Friday, January 29, 2010

Meet Ubu

Ubu is the ferocious dog who "guards" our villa - otherwise known as Scott, the founding director's, pet.
Don't be fooled by his soft and cuddly exterior...I kid you not, this beast has the capacity of taking down fully grown men. (This may be a slight exaggeration however, you try to pet this little dude? He growls at you...and is not afraid of biting.) When not growling at students in the villa, he enjoys growling at strange noises, following people around, playing catch, and occasionally sleeping on the stairs. Scott calls Ubu the perfect psychological study, for he is convinced that he is schizophrenic.

Yesterday morning I had movement class. We continued doing basic acrobatic things including mounting and laying on another person's back and rolling off of it, as well as doing a slow roll over a person's body while they are in a bridge position (again..hard to explain). We also did more tumbling exercises - I could have sworn I pulled something because I heard a pop somewhere in my thigh but I am fine today, so all is well. I was particularly frustrated after class - some of the movements I am picking up quite easily and others I am struggling with. Don't get me wrong - I love this feeling; it means I'm being challenged...but it's also frustrating. I am not a very technical person and acrobatics is extremely technical. If you don't do it the right way, one of two things will happen: you will hurt yourself, or you will hurt your partner. I am nervous about doing both. Claudia makes it look very easy - and she's hardcore in that if people fall (which has been happening) she doesn't stop and rush over to you and say, "ohh no! are you okay?" she just says, "Alright, well you need to keep your eyes on the horizon or else your back will not be flat enough for your partner to balance on" (in her awesome German accent). It's hard, and makes me want to scream sometimes, but at the end of the day it's exactly what I've been wanting training wise - I couldn't really ask for anything more.

After movement we were supposed to have a lecture on the way the world was when commedia dell'arte entered into it but Scott was still sick so it was canceled. In the afternoon I had Italian, and then studio time. Studio is basically time for us to work on movement homework, but because it's the first week there isn't really anything to do. In this time, though, I did happen to find a drum in one of the closets in the Teatrino which made me very happy. It's not a djembe...and it's definitely not as cool as the djembe that I have...but it's a similar style and I can play it the same way. YAY. So I drummed for probably a half hour in a rehearsal space with Tuscany staring at me through the windows. yes. yes. and yes.

Last night we had cabaret! People did a lot of different things - there was acting, dancing, banjo playing, yodeling, singing, spoken word - very very fun. Brian (the guest artist who is here for a few weeks from Ireland) dedicated a song to his MFA students. He said, "you have all been vulnerable this week, so it's time for me to do something that I am terrified of which is singing". So he sat down in this chair very close to all of us and told us to imagine that we were in an old Irish Pub. After he did this, he began to sing this old Irish song and I started BAWLING within the first couple notes. It was so gorgeous. Man oh man. Art at it's best, in my opinion.
I was involved in a pretty "risque" scene from this play called "Attempts on her life". It was less acting and more acrobatics, so it was definitely challenging but it turned out well. Claudia came up to me afterwards and said, "You just got here!" :)

This morning I had voice class. We did a bunch of different exercises involving our jaw and our pelvis and contraction and expansion (lots of technical things that will bore you to tears reading), but the BEST part of class was at the end. We started singing this simple melody that Kevin taught us and it turned into this huge jam session. By the end, nobody was singing the same melody but everybody was saying the same words and we were literally just dancing and singing in this room (with, once again, good ol' Tuscany looking in through the window) Agh. Pure joy. It was like...Glee...except ten times cooler and in Italy. Screw you ABC. Our voice class is better than your little club any day...
Afterwards I had Italian (we had a quiz today...pretty easy) followed by lunch and then our commedia lecture that was canceled from yesterday.

