I’m a week late at writing this, but late is better than never.
As much as I love flying, going on a flight alone has always been one of my biggest fears. It just seems so intimidating. So the moment my family and I parted ways at the airport, I almost began to cry. But I held back the tears. I made my way through the long security line and I fumbled slightly as I struggled to get my laptop top out of my backpack and into one of the security bins. Security checks at airports have to be one of the most stressful places. After they patted down my right ankle I made my way to my gate and sat down. It was real. I was all alone and about to be headed overseas.
Luckily, I had two other students in my program on my flight: Connor, who is from JMU as well, and Greg, who is from Iowa State. It made the trip much less nerve-wracking. The flight was really long, but I didn’t mind. There was a free entertainment system where I was able to watch Safe Haven and Dexter. The only bad part was that I can’t really sleep sitting up or in tight spaces, which made it nearly impossible to get any rest.
When we arrived in the Rome airport, it was about 8:00AM their time, which would be 2:00AM at home. Unfortunately, the bus to take us on the four hour trip from Rome to Urbino would not be there to pick us up until 1:00PM. So we waited. And waited. But once again, I was so glad that I had other students on my flight.
FINALLY the bus arrived and we eventually began our journey to Urbino, Italy. I was so tired that somehow I managed to fall asleep! Thank goodness.
When we pulled onto campus we had to go up in groups to get our room assignments and keys. In my row of rooms I have mostly JMU girls, but mixed between us are girls from other schools. Luckily, Casey and Hannah, who are in the same fraternity as my best friend back home, are only a few rooms away from me so I have them close by if I need anything. I’ve also met another girl, Megan, who I bonded with really quickly. I am really glad that I’ve made good friends and that everyone in the program gets along really well.
The first night I spent unpacking. The first morning we went on a tour of the city with one of our translators. I better have really toned legs by the end of this trip! There are so many huge hills that we have to walk up! But the city is so beautiful. It has cobblestone streets and I love how all of the buildings are connected. Italians “fill up the space” really well. That night we went to a dinner at Rango D’Oro. The food was really good, but the service was extremely slow. (But we were in a group of about fifty people.) We arrived at 7:00PM and did not leave until about 11:00PM. We were served ravioli (which was really good!), crescia (which is a special Italian dish that is sort of like a ham sandwich on a tortilla, but yummier), and PIZZZZZA! YUM! And lots and lots of wine.
Note: My dad would love it here. They LOVE fizzy water. I prefer “naturale” water.
After dinner we went downtown to one of the bars. As a group we all did an “Italian shot” which consisted of some green liquor, some white coconut flavored liquor, and some red liquor… aka the Italian flag. And surprisingly it was really good!
The next day, Sunday, we had class. But it wasn’t that bad because it was more of an orientation and overview of what we would be doing. We were assigned a photo assignment to capture three moments from the same location somewhere in Urbino. The photo needed to have people in it. The rest of Sunday was spent attempting to get photos taken.
On Monday we had class and our video group met and discussed ideas. It seemed like we were getting overwhelmed with ideas but eventually we began to get it narrowed down, thank goodness. We also started our Italian language lessons, which aren’t as bad as I was expecting. I really like the professor for that class. After class I tried to take a few more photos but ended up liking the photos I previously took more. And we went out to our first pizzeria in Italy. Megan, Rachel, and I ordered a margarita pizza (which in Italy is just an American plain pizza) and Evan, Connor, and Hannah ordered the Italian version of a pepperoni pizza. (We also ordered actual margaritas to go along with our margarita pizza!) The pizza was huge and delicious. I am actually craving it while I type this, it was sooooo cheesy and gooey and hot and crunchy. I ate three slices! I never eat more than two, it was that good.
Following dinner, Rachel and I bought a bottle of wine and Evan and Megan got a beer and we headed back to the dorm to hang out. Somehow, my room was deemed the hangout room and by the end of the night we had twelve JMU students hanging out in my tiny little dorm room. It was so fun and I am so glad that we all get along. We all hang out with the students from other schools as well, but we also have our “JMU bubble.”
On Tuesday we had class, but at night we had the photo critique from our professors. It is actually very intimidating. They showed a slideshow of everyone’s three photos, and then they went through each photo and discussed the positive or negative aspects of the photo and gave really insightful constructive criticism. All three of my photos had mostly positive “criticism,” and I was so proud of myself!
After the two hour photo critique, we went to a bar off of the main piazza that was having a karaoke night. It is so funny how many American songs were sung. Megan ended up singing twice with Evan’s friend who is Albanian but lives in Urbino.
So far I love everything about Italy. The gelato is spectacular. It’s light and creamy and just the right consistency. I love not needing to show ID. I love the video project and I am so excited to start planning and filming. I am so glad to be here!