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29 June 2007

Florence and 414 steps

School in Italy is fabulous. They take you on day trips to different cities around Italy and it's a blasty for sure!! One of the trips was to Florence, Firenze if you will. The only thing I knew about Florence is that David was there and I wanted to see it. Other than that, I was just along for the ride.

After a really long train ride and about 10 games of Captain of the Ship, we arrived to the hottest day since I have been in Italy. I don't think I have sweet that much in a really long time...My morning shower was quickly a thing of the past and I was collecting pools with every step I took. And no I wasn't the only one!! Everyone was dying! We were walking around the streets of Florence, being lead by Carlo who didn't know where he was going, but he asked a few people and we finally found the worlds longest line. And of course it was the line to see the Museum that housed David....Lucky for us we were in a group of deaf kids so we were included in the priviledges of that!! We waited in line for about 20 minutes and then Carlo said...LETS GO!! So we all got to go into the museum!! When we got out, we saw the people infront of us and they had moved about 20 feet in over an hour!!! O MAN!!!

The museum was amazing! So many works of art and statues, and the like...it's amazing to see how talented and skilled people were from back in the day. David was amazing. I had no idea that he was so huge. I really wanted to sneak a picture, but Errol did the deed so I will have to steal the picture from him!! After we had our fill of the museum, Martin and I took off and met up with some people for lunch.

Lunch. We went to a pizza shop and I was starving! I only wanted to pizza that was 3.50 euro, but somehow, I ordered the one that was more expensive and after that plus the cost of service, I ended up paying 11 euros for lunch! I really need to learn more Italian!

Martin and I went to look around florence for another museum he wanted to check out...but the line was too long, it was bloody hot and we were running low on money...so instead...we went to the tall building next to the Duomo...again, I forget the name, and for some reason we had the bright idea to go ahead and pay the euros to walk to the top!!

The sign said 414 steps but I guess we didn't realize how much 414 steps really were!! Less than half way up, we were breathing so hard and drenched from our hard work! We were laughing at eachother because why in the world would we want to walk up so many steps when it was so incredibly hot!!! HAHA!! But we finally made it to the top and it was worth it. The view was beautiful and you could see a panoramic view of Florence.

After we climbed back down the tower and walked the busy streets of Florence it was about time to go so we made our way back to the train station to meet up with the rest of the crew.

That was our day trip to Florence...really cool museum and really hot!! I like it but I don't have the expensive taste to go back and shop there!! It is very expensive and I was out of euros from climbing the tower and eating lunch!! I may go back there someday when it is not so hot and the lines are not so long!

Pisa and the Stupid bus

So yes, we went to Pisa and saw what there is to see...a leaning tower...but getting there pretty much was terrible!!! We had, once again, our fool proof plan of showing up at the train station, metting some friends and having a blasty in Pisa...NO! The universe would not have it!!

Our host mom told us that we needed to take either bus 5 or 3 and take it to the train station. We showed up to the bus stop with about 45 minutes to spare to get the train station and make the train to Pisa. No problem because the station is about 5 minutes from the bus stop and the bus comes by every 10 minutes or so...NOT SO!! Bus 5 comes by and I asked the driver in my broken Italian if this IS the bus the train station...he says NO! We were supposed to wait for the next one...and the next one didn't come by even 30 minutes later!! AH! By now we have missed the train and we were wondering if our friends would be waiting for us or just took off to Pisa! Finally a bus came by and it was one of those huge blue fancy tour buses....he stopped and I asked him if he was going to the train station and I must have looked really bummed because he said happily and a bit sympathetic-like....yes, come on! So we had the first class trip to the train station!! We had our fingers crossed hoping that maybe for some reason the trains were still there...a strike or something. It seems in Italy everything goes on strike all the time...but they left right on time and our friends went with em!!! O well...se we ended up having to buy a bus ticket to Florence and then had to catch a train to Pisa...UGH! Bus rides are no fun..I get a little sick on buses too...but we were just so happy that we made it somehow to Pisa!

Pisa is yucky. Maybe we showed up on a bad day, but it was full of trash and smelled gross! We had to walk about 20 minutes to the tower in the stench but it was worth it...the tower was so cool!! It was pretty weird to see it...after being taught in history class at school and seeing simple pictures..it looks exactly the same as the picture as Shelley would say!! It was neat seeing it and it leans so much! We wanted to walk to the top but walking on a leaning tower seems a bit scary to me, plus it was kind of expensive and I could see the top just fine! We stuck around Pisa for about an hour before we became bored and decided to head home. We walked back to the train station down a street that made me feel like I was in the mix of a flee market and a carnival!! IT was so crazy...you could literally buy anything you wanted from goldfish and bunnies to clothes and food. We, of course, got some gelato on the way back to the train station and called it a day.

The ride home on the train was so much fun!! The people we went with included me, Vicki, Martin, Ann, Alana, and Rachael. The 6 of us make a pretty good team and can keep eachother laughing for hours!!! We learned a new little game called Captain of the Ship and we played it all the way back to Siena...and I will teach you if you want...it cannot be taught over text!!

So that was our trip to Pisa, it was fun and if I never make it back to Pisa again, I think I will survive! Cool Tower though!! :)

14 June 2007

A good history lesson

So today was really neat....ya, neat.

We walked what seemed to be at least 45 miles...no I'm kidding....to one of the most important deaf schools in the history of Italy, and some say of Europe. The school is called the Pendula school, named after its founder from back in the day. I won't give you any boring history lessons, but if you ever get interested, google. It is really neat. We were given a tour by a man named Georgio who went to the school when he was a boy. The school was a place that basically forced deaf children to learn how to speak and write. A lot of people from that time believed that since they were deaf, they could only serve on purpose and that was to use their motor skills and become tailors, typographers, and various other things that could be done without using there lack of hearing. These things were taught throughout the deaf school and there were tons of photos of the children learning these skills. It was very interested the relation it had with the history of American deaf culture. Alot of the old machinery was still in the school and is used as a museum. In some of the pictures you can see some of the things that were made by the students. The tiny bed and chair and the clock are just some of the skills that were taught.

We then went into the main room that the students were 'taught' in. This room was used to teach those who had some hearing to speak. If you can tell from the photo's there are mics on all of the desks. The students had headphones put on and the frequencies were controlled by a mixer, which you can also see in the photo's. The frequency was adjusted until the students could hear the sound at a comfortable pitch and those who could not hear anything just had to try harder or where taught by other means such as being put infront of a mirror to demonstrate the shapes of the lips and to feel the movement of the vocal cords. Alot of these methods were forced on these students to try and 'better' there existance. Signing was completely banned from the school and students who were caught signing were punished. They would have their hands slapped with rulers and switches for trying to communicate with their friends. Right after school was over, the students were begin to sign as if they hadn't talked for weeks!

Georgio gave an amazing tour and told us a lot of stories from when he was a student. Stories from when he used to draw under his desk instead of listen to the teacher to how he met his 'little wife' at the school.

Overall, an amazing lesson and I have some of it on video so if you ever want to check it out and see some LIS, let me know!! Ciao for now and I'm goin to bed!!

