"Okay now I'm sitting at the Florence (Firenze!) train station waiting to go to ROME. I can't believe that my trip is already halfway through! We started out in Venice, which was absolutely gorgeous. As soon as we exited the airport, all we had to do was round the corner and walk a bit to reach the water. We took a ride on the Vaporetti (ferry) to get to San Marco's! The thing practically crawled across the water, but we finally made the short distance after an hour and a half. The shore was lined with water-taxis, private boats, and gondolas - and on land, an endless row of merchant stalls stocked with crazy Venetian masks, glassworks, jewelry, etc. It was super lively and bustling! The square was absolutely packed with tourists, venders, and pigeons. We went inside the Basilica and saw the famous four stolen horse statues. My Dad was obsessed with them. The inside was decorated with giant finely detailed mosaics, and unless you are a few feet away, they look like paintings! Afterwards, we went looking for some famous bridge but got completely lost. It was alright though because Venice is such a beautiful place to get lost in. The old, colorful architecture, the tiny rivulets snaking through the city, and the cute little footbridges and shops - topped with the occasional boat and the completely absence of cars, makes you feel like you have been transported back through time.
We spent three days in Florence, mainly visiting historical places (Santa Maria church, Piti Palace, Academia, and Uffizi) and eating good food. Even though I don't have a good grasp on religion, I was absolutely awestruck by the shear magnitude of the Church. Granted it did take ~700 years to complete, it's hard to believe that humans built something like that. We also got to see Michael Angelo's David. It's huge - 14 ft. tall, and it's housed in a large room filled with people standing around gaping at its beauty. BTW, you see the bridge on the front of this post card? Back in the day it used to be a meat market. The royal Medici family didn't want to be associated with it, so they had their own private overpass built above it, but they could still smell it, so they got rid of the market all together. What snobs! Now it is lined with jewelry shops crammed with gold (my dad likens it to Chinatown)"
...and that is when I ran out of room on the postcard. Impressive that I crammed that much onto it in the first place, no? But getting back to it, we then traveled to Rrrrooommaa! After checking into Hotel Sonya (I'm not kidding) we spent our first day walking across the city to the Galleria Borghese. We actually got lost (again) looking for it, but wandering around a gigantic park wasn't half-bad. Everywhere we looked was scenic and postcard-worthy. The museum was pretty cool, but at that point in the trip I had already looked at so many paintings and sculptures that I was getting jaded...a real shame honestly, since all of the art was fantastic. I wonder what it would be like to have my art visited by thousands of people daily. Damn. I don't really remember what else happened that day - I think we just walked a lot more and ate some gelato lol. On the second day we went to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Square and Cathedral, Trevi Fountain, and a slew of other places that appeared in Dan Brown's books (my dad was super excited to be at all the places mentioned in his stories - he spent a lot of the trip saying things like "oh this is where Langdon [fill in blank]" etc. I even read the book on the train, and to be honest, it is quite exciting to be able to stand exactly where the characters in the book stood and see the things that they saw). On the last day we toured ancient Rome- the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, and the surrounding grounds. It was actually one of my favorite days: Wandering the ruins amidst practically perfect weather was really a time-shock. For a moment I forgot that I was in modern Rome - if it weren't for the swarms of tourists noisily chattering and snapping photos, I could've closed my eyes and been transported back to when these ruins were once standing in their former glory. I could almost picture a time when the Forum was packed with commerce and lively activity. There's so much history etched into the marble, it's quite mind numbing. But then again, many things are once you think about them for too long.
Before long, spring break was over and I was back at MIT. I'd never been so bitter to come back to this place. I was so behind in studio that catching up felt like an impossible dream. But at the same time, I was still confused, still doubting my major and most of my choices. Still guilty, and stressed. It was almost as if the break hadn't happened. After pulling a few all-nighters desperately trying to catch up - I stopped to take a look in the mirror and realized that I was bending over backwards for a class I didn't actually need. So I checked in my obnoxious pride, and after one too many talks with my parents and friends, decided to drop the class. My professor was upset and tried to convince me otherwise. She cited that I was behind, yes, but I was not weak. I admit that she has been pretty satisfied with all of my work thus far, and it did feel like a shame to throw all of that away, but I knew that it was something I needed to do. I'm not really quite sure what I learned from this experience but in addition to all my guilt and shame, I also feel a little stronger. It's kind of strange.
More good things came my way when I found that out they will be able to send me to Japan this summer after all! I just got the project details today, and it seems that I will be working on implementing plywood structures that are stable and easily assembled as a response to natural disasters. At the end of my internship, I may even travel to the Philippines to help construct the houses. TALK ABOUT PUMPED. Damn I am excited. In addition, my studio professor contacted me, asking if I'd like to join his lab this summer. Unfortunately I had to decline, but there is some promise that I might be able to join in the fall :) Haha man I'm excited. But at the same time, I am quite happy with how my life is going on a day-to-day basis. I feel a lot more motivated and ambitious lately regarding projects. Last week I make a video project that I legitimately stayed up all night working on nonstop. After presenting and receiving positive reviews, I was glowing for the rest of the day. There really is something amazing and fulfilling about giving your all on a project and be able to proudly present it to other people. I think it's really important to have pride in your own work, a feeling I had been lacking recently.
