Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fun Fun Fun!

Life just keeps getting better and better. My Florence trip two weekends ago was a smashing success! Christian and I caught the 11:18am regional (=cheap) train to Florence by way of Prato, arriving around 1pm. I called my Santa Rosa friend Sam Maurer from the station and he met us at the Duomo with Chris Veenstra, a former member of my band "Prophecy" back in high school. I didn't even know Chris was studying in Florence, so that was a treat. We headed straight to Chris and Sam's favorite panini shop and ordered "The Best" sandwich. I didn't even know what was on it, but they swore that it was the best. And it was. If you're ever in Florence, ask the first American college student you see to direct you to The Best. With 25,000 Americans studying in Florence every year and the unprecedented fame of this sandwich shop among said students, you're sure to find it.

After lunch Sam grabbed one of his 10 American roommates and we headed to a park to play some pickup soccer. The more I play soccer in different parts of the world, the more I realize that it's a universal language. There were four different games going on when we arrived, and the matchups were as follows: Peruvians vs Albanians, Moroccans vs Italians, Brazilians vs Mexicans, racially-ambiguous youngsters vs old farts. The three of us were eventually able to squeeze our way into the Albanian game once the Peruvians left in a huff after a questionable foul call, and we played hard until dark. The camaraderie formed throughout the course of a pickup soccer game is hard to replicate anywhere else. We didn't introduce ourselves and we didn't have native languages in common, but those things don't matter if you have a ball, four sticks for goal posts, and some open space.

Around 7pm I took a shower in Sam's apartment and headed out to dinner with Christian and the other Bologna kids who had traveled to Florence to celebrate our UCSB friend Katie's 21st birthday. We ate at a delicious trattoria, wasted some time at their hotel, and then made our way to Space Electronica discoteca. Coolest club ever. Even better than Central Park, the other amazing Florentine club I'd visited the last time I was in the city. There were three floors, lasers and strobe lights, great music and an influx of fun American students to counterbalance the inevitable presence of sketchy Italian wallflowers. I got back to Sam's apartment around 4am, just as he was going to bed. At 9am I grabbed my backpack and headed out to meet Christian and visit San Miniato al Monte church, site of a breathtaking Florence panorama. We took a bunch of pictures and made it back down to the station in time for our noon train back to Bologna.

The following week was pretty normal, as in classes every day and pasta every lunch and dinner. I've started meeting Italians (and Brazilians, randomly) in my courses, which is fantastic. More on them later. This past weekend I took it easy in preparation for my trip to Portugal, Spain and Morocco, which starts in approximately 26 MINUTES!!! I've been playing tons of pickup soccer now that the snow has melted and the spring sun is coming out. Guitar is a daily activity as well- I have lots of inspiration here for songwriting. The highlight of last weekend was that I found a home church! YAY!! I was searching online for evangelical churches in Bologna, and this one has a weekly Bible study for English-speakers. I called up a guy named Filippo on Saturday, who runs the group, and he told me to come to the 10:30am service the next morning. I went and LOVED the service- which was a special one given by a young English pastor and translated into Italian about the importance of being a missionary wherever you are, not just in third-world countries- and afterwards Filippo introduced me to a bunch of kids my age from all over the world! I'm bummed I have to miss this week's service, but so excited that I have a spiritual home when I get back!

Ok, I REALLY gotta run! My train departs in 19 minutes! Look for an EPIC blog post in two weeks!!!

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