A few words about Scott (the founding director): he is so damn smart. (This is the same guy that teaches my philosophy class). The lecture was 2 1/2 hours. Not one of us was literally just him talking for over two hours but it wasn't boring at all. He basically painted the entire backdrop for the world that Commedia entered and it was SO interesting...I can't even tell you. I could write about all the details but I took seven pages of notes and I could talk forever. (And this post is already too long). Needless to say, it was amazing. I went to his office afterwards and asked him to just give me some books. Any books. Books on anything, because this man is so well read it's disgusting. I've decided that during my stay in Italy, I am going to read...and not just things I like. Anything. Everything. Even if I hate it or fundamentally disagree with it - put it on my desk. UGH. Classes here are making me SO inspired it's not even funny. I wrote a song yesterday in fifteen minutes. Who the hell does that?

I'm convinced all this inspiration is a mixture of class and the Nutella that I eat at every breakfast. Nutella is an essential food group.

PHEW. Finally the weekend. There is a bonfire tonight at the school, followed by a birthday party for a few people who had birthdays (Funny story: Yesterday at lunch, Michael was like "I have a very special announcement to make. Eva was born today!!" There was all this enthusiasm in the room and then he looked over at me and I just sort of smiled and shook my head no. hahahahha they thought it was my birthday...but they got the date mixed up. Anyway, it was very funny. Pure, honest, comedy. brilliant.)
La Dolce Vita. :)
A Domani - -

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Buona Sera!
The pictures are from today's sunset. Pretty incredible, if I do say so myself. The view is from the balcony of our villa.
It's been one week. :) Love. It. Here.
Today was yet another long day at the Accademia.
We had Italian in the morning - we weren't quite as hyper as last class but it was still fun. We learned numbers, how to pay for things at stores, days of the week, months, important city spots, and how to give directions. PHEW. Basically, a lot of stuff. After that we had voice class. I was still so sore from yesterday - luckily for the first half hour of class we did breathing exercises lying on the floor so it was very relaxing. After that we looked at the relationship between pressure, sound, and movement, as well as the beginning of beautiful vs ugly singing. It's interesting - everyone comes from very different backgrounds but in all of our classes so far we have managed (pretty easily, I might add) to find common ground.
Everybody is great.

Every Wednesday during lunch we are only allowed to speak Italian. This proved to be an interesting challenge - but we stumbled through it okay.
Man, the food here is so good. This man named Ricardo serves us breakfast, lunch, and dinner all throughout the week. (Weekends we are left to fend for ourselves). Breakfast is usually the same, but there has never been the same lunch or dinner so far. They are SO GOOD. Homecooked Italian Food. YUM.

After lunch, we were supposed to have philosophy but our teacher was sick.
Then, two at a time, we had private tutorials with Claudia (movement teacher) about why we chose this program, what we are hoping to get out if it, and we were free to ask her questions as well.
Again - the nice thing about being in such a small place is that the professors here really take the time for you. They are all so interested in us as both humans and as students which is a pretty great feeling. Claudia's office is awesome, too. She has a massage bed and tons of posters of the skeletal and muscular systems. Rock. On. Acrobatics.
Kadie, Alex, and I went for a short run. Instead of running through the city of Arezzo we ran up the hill on a back road and the view was GORGEOUS. Absolutely stunning.
After running, I hung out for a bit and then rehearsed our scene for Cabaret. It's coming along well - - to be honest it's less of a scene and more of an acrobatic tumble session. I was actually unaware that I could do some of the stuff I'm doing. I guess there is a time and a place for everything... :)
Then dinner. Then more rehearsal. It's now 11:30 pm and I am just about to finish this and start some homework. I've eaten enough European chocolate today to keep me hopefully it doesn't fail me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eva: Sono stanca. Lizbie: Does that mean who farted?

