The Scouring of the Shire

No apologies for the delay on this one–I’ve been ballz deep in exams. And very unusual exams they were. But now I am proud to say that I can draw a map of Rome. (Wait, am I proud to say that?) I can tell you some things about undulating forms and Borromini. I can walk around ancient ruins and draw a picture. I didn’t realize that so many artistic skills would be required when I applied to this program. At least now I know the shape of the Quirinale hill? At least I can describe for you typologically what a portico is? And who Theodoric was?….Right?

You can probably tell that I am having a hard time feeling like I’ve accomplished much this semester. Oh well. At least I have all seven Harry Potter books in Italian. Just a few minutes ago I turned in my last assignment, a 20 page commentary on a Latin poem (yay?) and then I went to the store and bought a 5L jug of wine for 6 euros. As in, that is the only thing I purchased. To his credit, the cashier didn’t even blink an eye. I’d like to pretend that I have acquired this absurd amount of wine because I am sad to have missed out on Tour de Franzia, but, alas, it’s actually because as a thank you card for our program director we are all posing as statues. It just so happens that I was assigned “Drunken Old Woman”. I don’t understand why everyone didn’t want to be this one:

Image

 

In any case, it is sure to be good fun. I will probably make many friends distributing copious amounts of poor quality wine. Too bad I’m leaving in four days. Oh wait, I don’t care. 

Am I supposed to write some type of summary sort of thing for my “abroad experience”? Honestly, it’s been pretty strange. I have felt detached from my normal life, and not in a good way. I saw some cool stuff though. I like tombs. I won’t burden you with my deep existential thoughts about what this experience has been like. I am greatly looking forward to the last four days. I will drink and eat gelato and buy wine for my mom (Mother’s Day is May 13th!!! Don’t forget!) and on Sunday I will fly back to America and eat Asian noodles. Woo!

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There and Back Again

Alright, so I know I haven’t updated in about two weeks, but my excuse is that last week I was on a group trip to the South of Italy where there was no internet, and the week before that was so terribly mind-numbing that it would have just been one of those posts where I complain about how awful it is here, and everyone is tired of that by now, right? Right.

To my great surprise (ah, the small pleasures of being a cynic), the trip to Campania was actually pretty fun, for the most part. Of course, it rained every day except for the last one, but in a stroke of miraculous good fortune, it only very occasionally rained directly on us. And I found an umbrella in the road which still worked, so everything was fine.

On the first day our most notable stop was at a place called Sperlonga, where the emperor Tiberius had converted a seaside cave into an elaborate dining area, complete with fishponds and outrageous Hellenistic statue groups. Personally, I liked it because it is a cave by the sea, like Harry Potter! Horay! The only downside to this site visit was that my suave Italian professor stumbled and badly hurt his knee, and all forty of us had to listen to his groans of pain through our lecture listening devices.

Dumbledore!

But that was hardly the end of my adventures!

We went to two royal palaces! PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVED HERE.

My house.

My other house.

I took many photographs of baby Goats! We stayed at the family villa of the Centro’s director and it was absolutely charming. The house is covered in vines and sits on the ruins of an old Roman theater. They make their own bread and wine and the terraces overlook the sea. It was like being in a Diane Keaton movie.

This is like Lord of the Rings, right?

I stood in front of famous things!

So famous.

BUT BY FAR THE BEST THING EVER WAS NAPLES. For one, because our introduction to the city was given by Professor Tegmeyer, who sounded like he had cocaine for breakfast. He started lecturing when we were on the bus about and hour and half out from Naples, and it started out with the most basic of stuff (the founding, the art, blah blah). When we hit the forty-five minute mark, though, he started rewarding those of us who were still awake.

Tegs: But, really, the most exciting thing about Naples is disease. Syphilis. Now, on EVERYBODY’s top ten list of favorite STD’s, nobody is going to leave out Syphilis. Syphilis originated here, IN Naples!

