University of Wisconsin–Madison

Arriverderci, Wisconsin!

Hello, readers! I leave for Rome in just a couple weeks and can’t wait. In preparation for the semester in Italy, I’ve taken up a few hobbies this summer. I’ve signed up for a figure drawing class (hey, Michelangelo did nudes, too…). I’ve downloaded Italian Language CDs onto my laptop and sometimes listen to them when I make waffles in the morning. I’ve looked up pasta recipes, decided they were too difficult, and bought cannolis instead. I’ve also watched every terrible romantic comedy set in Rome, and boyyy there are a lot of them! “When in Rome,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Letters to Juliet,” “Eat Pray Love,” to name just a few. There are really a lot of corny romcoms set in Italy. What I learned from “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Eat Pray Love” is that the only people who travel to Italy are bitter divorcees looking to “find themselves.” So that’s something.

I’ve also seen a few actually very good movies made in Italy. For example, “La Grande Bellezza” (“The Great Beauty”), an Oscar-nominee for best foreign film this year. I could hardly understand what they were saying, but the language is so beautiful I didn’t even bother using subtitles.

I spent most summer taking advantage of Wisconsin— bike rides, beer, cheese curds, etc.— which means that I put off a lot of study abroad preparations. So everything’s been considerably busy recently. Scanning documents, medical exams, everything of that sort. I’ve also had to compile a list of airport reads, especially for that nasty 8-hour layover in Munich. Some good travel books I’d recommend are light, comedic memoirs, such as Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” or Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).” Yes, yes, obviously you think of passports and visas when you think of airport necessities, but books are just as important. It’s basically 24 hours during which it’s too uncomfortable to find an ok sleeping position. Also, I don’t know about you, but I never get a seat next to friendly, chatty people. Only people who bring their own meds and neck pillows, and after they pass out I have to climb over them to use the bathroom. So, yes, books are really THAT important. Some other books I’ve read this summer that’d be good airport reads include: “Gone Girl,” “Goldfinch,” “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” and “A Secret History.” “A Secret History” is a very suspenseful novel about a group of college students studying the Classics, so that seems especially appropriate for a plane ride to Rome.

I’ll spend a week in Ljublana, Slovenia before arriving in Rome. Slovenia is a small, young country (founded in 1991 and a smaller population than the city of Chicago, for some perspective), and it’s very beautiful and underrated. Much of my extended family live there, so I’ll have a Big Fat Eastern-European Family Reunion to look forward to in about a week.

I will keep you updated on my travels throughout my semester!