I can honestly say I have never been this sore in. my. entire. life.
Dance rehearals, working out, being a nymph and hopping around on all fours in The Tempest this summer at Great River (for those of you reading who may remember that..) hell - even car accidents; nothing compares to the immense pain I feel throughout my body.
But it is the best pain in the entire world.
Movement this morning was rough. After waking up feeling the way I did, I had no idea how I was going to do acrobatics, so I wrestled with my body for two hours and managed to do alright. We did yoga today, which was nice...but then after yoga we did headstands and basic tumbling. HA. Nothing like being sore and then throwing your body on the ground.
We also did partner-rolling, where one person is in child's pose and the other person literally does a roll over their back. Amazingly enough, that actually felt really good. But then after that Claudia said, "go down the entire mat rolling as fast as you can" - - - aaaaaa hahahahahahahahahaha. Hopefully I'll feel better for next class. I was talking with this guy named Brian (he is a guest instructor from Ireland..teaching the MFA students, but we do a workshop with him in a few weeks) and he said he knows these big macho guys who live by the motto: Pain is weakness leaving your body. ha. I am getting stronger, I know that..but I wish it was less painful! :(
After movement was lunch (lasagna!) followed by our first day of Italian. (In the beginning of class, we were all sitting with our pants down rubbing Icy Hot on our thighs. HOTT.)
Our Italian class is going to be an absolute blast. Our teacher is Monica (I mentioned her in an earlier post). She's in charge of student life here and she is from Arezzo (born and raised) so we are learning damn good Italian. The best thing about our class is that unlike other foreign language classes where you learn a lot of bullshit sentences you don't need to know like, "Will you help me mow my lawn?" or "My dog smells really bad", we are learning things that we will immediately be able to learn in the city. In fact, for right now she's skipping a lot of the formal stuff because she says, "Nobody speaks Formal Italian. We aren't formal. We don't care." Thank god. Not only that, but because it's a small class we are able to ask a bunch of questions.
One of the main things about Italian: every letter is pronounced (with the exception of H..when H begins a word). Because of this, Monica says that I should go by "Ava" in Italy, because "Ava" is what their Eva would sound like. She said it will save me a lot of trouble...because if I say Eva they will think I'm saying "Iva". So I am now Ava. Hi. Dad this is for you: you know how people always mispell Balistrieri? Well you probably know this...but when you say it with the Italian pronunciation it sounds like it is spelled! We should just say it like that in America! It would make life a lot easier. Balistreeairy.
Ciao! Mi Chiamo Eva. Sono Americana. Sono studentessa di teatro a l'Accademia dell'Arte. Sono Stanca, Iper, e pazza.

Pretty sure you can figure out the first part, but the second is I am tired, hyper, and crazy because during class I was all three. We all were actually...I think because all of us (dancers and actors) are incredibly sore and we had just eaten lunch.
I was talking to Monica about how to say "I'm tired." (Monica, come si dice "I'm tired" in Italiano?) and she replied with "Sono Stanca". At this moment, Lizbie (dancer...awesome...) comes up and says, "Does that mean, who farted?"
Probably sounds stupid, but being as tired as I was we all cracked up. It's going to be a hilarious class, to say the least.
My favorite discovery of the day: In Italian, Consonanti doppie (double consonants) for example, SpagheTTi (the two t's) are really important to pronounce, because if you don't, certain meanings for words can change. Also, accents are important to pronounce differently. The best example of this: (seriously this is good...)
Papa (with an accent on the last a...but I don't know how to do that on here)
If you don't pronounce them could be a catastrophe.
Papa = pope. Papa with an accent = dad and Pappa = baby food.
Can you see how that could be horrible? :)
Anyway, those were our only two classes for the day (pretty easy day!) which was good because I don't think we would have been capable of much more.
I had rehearsal for that scene I'm doing for cabaret for an hour, and then we had dinner. I spent the rest of the night doing philosophy homework, Italian homework, and reading Commedia in preparation for our Commedia classes which start next week. EEK!
Alright, time for bed.
Buona Notte, amici!

Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils

Yesterday was the first day of classes.
Bear with me - some of this stuff might be hard to explain but I will do my best!
In the morning we had movement class with Claudia. We began by playing a name/movement game so that she could get to know all of us better. Then we began walking around the room, and we had to find the easiest way to the floor. A lot of yesterdays class was spent figuring out the easiest most natural way to do things. (Reminded me a lot of neutral mask work I did as an apprentice at Great River). We also worked with partners and did exercises where we had to sit down and stand up back to back with each other, without using our hands and without commuicating. We then did groups of three, groups of four, and then all nine of us did it with our shoulders touching just using our legs and feet as bases and using our core to help pull us up. We also did exercises where we would start back to back, and then one person would lean foward and the other person would bend back on their back, their feet off the ground and kicking in the air. Like I said, this stuff is hard to explain... - basically it was a lot of fundamental/basic movement exercises so that Claudia could figure out our bodies and so that we could be introduced to others in the class and refreshen our own body as well. Even though a lot of it was basic, we all were dripping sweat at the end. She's going to kick our ass this semester.
After movement, we had philosophy of Art. This class is so badass I can't even tell you. Our teacher, Scott, is AWESOME. He totally speaks my language. I've taken philosophy classes in the past and I've always loved them, but he is out of control good. We talked about a ton of different things, so i won't bore you with the details, but one of the main discussions was about how fragmented our society has gotten. Basically just that America has a huge attention deficit disorder; the way we are with our Ipods is the way we are with everything in life. When we don't feel like listening to that particular song, we switch it. In coversations with friends, we change topics. We flip through tv channels. We browse the internet. It didn't used to be this way.
Quote from class:

We'll teach you that your process of thinking
instead of being like eating and drinking,
spontaneous,instantaneous, free,
must proceed by one and two and three.
Our though-machine, as I assume,
Is in fact like a master-weaver's loom:
One thrust of his foot, and a thousand threads
Invisibly shift, and hither and thither
the shuttles dart - just once he treads
and a thousand strands all twine together,
In comes your philosopher and proves
It must happen by distinct logical moves:
The first is this the second is that,
and the third and fourth then follow pat;
if you leave out one or you leave out two,
then neither three nor four can be true.
The students applaud; they all say, "just so"
but how to be weavers they still don't know.
When scholars study a thing, they strive
to kill it first if it's alive.
Then they have the parts and they've lost the whole
for hte link that's missing was the living soul.


Basically it's saying that thinking logically leads you to only have parts of the whole - - in order to understand something fully, the soul must be present.

Man. I could go on about this class forever...but I won't. I can't even begin to tell you how pumped I am for it though. Philosophy is one of the best things in the world.
Finally after philosophy, I had voice (my last class of the day). Once again, our teacher is the bomb diggity. My movement teacher is an acrobat from Germany and my voice teacher is from the UK and taught at Trinity college in Ireland for nine years. I swear, foreign professors know what the deal is. In class, we started out by building laughter. I was laughing so hard with other people laughing, that it was hard to do it on my own! haha but by the end I was crying from laughing so hard. It was hysterical. My favorite exercise from the day, though, was we had to pretend that a little ball was either inside of us or on us, and we had to track the journey of the ball letting it influence our bodies and subsequently our voices. It was so interesting to see the different ways people went with it: some people HATED the ball, and others found it soothing and comfortable - - and all of this was found through the way people moved their bodies and their vocal chords. So good. Also, because there are only 9 people in the theatre track, it's so nice because we get lots of individual attention. Kevin was working with this girl Morgan in class for probably 15 minutes and it was GREAT. You learn so much from just observing.
This place is incredible. I was just happy to be in Italy, but the work that they do at this school is so inspiring and I know that it will be great training for me and for the others involved in the programs. I feel very thankful and lucky to be here. It really is something else - - and all the hard work it took to get here is definitely paying off, without a doubt.
After class, Kadie (roomie) and I went for a run. Don't ask me why or how. We were already sore..but we did it! 3 miles in about 20 minutes - mostly uphill! Not bad at all.
This Thursday, we have a cabaret. There are I think four throughout the entire semester. The first one we are allowed to do whatever we want, and then the second one will be more related to classwork, the third gets more specific, and then the fourth is the most specific. I wasn't sure if I was going to do anything because I didn't know what to do, but Louise (a grad student here from the UK) is doing a scene with two others and she invited me to take part in it, so now I'm doing a scene! We worked on it last night for a while, and I was going to blog, but I was so exhausted that I had to go to sleep!
I've already had movement this morning and my body is probably the most sore it's ever been in my life....but it's good. It means they are working us hard.
I'll write about movement and the rest of the day later.

