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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flying Home

Today is the day of many hours. I’ll be back in California this afternoon!
Can’t wait to share more adventures with you all!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buon Natale!

Bon Natale! Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the LORD Almighty

will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9.6&7

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve and I’ll have been doing all kinds of site seeing in Rome.

Tonight I’m headed to the Vatican for Christmas Eve mass. I was fortunate to get a ticket, but we will see what the real story of the night was!

Hope you are enjoying family or friends today!

Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm to Rome!

I’m not going to have access to the computer while I’m in Rome, so be expecting the adventures of Rome when I am back in the states. The next few days are going to be light on the posts.

Hope you are all ready for Christmas!

I’m so excited!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I am sorry that I haven’t written much these days. So much is happening, and at such a fast pace. I have been trying to live in the moment. It’s been hard. I’m tired. Tired from the stress of finals and studying, tired from staying up to late enjoying the people here and tired from saying goodbye. I have friends that are in the states at home with their families right now. As amazing as that is, I haven’t realized that they are gone yet. I was supposed to be with them. I’m not regretting my decision to stay; I just am having a hard time internalizing the change. There have been a lot of goodbyes.
On a lighter note, yesterday I got to spend time downtown with my friends Rossella and Giulia. They are two of the Italian girls I met here to practice language with. We even ran into another Italian friend Martina. We went window shopping and grabbed coffee at Busters {the Starbucks of Torino}. It was so fun to laugh with them. Rossella is preparing me for the teasing of my brother at home. She makes fun of half the things I say! {But secretly I love it!}

After hanging out with them {and saying goodbye…still haven’t realized I won’t see their smiling faces} I got to celebrate my friend Seowon’s birthday. We made a “leftovers” dinner since we are cleaning out the fridge. I can’t wait to make the risotto we had. And I’ll think of my sweet friends when I do. We sang in 2 different languages and even tried to have a lesson in saying “happy birthday” in Korean. Don’t ask me how to say it, I’ve forgotten and totally butchered it when trying.

So it’s been a little bit of a down last couple of days. Lots of change, and change isn’t my favorite.
So now it’s packing and cleaning time…

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finish Well

Tomorrow is the day of exodus…well that’s what my nickname is for the 21st of December. Here in the land of study abroad students it is the day that most are getting on a plane and heading back to the States. I would be too, but to break the big news…I changed my flight. So I’m not leaving with the masses.
I just finished up school here in Italy. That’s right, that thing that I was coming here to do. It’s done. Over. Finished. The last paper turned in and the last tests taken. To be honest it means that I am exhausted from studying, my brain feels fried and I don’t really know what to do with myself.
I want to share a little more about this weekend before I forget…
Saturday was a day in Milan. Well for a few hours at least! We went and saw the duomo (the big cathedral). We ended up just walking through Milan and enjoying a different city. Milan is livable. It’s almost American-like which was odd for me. And the people! They are everywhere! I think I am now prepared for New York City.

Leonardo Da Vinci walking to the Duomo

I people watched. This cute kids was chasing pigeons.

I was waiting for the other girls at one point and went looking for a bathroom. I walked into the Burger King {yes they have fast food restaurants here…so odd for me!} and hit a wall of people. Then I had to walk down 3 flights of stairs. Yes down into the basement. The line was so long for the busy bathroom. There was a man that was there trying to clean the bathroom so he literally stood there and cleaned when space became available. And then I had to finds my way out! Who knew that finding a restroom could be so complicated?

We saw the castle in Milan, which was bigger than I was expecting. It was really funny because when you think of Milan it is usually because it is a fashion icon of the world, not for its medieval castle!

the arch out the back

There was a Christmas market going on at the train station. It was fun to walk and see what everyone was selling. Christmas markets while they sell items often sell food of the season as well. This one had an abundance of food items and not so many gift items.
We headed back to Torino and not too long after that I went to a potluck dinner at a friend’s place. Picture taking, foods of all origins were eaten, and good byes were avoided. Saturday was the day of student good byes, there was big get together at a club downtown. I went and hung out with friends and more pictures and avoiding goodbyes ensued.

the dinner group photo

Sunday I went to my last church service in Torino. It was such a joy! I spent time meeting new people and saying goodbye to new/old friends. I pray that I can come back and enjoy this community. I have some new friends that I can’t wait to write to and share life with. I walked away {2 hours after I thought I would leave!} feeling refreshed and so thankful!
I then headed to the local pub to watch the calico {soccer} game! We won!!! I didn’t realize how much I miss watching sports, and yes, I love watching soccer. Then it was time to do some studying, so my friend Vickie and I found a café that was extremely expensive {we were in classy part of town though…} and we studied away.
For dinner Robyn and I headed across the street to a pizzeria that is so yummy! We had delicious pizzas. I got the same pizza as I got the last time that we were there. There is just something about Italian ricotta on pizza!

those snow covered tops are the Alps!

