Tag Archives: coffee

rewind.

I’ve been home almost two weeks. The buzz questions haven’t gotten overwhelming yet, but that may be because I’ve been hiding in my room trying to make up for lost down time this semester. I may be an extrovert, but I think I found my hidden introvert.

Anyway, my favorite (NOT) questions to be asked are:

1) Did you like Italy? (Isn’t that a loaded question)

2) What was your favorite part? – and when I can’t answer that…

3) Favorite place?

4) And last but certainly not least: What was your least favorite part?

Now that I’ve been home for a bit I’ve had time to think and I may actually be able to share a few things, so keep reading if you like answers to open-ended questions. (Sorry for going out of order, but it’s for literary purposes.)

What was your least favorite part?

I was really really sick on and off for about eight weeks while I was in Rome.. I recently found out my “disease” was most likely mono, but during the time I just thought I was dying. It actually became a joke over our spring break trip as I hacked my lungs out of my body, woke everyone up in the middle of the night, and could no longer breath normally (not to mention the fire breathing dragon who had an amazing lung capacity that was lodged in my throat). Spring Break was no less magical, but it definitely helped me learn what perseverance was. Besides feeling like death (because that puts anyone in a damper) my least favorite part was the time change. Do you know how difficult it is to talk to your friends when they are on a 7-hour time difference? Well I’ll tell you, it’s really hard. I think I Skyped people a grand total of five times over the five months I was abroad.

IMG_5963
me while dying

What was your favorite part?

There are so many options and I don’t really think I can choose a single favorite, because that would be so unfair to all the other incredible things, so I’ll highlight a few.

1. The views – they were completely breathtaking – not just in Italy but every city I went to. It’s a whole lot different than the good ole’ US of A, but that’s probably why I loved it. It was more intricate; the buildings were stable, the designs mesmerizing, and always conveniently located by a river. I made a point of climbing a mountain everywhere I went, and it definitely paid off.

DSCN1971
Firenze (Duomo)
IMG_5869
Copenhagen (The Round Tower)
IMG_5392_2
(piazza del popolo)
IMG_5950
Budapest

2. The Food – If I were actually going to choose a favorite this would probably be it. Pizza and pasta are my life, so this was my food heaven. It was actually acceptable for me to eat one of those every day at multiple meals if I so chose. Also the food in Budapest and Greece. So good + cheap. If you ever find yourself in these regions try Goulash in Budapest and Souvlaki in Greece.

meal brought to you by friend and company
meal brought to you by friend and company

3. The Coffee – One of the best things by far was that you paid no more than a euro twenty (roughly $1.50) for a cappuccino. It’s also some of the best coffee you’ll ever have. (Also notice I said cappuccino and not coffee, because if you order coffee you are about to get a shot of the strongest espresso of your life. Not the most pleasant sensation, unless you’re into that sort of the thing then by all means.)

IMG_6473
a typical breakfast

4. Pastries – these may seem like they should go in the food category but that’s not true because in reality they actually fit in the category of “Piece of Heaven”. Sadly I found the best pastry shop only two weeks before the end of the semester. 30 cents for donuts, croissants, and either of the previous two stuffed with your choice of filling. Also, pastries are breakfast in Italy, so don’t be a hater when you see someone eating a cookie for breakfast because maybe they’re from Italy… or they just like cookies.

DSCN2030
fritelle (stuffed donuts – native to Venice)

5. Oh yeah and gelato gets its own category too. So….. Gelato.

IMG_5220

What was your favorite place?

Can I answer with a question? Can I refuse to answer that question? – kidding.

Everywhere I went was different, and asking me to choose a favorite is like asking me to evaluate every culture I went to and pick the best. I’ll give a few highlights ranging from places within Rome and some cool cities.

1. Top of the typewriter – no it’s not food. Its Il Vittoriano the place of the tomb of the unknown soldier, the eternal flame. It’s a building dedicated to the first kind of Rome and if you take the elevator to the top you’ll get the most magnificent 360 degree view.

IMG_4455
The Typewriter
just a sneak peek of the view
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

2. Barnum Café – it was a café in Camp Di Fiori and it reminded me of Nashville.

3. Sicily – the food is filled with more vegetables and meat, there are beaches everywhere, and the people I went with made the trip.

IMG_5458
Cefalu, Sicily

4. Copenhagen – everyone was SO nice. The city is beautiful and it’s a big city feel without the big city attitude.

IMG_5793
Nyhavn

Did I like Italy?