Monks and Gilato

Mama mia!!! The past couple of days have been filled with lots and lots of history!! I'm first of all kind of bummed since LIS was cancelled for the rest of the week. Luigi had to go somewhere to do something else that I don't remember...but either way...GONE!!! And LIS is my favorite class as you know so I'm pretty bummed...plus I lost my ipod the first day in Europe and I haven't had my luxury of portable music for two weeks!! UGH!!!

Ok but the good stuff!! Yesterday we didn't have any school at all...we had an all day excursion to Pienza...a little town just outside of Siena...about an hour or so if that matters?! Well I know that I can fly planes and do crazy 8 moves in a pitts and not get sick at all...but when it comes to car rides... if I'm not the one driving I get a little queezy!! Lame I know, but it just the way it goes!! It also doens't help that the two way roads in Italy are about as wide as one lane in America! No joke! They are super narrow and the motorcyclists think they own the road. They will wind in and out of the streets and cars and drive in all the lanes! It's pretty nuts but no one really seems to care...just the way of the Italians and according to Rita, that is why they buy them in the first place! So I jumped into the front seat of Miriams little car that Rita drove to Pienza and prayed that I wouldn't get car sick...I wanted to enjoy the scenery. But wouldn't you know it, I got I little sick anyway and had to be a bum, open the window and let the cool breeze of the Italian air take away the 'queeze.' When we started to come up onto Pienza, I opened my eyes and I can not tell you in very many words how amazing the view was. We were winding in and out of the Tuscan hills and on either side you could see every color on God's palate painted for miles. Endless curves of flawless green grass was complimented by fields of yellow flowers, wheat fields, grape vines, old stone houses that looked like castles from a fairy tale and trees that were grouped perfectly at the bottoms of the hills. Some of them were filled as far as you could see with the textures of trees and bushes, others were simply miles of grassy fields that were cooled by the breeze and a single tree to keep them company. Absolutely breathtaking...I felt as if I was in the middle of perfect story.

We finally arrived to Pienza and I had to get out of the car!! And wouldn't ya know the first thing that we do when we all poured out of the cars was crowd into a coffee shop and 'take a quick shot' of coffee!! It was delicous as usual and I don't know how I will adjust to coffee at Starbucks when I get back to the states. I'm so used to having just a few sips of a coffee and then moving on to the next thing..at Starbucks it takes me forever to finish one!! But starbucks does have Chai and I do love those very much!! Anyway...

Pienza is really cool to put it lightly...apparently it is a very old town that was build way way back in the day...around the 1400's or so. It is very historical and really pretty. It isn't nearly as big as Siena!! It reminded me of going to Madrid for those of you who know where that is, but a lot cooler...ya that's a word!! All of the buildings were made from stone and bricks and a bunch of other things I'm sure. People who lived there have decorated the fronts of their flats with beautiful flowers, petunias, bouganvilla's (I don't know how to spell that), daisies and a bunch of others. It was like the set of a movie, really and it was so warm and welcoming.

We made our way to a little plaza that I cannot recall the name of...that seems to happen alot huh? There was two buildings to really note. On the right was a huge mansion style building that was build back in the 1400's for the Pope at the time. After all the building and moving in of the Pope, he died two years later!!! Well at least they had a nice house to stay in after I guess huh? Next to it was the Pope's church. It was very beautiful and I have noticed that everything in Italy, churched or a store, is very detailed. Everything is so authentic and for the lack of a better word...Amazing. It's nothing like you would find anywhere in Albuquerque. The history lesson on these two buildings, plus the town was really neat but I won't bore you with all that. Just look at the really awesome pictures of them! We walked around Pienza for about and hour and checked out the amazing views. I would describe them but there are no more words. Just take a look at the pictures. Ok I just have to tell you this story. So Martin, Vicki and I are all walking around checking out the town and I was searching for a restroom. Most of the shops wouldn't let me use theirs unless I bought something from them...not gonna happen!! So we went to a bunch of different places. Vicki got the hiccups and I was laughing really hard at here because they were so loud...Martin gave me weird faces and we really just needed to find the bathroom because I was laughing so hard. So finally we found a lady who pointed us in the right direction. What we found were stall like public bathrooms filled with flies and no toilet paper or soap. GROSS!! All the bathrooms but a couple were just holes in the ground that greated you with mocking plastic ring!! UGH!! I was in and out in about 1 minute and when I was opening the door I heard a really loud noise that I choose to believe was just the sound of it flushing but we are not really sure what it was!!! Ok I don't know why I told you that...more for my memories of laughing really hard so I hope you enjoyed it!

After we mosied around and got some more gelato, we piled back into the cars and headed out to learn how to make cheese. I was confused about this excursion from the beginning and it was never cleared up because we first of all couldn't find the place, and then when we did, it was closed!! O well...that's the last thing I need...more cheese!! :)

I'm not sure how long our next car ride but luckily I was distracted by the motion sickness by the crazy antics of Martin and his fabulous signing. Every time I watch him sign I'm enthralled!! I want to just copy everything he does he is amazing!! We arrived at our destination and we stopped the cars on the side of the road next to a bridge...and it seemed as if we were in the middle of nowhere, or just south of it. FMB: Scottie made a very funny joke about this being our survival in Italy portion of the trip...You had to be there....

So we had to walk up this ginormous hill that led up to what appeared to be some sort of church like thing. Vicki told me she was told that it was used to study excorcism...which would have kind of been a fun but creapy experience...but turns out it was a monestary. It was pretty cool...alot of walking down very steep hills which leads me to believe that the monks have very strong calves and a good heartbeat. We got the 411 on the history of the monestary and were able to go inside the church. Again....amazing church artwork, detailes and designs...but the best part was when one of the monks came storming out of the woodworks and yelled at some excited about monks american tourist about crossing the ropes!! It was hilarious!! The guy saw the ropes, chose to ignore it to get a better photo and the monk came out and yelled at him in Italian about how the ropes were there for a reason and if he sees a rope he cannot cross it!! HAHA!! poor tourist!

I'm going to start a new blog for my next story.

11 June 2007

Under the Tuscan Sun

So this one will be kind of short cause I'm pretty tired...and my legs hurt....

So my day started off a bit rough. I could barely walk this morning cause my legs were swollen and they felt like I was on fire...We had to leave our house about 20 minutes early so that we could make it to class on time!! Walking is so hard!! We walked into the school just as the 9 o'clock bell was chiming from the clock tower...I still haven't found out the name yet. Other than that little adventure, school is just the same. AND every morning Roberta makes me a little shot of coffee!! I don't even have to ask anymore!! Bene Bene!!

The best part of the day began after school started. Scottie felt a little bad for me since it was hard for me to get around and it took me ten minutes to walk up the stairs!! So she went and bought me some yummy gilato...which by the time she had made it back to the school it was melting all over her and even made it onto her flip flop and foot!! But it was so delicous!! Before she got there we were all so hungry that we ate almost every peach off the peach tree in the front of the school. DELICIOUS!!

