So I've noticed that while I've been blogging frequently about my travels, I've neglected updates on things going on here in Padova.
Last Wednesday I had my final for Psicologia della Personalità. My suitemate and I studied together, and realized as we downloaded the lecture slides that while we covered maybe 20 slides in each class period, each topic really had on average 60 slides! Not to mention that each one was packed with info and diagrams in italian of course. Studying was more like trying to squeeze as much into my brain...we decided that there was obviously too much info to cover, so we decided to focus on what we talked most about in class and hope for the best. It was a little nerve-wracking as well not knowing the structure of the exam except that it would be oral. Would she take us each in separately? Would she drill us with whatever questions she wanted? Would it be a discussion where she simply asks us to tell her what we learned? While I hoped for the latter, it actually turned out to be the worst it possibly could be. She took us in separately, and my suitemate went first. I'm pretty sure I've never been so nervous in my entire life, I felt physically ill. After about 15 minutes, it was my turn. Well it must've not been my lucky day, because she simply flipped open the textbook (which neither of us had read) to random pages and asked questions on whatever she found there. And of course, 95% of the questions were on things we had consciously decided to skip over while we were studying, so I had no choice but to keep saying I didn't know, feeling more like a failure with each response. I knew an exam like this would be partly based on luck; you either get asked about the things you do know or you get asked about those you don't, and I got the latter unfortunately. Although I must admit I was so nervous my italian was absolutely atrocious. The result: 18 out of 30. As I walked out of the room in shock, I realized, that shit, that wasn't even passing! So I went back and basically pleaded with her to allow me to explain to her the things I did know for a higher grade. Luckily she consented and in the end raised my score to a 21, which will end up as an approximate C back in the States. While I'm glad it's over and by now I'm over it, it took a good few days to comprehend and accept my first C grade ever. Ever since I knew I was coming to study in Italy I was conscious of the fact that I wouldn't get my customary straight A's and my GPA would suffer, but I maintained that it would be worth it. So when I was faced with my first just-passing grade, I was forced to eat my words and I did not like the taste. But it is what it is, and I know I'll make up for it back home eventually. I think a lot of factors were involved, but complaining and being bitter will not change my grade, so I'm over it.
I spent the next couple days literally doing nothing and letting my brain rest. Then Friday we had a field trip to Venezia for my Storia dell'Arte class. Our teacher took us to a really amazing church I had not yet been to which housed a few pieces we'd been studying in class, including 2 wonderful paintings by Tintoretto. Then we went to the Accademia, and although I had been there on my own before, it was so much better with a knowledgeable guide as well as having studied several of the pieces on display there. Like I said before, it's so much more interesting to see a piece of art in person after having studied it : ) Our last stop was a visit to Basilica San Marco. Again, having our teacher as a guide made it so much more fascinating than it was before!
Afterward Carly and I decided to stay in Venice and make our way out to the islands. I'd been meaning to visit the lagoon islands of Murano (famous for it's glass-making) and Burano (known for it's colorful houses and lace production), so I figured it was a good time since we were already in Venice. But since we didn't get on the boat to Murano until about 3pm and it took nearly 45 minutes to get there (unfortunately we caught the one that makes a million stops rather than the direct one) we only had about a half hour before it was getting dark, which meant no Burano for me : ( But we had a lot of fun shopping for Christmas gifts in all the glass stores, and I must say I think I picked up some fantastic pieces that the recipients are going to love! As the stores started to close down, we made it back to the boat and caught the last one back to the Venice train station.
Although it had been a long day, Carly invited me to join her and some others at some bar her Italian "friend" had told them about and I figured why not, I could sleep in the next day. It actually ended up being a pretty fun night, too. We ended up being part of a group celebrating the DJ's birthday, so they brought free pitchers of spritz and other drinks to our table! I allowed myself 2 drinks - a spritz and my, favorite, a mojito. At the moment that's my alcohol limit, but since my tolerance is so low from not drinking for a while, it hit me pretty fast. We danced for a bit and then decided we were exhausted so Carly's friend gave us a ride home and I eagerly went to sleep immediately.
The rest of the weekend was very uneventful, but I felt like I needed to just do nothing after so much traveling, like almost every single weekend. My most exciting update, however, is that my close friend Sarah (my G Phi roommate from last year who is currently doing EAP in Sweden) came to visit for a few days with 2 of her friends Monday! The first evening Carly and I took them out for spritz at the place that gives you these yummy olives with the drinks, and everyone graciously gave me theirs, so I ended up eating probably 7 big fat olives! Then we went to a little osteria for a slightly over-priced pasta dinner, followed by gelato of course.
