Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cars in Milano..

In case you didn't know in Italy, especially Milano, almost everyone who drives a car drives a compact one... I don't think that people really want an especially nice car because of the chance that it'll get so beat up. The other day when someone was pulling out of their parking spot I saw them continually tap the bumpers in front and behind them attempting to pull cleaning out the spot...Everyone here parallel parks, something I cannot do, and they also park on the sidewalks in the grass everywhere! I have also noticed that Mercedes, BMW, Fiat, Audio are all common car brands here. Also, in the time that I have been here I have only seen 2 mini vans...and for all I know they could be the same one. It is just interesting to observe the immense traffic in Italy. Also, I saw the fire trucks go by yesterday and they were all Mercedes brand ha! I think that is funny because Mercedes at home is such an expensive car and here public firefighters drive them!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rai TV

This week has been classes, cold weather, and rain... I wish I would have known before I left how much it rains in Milano. I hear this raining thing is a common occurence here (not cool). This week was fun because I got a chance to participate as a studio audience member at RAI TV. RAI tv is the Italian state owned Public service broadcaster controlled by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. RAI is the biggest television company in Italy. I got a phone call from one of the members of ESEG asking me if I'd like to go down and watch this TV broadcast. I joined a group of people for a tram ride and then we were at RAI studios. It was neat because one of the men in charge of the show let us sit in the front row immediately behind the 7 speakers. The shows topic was on immigration and Italy's stance on racism. I really didn't understand much of the show since the people were speaking in rapid Italian but Maria, who was sitting next me, continually translated and the show sounded very very interesting. I am really glad that I got the chance to go...I don't really know a lot about Italian policies on Immigration but it all sounds like a really interesting situation in Italy. Many of speakers had different views ranging from there is no racism in Italy too Italians are blind and cannot see the racism in front of me... The group of people I went to show with were from America, France, and Australia and after the show they all had various comments to make on the subject.
I am very glad that I got to experience something completely unique in Milano that I'll be able to share with other people!

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I have had several interesting experiences with Nutella. I am surprised that I lived 21 years without knowing the wonders of Nutella. For everyone who doesn't know what nutella is then I shall tell you. Nutella is a thick chocolate. Nutella spread, in its earliest form, was created in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Perrero company. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Gerrero Used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Northwest region of Italy, to extend the chocolate supply. Tonight we, Jordain, Alyssa, and I, decided to see how nutella would taste on different food items in the kitchen.

Grapes: If you like grapes a lot and you like chocolate a lot this option is for you

Bananas and apples: This combo is friendly alternative to peanut is quite tasty and like pringles you cannot eat just one

Gelato: This is absolutely delicious and completely satisfies the most difficult sweet tooth...luckily in my apartment we have several different types of Gelato so we were able to experiment with a plethora of different flavors

Popcorn: The flavor reminds me of the chocolate covered popcorn around Christmas time that people give as gifts because they don't know what else to give...but like the Christmas popcorn this combination was delicious. Jordain's hands were covered with chocolate so that she looked like she had been playing in the mud, quite entertaining.

Crackers: This is my favorite. I think the cracker combo is the best tasting because it is not too sweet and with a cracker it takes you longer to eat, so you can enjoy the taste longer.

I hope you've enjoyed this information and expect more experimental Nutella projects to coming in the near future...


The tram situation is here is complete madness. Today Alyssa and I were running to get to the tram because we were already a few minutes late and we definitely wanted to catch this tram instead of waiting for another 15 minutes...I made it to the tram and Alyssa was crossing the street behind me...I started to bang on the tram door and the door did open up. I was waiting for Alyssa to finish crossing the street and she was stepping on to the curb so we could both jump on when the signal changed for the tram to go ahead the doors snapped in our face and the tram driver drove off....

I was so upset ha that is not the way I wish to start my morning. I was very upset that the tram driver could not be a little nicer for me. I am convinced that the tram drivers are crazy. First, Alyssa's bag gets stuck in the tram doors and the Italians were yelling at the driver for us because those doors were not budging. I could not get the door open and was just laughing. And our friend Nick's backpack got stuck in the tram doors and when the tram started moving he had to run with the tram, those doors could take off your fingers.

