Monday, November 30, 2009

Jagged vs. Lagged or, English is Strange

Reading this gives me a whole new perspective to learning languages. I thought Italian was difficult to learn, but now I'm thinking that English may be even harder! It's so funny to see this because it includes so many things that we as English speakers don't think twice about.

*I didn't write this ;) I wish I could say I did!


1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. - Why doesn’t “Buick” rhyme with “quick?"

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this...

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is “UP.”

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so……….. it is time to shut UP…..!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


On Sunday, 11/21, after our two awesome days in Florence, we woke up early, had a quick breakfast in the hotel, then boarded the bus for our trip to Arezzo.

The ride from Florence to Arezzo was very short and before we knew it we had arrived. We all walked to the center of town and met up with our tour guides...who were also very awesome! Either I have had the best luck with tour guides this semester, or ISA just picks really awesome ones ;)

Arezzo is a very small, quaint Tuscan town. It is well known by many because it is the place where Roberto Benigni's famous film "La Vita è Bella" (life is beautiful) was filmed in 1997. (Have you seen this movie? I hope so...if not, you had better go see it! It's amazing and is a true classic.)

Anyway, back to the tour! We began at San Pietro Maggiore

This church was very pretty

Gorgeous stained glass

The steps of the church (these were used in a scene in "La Vita è Bella")

Our walk took us down some narrow streets

The Medici family coat of arms

Piazza Grande

Just a cute little Italian woman making fresh pasta on the side of the big deal or anything...

Another "La Vita è Bella" landmark...the library that was seen in the film

This is posted on its door now

We did more walking and saw a lot of great things, but some of them weren't allowed to be photographed. I spent a lot of the time mesmerized by our tour guide...I don't think I will ever stop raving about how great all of them were!

After our tours were finished we were all free to go have lunch before we left. My friends and I picked a little trattoria not far from where our tour began, and it proved to be a great choice. The food was awesome, the workers were very friendly, and most was pretty inexpensive ;)

I had ravioli with truffle cream sauce. Tuscany is known for its truffle mushrooms, and just like last time I was there, I knew I had to have a dish that had them!

We had time after lunch to relax and walk around, so we continued to explore on our own. I thought this shop was cute

We decided to go to a park that our tour guide told us about but that wasn't a stop on our tour...

Central Park?...Nah...just Tuscany!

These two ladies were talking and laughing for a long time and seemed to be the best of cute!

We walked further up the hill to the top overlook area of the park...great view!

Crazy manes of curly hair staring off into the distance

Right before we left to head back to the bus, I spotted this older couple walking through the park (and creepily took a picture of them)...Adorable :)

And that was the end of my Tuscan weekend! I loved this trip so much...Florence was amazing and I was so glad that I got to see all of the amazing works of art there. And Arezzo was gorgeous...I am a huge fan of the small, quiet towns so I was glad that we got to spend a few hours there :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Buon giorno del ringraziamento!

Or, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has a great day today and eats lots of delicious food for me. Even though ISA gives us a Thanksgiving dinner (complete with pumpkin pies that we all baked!) it still won't be the same as the family's cooking.

This year I am thankful for my family (as always!), my friends (old and new...especially the ones I've met this semester), my health, and of course, the amazing experience that I've been given to live and study in Italy for a semester. Sometimes I still can't believe that I'm lucky enough to experience's definitely something that I will never forget. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This past weekend, ISA took us to Florence and Arezzo. We left on Friday morning and spent a few hours on the bus, stopped for lunch, then spent another 45 minutes traveling before we made it to Florence.

Albergo Firenze, our hotel, was in a great location -- right in the center of the city. We all brought our stuff to the hotel, then met downstairs a half hour later for our first tour of the trip.

My group had a fabulous tour guide...I wish I remembered her name -- she was so knowledgeable. Our first main stop was Piazza Della Repubblica, which is complete with a merry-go-round. :) The merry-go-round was originally only put there for an event that was going on, but it stuck and now it remains there permanently

Next we saw the Duomo area...look at all of these amazing, historical buildings all in the same picture!

Giotto’s Campanile

The Baptistery

Peek at the Duomo

La Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore


Brunelleschi's work on the dome ceiling

Il Palazzo Medici

My roomie and I waiting in line to get into the Galleria Dell'Academia to see Michelangelo's David statue

Highly illegal picture of the David statue

After our time seeing the statue, we went to check out the leather market. Florence is known for its leather, and there is a huge market that sells everything from leather purses to jackets to boots. I didn't end up buying anything from the market, but later in the weekend I did buy a small leather purse from a street vendor.

Me, Sarah, Kristin, Courtney and Ana. Funny story -- everyone in this picture except for Kristin goes to the same school as me and we are all in the same grade...but none of us knew each other until this semester! And now we're best friends :) At least we will all have each other at home to reminisce about this semester with...that way we don't bore our other friends from home who aren't here!

