The last week of classes went by without incident or excitement. I wrote two papers, handed one in for grading and the other for translation. I was sick so I figured I would get healthy by taking Brian’s friend Dave (who came for a visit for his 21st birthday after his Madrid program ended) around Parma’s nightlife. Of course the lack of sleep really helped me get better. We had a Christmas party at Anna’s house which was most people’s last chance to see Anna and Aldo, but luckily she offered to cook the maschi a last lunch on the Tuesday before Brian and I left for Palermo. By the time Thursday evening came around I was not much healthier, but definitely ready for the weekend. In fact it was our group’s last weekend in Italy, and the one before finals, but Boston College had planned a weekend ski trip to Aosta in the Alps near the borders of France and Switzerland. Obviously our finals were going to be hell. I was so worried that I did not even consider studying for them until Saturday night. Good job BC. We really needed a vacation from our stressful lives right before taking finals. Even more so, we really needed even more distraction than the fact that we live in Italy to take our minds off of studying for exams. Awesome.
We left for Aosta early Friday morning and took the 3+ hour bus trip. It was pleasant. I watched High Fidelity and enjoyed the changing landscape from plain to mountains while other people pretended to study (or caught up on sleep since we had all gone out until four the night before). Our hotel was underneath the mountains, but a little bit outside of the city. We took a tour of the city for a couple of hours with Betta and Francesca. We saw some beautiful churches and one extremely disturbing crucifix that had a Jesus who was obviously anguished and spurting blood from its side. I did not understand it. Very very strange. We had a fairly good dinner at the hotel that night and I sat next to Betta, Francesca and her husband Pietro so I spent the evening doing my best to crack jokes in Italian. Sometimes my personality gets lost in translation, but that’s the difficulty in not speaking a language fluently! After dinner Brian, Abby, Katy and I forewent studying and instead went to a bar down the block from the hotel. We were immediately judged for being foreigners and then further because we were loud and obnoxious in the bar, but we couldn’t help it. I have never laughed as hard in my life as I did that night. Tears came down my face in waves. Studying, what a joke!
The next morning the skiers woke up early to get in a full days worth of action while the rest of us who couldn’t ski or didn’t wan to ski woke up a little later to go snow-shoeing. We had to take a gondola up to the mountain(a first for me) which gave us pretty incredible views of the mountains around us. It was a lovely, clear day and we could see the mountainous peaks in all directions sticking into the sky. We had a guide for our snow-shoeing adventure who actually seemed to know a lot about nature. I learned that trees shed their leaves because the water in the leaves would freeze and kill the tree which keeps itself alive because the tree sap does not freeze. Unlike the last time I went snow-shoeing this time we did not go up a mountain. Instead we went trekking along a path covered in more than a meter of snow! We made our own paths through the woods and enjoyed the trees. I kind of wish we could have gone up the mountain but after seeing how full of skiers it was I understand why snow-shoeing is likely not allowed near the slopes.
Once snow-shoeing was over we took the chairlift (another first for me) further up the mountain to meet up with the group for lunch. The views were unbelievable. The sky spread itself out almost without a cloud which allowed us to see the mountains which created the borders if Italy with France and Switzerland. I watched the skiers below me and it looked awesome. I had never even given thought to the idea of skiing before coming to Italy. It never had any part in my life, and for some reason the thought of speeding down a mountain on two thin poles never excited me with desire, which many might see as a more than sane statement. But after observing how exhilarating and enjoyable skiing seems, I made the decision to try it. And I tried to try, but the cost of a private lesson for an hour made that thought disappear instantly. Brian and I descended from the mountain after I failed at trying to ski, and I began to lament my inability to take part in something as unique and memorable as skiing in the Alps. I felt like I missed out on an essential part of the abroad experience. In both of my times up a mountain I failed to reach the summit in turn failing to see the most spectacular views that I may ever see of the Alps in my entire life. It sucked and I was extremely peeved that my inability to ski stopped me from seeing and experiencing something so marvelous. But, I decided that I will learn how to ski one day and when that day comes I’ll make my way up those summits and see the world from above.
That night I actually started studying for my Italian final on Monday. Honestly, I’ve learned all of the Italian grammar before and had a serious review of it this summer (thank you Mrs. Rascati!), so I didn’t stress too much over the exam. I helped the other girls in my class (namely Katy) and looked over the grammar for about an hour. After another dinner at the hotel and an early night of sleep, we left Aosta the following afternoon at 1:30. I got home, had dinner with Nice and spent the rest of the night studying Italian and a little bit of Parma’s history. Damn exams.