We were waiting outside of the school for Errol's host mom to meet up with us. WHY you may ask?? Well she is going to teach us how to make some real Italian food!! Her an her son showed up and actually her son, Philipo, was going to teach us how to cook a meal! So we all hopped into the cars...I actually morphed into 23 shapes in order to get into the car....and we took off for the country side....which is always nice because I love it when we get to go outside the walls of Siena. The walls are super old and massive....they are the original, unrestored walls from the Medival times...and if you are educated on that time period...they are SO THICK. They were built to last and withstand and they have done just that! ANyways, we left the center of the city and headed out to Miriam's house to learn some cooking styles...for me just how to cook in general!! :)

Miriam lives in the most beautiful house in the whole world!! It really reminded me of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun...you should see it if you haven't yet. I wish I had taken pictures of her house but my battery in my camera died so I couldn't...another time....but her house is made of bricks and stones and is set deep in the hills of Siena. When you walk up you cannot see her front door until you are right up to it because of a huge tree and a garden of lilies that guard the front entrance. After you make it up the steps to the door, you walk into what makes you feel like you are living in a fairy tale house...it makes you feel at home and you just want to take it all in a slowly as possible to enjoy every last morsel of comfort. Another flight of stairs takes you into the kitchen and From her kitchen window you can see rolling hills for miles and miles. It is every color from the green of the grass to the bright yellow of the spanish broom. I have never seen a panorama more beautiful than this.

Take a breath...I know it's amazing and you're jealous but you can look at the pictures and be envious...I won't tell!! :) So Philipo and his mom showed us all how to make...from scratch...a pasta dish with beef, kind of like ravioli, a yummy sauce, soup and all the flavours that pull it together. As much as I would have liked to have helped...my legs were so sore I couldn't stand for very long so I had to sit on the steps and take notes!!

While we were waiting for the food to be finished, me, Vicki, Errol, Scottie, Luigi and his love sat in the living room and chatted it up. Rita was walking around filming everyone and wanted us to tell a story. In class Luigi always tells us these elaborate stories in LIS and then makes us sign then to a partner. I always forget parts of them or rearrange the order of events...but it's an awesome technique and it really helps us learn LIS. So Rita had the great idea of having us all sign in LIS a part of one of the stories from class today. It was fun and hilariou because between the three of us, but kind of got the point of the story across and Luigi had a good laugh!! We are getting better though and I'll try and get a copy of the Video from Rita!!

After almost 2 or 3 hours of preperation, we finally got to eat. We sat outside and enjoyed our .... ahem...thier...delicious creation! It was so tastey and had I not eaten so slow I would have enjoyed seconds...o well...We all washed it down with some vino and a bowl of cherries. The nights here tend to get a bit cool so we all grabbed a jacket and sat outside and talked for quite some time. Its crazy to hear and see all the languages going around. Between the 15 of us that were there, we had ASL, LIS, English and Italina happening all at once...everyone teaching eachother. It was awesome and when it turned dark and the sun set over the hills...the whole area was filled witht the flicker of fire flies that came to light up our conversations!! It was truly like a story and made me want to move to Siena! Or out to the country side somewhere in Italy!!

I hope you enjoyed this blog today!! CIAO!!

10 June 2007

Abito a Siena ma sono di Albuquerque!

I live in Siena but I am from Albuquerque!!

So that's what a week of Italian classes taught me!! Aren't you proud!! No, I'm kidding I know more than that...not much more, but more anyway! Italian is pretty fun. When I first started to learn it, every word seemed to run together and all sounded the same!! But now I can kind of seperate the words...still not understand it all...but you get what I'm saying right!! :)

Ok, so I got kind of busy these past few days and I started to blog a couple of days ago. I had almost finished and then dumb myspace decided to shut down all my internet windows! Myspace is lame. So this blog will hopefully sum up the last few days...its been a few days so I will do my best to tell you everything! :)

So I won't really bore you with all of the specific school stuff. Wednesday through Friday was pretty much the same as far as the classes go. We only had Italian and Culture and the last two days which bummbed me and Vicki because LIS is our favorite class. But instead of having LIS on I think it was Thursday, we got the grand tour of Siena! It really was alot of fun because this is how it was set up: We walked around with the LIS students, the ASL students and then us 5 hearing students. So we had someone signing in Italian and if we didn't fully catch what he was saying, it was up to us to ask someone who understood it to tell us what was said. And we had to ask in LIS!!! Then at the next stop the ASL would be used and the same would happen for those who didn't understand the ASL. A really cool approach to help us learn the languages!

So on our little tour we first stopped at the huge clock tower that is in the Piazza del Campo. I can't remember it's specific name off the top of my head but you can see it in the pictures. Inside the building is a museum of all the old artwork on the walls, the ceilings, pictures, statues and all sorts of paintings. It was really amazing! If you are into art history, this is the place to go! Most of the pictures were of Mary and Jesus and then Jesus during his ministry it seemed. They were really amazing and I wish I had brought my camera with me! They didn't tell us we were going to be doing that until about 5 minutes before! But it was really fun anyways! After that we made our way down the streets of Siena and the history of some of the streets was revealed. We then made it to the Duomo..the old amazing dome Catholic church. I can't even tell you how amazing it is. Just the arcitecture of the building is stunning. On our way in you are surrounded by the jaw-dropping art that is on the walls and ceiling. The floors are made of marble as well as the pillars that hold up the ceiling. There is so much stuff to look at in the Duomo that you need at least an hour to really get a good look! Vicki tried to take some pictures but it was pretty dark so they didn't come out all so well. I think we may try and go back to the Duomo before we leave and get a better look. We didn't stay very long because we had to go back and get ready for dinner!!!

SO after our tour around Siena, which made us even more tired of walking around ;) we went back to the flat and got ready for dinner. We went back to the place we went the second night we were in Siena. We went with most of the deaf students and a bunch of the teachers. It was pretty fun. Me and Vicki decided to share some ravioli first because it was expensive and we wanted to split it, and second because we can only eat so much pasta! The language barriers are still fascinating. When we ordered we had to have someone who spoke Italian, LIS, a little English, and a little ASL. It is really cool to see that so many people can speak all 4 of those. NEAT! Dinner was a blasty because a couple of the girls told some of the funniest stories that I have ever heard...if you want to know I will have to tell you later...and dinners are pretty quiet as far as noise goes. We sign about 90 % more than we talk. I love it though because it helps me work on my signing skills as well as my receptive skills and watching peoples different signing styles.

After dinner I went up to the Bar to talk with one of the guys who was getting a quick 'shot of coffee' as we are starting to call them...and a piece of some sort of fruit filled cake thingy. The bar tender asked me if I wanted to taste someting. I didn't have any more euros so I said no thanks. But he insisted that I at least try a taste. SO I finaly agreed and asked for a taste of the chocolate cake. He cut me a huge slice and covered it in powdered sugar!!! YA! I looked at him and thought that mayb we had a miscommunication...since he spoke very little english...and he said no, no...it is for you!! Enjoy! AW! How sweet! So then one of the Italian women that is learning English came up to me and said he wants to meet you! So I finally figured it out..cause I must be pretty oblivious to the whole hitting on me in Italy thing...and she introduced us. John told her to tell me that if I ever wanted to come back and eat anything...ANYTHING that I could just come in and ask! He would always be there....and I have a free meal waiting for me! He was pretty cute so maybe I will go back there and take him up on his offer! ;)

After dinner we had what is called a Shhhh Party at the Havana Club. This Shhh party was so much fun!!! All of the Siena School students were there, a ton of the Italian deaf community was there and a bunch of other people I don't know. The point of the party was so that we could all learn eachother's languages a little bit. If you didn't know the other person's language, you had to figure out a way to make you point either by gestures or words you may have known in the other language...or there were posters around the room with the LIS signs so that you could have a conversation starter! At first I was pretty nervous and didn't really want to talk to anyone cause I didn't know their language. BUt then someone came up to me and he didn't know any of my language so we had fun trying to figure out what the other person was saying! The night went on in a silence that was filled with conversation and meeting people and making new friends! I think that it was a really great idea and got a lot of us out of our comfort zone and into a really neat world that makes you want to stay and talk all night! I really want to come back to Italy and learn more LIS sometime after I graduate maybe. And this is a fun fact...If you are going to drink an alcoholic beverage...be warned that they use way more alcohol in a drink than you are probably used to in America.....just a little fun fact of the day! YA italy~ :)

Friday was a really slow day! All of us students were pretty tired from the night before since we were out so late...but we showed up anyways and learned a little Italian....I think....during one of the breaks I took a nap on one of the couches. I was so tired!! I was having some sort of dream that must have been funny because I woke up laughing and Scottie was laughing at me!! It was pretty funny and she has a funny picture of me curled up in a ball on the couch! We only had two classes on Friday so that we could go home early and have a restful weekend.

