Friday, April 24, 2009

Q & A Session with Megan

Q: What is the best food in Italy?

A: Pizza in Italy is made by God and sent fresh from Heaven's oven to my tummy. All the other food I've had so far kind of reminds me of Olive Garden, but more expensive. Non mi piace.

Q: What is the weather like in Italy?

A: In April it rained. Lots. Piove. Molto. And everyone here must have a secret extra-dimensional pocket in their fancy Italian clothes where they hide umbrellas, because every time it starts to rain I look around and I am suddenly adrift in a sea of umbrellas where no umbrellas were visible before. Though now it is raining less and being unreasonably hot more. Which I guess is better than rain.

Q: Should I skip classes on Wednesday April 29th to go see my sister in Venice?

A: Yes. The hostel is booked and I am freaking excited. I just have to be sure to be back in time to bus it down to Rogliano. Because although it would be exciting to figure out how to get down there, actually, it wouldn't. It would suck. I am so bad at planning things, I would probably end up walking.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ninja Sightings in Umbria

By Megan Koznek
Special Reporter, Italian News

Situated in central Italy is the region of Umbria. Italian hill towns can be found scattered across Umbria, clinging precariously to hillsides like barnacles cling to rocks. These fairytale towns are one of Umbria's most famous features. One of Umbria's less well known attributes, however, is now posing a threat to these medieval towns.

Ninjas are an introduced species to the region and have only recently become a problem.

"They have been so successful in this country because they can out-breed, out-eat and out-compete Italian native animals and plants, and have few natural predators," said Giuseppe Corleone, president of the Natural Science Academy of Italy.

The exact origin of the ninja is a matter of debate. It is known that ninja appeared in 14th century Japan and remained active from the Kamakura to the Edo period. Some Ninjutsuthologists believe that ninjas were brought to Italy in the 16th century by immigrants in an attempt to combat the ninja's natural enemy, bears. The ninjas were extremely successful in this regard, as dwindling bear populations have shown.

Unfortunately the people transporting ninja to Italy did not consider their nesting habits. Ninjas are skilled in the art of stealth and prefer to nest in high, steep areas. The walls surrounding some hill towns make perfect nesting grounds for the ninja.

Sadly when ninja nest they make caves, which tends to be terribly destructive for the towns they choose to nest in. As ninja populations grow, more and more towns are losing funds repairing structural damage caused by the ninja. If the current ninja trends continue, Italian hill towns may be looking at billions of euros in repair costs in the coming years.

The most recently recorded ninja sightings have been in Assisi, Corciano and Perugia.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Buona Pasqua!

Oh Easter. What a strange and misunderstood holiday.

Misunderstood by me, anyway. BTW, if Easter confuses you, don't go to the Vatican and listen to Easter Sunday mass in Latin/Italian. It does not help.

I got all dressed up in a long black dress and yellow sweater and my roommates and I took a bus to Saint Peter's. I felt like Charlie from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when I showed the guard my ticket. Sadly, no live chocolate rabbits or candy cane crosses awaited us in the square. There were lots of flowers and nuns though.

I had forgotten why I didn't go to church, but Easter helped me remember. Church is boring. Even Pope-church. It was cool, and I took pictures, but I also kept falling asleep.

The coolest part was the end, when he went to his window and waved.

After mass we got pizza and gelato and then took the wrong bus home and ended up going an hour in the wrong direction. But eventually we made it back and had a fun Easter dinner with all the roomies and a weird chocolate cake for desert while we watched Ever After.

It was a pretty good Easter, despite the lack of chocolate eggs. Though I am going to see if Italy does the same kind of post-Easter candy sales as the US. If they do, I'm going to stock up like a McCarthy era fallout shelter afficianado.

Story Time With Ms. Koznek

I wrote a fairy tale for my Italian class. It is about a cat named Maximus. I named him after Russell Crowe.

Here is my Italian Fairy Tale.

Maximus e I topi gladiatore

C'era una volta un gatto che abitava a Roma. Si chiamava Maximus. Aveva 2 anni. Che abitava a Roma, a il Colosseo con suo familiga. In suo familiga, Maximus aveva 100 fratelli e sorelle.

