Friday, June 8, 2012

This one will be my last Rome post. I'll cover Ponza, the trip back, and what's it like being back in the states.

So first off: Ponza

Ponza was incredible.

"According to Wikipedia: Ponza (Italian: Isola Di Ponza) is the largest of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region.

The island was inhabited from neolithic through Roman times. According to local legends, Ponza was named after Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea who tried Jesus of Nazareth for heresy.

Ponza is also suspected to be the island of Aeaea in Homer's Odyssey, as the island of the Circe the sorceress, where her cave or grotto was. Today it is known as Grotta della Maga Circe on the west side of the island, between Capo Bianco and Chaia di Luna beach. She was said to have lived in this cave in the Winter months. Spending the Summer atop nearby Mount Circe on the Mainland of Italy. This is where the Circe turned Odysseus men into animals and cast her spell on and seduced him and lived with him for a over a year."

My pictures tell a far better story than my words can. I had to make a split choice between heading to Venice with the DIGM crew, a place I also wanted to see, or this island that Jeremy hadn't visited, and had little idea of what to expect. He told us this up front; it could be a blast, or it could suck.

We had scooters, a great hotel, and crystal clear water for three days, with good people.

After that, we only had around a week before I was back on the plane to the States.

The plane ride was a rough one, personally on the sleep cycle but also because of mixed feelings about returning. I wanted to get back; I was tired, I was ready for my usual routine, and I missed my family and friends. But the trip gave me so much, exceeding my expectations in every single way. Nothing problematic happened that I wasn't able to handle quickly, nothing kept us from absorbing Roman history and the Italian culture. Our misteps and mistakes, we just laughed off. The trip was a great equalizer. We were all fish out of water, and that's part of what made the trip as amazing as it was.

Someone on the trip brought up that it's hard to really convey the experience we had to people back home who weren't there. It is. Without the frame of knowing the people, the sights and sounds and smells of The Eternal City, your story is little different than one told here. But that really makes the group more essential to us; 25 or so people spent three weeks together, mostly unknown to each other off the plane. But I speak for everyone I can think of when I say that this often wildly different group of people stepped outside of their comfort zones and took care of each other the whole way.

Not to mention the sheer amount of things we saw and learned; I feel like a fool when people ask me to list the places we visited. It was facinating, but a total sensory overload. I never know where to start. Anyone who has the chance to study abroad, no matter how brief, do it. You can read my words, but you have to see what I saw.


- L

Friday, June 1, 2012

Third Blog
What a crazy trip this has been! Rome leaves an overwhelming impression on your mind, body and soul. I miss a bunch of things from home, people, etc. Especially music! The connection here is terrible when we even have it, which is why my blogs and pictures come back in so slow. We’ve been competing to find the fastest routes in Rome, frequenting a 24 hour shop that only opened up a month ago (shop owner’s name is Luigi, how cool is that?) and we give him the best business he’s ever had. Apparently his step-daughter remembers me vividly. Those overwhelming impressions go both ways, you know.
 These are some of the most awesome classmates I’ve had in a class in general, let alone one that took me to Rome. Unfortunately we lost a roommate before the trip was even over, he hitched a flight back (pretty uncommon). Before I cover the trip in more detail, some quick studies:
Edit: We only have two more days before we leave. I’ll try and get them done quick

Briana Morris: Digital Media
Photographer, Artist, Hard Rocker
This girl puts up with a lot on this trip. She has to deal with me, Greg and Jenny way more than she should, and her feet have been her mortal enemy the entire trip. She’s my NSAC buddy so that basically makes us war buddies. We’ve seen some stuff before we came here, she’s got my back. And she’s stuck with me on the plane back, too. 

Jenny Hammond: Digital Media
Amateur Snarkist, Italian-Marrier, Pulitzer-Prize winner

This one has a dynamite blog where she delivers sharp words with flavor. In her free time she likes to give Greg and me a hard time (wish it wasn’t so easy). She found a security guard husband or something like that; I don’t know (“It was so unexpected!”).  Don’t see how she’s gonna get him through customs though. She likes dirty jokes and she’s “down to facebook” as they say. Also thinks that finger moustaches are funny. But at least she’s got that sarcasm down! She’s a catch, that one.

Greg Folta: Digital Media
Model, Star Wars fan, Always goes too far 
Greg’s the only digital media man in the apartment besides me, so we both keep it nice and nerdy. He likes to go out with us and put our dancing to shame. He kills it. He’s one of the few I can get my Star Wars on with and he likes to “Greg” it on the regular. This term has multiple uses.

Like I said, got a couple more blogs after this. Rest assured, I’ve had the time of my life here. See you stateside soon.

-          L

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Compound blog – Days 1-3 in Rome

As I write this it’s 11:37 here and 5:37 back home. I have had a killer time down here and we pack every minute into the day that we can. Hardly a moment goes by (unless we’re eating) when we aren’t on our feet finding another monument or church to check out for photos. This is why I haven’t had the time to sit down and write like I wish I could have.

So I’ll probably leave something out, but hopefully I’ll think of everything. In the present, my feet are sore, I may be getting a little more tan, and I can’t tell if the jet lag is over or not, but I’ve never seen a place that brings a feeling to me like this one. 

