I’ve been pretty busy over the past two weeks doing revision for my exams and trying to balance it out with some sort of social life, but today I finally finished all of my exams, so I’m back! I’ve obviously been in Siena most of the time – revising in Sala Rosa or at home- so don’t expect crazy travel stories, but I have to say I’ve had a lot more fun than if I’d been in Bath preparing for finals… Oh the Erasmus life, I’m going to miss you.
On Monday the 5th I decided to get up early to go to PAM. I know; getting up early to do the groceries, what has my life got down to? But it gets insanely hot between eleven all the way through to 7pm or so, so it’s either getting up early or going late in the evening if I don’t want to pass out during the trek, so I’d rather have an early start and make the most of the day… The rest of the day was average. I studied for a bit, I went to Cinema class after lunch and to Power Pump in the evening and I had an early night because I was tired and was going on a day trip to Florence the next day.
On Tuesday I woke up to great news – I got cast in the ensemble for BUSMS’ production of ‘In The Heights’ in October! I was so, so happy! It means that I have to be back in Bath in early September and so my summer is not going to be very long, but it will be worth it! I then got ready and caught the 8am bus to Florence. The day was quite overcast and rainy but it worked well for me because my plan was to go into the Accademia – and I hadn’t booked a ticket. I got to Florence at around half nine and it was already super-hot and packed with tourists, but I headed directly to the Accademia and started to queue. I spent a good three hours in the queue until I managed to get in at around half twelve. Fortunately, it was in the shade, I had my revision notes with me and I used up my time to speak French with another guy who was also queuing and to catch up with Chopi. Also, I paid a third of the pre-booked ticket, which was amazing! Obviously, Michelangelo’s David and Pietà were the best two pieces in the museum. The level of detail of Il Davide is insane and it was great to be able to appreciate the original with my own two eyes. The rest of the museum is also interesting – there is a lot of medieval work, mostly triptychs and other wooden boards with a lot of gold detailing. To be honest, if you are interested in medieval art, definitely come to Tuscany because it’s everywhere. Once I was finished I bought a quick lunch from Carrefour (so classy, I know!) and went to the ticket office for the Duomo to find out how to go about climbing the Cupola. I have to book in advance so will probably go with Megan, if not this week then definitely the next. I then decided to do some shopping and got myself a new going-out top and bikini, so I was pretty happy. I got a McFlurry at MacDo because it so happens that getting the chance to visit MacDonald’s only comes once in a while around here… And then I got the bus back. I was pretty tired when I got home but I dropped my stuff and went to Mensa Sant’Agata to drop off the books for the Piazza del Campus book-crossing event taking place throughout the week. The selection of books was great and I stayed for a bit before coming back because I was knackered! That night I phoned Lara and it was lovely to catch up. Productive day? Not so much. A great day though? Definitely.
On the Wednesday I spent the day studying and went to the gym, nothing too relevant. Mum booked my ticket back which was a sad realization – I’m leaving in a month! Where has time gone? However, Erin is coming over to visit before I leave so I’m looking forward to that!
On Thursday I did some more studying and then had my last cinema class (at last!) and then ran some errands and studied some more before heading to Mensa Sant’Agata for my shift manning the Piazza del Campus table for the bookcrossing with Morena, Sylvia and Giulia. We had a nice time chatting even though it got pretty windy. A few people came to swap their books and I think it was a pretty successful event! By half nine we packed up everything and Alessandro helped us take everything to Valeria’s house. I was pretty tired so after picking up my suitcase from Megs’ I went home – such a long day!
On Friday I got up early and went for a run at the Fortezza at 8, trying to avoid the heat. It was a good one. I then did some cleaning and studying after the shower. Megan and I decided to go out that night so I met her after dinner and we decided to try out Valdimontone but before we even got there we decided we weren’t digging the music and decided to go to Giraffa instead. The location was pretty cool – a square in front of a massive church! It was live music though, which was alright for a while but we eventually got bored and decided to try Bellavista but it was quite empty… We chatted to Tsubasa for a bit and then decided to go home and get some sleep by half one. It was a bit of a failure of a night, but we got some rest to be productive the next day anyway!
On Saturday, as I said, I got up and did some cleaning and cooking, I went to Conad and then I did some studying until the afternoon. Connie was in Siena for the weekend so I met up with Megan and her to go to Morbidi for aperitivo. It was lovely to see her and catch up, it sounds like her experience in Puglia is a lot like mine in France so coming to a student town was a nice change! We then chilled in the Piazza for a bit before going home to get changed before going to Giraffa. Natalie joined us for a bit and we actually had a lot of fun that night. The music kept getting better and better and we were dancing the night away – from the 80s to Italian music, to reggeaton to dance hits. We were there until half one and then went to Al Cambio and enjoyed the last Sabato Universitario of the season there – Dj Smerling and his music are bomb (and I think Megan will agree!).
