Monday, January 3, 2011


I wasn't sure when the best time to do this post was going to be. Like I said last post, I'm back in the States now, and I've been figuring out how best to wrap it all up. It starts at Thanksgiving, but I didn't do a Thanksgiving post because I was busy and I thought it was too soon for a wrap-up post. Then I wanted to do it the last week of school, but I had a crap-ton of work, complete lack of sleep, and a final couple of days in which I was, shall we say, not at my writing peak due to certain ingested substances. Then I wanted to do it after school was out, but then a trip to Cairo happened. Then I wanted to do it when I got back to Chicago, but I had forgotten my charger in Rome. Finally, I wanted to do it in KC, but I've been sick and out of it the last few days, plus the whole Christmas thing.

It's going to be a long one, touching on little things that have happened in the last month. But hey, I figure I owe you guys the equivalent of a short novella anyway, so hope you'll bear with me.


Like I said, I was pretty bogged down with homework around Thanksgiving, and most of my friends had already made plans for break. I had been asking around for awhile to see if anyone wanted to go to Florence/Pisa with me for a couple days, but no luck. So while it was one of the four weekends I didn't travel anywhere (no exaggeration), the few friends that remained in Rome with me had to figure out what to do on the most holy of holies. An effort, of course, spearheaded by yours truly.

We had been in Europe for going on three months, and while we were surrounded by Americans, had still been forcibly cut off from a good deal of American culture. I couldn't make it to last year's family Thanksgiving celebration, and I was sure as shit not going to be simply ignoring the fact that America's greatest feast of feasts had come up on my Italian calendar (as ringraziamento, but translates well enough for me). So, in what now seems like the easiest, most obvious decision of all time, we decided we would treat ourselves to an authentic, fancy, Italian meal.

Be jealous.

Per il antipasto: a mixed cheese plate.

I feel my friend's face really captures our rapture.

Per gli tre primi piatti:


Mushroom and cheese ravioli

Penne pasta

Per gli segundi piatti:


Chicken with peppers

Eggplant parmesan

Plus, let's face it: it wouldn't be an Italian celebration without some lovely (cheap) vino:

Or two.

For America.

We were pleased.


Then, the rest of the semester sped by. My life was spent shuffling sleepily between the library, various end of the year gatherings for my school, and - admittedly - bars in downtown Rome. My wardrobe was alternately dressy going out stuff or pajamas (I wore slippers to class a few more times than I care to admit to. Like all of the times.). I'd blog about my (first) last night in Rome, but it mostly was made up of drinking copious amounts of drinking (highlights: doing my first (four) jagerbombs, chocolate shots, and absinthe) and drunkenly stumbling around ruins with my friends until our bus came to pick us up at our school at 6am to take us to the airport, and would make for poor story telling. Then I went to Cairo for a few days, partied on the Nile, rode camels in the Sahara to the Great Pyramids, and all that. Flew back to Rome, hugged the Colosseum and ordered pizza for the last time, stood under the Sistine Chapel, went through a gigantic Christmas market, and then spent 10 hours the next day on an airplane, reading and hearing things in Italian for the last time.

Then it was over.

Don't worry, I'm going to continue to tell some of my abroad stories, for both our benefits. But that's not what this post is about. Instead, it's just the ending of it all.


This last semester was, in short, life changing. I was told before I left that my time there would change everything and be the time of your life. And, while it wasn't like I scoffed at the prospect, I couldn't haven't imagined how true it was. Trying to put how much of an effect studying abroad had on me into words is likely impossible, likely because I don't even know yet. I don't think it's even hit me that there's a distinct possibility that I won't wake up tomorrow back in my bed in Rome. But it's easy for me to forget that there were a good eight months before I ever left, and a lot of things happened to me in that time as well.

So here, for your reading pleasure, are my favorite memories from the last year:

Germans buying us hapless, lost American shots of sour apple schnapps.

The opportunity to be a DJ at Chicago's own Lollapalooza.

Bonding over shitty movies including, but not limited to, Troll 2, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and Jolly Roger: Massacre at Pirate's Cove.

Roman pizza - they cut it with scissors and sold it by the pound. Need I say more?

Hawaiian sunsets.

2 euro gyros in Athens.

A cold pint alongside a heaping helping of fish and chips in a London pub.

Getting to celebrate a new friend's 21st birthday party on the Nile.

Dried mangos.

Shark Week cake.

Having two last nights in Rome: one to say goodbye to the people I met, one to say goodbye to the city I grew to love.

Belgium's big six: waffles, chocolate, french fries, lace, beer, and mussels.

Sharing sangria in a bar in Barcelona frequented by Hemingway, Dali, and Picasso.

Fancy sandwiches made with roommates during summer lunch breaks.

Being taught by some of the greatest professors I've ever, or will ever, have the privilege to have (Dutch papal knight? Author and Hemingway scholar? Italian Clinton administration staffer?)

Alitalia Airlines, who serve free wine on EVERY flight.

Two words: Gelato Cake.

Wine festivals in small Italian villages.

Grecian nights. Because, unlike some of my companions, I could actually remember most of what happened those nights.

The kronor - Swedish currency with a 10 to 1 conversion rate. There's just something empowering about withdrawing 1000 of something from an ATM and not really caring.

Gondolas in Venice.

My band, the TVA, for rocking as hard as it ever did.

The Secret Bakery.

Giant Nerf gun fights with my brother after the entire family got one for Christmas.

The support of my friends and family when life got hard.


An incomplete list to be sure. But I've been semi-working on this post for roughly a week now, and it's pretty boring so I'll end it now.

Thanks for being great readers and commenters (though I had my first unsubscriber yesterday, apparently). Though I have and always will hold that I write for me, your feedback and support makes it all that much better.

Best of luck in 2011, now I have to start working on a post right now if I want to get it up by the end of January...


The Shanner of Attention said...

I can't even begin to tell you how jealous I am of your time in Europe. It sounds like you had an absolute blast and I'm uber happy for you.

Oh, and I totally want that serving tray you put your mixed cheeses on.

The Illustrious D said...

Happy New Year, dude.

Here's to assist with your KFC craving:

Pat Tillett said...

wow! When you list the things you've done like this, it's seems so amazing. You will have these memories FOR EVER. You were over there for so long that you probably didn't even feel much like a tourist! Here's to a healty and happy 2011 for us all...
Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

Eleni said...

Wow, you had an awesome year. I kind of wish I'd studied abroad one semester. I loved it so much at my school that at the time I couldn't think of going anywhere else, but I might have spared one semester for a life-changing experience living in a foreign country. Ah well.

And I just have to say DRIED MANGO! I am addicted. And hey, it's a healthier thing for me to snack on than potato chips. But I can eat a LOT.

Tabs A. Geek said...

So incredibly jealous.

And ZOMG I LOVE gnocchi. My sister's boyfriend introduced it to us last February when my parents went to Guatemala for two weeks, and I fell in love. That stuff is SOOOOOOOOO good.

Glad it was an incredible experience for you though. Something like that always is.

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