I did manage to go to the Duomo for Palm Sunday Mass. As awesome and grandiose and ostentatious as the Duomo is normally, during a mass it’s even better. Because you’re there at an event that the place was made for, it becomes a little more realistic – you realize why it’s there and you realize that the building fits well with its purpose. Some churches [cough any catholic church in the Southeast cough] unfortunately doesn’t really compare. It’s like the Taj Mahal against hobo junction, no comparison.
Also, midterms are done! Over with, finished! It felt so good just to be finished with these. Granted, our work here has been rather lesser than that I do at Vanderbilt (how are those science papers, roomies?) so having to actually study this time was so jarring, so unnerving, that most of us feared we wouldn’t make it. But we did, and it felt oh so good. And it all ended on student night at the local club, which really only compounded the elation (students free on Wednesday and a free drink…joke’s on them!).
Also, I know a lot of people were asking about this, and I just want to publically say that, after the earthquake in Abruzzo, everything’s okay in Siena. Fortunately the earthquake didn’t hit close to Siena, so there were no damages or injuries. There have been lots of news reports, fundraisers, and blood drives by the Italian Red Cross around here to aid the victims of the earthquake (terremoto in Italian). It was kind of weird, though – when you hear about something like this happening outside the US, you’re usually a bit disconnected, because it’s not close to you. But here, it was about the distance from us what Nashville is to Huntsville, so it was quite close. It’s a different feeling, and I pitched in a few euros into one of the fundraising jars.
This weekend, I went up to Hamburg to see the city. It was actually a lot prettier than I imagined – perhaps those Germans weren’t as sterilely efficient as I had once presumed. It was fun, but I did realize one thing during my weekend journey – I could not remember one word of German. I walked into restaurants and frantically asked if anyone spoke English or Italian, all too often only to be met with sad faces and headshakes. I ended up just pointing to things and saying ‘Ja’ or ‘Nein’ to indicate. Hopefully they thought I was Italian, and not another dumb American tourist (to prove I was Italian, I donned a large gold chain and gesticulated wildly. It’s what they do.)
I also saw some cities in the Northwest part of Germany, as I took a quick train to see the North Sea. I saw Stade, Hechthausen, Himmelpforten, and Cuxhaven. Fun note: Himmelpforten, meaning ‘Heaven’s Door’, is the traditional town to which all German children’s letters to Santa are sent. Considering the town only has 3,000 or so people in it, I imagine that’s a tough undertaking for the hamlet that it is.
Now that Lent is over, my fasting of American-style foods has officially ended. So today, Monday, I went to the store, my mind screaming ‘I need some potato chips and Coca-Cola, stat!” (My brain’s a doctor, just so you know). It’s Monday, I thought to myself – the stores will be open. It’s after Easter, after all! But oh, how I underestimated both the Italians’ religiosity and their ability to inconvenience. Not only was the usual grocery store closed, but the back-up grocery store at the train station was, too! Alas, I will have to wait until tomorrow to get my sugary, greasy fix.
It is sort of saddening, however, to note the fact that I only have five weeks left here. I feel that this semester has gone by quickly – too quickly – and having to leave it in less than a month and a half is incredibly disheartening. To compensate for it, though, we all are pretty sure that we’ll be packing in as much Italo-fun as we possibly can before we must leave.
Till later, Ciao!