_4154Alright, now here is the fun part of the week! Just kidding of course. This is a picture of one of my neighbors staying up late writing a paper.

IMG_4155Also, here are my other two neighbors studying the night away preparing for their midterms. As you can see, they were quite thrilled I was taking a picture of them.

IMG_4157Lastly, my papers as I prepare for my own Italian midterm. Not fun at all, but if you look closely on my computer you can see that ITunes is up, as music was the only way to get through all of this!

IMG_4163Thrilled that midterms are finally over, my friends are beyond happy and loving life! Next step: preparing for our spring break trip! 🙂

IMG_4190Ending the night right, we used the iPhone strobe light app to create a club within my neighbor’s room and had a little dance party of our own!

IMG_4202Finally, all packed and ready to leave for spring break! Anticipation and excitement is rising, as I get ready to venture to Barcelona, Madrid, and Portugal! So excited!!!!!

The One Where Magali Freaks Out (Habemus Papam)

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For those of you who know me personally (and I’m assuming that’s most of you, creeps), you know that I’m not exactly the quiet type. However, the amount of times I’ve screamed loudly enough to tip the acoustic scale is surprisingly low. In fact, I could probably round it out to three extremely important moments in my twenty years of existence:

1. That one time I found a stink bug in my bed.
2. When I bought a ticket to my first Arctic Monkeys concert (June 23 2010, never 4get <3)
3. Last night, in Piazza San Pietro, when the name Jorge Bergoglio was announced to over 50,000 people gathered around the basilica.
Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks or so, Pope Benedict VIXIIVCIABC or whatever abdicated his Vatican throne, which marks the first time a pope has gone into early retirement since the 14th century. A lot of people weren’t too happy about that- it’s kind of a lifetime membership sort of thing. Being a pope is not just a hobby, okay? It’s a lifestyle.
 
IT’S NOT JUST A PHASE MOM! THIS IS THE REAL ME!
But that lifestyle proved to be a bit too much for Benny, so he tastefully said his goodbyes and peaced… just in time for all of Temple Rome to witness a dramatic historical event the likes of which nobody in this little school would have ever imagined we could have been a part of in person.
Being a fervent follower of Showtime’s “The Borgias” and having a pirated copy of “Angels and Demons” dubbed in Spanish in my laptop, I consider myself pretty much an expert in matters of papal elections and everything that’s at stake when 115 cardinals get together to decide who of them is old enough to lead about 670 billion Catholics all around the world.   Basically, it goes a little like this: once the pope dies, (or in this case, peaces out), some of the most important and illustrious cardinals around the world come to the Vatican and gather in the Sistine Chapel to vote for a new pope. Conclave, then, is the election whereby the cardinals decide who amongst them will lead the church for the next fifteen years or so. Putting it lightly, it’s kind of a big deal.
The votes are written down on individual pieces of paper and burnt with a special powder, whose smoke goes up the furnace into the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. If the smoke is black, it means that the cardinals have not been able to reach a decision. If the smoke is white… all hell breaks loose.
So this is a story about how all hell broke loose at around seven o’clock on the afternoon of March 13th, 2013.
The moment the white smoke appeared the papal election was quite honestly the last thing on my mind. Nursing a horrible migraine and dreading the history research paper I had put off working on for about a month, I had just sat down in my kitchen to begin reading about Gallileo when, on a whim, I decided to check Facebook one last time.
I have never been so thankful for Mark Zuckerberg in my life. My newsfeed was quickly flooded with family members asking my friends whether they could see the smoke from the residence, or whether anyone had started selling pope hats on the street yet (negative to both). Migrane suddenly gone, I jumped out of my chair, grabbed my keys, and ran up three flights of stairs to meet my friend Lauren, who thankfully was the only person still remaining in the residence.
And then we ran.
Let me tell you something- I am not a runner by any means. I firmly believe that running is repulsive and the source of all evil in this godforsaken world, and that all of us would be much better off if we just took things a little slower. I hate running; I wouldn’t run if there was a fire. But in that moment, I ran for my life. Call it the Holy Spirit egging me forwards- it certainly was a miracle that we managed to reach the Vatican after fifteen minutes of death sprints. Any distress over brutta figura was gone- for the first time, Italians were running alongside us, all trying to get into the piazza at St. Peter’s. Shouts of “Habbemus Pappam!” and “POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPEZZZ” rang all around us. People were crying, holding each other’s hands and laughing madly, the drums of the Swiss Guard and Carabinieri echoing their footsteps as thousands of spectators got funneled by the Roman police into neat files heading into the square.
Once inside, we easily elbowed our way about halfway between the obelisk and the facade of the basilica, passing miscellaneous groups of priests and nuns from orders all over the world. We settled in and went about trying our hardest not to have a heart attack in the middle of the piazza, which was especially difficult when we met a young priest who not only was also hanging out in the square to witness the whole thing, but lo and behold- he was Argentine, too.
Our bros
I don’t now if you know anything about Argentines, but when two of us meet in a foreign country, we become instant best friends.Our lovely priest’s name was Raffael, and he was studying in Rome after living in Connecticut and Cordoba for a couple of years. We alternated between English and Spanish (and even some Italian with the people surrounding us) while we discussed who would come out as pope. Some names were being thrown around, with cardinals from France and Italy all named -there was even an American in the running. There was also an Argentine, Jorge Bergoglio. As usual, we spend about 0.5 seconds considering the chance he’d be chosen. Again, I don’t know if you know anything about Argentina, but we’re not exactly what you’d call winners. Tune into the World Cup sometime to see for yourself.
So when an hour later the curtains parted and they announced that “Giorgio Bergoglio” had taken the name of Francesco for his new office, it understandably took us a few moments to process what had happened.
Raffael started shaking. “No, no, no, no, no!” he said, “Es el Argentino! He’s one of us!” he shouted to his priest buddies that were crowding a few meters back (pictures above).
And then it happened.
I let out such a blood-curdling scream that I’m pretty sure more than one person around me thought I’d gotten stabbed. A camera man who had been filming the whole spectacle eagerly turned his camera into my face, thinking that he’d finally found the scandalous story of his career. Instead, he found himself filming a blinded midget who appeared to be having some sort of demonic possession, and a young priest violently jumping up and down, both clutching each other in death grips and chanting the national anthem.
Much less interesting.
There was a long moment of confusion as every journalist around us shuffled their notebooks to find Bergoglio’s nationality. Frenzied whispers repeating “Francesco”, and “Bergoglio” were being thrown around the entire square. It was kind of like the intro sequence in Gossip Girl where that random voice is all “Where is Serena? Where is she? GOSSIP GIRL” in this weird raspy whisper, except not at all. And when he finally came out and waved to us, it finally felt real. With the crowd clapping and cheering and the flags waving, and the iPads recording… I’ve never felt more a part of anything in my life.  “I am never #$%*ing leaving this square” yelled Raffael as we continued to hug and cry. “Bury me in St. Peter’s!”
Even after we lost Raffael in the crowd and followed the flags to continue to chant with the other Argentines in the square it was hard to believe it was really happening. Everything felt so extremely surreal and simultaneously vividly realistic- almost like a dream. I have only had a couple of experiences in my life where I’ve thought to myself, “I’m telling my grandchildren about this”, and this has certainly climbed to the top of the list. There was something incredible about reuniting with my roommate later at dinner and re-counting where we’d been when we heard the announcement. There was also something completely elating about feeling like a part of something bigger than myself. I could not believe- still can’t, really- that I was an Argentine living in Rome, hanging out with an Argentine priest, witnessing another Argentine cleric being given the highest responsibility and honor of his office.
 
