Pizza! The moment we arrived in Pisa, we were famished. It was passed noon and neither of us had a hearty breakfast (which by the way, Italians don’t usually have a hearty breakfast, like us Americans. It’s because they usually eat two breakfasts—one in the early morning and another two hours later. Yeah–not viable for me because I’m too lazy to wake up early to eat just a cup coffee and a croissant). So back to pizza in Pisa, we followed a GPS to the nearest Pizzeria where each of the four of us devoured an entire 8″ pizza in five minutes! While waiting for our pizza (also fun fact: Italians are so patient! I realized how long it took for Italians to prepare a dish for us as compared to Americans but then again Italian’s dishes are obviously much delectable… except for their bread! It usually tastes like stale bread—which honestly I wouldn’t be too surprised if that’s what they fed us. One of their common appetizer dishes in Italy is the bread salad, which is essentially using stale bread and soaking it in water and then strained. The soggy bread crumbs are then mashed with the chopped veggies and then mixed with olive oil and salt–mmm so healthy but so disgusting) Tangent over—back to the story: after we finished eating, we walked down the alley of stores and shops. There was just one block that was for tourism. The Leanign Tower of Pisa was not hard to fine. We followed the line of open shops full of tourists and backpackers. When we reached the pisa, everyone who had taken pictures with the tower had lined up all posing in a line because the grass was closed off. We took some pictures totally around half an hour to find the right poses.pisa

Gelato. We all wanted some. So we kept walking down an alley where there were more street beggers and sellers asking us to buy self sticks, at one point one man prodded Maryem “Oi lady, lady, selfie?”we advereted eye contact and kept walking straight (pro traveler tip # 201 never make eye contact nor respond back to those people—they’re very assertive. If you do plan on buying something from them, be prepared to bargain. Never pay their price)

In Pisa there was only one alley-on strip of shops and stores- that were open around 3 and it was the only strip leading to Pisa. All other places around it was dead bc usually around this time the Italians take a siesta.

Two of my friends separated and began their shopping excursions, whilst Ghaid and I stuck together and windowed shopped. Afterwards when we were tired, we walked back to the train station to go use the “toilette”  at the McD’s there. When we arrived at the stalls, a man stopped us (rest assure he’s a janitor) and demanded that we pay. We paid .80 euros to use the toilet (approx. $1)! Around 7 we decided to head back to Arezzo. We bought the train tickets and left. We arrived in Arezzo around 10:40. By then we had not even eaten dinner yet.

Italian word of the day: toilette: bathroom

From 8:30 – 11:45 class was held at the classroom annex, a block away from where we lived.

In class we learned about:

  • Dean Lander’s his life and his son’s bio for the first hour
  • introduction/ice breaker for the next half hour
  • Our three projects due by the end of the this week
  • Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence video for 3/4 of an hour
  • In the Name of Profit Project 0 for fifteen minutes
  • how flawed the management system for engineering can be

Then we did a walking tour around Arezzo where I learned the man who invented the music notes/staff and the three men who invented the Italian language.

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For dinner we went to Tokyo where I assumed the waitress only knew Japanese and Italian, but turns out–after a long awkward moment of staring–I realized she was Chinese!

Italian word of the day: grazie (pronouced: GRAH-zee): thank you

After a two hour ride via train, we finally arrived in Arezzo, a smaller city (much like a suburb) in Italy. Arezzo is part of the greater district, Tuscany.

When we reached the hotel, the first thing we saw was this:

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In Italy, anything nude is considered art

Italian word of the day: Bongiorno (pronounced as bwohn jor-noh): hello

 

Approximately 10˜20miles of walking today–from the hotel to the Pantheon, Capitoline hill, Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Arch of Titus, and the Roman Forume. Fun facts: the pantheon is entirely made of poured concrete. The sides are thicker and as it nears the top it becomes more narrow. It was allegedly built for the architect’s wife. architecturally, it was perfect—perfect in the sense that everything was proportional, formed by a perfect square and circle. The spherical dome originally would’ve been wooden. And lastly the dome is not closed because if it was everything would collapse. simultaneously because the pantheon houses so many paintings and artifacts, there is a gutter system for when it rains it would not ruin the frescoes inside.IMG_2303

So, after wandering around we took some selfies, ate some gelato then headed back on the road to walk towards the coliseum. Upon arrival we had to go through security check, then we took a stroll throughout the entire coliseum—and oh my lanta was it grand. However, fair warning, the stairs you have to climb to reach each level are really steep! Walking back outside I realized that much of the coliseum had been restored.