Luckily, we're all alive and well and made it to class on time. We even had time to go to Cafe Via Carducci and have a cappuccino. The first time I have ever had coffee has been in Italy. I don't think I would enjoy a regular cafe (coffee), but with the cappuccino I can put two packets of sugar into each cup and enjoy a very sweet drink :). The pastries here are delicious, usually I get a chocolate one because they are the most delicious. This morning whenever Alyssa and I were having our coffee we were trying to communicate to the server that the cappuccinos were good so I kept saying molto bene (very good) and the waiter said who me or the drink? When we left the cafe he kept saying how he loved us...Alyssa and I think we'll go back sometime soon.

At lunch I went with a group of people to a little restaurant that was very crowded and a lot of fun. I really need to practice reading Italian more because I thought I was ordering a typical Italian pizza and when it arrived it looked like a spaceship on my plate made from bread. It was a round dome of bread with the inside having cheese, meat, lettuce, and tomatoes...I am sure the look on my face was priceless just because the food dish was so unexpected. It was very good, just not the typical Italian dish that I was expecting...

I got a great nap today and looked up different places to travel while I'm here! I am thinking right now Greece, Amsterdam, and a few others...if you have any suggestions comment and please let me know.


Monday, February 15, 2010


I have so many pictures: please look at them :)

My adventure in Venice was great! Luckily I was with a great group of people who truly believed that having fun was just making fun of what was happening to us. I did not exactly know how I was going to get to the meeting place by 7 am...when taking public transportation would take me an hour and a half. Thankfully one of my new ESEG (The international student association that organizes a lot of the activities for students) friends, Maria, helped book a taxi that would pick us 30 minutes before we needed to be there instead of two hours, phew! I did not go to bed until late anyways...somehow whenever I have good intentions of sleeping early I end up on facebook or on this blog :) Not that I mind too much I am learning to live with sleep deprivation... Whenever I got the bus I was too excited to sleep for the few hours that it took to arrive in Venice. Jordain and I (Jordain is my cooking companion and now partner in crime) took pictures of sleeping people and entertained ourselves by singing along to the classics, The lion king, Aladdin, Mamma Mia, etc.. Quite enjoyable time.

Arriving closer to Venice the group took a ferry into the city. The buses weren't allowed into the main city area. The view was beautiful and the water pretty. Of course my mind went to the summer and water skiing, but it was a little too cold for that here. When I got off of the ferry it was to be surrounded by hundreds, literally hundreds of people, and clicking cameras. The group I was with mostly spent the day trying to get lost in the narrow streets of Venice, which was difficult because of the thousands of tourists... I do not consider myself a tourist since I am a student at Cattolica.. ;)

I ate a pizza place and learned that in the afternoon it is practically a crime to drink a cappucino. This drink is only for the morning, because of the milk in it, and it sometimes excused because of tourist's ignorance. The people at my table were from Austria, Hungary, France and they all stared at the Americans ordering cappuccino's like we were crazy literally. I am glad I have been updated on the coffee life here.

I took a lot of pictures and saw a lot of beautiful things. The costumes in Venice were intense!! They have a costume parade that decides who has the best costume in Venezia! We got to watch the parade, which was on an elevated stage, from only a short distance away. By the time the costume people were paraded by I could not see the end of the crowd behind me. It was intense. I think what I liked the most about Venice was the architecture. Venice is a completely different world than Milano. And It was great being able to experience another wonderful side of Italy. The streets were tiny and the walls of each building a different color. Every few blocks you would have to cross over a bridge to avoid the water ways...I'll admit the first thing I thought of was the movie The Italian Job...

The group of people that I tagged along with decided that the reason everyone has masks on is spying on other people...there were several times that I wondered whether the person in the costume dress in front of me was male or female...our theory gives a lot to consider...

I left Venice at 6...everyone fell asleep on the bus because it had been such a long day...long but fun. I hope to go back to Venice in a few weeks to maybe see the city in a less touristic light and not get overrun with the crowds...

