Wait, why would anyone want to park their cane?

January 20, 2010

Okay, so I was walking into the store that is right across Campo de Fiori from my apartment and I saw this sign:

I didn’t have my glasses on so I could only read the big stuff, which in this case was “Cane Parking”. So I said, out loud (embarrassing, I know), “Wait, why would anyone want to park their cane”? Upon closer examination I realized that there was a dog on the picture. When I returned home to my translator, apparently Cane means dog. This makes a bit more sense and I hope that I get to see a cane parked outside the store one day soon!

So the only language that I speak fluently is English. I have taken four years of French but that ended in my sophomore year of high school so it’s a bit rusty and I have a limited vocabulary of Spanish words and phrases . After about a week and a half of intensive Italian language classes, I have come to the realization that the Italian language has many similarities to both French and Spanish. It is often easy and natural for me to respond in French to something in class because I feel like I am back in French class with the phrases I am being asked. However, Italian is a very unique language and has many words and phrases that make it unique and different from English, French, or Spanish. When trying to grocery shop, or just shop in general, I try to make connections to words that look familiar. Unfortunately, not every word I recognize means what I think it means. If I was to actually take some of the words literally and from the connections I have drawn, I would have thought the toilet paper that I purchased was deathly toilet paper (even though it has a cute, little, fluffy dog on it!).

Because the phrase says the word “Morbida”, I instantly connected that with the English word “morbid” and “death”. I was pretty positive there was nothing morbid about the cute dog playing with the roll of paper, so I bought the toilet paper anyways. And, because I am sure you are on the edge of your seats wondering if it really was toilet paper: it was! According to my translator, morbida, in Italian, means soft.

Another strange instance that just occurred on my journey to the store about thirty minutes ago was my quest for a drink. I was sick of just drinking water….and wine, I guess. I approached the drink case and saw that they were selling “The”.

I had no clue what “The” was because I thought that “Te” meant Tea. As it turns out, “The” in Italian means “Tea” as well. I am having regrets over not buying this cold tea now that I actually know what it means. Good thing I am here for another seven weeks so I will have some time to go back and buy some!

This next mistake (on my part), actually happened and I was legitimately, confused and surprised. Last week we were booking our train tickets to Florence for the weekend. I was the one that was putting it all together for my group. I typed in on the booking website that I needed a ticket to Florence from Rome. I got all the way through the booking process and was double checking my order before I pressed submit for payment and the ticket read “To Firenze”. You can ask anyone that I traveled with that I had a little freak out and exclaimed “Oh no! This is wrong, it says we are going to Firenze, not Florence!” As embarrassing as this story is to tell, it is a great example of how things can be taken differently. To me, I thought Firenze might be “friends” or the “city of fire”… who knows. It just did not sound like Florence to me. It is actually quite ironic that I didn’t know because right above me in my kitchen was a poster with all the sites of Firenze on it….

Needless to say, I have been made fun of at least once everyday since I said this. Firenze means Florence.

Another instance where confusion arose was when we visited Florence last weekend. We were told by many people that we must visit Ponte Vecchio. On our second day there we were off to find Ponte Vecchio….. We thought it was a point. Woops. Apparently it is a bridge. We soon found that out and it turned out to be the best bridge I have ever walked over! So much shopping! Ponte means Bridge.

There have been several more instances where I translate a word incorrectly because it sounds so similar to a word I know in English. Here are some examples:

Grassi does not mean grass. It means Fat. There was no grass in my mayonnaise.

Latte Fresco is not a fresh latte. It actually means milk.

Cornetti is not a mini-corn. It is a pastry, usually a croissant type thing.

Burro means butter, not to actually burrow. That has nothing to do with it.

Ananas are not bananas as one may assume. Ananas are actually Pineapples.

Melegrano, as it says on my hand soap, is not a melon flavor. Melegrano is Pomegranite.

Mela does not mean Melon, it means Apple.

Zucherro, as much as it sounds like Zuchinni, means Sugar.

Another part of this assignment was to come across a statement or phrase that means something completely different when translated to English. Unfortunately, I did not come across any of these in the three weeks that I have spent here. The one word that I did, and I think everyone else did as well, come across was ALLORA. Our Italian teacher says it all the time and I overhear Italians use it on the phone. Allora is just a filler word and has no translation to English. It also happens to be my favorite Italian word 🙂


When in Roma…

January 14, 2010

When in Roma, do as the Romans do…? I have spent nearly two weeks in Rome and the city and experience is nothing like I expected and yet, it is everything I was told to expect. I have a few family members who have lived in Rome, and I have spoken with my friends who have participated in the Communication Rome Program in previous years.

Everything that my friends and family told me has been true thus far, but I also feel like words cannot describe everything that I have experienced in the short time I have spent here, hence why the experience is nothing like what I expected. The little of the city that I have explored was unreal, to say the least. I have never been to Europe so I have never experienced the glory of their buildings, their markets, and their atmosphere. I have visited the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Experience the inside of the Pantheon left me speechless. I just stood in awe for about five minutes looking all around me. When I returned outside, people asked me what I thought and I didn’t even have the words to describe how I was feeling.

