Ciao a tutti!

Ciao a tutti!
ho raggiunto una svolta decisiva nella mia vita, allora ho deciso di fare questo blog ancora... leggi, commenta e divertiti :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Italian Number!

So I got my Italian SIM card yesterday, and after a good deal of comparisons and considerations (with the help of my trusty old google toolbar translator!) I went with Wind Mobile! Seems to have good rates (in my opinion better than Vodafone for exchange student needs). Hopefully all goes well with that. Its a pay-as-you-go so a new system to me (I have always used a plan). It was a little frustrating at first because it said I had minutes, but when I made a call it told me I needed to load money on it, so I had to load extra on it (over $10) for it to work. I'm not sure what that was all about, but it's up and running now!

Had Rajiv and Antonio over last night, was fun! We drank a couple beers and watched Jersey Shore (oh wow... pretty hilarious!), gotta love guidos and guidettes! lol

Well that's all for now!


PS. If you want my number, send me an e-mail or facebook me!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finally Settling In!

Hey All! So I've finally gotten all unpacked, gotten groceries and started really settling in! I love our apartment (OMG! Tones of Storage! and our balcony is very cute!) but have had some interesting experiences and lessons learned already!

Apartment Lesson One :  Do Not Be Overly Optimistic About the Amount Of Hot Water Your Tank Provides You

So the first couple days have definitely been a learning experience, especially when it comes to how much hot water we have. The first night, I made the mistake of turning on the dishwasher and then going for a shower - lets just say the shower did not last long, and the past couple of days I have learned that shower time is not time to doddle... I believe on average our hot water lasts maybe 5-10 min, just enough time to wash your hair before it turns cold. We will definitely need to learn to schedule our hot water use!

Apartment Lesson Two : Electricity Limitations
So Yesterday, I found out the limit of our electricity flow... and the washing machine on + blow dry my hair = breaker turning off. At first I was like oh great, now what, I thought it might be a building wide thing b/c of the construction they were doing... but no the elevator was working. And that's when I was really like OH NO what do I do? Luckily my lovely neighbors were able to help me and showed me what to do to fix it! With two of us, we will definitely need to learn to also schedule our electricity usage!

So those have been the two major lessons I have learned about this apartment, other stupid things include:
  • if turning the key one way wont open the door, try the other direction (why this happened I do not know, might have been b/c it was 2:30 in the morning...)
  • if pulling on the cupboard door to open it does not work, try pushing on it (go figure)
On a more positive note, a few tips for future exchangers on what I believe will be good to have/do for your apartment:
  • If possible, find the apartment before you leave. It is much nicer being able to move into your place as soon as you get there, then staying in hotels and doing the search (not only have they found it difficult, and even frustrating, but it gets expensive eating out all of the time and what not). It may be hard to find an apartment while still in Canada if you don't know the language, but if you can find someone that does, use the websites provided by the university to search on. Once you find a place, to make sure its legit, ask for LOTS of pictures, have skype meetings with video and even facebook communication if you are pretty confident with the place, this can be very helpful. Also try to put off payment of the deposit until completely necessary.
  • A good landlord will make a big difference. Try to find one that will be willing to help you settle in and solve initial problems! mine has been super helpful, and it makes a big difference.
  • Once you have a place, from my experience so far, you may still want to bring your own pillow and towel. Even though they may be provided, they are not always the best (or nicest feeling). These are things you can also find relatively cheep here if you come around January b/c it is one of the months where most places have sales.
  • Slippers are a must to either bring or buy here (i found a pair for just under 5 euro)
  • Make numerous photo copies of important documents (passport, acceptance letter, flight info, etc) before you leave. You will need these for permit of stay and for registering with the authorities through your landlord (the landlords/ladies have two days to provide certain information to the authorities once you move in).
  • Ladies, be overly prepared with make up! my eye liner lasted a whole month and make up is much more expensive here!
  • Be prepared, that although this is a large city, people in many stores DO NOT speak English. I mean its not like its a big deal b/c when being rung through the till the number is displayed, however it can be a shock.
Hope that list is helpful for now, I'll try and input more advice as I go!

Anyways, off of the apartment talk! So I've gotten out of the apartment and walking around the area somewhat. It seems very nice, and Bocconi is maybe a max 20 min walk which is very good! Due to my unfortunate electricity accident, I have not made it to the ISD (international student desk) yet, because I arrived after hours. But that will wait till Monday then! I did get out with Rajiv and a new friend from Arazona (sorry I forgot your name :S...) last night! it was lots of fun! We got pizza.... AND IT WAS HUGE!!!! I thought my family made big, personal sized pizza's but these were massive... and we finished it all!

