… But no one said anything about Rome! Rachel and I went to Rome to take our Praxii (is that the plural of Praxis?) and man, was it AWESOME. Travelling there was not so awesome though. I had to get my sorry behind out of bed at 2:30am to get ready and bike the ~35 minutes to the train station for my 4:30am train. Then, I had about an hour and a half before my 3 hour flight departed for Rome. By the time I got to Rome, I felt disgusting (despite having showered before I left) and still had to walk about 10 minutes to find our hotel. My travelling was finally done around 2:00pm. It was totally worth it though. This weekend was the most exhausting weekend I’ve experienced but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The school where we took the Praxis was beautiful and the people who ran the hotel were great.
Anywho, I got there and checked into our hotel and went and scouted the school out. St. Stephen’s was right across the street (I planned surprisingly well!) and GORGEOUS.
The indoor, open-air courtyard at St. Stephen’s.
After I scouted it out, I went back to the hotel to await Rachel’s arrival. She arrived around 4pm, and we went out to explore for a while before calling it an early night. It was a perfect evening to walk around the city — it was about 60 degrees (much warmer than Sweden) and it was a clear night. We stayed pretty near to our hotel, but made it to Piazza Venezia and the Trevi Fountain before looping around and coming back for dinner and bed. Here are some pictures from the first night:
Monument in Piazza Venezia
Making a wish!
The crowd was huge.
So we slowly meandered back to Viale Aventino, where our hotel was, and ate dinner and got gelato on the way. After showers and lots of 7th-grade girl, sleepover-chat, we finally went to bed.
The next morning was also an early morning because we were taking the Praxis! Rachel took the PLT (Principles of Learning and Teaching) and Social Studies essays and I took the English Language, Literature and Composition essays. I feel pretty confident about how I did — I knew the material and felt ready to articulate what they were asking me to articulate. The essays have been making me pretty anxious for the last few months because everyone I’ve talked to who has gotten an English Certification in Kentucky has said basically the same thing: the essays were the hardest Praxis test. I knew that we had 2 hours to write 4 essays, and reviewed some high-scoring essay responses that ETS offers on their website, and went in knowing I had to be mindful of my time. I allotted exactly 30 minutes for each essay and finished comfortably, but without much time to spare. I’ll find out how I did on it when scores come back in mid-April!
So I got out of the test around 10, but Rachel still had one to take, so I got some coffee and went back to the room to read and hang out. I was given specific instructions not to go see anything fun without her. You know me, I always follow directions!
Rachel got out of her second test around 12:30 pm, and after a 15 minute power nap, we headed out. We were fully prepared for a full day, but we were gone for 12 hours. We covered basically every major site there was to see in Rome in those 12 hours. Our game plan was to go see the Colosseum and the Sistene Chapel first, because those required admission and would close. We walked around for a good 40 minutes trying to find a tourist bureau to get information on the best way to go about this and find out which one closed earlier, but we couldn’t find one ANYWHERE. We even asked like 3 police men! We settled on going to the Colosseum first, and when we walked in we were both taken aback by the magnificence and grandiosity of it. That thing is HUGE. Because we were strapped for time, Rachel and I decided to do an audio-guided tour of the Colosseum. It cost like 6 euros more, but it allowed us to skip the huge line for regular tickets.
While we were inside the Colosseum, we came across a sign that said “Tourist Information” so we went in to ask what we should do in order to get to the Sistene Chapel before its closing time at 6pm. The woman told us that we could take a bus, but there was no admittance to the museum after 4pm. It was 3:45 at the time. Even if we had taken a taxi over, we likely wouldn’t have arrived in time. The woman in the office was kind enough to call the Vatican Museum and ask if we could still come if we were just there for the chapel, but the answer was a resounding “no”. Rachel and I were pretty upset that it didn’t work out, and since we had completed our tour of the Colosseum, we decided to cheer ourselves up with some gelato. Rachel dropped a scoop of hers on the ground and was accordingly displeased.
After gelato, we decided to make our way north to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps. We ventured that a-way and eventually stumbled upon the Pantheon. There were so many people there! We couldn’t go inside because there was some service going on in the basilica, so we did what anyone would do: staged a fake America’s Next Top Model photo shoot on the side-steps of the building. Probably not super mature, but posing for pictures in a polite, smiley way isn’t as fun. We each only took a few ANTM shots, and here are the best ones:
The competition for that CoverGirl contract just got amped up.
