Fabbiamo spesa (we go shopping)   4 comments

So I’ve tried my hand at Italian a few times today! I’ve found that asking for directions is super simple “Dov’e (whatever I’m looking for)?” They answer, but then also point, and I, uh, I understand the pointing. So I say “grazie!” and head in the direction they point. I’m totally learning Italian, guys.

The sandwich shop just outside the school had two employees working, one who spoke decent English and the other who didn’t. The one who spoke only Italian worked the sandwich section. It was mezzogiorno so the restaurant was busy. We poked around, trying to figure out what we wanted.

Ayini said, “I just want turkey. Kelsey, what’s Italian for turkey?”

“I have no idea,” I said. “I know the Italian for pork though.”

“What is it?”



Porco. It’s like ‘pork,’ but with an O.”

“So if I said ‘No porko,’ they’d understand that I don’t want pork?”

“Yes,” I said, having no idea if that was true.

When Ayini got to order, she said, “I want a sandwich. No porko.”

The woman stared blankly.

“A sandwich,” Ayini said. She pointed at a sandwich that she thought looked good. I searched desperately in my brain for the word for sandwich. Panino? Were all sandwiches called panini?

The woman took a sandwich out.

“Does it have porko in it?” Ayini asked.

The woman looked at it. Then she looked at Ayini.

“That one,” Ayini pointed at another sandwich.

The woman sighed. “Le pesce?” she asked.

Fortunately I had already taught the girls le pesce means “fish.” “Yeah,” Ayini said. “Si. Grazie.

“Toasted?” This appeared to be the only English the woman knew.

Si,” Ayini said. “Grazie.” (yes, thank you.)

I knew which sandwich I wanted when I ordered. “Mozzarella e pomodoro, por favor.” (Mozzarella and tomato, please) (the please is in Spanish)

She looked confused.

Mozzarella e pomodoro,” I pointed at the sandwich. Then I added, “Per favora.” (Mozzarella and tomato, please) (the please is in Italian)

Scusa?” (Excuse me/Sorry)

Per favora,” I said. “Mozzarella e pomodoro.” (Please. Mozzarella and tomato)

She picked up a sandwich from the bottom shelf. I wanted one on the top shelf.

“No, no,” I said. “Sopra.” (Above)

She stared at me, her brows furrowed with confusion.

Sopra,” I said again, and pointed to the sandwich through the counter. By god, I had no idea what else to say besides “above.” Eventually she figured out what sandwich I wanted because I pointed at it enough times, and then she toasted it for me.

Due e diecotto,” she said. I handed over my final 5€ bill. (Two [euro] and eighteen [cents])

Prego,” she said as she handed it over. I was at that point not really sure if I could say anything properly anymore and just smiled.

My next real chance to speak Italian came from trying to find matches. We couldn’t find them at the grocery store. I asked a clerk “Scusa, dov’è la sale?” (Excuse me, where is the salt?) He gestured to the other half of the store. That gesture was not helpful for once. I said, “Scusa, dov’è…” then I gestured striking a match. He glared at me and went back to stocking.

So we went to la farmacia (the pharmacy) for matches. I said to the Chinese clerk, “Dov’è…” and gestured like a match. Sarah then mimed a lighter and made a lighter noise. The clerk nodded and pointed to all the lighters literally sitting next to her on the desk. We made noises of delight, because now we could cook! All of Rome is set up with gas stoves and gas heating, but you have to light the gas yourself. On our way back, Sarah spotted a tub of fresh basil in a planter’s pot. We picked it up and went inside to pay.

Buonasera,” I said. (good evening)

The clerk nodded and said, “Sera.” (evening)

We gestured at the basil.

Due e cinquanta,” he said. (two [euro] and fifty [cents])

But I had misheard him and handed over 2.20€, expecting to get five cents back. He straight-up glared at me. Like, for real glared at me. Sarah would comment on it on the way back to the apartment.

Due e cinquanta,” he repeated.

“Oh!” I said, and dug through my wallet for a 50 cent coin. He slid the 20 cent coin back to me and that was that.

I felt embarrassed about my mishearing and almost left wordlessly. But he called, “Ciao!” to us, and we returned the valediction. It’s a casual way to say goodbye. I felt better after that.

The rest of this entry is pictures of my study abroad so far.



Goodbye, DC!


Hello, Montreal (briefly)!

Honestly it was weird being on Air Canada. All their in-flight magazines were in English and French, and their measurements were in Celsius and meters. So I would read an article about how you could visit the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and if you were nice to the locals, you could soak in their natural hot springs, which were 40 degrees celsius and super comfy. My immediate reaction was “What! 40 degrees sounds awful!” Then I realized that 40 degrees celsius is 104 degrees fahrenheit. I would rather have that.

Also my luggage experience is not unique, judging from what other American University students have said. Oh well, my suitcases will be here tomorrow.