The people seem less diverse (on the surface, don’t read into that too hard) than back home. They’re almost exactly what our instructors and guides told us they’d be: prideful, easy to annoy and just as easy to turn around and laugh at something else. Many send intense, irritated or untrusting faces your way. With that in mind, they can surprise you too by being witty, engaging and eager to help if you do by chance speak to one. I know only a handful of words in Italian. I try to avoid this whenever possible; I feel like I might make them intense, irritated or untrusting. I kid.

Of course you see many people earning change on the street by playing instruments and the like. Some are just begging. Some understand English well enough to give great instructions. Some just look at us funny. Middle-Easterners will try to sell you either a shawl (spelling?), laser pointers or other toys. Sarah, Michael, Zach and I spent a night messing with those guys, most fun I’ve ever had. We spoke to them in made-up languages and one guy actually saw how little euro I offered and gave me some money to go away. First time I've been considered a hobo. I used it to buy something else off his friend. Least I could do. 

Backing up, Briana and I had a mixed-experience flight(s). Tri-Cities put us on a grunge plane to Charlotte, a short 20 minuteish flight. We really didn’t do anything besides become reacquainted with that roller coaster feeling in your stomach when you drop altitude. Spent a little too much time in the Charlotte airport after that; the Mexican was great though (Chihuahua cheese? They grind up little dogs I guess).
The big flight, the 8 hour one over the Atlantic was pretty calm and quiet. I got the privilege of sitting in the window seat, Briana got the privilege of sitting next to me and getting awkward up-close time whenever I had to get up to use the bathroom. Don’t ever pee when there’s turbulence by the way, you’ll hit your head. More than once. 

The food was what you expect, coulda been worse. Briana said it was like prison food but the prison pasta wasn’t so bad. They’ve come a long way on in-flight movies too. Saw “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” which was “meh” but after that I caught “Chronicle”.
Let me stop right here for a minute. Chronicle is intense.
Shaky-cam films bring mixed reactions from people nowadays, but it’s a character-driven and highly rewarding film that hits its last 30 minutes and just pours it on. Ignore the haters.

We got only a little sleep; Briana more than I. Keeping awake did afford me catching some pretty crazy night views over the Atlantic. The pictures describe it better than I could in words.
The airport at Rome was hectic to say the least. We had sat pretty close to two of our classmates without realizing it until sometime in the flight, one of which had her luggage in the wrong area. So that was probably the longest 30 minutes of her life.
Fortunately Jeremy was right there to greet us when we finally made it to the exit doors. Getting a taxi at that airport wasn’t exactly simple in that chaos. Briana got to take one earlier with a little more room to breathe. Thought I might not see her again. Luckily we found a taxi/bus hybrid that was packed (really) full of kids I’d never met before, so we sort of shook hands in the space we had in the back.

And a word on the taxi drivers in Roma, and drivers here in general: they’re nuts. They make a case to do arrest-worthy maneuvers 40 times every time you get in one, but they’ve got it down to a science. Honestly riding with them is awesome at this point. Traffic and parking are most unpredictable things here; people get tickets for minor infractions while bigger offenders go unpunished. It boggles the mind. 

Also, lotta scooters and bikes. I will have one, one day.
This has taken me so long to write, because I haven’t had hardly any sit-down time, so right now it’s really day 5, but I’ll try to condense it down.

Our apartment in the trastevere is a mix of new and old. Overall it’s pretty sweet, cept for the showers. Scalding hot or frigid cold. 

We’ve been to too many places for me to remember off the top of my head, but off the bat, the Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, the outside of the Colosseum, the Trevi fountain (personal favorite), Fontana della Barcaccia, the fountain of the four rivers in Piazza Navona, The Statue of Giordano Bruno, Santa Maria del Popolo, and St.Peter’s Square. Pics on facebook tell a better story though.   

Last night would have been our first taste of the nightlife, and we found it surprisingly accessible. Some other Americans out gave us a bad name though. Even their own kind couldn’t stand them. The wine is excellent, what we’ve had of it. One bar owner loved us for some reason. We made his night. Maybe it was just our tabs. 

From now on, my theme will try to aim more towards capturing artists of all sorts, visual, musicians, etc. so be on the lookout for those.

Miss you guys back home, and wish you could have tagged along!
--   L

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sometimes I feel like the least-techie digital media kid on the planet.

I didn't even have a blog until now, so now maybe that void in my life will be filled! Or maybe it will become an intervention-worthy addiction. Can never have enough addictions (that sounds bad). At least I finally got around to setting this one up; my modus operandi is procrastination of the highest order and I still managed to catch an awesome Megadeth concert a few days ago. Not a bad way to spend your final days in the States.

But I do love writing, and I don't do it nearly enough, so this shouldn't be hard. This is part of my grade, so listen and listen good (and thanks, too.) I only have a day in between departing the states for Italy, and I already can't wait to see how the documentary will turn out. Had to get some vaccinations today for it (whooping cough?) and the nurse gave me her card and told me to call her back when it's done so she can see it (if Ms. Bina Phipps, R.N., BSN is excited for it, you should be too.)

The longest I've ever been outside the U.S. was a cruise to the Bahamas, so this feels like the big time. Anyway, more to come, check in from time to time, and I'll try to get some photos up when I can. And prayers on the plane trip over and back are appreciated; I may have to climb on the wing and fix something over the Atlantic.

Buon compleanno!
- Logan