Me and Vic went home and she fell asleep right away! I took a shower and went to meet up with some people at the school. (ya vicki slept for about 4 hours and I went out without her!!) Me, Scottie, Joseph and Errol all walked around the streets of Siena looking for some kind of meat filled food. Joseph knew of a place so he took us to the most delicous meal I have had!! It was this little place called Kebob and they had the best food. I ate what is like pita bread, filled with lettuce, a yummy sauce and I think it was lamb meat. It was so good and a really nice change from all the Italian food!!! Then we went out and had more gilato...the best ice cream of all time... I had half mint half chocoate and it was o so good!!! AMAZING! I wish I could eat gilato all day long..and I would! After all that we walked around there little supermarket store and looked at the food and crazy prices...no wonder people who come to America love Wal-Mart!! Their prices are pretty expensive and I noticed that they have a ton of sugary sweet food!
YUCK! There was so much I couldn't even believe it! How do they eat like that and stay so skinny I have no idea!

And if you are wondering...yes that is Joseph and a speedo!!

Saturday was the best/worst day since I have been here!!! We went to the Beach...or as they call it here..the Sea! It was amazing! I haven't been to the beach since I went to Hawaii....I thinkg about 5 or 6 years ago. Plus I live in New Mexico and I don't ever see the water. So after the hour and a half car ride we finally made it to the Sea!! I was so excited. And don't worry...I lathered up in sunscreen...I burn alot so I made sure I was all set. We picked a place on the beach...and my us I mean the ASL and hearing kids....and set up camp. Right away Martin was in the water...I'd say it took him about 1 minute and he was gone....the rest of us put our toes in and decided it would be ok to get in. We went out into the Sea and floated around. It was kind of cold but after a few minutes of moving around it wasn't so bad. It was really nice and as you would imaging...malto belo!!! (very beautiful!!) I came back from the water and decided to lay on the beach. I don't know how long I was there, but I sure did fall asleep on my stomach in the sun. Vicki did too....I really wish I hadn't done that!!

We ended up gettin pretty hungry so we headed over to were a few places were set up so that we could eat. While we were sitting around eating another sandwich, a little fox came up to us!! Ya a real wild fox lookin around for food!! He was so cute! And Shellie fed him some of her hot dog...he just ate it right out of her hand! So cute....

Later me and Vicki walked down the shore line and collected some really small, but really pretty sea shells. When I turned around...she said...AMANDA!! My legs are literally as red as lobsters. No joke. I didn't even feel the burn at all!! WHY IS THE SUN SO HOT!!! We must have been asleep for a really long time because when I got back to the school...I felt like my legs...only the backs...were on fire. We came home and took a shower to get the pounds of sand off of us...mine was cold because I couldn't handle the heat on my legs...I doused myself in Aloe and we went our to eat for dinner. About an hour later a started to feel kind of sick and had a really bad head ache. I'm assuming from all that sun. We got a bottle of wine (me, Vic, Errol, Martin and Shellie) and sat around the Campo for a while. I finally had to go home because I hurt so much. I took a tylenol pm and crashed!!!

Now it's Sunday morning and we have the day off to do nothing. And that's good because I can barely walk!! I tried to get out of bed this morning and almost fell!! I can't really bend my legs cause the backs of my knees are burned so bad! Why did I fall asleep!! UGH!! But that is my sad story and maybe I will go back to that little restraunt and have a free meal...maybe...I don't know if I will beable to walk there or not. Hopefully I will be better so that I can make the journey all the way up to the school tomorrow!!

Anyways, that's the past few days and if I think of anything else I will wright it down for you! Hope you are all well and I'm going to take an Aloe Vera bath!! CIAO!

05 June 2007

Lo amo la pioggia (I love the rain!)

In New Mexico, it will rain, sure. But, the rain will last, if we're lucky, 5..10 minutes at most; maybe longer if it's monsoon. But o man!! It was storming last night, remember? All that crazy thunder, Roberta was late because of the rain, our windows shock from the thunder...ya. So it NEVER STOPPED! It has literally rained all day long. Vicki and I have given up really getting ready in the morning. Sure, we'll take a shower, but after that much, there is really no need to do anything else. When we left this morning it had stopped raining hard, just a little sprinkle and I am so glad i brought my umbrella!! Our class schedule goes from 9-5 everyday with a couple of breaks and a lunch. We stayed inside our school all day because almost as soon as we got into the villa, Siena was in a downpour! And not a little light sprinkle...legit don't walk outside rain! But after class was over, Vicki and I had to walk back to our flat so we would make it to dinner later. As you may recall, our flat is about a 25 minute walk back from the school....Now since it has been raining ALL DAY the streets are pretty much flooded...Vicki wore flip flops so that really sucked for her...I thought I was smart wearing real shoes but in the end, it really didn't matter because when we got back to the flat, we were soaked all the way up to our knees!! Vicki's feet were just wet and I had puddles in my shoes. After about 2 minutes of trying to stay semi-dry, we gave up and started jumping in puddles!!! It was no use to stay dry...so we just made it fun!!

So school today....

First we had Italian deaf culture class with Rita. We didn't really talk about anything specific to deaf culture, we mostly focused and what we have noticed as far as things that are culturally different here compared with the US. Rita is really cool and she likes to play devils addvocate with us. We will bring up something that is very different in our cultures and she will make some point that will spark a heated conversation. It's really fun!!! Some of the things we talked about was the difference in the rush that America is constantly in. America is full of fast food, drive throughs, easy this, easy that, take your coffee in the car, eat on your way to work etc...here in Italy, this is unheard of! People do not take their coffee to go. There is always time to order and drink coffee. People will stand at the bar, finish thier coffee, and then continue on their way. People don't get their lunches to go and eat while doing 5 other things. In America, people will eat lunch, talk on the phone and respond to e mails all at the same time. It's very interesting. Americans will find everyway to make things faster and more convenient. Not in Itlay. Italians take the time to get done what needs to get done and are not in a rush. (for the most part mind you) The point is that America is driven by the need to work work work and make money and do it as fast as possible. Italians aren't the same way. They are more relaxed and seem more content and happy. Very interesting.

