Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Smoothie King (aka HELL)

This Memorial Day weekend, you may have seen some advertisements about your local Burger King and the deal they were offering on Smoothies and Frappes for $1. Sounds great, right? A nice, cool, delicious drink for  a fraction of it's normal price... sounds fantastic.

Except it isn't when you have to make about 100 of them in a freaking hour. Our sales projections were only 142 total each day of the sale. Saturday's numbers topped out at over 800 smoothies and frappes. I was at work all day Sunday and Monday and believe me, I made a good amount of them. Not only did we only have one blender, but people always order like 3 different types of smoothie or frappe, so that you have to do three different mixes and blends each order (at least). When someone orders 8 smoothies and there's a huge line behind them all thirsty for a deal, shit hits the fan.

Thankfully, my weekend at smoothie king went by in a flurry of strawberry banana, tropical mango, caramel and mocha concoctions (I actually do professionally recommend the strawberry banana and caramel, and my mom really like the mango) and my 17 hours at smoothie hell went fast.

All I'm saying is be kind to the fast food workers you come in contact with. They go through hell and high water and receive nothing but animosity in return. Thankfully this job has given me lots of paychecks and helped me develop enormous patience over the last 4.5 years (November 1st marks my 5 year anniversary with BK) and since it helped me get to London and Italy, I can't really complain. Well, I can complain. A lot. But I'm grateful as well.

In other news, I got my grades from Italy! 3 A's and an A-. I don't consider that straight A's, but I'm sure as hell not complaining since the amount of caring I did was minimal and 2 of my classes were completely in Italian. I'm pretty proud I didn't bomb Art History, actually.

Well, off to make a welcome home pie and poster for my friend Ronnie, who arrives home from Japan this Thursday. I'm so beyond excited to see her!!!

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2 Weeks

Today marks 2 weeks since the end of my program in the lovely Siena, and tomorrow will mark 2 weeks since I have been back home and in America. It's been a bit of a whirlwind with Cesca graduating and starting work again, but I'm happy to be home and have been relaxing (not to mention I came home with a respiratory infection, making rest kind of mandatory).

Well, relaxing except for last weekend when we packed my grandfather's house up to move him to Missouri. That's right. My 82 year old grandfather decided to move down to Joplin, Missouri (sound familiar? It is. It was the town that got wiped out last year in the terrible tornado season last year). The fun part? My parents got to drive him 1,000 miles down there with all of his stuff. My father was thrilled. So Ces, Ted and I have had free reign these last few days while they've been having what I can guess is the most interesting (and probably terrifying) experience ever. We consider this repayment for that time we went down to South Carolina with him.

Anyway. Moving on.

I've made a few goals for the summer to try and keep myself motivated and happy, since readjusting to life after being abroad is difficult when you go from jetsetting and living the Italian life to handing out whoppers and cheeseburgers at Burger King.

1.) Drinking more water. My aforementioned job at Burger King tends to mess up most parts of my life- my sleep schedule, my hair, and my complexion to name a few. I also fall into the trap of drinking pop all the time when I'm at work. Water is way better for you and I'm hoping it will combat what the grease normally does to my face every summer. Nothing like smelling like french fries every day for a just-above-minimum-wage job.

2.) Not getting so frustrated with work. I'm hoping that since it looks like I won't be working all night most nights that I won't get so frustrated with the job. Granted, I've only been back for 2 days so I don't know how it's going to go. I need to work on not taking the job to heart, because it is disheartening and frustrating a lot of the time. But there's some great people that work there and hey, it's a job. I don't have the luxury of getting an unpaid internship for the summer, something I will probably agonize over until I get a post-grad job, but two study abroad sessions has left my bank account perpetually empty. Totally worth it. I just have to keep reminding myself that my slaving away at Burger King for nearly 5 years probably payed for my trip to Portugal or something, so I can't really regret it. I'm hoping my dedication will pay off someday.

3.) Make a trip to Vegas. Since I can legally drink AND gamble in the good old US of A, I think this trip is highly in order. It will be both an early graduation present for me and a graduation trip for Cesca, as well as an early Phanniversary celebration. Yes. That's what it's called. 2013 marks 10 years since Ces and I first saw The Phantom of the Opera tour and we were going to celebrate both the anniversary and graduation next summer by taking a trip to Las Vegas to see Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular. Unfortunately, the show announced it was closing in September, making it imperative that I go this year. Don't worry, we'll do some gambling too.

4.) Watching an Italian movie a week. Considering I have 2 TA sessions to teach next semester and a conversation class to attend, my Italian needs to be refreshed over the summer so I don't lose it to my lifestyle of fast food work and terrible TV marathons. I have a few books as well to keep up with my practice so that I can retain a bit of the things I learned in Italy. Hopefully.

5.) ZUMBA. Something I sorely missed in Italy but didn't need. Because I had to walk everywhere and in Siena you literally walk uphill both ways ANYWHERE you go. Despite the carb overload in Italy, I felt good about myself. Now that I'm surrounded by burgers and fries all day, I feel like Zumba-ing with Cesca may keep me fit. And sane. Plus it's just fun.

Meh, kind of a boring post but Lockport is definitely not as happening as, oh you know, Europe. Though admittedly it has been nice to slow down and not have to travel on Ryanair every weekend. Thank. God.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finally home

This last week has been a whirlwind and I finally have time to sit down and make this post. First of all, I had to say goodbye to my lovely family and friends in Siena last week and return home to the United States. After about 22 hours of travel, I arrived home safe and sound. Here are some pics of the last night in Siena

Last campo sit

With my Italian teacher Roberta

Being as tall as Emily and Charlotte 

Econ class!

