The WordPress.com stats “helper monkeys” (WordPress’ words, not mine) prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
I thought I would share the information with my readers and with all of you who are following my adventures, reading my posts, and the cause for the fireworks below. I never thought this blog would reach such heights. There is much, much more writing to come in 2013, when I will finally finish telling the tale of 2012. I will be honest, I slacked during this year. That is partly due to my return to a handwritten journal, which took me a few steps back from the blogosphere and from my pages here.
I promise you all, though, that more is coming soon. For now, I wish everyone a happy and a healthy new year!! I can’t wait to realize the promise of 2013, and to see what’s in store. Even more, I can’t wait to share the many wonderful things that have shaped 2012. And these tales will be told about the eight months I spent living outside of North America, away from home, with almost two months in Jordan and six in Italy.
2012: what a whirlwind year it has been. On Friday morning, my journey back home, via London’s Heathrow Airport from Rome Fiumicino Airport, kicked off in Germany. On Saturday night in London, I boarded my fourth transatlantic flight, and 21st flight overall, of the year. I landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport at 9pm EST on Saturday night, a mere three hours after I took off from London, according to my watch and thanks to the time zones. It was a long, exhausting, 54-hour trek, during which I was either seated 40,000+ feet up in the air or slouched in some of the most uncomfortable seating known to man, the airport waiting lounge at Rome Fiumicino Airport. What a way to draw the year to a close. On January 5th, I will move back to Boston to begin my final semester at Northeastern University. Bring it on, 2013!
See below for this blog’s biggest hits, popular themes, and what you all enjoyed reading the most. Again, I thank you for following, and I hope you’ve been enjoying it. I know I have.
Cheers, to 2012, and to you all.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012, and that’s a lot.
My blog got about 5,100 hits in 2012.
If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.
Thank you again, to all of my readers.
Today was my second day of a new job in a new city in a (relatively) new country. I have three new roommates, other college students who have just arrived to study at the Umbra Institute in the fall semester in Perugia.
I’ve been living and learning in this Medieval city for more than two months now, and it feels good to turn a new leaf, both in this Italian chapter of my life as well as in my academic and professional career.
Everyday, I have the incredible chance to ride on the open railways through the Umbrian countryside, and I promise you, the trip is a treat each and every time. Even at 6:42 a.m. L’Italia è un paese molto bello, e mi piace vivere in Umbria.
It’s currently 2:36 a.m. in Perugia, so I am going to turn in for the night. A busy day awaits me in the morning in Spoleto.
I will be back soon, though, with tales of my studies atl’Università per Stranieri di Perugia as well as other tales from the summer of 2012. Keep an eye out for a fresh batch of photos via my newly acquired Photobucket account, as well as a new look for the blog.
Ciao for now, e buonanotte a tutti!
I arrived in Italy on Sunday morning. American Airlines flight 1585 landed in Rome around 10:20 a.m. after eight and a half hours above the Atlantic and western Europe.
I lingered at the airport in Rome for about two hours, waiting for the bus to Perugia, where I am now living for the summer. While I sat in the airport, cigarette smoke filling the wide corridors, I fished a pair of shorts of my suitcase and changed out of my sweatpants. It was still the morning, but Rome’s temperature had already risen to 30 degrees Centigrade.
From the restroom, I went to a little cafe in the airport and had a sandwich with prosciutto, tomato and fresh basil. Now that I’ve been here in Perugia for almost two days, I realize how overpriced that sandwich was. It had to be, though, right? I was at Rome’s international airport, after all.
The Sulga bus arrived promptly at 12:30 p.m., and after about 20 people boarded, we began the journey north. After a tonsillitis diagnosis, a two-day sprint to finish preparing for my trip, and an overnight flight that I couldn’t fall asleep on for the life of me, I was exhausted, to say the least. Completely worn out. I fell asleep soon after paying the driver my 22 euro fare. The couple of times that I woke up, I noticed a beautiful landscape all around me. I’ll be here for six months, I told myself. There’s no need to fight to keep my eyes open now. After a convincing argument with my inner photographer, I slept the rest of the way to Perugia.
I arrived and was escorted to my apartment by 5 p.m.
That night, all I wanted to do was sleep, but I only managed 4 hours. Last night, all I wanted to do was sleep. I thought I would be more successful this time. I had a full day of Italian instruction at the university and had dinner prepared by 7:30 p.m. At 8:30, I was laying down, and fell asleep within minutes. Then, I woke up. I felt around the night stand and found my watch. It was almost 2:30 a.m. Fuck, here we go again. Another sleepless night, I thought, angrily dropping my watch and rolling over.
Here I am, five hours later, still awake. I suppose the three-way impromptu google video chat with Matt, Melissa and Kristina back in Boston didn’t help my attempt to fall asleep again. But we laughed, and it was nice to see some friendly faces and to catch up. I gave them a virtual tour of my apartment, and invited them all to come visit me here in Italy.
As the clock ticks towards 8 a.m., I’ll stop my rambling here and head to the university for day two of Italian. Class begins at 8, but not promptly. Nothing is prompt here, and in that way, this place reminds me of Amman.
Ciao, for now.
“The art of writing
is the art of discovering
what you believe.“
…But, I am still posting blogs that I wrote while in Jordan, between May 10 and June 13. I am also waiting on my professor, the boss, to edit, finalize and publish my third story from Jordan. That should be coming soon, so stay tuned.
