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Positives and negatives

By Laura Hough

Despite Italy being a Western European country, there are some differences that seem pretty strange when you first arrive. A few examples:

  • Energy (electricity) in Italy is much more expensive, so they don’t use as much here. That means only keeping the heat in your apartment on for about seven hours a day. This makes your apartment pretty chilly.
  • Most Italians also don’t have dryers, because of the energy cost. My jeans took a week to dry in the chilly damp weather. That was a little bit of a setback for me.
  • Pizza is everywhere here. It’s acceptable to grab some “al taglio” (by the slice) or “da porta via” (literally, ‘to take to the street’) at lunch, dinner or anytime in between. Pizza is usually eaten with a fork and knife though, especially at dinner.
  • Italians eat late, by American standards. Most places don’t open for dinner until 7:30 p.m., and don’t get busy ’til 8:30 p.m.
  • Italians have excellent coffee  I mean way better than Starbucks coffee. But be careful when you’re ordering  “un café” will get you a shot of espresso, not a cup of coffee. “Un caffe americano” is a little closer  it’s basically watered down espresso, which is more like a cup of joe from Starbucks. But don’t order “un latte” unless you enjoy drinking warm milk!

Most of the differences are small, but they start to add up, especially when you add the language barrier. I’m really glad I knew some Italian coming in, because otherwise it might have been too overwhelming, instead of a (mostly) interesting challenge. It’s handy to know some food words, like when you’re at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant. And just about the time you think you’re getting the language, someone speaks really quickly and you don’t catch any of it.

It gets a little frustrating. The best way to look at it, I’ve decided, is to concentrate on why I decided to come — to experience a new culture and learn the language. If everything here was the same as it was back home, then studying abroad wouldn’t really have a point, would it? Staying positive is difficult when you just want to microwave the tea, instead of boiling the water on the stove and waiting and waiting for it to get hot enough, or you just want some French onion dip to go with your chips. It’s even more difficult when people around you insist on being negative about the differences.

It’s definitely up to you, though. I have had to make a conscous decision and effort to embrace the differences, and take them as adventures, not awful experiences. Those are the reasons I came, after all. I think this attitude will get me a lot further and give me better experiences than being angry. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Ciao, ciao from Perugia!

Bratwurst or Bratwurst?

By: Jantsen McBride

Hello again!I thought I would take a quick couple of minutes to share some of the other pictures I took whilst in Berlin this last week.  I still can’t believe all of the wonderful places I have been able to visit.  A big shout out to my parents and family for allowing me t have such a special opportunity.  I love you all dearly, and mom if you are reading this love up on little Maxster for me! He needs some TLC after his little doctor’s visit.  Also, tell Papa that I can’t wait to see him at Christmas and to get well soon!Lots of love,Jantsen

The Christmas Markets in Berlin were absolutely wonderful! The Germans go all out for this holiday!

The Christmas Markets in Berlin were absolutely wonderful! The Germans go all out for this holiday!

The Charlottenburg Palace! The only picture I could get of it was a crappy one on the guided tour bus.

Typica picture with Santa...

Typical picture with Santa…

Christmas decorations were everywhere around the city.

Christmas decorations were everywhere around the city.

One of the menus at the shops.  I did a lot of pointing and mispronouncing words.

One of the menus at the shops. I did a lot of pointing and mispronouncing words.

This Christmas tree was the biggest I have ever seen! It reached 3 floors!

SFood dairying some more bratwursts.... this time with French fries!

SFood dairying some more bratwursts…. this time with French fries!

Some of the breathtaking architecture in Berlin

Some of the breathtaking architecture in Berlin

The Sony center.

The Sony center.

Oh just scoping out the German countryside...or taking a picture with a fake background...your pick.

Oh just scoping out the German countryside…or taking a picture with a fake background…your pick.

This was a memorial for the Roma and Sinti murder victims during World War II.

This was a memorial for the Roma and Sinti murder victims during World War II.