Intermission: Did you megalomaniacs are delusional narcissists. This was brought to you buy Dean marks and the times spent with me while walking from one destination to another and your handy-dandy cellular IMG_8403device for making sure it would be saved and shared to the rest of the world. Your program will now resume in 3…2…1..

The Roman Forum is now dilapidated. However it was once “the pulsing heart of Rome, the city’s main piazza where citizens of every social level met to exchange opinions, do business, buy in the markets and renew their strength over a tasty dish and a cup of good wine.

An enormous crowd gathered there every day. Walking through the Forum one might meet rich merchants in precious clothes and sandals; or barefoot serving girls carrying baskets full of produce; reclining Roman nobles on a litter carried by slaves or sellers yelling full voiced to attract the customers.”

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Finally, after more than ten miles’ worth of walking we settled down for a welcome dinner.

Italian word of the day Prego: you’re welcome

P.S> the word of the day is probably the most passive aggressive spaghetti sauce company brand name I’ve ever seen

Just like the start of a race going to the starting line is always the most intimidating part of the race. Much like arriving at the airport was the most nerve wrecking and daunting part of the entire trip. It was the first time I walked through the airport without being handheld by my parents. As I walked to the line for the security checkout area—where they pat you down—I took one last picture with my parents.
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I noticed that this was the very first time I will be more than 50 miles away from my family. As I said my last goodbyes and after I had placed my laptop, carry-on bag, and my shoes in the bins, I turned around to see my mother’s eyes reddened with tears. This was the very first time I had seen my mother cry—she’s so tough and so good at hiding her tears that even onions can’t make her cry! But there’s nothing I could do about it at this point.

Still in shock, I sat down and waited for my friend to board the plane with me. While I waited I knew I should’ve started working on the reading assignment prior to the study abroad session however I was too in awe. I looked around the entire airport (which was relatively small considering that Oklahoma’s airport never goes out of the country) like a prairie dog. When I finally settled down, I sat next to an outlet—err what seemed like an outlet—only to find out that the outlet was no longer usable. One of the only open outlets and seating was UNUSABLE! I had only 60% coming into the airport (because I had packed my charger the night before thinking that I could just charge my laptop and that would be sufficient). However the outlet had a sign taped to it—something that as hard as I might—I could not decipher. It read:

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Fast forward to boarding my first miniature plane with aisles only a foot wide and with just two rows of seats, I sat down with an older lady. With a two-hour flight, we quickly arrived at the Queen City AKA Charlotte, North Carolina airport. They got the name from Queen Charlotte, image that. After a couple hours our flight had been delayed. When it was time to board the plane I ran up to the front to hand the flight attendant my priority ticket only to realize that it had been rejected—so I had to run back to the desk to get it replaced. Luckily with the new ticket I had more time. On the plane ride there, I shared the center seating with another study abroad group, he was a senior at Le university in Tennessee. His name was Parker and his major was humanities. On the plane I got to talk to him and his cohort…let’s just call her Cameleon, who too was in the same study abroad program as he. As the eight hour flight began, I had time to finish the required reading and eat dinner and breakfast and get some sleep (I honestly don’t know how much sleep I got).