This was my first glimpse of Italy.



These are the only decent photos of the literally dozens I took on the ride from Fiumicino Airport to my apartment. I was just excited to be in Rome!


Here is my bedroom. I chose the only single-bed room. I was the fourth girl to show up, so it was either take the single room or share with another girl. Quite frankly, I don’t like sharing rooms. I value quiet and privacy and the ability to change clothes in the bedroom, not the bathroom. Plus, it’s right next to a bathroom and the kitchens.





The common areas — kitchen, foyer, living room. You’ll notice there’s no carpeting. Apparently they’re harder to keep clean from all the dust and sand that sweeps into Rome periodically. They also keep cool better in the heat. However, it gets very noisy when you walk, so there are mandatory quiet hours from 10:00 to 7:00 every evening. You try not to run any water (water runs through noisy pipes) and you wear slippers to hide the sound of your footsteps. Most people just go to sleep. Violating quiet hours is a pretty common reason that American students are complained about.




The view from our apartments.

I took these pictures today, but not a lot has changed. Today was sunnier and I was thinking about making this entry anyway. Also, I’ve cleaned up my room more now. It’s such a small room that even a small mess makes the whole room look messy. But all the shelving around the bed makes it feel like a bunk, like in a submarine.


Just waiting for the bus after dumping my carry-on bag at the apartment. I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I headed to the school. We had to go there for the requisite tour anyway, although it wasn’t for several hours. There were other American University folks headed the same direction. One of them, Mike, was super nice and showed me around the streets outside the school, showing me how to order and where to order and what to order. He also gave me directions to a thrift store where I could find cheap used clothes. Thanks, Mike! I hope you have fun in California!




I took these pictures while wandering around campus. It’s actually very tiny. There are three buildings and that garden you see in the second picture there. The first is the view from a terrace in one of the classrooms. The last is the view of the entrance to the building next door. The three buildings combined have the capacity of one of the older buildings on campus, like West or Kruger. There’s only about 200 students who study there.


Yield to love.


You can get this great view of Rome from the top of these steps near the University. Below, about half of the students attending this Study Abroad session enjoy the view.

Next we did a walk through Rome. The purpose was to teach us how to walk through Rome and how to use the busline. We ended up at the Colosseum during sunset.


Walking the streets of Rome.


Bussing the streets of Rome.


Look at this! It’s Largo di Torre Argentina. It’s just an ancient historic, just hanging out like it ain’t no thang. It’s the site of ancient Roman temples and the Theater of Pompey. Somewhere in this picture is the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated. It is now a no-kill cat shelter.



I know what you’re thinking. “Kelsey, did you travel 8000 miles so you could take pictures of cats?”





Also I took pictures of Rome, honest!



I’m not sure what this building is. I think it’s the war museum? I remember visiting a war museum that looked similar to this last time I visited Rome, when I was with Beth and Lacey. Also the second picture is a good indication of why I prefer to be behind the camera. I just do not smile well.


Hahaha, look at this grandiose old-timey architecture. Italians, always trying to recrea– what is that?


What is that???


I must go to it. It calls me.


Gaze in wonder as it glows in the evening sun!


Its glory is awesome to behold! I can feel it in my soul!


THE COLOSSEUM. Bellum et beatum! Ubi gladiatoren pro popula amore pugnanno.


I could touch it, if it weren’t closed.


Look at those holes! Those are where the Italians drilled into the concrete to take out the steel bearings. That is why part of the Colosseum has collapsed: there’s nothing holding up the concrete. The part that is still standing still has the steel from when the Romans built it.


RAR I AM A GLADIATOR I WILL FIGHT YOU UNTIL YOU BLEED (I also had a nicer picture of me taken but nope!)

(there were also other ruins along the way but I’ll save those until I revisit the Palatine Hill)


Sunset on the Palatine.



Modern Rome itself is so pretty though. There’s just something special about it. Small things just seem to be set aside for people to enjoy, like this bridge.


Also we could see the sunset on the Colosseum from the restaurant where we ate dinner.


The view and the food was glorious. I had lasagna al ragu.



The Colosseum is just gorgeous.

Posted May 29, 2013 by agentksilver in Latin

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4 responses to “Fabbiamo spesa (we go shopping)

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  1. From Grandpa: Thanks so much for sharing your tour of Rome with us. I am sure this adventure will stay with you forever! Enjoy and study hard, if that is possible in Rome.

  2. Wow, exciting adventure! I love reading about you trying to communicate with locals. You are brave. I don’t think I could do what you are doing.

    Is James with you? Who are you traveling with? How long are you staying?

    • This is a month-long study abroad trip. I’m staying with four girls from my school, and we’re each taking two classes at the American University in Rome. Classes finally started today!

      Man, I wish James could be here. He’s a real kick to travel with.

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