The Miss Cupcake: Italian Version

I’m willing to admit right now the fact that I’m completely out of my comfort zone. The range of emotions right now is unexplainable  inexpressible, and unimaginable. So many things have happened in the last 4 days that have never happened in my entire life. Here, I will attempt to explain these victories over confusion, while still trying to embrace a sense of sarcasm, fun, and whimsy. This is The Miss Cupcake: Italian Version.

I was not concernered about this trip a week ago. In fact, I had convinced myself that I was ready for a change in place, ready to take the reigns in my life, and ready to be completely independent. I had packed (three suitcases..which would come back to seriously haunt me), had said my goodbyes, and was completely ready (or so I thought).

On our way to the airport on Monday, August 26th, it still had not hit me. I was ready for something that I didn’t even understand yet. I had my tickets in hand, boarding passes, passport (although in JFK, Jared decided to place his passport on the conveyor belt of security and not pick it back up. Jared tragedy #1) I even had my adventure hound, which almost made me tear up when it was given to me. When my momma had gone to Alaska for several months (a long long time ago), her sister, Debbie, made her a little shrinky dink to take with her. Several years later, Debbie moved to New Zealand (now that flight would have completely demolished me!). My mom gave it back to Debbie and told her to keep it with her through all of her new adventures. Well guess what? I have it now…and it’s coming with me.

It will get fat with me as I consume high carb, high sugar, high fat delicacies.

It will tretch into the unknown with me, as I attempt to struggle through buying even the basic of items in Italian.

It will learn to bake and style beautiful culinary treats.

It will be my hound and I will be his hound.

The airport came and went and we were flying. New things started happening, like free popular magazines for the customers. I scooped up an Elle and told Jared that this $500 was so worth it! Then, I sat down, listened to the “safety guidelines  and opened the magazine up.

It was in German.

What!? What a rip off! German!

Oh yeah, I’m going somewhere were they don’t speak my language.

Culture shock: 1

Lauren: 0

Airline food was pretty interesting. I mean, I might as well just stay on airlines the rest of my life. The flavors, textures, and aoromas are like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. The best way to describe it would most likely be…abnormal. I mean…look….look at the garnishes and luxury of this food.

I wonder if they offer cooking classes in the air? 

I mean, chilly bread, stale crumb cake, and unidentifiable potato product….yeaah!

Dusseldorf airport boasted of lots of German people, I was hard for me to believe to. Everyone seemed to be tall, blonde hair, and ready to get down to business. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit intimidated, and there was also that language barrier issue. However, we were so exhausted at this point, that we pretty much lost our minds

…and slept in awkward positions.

It started sinking in after than point. The feelings of confusing, misplacement, and regret. We finally arrived in Milan after a lovely 6 hour layover in Dusseldorf. There, we were so confused about our hunger feelings (it being 6 hours ahead) that we decided eating would be a good idea. So we did! And there, something very special happened. We ate our first Italian pizza. It was a bit life changing, I suppose you would say. I mean, the pizza was airport pizza, but I think Jared and I finally realized that these 4 months were going to be verrrry different.

We were able to struggle enough to find a bus that went from the airport to Milan Central Station, which apparently was very close to our hotel. Everything was going great, we were dropped off at the station, given our luggage, and poof, gone went the driver. There Jared and I were. Two 20ish year old kids who had no idea where they were with not 4, not 5, but 6 suitcases (plus bags and backpacks). And… apparently no one in Milan speaks English….who knew?

We wandered, I yelled, Jared yelled. We were angry, exhausted, and walking through the streets of Milan with 17 suitcases. The number of suitcases will continue to get higher each time I tell this story. Which, rightfully so. Luckily, daddy decided to purchase me an Interational cell phone plan, and I kid you not, had I not had gps on my phone, we never would have found it.

Finally, we arrived. Hotel Central Station, which was as the name read, was right across from Central Station. We are kicking ourselves now, but we were just happy to arrive. We were jetlagged and ready to knife each other. It was a great time to find that hotel ;) Even though we could have found it earlier, had Jared’s Spanish not betrayed him. We called the hotel and the man stated “tanto.” Now, I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but aparently in Spanish it meant idiot. So, Jared felt offended and hung up the phone.