No, I hated it. That’s actually not true at all – I loved Italy, and almost everything about it. There were obviously its ups and downs, but going to Italy was the best decision I’ve made so far in my life (aside from my newly dyed purple and pink hair). But really, sometimes it got tough to be so far from home, feeling like I’d been forgotten by people at school or generally just missing out on their lives, wanting to explore but being so ill I could do nothing but lay in bed. Rome is a gem and lots of people know it. It’s a city full of history, mystery, and some interesting people. The good far outweighed the bad and despite the hard things I came across I always learned something from them (cheesy I know, but oh so true).

So yes, in short (because that’s usually why people ask this question) I did indeed enjoy Italy.

coffee.

It’s a scary thing when I admit that I am drinking more coffee and actually enjoying the taste of it. They say that breakfast is the most important meal, but here in Italy breakfast doesn’t exist. It saddens me to say it, because I am a huge fan of omelets, hash browns, pancakes, and BACON. That’s not what breakfast looks like across the ocean.

It’s not a bad thing really – It means I get to eat croissants filled with nutella every morning and not be judged because that’s actually normal. (Italians love their nutella let me tell you – nutella waffles, nutella crepes, nutella gelato. You name it they probably have it.) Coffee here is also really REALLY cheap. I’m talking 1 euro for a cappuccino, which is roughly $1.20. Even better the pastries are on average 1 euro as well, so you can spend a whopping total of 2 euro on breakfast. It’s not a bad life.

Your typical Italian breakfast.
Your typical Italian breakfast.

The biggest difference that I’ve had to adjust to is the culture around coffee. Coming from Nashville and even my suburb in Chicago coffee was the go-to hang out. If you want to catch up with someone then the typical thing is to ask to grab lunch or coffee – at least that’s what I do. Coffee is code for “I want to hang out with you and have a real conversation, so I can get to know you better or so I can check in and see how you are really doing.” It doesn’t matter if you drink coffee or not, because the idea is that you want to be friends and do something with them. If you ask someone to get coffee in Italy it means “I haven’t eaten anything all day because my breakfast is a cappuccino and croissant, so I need a shot of espresso.” Coffee means energy, not socializing. Most bars (coffee shops) aren’t even open on Sundays, which in America is the typical “I procrastinated all weekend and need to do homework, but I’d rather hang out with you and talk about life and how stressed I am with all the work we both have to do” day. When bars are closed you can’t hang out or work on homework in a location other than your apartment or the library. No one wants to be in either of those places on Sunday because the first means sleep, and the second also means sleep. Basically, the lack of open bars leads to further procrastination, lack of socialization, and no cheap coffee to stay awake.

coffee for one.
coffee for one. the only way to stay awake on sunday.

But in all seriousness, it’s definitely an adjustment. Instead of a casual coffee date on Sunday with a friend the next best option is a sit down meal. In a way that’s a little more nerve wracking because a meal seems like a bigger deal, especially dinner. In reality it’s all the same. I think we need to start looking at interactions with people with a different perspective. Instead of thinking about the time you will be losing or what you are trying to avoid (homework) or how uncomfortable it could be we need to think about how cool the other person is and how there is a reason we want to hang out with them and how they are worth the time.

[You actually can sit down in the afternoon and have coffee. It seems to be a cultural thing among college students around the world. Instead of naps, the young adults in Italy down the caffeine drinks amongst good company.]

One of the things I’m learning about Europe is that you don’t just ask, “How are you?” in passing. Those three words mean you care. It could lead to a half an hour venting session, an outburst of joy, or a five-minute rundown of the events of the past few hours. It means you care. Every time you ask to get lunch or coffee it’s not just something to say, it’s a plan. It doesn’t mean that you never text them about grabbing that dinner or going on that walk to catch up and grab gelato. Words aren’t just fillers here, they mean something. People are not overly polite – they don’t ask how you are out of courtesy, they ask because they actually want to know. “Good” is not a good enough response.

My friends here have taken to saying “FINE” stands for freaked out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. Questions require a real response here and although that is slightly intimidating for someone who doesn’t like to talk about emotions (aka me) it’s a good challenge. Instead of superficial relationships it’s helped to form incredibly strong friendships with people that I have known for six weeks. Whether it’s because we knew we needed friends here or because we were more inclined to put ourselves on the line because we knew we’d only be here for 4 months we have been real. I know when my friends ask if I’m ok I can tell them the truth and if I don’t feel like answering them then they send someone over who they think I will talk to.

I may not be able to have my normal coffee dates here, but I have plenty of 2am texting rants, late night conversations while wandering the streets of Rome, and life chats while searching for artisan gelato. I may have only been with these new friends for six weeks, but they’ve kept me laughing. This experience wouldn’t be the same without them and we’re not even halfway through the journey.

All I have to say is I’m so grateful for the people here, but I’m also looking forward to my Sunday coffee dates again.

Pimms Good with friends.
Pimms Good with friends.