Ciao! Hope you are all well.
Miss you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I love you! Meow!

Today was pretty uneventful - probably a good thing considering that classes start tomorrow (Thank God) and we will be busy as hell then.
Thank God because I am starting to feel a bit fidgety in Italy right now. It's beautiful and free time is glorious, but I'm ready to get to work. I think we all are. We had a weekend of wandering, getting to know the area, getting to know each other a bit and now it's time to buckle down and be creative.
Walked around the city with some folks today. Got my first slice of Pizza in Italy and it tasted beautifully. We were planning on just chilling in "Greedy" - pretty rockin' place, except then this group of four Italian boys came up to me and said "You are beautiful. I love you" and then proceeded to "Meow" at me. If meowing isn't hott..I don't know what is. Needless to say, we left in a hurry hoping we'd avoid them - - they managed to keep finding us. Want to know how we knew? Because we heard "meowing" behind us. Now, I've heard these terror stories of girls being followed in Europe but I promise you, this was not threatening nor did I feel scared for my life...more so I found it incredibly funny that Italian boys think girls like being meowed at. That's all. :)Finally I put my hood up and ran. Did the trick. Thank goodness.
Biggest lesson learned in Italy so far: Dinner isn't until 7:30. We were in town all day and we figured we would get dinner at five and head back. No such luck - - no actual ristorantes open until after seven and we were too cold to stick around. Of course, there are gelato cafes open EVERYWHERE as well as places to get a quick slice of pizza, but after having pizza, we wanted an actual meal. Nope. Instead we found this little Greek place and I had a falafel wrap. So...I've been in a Mexican Restaurant, a Greek Cafe....and I'm in Italy. I'm in Italy and I have not eaten at an actual Italian restaurant. Sheesh. Hopefully this will change soon...but in the meantime the wrap I had was delicious.
Classes start tomorrow! YES!!!

Buona Sera, Amici.
Sogni d'oro.

Mi dispiace. Sono Americana.