Tanto, just to clear the air, means name…..yes…haha

We got to the cute  little hotel room, and the second realization came to pass: no air conditioning. Also, I became aware of the fact that in the slightest bit of heat, Jared becomes covered with a lovely moist layer. This, I’ll have to get used to. As of the moment, holding his hand is a bit of a challenge. However, I have overcome it at least once today.

Next, we jumped on the train to Florence and voila, we were there.

Enter. Florence. (View from my apartment)

I hopped in a cab (with Jared holding my hand tightly) and off to the school we went. I was so nervous, yet excited, yet anxious. We arrived, and WOW. Florence is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I haven’t even noticed a sketchy part. Italian restaurant after Italian restaurant line the cobblestone walkways. Florence is truly magnificant.

I had given Jared a long long lecture on the timing of our arrival. Check in time was 9am, and let me tell you, we were there almost to the dot. I knew the apartment situation would be difficult, as I had never lived anywhere but my own spacious room, with silence when I needed it. I was hoping to get my own room, but had no idea what to expect.

Guess what?

I got the top floor.

So there I am, exerting all of the jet-lagged energy in my body up the stairs.

That was just one piece of luggage.

After panting, sweating (which is something I rarely do), and nearly passing out (after carrying one bag up the stairs), I fell to my knees in agony and begged Jared to do the rest. But, I crawled to my room and realized something magnificent. SINGLE ROOMS! There were two single rooms, and let me tell you, I snagged one! After coming to my senses, I was so excited that I jumped to my feet and pulled the other suitcase up….half way…then I became dreary.

Energy only lasts for so long with me.

So princess Lauren got her single room, complete with a baggage carrying service and a huge Italian apartment.

And this is my room…

The kitchen hurt my feelings a bit. There is NO oven and space for one midget size person. It’s slightly a travesty.

But regarding the dining area, I’m actually quite in love with it. It’s a HUGE 6-8 person rectangular wooden table. I just love it. I can’t wait to have “family” dinners with my roommates, talking about our day. This will be my new family, I’m glad that I have this table to start it with.

As we were sitting on my bed, Jared looked at me and said, “You really are a spoiled brat, dear.”

I seriously thought I was being punked. I looked inside of the small “shoe closet” (YEAHHH! I HAVE A SHOE CLOSET!) and expected to see Ashton Kutcher.

But instead, I saw Bob Barker. It was at that point that I knew I needed some sleep.

The roommates slowly started to arrive and I greeted each one. I have 4 room-mates from all over the world (and country). Abu Dabi, Maryland, Alabama, and Michigan.

Oh, and we have TWO bathrooms.


And one of them….even has a bidet….in the shower.

I try not to ask to many questions.

There is even a nice hallway and living room, complete with dead rose petals and a futon.

Again with the not asking questions thing.

Jared and I ventured outside of my spacious apartment to grab a bite to eat, even though we were still confused about our stomachs. We ate our second Italian pizza, completely with a live show of the man preparing it. It was 12pm, lunch time, and no one else was in the restaurant. We realized yet another lesson, Italians don’t eat like we do. Lunch starts around 1:30 and dinner does not start until around 7:30. Most stores also close from 2pm to 4pm, for “naps” (something that we should take much more seriously in the states ;)

Then, it was time for gelato. It was something that I heard so much about, but had never consumed in the states. We found an adorable gelateria and was very pleasantly surprised at the taste.

Jared’s flavors choice was strawberry.

I chose  Kiwi and Mandarin.

We came back, tried to nap, and went to dinner at a faaabulous Italian restaurant. My first taste of true Italian cuisine. Although my pictures were deleted from that dinner….errr….It was completely enjoyable…I oohed and ahhed at everything I saw. The menu was in Italian and I didn’t understand a thing, but what I did eat was phenomenal. It was a tortellini pasta filled with prosciutto (similar to ham) and covered in a light cream sauce.

