June 7th

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A big thank you to the lovely Steph Ma for actually taking some sort of photograph of me.
So here it is- proof that Kristen was indeed in Venice.

This was actually on the Rialto bridge, yesterday.  On the other side, rowers were already practicing for the upcoming Vogalonga – a boat race that will take place tomorrow, June 8th.  The Vogalonga is a huge race, through the Grand Canal from Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) to Isola di Burano (the island of Burano). It is not a competitive race, but one that you would simply want the experience of taking part in.  Basically any kind of rowing or paddle boat is acceptable for use in the event, giving the canal an amazingly diverse assortment of vessels.
As in I passed two teams from different Chinese dragon boats on my way home from the supermarket this afternoon.

This was my supermarket companion, by the way:
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His name is Geoff, and he’s awesome.  Everyone on this trip with us knows this as fact.

This picture I actually took about a week and a half ago (or two and a half..?), on Isola di Murano.  The island is known for it’s glass, as it used to be one of the very few places where glass-blowing was cultivated, adding to the allure and grandeur of the Venetian Lagoon.  Now it’s really quite touristy, with cartoon-esque figurines and various glass bead jewelry lining the windowsills of small shops.
Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true.

After exploring the island, buying souvenirs for girlfriends and parents (except for this girl– I seriously couldn’t find anything that was both non-cheesy and not incredibly overpriced), we entered a little restaurant, where we were led out back into an enclosed seating area, ending with a gate into a little courtyard scattered with pigeons.  There were vines and foliage laced across the seating area, resulting in those really fun light patches being thrown about- including the one on Geoff’s face..
But that’s okay. He still looks nice!

 

Well, this was random.  I’m actually amidst the finals-rush and simultaneously writing this while figuring out a final paper for my Venetian Art History class.. I should probably devote my attention whole-heartedly to the pressing matter..

Ciao!

 

 


 

– E D I T –

Did I mention that my roommate got slapped in the face by a pigeon in flight today?
Well now I have.

May 27th – the day I became Bat Girl

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… yeah.. I got distracted and made a little batgirl..

I woke up to a group facebook message from the boys.

Geoff : There’s a dead bat .. on our floor

With a cell-phone picture of said bat.

So I got out of bed, made sure my shoulders and knees were covered (as we are living in a Monastery, and modesty is a cultural must within any kind of church or religious building), slipped into some flats, and headed down to breakfast.  I left the small corridor that contains three of our group’s bedrooms (the boys, my shared room with Sam & Christine, and another room of lovely lady companions), passed through our main classroom- where Derrick and Geoff sat, on their computers– up a small set of stairs, and through a larger hall with a better amount of natural light. Just sitting there in a little clump of fur was the bat.  Poor little guy- his fur was tousled and he sat still, looking somewhat mangey like he had a really rough night.
So I turned tail and veered right into the kitchen at the bottom of the stairs, before I reached the classroom.  I didn’t know whose they were, but there were plastic cups and plates, so I grabbed one of each.
I really didn’t think the bat was dead. It was the morning, and although he looked out of sorts- not so much so.
I used the cup to scoop the little guy onto the plate; a rude awakening for him.  Luckily he wasn’t in too much of a mood and settled down as I walked to the front desk.  I wasn’t sure how this particular receptionist’s english was, so I just said “excuse me” (one of the few things I can say in Italian) and questioned her, “English?”. She replied yes and so I brought the plate forward and told her it was a bat.  When she continued to look at me quizzically, with her brow furrowed, I told her, “it has wings, and flies at night” and I watched as her brow loosened and she understood what I was trying to tell her.  I told her that the students had found it and thought it dead, but it was just having a rough morning, and I didn’t want to leave it to a) get hurt or b) for someone to frighten it and it, in turn, bite them.

She told me, “Oh! I’ve caught two” previously. She continued to explain that there are bats that live in that part of the building, out in one of the courtyards, and that sometimes – especially on a cold night like the one before – they get inside.
Obviously feeling quite validated in my decision to rescue the bat, as she reached across the counter of the reception desk for it, I thanked her and promptly turned on my heels, heading towards the boys who thought I was just being a crazy country-person for going near it at all.

And of course Derrick’s first words to me were, “wash your hands!”.

–   –   –   –

As usual, after finishing class on-site (usually in a church or in a piazza) I returned to the Don Orione (the monastery) and asked for my room key at the reception desk, “Chinque chento quatro?”
She handed me my key as the receptionist from earlier in the day came out of the office and told me , “your bat” and made a flying motion with her hands.  I told her I was happy he was alright and thanked her for working with me, and she was smiling and said that it wasn’t a problem.  I think she enjoyed helping him as much as I did- especially since she had helped two before.

So yeah- that’s the story of how I saved the bat.

May 21st, Burano

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A classmate of mine took a photo of me.. taking a photo. It’s photo-ception, guys. So the first image is that photo of me (hi!) and the second is the photo I was taking (for my capstone/documentary photography/photojournalism project).