On Sunday I woke up late and made pancakes and then I did a bit of studying before meeting Connie and Megs to go to the Orto Botanico, which I hadn’t been to yet. It was so, so scorching hot but the garden is very peaceful and we were pretty much the only people there. Because of the heat, a lot of the plants seem to have dried up (ie the water plants were non-existent) but I really liked the cacti room and the pond full of frogs! After that we searched for the Fonte di Casato di Sotto, which is a hidden fountain near Megs’. The pictures looked better than the reality, because it was full of pigeons, but I randomly found a sculpted head in one of the holes on the wall that had a clay note saying ‘Forse c’è un attraverso l’acqua dove possiamo riposare’ (‘Maybe there is a beyond the water where we can rest’), which I thought was pretty cool despite the initial fright!
I then went home and continued to study and sadly booked my ticket back to Bath on the 5th of September. Literally, I’m barely going to be at home this summer! I’m so glad I passed my driving test because it means I can make the most of the time I will be home…
On Monday guess what I did? Yep, more revision. I studied until lunch time and then met up with Connie and Megan to go to Zest for lunch. It’s a pricey restaurant but the food was worth it. I got a melon and mint gazpacho and a fig, mozzarella, and crudo salad. So tasty and refreshing! I then said good-bye to Connie because she was going back to Rome on her way down to Puglia and did some more revision before the gym (literally thought I’d throw up because it was so hot!). That night I had a chill night in, spoke to Mum on the phone for a bit and got some sleep.
On Tuesday morning I went to Sala Rosa with Megan, the only way to be productive since once the heat kicks in it was so hard to concentrate! I did some more revision and left at lunch time. I ran some errands and decided to attempt some more revision that afternoon but I wasn’t very productive – my flat gets really hot in the afternoon… So instead I decided to meet up with Vero and her friend Néstor who was visiting from Tenerife and we went to Fortezza for a couple of beers just to chill and watch the sunset. It was really nice and we’ve decided we have to do that more often! I then came back home and ended up watching some Orange Is The New Black with Dan – the new season is crazy!
Wednesday was, again, Sala Rosa with Megan and Ody. I managed to get a bit of work done and then we went to buy the tickets for the final ESN party at the end of the month – it’s a pool party and looks super promising so I’m excited! Once home I did some cooking and took a nap before doing some more revision (I wanted to read through my cinema notes as my exam was the next morning) and then went to the gym. In the evening it was Emilia’s birthday so she’d organized a little party at hers. I went round for a bit but didn’t stay too long because of my exam the next morning, but it was fun to see everybody! Katy was also here on a visit so it really felt like a little Bath reunion!
On Thursday morning I had the cinema exam which was a joint interview style one with Dan and Daniel, the other two Erasmus students who went to the appello. It was absolutely fine, I spoke about Ombre Rosse and Il Grande Cielo and the teacher was really nice and congratulated me for my work which was great! I got 30 con lode so I couldn’t be happier. That took around half an hour because we were the first ones to do it, meaning we had the rest of the day off. I came back and sorted out some paperwork and chilled for a bit. My landlady had some more people come over for house viewings and I decided to watch a bit of Modern Family before attempting to study some more for Storia Sociale but it was very hot so I didn’t do much. Instead I went to PAM because I had to buy some stuff for the dinner at mine the next day. I was fortunate enough that it started raining cats and dogs just as I’d paid for everything so I had to walk home in the rain and got soaked (it wasn’t cold though, mind you, but it was pouring it down!). I think the rain didn’t help because I started feeling quite tired and got a headache so I took some paracetamol and went to sleep early. Might have been the rain, might have been the stress (?). No idea.