Along the same lines we discussed the differences in cars and people sharing streets, food proportions, paying more to sit and eat in some places, welfare in Italy and their universal healthcare system, taxes, fashion, drinking and smoking etc, etc.....It would take to much time to explain these in further detail so you can ask me later if you like... :)

Rita taught us all about different hand gestures that Italians use. Not as signers, but as hearing people using these gestures. Some of the gestures, however have made their way into becoming signs. For example, you could walk into almost any coffee shop and use the gesture/sign for coffee and you will get your coffee.

During our break it seems that our ritual will be to go to the bar right down the street and get a pick me up coffee. They are starting to recognize our faces so we are close to that point where they will just make our drink right away! It's fun!! Except for Errol...he seems to always get something different, for example today he changed it up a bit and ordered a rum and coke!! Ya it was about 11 in the moring...we who cares!! Get whatever you want right!! He stayed awake all day so ... good on ya, Errol!! :)

Next we had our LIS class...which is by far my favorite one. I look forward to this class everyday because it is so challenging and really fun. I enjoy having to 'throw away my ASL' as Luigi says, and figuring out what he is teaching us with the minimal LIS that I know. The whole concept of emmersion seems to really be working because I am picking up LIS quicker than I had expected. I am starting to make a video dictionary of the LIS signs we learn everyday so that I can always have that reference. Webcam is cool....HAHA anyways....in LIS we learned everything pertaining to a family tree. From mom and dad to grandma and grandpa, cousins and step brothers and sisters. The signs for all these are a bit more complicated, yet simple at the same time. The concepts of defining gender are pretty neat. If I can figure out how to upload videos to this page I will show you what I mean. He also showed us numbers 31-100 (remember we already learned 1-30). This first 30 numbers were fine...but up to one hundred...to say it lightly...SUCK!! (or if you're my mom....are not fun!! :) ) I'm not sure why but there numbers are very complicated compared to ASL. It will definately be something to practice....a ton!!

We really wanted to eat outside for lunch today since we had been couped up all day long but the rain just wouldn't let up so the 5 of us hung out in the little kitchen and talked about the day thus far. Messed around on the internet for a while, talked with the deaf kids from Gallaudet and tried to keep ourselves entertained. After 3 days of rain you kind of run out of things to do...so we all ended up back in our classroom and helped eachother with LIS. So one of the guys from DC (which is were Gallaudet is) is amazing....he is deaf and is an amazing signer. He just so fluid and animated that you really like listening, if you will, to his stories. Well he has picked up LIS so fast...and ya it may be easier for him since he is a native signer, but DANG!!! He is so good at signing with the Italians!! His name is Martin fyi cause we are gonna be hanging out later and I'm sure some story will arise!! So now lunch is over....

Finally, last class of the day is Italiano...the hardest one as you may recall. I did my homework and actually did it all right!! So that was pretty cool!!! I'm really enjoying learing Italian, even though is super hard, but the more I hear it, the more I can start to seperate words: I mean, before when I heard people talking in Italian it sounded like all one word and they when I heard more than one word, they are sounded the same!! Now I'm able to pick out words that I know!! When we were walking home I heard someone say Hello this is so and so ...nice to meet you and you are? We learned that yesterday!! I'm good....

We are learning how to congegate verbs which is funny because I thought I didn't pay attention in Spanish in high school...but somehow it is all coming back to me! I remember how to congegate and Jesse Johnson, my HS spanish teacher would be so proud!! I'm glad I remember though because it is making it, a tiny bit easier to figure out how to use verbs in Italian. Plus it helps that they are so similar anyway.

We learned a lot about introductions, formale and informale and who to use which with. So Mariarosaria (the teach) had a little sim-party!! She left for a few minutes and came back with some cups and a bottle of water, some paper an scissors. She had us 'decorate the room,' which consisted of most of us making orogamies (I don't know how to spell this) and putting them in random places around the room. Then she had us all play a role and act as if we had never met the other 4 people in the room...to practice using introductions. It was really fun. She used water because she said, yesterday she saw that their was wine in the kitchen, but today it was gone so we had to settle with water!! Haha settle with water... (there is also a bottle of Bacardi in the fridge at the school...) I actually need to go pretty soon so that I can finish up my Italian homework...cause wouldn't ya know its about 12:30 in the morning here. We stay up too late, but we did take a nap earlier when we got home from our walk in the rain!

Anyway, that was our day and we will rest up for a day of pretty much the same thing for tomorrow. CIAO!

04 June 2007

What did you say?!

Ya...that's pretty much how I have felt all day long!!!

Vic and I woke up early this morning for our first day of official class!! We were so excited and got there kind of early but we didn't really know how long it would take us to walk there. We are living in what would be the equivilant of a downtown area...near al the 'hot spots' if you will....so we take all the main streets. And let me just tell you....so we walked out of our flat this morning to the busy streets; much more busy than usual because it's monday and everyone is on their way to work. These streets and not two way highway style streets (just look at the pix) so there is room enough for one small Italian car and a few people...but there are lots of cars an tons of people!! And these cars stop for nothing!! You better get out of the way or be run over!! It's pretty crazy and I had to save Vicki's life at least 6 times before we made it to the school!! The walk up Siena to the school took us about half and hour and I was really feeling the walk from yesterday in my calves!! I felt like I had bricks for calves!! It's all this walking everywhere on stones thing! AND....you would think that since I am walking everywhere all day everyday, the food that I eat wouldn't really affect me, right?? NOT TRUE!!! After all is said and done I will be back in America weighing at least ten pound more!! But it't totally worth it!! YA!! The food is delicous!! Roberta packed us a pasta lunch and fresh cherries. BENE BENE!!!

Anyways...so we walked all the way to school which only took about half an hour, maybe less and this is pretty girly but let me just say: So Vic and I got ready as usual, curled our hair and bla bla bla...literlly, not a second later, but literaly when we stepped out side, the moisture from the air made our hair pretty much like a board!! Bummer!! It's nice but we sure did learn not to spend anymore time doing out hair...there is no use!! The weather is amazing though!! Ok, I digress...So the first day of school.......................

Italian was our first class; and first of all it's just the five of us students and the room is pretty small, only about 15 desks, which are also small. Our Italian teacher walks in and introduces herself, in Italian of course, and her name is Maria. She speaks just a hint of English but not enough to teach us Italian via English!! Ya, it was stinkin hard. We used a lot of huh, what, que, again, eh????? But when it was all said in done, somehow, and I don't know how, we understood her. We learned alot of little words in Italian...which I only remember when I refer to my notes....also learned some formalities as far as introductions. What phrases you use with what person and so on...That was all we had time for because of the language barrier and by now, my brain is on overload, partly from the language hangover!! :)

Due to the language hangover I really needed a pick me up so Vicki, Errol, Sherman (our UNM prof) and I headed down to a nearby bar...which is for coffee in Italy. Starbucks has nothing on the delicious coffee that the Italiano's brew up. None of it is flavored or has any added nonsense like the Bucks does. It's straight delicous coffee that will really kick you out of any tired funk!! So I had my fix for the day...and a yummy apple pastrey somethin somethin...LOVE IT!