MMmmmmmm! PIZZA!
We also got a few beers! But we all got very different sizes (and were all feeling slightly differently after finishing them, LOL Rajiv):

Rajiv Got a Liter, New Friend (sorry man) got a 1/2 liter and I just got a Bottle! lol
It was fun though! and we found, with the help of a group of Italians, a fun discotheque where we partied it up until about 2am. We also met some other exchange students from the USA. Was a good time! but all of that pizza and dancing did not feel all so great on the stomach later that night!

NOTE: one great thing I noticed, was how well lit all of the streets are at night in my area! seems pretty safe!

So it has all been a fun experience so far! I cannot wait till my roomie comes on Tuesday though! Yay! and Orientation and the Language course starts next week!

If your in the area come one by!
Miss You All!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

I've Made It!

Hello All! Sorry I haven't up dated in a while, before leaving December was CRAZY (good and bad), and the past month has been very busy but full of FUN!

So I have FINALLY Made it to Milan and into, what will be my home for the next 6 months (and more technically, yes James, the next 5 months and 2.5 weeks)! VERY exciting if I do say so myself. and although I have only been in Milan for 1 day I have almost gotten very lost and almost had the apartment catch fire (not my fault btw). Lets start from the beginning of my journey here:

First I'd like to give a brief (which might not actually be so brief) of my euro trip with my love, James. WE HAD AN AMAZING TIME! but encountered some very interesting bumps along the way.

Plane Ride to Germany
So my plane ride to Germany was to say the least interesting, the plane was absolutely PACKED, the guy next to me stole both blankets, and then proceeded to stripping down to his boxers (ummm... ewww?). I got very little sleep, watched "Up", part of "G-Force" and another movie (which I forget), and they did give us cute little Christmas tree shaped ginger bread cookies! But there was nothing better than getting luggage within 10 min of leaving the plane, having no line ups at passport control and being greeted by the big, loving arms of James on Christmas Day! (in case you're wondering, no, James and I did not fly in together, he came early to spend more time with his sister and her family)

We started off in Rothenbergen (Gr├╝ndau) near Frankfurt visiting James' Sisters' family for Christmas, which was a lot of fun. We visited Frankfurt and from there James and I left on our journey.

Basel Switzerland... aka, the Night of Hell
So we started off our journey with a kind of crazy night of travel, it was going to be crazy but do-able... so we thought. We were to leave for Basel at 10pm and arrive at 1:30, then spend 5 1/2 hours at the station and then jump on a train to Paris (that had one transfer involved). Yes, you are all probably questioning, What the hell were you thinking?!... well it was the cheapest, and one of the only ways to get to Paris when we wanted to. I thought it would be do-able, and convinced James of this, however fate would show us otherwise. Once we arrived in Basel we proceeded to find food, a fast food joint? a bar? anything? not a whole lot accept vending machines which would provide a couple chocolate bars and drinks (including a Cannabis drink that we both found amusing... must have been overtired). Oh well, we would live... Until we realized that, it gets pretty darn cold in that station... especially when they keep all of the massive doors open, exposing everything to the wonderfully cold and chilly air. Our blanket provided us little heat, and I thought I was going to freeze to death. Not to mention the creepy people that came strolling through, it was a bit of a relief I guess you could say, to see that there were a few other couples going through the same lovely experience. But at around 4am I think it was, a miracle happened! You see, Basel is on the boarder of  3 countries, Germany, Switzerland and France, and it just so happened that the wonderful security guards for the French side came and opened the doors letting us through to a blissfully fully enclosed and fully heated room! So that night, James slept none, I slept a little and the morning train rides to Paris were jam packed and not much fun. We made it through to tell the story tho, and onward we went through Paris!

Je t'aime, Paris
And so we finally made it to our first real destination PARIS ♥. Our night before was not so much fun and were pretty unhappy, but upon arrival we had a change of heart! Our hotel was about 30min from the train station, and although we contemplated a taxi or the bus, we ended up walking. The sun was shining :) and we saw a number of cool things on the was. Our hotel - Saint Sebastien - was nice and clean, the bathroom was rather tiny but it was perfect for one night! We ended up just unloading, freshening up and heading right out to see the sites. We walked from the Bastille area all the way to the Eiffel Tower then down Champs Ellysees, to the big Farris Wheel and then took the metro home. It was very romantic seeing some of the sites by night, but I do not recommend it in the winter... it was really Freakin' Cold! The next day we made use of the transportation system and saw all of the sites again by day, however we didn't make it up the Eiffel Tower or inside the Louvre (we saw the pyramids and what not though). For 1 day though, I think we did alright. Our hotel was great, because it was almost smack dab between the two railway stations we were using and easily made it to Paris Bercy station for our night train to ROMA!