Un giorno Maximus ha dato la caccia al topo al Colosseo. I topi abitavano al Colosseo perché il Colosseo é vicino a negozio di formaggio. I topi piacciono I formaggi. I topi nascondevano da I gatti a il Colosseo. I topi abitavano a l'ultimo di il Colosseo, I gatti abitavano alla parte superiore di il Colosseo. Di solito I gatti e I topi non si vedevano. Ma, in questo giorno, Maximus ha scoperta un topo.

Il topo ha detto a Maximus, “Per favore Signore Gatto, non mangiare me, io farò qualche cosa!”

Maximus era molto intelligente. Lui ha sapeva se ha mangiato il topo, il topo sarebbe morto. Se Maximus non ha mangiato il topo, potrebbe usare il topo.

Maximus ha avuto un'idea.

Lui ha detto al topo, “Parla tuoi amici per me e non si mangia, io ho un'idea.”

Maximus e I topi hanno fatto uno spettacolo. Uno spettacolo di gladiatore, e I topi erano I gladiatore.

Maximus ha venduto I biglietti per I topi gladiatore spettacolo e I umani sono venuti. Maximus e I topi hanno fatto molto denaro e loro erano famosi.

La fine.

This is what happens when I take what I wrote in Italian and enter it into Google Translate.

Maximus and Gladiator Mice

There was once a cat who lived in Rome. It was called Maximus. He had 2 years. Who lived in Rome, the Colosseum with his familiga. In his familiga, Maximus had 100 brothers and sisters.

One day, Maximus gave hunt mice at the Colosseum. The mice lived to the Coliseum because the Coliseum is close to the cheese shop. Mice like Cheese. The mice hid from Cats at the Colosseum. The mice lived to the last of the Colosseum, The cats lived at the top of the Coliseum. Usually Cats and Mice are not seeing. But on this day, Maximus has discovered a mouse.

The mouse said to Maximus, "Please Lord Gatto not eat me, I will do anything!"

Maximus was very intelligent. He knew if he ate the mouse, the rat died. If Maximus has not eaten the mouse, you use the mouse.

Maximus had an idea.

He said the mouse, "Talk to your friends and me do not eat, I have an idea."

Maximus and the mice have a show. A spectacle of Gladiator, and I had mice I gladiatore.

Maximus has sold tickets for the show gladiatore mice and humans I have come. Maximus and the mice have made a lot of money and they were famous.

The end.

And here is the normal, grammatically correct English version, which is way more coherent then the Google Translate version. But I think it is less fun.

Maximus and the Gladiator Mice

There was once a cat who lived in Rome. His name was called Maximus. He was 2 years old. He lived in Rome, at the Colosseum with his family. In his family, Maximus had 100 brothers and sisters.

One day, Maximus was hunting mice at the Colosseum. The mice lived at the Coliseum because the Coliseum is close to a cheese shop. Mice like Cheese. The mice hid from the cats at the Colosseum. The mice lived on the bottom of the Colosseum, while the cats lived at the top of the Coliseum. Usually the Cats and Mice did not see eaach other. But on this day, Maximus has discovered a mouse.

The mouse said to Maximus, "Please Mr. cat do not eat me, I will do anything!"

Maximus was very intelligent. He knew if he ate the mouse, the mouse died. If Maximus did not eat the mouse, he could use the mouse.

Maximus had an idea.

He said the mouse, "Talk to your friends for me and I will not eat you, I have an idea."

Maximus and the mice made a show. A show with Gladiators, and the mice were the gladiators.

Maximus sold tickets for the show and humans came to watch. Maximus and the mice made a lot of money and they were very famous.

The end.

So tell me boys and girls, which version was your favorite?

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Don't Like Crowds, They Remind Me of Zombies.

Good Friday, also known as Holy Friday, Black Friday, or Great Friday, is a religious holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus. Holy Friday I understand. Black Friday I understand. Good and Great Friday? Not so much. Seems like a pretty depressing Friday to me. Perhaps early Christians were just so glad it was the weekend that they decided Good Friday was appropriate. I would've gone with something like, "You're So Going to Regret This" Friday, or "We'll See Who's Laughing on Sunday" Friday.

And Sunday would not be Easter, it would be "Zombie Jesus Day."

On Good Friday my roommates and I tried to see the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum but we got stuck in a crazy crowd. I was literally standing shoulder to shoulder with people, trying to jostle my way to the front of the line. Do you know how awkward it is to shove past an army of small nuns while attempting to see over a wall of people? I do. Shortly after cutting in front of the nuns both of my feet were run over by a stroller containing a cranky baby. It hurt, but I probably deserved it after the nun thing.