We ate dinner the first night at a restaurant called Yellow Bar. My friend Courtney's friend studied in Florence last year and recommended it to sounded touristy to me, but it wasn't. It was really good -- a very lively atmosphere with inexpensive, great Florentine food! It's known as being a popular hangout for young people (because Florence has so many college students). I had green and orange pasta with cream, ham and mushrooms....mmm

My table and I also shared Bistecca alla Fiorentina, one of the signature dishes of Florence. Basically, it's a HUGE piece of steak (it's always shared -- my table of 7 shared one order and we had some left over) that's cooked very rare and seasoned simply with salt, pepper and olive oil. I am not a steak eater, but I knew I had to try some...and it was actually very delicious! Nevermind the fact that it was practically still "moo-ing" at me from the plate (I've never seen meat that was so rare) but I did enjoy it. We all better have -- since it's such a huge piece of steak, it cost 39 euros ($58)...but we split it so it ended up being cheap per person

For dessert, we were told that we must try the restaurant's signature dish -- cream puffs topped with melted chocolate. They were amazing!

The next morning, we met our tour guide in Piazza della Signora

This is where MIchelangelo's David statue used to stand. Since it is now in the Galleria dell'Academia, they've placed a fake David statue in its place (it is practically identical)

Our guide took us to this statue of a wild boar. They say that if you rub the nose, it ensures your return to Florence someday. So of course, I did it!

Next she took us to the Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge"), which boasts the best view of the city and the Arno River

View from inside the Uffizi Museum

You are not allowed to take pictures inside this museum, but here are pictures that I found online of some of the things that I saw. The Uffizi houses a ton of classic works of art, from Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus"...

Photo source

to Botticelli's "Primavera"...

Photo source

...Giotto's "Madonna in Maestà"...

Photo source

...and many, many more! I particularly enjoyed the visit to the Uffizi because I took Art History back at TCNJ and I LOVED the class so much, and many of the things we studied are in this museum and in other parts of Florence.

After the museum visit, we were all starving, so we headed out to find a little trattoria that Courtney's guide book said has a great, inexpensive lunch. Trattoria Bordino was tucked down a little side street right off the Ponte Vecchio, and it was very homey on the inside

Again, no food pictures! I'm slacking, I know. We got a two-course lunch for only 7 euros...I had Riso al Burro, which is rice with butter and cheese, and then a dish that I can't remember the name of (it was similar to beef stew -- pieces of beef with potatoes and peas in a thick sauce.) I don't know what got into me because I'm usually not the best with trying new foods, but with the exception of the peas, I really enjoyed this dish.

After lunch we went to Biboli Gardens (view from the garden entrance)

View from the top of the stairs

Then we climbed to the top of a little lookout area for the best look at the countryside from the gardens

It became a joke on this trip that out of all of us, Sarah is the only one who doesn't have curly hair, which rarely ever happens since curly hair is more uncommon than straight. So Sarah snapped this picture of the rest of us :)

On our walk down from the top, we saw a tree with a ton of leaves below it, so naturally, we had to stop and take pictures

Then we walked back over the Ponte Vecchio at was so pretty

After walking around for a bit more, we got gelato from what Courtney's friend swears is the best gelateria in Florence. There are two other gelaterias that the guidebooks recommend to be the best, but this one is what "insiders" (as they say) know is truly the best in Florence. Gelateria dei Neri did not disappoint...I got half pistachio (my go-to flavor) and half chocolate/orange, which is probably the best gelato flavor I've tried to date

After our gelato we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a couple hours, then went out to dinner at Trattoria la Casalinga, a little local place off the beaten path that one of our ISA program directors told us about. He said it has amazing food and great prices, and is one of his favorite restaurants in of course we had to check it out! He gave us perfect directions to get there, and we ate soooo well...I'm still dreaming about that meal! I got Ribollita soup, which is another Tuscan specialty. The word ribollita means "twice boiled"...this soup starts out as minestrone, then the next day it is reheated with chunks of bread and served with a big drizzle of olive oil on top. It was delicious...full of cannellini beans and vegetables

For my main course I was once again feeling surprisingly daring, so I decided to try another Tuscan specialty -- cinghiale, or wild boar. I had pappardelle al cinghiale, which is pappardelle pasta (my favorite!) with a wild boar ragu sauce. Delicious! I was proud of myself for trying something like this...I'd definitely order it again

And that was our day and a half in Florence! I really enjoyed this city a is tiny enough that you can get a good feel for it almost immediately, yet there is still so much there to see. I was so glad that ISA included all of our museum visits and tour guides in the trip for us -- it would have been a hassle to get those all figured out on our own, and I know that our guides wouldn't have been nearly as good as the ones that ISA uses. Also, we never would have found Trattoria la Casalinga if it weren't for Andrea (our ISA director) that in itself made the trip worth it. ;)

The next morning we woke up early and headed to our next destination...Arezzo!