There you have my last weekend in Torino. I was a little busy, could you tell?
This experience has been so truly unique. There are new discoveries around every corner {and on every bus as I found out Saturday night!} I can’t wait to share the rest of my adventures with you!

Monday, December 19, 2011


…That time has flown by so fast.
…That so much has happened in the last few days.
…That finals are this week, and so is the packing and cleaning and goodbyes.

This was my last weekend in Torino and it was go, go, go. You all found out about the mis-adventures of Italian style on Friday. That night was such a great way to start off the weekend. Since the buss and metro weren’t running Robyn and I walked. We walked downtown which took us an hour. Oh and when we left it started sprinkling. I have to say it was so fun to walk in the falling water that reflected in the car lights and the Christmas lights.
We arrived at the church that I’ve been attending, for dinner with some new friends. We had some funny, entertaining and somewhat awkward Italian conversations with the guys while we waited for our last friend. My friend Luigi asked “do you speak Italian? Do you speak dialect? No? Well, those are all I know. I don’t know English!”
As a typical Italian meal, we had pizzas. Mine was large and I have no idea how I finished it. But it was delicious.
During the meal we talked, conversed {mostly in Italian, which means I didn’t say much} and laughed. We went around the table and did highs and lows of the week. In Italian it is called “bello e bruto” or the beautiful and the ugly. I may change my phrasing when I’m back in the US, watch out! One of my friends remarked that his “bruto” was that he is taking a swimming class and his time was too fast. I did swim team in high school for a year so we talked about that. And then, he asked me about the stroke. I know the mechanics of freestyle and watched as my coach taught us tricks {thanks Gordy}. You should have seen us. I had to stand up so I wouldn’t knock anything on the table over and we went over the technicalities.
I am happy to report that he went and timed yesterday and he got under the correct time! {I guess I did know what I was talking about!}

My view at coffee house...hence the lack of pictures After our dinner we walked back to the church and went to “coffee house”. It’s a concert put on once a month with bands of every genre. It’s a time of socializing and music. It was so fun! Half the music was Italian songs and half were in English.
A perfect Friday night of friends, food and music. This was one happy girl.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Italian Style

Today I was going to do a day trip to Milan. I haven’t been to see anything other than the train station and the airport. It is the fashion capitol of the world. It is only 2 hours away, and that is taking the slow{=cheaper} train.
So I got up early with some of my friends. We knew that there would be a bus and metro strike so we wanted to ride the metro while we could. We got to the train station and looked at the board and this is what it looked like:
So much for a day in Milan. So glad I didn’t get the tickets for the Last Supper that are time blocked. So glad that I had a good attitude about the day. Tomorrows plans were mostly executed for today, and tomorrow, well, hopefully I’ll make it to Milan…

This brings me to “Italian Style” or “Stile Italiano”, a phrase that is used when something is distinctively Italian. It is why the bus and metro strikes are published and even run during the hours that people are going to and from work. It is why the train conductors said, “hey why don’t have a strike today too?” And it is why there is constant honking from double parked cars. Italians do things differently. There’s something that can’t be explained by anything other than saying “Italian Style” and moving on.
It’s the reason that you can see cars parked like this:

It’s reason that businesses usually close from 12.30-3.30pm every day.
It’s why some people seem to not work because there are honestly laws on the number of hours a shop can be open.
It’s the reason that cappuccinos can’t be ordered after 11am and that walking around with anything other than foccacia or a gelato is frowned upon.
It’s the reason that people stare at everyone that they pass on the street.
It’s the reason that politics and religion are not a taboo topic.
It’s the reason that if you go back to restaurant or are friend s with the owner you may get a discount.
It‘s the reason that people travel farther to purchase bread or vegetables from the shop that they have ‘always gone to.’
It’s the reason that fast food does not exist, and meals are elaborate.
It’s the reason everyone says bonjourno or ciao as they walk past.
It’s the reason that they always try to speak in English, even if you are trying to practice your Italian {and they don’t know very much English.}

It’s just the way that Italians do things.
Italian Style.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Exploring History {Saluzzo}