Maggie and I both have twins!

With Maddalena and Greti, two of my cutest, coolest

Hanging out in the campo one last time 

Me with my host mom, Paola. Saying goodbye to her was
the hardest thing to do and I love her and miss her so much

Not even 24 hours after my arrival back to the states, I had a ton of things to do. I had some banking errands to run and had to report to the DMV to get my license renewed, as it had expired while I was abroad. After my mom got home from work, we hopped in the car to attend some graduation festivities with Cesca. There was a candlelight service Friday night, an awards ceremony Saturday and her graduation Sunday. We also had to pack up her whole apartment and move it to storage, so it was a pretty busy weekend.

isn't she lovely?


Getting an English award

Such a winner

Heading to the ceremony

waiting to walk across the stage

Proud parents

My lovely sis graduated as an Honors graduate
Summa Cum Laude. SO PROUD BELLA

receiving her class of 2012 t-shirt

After returning home Sunday, exhausted, the whole family gathered to watch Game of Thrones (I was so excited I could finally watch it when it airs and that I didn't have to find it illegally the next day).  The last few days have been filled with errands, unpacking and family visits. I start work next week and I just found out today that my top wisdom teeth are coming out June 7th (those damn things just won't leave me alone- I was hoping they wouldn't give me any problems. They are -_- ). Cesca and I are also planning a trip to Vegas, and Ronnie and Nic return home from their programs at the end of May. So the summer is already shaping up to be busy!

It is so nice to be back in America where everything is in English all the time and people respect personal space, but I will always have a place in my heart for Siena and the people I met there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Heading home

Well, the suitcase is all packed (and hopefully not over the weight limit), my goodbyes to my fellow students have been made, and all I have left to do is day goodbye to Paola in the morning and head off to the airport. Can't believe such a wonderful, amazing semester is already over. It had its ups and downs, but ultimately I'm so glad I chose Siena and so fortunate to be here. I can't wait to see my friends and family back home, knowing that I have friends and family all over the world now.

See you all stateside!

Monday, May 7, 2012

End of semester activities

With my Thursday departure looming, I can't  help but feel a bit melancholy about the whole experience. It seems like yesterday I was arriving here in Siena, jetlagged and unable to eat because of my wisdom teeth. I was terrified to meet my host mom and to live in Italy without really knowing anyone. My, my that has changed! I'm so happy that I got to be here for the last few months, so I try not to get caught up in the inevitable sadness. Paola and I are going to be a mess this week.

Friday we had what was called a 're-entry session,' which was basically warning us about reverse culture shock and giving us tips on how to readjust to life in America, now that we've had this grand experience. I think that people on my program don't realize what they're going to miss and how they're going to be affected when they come home, because right now they're so eager to get out of their apartments and head home. Me, I already know that there's tons I am going to miss and am not so eager to pack my bags and head off, despite the fact that I do really want to see my family quite badly.

Pizza for all of us!

Gotta love individual pizzas!
Saturday was a lot more of a cultural experience and a lot less of a lecture. IES got us tickets to a contrada dinner in Montone (Ram) so we could experience contrada life. It was awesome!

All of the contradas have put up these lights with their
colors on them

tablecloth with the montone symbol

The view from the Montone church

Emily and I enjoying the lovely weather and views

A view of Siena you don't normally see

finding out seats

Everyone having a blast!
 What I love about Siena, and Italy in general, is that there is always a reason to party- after the contrada dinner, the tables were cleared out and a discoteca began! Fantastic!

Kayla and Marissa enjoying life

Discoteca time!

It was a really great way to spend my last Saturday night in Siena- friends, good food and dancing. It was nice because we were able to actually participate in a tradition of Siena that lots of people will never experience. And despite the fact that I have finals this week and have to pack, I'm just going to sit back and relax so I can enjoy my last few days in this wonderful city.

Ciao for now, ci vediamo presto! (See ya soon!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One last hurrah

Here's a sample of the things I did on my last big trip. Let me explain. Wednesday was a national holiday, and Tuesday this week was a holiday as well. My Italian teacher cancelled class Thursday (my only class) figuring we would all be leaving. My Black Death teacher cancelled class Monday and Econ was optional. Sooo that made for a looong weekend which I chose to spend in Sardegna and Sicilia. 

My friends Alana, Marissa and I headed over to Sardegna Wednesday and went to the beach Thursday. We explored Cagliari before taking an overnight ferry to Palermo. We met up with a few other friends in Sicily and spent Saturday on the beach. Sunday a couple of us went to Cefalu in Sicily, where there is a mountain to climb. Monday, Marissa and I wandered around Palermo taking in the sights before we headed back to the mainland. Here are some of the results of our adventure:

Those white things are Flamingos 

Marissa in our sweet B&B

palm trees!!!

Beach in Sardegna

Beautiful weather!!

I drank my first cappuccino here

Alana getting something out of the Pringle

We mistakingly thought that gnochetti meant small gnocchi.
It actually means cocoon shaped pasta, apparently

Alana "brushing her teeth" with the flowers
Marissa and I enjoying some soft serve!

The ferry to Palermo

The beautiful beach in Palermo

Alana and Jill went Kayaking

La Rocca di Cefalu


I climbed alone since nobody else wanted to

The Cathedral in Palermo

Teatro Massimo con Giuseppe Verdi

Teatro Politeama

Definitely the right idea

eating a brioche with gelato inside. Typical Sicilian dessert.
Strange but delicious!