Next we had LIS (Italian Sign Language). This class I was more scared of since I don't know Italian in the first place, how will I ever understand what he is saying in LIS!!! HOWEVER...LIS is so much easier to understand than Italiano!! And this is why, I think....So since I already know ASL, I can kind of gather what he is saying. If we don't undestand a word, we do a little gesture dance until it is figured out. We aren't allowed to use any ASL to clarify words. We have to figure it out and he will tell stories are add gestures till the bulb comes on!! It's really cool how it works out that way. We learned how to sign all the numbers from 1-30, which a completely different than ASL; we learned all the colors...most of which are different so some distinct differences. He would point to a color and then show us the sign...this was pretty easy as you can imagine. And by he, I am meaning our teacher, Luigi...a very neat man who knows ASL but won't let us use it!! :) But that's ok...that's the whole point of a language emmersion program, right??!!! After he showed us the signs for every object in our little room, which wasn't much at all, it's very small...he signed us a story using all the words he had just taught us. These stories actually used more classifiers than actual sings, which was the point. We then had to copy his story and sign it to someone else in the room...And he watched...He would call you out if you used any ASL!!! He is very quick to catch any non-italian sign!!!

It's so interesting to me that I can easily understand what is being said in LIS than the spoken or written Italian. Even though he is teaching us in LIS via Italian, I totally understand what he is saying. An I have found that my brain is quickly latching on to all of the signs and so far, 12 hours later...I still remember them all!!! Language is a really interesting thing.... After these two hours of LIS, I really needed a break!

We took a lunch and ate Roberta's amazing pasta creating! We sat out on the roof of the School and took in the scenery around the school! It's cool to look out around you and see nothing but lucious rolling green hills!! It's awesome...I'm never leaving...but if I do , I will for sure come back!

After lunch we had a Italian Deaf History and Culture class. The woman who teaches this is named Rita Sala. She is an Italian interpreter. She is an outstanding interpreter! She knows Italian, LIS, english and some ASL. Really awesome!! She starts talking so fast in english, that with her accent, she may as well be speaking in Italian!! This class is pretty cool so far, considering we were only in it for an hour. We realy just covered the introductions part of the class and then moved into a topic of Sign writing. This is a very complex topic that always is accompanied with a debate! It's fun though. A CODA and a girl fro Gallaudet had a little this and that spat with eachother on their views of Sign writing and argued their points with eachother. I think it really just depends. The debate was fun, I'm no gonna lie, I was pretty tired at this point so I didn't chime in . Vicky and I stil couldn't really sleep at the right times so we ended up staying up until almost three in the morning!! We weren't really tired this morning but by the end of this class, we were beat.

But that wasn't the end! O NO!!! A woman named Virginia Voltera had writtena book about LIS. She is the Dennis Coakley of LIS. (you can google that name if you don't know who he is) So she just wrote her second book and we all headed over to her book 'inaguration' if you will. The room that it was in was called the red room...but no one really knows why...the room is green. Weird. But anyway...we all sat down in the chairs and waited for it to start. Now this was a language barrier of all time!! It was really very cool to watch. The speakers only spoke Italian. So they would speak in Italiano, the interpreter would interpret the Italian into LIS, then another person, which happened to be Luigi, would 'mirror' the interpreter from the back of the room, and another person up from would interpret the LIS into ASL!! It was a feat for sure and it made my head spin!! There was no spoken english so it was kind of like playing telephone with the message...I think it came out ok though!! Me and Vicki were so tired and we had to keep poking eachother to stay awake!! I'm not entirely sure what was all talked about, I may have missed a few things, but in general, the book, it's significance, and about LIS.

When it was finally over we headed back to our flat, which fortunately was only a couple minutes away. Roberta told us that dinner was at 8:30 so we were plenty on time...it was only 7. When we got home I fell right asleep...I needed a little siesta!!! Vicki fell asleep too and we were serenaded by the loudest thunder I have ever heard!! In NM the storms will only be around for a few minutes and then they are gone, but here, it thundered and light up our room for a couple of hours!! It was amazing!! The thunder was so loud it shook the beds!! Ok, maybe not our beds, but I haven't ever heard it that loud in NM!!!

The thunder is not what woke us up however!! Roberta cam e into our rooms yelling our names! She though maybe something had happened to us because of the storm!! It was already 9 and she had gotten stuck in the storm!! We were so tired we didn't even realize how late it was!! She felt bad that she had missed dinner, but we didn't care at all...we were so tired!! She made us some pasta and pizza for dinner..yummy...and we chased it with some gelati! Which is pretty much the best ice cream of all time!! Gotta try it!

That's the sum up of the day...I'm getting a cold so I may have left out some details. I will add them later. Hope you are enjoying the blog!!

03 June 2007

A complete language Overload!!!