Yesterday was a good day.
I slept in a bit (I think my body is still adjusting to all this...)
Then I woke up and went running into Arezzo. The hills here are nuts, but it felt SO good. I can't wait to discover more paths. It's tricky though, you can't vear off the main road because the alleys all look the same....I found this out later.
I came back and showered. The rest of the girls had gone down to this market that was happening in the middle of the city, but I had been running, so I went down after my shower to try and meet them. Didn't end up finding them - and by this point I was starving (they only serve meals at our school during the week, so on weekends you have to eat out). I was so nervous because I only know a couple phrases in Italian, and from what I've discovered so far, because Arezzo isn't a "Rome" or a "Florence", a lot of people here do not speak English. So finally, I got over my nerves and walked into this little cafe called "Caffe del teatro" (ironic?) I walk inside and the man behind the counter says something to me in Italian and I replied with, "Sono Americana, Mi dispiace. Studio Italiano." Which to my knowledge means, I am American, I'm sorry, I'm learning Italian. He said something along the lines of, "Ah! Bene! Benvenuta!" - (ah, good, welcome!) and then he and the girl at the counter said something that seemed reassuring...I'm pretty sure it was something like, "No, it's okay! you are trying!" but who knows - - they could have been making fun of me too. We went from there. He continued speaking Italian, and I tried to follow him. (Good practice). I basically pointed at what I wanted and I couldn't really tell you what I ate - I'm pretty sure it was just their version of a ham sandwich. Afterwards, I paid and said "grazie mille" (Thanks a lot) because I felt bad that he had to help me stumble my way through all of that. But HEY! I did it! Even though I royally SUCKED, I made it through all on my own which I was pretty happy about.
I do a better job of blending into this city than I thought I would. I ended up getting lost for a little bit, but apparently I didn't look lost to others because a couple different Italian people came up to me and asked me for directions to places. Unfortunately, I had to tell them: "Mi dispiace. Sono Americana." but every person seemed so pleased that I at least started out with that instead of, "Oh. Sorry. I have no idea. I'm American." My Italian stopped at that point, other than the occasional, "Grazie" or "Va Bene" (ok) or "Benissimo" (excellent) or "Come Sta" (how are you) or "Ciao!" - - but that's more than I knew a couple days ago! So I am learning. Slowly but surely.
I managed to find my way back to the center of town and when I did, I walked back home. Upon arriving, I was so tired from running into town and then walking into town that I took a nap. When I woke up, it was time for dinner so the entire group of us walked back into town, yet again, to this restaurant (shoot. I forget the name.) For Seven Euros you order a drink, and then once you order that drink, it's an all you can eat buffet. Not a bad deal.
After this, the group of us (all 9 theatre students, all 9 dance students) met up with our movement teacher Claudia for our first field trip! We went to go see a dance show at this little theatre in Arezzo. It was three soloists - one of whom (Stefano) is a guest teacher at the Accademia for dance. The first girl was okay. The choreography was not so great, but the amount of control she had over her body was absolutely incredible. The second girl was alright, she was my least favorite out of the three. But Stefano!! Oh my god. I Am so jealous that the dancers get to learn from him. He was incredible. Each of the dancers had three distinct movements to their pieces. His first one was hilarious - all about the "things" in our life. At one point he was smoking a cigarette and brushing his teeth at the same time - hilarious. But his last movement was by far the most powerful and his musicality was INGENIOUS. So inspirational. I hope that he does at least one workshop with the actors too.
After the show, three other theatre students (Morgan, Sam, Kathryn) and I went and got cappucino and espresso at this Mexican restaurant that is on the way back to the Villa. How random is that? Coffee at a Mexican restaurant in Italy. haha. It was quite a trip - but the cappucino was delicious.
Upon arriving back at the Villa, I stayed outside for a while with Morgan and Sam. We hung out on the balcony and just looked at the city of Arezzo at night. I ended up getting super emotional - not because I was homesick or anything but I think just because I'm here and it's still pretty surreal. The three of us spent the rest of the night talking (literally...I think all of us were up until around 5:30/6 in the morning) in the Mensa (kitchen) of the school where we drank tea and at about 4 in the morning decided we wanted leftover Gnocchi. :)
So that was yesterday.
More on today later...

Ciao, amici!

Friday, January 22, 2010



Didn't get a chance to write yesterday. Classes don't start until Monday, but we've had orientation the last two days. Yesterday morning we all had a meeting with the professors, and then afterwards the dance and theatre students split up. The theatre students had a meeting with Claudia (she's our movement and acrobatics teacher). She's from Germany and trained with the circus. I knew the minute I saw her that she was going to be incredible. Classes with her are going to be intense. After the meeting, we got a tour of the Villa that we are living in. All of our classes take place inside this villa, so it's huge - way bigger than I thought it was initially. Apparently, our home used to be the home of the Bishop Angelo Ricasoli. Later it became the home of Bishop Gentile dei Becchi, (tutor to the Medici children) so the Medici children came here to study - - pretty incredible.

Here it is:

Beautiful, huh?