I mean, obviously it wasn’t my dish…it was Jared’s..but that’s what good girlfriends do…they mooch.

I, my friends, have worked hard at perfecting this.

My bruschetta was good too ;)

It was a lovely way to end dinner. The wine was phenomenal, the company was brilliant, and although I had my apprehensions, I was ready to embark on a completely different adventure.

That night, however, I was hit with much difficulty. The lack of air conditioning made me so uncomfortable, that I was unable to get to sleep until about 4am. It was exhausting, I missed my mom, and I was uncomfortable.

So, in one full day of Florence, I had learned several things about my new life that would last 4 months.

  • Italians are very loud. This is not rude, it’s normal. Getting over that is something that I will HAVE to do.
  • Americans are also loud. This I learned quickly, as there is a pretty much “American” wine bar outside our window. It gets pretty crazy. Girls pulling out each others hair, men trying to seduce women, you know…the works. Other than the fact that it is ridiculously loud, hey….free entertainment!
  • If all goes my way, I will not gain Italian weight. No matter what I eat (including the vast amount of gelato I have ALREADY consumed), the amount of walking in this beautiful city is..well…something I’m not quite used to yet. I’m so thankful for it, though. It gives me a chance to explore the unknown, venture into places that I never would have gone, and have “wandering” time just for me. Plus, with the “daily” gelato log that I am planning on keeping, I’m gonna NEED to walk….and walk pretty darn far.
  • I will always miss home. No matter what situation life will pull me into, I will always yearn for something that is familiar. I miss my bed, I miss my 3G Wireless connection, I miss my Susquehanna friends that I eat lunch with, I miss grocery stores, I miss that stupid dog that I really don’t like, I miss my bird that only has 3 feathers left, I miss my kitchen (WITH AN OVEN), I miss my garbage man, I miss my toilet that doesn’t clog, I miss OIP (where I order the grilled chicken, with french dressing, cheese on the side, regular bread, side of mayo, Parmesan cheese and oregano), and most importantly, I miss the people I’m familiar with, like my dad and my mom.
  • HOWEVER, no matter how much I miss home, I know that I will adjust. As much and as time consuming as worrying and missing those things is, I know that I need to come to terms with one thing: It’s not worse or better, it’s just different. This culture shock has been one things that helps me be thankful for the blessings that I do have, but not to judge what isn’t like the USA.
  • Faith will get me through. I think that this trip will help to strengthen my relationship with God. I have been encouraged by praying and doing devotionals each day. They remind me that I’m never alone and that there is nothing to fear. God will take care of me no matter what happens, no matter how far from my mommy I get, and no matter what situation I am faced with.
  • Florence is drop-dead gorgeous. I’m in love  with this city already. It’s a completely walkable city, and within it’s boundaries are gorgeous buildings, churches, and gardens. Everything about it screams Italy, and that I love.
  • Everything isn’t Cheap, I just can’t convert. I have an issue with the conversion factor from Euro back to dollar. According to my father, math is not my strong suit. To me, it just seems that everything is super cheap. Well, it’s not. It’s really not. The Euros are very interesting. The bills are all different sizes and the highest coin value is 2 Euros.

Lots of coins, but they are very pretty too!

  • I can’t speak a lick of Italian. I’m completely humbled by the American stereotype of those who speak a different language in our country. I’m embarrassed to be so under-developed in the Italian language. My vocabulary to this point consists of the following words and/or phrases:
  1. Prego: Your welcome
  2. Ciao: Goodbye/Hello
  3. Grazie: Thank you
  4. Tanto: Name (Just because of Jared’s mishap)
  5. Basta: Stay away from me you filthy scum bag!
  • Italian Keys are Awesome. Just. look. at. my. key. Enough said! I know you wish you had an apartment key like this!

Over the next 3.5 months, I will help you understand my trip through Europe. I plan on documenting my feelings and expectations, but more importantly, I will intricately describe the FOOD. So come along for the ride, there is fun to be had, weight to gain, and foodgasms to experience!

Ciao for now!