The next day Sarah and her friends explored Padova in the morning and then came back to my room to warm up and rest for a while. We all walked back into centro since I had class at 5pm, and then after we went for pizza at Tio Pepe's. Here I must rant for a moment. Justine and I had been extremeley loyal cutomers there literally since we moved into Copernico, practically going there every night for dinner. Over time, the prices went up maybe 50 cents, but were still quite reasonable at 3 euro for a pizza and 4 euro for my usual paella or veggie soup. I had never payed more than 4 euro for a meal there until that night. Granted we did each order a glass of sangria, but they charged us 8 euro each! Now since I got pizza, which should be 3 euro, that would mean my drink was 5 euro? Hmmm... I decided to ignore, but was annoyed nevertheless. We called it an early night though, and they headed back to their hostel.
Wednesday was there last day here, so they went to Venice early in the morning while I had to stay in Padova for my meeting with Marina, our program director, to finalize and sign my study list. After the meeting I went to meet them in Venice, where the plan was to go to the islands once again. And while we got an earlier start this time and took the shorter direct boat, we still ended up only making it to Murano once again (eventually I will make it to Burano!). The boat ride there was gorgeous of course and very pleasant, passing boats, colorful houses, and the pretty Il Redentore church.
It was nice to see the island in the bright afternoon sun, too. It's such a cute little island, with an actual lighthouse and quaint bridges everywhere, and made up almost exclusively of glass shops selling jewelry, vases, lamps, figurines, and other beautiful glass products. I got a few more gifts for people, as did Sarah and her friends and I was able to snap some pics of the island as well, including this really cool glass sculpture that looks like a giant sea urchin : )
Speaking of photos, while I was waiting outside for Sarah and them to buy something, this Italian guy with a camera approached me and complimented my butterfly tattoo, and then proceeded to ask me if he could take a picture of it. I figured why not, it wasn't like it was my face or anything. He said he was a photographer and he was currently doing a compilation of photos of tattoos and piercings... I decided to neither believe or disbelieve him. Of course he then noticed the plethora of piercings in my ears, and asked to take a pic of them as well. At that point I was pretty much done being photographed, and he gave me his card with the website, thanked me, and we parted ways. I chalked it up to just another random experience, but when we got home later we decided to check out the website for fun. And wouldn't you know it, just 2 hours later my butterfly photo as already up! With viewer comments! And it was actually a really good photo - he'd made everything black and white except for the butterfly, which made it appear super bright and colorful. Go here to check it out!
On the boat ride back we passed Cimitero, the walled cemetery island of Venice, and were lucky to see a gorgeous sunset, with half the sky shades of yellow and orange and the other half roses and violets : ) We didn't catch the direct boat back though, so it took nearly 40 minutes to get to San Marco.
From there we had decided to take a gondola ride! Riding in an authentic gondola in Venice is on my list of life goals, so I was super excited! It's pretty expensive (80-100 euro for half an hour to an hour) so it's best to do it with several people and split the cost. To be honest, however, it was a little anticlimactic for me. But then again I proabably just had too high of expectations. We left at dusk, with our gondolier taking us through the small canals in between buildings and under quaint little bridges. It got dark pretty quickly though, so visibility - and photos - was not the best, but it was still very relaxing and pretty. Our gondolier had mad skills of maneuvering that thing though. There were so many corners i would've sworn we couldn't get around, but he managed it, often with no more than an inch to spare. I think I was disappointed the most by my inability to document the experience very well; we didn't even get a pic of all of us in the gondola! But all the same I'm really glad I got to do it, especially with Sarah, and it's one more thing I can check off my list!
Back in Padova we went to Tio's again for dinner, where they charged me 6 euro (!!!) for paella, without a drink! I was so pissed, I've sworn never to go back there again. For their last night in Padova, Carly and I took them out for spritz night in the piazze for a bit, and of course we got gelato again as well : ) They had to be back at their hostel by 11:30pm, though, so we called it an early night, and I headed back a little later because it was too cold!
Early the next morning they stopped by Copernico for a sleepy goodbye. I'm so glad Sarah was able to visit, I think I was really needing to see a familiar face, plus I always have fun with her : )
Although I loved having them here, playing host set me a little behind on things, especially preparing for my trip to Poland that weekend (which was absolutely fantastic by the way, look for the post soon!). So all of Thursday was spent researching and packing, and then after class I headed to Bologna to start my Eastern European adventure!
Two final notes: 1) I finally figured out the bus routes here, so instead of taking expensive taxis to the train station, I can take the bus! And on cold days I can even take it to centro. It only took me 3 months though, haha! 2)I got a care package today from Gamma Phi with 2 super cute PR shirts (from Bid Day and Pancake Breakfast) which I've been eyeing in Facebook pictures, the adorable tote bag from Bid Day, and a sweet page with notes from a bunch of the girls! I miss the house so much, the package totally made my day : )
Un bacione X