On Wednesday (May 21) all of the students from our school studying abroad here in Venice took a trip out to the island of Burano.  It was a bit of a ride, about 40 minutes each way on the Vaporetto (it’s like Boston’s MBTA or NYC’s MTA, but with boats).  We played the game Heads Up to pass the time on our rides, with a growing crowd of entertained and confused European onlookers (we hold a cell phone to our forehead, a word is displayed on the screen and everyone gives that person clues so they can guess the word; if you get it right you dip your head down and back up to move to the next word, and if you’re stuck, you throw your head back and then return to normal head-positioning in order to skip.  we obviously looked quite silly).

The island of Burano is known for two things. 
   a) its incredibly colorful arrangement of buildings
   b) its lace
– As you could imagine, for a group of young adults studying Italian history and documentary photography, it was a field-day of sorts. Just running around with our cameras and looking through all of the lace (yes, even the men.. although it was mostly for gifts for their girlfriends and mothers).

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I was super tempted to pick one of these up for my mother’s lovely neighbor Val, who is expecting her daughter Maya this summer!
But then I realized that she wouldn’t be big enough to fit into one this season, and would probably have grown too much by next summer to fit into it either..

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Unfortunately I didn’t buy anything, due to the inflated prices of tourist-poaching shopkeepers and my wallet’s still being in shock over the unexpected expenses of this trip.  Had I found something that I really loved, though, I would have pushed myself to purchase it.  I’ve decided that I will do that, while I finish up my stay here in Italy, as a graduation gift to myself.
I mean come on- I graduated from a five-year top-rated institution with my sanity intact, magna cum laude.
I need to learn to give myself a break and reward my efforts once in a while.

 

All in all, I had a lot of fun wandering around the small island (and by small, I mean take a ten minute walk from one side to the other), taking photographs with my newly-apropriated friends.

May 21st, 2014

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So that happened.
I’m not completely sure of my Great Aunt’s intentions on this one, but the outcome was hilarious.

Forgive me for my lack of travel documentation/commentary.  I’ve honestly either been busy or dead-tired, with a side of slow internet (shared by all 32 Northeastern students studying abroad here).

I am having a wonderful time, though! It’s kind of a great fit for me to be studying here in Italy, as I am a huge culture/language/art/anthropology/etc buff, and this place as an amalgamation of it all.  It was completely entertaining to be walking around the Montemartini Museum and hear about all of the myths that went along with the carved stone representations of (perhaps)mythical figures and deities. That was back in Rome, somewhere around the time that this photo was taken.

Well, I hate to cut myself short yet again, but we have class in 40 minutes and I need to figure out some form of breakfast.  We’re supposed to get that meal included here at the Monastery but I literally cannot eat anything they provide.  I can have the orange juice, and hot water for tea. The coffee comes out of the machine pre-mixed with dairy too!
All of the baked goods smell nice though.

Alrighty, headed out!
– Kristen

My First Day in Fukuoka

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad asked me to complete a survey about my study abroad experience.  Once of the questions was to tell your most memorable experience.  This, in short, is one of mine:

My first day in Fukuoka all of the students met up with their host families for the first time and were sent home to spend the day with them.  Another student, who spoke no Japanese, was going to be living with my host father’s brother, so she came home with us until her host father got out of work,  When we got to my host father’s house I got to meet the rest of my family- three little girls and my host mother.  One of the girls was really shy and wouldn’t talk or do much when we (the foreign students) were around.  After dinner my host father and I dropped the other student off to her host family.  When we got back home I went to my room to change and unpack.  While unpacking I left my door open, and my youngest sister came in and sat on my bed.  I began to talk with her and one of her other sisters came in, hopped on the bed, and joined us.  After a few minutes the oldest, and most shy of the three came in, sat on the bed, and when I talked to her she opened up and we all had a fun time.  They taught me games, had me pick them up and flip them onto the bed, and played hide-and-seek with me until it was their bedtime.  It was just amazing to have people, especially this child who wouldn’t even speak in front of foreigners (at first), accept me into their home and family in such a way.  I had a wonderful time with my host family and still talk to them regularly- including talking about when I will come back!

久しぶりです。

.. {pronounced: hisashiburi desu.
meaning: It’s been a long time.}

I really need to get on here more.  I have been writing (and reading..) a lot, but I’m always self-conscious about what I share with others.
そして、I have three stories going all at once, and I’m not sure which to stick with and work on first- so that’s not really helping with the lack of productivity.

As for some real news:
 I am leaving a week from Monday for Japan! I’ll be in Nagasaki & Fukuoka , and I cannot wait!
I’ll be bringing my Nikon, and hope to get some good photographs during my stay.  I would have liked to bring my Canon, as it is the superior camera (obviously- I am so biased) and I love it, but I need to buy a new lens!
I will be living with host families in their respective cities, and I hope that it goes really well.  I know nothing of my family in Fukuoka, but that my host parents in Nagasaki are young, with a young daughter and a baby boy.  I’m thinking that I’ll probably identify with them more as a friend than as parents! Nonetheless- I am ecstatic!  I hope they’re as excited as I am.  I’ll also bring them some small New England gifts that I hope they will like.

Well, I guess that’s about all for now.