I am including a tutorial below on what I learned while in Venice:
(The fluent Italian speakers find it hilarious to teach things to the non fluent speakers that really shouldn't be repeated)

1. Venice is very glamorous: The word glamorous was repeated throughout the day so much so that when I went to be I dreamed of the word...

2. Let's go there...Where?...There! : I don't know how this statement came about, whether it was making fun of someone, Americans haha, or whether it was just the simple fact that all day long we said we were going there and on the return boat ride from Venice we said, We went there!

3. Pirla: This is a nasty Italian word that means bad things :) It was used in our group all please remember that if you use it...stress the rrrrr sound

4. Limonare: the Italian word meaning to make out...The guys in our group reported 2 instances where they used this word and 1.) A man turned around and said oh yeah 2.) A man turned around and said do you want to?. This word should be used cautiously and with friends so as to not attract unwanted attention...Lesson learned!

5. I am not always to best story teller: The early morning and long bus drive gave way to stories...somehow in my story telling one of my avid listeners came away with the impression my father was death and that when a goat is run over it makes no difference what noise it makes...I am still confused and blame this situation on the fact that this listener is fault of my own you see....but because of this mishap all day deaf goat?? was asked as a question between our group...the response was oooh so glamorous...

6. I learned from several reliable sources that it is a common belief that Austrian lovers are quite passionate and very glamorous. This was not learned from experience...I know you were wondering, but my an it has to be true.

7. And finally when one does embark on a trip to Venice make sure to get sleep :) Cause there is too much to see in such a short time...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bittersweet family dinners...

I am so lucky that my Uncle Mike was in town this past week...skiing up in the alps...and I got to meet him for dinner in Malpensa. Malpensa is the airport that I flew into and by train is approximately 40 minutes to get to (the same commute that I take to my school) so the time flies. Uncle Mike picked me up at the airport which is where my train arrived at and we headed to Villa Malpensa. Villa Malpensa is a beautiful hotel that was once, I think, a manor house to a very wealthy family. The Villa was located about 1.5 minutes away from the airport, almost within walking distance. Whenever we walked into the entrance I immediately noticed the architecture which is great, the whole entrance and sitting area was decorated in light pastels that spoke of a different era then my own. I think that eating at the Villa has been once of the best meals even though I didn't really know how to order anything. Being a student in Italy has taught me that for lunch you get a sandwich, for dinner you either cook or go to an apertivo, which is light snack food done between 7 and 9 (usually) and then dinner between9 and 1030 (I am not really used to the different scheduling but it has been fun). But eating at the Villa I had a real dinner not just apertivo or home cooked pasta, which means there are many different courses to order and that the menu is HUGE! I got the chance to order with Uncle Mike a real Italian meal, not an apertivo at a bar, so it was a lot of fun.

Leaving to go back to my flat was a little bittersweet. Even though I do not see my much loved Southern family often I experienced a bang of homesickness along with the thought of being in the States. (this feeling did not last long, thankfully ;)) I think the fact that I saw someone I knew and care about was emotional but it was a great dinner and I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to spend time with someone I care about....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Everyone is Named Francesco...

Lately I have found that 50-75% of the males I meet in Italy are names Francesco...why you may ask? Well luckily one of my Francesco friends informed me that the Patron Saint of Italy is Saint Francis of Assisi...aka... Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone. He was a Catholic Deacon and the founder of the Orders of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and it is customary for Catholic Churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. Francis called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. He worked to care for the poor, and one of his first actions after his conversion was to care for lepers. Thousands were drawn to his sincerity, piety, and joy. In all his actions, Francis sought to follow fully and literally the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels. His respect and appreciation for creation was so profound because it always led him to the Creator. For Francis, the Eucharist became the deepest source of support for his desire for cosmic peace and reconciliation. Just two years before he died, St. Francis said: "I beseech all of you, by whatever charity I can, that you show reverence and all honor to the most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, because (in Him) all things, whether on earth or in heaven have been pacified and reconciled with Almighty God". (Information taken from online) :)

So Now I know why every male here has the Francis...Francesco...I'm surprised more women do not have the name Catherine after Italy's other patron saint, but maybe I just need to meet more people :)


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I had an Italian explain American football scoring to me...