When I finally arrived in Fiumicino, Rome, I was in awe. In awe of the grand beauty. In awe of the plethora of people that lived in such a old city. After gaping at the wonders of Italy, found my classmates and followed them to the train (completely automated) to the station closest to our hotel called VillaFranca. On the train ride there, I met my future roommate who attempted to teach me some survival Italian. The very first word she attempted to teach me was “sorry”, which is “mi dipiance” (sounds like me-dis-pee-ah-chay) but what I had initially heard was “me es beyonce”. Apparently the “lack of culture” in my voice “hurt” the others around me. When we stepped outside I was taken aback by the stench of smoke that reeked and polluted the air. Smoke was ubiquitous. It was the first time I had every inhale cigar smoke and boy was it potent. I knew my lungs would be black by the time I came back to America. After settling down in the minuscule hotel room with two twin beds, the gang and I went out to find lunch. Right as we walked across the street from our hotel, we were beckoned by the nearest pizzeria shop owner to “come come eat here we are the best, a very good price. We even will give you a discount. Please come” hard to reject someone so assertive and so vague. For lunch they first served us bread, or bechetti (as seen below).

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Then for our main course I shared a margeritta pizza (just a fancy way of saying cheese pizza) with a new friend. Together as a group of ninIMG_2061e, we sat around and ate together then paid. That was moment I realized that Italians included tax in their prices and the prices were even (not like Americas proclaiming its under $15 when it’s $14.99). Of course a small walk ensued to ensure we would not initiate a Italian weight gain upon our first day. Thus while roaming around we stumbled to a nearby gelato (which fair warning would be my new addiction).   As the picture shown on the right, my second gelato in my life! Nothing less than perfection (actually I take that back, I could taste a little powerderness in the cream, but other than that, it was sufficiently satiating),after our mini journey our for food, we all came back to the hotel to take a nice two hour nap because at 8 o’clock that night we would be heading for dinner (which I ended up getting margeta pizza again) and a trip to the Trevi fountain.

 

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(Not part of the Trevi fountain)

Upon the escapade in search of the fountain we ran into some other fascinating feats of Rome. First we passed by the church that housed the “ecstasy of st. Theresa”. Then walking a bit farther we ran into a smaller but relatively largeIMG_2087 compared to any fountain in Oklahoma. Finally when we reached the gargantuan fountain we stopped to take picture and make a wish. The building of the fountain was intricately designed with roman gods and goddesses in what seemed as a conflict. But you don’t need me to explain the details. Go see it for yourself!

That is all for tonight my friends. Ciao!

Italian word of the day: Ciao (pronounced like chow): hello

 

I have never traveled so much in one year. Cheers to 2k16 for being the year of exploration!

Acknowledgements:  I’d like to thank God, my family, teachers and my friends for these opportunities that have been given to me. And so the journey begins…


Engineering in Italy (May 16-May 31)

Lemme first introduce you to the people that will be on this trip:

Upper Eschelons:

  • Dean Marks: the head coordinator
  • Trinkleton (lol that’s not his legit name but his name isn’t too far from this): Dean Marks hubby
  • Jackie: TA (teacher’s assistant)
  • Dean Landers: Professor

Lower Eschelons:

  • Lil Wang Yay (AKA Lil Wayne):  that’s me—I obtained that nickname bc I butchered every Italian word I’ve spoken and as a joke Nathan jokingly thought a misprounouced name would best suit me. The major I’m pursuing: BME (biomedical engineering)
  • Josh: freshie, chemE (chemical engineering)
  • Christian: freshie, mechE
  • Sarah (my temp roommate in Rome): sophomore, AME (aerospace and mechanical engineer)
  • Nathan: freshie, computer engineering
  • Eric: junior, chemE
  • Hailey and kellli (twins): freshie, industrial and mechE
  • Yetti: senior, architectural engineering
  • Isaac: senior, chemE
  • Ghaid: sophomore, architectural engineering
  • Maryem: freshie, architectural engineering
  • Johanne: sophomore, BME
  • Jordan: sophomore, mechE
  • Bryan: freshie, chemE
  • Armahn: freshie, mechE
  • Aryan: sophomore, mechE

O-Chem in Italy (June 2 – July 1)

I honestly don’t think you need to know all 20 kids in ochem

Or the 40 more kids in Honors in Oxford