The morning started out pretty crazy..now when I say morning I kid you not...My body woke me up at 4 am!! I was wide awake and could not fall asleep!! It was awful so I got one of my books and went into the bathroom to read...it was the only light I could find...I finally fell asleep about 6 this moring and slept until about eleven. It was nice and think my body is finally on a 'normal' sleeping schedule. We will find out tomorrow. But this moring we were woken up be these crazy people dressed up in red and white outfits kinda like what you would were if you were on the drum line of a marching band..and they were pounding on their drums!! All morning long this happened!! We finally found out what it was later today...So this is what happens: In Siena there are 17 districts and each of them are represented by differnt animals, dragons, horses, snakes and the like. Twice a year ten of them are selected to compete in what is called the Palio...It's were each district picks one person to ride a horse, bareback, around this place that is known as the...ya I can't think of the name right now...but they race their horses around this little area in a cirlce and which ever horse crosses the finish line first wins the Palio and all the 'rights' as it were!! I don't know too much about it yet, but I plan on attending it on July 2 so I will wright more about it later! But it seems crazy enough!!! So Vicki and I went into the kitchen for breakfast this morning to find a table full of everything you could ever want for breakfast that your mom would never let you eat! Roberta had made more crepe's, which I was not opposed to because I can't turn down a delicious meal of chocolate goodness...coco puffs, what looked like cookies but were breakfast style treats and whole milk!!! Nothing expect for the red orange juice was actually good for us, and even then it probably had a lot of added sugar!!! Roberta had to leave early this morning so she was gone when we woke up. She was so nice and packed us a yummy lunch of rice and veggies, fresh picked cherries and peach juice. This juice was serious. It tasted like I had poked a straw into a pear and just started drinking!! It was pretty intense and I couldn't really finish it... But it was tastey anyway! So while we were getting ready this morning, me blow drying my and hair and vicki in the shower, all the power in the house went off!! I had no idea what had happened and I just figure that I blew the fuse with my ghetto hair dryer plug adapter...Vicki came out of the shower covered in suds...cause the shower is apparently connected with the electricity!!! So the two of us were alone in a house we haven't even been in for 24 hours with suds and crazy hair trying to find our way to the front door!! What a silly sight that must have been!! So I finally found to fuse box, which was right by the front door and switched over the fuse back to on!! Good thing my dad had taught me that long ago for all those times the power went off!! I pretty much saved to day!!! :) We were finally ready to go and decided to leave Roberta a note in our chicken scratch Italian...it seemed to work because she wrote us back when we arrived home tonight...We are so good!! After about 2 minutes of trying to figure out how to open the door and lock it behind us so we could leave...we made our way into the busy streets of Siena! It was a lot less busy than yesterday, but then again it is Sunday...we were kind of turned around but we just kept walking straight trying to find to school...Luckily we ran into one of the guys who is in the program with us so we hung out with him for a while. His name is Errol just in case I choice to reference him in a story later..which I probably will... Before I go on...Vic and I had made it about 5 minutes away from our flat when it started to rain!! Ya it's kind of like New Mexico, didn't look like it was going to rain until we left then the clouds moved in. So we had to walk/speed walk/run back to our flat and grab an umbrella. Made for a nice little detour, but now we know most of the reference points along the road near our flat so hopefully we won't get to lost again... Anyways, so we had a meeting at our school today at 3...kind of like an orientation of the who what where when and why's for the next three weeks. It was awesome and I'm a little freaked out right about now. The courses are going to be pretty intense since we only have three weeks. We will be learning Italian, Italian Sign (LIS), LIS history and culture as well as Italian culture, some cooking lessons (HAHA mom really funny huh??!!), and taking weekend tours to differnt cities nearby. Don't ge me wrong, I'm stoked!!! Just a little nervous because that is a lot to learn in such a short time!! But I'm so excited to get started!! We met the people in our group...which consists of me, Vicki, Errol, Shelley, and Scottie. There aren't very many because we are the pilot group..the future of LIS and American exchange!! I think we will all do pretty well though. So after we had our little meeting we took a tour of Siena...which I have seen most of thus far since Vic and I came a day early. After the de ja vu tour, we met up with the group of students from Gallaudet...the only Deaf University in the World...They are doing a program that is along the same lines as ours, but different in the respect that they are deaf. Their classes take place at a different school than our which is called the Villa. There are about 10 or so of them and they are all so awesome!! We meet up with them at the Campo..which is were the palio is...and chatted with them for quite some time. After the entire meet and greet process we made our way back around to the school which took forever!! Why? Well if you can imagine a group of people who's only source of communication is sign...it's kind of hard to sign and walk around the narrow streets of Siena at the same time!! The people who drive on the street don't care about the pedestrians!!! They just assume you will move, and if you don't.... o wel!!! You just have to dart out of the way! So this is where my language overload began. I haven't been around sign in almost a month, since school has been out. So I haven't signed in a while, not really rusty but not prepared to be signing for the next 8 hours non stop...and that wasn't all! When we finally made it back to the Siena School, I had meet at least 8 of the people and talked with each of them...I was able to get to know them because on our way to the school our entire enterouge of people would walk a bit, stop to talke more clearly, then move on again. More than once our huge group was seperated because we all had to stop and talk all the time!! But it was a real experience!! Now we are back at the school because the deaf students haven't had a chance to check it out yet. We were not there very long, just a moment to get a drink and head back out into the streets. We were on our way to a little shanty to have drinks. I thought that we were having drinks with the group we were currently with, but I was wrong!! It took us a while to get to the location...same reasons as before...but we finally made it!! It was a really nice hotel that our instructor from America was staying at. When we walked up to the front door, there was another group, twice as big as ours, standing infront of the entrance signing away!! I had no idea that we were meeting up with some of the native Italian deaf people!! This is were is got really complicated!! I know English and ASL...now I had to figure out what the Italian people were first of all saying in Italian as well as in LIS!!! O man if that doesn't drain you I don't know what will!! The experience was awesome and extremely challenging. All of the dead Italians, mostly older adults, talked with us...we played of game of sherades (i don't know how to spell that). I would sign a word they didn't know and had to explain it to the person...they finally would figure out what I was trying to say and they would show me the sign in Italian!! And vise versa. Can you see the language overload!! O MAN!!! When someone got up to speak, there was someone talking in Italian, someone interpreting the Italian in LIS...another person iterpreting LIS into English sign...and anothe person interpreting from English into ASL....A mad amount of language going on here! But it was truly amazing!!! So we had drinks at this hotel and hung around for a while talking with all the deaf people from ITaly...it was a blasty. After drinks we headed back down to the Campo for dinner..which wasn't until almost 8:30...Italians eat pretty late I guess. I had my first real Italian pizza...which was quite tasty, ate the rest of Vicki's pasta and had about 5 glasses of wine!! But here at sea level it doesn't have the same effect as in the states so don't be worried!! I can't wait until tomorrow whe we get to start the real stuff..learning LIS and Italian...it's gonna be hard but in the end...amazing... I'm pretty tire from all the walking around so I am going to go to bed...it's almost one in the morning here. Hope you are all enjoying the tales of Siena and livin it up for me in the states!! CIAO BELA!

02 June 2007

Siena, ITALY!!!

What started to be a perfectly planned trip with no flaws....because of course I did the planning and knew exactly what would happen: the who, what, where, when and why's of everything; quickly turned into almost, but not quite, a bit of a dissaster!

To start things off righ, Vicki, the girl I'm with, didn't get her passport until, and I kid you not, TWENTY minutes before our flight took off!! For about two days I had prepared for going all by my lonesome to Rome and do my best to avoid the gypsies who my dad warned me would steal all I had!! Vicki actually chased around the mail deliverer lady and got her passport from her truck! Crazy right? Who chases around a mail lady!! It was worth it though, and Vicki and her mom showed up at the gate no more than twenty minutos before we started to board. A huge sigh of relief for both of our families!

So once on the plane, we walked all the way to pretty much the very back, since we were in coach, found our seats and couldn't wait to be served dinner...we hadn't eaten all day due to nerves and some dismay. To add to my hunger pangs...my sister and mom had convinced me to stay up the entire night before so that I would be SO TIRED, I would fall asleep on the plane all those 7 hours. So I did...stayed up the whole night and got to the airport dog tired! Finally, after eating some sort of mushy potato junk and what appeared to be meat and veggies...I found a good movie to watch and tried to fall asleep. BUT NO!! My body was not ready for sleep and wouldn't be for what ended up being 20 hours later!! But here is the best part of the airplane story:

Ok, so we are sitting on the left side of the plane in the two seater side by the window. In the middle of the plane are rows of 5 and then the other two seaters on the right. I'm near the window and Vicki is on the isle...and this big black dude is in the middle of the 5 seaters in the middle-ish. I nudged Vicki and told her, hey, that guy keeps looking back at us...what the heck. AND NO JOKE..this guy literally is looking over his shoulder every ten seconds or so...and no I'm not racist, but it was dark and I know he was looking because you could see his eyes..just a fun fact for ya!! ;) So this little shinanigan went on the entire flight to London...and about thirty minutes before we landed a little note was passed onto me and Vic, and this is what it said:

To hot girl in seat 41A

Hey how you doing? You enjoying the flight? I couldn't help but notice you and I think your so hot. (he doesn't know how to spell the right your: it's you're!) So hot that my neck is hurting from turning around so much.
Well if your (again with the you're!) gonna be in London for a while I was hoping I could meet up with you? From seat 39 E (which actually wasn't the seat he was sitting in)

PS If you wanna meet up I'll give you half of my number now and half when you reply on the reverse of this sheet. (which is an index card)

I'm british if you didn't already know.

Ok, so first of all, why would I know he was british?? There are black dudes in America too ya know!! I just thought that was funny! So after some debate about what we should wright back, I thought it would be fun to first of all, say no, but in an awkward, yet funny to us kind of way! So this is what Vicki and I thought up of and wrote back to him:

Flattered, yes, that's very sweet and you made my morning! however, my partner and I are on our way to Siena and are catching a plane to Rome as soon as we get off the plane.