This past weekend has been a whirlwind of adventures. I tried to get in some Italian shopping this week but now realize the best plan is too stay away from the stores and focus more on the travel. When I did go out this week, Alyssa and I, hit up the shopping around Buonos Aires, a few blocks of stores which were a bit less expensive then around the Duomo Cathedral. Shopping can take a lot out of a girl so we had to stop by some chocolate covered waffles which thankfully put us back into fighting gear...

I am definitely on the hunt for the perfect deals it's just hard to resist everything that seems to be in the way, amazing fashion, expensive clothing, and chocolate covered waffles...

I did get to watch the superbowl, even though it was played super late here, 12:23 am Italian time, this 6 hour difference still confuses me :) The Superbowl was fun to watch because I sat next to two French students, a Hungarian, and a German we all had fun watching and explaining the game to each other. At one point Claire, from France, said where are the cheerleaders? We watched for them and when we saw them she said, Oh those Cheerleaders are wearing too much clothing they aren't like in the movies...I want to be a cheerleader like in the movies....HAHA I was laughing at her statements just because she did not know anything at all about football and knew that the cheerleaders in the movies wore a lot less clothing.
It was fun hanging out at Bar Magenta to watch the game the whole bar had the game playing on each of it's TV's. My Italian friend, Carlo, helped explain some of the fundamentals of football to me since he watches more of the game then I do, I find it fairly ironic that an Italian is helping me to learn about American Football...

This week has been fun because of the start of classes, but I wish that I didn't have to go to school. I am still trying to figure out some of my courses because a few of the classes that I have signed up for aren't what I expected so you can be expecting an updated course Schedule soon :) Each of the classes are two hours since we only have them twice a week and it is a shorter schedule so there is a lot of time spent at school. I may have to adopt the habit of drinking coffee, even though I really don't like it, because I have been quite worn out...I am blaming this on the commute I make each early morning not the late nights I have been spending out.

Monday was the apartments first official girls night. Alyssa and I hosted girls night this week with Natalie, Jordain, and Gabrielle. It was a lot of fun cooking. I feel as if when I get home I will be able to cook pasta, pasta, and more all in all I definitely feel like I am becoming a more well rounded cook.
Jordain and I were the chefs for Monday night:

The photographer wasn't nearly as good as the cooks ;)

I helped cook the sausage that went into the pasta sauce along with the noodles and Gnocchi. After Alyssa and I's first very bland pasta attempt I knew that the sauce could not be just served but we needed to add flavor. Luckily, Jordain brought along some sausage and we added that and onions, chili pepper, salt and pepper, and oregano to our sauce. All in all the sauce had a good kick and there was even some leftovers for tonight, though not many... We had cake for dessert that I had picked up earlier this week, though since the woman only spoke Italian I did not know what type of cake I was getting...after getting home and realizing the cake wouldn't cut because of the ice cream/gelato center I realized my cake was frozen...after thawing it out though it was quite tasty!!

haha Before and After pictures...Yum Yum!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Address in Milano:

Mary Garner c/o Servizio Relazioni Internazionali
Via Carducci 28/30 - 20123- Milano (Italy)

If anyone does decide anything other than a letter when you post a package make sure you tell them its worth zero, otherwise I have to pay for whatever you say the package is worth :(

Mi Amo,


Mary :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


My School!!