The feeling of not having the words to describe something has been some what of a challenge as well, here in Rome. When it came to language, this is where I knew what to expect. My family and friends gave me the most advice about this situation and all of the advice was consistent and has proven to be true: “Most everyone speaks or knows English, but they are more helpful and responsive when you put in a little bit of effort.” This has proven to be more true to me everyday. Everyday I learn a little bit more Italian in class and when I try to use it more, I get better responses than I did the day before. I can now go to my favorite panini store and order any panini that I want and not use one word of English. I’m pretty positive that the girl working at the store knows who I am after my fourth day in a row buying one from her, and I am also pretty positive that I wouldn’t have to say anything and she would know what I wanted, but nonetheless she is always very nice and very helpful whenever I use my Italian. Because my class has been taking Italian lessons everyday for three hours, we improve with every lesson. Everyday I get more confident to walk into a store alone, to ask directions, and order food in only Italian.

Just to prove to you how confident I am in my new (and very limited) language skills, I videotaped my transaction at Bar Firenze with Angelo, the barista, this morning. Check it out!

As you can see, I’m definitely not fluent in Italian….yet. You assume correctly that I stand out as an American and that I have come across words that I am unfamiliar with. However, not as many as you may think. It was true when my friends and family said that everyone understands and/or speaks English. When I walk into stores or I check out at the market, or if I have a question, all the people in the stores have been able to understand me perfectly and I, in return, understand them. However, there have been about three instances when I really needed to know some words and my handy dandy phrase book did not help at all.

1. Fat Free Milk. This product is hard to come by in stores. All I knew at the grocery store was that I did not want whole milk, so I inferred which on was which by looking at the calorie count. However, what I got was Latte Fresco Parzialamente Scremato. It is not whole milk, but it’s not exactly what I wanted because fat free milk should read: Latte Senza Grassi. Now I know, and now I can make a better purchase next time!

2. I was really nervous because I ran out of my travel shampoo that I brought with me and I needed to buy more at the store. I got to the aisle with shampoo and I started to get a little nervous because I didn’t want to grab the wrong product, these things weren’t cheap. But then, I was in luck! Apparently shampoo means shampoo in Italian as well! I did all that worrying and fretting for nothing. Except then I got too excited and accidentally bought two shampoo bottles and no conditioner. That has nothing to do with language barriers 🙂

3. The last instance was really an entire experience. We went to the AS Roma futbol match on Tuesday and sat in the crazy fan section. The experience was wild, to say the least. People were burning flares, setting off loud fireworks, and pushing and shoving each other whenever they got the chance. I felt like I was in the middle of a riot, but everyone was so happy. The one other different thing was that they don’t cheer at the games. They constantly chant and sing songs. Our group stood out so much because we were the only ones not singing. Therefore, for this assignment I looked up the words to one of the songs that I need to learn how to sing before I ever go back to a soccer match: the Italian National Anthem “L’Inno di Mameli”. This is sung before every game and I am sure we wouldn’t have stood out right away had we known this song. I researched and found the words to the part usually sung at the matches and the words translate from this:

Fratelli d’Italia
L’Italia s’è desta,
Dell’elmo di Scipio
S’è cinta la testa.
Dov’è la Vittoria?
Le porga la chioma,
Ché schiava di Roma
Iddio la creò.
Stringiamci a coorte
Siam pronti alla morte
L’Italia chiamò.

To this:

Italian brothers,
Italy has arisen,
With Scipio’s helmet
binding her head.
Where is Victory?
Let her bow down,
For God has made her
The slave of Rome.
Let us gather in legions,
Ready to die!
Italy has called!

You can watch fans and the team of Italy sing this after their big win!

So, life in Roma hasn’t been so bad because the language barrier hasn’t proven to be too much of an issue in my experience. I am sure that I do not make it easy for any of the Italians, but I am working on it! I really appreciate that they are able to communicate with me, it is making me love life even more. It is not, however, deterring me from learning more Italian. I want to embrace as much of their culture as I can even though they make it so easy to get by without learning their language. And, next time I go to a soccer match, I will not stand out nearly as much as I did last time!


Filling the Void

December 14, 2009

The time has come to unveil the “final” works for my blog, Filling the Void!

I say “final” works only because this is the final project update. I fully intend to continue my blog even after the class is completed.

Filling the Void is a blog that aims to provide people with fun activities that navigate your life away from the computer. Computers are a necessary part of our lives, but personally, I can’t stand to look at a screen for 8 hours a day. So many times I have gone to the internet or played games on my computer when I have nothing better to do, but now, people will have something better to do!

The posts on my blog are, for the most part, very random and silly. Others are very legitimate. All are worth a try. The posts are organized by categories based on price, weather, type of activity, location, etc. for easy navigation for the readers. I have also connected my blog with Twitter to provide instant ideas when I think of them.

I am very proud of my blog, I have never created something like this! In approximately two weeks I have created 20 posts for my project, which surpasses my goals and expectations. I have people coming up to me saying, “hey remember when we did this together, you should blog about that, it was so much fun”. A lot of my friends know what I have been doing and are excited to view this project as well.