The next morning I was feeling much better. I’d intended to go out for a run but since I had felt so bad the night before I decided to sleep in instead. I then did some cleaning and laundry and tried to study for a bit, but it was really hot, yet again (is that what my life is going to be from now on? Avoiding the heat? I must admit my fan has come so handy lately, especially on nights out haha). I prepared the ingredients for the paella just so I could come back home and cook them quickly since I had to be at the Rectorate for an Erasmus event celebrating the 30 years of the Erasmus programme. Here’s the thing, I only found out two days before that they’d be giving out the #MySiena photo competition prices during that event and since I’d entered four pictures, I thought I’d go by for a bit. Dario had also messaged me asking if I was going and was really keen on my attending, which made me suspicious. I got there at six with the intention of leaving soonish to get on with the cooking. There wasn’t a lot of people but there was the intervention of various different people linked with Erasmus, including ‘Mamma Erasmus’ which is the lady who set up the programme in Italy – Siena being the first University, by the way! They also had the photos put up in an exhibition which was cool to see as there were a couple I hadn’t seen before. But by twenty to seven I knew it was going to run over the time so I decided to leave. More like I tried to, because Matteo chased me down the street and was like ‘No, don’t leave! You have to stay until the end, you’ll see why!’.At this point, it was clear I’d won something and they needed me to be there to pick up the prize. What I didn’t expect was winning the first and only prize and having to deliver an improvised speech in Italian in front of the audience. It really can’t get more Year Abroad than that, can it? They gave me a copy of my photo ‘La vita di contradaiolo’ to hang up in my room and took a couple of pictures of me. And then I had to flee unfortunately, because I was already running late. Sadly I couldn’t stay for the aperitivo… Anyway, I got home and took a quick shower and started cooking the paella. Ody, Megan, Vero and Néstor arrived a little later and we had a lovely evening together before going out to Selva. Megan baked brownies and they were so, so decadent!
The party at Selva was average. It was in the little square by the Battisterio which is crazy central and they had inflatable balls bouncing around because it was beach party themed, but the balls became annoying pretty quickly and the music wasn’t amazing… We danced for a bit and then went to Bellavista, but the music there wasn’t great either and it was pretty empty, so Vero, Néstor and I decided to go home at around two. They wanted to go to Cinque Terre the next morning (which eventually didn’t happen anyway) and I had to study, which did happen.
On Saturday I slept in and spent the day studying for Storia Sociale. It was super-hot and I literally spent the whole day going through my notes until my mind couldn’t handle it anymore. Then I gave up and decided to watch Mr. Nobody. That night I went out with Néstor and Vero and actually had a lot of fun. I met up with them in the Piazza quite late as they’d had to pack because Néstor was leaving the next morning and we had a couple of drinks before heading to Tartuca. It’s actually so cool because we’re all from Tenerife so it felt like a little reunion even though I didn’t know them before Siena. There’s never anybody from Tenerife in Bath, so it’s shocking to see the amount of people from the Canaries in Siena! In Tartuca we met with Jess, Nat, Emilia and Rebecca who was visiting from Trento so it was cool to be able to see her for a bit. The music wasn’t amazing but the party was at Orto dei Tolomei which was a great location but eventually we decided to switch to Al Cambio. In a turn of events, it was Vero and I on our own in Al Cambio and Néstor was nowhere to be found until he reappeared later on. It was quite an odd but funny night and I had a lot of fun with them. Then it was after-party pizza on the Piazza and going home to sleep!
On Sunday I slept in and spent the day doing revision but had kind of given up on trying to cram in anything else, so I went through my notes a couple of times until around half six when I couldn’t deal with it anymore so I just finished watching Mr. Nobody and watched some more OITNB with Dan before bed. I was clearly so stressed about the exam…
This morning I went to the exam. It started at 9 but I was fifth on the list being alternated with other master students so I actually did my exam at around half ten (earlier than I thought because the two Italians on the list before me didn’t actually show up…). The exam was fine; I really like the teacher because he’s very reassuring. I made a fool of myself during half of the interview because I had no clue of what he was asking for, but somehow I managed to get through it with a 30 (Erasmus pity probably played a part)! And then I was finally free! Not that bad, huh? I then joined Megan and tried to help her out because she’s having a nightmare with the Erasmus paperwork and has been waiting all day to do her test which she did not long ago… I’ve spent the rest of the day writing up this post for you and will later go to the gym and then we have reservations to have dinner at Boccon del Prete, which is a restaurant a lot of people have recommended – end of exam celebrations for the foodies Megs and I!
Also, my Piazza del Campus interview with Dario (ESN GES President) is now online, so click this link if you want to give it a read! Grazie mille! #plug
As you’ve read, these past few weeks have involved a couple of parties and a lot of revision, but now that I’m a free chick I’m going to have fun! Néstor’s flight got so delayed he was offered to stay a couple more days so we’ll be hanging out with him and Vero, and I hope to explore more of Siena on the days leading to the Palio (less than two weeks to go eeeek!). I’ll keep you updated on my busy (and amazing) Italian life.