I've included a list of the different classes I'll be taking and there descriptions...Everyone has been asking what classes I'll have so here you go :)


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course invites students to meet and work together with contemporary artists based in Milan. This experience will allow students to develop not only a personal relationship with basic issues of art theory, practice and management in Milan, considered today’s Italian capital of contemporary art, but also gain a new perspective on the role of creativity in everyday interaction with reality. Through both theoretical and practical activities, students will learn to read reality in visual terms and to explore new ways of “shaping the contemporary”: acting creatively as a means of changing the configuration of their context.
The course will begin with two introductory theoretical sessions developed by an art historian (Francesca Pola) and a design historian (Marco Pisoni), followed by two practical sessions developed with the guidance of two major Italian artists living in Milan: Paolo Gallerani, Master of Sculpture at the Brera Academy, and Mauro Staccioli, an internationally-known artist. Field studies to both artists’ studios and current museums/exhibitions/installations will be essential aspects of the course, providing students with a direct and inside experience of today’s art world in Milan. The final session will allow each student to develop an individual project. The course will culminate in an exhibition of students’ works, which will be presented at IES at the end of the semester. Some of the students will develop the artworks, while others will work on the installation and display management of the show.


DESCRIPTION: The course will analyze the interaction of biological, psychological and social determinants of the individual’s mental functioning and behavior and different approaches to Mental Health care; emphasis being placed on both the theoretical and practical aspects. The lectures will draw from the historical perspective of different schools of thought, focusing on both the origins and the development of fundamental models i.e. cognitive behavioral, biological, psychodynamic and psycho-social. The bio-psycho-social model and its theoretical and therapeutic implications will be brought into discussion, taking into account the scientific world’s most current perspective. We will also undertake a close study of the Italian and American approaches, drawing comparisons and highlighting the difference in methods and outlook between them.


DESCRIPTION: This course will take into consideration two different points of view to talk about communication and media. First, it will stress the meaning of what communication is and what it has meant and means today in the world characterized by relationships and connections. It is not possible to deny of
ignore the influence media exert on people, not only from an industrial and commercial point of view, but also, and above all, from a human and social one. The course then will focus on different media fields that
characterize Milan: journalism and news making, advertising industry, television and graphic novel. Every theme will be studied and analyzed from an historical, theoretical, practical, and productive point of view. Selected topics will be developed through lectures, discussions and field studies dedicated to visiting television studios and one of the most important comic book publishing companies in Milan.

And of Course Italian! I am taking a pre-intensive course right now that will continue for 4 more weeks then a semester course. I am learning lots already and can successfully order in Italian and ask for the bill :) IT won't be long before I am fluent!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I have decided public transportation can be very dangerous...yesterday when Alyssa, my roommate, and I got on to the tram her purse got stuff in the door...haha...I kept pushing on the doors and it wasn't until all the Italians around us started yelling at the driver that the doors open up, it was actually quite hilarious because we did not know what they were yelling or really how to get out of the door...

Yesterday we had massive snow fall in Italy. I don't know if the weather is like this often but it was snowing flakes bigger than quarters. It was fun at first and beautiful. Then it was slushy and not nearly as muh fun...then my suede boots got soaked...downhill from there :)
The newer trams weren't running that night, I don't know if that is because the older ones can handle the snow better or if they knew there weren't going to be a lot of people going out late at night, anyways we got to ride in a tram which inside was lines in wood paneling it was definitely an adventure.

I went to my first Sangria party. Sangria, as a learned last night, is made of wine, vodka, cinnamon, and other spices ( at least the Sangria last night) it was tasty. Sangria parties are held every Friday night, these people have way too much of a night life...

Hopefully today we won't have any more problems with the trams, I would hate to get caught and that door...I am attempting again to go shopping for the elusive dryer maybe today there will be success :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Hunt for the Hair dryer...

These past few days have been very interesting...
I have learned that in Italy you should never buy dinner unless you really want something specific to eat. And if you do want to go ahead a buy dinner pay for the silverware, water, probably the disses, tablecloth, chair and anything else you may come into contact with while dining. I know that to my American sense this is completely unfair since the food ranges between 8-15 Euro, but it is fun to enjoy a dinner outside under the heaters and know that the waiters will not rush you because they don't work on tips. I went out to dinner tonight and sat with my friends for about two hours and we relaxed and didn't feel pressure to leave, which is a fairly unique experience. I think in the US we are often on the go and believe the being prompt and on time is very important. Time is definitely more leisurely here which is fun and helps anyone to relax a little.

