Food for Thought

I am in a country with cuisine that is widely regarded as the best in the world. So let’s talk about food. I mean, besides all the food I already talked about. Let’s talk MORE about food. Everyone loves food.

After visiting a few local pizzerias, restaurants, trattorias, and agroturismi, it’s easy to see why Italian food holds a special place in so many hearts. The fresh, local ingredients. The lovingly handcrafted dough and pasta. The creamy, flavorful sauces. The pizza, ragazzi. They will put anything on pizza here. Literally anything. Figs. Tuna. Eggplant. In any and every combination. Pizzeria menus here are multiple pages, some with 30+ options. And you do not get a pizza or two for the table to split, oh no. Each person has their own, and “personal pizza” size here is 12″+ in diameter. Maybe my next post will be about going to the gym.

Side note: the best pizza I’ve had so far was the one I made myself. The pizzaiolo made sure it was stretched out correctly, but I put the toppings on! 20181001_190714

The one less-than-optimal thing about the local restaurants is that they are on the Italian schedule. This means that if you’re hungry between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 or before 7:00 pm or on a Sunday or Monday… tough luck. Everything is closed. EVERYTHING is closed. Even convenience stores. Your only option is the vending machines. Luckily, there are plenty of vending machines for coffee (the coffee culture will have to be a post in itself).

Of course, you could always make food at home. The produce in the grocery stores is fresh, high-quality stuff, too. So much so that if you touch it with your bare hands you will be yelled at! Or at least looked at funny. Here, you have to put on a plastic glove before bagging your produce. It’s sanitary or something.

The downside to home cooking is that everything goes bad SO fast. If I don’t use my produce in 2-3 days, I have a stinky fridge. After a week of classes and after-school activities, I had to throw away pretty much all my perishables. I know that the food is better and healthier without all the preservatives that we put into it in the States, but man is it inconvenient to go to the grocery store every other day.

I guess that is the main difference in Italian and American food: quality vs. convenience.

Luckily, at CIMBA, we have a last resort that varies highly in both quality and convenience: the cafeteria. Sometimes the meals are exceptional. Sometimes, I think they take whatever leftovers they have and throw it on top of some pasta. Either way, it’s convenient for lunchtime.

And then there are the highest quality meal: those cooked by a local in his or her own kitchen. I have been lucky enough to get a few of those in my time here. They cannot be beat. One word of advice: stay the hell out of their kitchen, or you may not survive to enjoy the meal.

Italians are serious about their food.

Other foodie adventures so far: I tried fried gelato! It’s not as good as Mom’s deep-fried ice cream, but still worth it. I was really missing burgers, so I ordered one at the local bar. Either it was really good, or I was really drunk. We had sushi! Finally! I’ve missed it so much. It wasn’t as good as in the states, but it was still nice to mix things up. Ah, and Indian food. So good.

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Breakfast Wars

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Breakfast. It seems pretty simple, right? Something you eat in the morning. The “most important meal of the day”. Some people eat it, some people drink it, some people skip it. No big deal.

Breakfast is a major point of contention in our program.

In the U.S., we have may options for starting off our mornings. There are the health-conscious protein shake/smoothie drinkers, the time-sensitive breakfast bar grabbers, and the classic bacon, egg, and toast enjoyers. And then, of course, there is brunch. The epitome of meals, in which you can have a sweet breakfast, a savory lunch, or almost anything in between (liege waffles with bacon, cheese, and maple syrup, mmmmm). Washed down with a large mug of coffee, or a tall glass of juice.

Italians start their days off very differently. A typical Italian breakfast is essentially espresso and cake. Brioche and others pastries are the standard, with maybe a sweet, hot cereal. Espresso comes in shots, with milk if you prefer, at a total of maybe 2 oz.

This came as a particular shot for one of our full-time MBA students. In his first few days here, he stayed at a bed and breakfast, where he was not impressed with the “breakfast” part. “I sat down, and she puts a chocolate cake in front of me. This is not breakfast. This is cake.”

The cafeteria here at CIMBA gives a decent effort to provide the Americans with at least a couple of breakfast foods they are used to. This means that alongside the brioche and cereal are cold cuts and hard-boiled eggs.  Is it the same as fried eggs and bacon? Absolutely not. But it’s something.

Some of us in the office have taken to bringing up a handful of eggs in the morning, to share with our peers. I have never seen such disgust at the offer of a gift as when I asked my Italian coworkers if they wanted an egg in the morning.