Really I should have transcribed the whole thing, but I don’t think I quite realized what was happening at the time. But not even this could top the wonderful place I discovered in Naples once we were set free for lunch–Piazza Dante. This place is remarkable because it is literally filled with used bookshops, with stalls spilling out into the street. There must have been at least twenty of them, all lined up next to each other, and they carried everything from Harry Potter in Italian to 16th century philosophical texts (and I mean ones actually printed in the 16th century. I almost died. It was so beautiful. I spent all of my money. I didn’t eat lunch for two days afterwards because I literally spent all of my money. It is the kind of delightful place that is entirely missing from Rome, which, while glorious in many ways, has been beaten to a bloody pulp by hundreds of years of tourism. Not so in Naples. This is still a real place, that has things like used bookshops where you can find reasonably priced things! You wouldn’t believe how hard I have looked for such a thing in Rome. On the downside, one of my classmates got mugged while walking around the city. So, ups and downs, overall.

All in all, I saw a bunch of really cool stuff you should ask me about sometime. I am not sure you are well served by me describing everything–after all, everyone already knows Pompeii is baller, and hearing about how I got to go into new excavations and look at stunning wall paintings will just make you jealous. I also saw some ancient mule bones (are you green with envy??). No, really the last interesting thing that happened on the Campania trip was on the last day, when I got into a public shouting match with this asshole on my program. I called him “vile” and he told me to “get the fuck out.” So that’s positive.

 

I went to see the Pope!

Hello all,

Last Friday marked the end of my self-proclaimed “Three Weeks of Terrible Things”–the horrible, horrible three weeks right after Spring break. Luckily, those three weeks mean that I am essentially good to go until the end of the semester (five more weeks!). Sadly, that do not make me any more tolerant of Latin (yesterday I threw the book on the ground). The only thing that keeps me going is the thought that after 5 more Latin sessions, I never have to be in a Latin class again! Horay! If there is one thing being abroad has taught me, it is that I was lying to myself when I said I liked Latin. Lies. So many lies.

But that’s enough dwelling on the negative (for now). Instead I want to tell you about Easter, when I, Jessica Jordan, went to see the Pope! Our director procured tickets for us (and hinted that he could get us a private audience?) and so early yesterday morning I found myself getting ready to go to Church. Really the most exciting part of the day was when I went downstairs and found this:

Pretty sure Franco laid this

Anyway, then it was time to go to the Vatican! It was a nice morning, so the walk down there wasn’t too bad. When we arrived we had to wait in line for about an hour and a half, and when we got in, we actually got seats! Horay! I am really not sure what to say about the Mass. There was some very nice music, and pretty flowers, and I saw the Pope.

He looks pretty human, Matt

I had no idea what was being said for almost the entire Mass, but it was a pretty nice set-up. People were actually respectful of space, which is unusual in crowds, and the Pope blessed us in 27 languages. I feel like I should have more to say…but I don’t.

That afternoon we got to break the giant egg open, and my kind Centro-mates were kind enough to let me drop it. I’ve never felt so free! There was even an odd little doll inside I got to keep. Horay Easter! Horay Pope!

But now that magical day is over, and it’s back to reality. I know I should be feeling better because I have more free time, but now that am not constantly consumed by work, I am not sure what to do. It’s an Italian holiday today, so I couldn’t go out anywhere (and they didn’t feed us today…I am so hungry). I tried bumming around the Centro for a bit and “hanging out” with people, but mostly I just acted awkward and watched one girl fall asleep on the couch. I already watched “Mad Men.” And “Game of Thrones.” The extent of my free time has reached the point where I am in the middle of an episode of “Teen Mom 2”. I can’t believe this has over a million views. It must be because that one baby has glasses.

What has become of me? I miss sushi so badly it hurts.

Not Dead Yet

This week has been only interesting in the sense that I spent the entirety of it working on a hellish 15 page paper about a particular form of Roman statuary, which is actually a little more interesting than it sounds. Still, it was a terrible, terrible experience. But I must say, now that’s it’s done, the major school obstacles that stand in the way of me and summer are considerably lessened. Next week I have to turn in a final version of a Latin commentary and give two presentations, but then I am essentially home free until exams. Horah!

 

Otherwise it was a pretty typical ICCS week. We went to a port, a necropolis, and saw some aquaducts (yay….). The Friday art history trip was pretty great because it was Caravaggio week, and we just walked around and looked at bunch of his paintings, one of which was housed in this really great Baroque mansion (it had a ball room and everything!). Also, one girl told me that everything I say sounds “creepy”. I think what she meant was “seductive”.

Anyway, this post sounds about as tired as I feel, so I am just going to post some pictures of random things.

An esteemed British man points to things