Oh, yeah. Since we’re talking about that…
The decision to elect the first South American pope, aside from ensuring all papal masses are given in a fabulous porteno accent, raises a lot of issues. Mainly, the recognition of South America as an important vehicle of the catholic faith, and some might say, the future of the catholic church. As The Guardian so nicely said, “His appointment is a recognition that the church’s future lies not in Europe, or not only in Europe”.
 
So after all this craziness, what do I think of the whole thing? Could this new pope, a Jesuit, be the change the church needs? Could we actually be nearing an age where South America becomes the newly accepted center of one of the largest faiths in the world? Or will Francesco just turn out to be more of the same old? Let’s put it this way- after the craziness of the ceremony, when a private car came to drive the new pope to dinner, it returned empty. He had chosen to go on the buses with his fellow cardinals and arrive with them instead. As a bishop, Bergoglio was known to cook for himself and had a habit of traveling around Buenos Aires on the bus. During the post-dinner toast, he toasted the cardinals and said, “May God forgive you for what you’ve done”.
Yeah, I think he’ll do.

A Word On Crossing The Street

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To make up for my relatively lacking information on the city of Rome itself, my topic of choice for this week’s post is something inherently Roman and something I’m sure is on the top of every foreign student’s concern list once they actually step into the streets of Rome: how to cross the street.

Now, if this is starting to sound like the most condescending blog post in the world, rest assured that it’s not. As a writer, I’m inclined to think less of every other human being’s intellect, but I do understand that you most likely already know how to cross the street. But there’s more to it than you think. So stick with me on this. You’ll learn something, I promise.