This is where the “wars” part comes in. I wouldn’t count breakfast among my passions, but as soon as someone turned their nose up at bacon and eggs, I was unexpectedly hurt and offended. What do you mean, pork in the morning is disgusting? (One Italian literally told me he would put a gun in his mouth before eating pig in the morning.) How dare you! You have cake for breakfast, like an unsupervised child!

I cannot even convey to you the passion and enthusiasm with which our MBA group debated this seemingly unimportant issue over happy hour. It culminated in the best possible solution: we would just have to have a multicultural brunch, representing both sides of the argument, to compare, contrast, and gain perspective.

Beautiful pastries, delicate crepes, fluffy frittata, juicy ribs (they were out of sausage, okay?), and cheesy dan bing. It was an amazing meal, my friends. Did it settle the debate? Not at all. But we can at least live in harmony and accept each others’ meal choices. For the most part.

 

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Check out more of our brunch, plus interviews with our awesome crew of MBA students here:

Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?

My first few weeks back in Italy have been fantastic. Within the first 48 hours, I found myself basking in the sun on the shore of a beautiful lake, surrounded by incredible mountains, drinking locally-made prosecco from small, plastic cups with my amazing new coworkers. There were more than a few “is this real life?” moments, and even more “is this really MY life?” moments.

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I remember my term of study abroad being a complete whirlwind. In only 4 months, we visited over half a dozen countries, saw so many breathtaking sites, went to dozens of events, met hundreds of people, and completed a handful of courses and trainings. But I wasn’t expecting the same type of experience from my master’s program. I knew just from the preliminary questions and interviews that I would be ridiculously busy with work and school, and would only have about one weekend off per month for fun things.

So far, that expectation has been left in the dust. The lake was just the beginning of this fantasy life. A couple days later, I was strolling the alleyways of Venice and eating fresh seafood risotto. A few days after that, Richard found a music festival and he, Alex and I decided to go. I expected something smallish and indoors. Instead, we ended up jumping around with a couple thousand people in front of one of 3 outdoor stages as alt-J secured a place for themselves in my Spotify playlist.

A similar situation came up only two nights ago: we decided to go to the closing night of Pride Village in Padova, not realizing as we waited in line that “Pride Village” was an entire city block with multiple bars and stages. An actual village. Dancing on Alex’s shoulders with gigantic beach balls flying over my head and drag queens doing aerial silk dancing on stage was another “is this real life?” moment, in a completely different way. I know that’s a lot to take in – here’s a video to help you imagine it (the shoulder dancing and aerial silks are absent here, but it’s something): https://goo.gl/7DRgxq

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Translation: “The host who is not there.”

As if all this wasn’t enough, let me give you three words that will guarantee your jealousy: wine vending machines. Yes, you read that right. There is an amazing place where you can put 10 euro into a vending machine and get a bottle of prosecco made out of grapes grown mere feet away. And the view that comes with the bottle…. it’s unbeatable.

I know I’m gushing, but it’s really hard not to. Guys. This life. I feel like I’m dreaming, just don’t wake me up.

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View from Valdobbiadene

In Bocca al Lupo

It has been almost exactly 5 years since my last blog post. That was the last time I was travelling extensively. I always hoped to continue my blog while at home in Oregon. I redid the header image, font, and general theme to what I thought was the coolest title I could have in Portland: The PDX Files. You know, ‘cuz the Portland airport (and often the city itself) is PDX, and it’s a famously weird city, which goes with The X-Files… I was so proud of that title and theme. But I never wrote a post. Grand plans, no follow-up.

But now! Now I am back in Paderno del Grappa, Italy – in the very school that I attended while writing my very first blog as an undergraduate study abroad student. Don’t bother looking for those posts and stories: I took that blog off the internet when I started looking for jobs. We definitely did things as undergrads that I did not want potential employers knowing about. The title of that blog was Dolce Far Niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. It was not necessarily a fitting title, as we were rarely doing nothing during those 4 months, but it was a saying I had heard in Italian and enjoyed.

The title for this blog is another Italian saying – my favorite: in bocca al lupo. It translates to “in the mouth of the wolf.” This is essentially how the Italians say “break a leg.” It’s meant as “good luck” or “do your best.” You’re in the mouth of the wolf! You have this big challenge facing you! And when someone says “in bocca al lupo”, the answer you should give is “crepi il lupo” or simply “crepi!” The wolf will die! I’m going to face this challenge and I’m going to win!

