1. Italian toilets are weird! Or at least they don't flush like American toilets. The water closet is often up on the wall, with a little button on the bottom that you push to flush. Like so:
Also, not only are the toilets strange, the faucets can sometimes be difficult. During my first week of classes, some of us went to a bar between classes for a cappuccino, and I decided to go wash my hands. I go into the bathroom, and don't see any water handles. No biggie, it's probably automatic. I wave my hands around the faucet. Nothing.
Maybe it's a touch faucet! I hit the faucet all over, hoping water will come out.
Ok, now I'm getting desperate. I really want to wash my hands. I decide that maybe I have to unscrew the top of the faucet a little bit to get the water to come out - that's logical, right?
All I succeed in doing is screwing the top all the way off the faucet.
I guiltily screw it back on, and realize that I might have to go ask someone how to wash my hands. No, that feels too stupid. I will figure out how to wash my hands, dangit!
I scan the bathroom in a panic, looking for something, anything that seems conducive to water, and I realize that there are two pedals on the floor beneath the sink - one red, one blue. I step on the blue one, and, sweet moses alive, blessed water pours out of the faucet.
Hallelujah. Never mind that I spent 10 minutes trying to wash my hands, I figured it out, darnit.
2. Water costs money. Every time you go to a restaurant, you have to pay 1-2 euro if you want to drink water - tap water is not an option. I think this has been one of the hardest things for my roommate Rachel to adjust to: she's still shocked and appalled that we have to pay money if we want something to drink.
3. ART! All I have to do to see Siena's gorgeous Duomo is walk 10 minutes. I find that incredible.
Moreover, there's this little place called Florence that's just an hour's bus ride from Siena, where one can see such jaw-dropping things as Donatello's Mary Magdalen:
Yup. I stood in front of Donatello's Mary Magdalen. No biggie. It's only my favorite piece by him. I was in Florence on a field trip when I saw this, and my notes at this point basically consist of a bunch of scribbles surrounded by awe-struck expletives.
We also saw a couple of pieces by Michelangelo while we were in Florence - only my favorite artist of all time. What. Is this real life? I didn't realize that we would be seeing any Michelangelo, so I was quite shocked when my professor said, "And now we're going to pop down and see some Michelangelo." WHAT? We're going to "pop down" to see Michelangelo? One does not "pop down" to see Michelangelo.
I was pretty much in a state of shock and awe during the entire field trip - I find it incredible that I was able to see so much unbelievable art so easily. It's the sort of thing that almost doesn't seem real... how is it possible that I actually stood in front of so many enormously important works of art? These are pieces of art of such magnitude that when I read about them in America, they don't seem real. Surely such wonderful things can't exist in the real world... they only exist in books, right? But it would seem that I was wrong, and that they are entirely real.
Excuse me while my head explodes from amazement.