A mystical Christmas scene in the mall.

A mystical Christmas scene in the mall.

A Berlin Wall exploration station

A Berlin Wall exploration station

One of the beautiful statues Marley and I saw walking through the park.

One of the beautiful statues Marley and I saw walking through the park.

 

Dublin, Ireland: I see you…

By Jantsen McBride

Here are the pictures that I promised from my weekend trip to Dublin, Ireland! Enjoy!

With Love,

Jantsen

This is the foyer of the ferry we took from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin, Ireland.

This is the foyer of the ferry we took from Holyhead, Wales, to Dublin, Ireland.

Our bed and breakfast at the Dergvale Hotel.  What a lovely place to stay in Dublin!

Our bed and breakfast at the Dergvale Hotel. What a lovely place to stay in Dublin!

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Lindsay and I in front of Trinity College’s main campus. Trinity college houses the Book of Kells. This book is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It was created by Celtic monks around 800 ca.

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The church down the street from our hotel. All of the architecture in Dublin is amazing!

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We saw an early Christmas parade! Nothing gets you in the holiday mood better than a few Santas dressed up in Ireland!

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Lindsay and I sightseeing in Dublin

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Some of the historic buildings in Dublin.

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The sightseeing bus we took around the city. The hop on/hop off feature was such a great idea! Get off the bus and see the main sites and hop back on with guided audio.

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The park across the street from Oscar Wilde’s historic home in Dublin.

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The statue in the park commemorating Oscar Wilde – the famous author and poet. He is one of my favorites!

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Downtown Dublin

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1191. The inside and outside are equally beautiful. Full worship services are available and the church also has a connecting primary school.

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The altar of St. Patrick’s

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More of St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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The stained glass windows let a bit of light into the otherwise dark cathedral.

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The stained glass close up

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The outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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The dogwood tree in front of the church was just gorgeous!

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The famous Guinness gate where all of the commercials are filmed!

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Outside of the Guinness factory and storehouse. Ireland is known for this dark beer that was created by accident! A couple pieces of Barley fell into the original brewing of a beer and was sold for half price. Customers liked it so much that the brand became what it is today!

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Outside of Kilmainham Gaol

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The eyehole to one of the prison cells

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The Victorian Wing has been the site of many movies that include: “The Italian Job,” “In the Name of the Father,” “Michael Collins,” “The Escapist” and “The Adventures of the Young Indiana Jones.” U2’s music video for “A Celebration” was also filmed in Kilmainham Gaol.

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When building the prison, officials believed that by having a sky roof, the light of God would shine down upon the prisoners and clean their dirty souls.

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A typical cell in the Irish prison. The idea of solitary confinement was practiced heavily when the jail first opened its’ doors in 1796. But during the Great Famine the prison became overcrowded due to theft and petty crimes. Men, women and children were incarcerated up to 5 in each cell, with only a single candle for light and heat, most of their time was spent in the cold and dark. The candle had to last the prisoner for two weeks.

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During the Irish Revolution in the early 1900s, many people were fighting for Irish independence. Those activist were thrown into jail and killed outside on this terrace.

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Outside of the English pub we ate at for lunch. The Ireland vs. Argentina rugby match was on television and all of the bars/pubs were packed!

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This is a picture of the exercise yard. Prisoners would get one hour of exercise a day. The exercise consisted of walking in a circle around the premise with their heads down. The other 23 hours of a prisoner’s day were spent in the cell.

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My artsy photo of looking into the prison cell

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Classic English flats. So cute!

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Military base in Dublin

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Socialist party protest downtown

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St Mary’s Chapel of Ease – also known as “The Black Church.” This nickname comes from how the limestone turns a dark shade when wet. Local legend says that if you walk anti-clockwise around the church three times at midnight, you will summon the devil. Count me out!

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The outside of our ferry, “The Dublin Swift.”

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Lindsay with the shopping bags. Did a little bit of damage while Christmas shopping.