Tag Archives: friends

update_out of the ordinary

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I have been rather terrible in ‘blogging’ since september (was that really 4 months ago?!!!) I’ve been busy with the normal routine at Uni, plus extras with wedding organising. I was able to get a nice 3-4 week break at home over Christmas, filled with the usual intentions of getting lots of Uni work done, especcially as I am writing my dissertation this year. The problem is that most of my good intentions remain just that! I’ve been back at classes for a week now and thankfully getting back into routine, except that on Saturday, I all of a sudden found myself in Italy!!!

My friend Flora is on her final Masters year at Aberdeen University studying Chemistry and for this her last semester, she had a placement, which ended up being at a university in Torino (Turin) , Italy, doing something with chemistry and synthetic-bio-materials (thats all I can explain about it!!). As this was going to be her first trip abroad, ever, lasting a min of three months, and nobody else was able to go out with her, I’m accompanying her on her maiden voyage. We flew out on Saturday 15th Jan, and I’ll be heading back on Wednesday,  hopefully leaving a slightly settled Flora. Our travelling was hitch-free. Valentina, a woman who is going to be working with Flora at the University, met us at the airport. We were so thankful for this, especially asTurin was shrouded in the thickest fog I’ve ever seen. It would have been so difficult for us foreingers to negotiate!  Her father drove because of the fog, and it was difficult enough for him and their TomTom!

Things got slightly more interesting when we arrived at Flora’s accomodation. Valentina came to help translate which made things a lot easier for us, even though the staff seem to have varying degrees of English., probably to aid with all the foreing students at the residnece. We are not unique! Flora had booked space at one of the University’s student residences, and had said I should be able to just kip on her Flora. But she never got around to actually e-mailing and asking if that was okay- it isn’t. “Absolutely not” in the words of the guy at reception, for security purposes. Yikes!

Quick texts to see if Greg, a guy from Flora’s class at Aberdeen who is also on placement in Turin, to see if I could kip at his flat. And the residence staff investigating whether they could get a room for me in this ’emergency’. I should explain that the residence offers long and short term accomodation. Thankfully, they managed to find and prepare a room for me, but they would be unable to tell me how much it would cost until Monday, when there office hours opened and higher levels of staff were available. They gave me a estimate of maybe 35 euros a night. More expensive than an average hostel, but cheaper than a hotel thankfully. We’ve also since discovered that Greg has a problem with cockroaches in his flat, so definitely more pleasant than kipping on his floor!!!!

The staff were very helpful, but I guess they’d rather make some money out of me than see me go elsewhere! My room is pleasant enough, en-suite shower, a bed (!!) furniture for a student’s room, and a common room/kitchen for the floor. But Flora’s is a palace! The residence was originally part of the Torino Winter Paraolymipcs in 2006, so they’re recently new (although I’m not sure they’ll last more than another decade by the looks of things!) and tend to have a disabled aspect tp it. Flora has an ‘apartment’ all to herself (she’s special as she’s staying for a  long time and they want to keep her happy to get her money 😉 ) She has a big bedroom, living room/kitchen, and bathroom with shower. Its a proper disabled bathroom- I’ve never sat on such an awkward, mountain-like toilet! I’ll appreciate the average variety at home so much more from now on!!!

So, I’ve bombarded you all with enough info for now, and I need to get off Flora’s computer so she can do some officail stuff. Flora’s internet at her apartment should be working soon, so I’ll share the next chapter in a bit. We’re settling in and safe and well and getting by even with our lack of Italian. I keep speaking Spanish in my attempts to communicate!!!

