Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Do you all remember me?

Try really hard to picture me in your mind's eye... short light brown hair, green eyes, freckles, a smile, shy, quiet, good natured... Now, try to add the backround of a typical american bar, dimmly lit, loud music, a pool table, beer, the works.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Michelle Olguin went to the James Joyce Pub!

I went with Silvia, my host cousin, and a group of her friends to said pub in Savigliano which is about (frantically trying to convert from km to m!) 8-10 miles from Fossano. We monopolized one end of the tiny little pub both physically with about 15 of us crowded around two tiny little tables, and vocally(which is really easy to do with even just one italian teenager...).

Most of the kids I hung out with didn't know I was american so when we were introduced everyone hasa thousand of questions to ask me! They also all loved trying to speak the little english they knew with me and heartily rejoiced upon success! It was very fun, but I, of course wanted to speak italian, and I made I deal with Simona (a girl I hung out with for a good portion of the evening) that she would speak only english with me, and I would only speak italian with her!

I am so proud of myself because the whole night I spoke italian with pride anf joy! I was actually socializing without fretting over not being able to communicate! It felt kind of like a test as to if I could actually use my italian where speaking was the main event of the whole night, and I passed with the flying colors of joy!

You are also probably wondering about the alchohol aspect of this being my first time in a pub where I could legally order alchohol...
I had coffee (Which, in italy signifies a tiny little gulp of coffe with lots of sugar!). But, for all of you out there who were hoping I was daring and drank a big glass of rum, I will admit that I tried some of a frineds beer, and another's mojito.
And of course, what is a night in Italy without eating something! So we also all shared an order of hot, melty fried buffalo mozzarella.

It was a delightful night overall, but one aspect of it that I haven't mentioned isthat I was a teenager. For most of my time here, I have been very mature, and studious as I spend more time with adults and friends older than me outside of school, but for this I got to relax and just be normal. It's not that I have been holding my breath this whole time, being careful to not let a toes out of line, and always being ridiculously polite, it's just that I hadn't been socomfortable with others my age yet in a setting where I could laugh and be noisy and teenagerish...
You may ask me "Well why haven't you been social?! You have friends at school, right?" and I will reply that it is true, but at school everything is so much more formal with the teachers and with the strange schedule and format of everything, there isn't much time to just chat, unless it is about Petrarca, or come trovare la equazione della retta che passante per punto (1, -3), and as much as I love math and old, dead, vain, italian poets, I prefere the James Joyce Pub.

So there you go! Tata! Ciao ciao!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Last night I went to a restaurant in Cuneo called Just Pasta (It's really hip to have stuff be in english over here...).

Everything literally was JUST PASTA.

The menus were little flip books and every page was a huge picture of one type of pastas. The picture was labeled with arrows pointing to everything in that type. The book had different sections, the first was alcohol (pasta made with vodka in the sauce, etc.), classic (spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil), with vegetables or Legumes, Specialties, Meat, Fruit, and Dessert.
There were well over 100 different types of pasta to order.
There were pastas with edible little flowers, with strawberries... you name it!

I ended up ordering linguini alla puttinesca which was with olives and capers, in a magically flavor infused tomatoe sauce. I was in HEAVEN.

There were 9 of us total. Me, Elisa (my italian turtor who is a college student at a university in Torino, but lives on a farm in a tiny little town with a library that is only one room, and is run by volunteers), Simona (the sister of Elisa who goes to my school, we have talked on facebook before, but this is the first time we've met), Lorenza (friend of Simona who is actually an identical triplet), Sabrina (best friend of Elisa), and four other friends of Elisa.
They all knew a lot of english, but the whole evening we spoke in italian,only occasionally needing english to understand one another (I like to think that I spoke my italian with pride and grace, but maybe I was just happy I could communicate).

One suprising thing about northern italians is that they have extremely low tolerance for spicy foods. IT wasn't until after Elisa tried my pasta and admitted that her tongue was on fire perchè era troppo piccantè (because it was too spicy) that I even relized that it was spicy at all!
Because I live in exotic Arizona so near to Mexico, northern italians marvel at my love for spice.
Turns out that my linguini alla puttinesca was a roman and therefor southern italian recipe.

Everyone ordered one pasta each, but we shared everything, so I also tried some of Simona's tiny little ravioli with vegetables inside (but really tasted more like creamy salty elegance all wrapped up and drizzled in hot olive oil), and someone elses pasta that is hard to explain. I have never seen the type of pasta, or that type of sauce before in my life. The noodles were tiny little disc/ frisbe shaped things with a rich--but not heavy--white cheese sauce (nothing like alfredo sauce which doesn't exist in Italy). It was thick and delicious, and I loved it all!

Beverage-wise there pitcher/vase-like things of water to pour in these artistic, classy little goblet/cup things, but also me and three other girls split a bottle of white wine (I've found that my taste for white wine has grown being in Itlay where the hills surrounding Fossano are coveres in grapevines).

Then for Dessert--please try to contain your burning curiosity and excitement--we all split one big dish of hot penne pasta covered in nutella and walnuts. And yes it was very much like pure love on a plate.

So there you go.

Another meal happily devoured!

Monday, March 2, 2009



It can't be!!! I thought I just arrived a couple days ago!!! Time is going lightspeed on me!!! Maybe tomorrow I will be on a plane heading back to the U.S. already, and I haven't even gone to a disco yet!!! My life is flashing before my eyes and pretty soon we will all be dead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't stand mile markers.

One month... that means I am one 5th of the way through this life changing experience, and I only have 4 5ths left! (I had to show off my math skills somewhere...) Why didn't I choose the year long program? I now realize that even if you are worried about getting homesick, the year long is the way to go.

Oh well! I'm over it. I am in Italy right now, and I am not going to waste all of my time moping about how little time I have left in Italy.

The big news for this post is that I WENT TO TORINO YESTERDAY!!!

I went with Doriana my host aunt and Silvia, my host cousin who is my age! (Doriana has another daughter who is on a foreign exchange trip in Germany right now, her name is Claudia)(and aren't Silvia and Claudia astoundingly classy names??!!).

We basically just walked around and saw all of the big piazza's and the castle, and the palace, and the river Po! IT was wonderful! It was rainy all day, so my toes got soggy, but I would say that all of the beauty that got soaked into my memory was worth some soaked up socks! I got many beautiful pictures, but when we went into the Palace (Palazzo Madame) I wasn't allowed to take any pictures! :( We took a tour, and I couldn't understand the tourguide, but It was magnificent! There were tons of rooms and a banquet hall, and a dancing hall (camera di ballo) and every room was so incredibly ornate and gorgeous that I turned into my 6 year old self and all I wanted to do was play dress up and run around from room to room with Opera music blasting from the cherub covered ceilings untill I collapse on the luscious rose patterned carpets and fall asleep to Andrea Boccelli.

It was like I was transported into the past and everything was waiting for me, but I couldn't fully step into that reality because the tour guide would just yell at me if I stepped off of the designated tourist rug...

Oh well... Did you know that Torino was the first capital of Italy when it first united? In fact, Italy has only been the Italian Republic and one united country since 1861 (yes, the same year as the beginning of the civil war), so technically the U.S. is an older country... Anyways, From 1861 to 1865 Torino was the capital of Italy, then I believe that it switched to Florence (Firenze) and then to Rome...

That was your history lesson for today!

I will try to post some pictures of Turin and my friends at school soon...
Ok! That all folks! Ciao ciao!