I learned yesterday that there is an alternative response, which is simply “grazie”. Thank you. But this reply completely changes the meaning of the phrase. This refers to when the mother wolf will gently take a wolf pup in her mouth to move it. By replying “grazie”, you are saying something along the lines of “thank you for caring for and protecting me”. The total opposite of “crepi”!

I am reviving this blog because I am currently in Italy and will be here for almost 2 years. I accepted a work-study position, coordinating undergraduate study abroad programs while completing my MBA at CIMBA. This is full-time work and part-time study, mixed with travel and navigating regular life in a foreign country. Am I nervous? In part, of course. I can barely speak any Italian, I don’t know anyone here, I don’t even know what I don’t know. Simple things like operating the washing machine are infinitely more difficult. Plus I will be away from my family, friends, and everything I know for two whole years. But I am I excited? Heck yes! This is such a great opportunity. Certain things will be challenging, but those things will just push me to learn and grow. I will come out of this experience a different person.

I am definitely in the mouth of the wolf. Crepi il lupo!

 

 

My Life at Huntington Castle

Sadly, my blog is way behind. I’ve been working and staying at Huntington Castle for two months now. That’s right, a real Irish castle! Built in 1625 and expanded in the generations since, with swords and armor and towers and ghosts and stuff. There’s even a crazy temple in the basement! It has everything a proper caste should, and much more.

But it’s the people that make the experience here so worthwhile. Let me give you a synopsis of the cast of characters that has entered my life:

First, the resident family. Alex Durdin-Robertson is the current owner of the castle, a descendant of the Esmonde family who built it. I don’t actually know a whole lot about Alex’s past, other than he was a member of the Queen’s Guard in London for a time. He’s a very interesting guy and he seems to have knowledge of nearly any topic that is brought up. Although you wouldn’t know it by his accent, Alex is a country boy at heart, with his tractors and his sheep.

Alex lives in the castle with his wife, Clare, and their two boys, Herbert and Esmonde. Clare is an English artist, who has had her work displayed in a number of galleries in London. She runs the tea room and gift shop at the castle, and can be quite passionate about it. Sometimes she gets a little overexcited and ends every sentence with “do you know what I mean?” She is always expanding and improving on the gift shop, and I’ve heard a ton of visitors compliment the changes she has made.

Herbert and Esmonde are two (almost three!) and one-and-a-half years old, respectively. They take after Alex, as they are little country boys. Herbert’s first words were mama, dada, and tractor. To say they are obsessed with farm equipment is a huge understatement. They have enough toy tractors to restock a John Deere gift shop. Both of the boys can be absolutely adorable – and both can be little terrors. And they can go from one extreme to the other in approximately 0.5 seconds. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard screaming from the other room unexpectedly turn into giggles, then go right back to screams. I guess it’s a kid thing.

Alex’s younger brother, Harry, also lives in the castle. He’s a total loner, no body really likes him… (I know you’re reading this Harry). Actually, he’s a pretty cool guy. Harry is also an artist. I’ve seen some of his work in his studio in the attic of the castle. He’s pretty phenomenal, but I guess he would have to be after studying painting for 8 years in Florence. As the resident tour guide, Harry gives the tour of the castle four times a day, every day from May to September. He’s been doing the tours since he was 12 years old (he’s 27 now) and says his record is working 63 straight days. After repeating the same half-hour spiel literally thousands of times, it’s no wonder he’s not right in the head.

Alex and Harry’s mother, Moira, lives in the cottage right next to the castle. Moira was born in Italy and has lived in a number of places, including Scotland (if I remember correctly) and, obviously, Ireland. She is fluent in Italian, Spanish, French, and English, with some knowledge of German and probably a couple other languages. Moira is always pleasant to be around, and it seems like every word out of her mouth is meaningful. She can also handle her whiskey. She seems like such an interesting person, I wish I had gotten more chances to talk with her. Oh, and she is an artist, too. The family is full of them.

Also to be included in the family are the four dogs: Mouse and Muffin, the miniature dachshunds; Myrtle, the lurcher/terrier cross; and Otto, the Bernese mountain dog. Each of them has such a distinct personality. Mouse is cuddly, but can be a little bratty. Muffin is, well, a little simple. Myrtle is such a sweetheart with her big, soulful eyes. Otto is just a giant teddy bear, and he is the cutest thing ever when he gets excited.