Next quarter I will be studying abroad in Rome and I hope to continue this blog there. Time-filling activities can be done just about anywhere and I am going to be gaining such a new perspective when I am half way across the world! So keep checking back here to see where my new life takes me!

Presenting: FILLING THE VOID!!

I hope you enjoy my blog, I enjoyed creating it.

I have learned so much from the content of this class, my peers and my instructor Kathy Gill. Thank you all very much!


Monkey Business

December 8, 2009

For my last subject matter blog post, I wanted to analyze the evolution of Facebook, the site I spend the most time on as we approach finals week. Facebook started out as something that only college students could use. You had to have a valid college email address otherwise you were denied access. Then, it branched out. You still had to be a student, but it was open to all students. At this point in time, most people still though it was weird (well at least I did, I think I was in the ninth grade). My sister, three years my senior, made me create an account that I did not access until many years later. She said that she liked it, but she didn’t have a lot of friends on it as everyone was still crazed with Myspace.

Facebook quickly became the coolest thing since designer jeans on most college campuses and anyone who was anyone was on Facebook. Once this started happening, those students still in high school that wanted to keep in touch with upperclassmen had to make Facebooks, which lead to the trickle down effect and then everyone was crazed about Facebook. I know that once I got to college I deleted my Myspace.

Now, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, younger siblings, your T.A’s, your professors and all of your peers have a Facebook page. It has become a necessity, this we know. But what I recently found out is that Facebook has become so common, it’s monkey business.  There is a monkey who now has a Facebook Fan page because it knows how to take pictures and uploads them onto Facebook.

There you have it, the evolution of Facebook. From untouchable college campus emails right down to animals.


Is convergence always a good thing?

December 6, 2009

“As soon as one operator adopts convergence, all the others have to follow”. I think that this quote from this week’s readings is the point that all readers should dwell upon and take home. This is a pattern that the world has been witness to over the past decade. Even for minimal items such as mp3 players; when Apple created a popular version, Microsoft was right therewith the Zune, and when the video iPod came out, all other mp3 players were upgraded as well. Cell phones are another great example. The iPhone, all mobile device providers are working diligently to coming up with the next great hand held device that allows you to do everything with the palm of your hand. It’s not just the companies that are feeling this way about products and being one step ahead or just at the same level as their competitors. Consumers are hungry for convergence, the more the better, it seems. The second that the iPhone came out, so many people owned them, mastered them and looked for something that could do more. They are always looking for the next application that is going to allow them to combine something else into their handheld device. For example, some people don’t even need a flashlight anymore because there is an application for that. In the near future, people won’t have to travel anymore for business, they won’t have to leave their homes to communicate. More and more people yearn for the convergence of everything in their lives, it is like the world is on a technology savvy trip and everyone is thirsty for more.

The fact that consumers act the way they do, it only fuels the fire and the reason for companies to converge. And the statement that all the other will have to follow is nothing but the truth. If a company decides they don’t want to converge, the evidence shows that consumers will not put up with that. The future of companies in the telecom industry is set on the path for convergence. I think that it is a positive thing because that is what the consumers want, but is it a positive thing for our personal communication skills? I think that companies should think twice before the convergence chaos starts, they need to think about the impact that all of the new technologies will have on a gadget and technology crazed society.

  1. What would be the drawbacks of convergence, if any?
  2. When do you think that people will say enough is enough to all of the converging technologies combined into our cell phones or other devices?

It’s cool to be Square now…

December 1, 2009

My mind is boggled right now, I have just read about the unveiling of the new site Square. This website will allow users to attach a small card scanning device to their iPhone or other smart phone (in the future) that will allow them to pay directly on their phone and receive an instant, paper-free receipt. This program was founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Small businesses, apparently, will be the first to take advantage of this feature. There will be ways for the businesses to verify it is the correct person paying, I believe through photo identification that pops up on the screen. The new program will be efficient and environmental friendly. There are no contracts or fees, which make it very hassle free. Square will also donate money with every transaction to a charity of the user’s choice. I think that this new technology will be great for the future when more companies and businesses begin to use it. However, people are going to have to invest more in smart phones if they want to use it. One of the companies who have begun using it is Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco. The technology is in beta testing right now. To find more information on this, visit the website or this article about its new launch.


Project Update!

November 29, 2009

My blog “Filling the Void” is underway! Since my last update I have been doing a lot of behind the scenes work in compiling all of my activities for my blogs. I wanted to begin the blog with many posts, not just one by one, but after the initial beginning, I will be adding posts one by one on a regular basis. I have compiled most of my activities and I plan on posting them by this Tuesday. I have also been working on my categories. I really want to stress the ease of accessibility for my users by providing them with specific categories so they can easily locate the kind of activity they want.

I also picked out the theme and I am very pleased with the inviting and easy reading look that it provides. One thing I am really excited about is that I linked it to a Twitter account so that I can relay any fun random activities that I am doing or have heard of instantly if I do not have access to my blog for a while.

I am very excited about the progress that I have made with this blog and I look forward to Tuesday when I debut a lot of posts and hopefully attract some readers!