Also, this is part of my bedroom, as well as the view outside my bedroom window (which happens to be my favorite part of the entire room.) I think you'll understand why:

Good news: My luggage came yesterday! :)
We had another meeting later in the afternoon with Monica, who is from Arezzo but works with the Accademia. She has lived here her whole life, so she knows everything about the town and how Italy works in general. She explained to us the main cultural differences, as well as some important things to know such as, there is no tipping in Italy. Even if bartenders/waiters try to get you to tip, she says don't. It's actually looked at as being sort of rude: these people have jobs, they make money, if you tip them it's basically saying to them, "Here have my change, I don't need it." Also, if you want a pepperoni pizza, you have to ask for salami. Pepperoni here = a vegetable! Don't order just a latte. Latte = milk and you will get nothing but a glass of milk. She also warned us about safety issues and things like that. There is no translatable word in Italian for the word "Privacy". Tells you a thing or two about their culture...

We walked to this grocery store, Pam. I bought laundry detergent and soap for our bathroom - and a Milka chocolate bar because I haven't had one since I was in France and European chocolate is TO. DIE. FOR.

Last night, we all went out to an Italian bar. On the way we passed all these soccer fields - - - -- - nothing more to say about that :) Anway, it was such a fun night- the bartender knows the Accademia well and so he was very welcoming to us, being the new students. Because Arezzo isn't touristy, all the people in there were Italian so we met quite a few of them. It was nice - I learned quite a few phrases from them and they were very happy to help. They said, "I learned fast". :) I'm hoping to be able to go into Arezzo a lot, because I really want to get better at the language. After one night it was clear: the more you immerse yourself and are not afraid to talk to people, the better you will be.

This morning, we had a meeting with Michael about "Core Duties". We are each assigned a group, and a few times a week we have to help out at the Accademia, by taking out certain garbages, making sure rooms are setup for classes, keeping the Mensa (kitchen/cafeteria) clean, stuff like that. Then we all walked into Arezzo with Monica and got a quick tour of the city. We walked into this one church - - man, something about old churches like that gets me every time. So beautiful. The town itself is gorgeous - - everything in your head you have about Italy (small curving streets, laundry out the window, gelato everywhere) is true - and the people have such high fashion. I'm just enjoying seeing what people are wearing.
Part of the movie "La Bella Vita" was filmed here, so there are certain historic locations marked with movie posters. I'm looking forward to exploring Arezzo more this weekend. There is so much to see! A bunch of us bought cell phones with prepaid minutes for emergency situations. Now we are just back at the Villa, hanging out here for the night.

I'm not going to lie, I'm happy that all the orientation stuff is over. Don't get me wrong, I love all the people here, but walking around in a big group has made me feel like I'm in a high school foreign exchange program again. I'm looking forward to branching out and trying to blend in more. They spoke to us, actually, at the intial meeting about how because we are living on top of this huge hill, it's easy to become isolated but they encourage us to go out and meet Italians as much as possible. Kadie and I already agreed that when we have free time we are going into the city. Look at where we live - - it's impossible to resist.
A Demani...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ciao Italia!