So, two days to go, ciao for now

xxx

May Surprises

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The past week has flown by, with the help of some nice surprises! The first and most important as it enhances all the others, was the change in weather. The week before had been a but cloudy and muggy, but the clouds decided to clear a bit and let the sun play centre stage! On Tuesday afternoon Julia, Raul, Hector and I had a good time making chocolate truffle together. They are my three ‘private kids’ with whom I spend an hour on Tuesday afternoons, playing or making something together while I speak to them in English and they join in or absorb! We have good days and bad days, and even better days like Tuesday! At Easter time we had made some Easter egg nests with cornflakes and imported (by myself) Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate and Mini Eggs. They loved making them, making a mess, then of course eating them! They’ve been asking since then when we could cook again, so I did some last minute scrambling on realising we only have a few more weeks and we made some chocolate truffles. I managed to get a hold of everything I needed okay, and they turned out tasty, and interesting- some were real giants! I’ve also decided to make some Canadian roll with them on our next class. It’s something else easy to make, and I think they’ll like it, especially as they LOVE coconut and condensed milk-I had a hard job keeping their fingers and tongues away from the packet and tin. I asked their mum if she could find the glacé cherries for me as I couldn’t, she seemed to know exactly where, but that left the problem of marshmallows, which are not such a big thing over here. My friend Fiona helped me solve it. She also happened to be another surprise! A quick decision was made to come for a wee visit, Saturday evening until Tuesday evening, with thanks to Ryanair. So she took some marshmallows over for me. I’ve managed to find a solution to my visitor’s comfortable sleeping problem, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier. One of my flat mates has a spare bed in her room, so we moved the mattress only into my room where it fits perfectly into the space beside my bed. So no hard floors or couches necessary.

We had such a good time together, it was great to catch up and to be able to share a wee bit of the life of Peigi over the past few months. We had beautiful weather and managed to do a lot, think I tired her out (warning to all visitors!). We had a quiet Sunday with church, lots of talking and some wandering. The various Circus acts (another surprise!) kept us entertained over the weekend. The Trapezi Circus took over Reus from Thursday to Sunday. Unlike our kind of circus that normally has shows in one place, here there’s a whole timetable of a multitude of acts taking place in just about every square and venue, even the main theatres. They attracted a huge crowd to Reus, and there are a huge amount of people forming the circus so you saw them everywhere as well. I’ve never seen so many dreadlocks in one place! It was interesting.

Fiona and I spent Monday in Barcelona, catching an early and late train. We managed to do some main attractions, what can be done in one day in Barcelona just scrapes the surface of what it has to offer. But we also managed to visit and take a guided tour of the Palau de la Música de Catalunya. An amazing building and a purpose built concert hall designed and built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner (a contemporary of Gaudí) between 1905 and 1908. I’d never been before and we both really enjoyed it and appreciated it. Unfortunately, due to it being a private building and copyright laws, you aren’t able to take photos inside. But I recommend visiting http://www.palaumusica.org for info, although its been said that it is strangely lacking in pictures. Of course, it would be best to attend a concert there. It welcomes all kinds of musical and cultural events, from choir singing (the Palau was built for and remains the headquarters of the Orfeó Català, the Catalan Choir) to rock! There are around 300 organised events a year these days, which is nearly an event a day! And over 300 000 visitors a year! It was a really good tour as well, with lots of information. Definitely worth adding to your Barcelona list.

I also managed a evening out to dinner! I went with some of the teachers from school for a proper pizza on Thursday night. One of the teachers who had been covering somebody on sick-leave was leaving, so we got together for one last time. Lots of laughs from them, I only get some of the stories or jokes, but laughing is contagious so its okay! Of course, the camera has been going all week, although I didn’t get any of the precious truffles, and you can ‘see’ my year abroad on flickr!

Giving

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“Giving…is the air into which we were born. It is the action that was designed into us before our birth.

Giving is the way the world is. God gives himself. He also gives away everything that is. He makes no exceptions for any of us.

We are given away to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, to our enemies- to the nations. Our life is for others.

That is the way creation works.

Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves…afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving…and the longer we wait the less time we have for the soaring and swooping life of grace.”

Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best p.43;

Quoted by Carolyn Custis James in The Gospel of Ruth p.170