As a child you are taught to learn from your mistakes. I love the Anne of Green Gables quote where Anne tells Marilla “the great thing about me is I never make the same mistake twice”. The point of learning history in school is to pass the traditions and knowledge of what has been done in the past to make the future better. But there is the common phrase of “history repeats itself.” As Europe is struggling I am praying that they are learning from their past. I pray that they use the things that have divided them throughout history and use them for the further integration and unification of Europe.
I am a lover of history. You’ve heard me talk about my love of too many things and ‘history’ makes the list. Growing up I was a reader and my favorite genre was historical fiction. This weekend I got to live a history class. It was the ultimate field trip.
I visited the Santa Maria Abbey {built in 1154… wow!} and learned that this covering right here {in the picture above} is rumored to be the spot where the Italian bank San Pablo was started. It was started back when monks were living in and running the abbey. We didn’t go through the abbey, but just seeing the outside was enough. Abbeys were built along the pilgrimage routes, so I was on the path of religious history. What is even more impressive is that this was a way to spread ideas along these routes. Monks that lived in the Abbeys are what we can attribute the studies of Socrates, Aristotle, and others to. Their job was to copy the books to be passed on. They not only copied the Bible {remember this is by hand} but the works of philosophers and thinkers.

The buildings in the area that are authentic have a certain style and are made with brick. {It makes my heart happy to see the rustic history} The house that I stayed in was also made of brick and had an outdoor oven and a chapel on the property. Yes, this little farm had a chapel where services used to be held hundreds of years ago. The oven would have been a meeting place for the whole community to come and back their bread. It is rumored that a religious community probably lived on the property hundreds of years ago. This place of hospitality for me had also been a place of community in the past. {Again, makes my heart happy}

inside the chapel When we walked around Saluzzo we saw the old town that still has the walls and gates. We went to the castle and church on the hill. My hosts got married in the church and they showed us how the place has changed from when it was built in the dark ages to now being a hotel. It has been a converted to a hotel because that is the only way that the church will have upkeep. Since the church staff has become smaller and the attached quarters are no longer used the nuns and priests are not up keeping the building. The church still has original fresco paintings from when it was built.

the gate
the church lit at night
the ceiling in an attched building being restoredagain, orginals being restoredThe castle nearby was a jail for awhile. It was just closed in the 1970s when all the fancy technology came out. Before the location of the jail was moved, it was known to be one of the tightest on security. It is almost within the city, but apparently the citizens preferred being able to converse with the inmates. {Italian Style}

up by the jail, it's authentic. can you tell?!?The town of Revello that I saw on Monday morning, while dropping the kids off at school, was originally the retirement city of the queen and her court from Saluzzo. How crazy that a court would be so big to create a new town! From this town if you look up at the mountains there are the ruins of a castle that was also a fort. The French chancellor had it demolished {I don’t know how, but there may have been different country boundary lines then?} because it could see the entire valley and was on the trade line. This meant they not only had the military advantage, but could tax the trading. Big problems for the French!

oh yeah, I was there too...All this history not only backed up my historical fiction readings, but also brought back of everything I learned and memories from Mrs. Richardson’s and Mr. Burrell’s classes on European history. I did learn {and remember} some things, I promise!
See history can be fun, especially if you get to experience it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Putting the Study in Study Abroad

San Luis Obispo, California is home to numerous coffee shops. It’s a college town and students flock to the different places to study. Each shop has a unique feeling even if it is has expanded to multiple locations. One shop in particular is called Linnaea’s Café. I’ve been there a couple of times for some studying. They regularly have local musicians come and play. The place has a fun vibe.
A couple of weeks ago I went with a friend to her favorite coffee shop in Torino. She claimed that it was the “Linnaea’s of Torino”. And so it is. They serve breakfast and lunch, have an amazing cappuccino and the lady behind the counter is sure to welcome you with a smile. {It helps that they have free wifi!}

So today, even though I want to talk about my weekend, I’m studying. I have a final in a couple of hours and an important presentation tomorrow. Here are some pictures of the beautiful, bright and cheery café that I’ve spent my morning at. And yes, it’s true… you do have to study when you study abroad!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Recap {Saluzzo}

This weekend consisted of: history lessons, discussions, trying to understand Italian, eating Piedmonte style, amazing views, flexibility, churches, and staying with a very lovable family

I actually did quite the little tour of the area around Saluzzo, a little town situated at the base of the Alps. I went on a train to Saluzzo and then drove to a farm in Revello. On Saturday afternoon I drove through Pra Piglerio and then on Sunday I spent a few hours in Cuneo. The farmhouse I stayed at has been renovated in the last 10 years and is lived in by one of my professors and his family. A few generations ago his family bought the property with a farmhouse built in the 1700s and rented the land out for farming. And then a few years ago he started converting the stables attached to the house into livable rooms. There is a rock quarry that his father runs right next to the farm. The first morning I woke up hearing little voices downstairs and then a rooster. This family has a rooster! It was so nice to be in the country and I feel like I experienced true Italian culture. We ate Piedmonte style, which means good meat and cheese. It’s a northern thing. And I had raw meat…again.