Beyond the resident family, those of us working at Huntington also inhabit the castle. During my time, there were four of us. Charlotte has been at Huntington for almost a full year now. She is a full-time nanny to Herbert and Esmonde, and I don’t think any of us – workawayers or family members – would’ve survived without her. Sometimes Herbert comes in the house crying unintelligibly about something and Charlotte magically fixes the problem while the rest of us are giving each other confused looks, wondering how in the hell she translated what seemed like total gibberish. Yes, Charlotte is the baby whisperer.

Ben and Sophia are workawayers, like me. They grew up together in Germany and have dated on and off for a while. Ben arrived at Huntington back in April and has spent his time tending to the gardens and grounds. A week after I moved into the castle, the previous workawayer (shoutout to Annette!) left to continue her travels, so Sophia came to replace her. She and I have a good time in the tea room, making fun of accents and comparing German and American culture.

The four of us – me, Charlotte, Ben, and Sophia – get on very well. After spending so much time together after work hours, we’ve gotten pretty comfortable with each other, meaning inappropriate comments abound. Ben and I have really taken to firing “your mom” jokes at one another, while Charlotte and I both mumble “that’s what she said” after nearly every statement. We are immature and hilarious. I will be recounting many of our adventures and experiences in the future.

The castle is also made brighter, both literally and figuratively, by two ladies who come in to clean two days a week. Mary and Rose are both sweet Irish ladies who always greet me with a very enthusiastic “Good morning, Kim! How are you today?” The castle would not be complete without them.

So that is the cast of the sitcom that is my life at the moment. Episodes to come. And photos.

The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

 

DSC_0034Contrary to what my last post might have you believe, Venice wasn’t all bad. It is, as most will agree, a unique and beautiful city. The canals and gondolas bring out a hint of romance in even the most hardened traveler. The mask shops and glass vendors offer wares of a quality that cannot be duplicated, much as the cheap tourist kiosks try. The churches and museums have the sea at their back door, literally. There really is no city like Venice.
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DSC_0008Everyone will, and should, see the main attractions: the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square (Piazza di San Marco). There’s also the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, which are worth a look. And tourists with a little extra time might take a boat taxi to the three islands surrounding the city. But my favorite site of Venice, beyond the gorgeous sunset, was a museum I just stumbled upon in my wanderings. The museum of Leonardo di Vinci.

The museum was fairly small and practically empty, leaving me free to play with the interactive exhibits uninhibitedly. There were so many mechanical devices, growing more and more complicated through da Vinci’s life. I knew the man was a genius, but I had no idea how many subjects his intellect spanned. Manufacturing, farming, military, art, medicine, and much more… it seems like he had a hand in huge innovations of every field. I saw friction-displacing machines, a model of the first excavator, prototypes of flying machines, the designs for the first bicycle, an underwater breathing apparatus,  sketches of the human anatomy, and tools for artist viewpoint. One of the most interesting things was a bridge with no nails or cords of any sort. It was just pieces of wood, arranged in a way such that it would actually tighten and become sturdier as a person walked across.
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And then there were the military inventions and innovations. He helped create certain kinds of cannons and even a sort of old school tank. And guns, of course. Da Vinci is actually responsible for the shape of the bullet that is still used today.
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Seeing everything da Vinci had done in his lifetime, all these amazing ideas and inventions – not to mention the pieces of art he created! – made me feel rather unaccomplished. By the time he was my age, he was probably a master of at least three different fields of study. But then, there wasn’t much else to do back in da Vinci’s day. I’m pretty positive that if the internet didn’t exist, I would be a legendary genius, too. 

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Lesson 14: Take a Deep Breath

I sat on the curb at the Venice bus station, holding back tears as I reflected on what a crappy afternoon it had been. My feet hurt, my head felt like it was going to explode, and I felt completely helpless and pessimistic. You know when interviewers ask questions like “Tell me about a time when everything went wrong”? This day will be my answer.

It had started out so great. I had decided I wanted to see Ireland. I had received an email from a Workaway host, who just happened to be in Ireland. I finally had a plan! I just needed to get some Venetian souvenirs and book a flight, then I would be good to go.

