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Friday, June 4th

There's just something about the air here. First day, my sinuses were horrendous. Second day, they were just as bad for a few hours, then they quit for a few hours, then got bad again. Off and on all day. That was really exhausting. Today they've been off and on, but not quite as bad. I sure hope it goes away eventually!

Yesterday we had classes for the first time. Dr. Ganus is teaching the Humanities (Western Civ./Art/Music) class, and he's not dull, but it may be a lot of work. Well, not compared to most classes, but considering how much time we're willing to spend studying over here. Readings every day, which is fine, but also a quiz-test every other day over the readings. Who knows how hard they will be.

Introduction to European Studies doesn't sound very hard at all, but I still haven't figured out what we're going to talk about in there. It's basically about living in Italy, with some history thrown in. We do some presentations in Rome (like a tour guide) for a grade, and we do a travel schedule for another city (what there is to see, what trains to take, where to eat, etc), but that's about all. Oh, and three small tests.

Italian is still very basic now. How to say hello and have a tiny, simple conversation. Just words we really need to know ~now~ and such. I still don't feel comfortable enough to go out on my own (or with Greg), but I'll get over it. We're going to have vocabulary and a quiz every day in that class, in addition to workbook exercises. Oh boy.

Then we went into Scandicci, which is the suburb-like place we're living in. We saw the drug store, bank, post office, grocery store, coop, etc. More things we need to know. Oh, and the gelateria which gives the biggest servings. ;-)

Today we went into Florence again in the morning. Greg and I made a quick stop at a Farmacie (pharmacy, duh) to get me some sinus medicine and him some contact solution. Well, he had trouble figuring out what contact stuff was what--since it's all in Italian--and I had quite an adventure with the old lady behind the counter. I showed her the name of the drug I wanted, but she didn't have any of that. So I explained to her what I wanted it for and she brought out something called "Clarityn." Then I tried to convey that I was already taking something called Claritin every day, but she told me to stop taking it and take her stuff instead. Well, that wasn't going to work either. Some other woman in the store spoke wonderful English and helped us communicate, but the old lady just didn't understand. So the woman pulled out the drug info and read to me that it was for "temporary relief of sinuses," which sounded like what I wanted. So we bought that and went on. When we got home this afternoon, I pulled out that drug info and compared it to my Claritin. Wasn't I thrilled to read that they're the same drug! But since things are doing better today, I'm hoping I won't really need anything. The pharmacy lady said we could bring it back if it wouldn't work, though, so we'll do that tomorrow.

Then the group went inside the Medici chapel. It was really different from everything else we've seen so far, mostly because they used a lot of colored limestone instead of the white marble. It was neat and all, but didn't seem very impressive to me. Michaelangelo did a couple of the sarcofagi (sp?) for the family, and they were neat.

Then we waited in a long line to go inside the Duomo cathedral. That's the building that's got ~so much stuff~ on the outside. Seriously. There's statues and flutings and just ~stuff~ everywhere on the outside. But the inside was very plain. The dome part was huge, and there was so much in the painting that we couldn't see a lot of it. Some other time (meaning on our own and not as a group) we're going to climb up to the top to see the inside better. Further up you can also get a great view of Florence. It's about 500 stairs though, so we may wait to do that.

After that we went to the Bargello, which is a big museum which contained lots and lots of sculptures. It had a few other things, but not much. We were there over an hour and only saw maybe a fifth of it all. I'd like to go back, but I hate to pay for it (8000 lire).

Then we wandered back through the shops on the way back to the bus station. We both want t-shirts, but decided to wait a while before buying some. They've got several leather belts for under $10, so I may pick up a few of them. Greg didn't seem interested, but I'll talk him into at least one. The purses were nice too, but I just don't really like leather ones for my own use. I may get a sachel/briefcase thing if they're not too expensive, though.

After lunch we had some time for a nap. Greg and I got a package from my parents. We didn't think we had forgotten anything, but it turns out that they just sent us a bunch of food. It was kinda frustrating because we just bought some snacks at the Coop yesterday. I was really surprised at which snacks they sent too, but we've got enough food to last all summer, I suppose. The letters they included were from almost two weeks ago, though.

We had our Bible class today, "Life of Paul." It sounds to me like it will be really really easy. Dr. Jones is giving handouts, meaning we don't have to take notes. The bad part is that our grade comes from only ~two~ tests. Doesn't leave room for a bad day. :-/

Italian meets every day except Sunday, and the other classes meet every other day. Not a hard schedule at all, thank goodness. We're going to do homework tonight. Tomorrow we're free after lunch, and we're going to go into Florence and look around some more, shop, have dinner at a nice restaraunt, and spend time at the internet cafe. Really looking forward to that last part! The email here hasn't worked since we arrived, so I'm glad I'm not relying on it.

For dinner tonight we had tortellini in some sort of chicken broth. It was really good with lots of parmesean. :-)


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