It really was wall to wall people, surrounding the Colosseum. We couldn't see anything. Luckily, there were loud speakers set up that let the crowd outside hear the ceremony going on...if they spoke Italian. Though it could possibly have been Latin. I'm not sure, because I don't really speak either of those languages.

So we failed at Good Friday and did not see the Pope. Good Friday was not good to us.

Oh well, I will see the Pope on Zombie Jesus Day. And there will be much rejoicing and eating of chocolate eggs.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Ninja Skills

Last weekend I went to Florence. It was fine. The train ride was 4 hours of lame, and for the first 2 hours I slept, sunglasses on and mouth wide open, head lolling to the side like an idiot. I admire my roommates restraint in not taking a million pictures of me in that state. If our positions had been reversed, I totally wouldn't have been so considerate. Don't believe me? Check out exhibit A.

Exhibit A

Anyway, the weather was okay, my roommates and I saw the Uffizi Museum (interesting, but the Birth of Venus was not as awesome as I expected,) the Galleria dell'Accademia (the museum was smaller than I thought it would be, but so, so amazing. Michelangelo's David was badass). We also saw the Duomo, (nice, but too tall,) and climbed the Duomo Dome, which has 463 steps. That part kind of sucked.

In the museums they had workers posted in every room whose only job as far as I could tell was to stand around and yell at people with cameras. I was told "No photo!" about 15 times. Luckily I am ninja and got lots of pics anyway. Like this one which I took standing right next to one of the museum sentries while using Morgan as a human shield:

So, that was Florence. Good times were had by all. Now it is back to classes and internships for me. Next weekend is Easter weekend and my roommates and I got tickets to the Vatican.

Yes, I will spend Easter with the Pope. We will chill and eat chocolate eggs and talk about Jesus. We might even become pen pals.

This is possibly a sign of the Apocalypse.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shake, Rattle and Roll

I arrived in Italy and the Earth moved. Wow.

Yes, there was an Earthquake last night. The news article I read said it was a 5.8, but I dunno, it felt more like a 5.7.

It happened at about 3:30 in the morning and Mary and I woke up, our other roommates Kelsey, Natalie and Roxana slept through it.

It wasn't too bad in Rome, mostly just bouncy. My bed was shaking enough to wake me up and I spent a minute looking around at everything to make sure it was actually wobbling before I said anything. It was kind of hard to tell, because I am sick and it was dark and I don't wear my contacts to bed. After I was 98% sure it was an earthquake I said to Mary, who sleeps in the bed closest to mine, "Hey, is this an Earthquake?"

Because, you know, I try to ask only the questions I already know the answers to.

Then Mary roles over and says "No, go back to sleep," which totally ruined my whole 'wise and all-knowing' routine.

But I didn't want to argue with her because I was tired. So, I pulled the blankets over my head and went back to sleep.

This morning we were talking about it and Mary says that she REALLY said "I don't know, go back to sleep," But I like my version better. It was kind of hard to tell what she said because she was using her mumbling, I'm really asleep voice.

Apparently the epicenter of the quake was near L'Aquila. It killed at least 50 people and more than 10,000 houses were damaged.

That is too bad. I feel sad for L'Aquila.

Also I am worried. We are headed South in May and I heard that they have Earthquakes there. Big ones.

I'll probably be okay, maybe earthquakes are like lightning and it won't strike twice during this trip.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lame Explorer

My friend Maureen thought of a lame explorer. Dora the Explorer. So, I am like Indiana Jones, and Morgan and Caitlin (the people who missed their flights and my taxi) are like Dora the Explorer. There. Comparison complete.

And here are more "pictures of my apartment."

My Living/TV/Dining Room

It is all one room, but that just means it's cozy. There is a TV in the corner. We don't get many English programs. I think I've seen one. And the couches are more comfortable than the beds.

But at least we have heat now (the landlord turned it on for us because we are special) and a washing machine and we have figured out the stove (there was a knob to turn the gas on but it was in an unexpected place). So. Not a bad apartment. The boys in my program are in an apartment next to ours and their toilet/shower connection is messed up--things come out the wrong way.

Yes, things could definitely be worse.