Easier said than done on both counts, unfortunately. I had been on the lookout for a good mask to take back to my dad and stepmom. Venice is famous for its Carnivale masks, with shops on every street corner, so finding a good one shouldn’t be a problem. And it wasn’t. Not long after entering the city of canals for the day, I found a great hand-painted mask that I knew would look perfect on their wall. But my day was just beginning – I didn’t want to carry the mask around the city for hours. I figured I could come get it later, or maybe even find a similar one in another shop for a lower price.

That was my first mistake: thinking I could find anything in Venice. Sure, the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square are easy, there are literally signs for these sites on every street. But to return to one mask shop among hundreds with only a vague idea of where it might be? Impossible, as I found when I tried to relocate the shop that afternoon. Nor could I find another mask that compared to that first one I had liked. Not that I didn’t try – I walked around that maze of a city until I couldn’t walk anymore. (Mini-lesson: cheap Converse knock-offs – call them Nonverse or Con-Cons or whatever – are not good walking shoes.) I ended up returning to the hostel maskless and footsore.

Somehow, I missed the hostel bus stop. Luckily, the airport wasn’t far, so it didn’t take me long to hop on a bus in the opposite direction. I missed it again, but just barely, leaving me to walk 100 yards or so. Finally I was able to sit down and find a flight to Dublin. Ryanair sucks, as any budget traveler will tell you, but they’re still in business for a reason: sometimes the low cost is worth the crappy service. They were the only company offering a cheap, convenient flight from Venice to Dublin for the next day. I gritted my teeth and accepted all the stupid charges they add on, entered alll of my information, and paid for my ticket.

Or at least I tried to. Over and over again. For some reason, the site would not accept my payment information. I even tried using a different card, to no avail. I must’ve re-entered the same info ten times, using every address it could possibly need for my card, with no differing effects. My frustration was seething out of me and I was starting to stress out a bit. There were no other flights to Dublin for another three days and I needed to get there immediately.

Finally i decided I would go to the source and buy a ticket there. Unfortunately, Ryanair only uses the most inconvenient, out-of-the-way airports possible. The bus to their Venice location was half and hour from the station, which was ten minutes from the hostel. But what else could I do? I took a bus to what I thought was the train station (it wasn’t), got anther bus to the actual train station, went through hell trying to communicate where I wanted to go to the ticket man, and finally got an €18 return ticket to the Treviso airport.

This is when I sat on the curb, doing my best to keep the tears from spilling down my cheeks. It didn’t help that it was a Sunday, meaning bus routes ran less frequently and if I took too long at the airport I wouldn’t have a bus back. I was stressed, I was fried, and I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I just had to take a deep breath and think things through, step by step. Firstly, I told myself that the whole situation wasn’t as big of an issue as I was making it. If I couldn’t get a ticket for the next day, it wasn’t the end of the world. I could get there by the end of the week anyway. I had a ticket to the airport in hand – I could use it now, make the 1-hour round trip and try to get a ticket for the morning, or I could just go there in the morning and see if I could get a ticket then. Being completely fed up with public transportation for the moment, I decided on the latter. It saved time and effort. Having made that decision, I got on the bus back toward the hostel, feeling better already.

Just when things were looking up, I find myself at the end of the bus route, with no idea when we had passed my stop. I actually think I just got on the bus going in the wrong direction, because I swear I was paying attention. Either way, I was just lucky that I had a very, very nice bus driver who took me all the way back to the hostel, which was somehow half an hour away.

Let me pause to recap the fact that I had just endured three hours of botched bus rides and pure frustration, and I was still in exactly the same position as when I left.

I got back to the hostel and immediately grabbed a beer. Can you blame me? Luckily I had a few new friends to share it with. As I sipped that first pint, I checked on backup travel options. I found that Air Lingus had a flight from Milan to Dublin the next day. It was a later flight, so I had time to go the three hours from Venice to Milan beforehand. I decided that sounded much more appealing than dealing with Ryanair and their shit, not knowing if I would even be able to get a ticket. So I booked with easyJet. My card was accepted on the first try.

I breathed a sigh of relief and finished my beer. Screw you, Ryanair.

(No wonder it took me so long to write this post. I feel stressed and annoyed just thinking back on all that!)

Sorry?

Well, I’ve done it again, as I knew I eventually would. I’ve gotten behind on my blog. I start out so excited, posting every day, but then I get busy and the posts stack up and I don’t want to write because I’m so far behind and I’m so far behind because I don’t want to write. I’ve been in Ireland for a month and I’m still writing about Italy!