Crossing the street in Rome is unlike crossing the street anywhere in the world. There are a lot of social cues to follow, and likewise some taboo things you really should avoid. It is, believe it or not, as much a cultural thing as drinking coffee standing up on a cafe’s bar, or cursing loudly at your deliveryman. As Temple students, we are invaluably gifted in the ways of jaywalking, as anybody who’s ever attempted to cross Broad Street will tell you. So I feel equally schooled in the subject to offer you some tips.
1. Ignore the traffic light. Following traffic light-procedure is the sure-fire way to ensure taking 3 hours to cross the street. Anyway, I’m pretty sure they were a 21st century invention and we all know how well technology works in Rome (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
2. Take a look around. Are there cars driving directly down your path? Are they many? Does the driver look like his day would be ruined by a measly traffic accident (most of them don’t)? Calculate the time it would take to walk from one curb to the next. If it is less than a minute, go for it. If it’s more- go for it anyway.
3. Make eye contact. This is crucial. When crossing the street, you are entering the lion’s den. People here drive like maniacs, because they’ve got important things to do at important places with important people, and are not fazed by something as unimportant as rules. By looking the driver in the eye, you’re making yourself important. People have a million things to worry about and not one of them concerns a random stranger trying to get across a seven-foot stretch of concrete before them. So demand yourself to be seen. Step on the curb and go. Just go. Even if you think you’ll get run over, even if you think there is no way in hell the car will slow down in time for you to get across. It will. Glare the driver down and just go.
4. Don’t run. NEVER run. Running is an American invention. Why do you think you never see Romans jogging around in lycra shorts? (other than because they’re sane human beings). Italians don’t understand the concept of running when crossing the street because that means you are sacrificing your health, your breathing, and your leisure in order to let somebody else get ahead. Your destination is just as important- why should somebody with an intimidating car get the right to modify your original path?
5. Find, to your amazement, that the car does slow down to let you pass. It may be inches away from your coat and it may have screeched louder than Kim Kardashian when she lost her diamond earring in that one episode of “Keeping Up”, but it does stop.
So here’s the thing. Rome is a city of survival. Much like New York City or any other big metropolis, there are always people who are going to want to get in before you, and don’t mind running you over in the process. But that doesn’t mean that you should just let them. Living in Rome is about doing just that: living. Not standing idly in line waiting your turn, but demanding that it be so. Not waiting around for the street to be safe enough to tread on, but making the street safe. Nobody will take you by the hand here, and the truth is that nobody really should, no matter where you may be living. Whether you’re in Rome, Paris, or Philly, people will respond to respect, and sometimes you just need to show everyone that you deserve some for a change. You need to assert yourself, look the driver in the eye, and tell him that it’s your time.
Life is short. So cross the damn street.

Spring Break Part 1: There’s More to AMS Than You Think

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Spring Break is finally here on the Temple Roma campus! Everyone began Friday by jetting off to a few incredible locations around the continent. I was under the impression I would be staying back in Rome, but when the opportunity to take a weekend trip to Amsterdam fell in front of me, I booked the flight!

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I absolutely love Amsterdam; this was actually my second trip to the gorgeous city. A lot of people think this city is summed up in Coffeehouses and the Red Light District; and yes, these are big draws, but it’s unfair to disregard what else Amsterdam has to offer. My first half of Spring Break 2013 was a blast and here’s why:

I traveled alone in order to meet up with a few friends in Holland. I’ve never done much on my own before, so this was an exciting experience. If study abroad has taught me anything, it’s a strong independence (and I love it!). I caught a connecting flight to Munich that proved to only increase my fear of flying (these planes are tiny). One hour layover? Kein problem! I found an airport pub and had a pretzel and lager while chatting with a very nice bartender.

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I’m in love with Germany for the record, I can only hope to live here one day. It’s such a great country, and Munich is an incredibly modern and fun city. I need to plan a trip back for more than an hour soon.

Once I was on board for my flight to Amsterdam, I met a Dutch man who lived about 20 minutes north of the city. We chatted for the entire one hour flight and he taught me some key dutch phrases! He told me Amsterdam is known for it’s take on Chinese and Indonesian food and to definitely try it out. I took this to heart because if there’s one thing I’ve missed while in Rome, it’s various Asian food.

I landed in Holland and met up with Avery, Brian, and Tom at Amsterdam Centraal. Before we even checked in we ordered some famous fries from a side store. YUM!

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We spent the night wandering around the city and enjoying the rowdy crowds!

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Saturday we woke up and went for traditional pancakes at the famous Pannenkoekenhuis De Carrousel! I LOVE PANCAKES, and Amsterdam does them so well! You can get salty or sweet, and each one is delicious! I’d have to recommend enjoying one with an extra cold Heineken- it’s tradition! The chocolate milk is killer too, though!

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With full bellies, we walked across the street to visit the Official Heineken Factory for a tour of the brewery! This was my second time on the tour but it was still a blast. The tour is really well done and teaches you a lot of interesting facts behind the beer empire! It’s quite interactive and you get to meet some cool people from all over the world in the Bar lounge at the end.

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As avid Starbucks lovers, Tom and I had to visit Holland’s flagship store! It was huge and even had a clover machine! Our barista was amazing and told us all about the store and their homemade chocolate chip cookies. They were bomb. we also snagged some stroopwaffles…YUM.

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My last morning in Amsterdam was spent at my FAVORITE sandwich shop in probably the entire world. It’s a chain in Holland but uses only local and organic produce. I ordered their goat cheese and honey sandwich on rye currant and fig bread with a hand squeezed lemonade with mint. It tastes as amazing as it sounds, believe me!

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Amsterdam is an incredibly beautiful, friendly, and exciting city that deserves a lot more credit than people give it! If you have the opportunity to visit, take it! You won’t regret the time you spend exploring the gorgeous canals and indulging in the delicious and varied cuisine. That being said, I’m happy to be back in Roma and can’t wait to spend a few more free days before classes begin again! Happy Spring Break, friends!