I had this whole thing written yesterday and then my computer deleted it and I was too tired to fix it last night, so....
Let's try this again:
Left home at around 1:00 pm for Chicago.
Got there quickly, made it through security amazingly easily and headed for the terminal.
About 5 minutes before boarding the plane (Take off was at 6:49 pm)I struck up a conversation with this kid who was sitting next to me. I overheard him talking on the phone about a "shoot" he had yesterday, and he was looking at my "Commedia dell'Arte" book with great interest. Turns out, he's a theatre major at Columbia in Chicago.
We decided that we should try to sit next to each other on the plane, because we were finding out that we both knew some of the same people. (Small world). But sitting next to each other on the plane would require the people who would normally be sitting next to us, to switch.
Let me start out by saying that the woman next to me was Russian. (Thank you Allison).
She was probably 70 and didn't speak a word of English.
In fact, she said to me, "I don't speak English" to which I replied, "I don't speak Russian" to which she said, "Eh?" and shook her head and waved her arms about. It was clear that our relationship was going nowhere. Damn language barrier.
Not only this, but she was smelling and eating Garlic to help clear her sinuses during take off. GARLIC PEOPLE. GARLIC .It was clear that the Russian woman wanted two seats to herself, so we tried to switch things around so she could have her way and I could continue talking to "Columbia", but no such luck. Nobody could understand her - and the flight attendants are fluent in 5 different languages and they still couldn't get anything across to her.
So I'm sitting there reading and the flight attendant comes up to me with a mini bottle of wine. Apparently Columbia had bought me some, so I sent some back to him. Then the flight attendant took it upon herself to decide that he and I needed to sit together so she says to me, "After dinner, go to seat 22 J. You'll have a friend waiting for you." Well, 22 J = UPGRADE and NO GARLIC!! I was thrilled.
So, Columbia and I both get upgraded and then the flight attendant brings us complimentary champagne.
Free drinks. Upgraded seats. Good Company. Needless to say, the flight there wasn't so bad.
We arrive in Frankfurt at 10:05 am and there is a plane at our gate so we have to wait.
and wait.
and wait.
Finally at 10:55 I am walking into the Frankfurt airport - all the signs are in German obviously, but I found my way.
I managed to get through security and customs by 11:10 am (Don't ask me how) and as I'm walking to the Florence terminal, I hear the announcement for last boarding call.
So I literally JUST make it onto a shuttle that takes me to the plane. It still blows my mind that I got there on time. Oh mio dio.
Anyway, on the shuttle I met Sam who is a student at the Accademia here this semester. He's from San Franciso (Emily!!) and goes to school in Boston. Our flight to Florence was really easy and amusing. There was this macho man sitting in the row across from me. He was very large, very tall, and had gold "bling" around his neck - - he looked like he could totally kill me - - except for the fact that as he stood up in the aisle he was strapping on his fanny pack. I wish I could paint the picture better for you but it was hilarious.
Sam and I walk into the Florence baggage claim area and I joke that it would suck if our luggage didn't get there - - and sure enough mine didn't. Turns out it is still in Frankfurt. I filled out a bunch of forms and once I got to the Accademia they told me they knew about it before I did and that they'd been working on it all day. (So nice). Hopefully it will arrive today. *crossing my fingers*. If not, all the girls have said that I can borrow things :)

There are 9 dance students, 9 theatre students, and 12 grad students. Such a small program - way smaller than I thought it would be (Yay small class sizes). It already feels like one big family. My roomie Kadie is from Massachussetts and she goes to school in Conneticut. She's really nice and our room is adorable. We are all living in a Villa that was built in the 13th century. (!!!!) All the rooms are painted gorgeous Italian pastel colors. Very home-y. There is a balcony that overlooks all of Arezzo(which by the way is an awesome town...of what I've gathered so far) and when the sun sets apparently it's the place to be. I can't wait to do monologues from it - - can you imagine? Reciting Shakespeare to the hills of Tuscany? Can't get much better than that...

The rest of the day was spent (for others) unpacking and for me just relaxing and exploring the villa. We had a really great dinner. Kadie and I were exhausted so we went to bed pretty early.

Which leads me to where I am now - - - so Kadie and I both woke up about a half ago CONVINCED that it was like 6:30 7:00 in the morning. Nope. It was definitely 3:30 in the morning, and it is now about 4:15 am. AGH. I was so happy that I didn't have jet lag and I definitely do. My body is messed. up.

Anyway - who knows if I'll be able to get back to sleep. It's crazy though that all this talk of Italy has led to it actually happening. I can't even tell you how lucky and blessed I feel. The next three months are going to be pure heaven.

I'll upload pictures when I have some - I wish you all could see what I see. It's unreal.

Buona Sera!
Sogni d'oro.