After that, we took some regular, age- and situation-appropriate photos in and around the Pantheon and fountain. Fun fact: After I uploaded some pictures, I found a man in a Skyline shirt in one of them! There was also a tenor singing some opera in the square. He sang Con Te Partiro and my heart melted. I love that song. See the man in the Skyline shirt?
See that bag in my hand? Those are my souvenirs. I got myself some watercolors from a street artist! He was working on some as he was talking to us, and I bought two of them. They were too beautiful to pass up. I also took a picture of some of his other work because I couldn’t believe it.
After we finished our business at the Pantheon, we traipsed around a little and made our way to the Spanish Steps. We didn’t stay there for long — long enough to rest for a few minutes and for Rachel to put some new bandaids on her torn-up feet. We watched the sunset from the steps and it was gorgeous. I don’t think I would ever get tired of being in Rome. After the Spanish Steps, we walked aaaaaaaaall the way across the river to the Vatican. We decided to go even though we couldn’t see the Sistene Chapel. On our way, we stumbled — completely by chance — upon the restaurant my family and I went to a few times when we were in Rome in 2004! Even though we were a little early (it was about 7pm) they let us in and gave us some bread while they finished getting read for open. We ordered pizza and limoncello and sat, loving every minute of our dinner. We also noticed that the restaurant was FULL of Italians. I guess we picked a good place!
Sunset from the Spanish Steps
Crossing the river to go to the Vatican
The restaurant where my family and I ate in 2004 and Rachel and I ate in 2012!
The pizza didn’t come pre-sliced. What was I supposed to do?!
After our break for dinner, we made our way to the Vatican. It was so nice to see it when it was all lit up, and being in three countries in one weekend is pretty neat. I don’t have many good pictures from the Vatican though, because my camera ran out of battery (drats!). It was then around 10pm, so we decided to head back to Viale Aventino and the Aventino Guest House. We were both exhausted after testing in the morning and trekking ourselves all over Rome all day. As I said before: totally worth it. I’d go back in a heartbeat. The only thing was that Rome was super expensive — in part because we wanted to stay somewhere where we could rest well — so I’m on a pretty tight budget for the rest of my time here, and I’m trying to see if I can still find a way to go to the Netherlands to see the tulips. I hope it all works out, but we’ll see!
Obviously, my weekend was really busy, but I certainly didn’t get a chance to relax once I got back to Linköping! On Monday, Dr. Fawson came to observe me teach my English A class. The class went well and the task was challenging, but they got it by the end of the class. The only problem was that because it took longer than I anticipated, I didn’t make it through my entire lesson plan. The last part was to help the students connect how this poem and the book it was in related to them; to help them make it applicable to their lives. We got through what the poem meant (which took the bulk of the class time) and how it related to the book, but didn’t quite get to how they could find significance in the poem as well. Dr. Fawson noted this but wasn’t critical about it. His only points on which I could improve were letting the students know what I wanted them to learn at the beginning of class and keeping a running vocab list so their language acquisition goes up. Not too shabby I guess!
And finally, guess who arrived today! JILL! She flew in from Columbus and arrived in Linköping around 12:30 today. I thought she’d want to crash right when she arrived, but she walked around with me. I took her to campus and to the grocery store (I was running low) and then we came back and had dinner. At about 6:30, she laid down with the declaration that she was not going to sleep yet. She was wrong. She conked out almost immediately. Our plans for this week are:
Wednesday: She explores while I teach
Thursday: She’ll come to school with me
Friday: She explores while I teach, and then we’ll catch the noon bus to Vadstena
Saturday: We’ll go to Norrköping with Ida and Jaclyn.
I’m so thrilled she’s here! When Rachel and I were in Rome, she said something to me that made so much sense I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered it yet. She called it being “friend-starved”. Now, we have people in our respective cities that we get along with and hang out with and are reasonably close with (as close as one can be after a few weeks, I guess) but when we got to hang out together in Rome, it was a whole, new, refreshing level of friendship! Rachel and I are close, trust each other and know each other really well and it makes such a difference to be around someone like that. Again, it’s not that I don’t have friends in Linköping — it’s that I haven’t been here long enough to reach a really nourishing level of friendship. That’s how it felt in Rome and that’s how it feels now that Jill’s here. Being around these people I’ve known for some time and know very well is just such a relief. I love it!
Whew! This was a long’un. I had a lot to say!
If you want to peruse them, here are some more pictures from Rome!