Friday, September 26, 2008

IKEA Adventures, and then Some

September 24, 2008

Ciao from Lucca! Since ILP is over and university doesn't start til Monday, we have a 4-day weekend, which I decided to spend at home (read: Lucca). Thursday I'm going to do a day trip to Siena since it's closer to Lucca than to Padova, and then Friday evening Carly is coming to visit til Sunday, so it should be a nice time : )
My oral final for ILP Monday actually wasn't too bad. She basically just asked me some questions about my weekend, our visit to the Palazzo del Bo', and had me tell her about something culturally significant in Padova. It was more like a conversation than an interrogation, so that was a relief. The grammar part of it was a complete joke though. You pulled a scrap of paper from a jar which had two grammar fill-in-the-blank questions. Mine were easy, but I accidentally conjugated one verb in the gerundio even though I meant to do it in the participio presente. Luckily I caught my mistake and fixed it, and I'm pretty sure she knew that I knew it, and it was just an error of overlooking. So now I just have to wait and see how my grade turns out. I should get at least a B I think, which is fine because I just really don't want to take that Italian Grammar and Culture class at the Study Center (it's required if you get a B- or lower in ILP).
Afterword Carly and I decided to try out the mensa in centro since we were already there. Some Italians had told us it was the "best" mensa, so we were eager to see if this was true. Unfortunately, it was pretty much the same as the others, and I ended up with pasta, as usual. After lunch we were going to just head home, but on the way we passed by a piercing and tattoo shop. Gabi and Justine had been wanting ear piercings for a while, and we had thought about doing them that afternoon, so I figured since I was already there, we might as well do them then. So I called them up and waited for them to meet me there while Carly just headed back. The shop was clean and professional, and the piercer was nice. Gabi wanted her second holes on her lobes done, and Justine wanted her tragus pierced. Since I don't really have anything left to pierce, it was fun to kind of "live through their experiences". Plus, I could give them some tips about jewelry, cleaning, etc. Actually it was a good thing I was there because he was going to use this huge ring for Justine, which was all wrong, it would have got caught on everything, so I had him use a much smaller hoop instead which both looked better and would also be safer and more practical. It was a fun experience though, and made me want to get something done myself. In fact, I'm thinking of gauging (making the hole bigger) one of my second holes when I get back to the States, because gauging is something I've never done!
After that I went home and took a much needed nap. I had been needing to go to IKEA and get some things for my room for a while, so Gabi, Justine, and I decided to make use of our free afternoon and evening and make a trip there. It's relatively easy to get to by bus, but you do have to walk along the freeway from the bus stop to get there. And let me tell you this IKEA is absolutely enormous! Thank goodness Gabi and Justine had been there before and knew where things were otherwise it would have taken us forever. I got some really good, cheap things, including: this amazing black and white spiral and polka dot patterned duvet cover, a turquoise sheet to go underneath and add a splash of color, these great decorative pillows to match the duvet (one black, one black w/ white polka dots), a black fleece blanket, more clothes hangers, a closet shelf organizer to give me more room in my tiny closet, a trio of linen scented candles, and a succulent little plant! So now that my room is finally "decorated" I can post pics of what it looks like! Overall I think I did very well at IKEA : )

view outside my window

And here the adventure ensued. We spent a lot more time at IKEA than we had anticipated, so it was pretty late and already dark out when we left. When we got to the bus stop, we checked the times for the bus we needed and were pleased to see it would be there in about 20 minutes. It was pretty cold out and none of us had eaten since lunch (it was like 8:30pm at that point) so we were pretty eager to get home. Finally we saw our bus, but as it approached our stop it wasn't slowing down, so we got up and waved our arms at it, only to see the driver of the empty bus shake his finger "no" at us as the bus passed us. Baffled, we guessed that maybe it was just out of service and another one would be covering it's route for it. So we waited a while longer, growing colder and hungrier. Then we saw another bus coming, but it was the wrong number, so we ignored it. And we waited some more. Growing impatient, Gabi checked the timetable again. It turns out we missed the fineprint associated with our bus' route at night....the bus we had ignored actually takes over the route of the bus we had been waiting for all that time! And the next one wasn't coming for another hour! We decide waiting until 10pm was not an option, so we called Maggie to get the number of a taxi and called them. Very surprisingly, it only took 5 minutes to get back to Copernico, despite the 20 minutes the bus takes! And it only ended up being about 3 euro each, which was not bad at all. On the way we even discovered that the son of our taxi driver was getting his master's at UCSB! He knew State St. and all these restaurants in about a small world, right? We went straight to Tio Pepe's for dinner, then went back and set up our new IKEA purchases and ended the night with a movie.

bus stop photo shoot!

Tuesday was kind of lazy. I couldn't really do anything because I had my appointment with the gastroenterology specialist at 2pm, smack in the middle of the day. The appointment came with both good and bad news. The good news is that all my levels have gone down, most back to normal and a few super close to normal. The specialist said she doesn't recommend anything further except for a follow-up in 1-2 months. They determined the cause of the infection was something I ate, and also said they found a certain bacteria in my tests that should just go away on it's own, especially since I'm feeling totally fine. Now the bad news. I asked when I could start drinking alcohol again, and was simply told not yet, that the pancreas "is fragile and it would be dangerous". To me, this is the same as telling a kid not to touch the stove because it is hot, but not explaining that if they touch it it will burn them. It would be nice to know what would happen if my willpower gave in and I had a drink, what would happen. Would I die? Get sick again? But once again, I'm told nothing. And with Oktoberfest a week and a half away, I was more than a little upset with this news. It's frustrating because it's not that I have the desire to go out and get wasted, but I've paid close to $400 for this 4-day trip to a beer festival, where everyone is drinking beer, and everything there revolves around beer and yet I won't be able to drink? For a while I seriously considered not going because I didn't want to put myself in such a tempting position or have it rubbed in my face. But after some thought and a very helpful chat with my dad, I figure it would be a waste of money and I would regret not going. And I figure I'll be able to at least taste different beers and be fine, so right now that's the plan.
Wednesday morning we had our practical orientation, during which we thought they would help us choose classes at the university, when in actuality they showed us how to use various websites and weren't really that helpful at all. The Italian system is so different than anything in the States, too. You don't register or sign-up for a class; in fact the only way you get credit is by signing up for an exam appointment at the end of the semester. So I have to go onto all these different websites and try and find classes that don't sound ridiculously hard and that will also count as credit back home. I'm already taking an Art History class at the Study Center, so I just have to find one psych class and one "other", like literature, history, etc. The problem is that the psychology website has posted the classes being offered but no info about, when, where, what time, etc. so I have no idea how to plan my schedule. And like I said, EAP pretty much has left us on our own to figure all this out by Monday!
Anyway, after the orientation I packed and caught a train to Lucca at 2pm. The trip here wasn't bad at all actually. It's just as cold here as it was in Padova, and I'm now wishing I had brought warmer clothes to wear. In other exciting news, Gabi and I are going to Dublin! We booked our flights (only after having serious complications with stupid Ryanair AGAIN). But this means that I'm going to Germany, Spain, and Dublin all next month! So exciting : )
Tomorrow I'm going to Siena, a beautiful city in Tuscany and home to the famous horse race Il Palio. It should be fun, and I'll try and post about it soon after. Until then...

Molti baci!


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