In typical Italian fashion I was asked to stay until Monday {today} instead of figuring out logistics for coming back Sunday. I feel like I am still processing the whole weekend, so hopefully in the next few days I can organize my thoughts. Bear with me?

Saturday, December 10, 2011


{ok, this isn't it, but it is a pretty picture by my school a few weeks ago}

This weekend I will be in Saluzzo. I’m not sure what I will be doing but I am going to visit a family that lives there. Saluzzo is known for their agriculture and is about an hour by train outside of Torino.

I can’t wait to tell you about my adventures! What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Take a walk with me?

Will you take a walk with me? We are going to head on over to Valentino Park. Today is a holiday so it’s a happening place!

Isn’t it beautiful? It gets dark here quite early, hence the shifting shadows and bright colored skies.
We have arrived at one entrance with the huge fountain. I haven’t spent much time in this park I love walking through when I have a chance. There is such a unique mix of flowers and plants.

It’s called a park but parts of it are more like a garden. There are paths all around like this one. It makes me feel like I’m in a storybook.

It’s the start of the Christmas season and there is an indoor carnival on part of the property. There is a mix of English carols and Italian carols playing through speakers. There are families everywhere. For me, this park is about capturing moments. The little girl picking up petals with her grandfather in the rose garden. The couple with their first child all bundled up and we watch as trying to take pictures of the little one smiling. The boys racing around the arches and over the bridges playing tag.

It’s starting to get dark so it’s time to walk back for some spaghetti, tea and some reading. Thanks for walking a part of the city with me!

This is a part of the list. Another one marked off.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Making it an Adventure

Sometimes even going out for lunch can be an adventure and that was what happened yesterday. I went out to lunch with my friend Vickie and immediately I declared we were going to have an adventure. Life is an adventure, so might as well call it what it is. It was also an adventure for these reasons
a) We were taking public transportation {the only transportation other transportation we can afford other than our lovely feet} Let just say you never know what’s going to happen when you step on the bus or metro.
b) I had been to this place before, but when you are going somewhere as a destination, even if its not the first time something is bound to happen
c) There are people in this world and walking the streets. People are different and make life interesting. Interesting usually translates to an adventure in my experience.

I went to this little place with my parents and a Torino friend. She highly recommended it and I have wanted to go back. This place makes the “before I leave” list. It is run by a couple that is Sardinian and German and they serve Sardinian dishes. {Sardinia is an island in the south of Italy, so you don’t have to look it up!}
So Vickie was a few minutes late. I saw the bus go by and knew another one would come by in 20 min. We made it onto bus number 2! We didn’t have to change buses; I had been to that side of town, {though not much} we were good to go…err yea, I messed up. We got off too early. But it was a nice day so we went for a walk along the river {gorgeous}. We reminisced about time in Italy. We talked about going home and what that would be like. I think we needed that time, so I didn’t feel bad.

I forgot, we saw this on our walk

I think they were doing repares

but it looks like they were repelling

for fun

look closely, very closely We arrived at the place and got a table for two. We stared at the menu. Yes, in fact stared. We usually can get by and figure out what things are. This was a handwritten menu which adds a nice touch {but makes it oh so hard to read}. Vickie who knows more Italian didn’t know what it said, and I was counting on her!

Then in walked a sweet Italian woman and after talking with the owner’s wife came and said she spoke English and talked to us a bit. She was so excited to learn we were from California and that I know the area where her nieces live. She explained the menu to us and this serving plate on the wall. It’s made of cork and is typical Sardinian. They use it to serve the pig after they have roasted it over a fire.

We ordered a pasta to share and then eat got a meat dish. We ended up getting the same thing and it was a Sardinian specialty. The pasta had ricotta from Sardinia, so it was shredded. And the meat was pork with roasted herb potatoes. It was so delicious. I cannot describe. We had thought about getting something sweet at the end but were both so full.

Some of my friend's art displayed Finding our way home proved to be more of an adventure. We took the correct bus and visualized which side of the street we needed to be on to go the correct direction. Why do buses have to turn? That proved to be the problem. We got on the correct numbered bus and promptly realized that the bus turned…the wrong direction. So we got off. But the stop across the street that we half ran to did not prove to be a stop for our number. So the bus passed us and we decided a detour was in order.
So it being a nice day, we walked into the downtown area and took our trusty bus that we knew would take us the same spot, no complications. We know the direction and sides of the street for this bus like locals. And we both arrived home, safe, and no worse for wear.

on our walk, the River Po Needless to say I enjoyed my day, my lunch, and detours. Every day is an adventure!