Night Train From Paris - through Switzerland - To Roma
This was another one of our rather interesting experiences. We were at the train station well in time, and made it on the train easily, got settled in, only had four of us in our newish 6 person couchette and we were very happy. That is until we realized that it was already almost 30 min past our departure time and for some reason the train staff seemed a bit frantic. It turns out they had made the train 2 Coaches to long to make it through the mountains. Us, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU MADE IT 2 COACHES TO LONG?!?!? Isn't this thing planned MONTHS in advance?!?!" Lets just say we weren't too happy especially since we were in the last coach and one of the lucky people to have to be relocated on the train (making even more people who had already been settled in, also very happy). James was a very fun person that night. LOL, jks love. Anyways, so luckily the French couple in our couchette with us spoke some English and were able to tell us what was happening as the man directing everyone was yelling in a combination of fast French, Italian and English that I found indecipherable. The only bad part was that the couple were the first people out of our coach to be moved and every time I tried to ask the man what he was telling us in English he just moved on. Two hours later we were all settled into our new home on the train (an old, smelly and fully loaded couchette with 6 people) and the train was moving. Well we thought that was that, and all was said and done... but oh no no no, not on this trip. In the middle of the night we reach the boarder between Switzerland and Italy. The train staff had collected our passports and tickets at the beginning of the journey so we would not be disturbed at the boarder crossings... but guess what happens when some one in your couchette has an out of date passport? well we found out... twice. They come in yelling, the people get pulled off the train and 45 min later we are on our way again. FINALLY after all of that, we reached Rome, and started our journey to our hotel.

Rome was absolutely amazing, and by far both of our favorite stops. We stayed at Plus Camping Roma for 3 Nights (including NEW YEARS!!) and I would highly recommend the place. When we arrived it was raining so that afternoon we got settled in, got some groceries, and planned our next day a bit. Our first full day we did the ancient city (we had a very confusing bus ride there, and I'm still unsure if we took a wrong bus somewhere but the main thing is we made it!). IT WAS INCREDIBLE! It was sunny and the weather was warm, and it was even more amazing that we were there around night fall so we saw the sun setting through the parts of the ancient buildings. The only thing that could possibly describe what we saw are the pictures (which I hope to be posting very soon... but facebook has been disappointing me and I must find an alternate means to upload them). The next day we saw the Vatican and we did the other main sites outside of the Ancient City (Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Republica, etc.). My suggestion if you want to see them all relatively quickly, get a day pass (or 2 or 3 day pass) and use the metro to hit the main sites. Line A hits pretty much each site head on (you can even take the subway to the ancient city but you need to connect to or take Line B). Unfortunately that night, which was also New Years Eve it was raining, and we spent most of the night cooped up in our little bungalow packing, eating and drinking. We did get our a bit to get some pizza however, that wasn't very enjoyable since we had to wait 1hr for take out (everyone else had the same idea... LOL). Lucky for everyone though, very close to midnight the rain stopped and there was fireworks galore! One thing we learned was how much Italians love fireworks and firecrackers. The whole night and day before New Years Eve, they were going off EVERYWHERE! Rome Was very enjoyable and we were lucky to have such great weather. 

Venice - Rain, Rain, Rain
For the first part of our trip, we were very fortunate to have great weather and great places to stay... however, once we reached Venice our luck seemed to have run out. Our hotel, was rather... sketchy. it was not in the same building as the reception but down a tiny little ally with three different keys to get into the room and was not clean when we got there... at 2pm. Yes I understand it was New Years Day, but it was 2pm and we were tired and had to wait 1hr to have our room cleaned. Oh well, once the cleaning lady was through all was good... in the room that is. Once we finally got outside it was pretty dark and we only walked a short ways so not to get too lost. It was here however, that I saw probably my favorite and most romantic site of the whole trip. we walked down a small ally way towards some docks on the water overlooking a rather calm part lit by only some lights on the canal. Not only was that romantic enough seeing all of the building just kind of magically lit but a few lone gondoliers floated by in their gondolas. I don't know why, it was just - magical. Unfortunately due to the weather we never did make it on a gondola ride (I guess fortunately for our wallets). The next day was absolutely dreadful. I did not have water resistance shoes/boots with me, and the rubber boots (which cost a steep 30-45 euro) sold out pretty fast so I got rather soaked and very very cold. We managed to walk all along the canal before taking the water transit back to the hotel (which was near the train station). Unfortunately we didn't see everything we had wanted to but, it surely was an experience. We only stayed the one night in Venice because of the cost and so that evening we headed off to Milan. 