I got my first taste of the Milan fashion world today. I was actually hoping to find a bigger purse but everything in the center of Milan is very, very expensive. It is fun to just look into the stores and walk around in them. I rode the escalator up and down in a store with 8 floors...pointless I know...but when everything is over 250 Euros it is better to just browse and look then to even come close to buying. I think that the area around the Duomo, the Gothic Cathedral which has the Shopping center, is quite wonderful and here is why:
1. Stores= many, many stores
The stores don't have to be one unique brand either. I went into a computer store, similar to a best buy, and there was a band playing on the second floor in a area that looked like a picture gallery. The store also contained a Mac section, PC section, CD and DVD area, and much more. Some of the stores are small and run underground which is also a unique experience. Whenever I try to out my limited Italian the workers smile at me and laugh but it's very fun!
2. Greeks= No not the real ones, but the men dressed up and there whole body is painted
The Julius Caesar look-alike blew me kisses this afternoon it was quite funny, good think I didn't give him any money or else he would have been chasing us all over the place.
3. Music= well at least musical metro steps
These are quite entertaining even though they were crowded this afternoon...I plan to reattempt my playing the musical steps at a later date...I cannot wait. Each step contains a different note, like a giant piano...THIS IS SOMETHING THAT I WOULD LOVE....Immensely!!!

My roommate, Alyssa, and new friend, Jordain, and I went on a mad search for a blow of yet we have been unsuccessful in our searching and when we asked one of the shop keepers about this elusive dryer her answer was, "oooh, there is nothing like that around the duomo." ha Obviously blow dryers aren't good enough for this shopping area....I soon hope that our quest will be complete, until the search continues!

Con Amore,

Mary :)

Complete and utter enjoyment in such a simple thing :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Today was my orientation day. I learned several things:
1. The 12 year old 4 seats in front of me knows more about public transportation then I probably ever will
2. There are exchange students here that know less Italian (as in no Italian) than I do
3. Milan is a party city...the student association groups have something planned for us almost every night~~~ Tonight free dinner and Club Hollywood!! (supposedly this club is where all the beautiful people go)
I got to tour the Universita and learned that I most likely will get lost on several occasions...
I made it home today on the subway and tram. I truly am coming to believe that children should be taught from a young age public transportation. I think that has been one of my greatest fears, but it is not as scary as I once thought. Though I did get lost and get on a tram that was going in the wrong decision, luckily after only two stops I realized I may be heading in the wrong direction. I believe I have 15 tram stops before I have to get off and head to the subway which takes me on an additional two stops before I reach the school. I am glad that I can go to school successfully now :), well at least most of the time!


Monday, February 1, 2010


So after racing to my plane in the London airport I safely made it to Milan. (I got some great pictures of the alps too on the way). After leaving the plane it was a little stressful because I was trying to manipulate my suitcases so I could carry them all...ha...unsuccessful!! Luckily some Italian family took pity on me and got me a cart, thank goodness for kind people. Arriving at the apartmento I was a little disappointed that my roommate was not there. I also was stressed because I did not know where in the City I was and I did not know how to get to school. In about a half hour I decided that my roommate probably wouldn't even show up and I'd have to call the school in the morning to pick me up

Thankfully, my roommate arrived. :) Alyssa is from Korea and speaks perfect English and no Italian, like me, I think this means we'll have a lot of fun together this semester. Alyssa and I made a foray in search of groceries so I got to ride the tram and get a little taste of what Milano is like. Once in the city there are cars everywhere and little shops and Italian bars (which I haven't gotten a chance to go in one yet but I hear they're the social place at all times of the day). Milan is cold, but not as cold as Louisville's biting wind. When the sun is out, it almost seems pleasant...I'm praying for warmer weather soon :)

I got myself an Italian pizza to munch on...where the crust is very thin, there is not much sauce and it almost tastes sweeter and definitely more fresh than the pizza chains at home. Even though I grabbed a quick take out pizza the man making the pizza threw it up in the air and flipped it upside down, I believe this is something that I will try to accomplish in the future ha!

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