Just to give a quick update, I am currently living in a small town a couple hours out of Dublin. I’m working and staying in a castle (yes, a real castle!). The people are great, the food is great, the place is great. I’m sure I will tell you all about it soon enough. But for now, I gotta catch up! Maybe you guys should bug me about writing more often.

Lesson 13: How to Accidentally Sneak into a Club

On to Bologna! What is there to say about Italy’s supposed food capital? Well I did have some pasta Bolognese, and it was damn good. Didn’t see any bologna, though. Must be an American thing? Beyond the food, I did really like the town. It’s a place I could see myself staying in for a while. Everything is in walking distance and there are plenty of supermarkets, shops, and parks. And Bologna is one of those places that has a lot of history nonchalantly  mixed in with the modern world. I love places like that. Even the porticoes lining most of the streets give the city character and differentiate it from other places.DSC_0182I climbed the tallest of the city’s many towers, all of which seem to be leaning. It’s always nice to get a bird’s-eye view of the place I’m visiting. I also visited a couple of the local churches. There are always churches to visit. Also, a friend of a friend let me in on the “seven secrets of Bologna“, a couple of which I struck out to find. Neptune’s penis was easy and the canals aren’t hard to find if you aren’t lazy. However, I couldn’t really make use of the whispering corner by myself, and the other “secrets” evaded me completely.DSC_0180 

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Beyond the historical aspect of Bologna, I was interested in checking out the city’s nightlife. I had heard good things, with it being a university town and all (the oldest university in the world, in fact). Every once in a while, I just feel like going out on a Saturday night, so I did my research and picked one of the hottest clubs in town to visit. I marked it on the map, put on my shirt and tie, and headed off, not really knowing what to expect.

As I approached the point on the map, I crossed a bridge and was distracted by the events in the area below. There was a park-like area off to the left, where a bunch of people were sitting on the grass, watching a film on a giant projector screen. I thought this must be the “Bio in the Park” event I had seen advertised in the main square. Connected to the park, but separated by a chain-link fence and gate, was a stage, an outdoor bar, and a huge seating area. Some sort of event was going on on the stage, while lights flashed and music played in the almost castle-like building behind it. Was this the club I was searching for? It looks like it could be a club. It’s in the right area…. But how do I get down there?

It took me a few minutes (and some light stalking) to locate the door, but nothing is ever as easy as just walking in. I needed a special card to enter, which I was told to buy somewhere down in the courtyard/park area. I made my way down into the park, into the swarm of people, with no real idea of what I was looking for. It was a bit of a mess, with the film viewers on one side of the fence and the club-goers on the other. I looked around for a while, but still had no idea where to get this card.

The most logical step in my mind was to ask the bartenders, so I went through a gate to the other side of the fence to wait in line at the outside bar. It struck me as slightly strange that it was free to get into the courtyard and outside bar, which were clearly connected to the club, but the building itself had a cover and card-requirement. I brushed it off as a cultural thing. Finally, I reached the front of the line, where I asked the bartender, in what I thought was pretty decent Italian, where I could buy the card to get into the club. She immediately turned and got her coworker, who spoke English. Damn you, Italian, I thought I had it!

A conversation chalk full of confusion on both sides ensued. I wanted to know where to get the card, she asked if I was a student, I said that I was just visiting, she said I didn’t need the card, I explained that they had told me upstairs that I did. “Who told you?”

“The people at the door.”

“No, you have to go upstairs and talk to them.”

“…That’s who told me I needed the card. They told me to come down here somewhere.”

Finally, it boiled down to this statement from her: “Well they already let you in without the card, so you don’t need to get one.”

…They let me in? But I didn’t pay anything… Was I supposed to pay when I went through the gate?

And that’s how I accidentally snuck into Cassero.

So what to do now that I was in? Let me tell you, going to clubs by yourself sucks. Unless you’re super outgoing and can easily strike up a conversation with a random stranger, I don’t recommend it. I can be outgoing at times, but it’s a little harder when you don’t know who speaks English. The first hour or so at the club consisted of me awkwardly drinking by myself and people-watching. 969205_10201300121976157_2075247101_n

Finally, just as I was about to give up and call it a night, someone took pity on me and introduced herself. From there, I met a whole slew of new friends! We danced and drank, and they quizzed me on my American life. I had never been called “exotic” before that night. 1013699_10201300180657624_553253939_nSo overall, the club, and Bologna itself, was a success. Yay for new friends!

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