We're American if you didn't notice..

HAHAHA!!! I know it wasn't very nice to lie, but we didn't really want him to follow us around the airport, hang out with us and what not....we were kinda stressed and really tired!! ( we're not really lesbians, it was a deterring kind of joke!) So basically we made him feel awkward..mission accomplished...and he said thanks for letting him know and hoped we enjoyed our trip ( and to shoot him an e mail maybe some day). Ah our first awesome story about Italy!!

So finally we show up to London, ready to board our plane to ROMA!! But wouldn't ya know, we ran into a bit of a problem...the little crew workers decided to have a dispute...we go up to the Alitalia airline to find out the issue of getting to Roma, and there was a sign the said our flight was cancelled, along with a few others, due to crew dispute!! WHAT! Ya, it's true, strikes in Europe happen all the time apparently. It turned ourt ok anyway and the lady at the desk gave us 5 pounds for lunch and we waited almost three hours in London for another plane. We didn't know where exactly we were supposed to go, they hadn't found a gate yet, so we plopped ourselves down on a bench in the middle of London's international airport and waited for the screen to tell us where to go. I fell asleep for who knows how long and when I woke up, the screen still said: please wait. It wasn't until almost 30 minutes before our planed was schedule to take off that we found our gate, boarded and finally left for Roma!! The plane sucked too...we both fell asleep in the most uncomfortable seats and woke up with our necks stiff and still tired. We had plans to stay in Rome that night but decided to just make it all the way to Siena.

We didn't know where the termini was, so we walked what ended up being extremely out of our way and finally found it! We bought a train ticket to Siena and hopped on board. We sat in a little 'room' on the train and shoved all our junk into two seats and us in another two seats. We have far too much stuff with us! But we learned our lesson! After about 45 minutes, we came to the next train station and had to change trains. Which, as you may have guessed...for a lack of better words...sucked!! Not only because we had two bags each, but also because for some reason no one really wanted to help us cause we were silly american girls who brought too much stuff!! We literally drug our junk off the train and found ourselves in the middle of the Rome train station...a place that cannot be described other than caos. Massive amount of people moving around and the two of us standing in shock not knowing were to go! It took us about half an hour to find someone who spoke enough english to help us find out which train to take. Good thing we did too; we found it in the nick of time and sat in the first car we got in...bags and all and I closed my eyes...maybe I could catch a couple of z's on our 3 hour trek to Siena.

A couple minutes later, I was woken up from my not so deep sleep to the train guy asking us for our tickets. We gave them to him and he gave us some bad news: We had to move to the next car because this was first class!!! OO!!! We were not really mad because no one else was in first class so we weren't stealing seats and it really wasn't that nice anyways, but I really didn't want to haul all my junk around!! It was hard enough to get on the train..ugh...but he wouldn't budge and we had to move cars.

We finally got to the next car, which wasn't far but took forever to move our fortress of stuff. When the train stopped, we were both asleep and thought we had missed our stop! But luckily a man next to us read our ticket and said we had to get off on the next one; which was good because it gave us time to get our stuff ready. :) This guy was so cool, I don't remember his name, but him and his family were from South Africa and were touring Italy, on their way to Siena. He also helped us get off the train so that was nice!! Before we got off at our stop, we met another guy who was from Conneticut, his name is Cameron, and on his way to Siena to meet up with his buddy. We got off at our next stop and followed our new found friends to the other side of the tracks...down the stairs, under the tracks and back up to the other side.

Two second later, we were told that the train we needed to catch was actually on the OTHER SIDE we had just came from!! So we had to haul our stuff all the way back to the other side!! WHY!!! But good thing we had found these awesome African people or we would have been stuck in some random city in Italy...

FINALLY!!! We made it to Siena!! It was really late and kinda cold, my hoodie was packed somewhere in the depths of my bag...Cameron was nice enough to tell us about the hotel he an his buddy, Andrew, were staying at. It was about midnight so we would have the best luck trying to get into that one than any other so we split a taxi and headed off to the Hostel. And by the way, Italians have no speed limits...This taxi driver was going so fast and these little tiny roads...and it wasn't just because he was a taxi driver...they all drive like this!! So anyways, we show up at this hostel at almost midnight and convinced the manager to please let us poor girls stay here!! She was so helpful and really nice. She put us up in a room they don't usually rent out and we crashed the second we hit the pillow...at this point I had been awake for nearly 50 hours!

When I woke up this morning at about ten, I was a bit disoriented...I forgot were I was, but as soon as I looked out the window...I immediately knew! Out my window was the picture perfect green rolling hills of SIENA!! We were so stoked to finally be here after all the months of anticipation! We took showers, ate a meal of bread and jelly, yummy OJ and headed out to look around. It was really one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! Italy is breathtaking!! I am surrounded, even at this moment, by endless hills of bright green grass, colorful flowers, skies that are filled with rain clouds...warm, but cool with the breeze...and indescribable beauty. It is just like every picture you have ever seen. Breathtaking beauty...just check out the pictures!!

So we made it into the actually city of Siena, which is referred to as "The Centre" and came up to our new school for the next three weeks. It isn't a very big school...looks like someone's house that is a school. And by house I mean a four huge building that looks like a something from the Fresh Prince street...about four stories high and right in the middle of the town. It's only about a 5 minute walk to the main area people seem to congregate. That's all I know of it so far since we did not stay very long.

Two people from the school, who both know English, ASL, Italian and LIS...an amazing task...took us out for lunch. Vic and I were stoked since we haven't had a real meal in about 3 days. We came up to this little bar, which is a coffee/sandwich joint, and ordered a sandwich, which wasn't what we thought it would be. It ended up being a huge chunk of break with a paper thin piece of meat in it! It was really weird, not very filling, but a good tie until we had dinner. While we were still there, I ordered a coffee....now when I think coffee, I'm thinkin I will get a descent size cup of delicious coffee that I can take while I walk around. NO! This cup of coffee was the size of a child's tea cup with a small amout of espresso, I added about a tablespoon or so of milk and that was it! Really weird, tastey, but weird. I asked the two people we were with, who btw are deaf, if we could take the coffee with us (this was before I ordered my child size coffee) and they looked at me like I was crazy!! NO NO!!! You don't take your coffee with you out of the shop!! People just don't do that!! If you want to sit down to eat, you have to pay more than you would if you just stayed standing up...so we ate our sandwich and drank our coffee standing inside the shop! Crazyness!

Up till now, it has been raining all day long so we didn't get a chance to really look around. It stopped raining when our host mother came to pick us up at the school...SHE IS AWESOME!! Roberta is super nice, chatty and very bubbly! She gave us a map of how to get to her house (because we will walk to school everyday), took us about 1/4 of the way, and then said I will see you at home! She wanted us to make sure we could figure out how to get there! She took our bags in her tiny little car and sent us on our way...We did ok for a while but the streets are hard to follow! I will write more about the streets later when I get a real good chance to look at them.

We found our new home for the next few weeks and it is so cute!! Roberta made us an amazing dinner of pasta, salad, turkey and dessert!! I was in heaven because this is legit Italian food! And there was alot of it!! Good for me since I eat so much! She thought I was crazy when I asked for my third helping..but I was super hungry!!! Anyway, I will be going to bed pretty soon...I'm so tired from the past three days of going non stop around the world! CIAO!!!