In the midst of this, however, I’m preparing for another journey. Tomorrow night, in less than 36 hours, I will board a flight to Rome, Italy. For the remainder of 2012, I will be based in Perugia, Italy. This half-year experience will serve as my final co-op through Northeastern University. I will be working at TuttOggi, and learning the language of the land at the Stranieri (Università per Stranieri), through the Umbra Institute. Coincidentally, as I am preparing for yet another international reporting experience, I noticed that the Umbra Institute is beginning its very own co-operative education program. Northeastern University, always inspiring other higher education institutions to rethink the traditional four-year study program. (Jeez, that just sounds like a commercial. Northeastern is good, far from great. I didn’t mean to sound like a snob, or to imply that Northeastern is the best of the best and leading the way in the field of higher education.) In the spring (read: dead of winter) I will return to Boston for my final semester of coursework.
So, this is a preview of what’s to come, and a warning to you, my readers: in the next few weeks you will see posts here from Jordan, dated, as well as more current, timely posts from my travels in Italy.
I hope you’re ready! It’s ok if your answer is no. Join the club. I’m still packing after a very positive and productive all-nighter.
Note: this post was written on June 6, as I was wrapping up the reporting of my second story.
Everyone I meet here, I expect to become a source, one way or another. Whether they can directly help me with a comment for a story or put me in touch with another person who can, everyone eventually becomes a source, to some degree. It’s the first time I have really felt like a journalist in that sense.
I’m pretty friendly, and outgoing, but people I meet at home in the states, I don’t perceive them in this way. Maybe they’ll become friends of mine, and I’ll share a beer with one or watch a movie or something of that sort, but I rarely perceive people back home to be sources. Maybe that’s a mistake. Maybe there’s a reason though; in the states, I don’t have steady work. I don’t write news stories on a regular basis. Here in Jordan, both last year and now, I’m
always constantly thinking about my stories. There are nights that I wake up sweating, freaking out that I missed an interview.
I have a completely different mindset here. I’m always on the lookout, on the hunt for sources, hoping to get that next great quote, the one that will make the story. Cab drivers, lay people in the city streets, my host family, my friends’ host families, guest lecturers at SIT. When I say always hunting for sources, I mean it. And it pays off. A cab driver I met last night works during the day as a nurse at a hospital here in Amman. Today, I gave his number to Christina, who is working on a story about mental healthcare and treatment in Jordanian asylums, as they’re still called here. And many others I have met and networked with have assisted me, somehow, either directly or indirectly. I think I need to take this mindset back to the states with me. Hopefully, I won’t have to tell US customs about it…
And maybe I need to find a place I can freelance on a regular basis, first, before I can hunt for sources stateside. I guess only time will tell how this new attitude plays out for me and my career.
Note: this post was written on Saturday, May 19, after our group traveled to Salt, an ancient city in Jordan that was once destined to be the kingdom’s capital.
Last year, while I was studying in Jordan for two weeks, I was fortunate enough to be one of the eight members of our group of 32 to travel on a more intimate excursion to the city of Salt, about 20 km northwest of Amman.
Big Rob, our photography professor, rented a small blue van for the day and hired a driver to take us into the ancient city for the afternoon. You can read more about that trip here.
This year, since our group of about 50 is going to be in Jordan for the entirety of the five-week program, everyone went. Taking a trip with a group that size into a smaller, more conservative Jordanian city was…an interesting experience, to say the least. I’m glad that I was fortunate enough to experience Salt on a more personal level last year, because this year, we were herded around like an American zoo, in Salt for a special showing. People wore jeans that were far too tight. Others wore low-cut shirts, and summery dresses. The whole scene was very strange; there we were, an obnoxious group of 50 loud Americans at a lovely cafe under a tent, enjoying tea and Arabic coffee and ice cream and sheesha and whatnot. Someone decided to plug their iPod into the speaker system at said cafe.
I have never seen cultural imperialism first-hand before, but there we were, dancing along to terrible, awful, American pop music as locals glared with disgust. Instead of enjoying the Jordanian culture, someone felt the need to turn us into a spectacle. Well, I can’t say too many bad things, because I did nothing to change the situation. I was right there with my peers, dancing. Granted, before this happened, we were dancing to traditional Jordanian music, even a song dedicated to the city of Salt.
I won’t write much more to describe our day at the zoo, because I feel that my photographs tell a better story than my words can. Before our pitstop at the tented cafe, we visited the ancient Greek Orthodox Church of St. George (Al Khader Church), which was erected in the 17th century, which was, for me, a highlight of the excursion to Salt this year. During our time there, I was given two things from the priest: the first, a bottle of holy oil, and the second, a green cloth. I was told it was “for wishes.” You are supposed to tie it around your wrist as you make a wish, whatever that may be. And when it comes off, either naturally over time or at your own will, your wish will be granted. While most of my peers and professors tied the strips of green cloth around their wrists, I rolled mine up and placed it in my pocket. I had the feeling that, someday soon, I would need it. (I’ll let you all know when I do…)
We also sat in the city square, under the shade of many trees, sitting among locals as they played mancala. We visited one of the first schools in Jordan, a boys’ secondary school. We visited a lovely, family-run restaurant for lunch. We went to the archeological and historical museum of Salt.
After our tea and coffee break, we drove our big yellow bus up to the highest point in the city to watch the sunset. After sunset, I got to see the tomb of the prophet Elijah in a large, elegant mosque. It was quite incredible. Unfortunately, my camera had died at that point, and all the photos I took are currently being held captive on other cameras and memory sticks. Oh well. Maybe someday, they’ll be returned to me via email. (Jonathon, Caroline: if you’re reading this, I’m talking to you!!) See below for the shots I was able to get.