Luckily our last few train rides were very uneventful, so we made it to Milan timely, and with the help of an older couple who spoke french made it to our hotel (which I recommend and is called Hotel Nettuno, not far from the Central Station). Milan was easy going. We saw the main sites like the Duomo, the Castello, the Quadrilateral, the Basilica's, The Church where the Last Supper is (unfortunately we didn't actually get to see the Last Supper painting), a little bit of Bocconi, etc. It was fun and relaxing. We stayed three nights. One quite amusing sight was the amount of salt poured onto the roads and sidewalks due to the freezing weather. I forgot to take a picture of it though :(... We had fairly good weather in Milan and easily made it on our way to Bern, Switzerland.

Bern, Switzerland
Our journey to Bern was very beautiful. It was quite sunny and clear most of the way so we were able to see the alps quite clearly. It snowed quite heavily though once we got to Bern and saw very little of the surrounding mountainous regions once we were there. In Bern we saw the clock tower, and some of the other main sites, but probably the most interesting thing we did was visit the Einstein Museum which was both very interesting and very entertaining! who knew Einstein was such a ladies man ;). We also went past where he lived while in Bern, unfortunately it is not open to the public until February. Bern was nice, but very cold and the snow and low clouds made it hard to see a lot. Our Hostel (Bern Backpackers Hostel) was very nice though, and I highly recommend it. Our last bit of our trip in Bern was again very relaxing and enjoyable. 

Back to Frankfurt
The next day we went back to Frankfurt area and were able to spend a few days with James' sister's family before James head back to Canada. We visited Fulda (which was quite neat) and just spent a lot of relaxing time. Once James left, I spent the next two weeks with Julie and Uwe (James' sister and her husband), Ben and Tim (their two children, 4 and 2 years old respectively) which was a lot of fun playing with the kids, visiting some old towns, watching Ben's first soccer tournament, learning some German, and watching girly movies! 


So that was our trip (in a nutshell!) it was a lot of fun, and hopefully the pictures will be up soon so you can see more. Back in Rothenbergen I was able to get more prepared for coming to Milan, which was good, but unfortunately missed James a lot (who-da-thunk-it... lol). It also quite fun and relaxing. 

So Here we are briefed up until a couple of days ago. Somehow, even though I bought barely anything, I was still very close to weight with my suit cases, which ended up not being so enjoyable to shuffle around... and so up until check-in I was a little uneasy. everything at the airport went fine and dandy though, and Julie and Tim saw me off... everything until I went through security. Lest just say there is nothing more embarrassing than being asked by security if you have a knife in your bag, and not knowingly actually having one. Apparently I forgot that I had a Swiss Army Knife in my first aid kit and I really honestly had no idea it was in there. So he pointed to this X-ray Picture of my bag and asked me, and when I said no looked at me like I was stupid (i sure felt stupid). It was something in a pocket near where the first aid kit was, so I took out the first aid kit, and he ran my bag and first aid kit through the scanner separately and sure enough it was in the first aid kit. So I went scrounging through it and found sewing needles and stuff but I could not find the knife! Then finally I looked in this thin narrow cardboard box that had been disguised in bandages and there was that darn Swiss army knife. That was a "Oh Sh*t Moment" and I just handed it over... but to my surprise he just opened it up, said oh that blade is pretty small and handed it back to me. Slightly shocked I just put it away. I'm positive I was as red as a tomato and looked as scared as a puppy, which is probably why he gave me slack, but that sure got the heart pumping. Luckily the flight other than that was very uneventful. 

I saw some absolutely breath taking views going over the Alps (it was very clear and the sun was shining) and once in Milan I made it off the plane safely, got my luggage quickly and found Barbara who would take me to Katie's and My LOVELY Apartment!

I have now somewhat settled in, got the internet this morning (during which the apartment almost started on fire due to a cupboard door being left open and leaning on a light by the installation crew. Luckily the burning smell came to our attention before any flames appeared) and have done some grocery shopping (during which I almost got lost because I lost my map, and had to back track all the way back to the apartment only to look up online that I was within probably 50 m of the supermarket I was looking for...LOL!).  Its been interesting because no one at either grocery store I have been to or the internet dudes have spoken English... this shall be fun! lol. But luckily the landlords speak English very well, and I have met one of the neighbors and their daughter who also speaks English very well.

Anyways, that is all so far! I love the apartment and will unpack and put some more stuff away tonight (maybe do some laundry and some actual cooking too!)! Can't wait to have more adventures!

If your around Bocconi/Milano, hope to see you soon! and everyone else, miss you lots and COME VISIT!!!

Talk to you all later!


Steph ♥

P.S. Pictures are coming very soon, I PROMISE!
P.S.S. A very late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!