Okay, now it's almost 5 am, I still have an essay to write, and I haven't even done the photo captions.... I guess some things never change.
YES I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED.... and it's not even 6 yet! Time to start that essay before the sun is completely up. Ha.
|Beautiful beautiful Florence. See that bridge in the first picture? That's the place I described in my postcard excerpt. The second was taken from the top of the Santa Maria church after climbing almost 500 steps...(my poor legs) The third is the ceiling of the octagonal chapel next to the Basilica. A lot of places in old Italy seem to really put emphasis on beautiful and intricate ceilings. Where ever you go, you can see people standing and gaping at the ceiling.|
|Travel and arrival in Venice! The middle pic is NYC from the plane - it's so beautiful no matter how many times I see it. Along the edges are pics of the cute waterways, artists, vendors, express trains, and a cool colorful walkway in the airport in Germany (transfer flight).|
|San Marco's square during the day and during the night. It's amazing how the same place looks completely different at night. Venice comes alive after the sunset - every light that comes on is doubled by it's reflection in the waterways. Restaurants open up their outdoor sitting areas, and both locals and tourists take to the streets. Many people say that Venice is sinking underneath all the weight of the people that walk its streets daily. I don't doubt that.|
|Arrival in Florence! The David in all his glory. The beautiful various-marbled facade of Santa Maria's Basilica. A sculpture of person walking off the bridge into the water...it was lighthearted, but also kind of morbid at the same time. I loved it. A marble statue of two men wrestling (the upside down one is grabbing the other's nuts). A sliver of Florence as viewed from a tiny gap in the wall as we climbed up the church. Nighttime leather market - I ended up buying a super comfy jacket and some cool african pants :)|
|Gorgeous ceilings at the church and at the Hall of 500. A small portion of the golden "Door of Paradise". Me and my dad at the top of the church! I also graffitied a bit (literally the place was covered in writing) and got told off by a bunch of old women. Watching this girl draw a perfect sketch of the David. Me and my Dad drinking beers at an Irish Pub! Lol so excited I managed to convince him to go out.|
|Hellloo Rooommaaa. St. Peter's Basilica, random stone angel with a pigeon, postcard we sent my mom and kaykay from the special post office at St. Peter's Square. Giant bronze thing in the church that is apparently recycled from the metal dome that used to be on top of the Pantheon. In fact a lot of ancient bronze artifacts in Rome have been melted down and reused throughout the ages (something that pissed of Michael Angelo.) Random selfie my dad took while he was waiting for me (something he had to do a lot throughout the trip.) Giant marble toe...it was in the Vatican museum... I was really taken by it for some reason.|
|My dad is a fountain outside the Pantheon. At Hotel Sonya! Trevi fountain selfies. THE COLOSSEUM.|
|Panoramic fun! Honestly those ones in St. Peter's Square took countless tries to get right... I think we attracted a few amused onlookers.|
|At the Colosseum and Forum! Damn I took a really epic picture of my dad - isn't it so inspirational?|
|Genius selfie-extendo-device. Beautiful flowers at the Forum. Ceiling of the Pantheon - I have a feeling that the dome of MIT took it's design from the Pantheon. Looking at my dad take his 130985th picture at the Colosseum. Religious magic and spray paint magic.|
|The amazing Trevi fountain at night. Sculpture and stairs at the Vatican. Awesome marble sculpture at the church. and cool Swiss guards!|
|Passed out at the hotel. Cool plants. Nice scenery. Street of (kick-ass and super talented) artists. Freaking awesome bench. Interesting sculptures at the Vatican. Postcard to send home!|
|Was a huge fan of this public art. Whenever I saw one I stopped to take a picture haha - I think the locals probably thought I was crazy. But just look at them! Genius.|
|Haha YES starting off the food pics...GELATO. We ate much. It was very delicious, but honestly I didn't notice much of a difference between it and ice cream.|
|Moar fooooodddddd. This collage is a mess of different food. Fancy (and super delicious) breakfasts, good spaghetti carbonara, chicken Alfredo, cupcake from Crumbs bakery, the fanciest McDonalds in the world (like actually, I'm not making this shit up), Gelateria, dumplings from before I went to Italy (lol), and a bag of chips I brought onto the airplane that look like they are on the verge of exploding.|
|Pictures of us with our food lol. Deliciousness and peace-signs abound.|
|Some of the highlights! Fettuccine with creamy truffle sauce and sautéed olive oil spinach. Spaghetti with pesto sauce. Meat sampler plate (lamb, chicken, beef, and sausage) with rosemary potatoes. And lol Korean food - Bulgolgi and Soondobu.|
|Annnnnnd back at MIT - Paper field project, Fisac inspired project, cupcake Eunice sent me <3, all-nighter froyo and studio PARTY with randi plus a guest appearance by Orangina. Fancy chocolate mousse at Top of the Hub for restaurant week + the amazing view. Running with Eunice to the docks! 4 ATS care packages I received from my lovely friends @_@, and last but not least, Eunice's sneaker-clad foot artistically hovering over MIT.|