Hoosiers in Italy
May 16, 2009
ROME, Italy - The Indiana women's basketball team opened a 10-day tour of Italy in Rome on Saturday, May 16. The Hoosiers will visit Florence, Pisa, Venice, Lake Como and Milan before returning to Bloomington on Monday, May 25.
Journal Entry No. 1
2:21 p.m. - We are sitting at the gate of our flight. All are in anticipation of what is ahead. Whitney Thomas and Amber Jackson are looking at the essentials of Italy, planning out the sights to see and making sure each minute away is maximized.
2:50 p.m. - We are on the plane to Philly, and there we will take the flight to Rome. Everyone is rather tired from the early morning practice and rush of packing.
6 p.m. - We have boarded the flight to Rome. The atmosphere is different than out previous flight. Everyone is full of energy! Even though the flight will take eight hours, I believe the feeling of excitement is like a kid on Christmas Eve anticipating the vast array of gifts that await them. We are all ready to unravel the gifts Italy has for us!
2:24 a.m. - The window is full of light and blue sky. Breakfast was served. Now everyone is coming to life. The energy that once started this flight has return. Everyone is washing up, fixing their appearance to greet Italy with a bright fresh look.
2:40 a.m. - We have finally arrived to our destination: Rome, Italy. Yay!
After nearly nine and half hours in the air, the Hoosiers landed at Leonardo DaVinci Airport at around 9 a.m. in Rome and took on their first tours of the trip. The team headed straight into a bus tour of Ancient Rome, and then walked around the Colosseum and the Forum, before enjoying some authentic Italian cuisine for lunch in Venice Square.
Journal Entry No. 2
Fabio is our tour guide and we are on the bus from the airport to the city of Rome. Feeling good, feeling great ... No jetlag, well, not yet! P.S. I love Fabio's accent and the landscape is so peaceful and picturesque. It's interesting because the United States are so young and new compared to the many years of rich history of Italy, as portrayed through the age of buildings. We have just crossed through the city walls into the city officially and are on our way to see the colosseum. Our tour guide said not to take pictures of the Roman soldiers because they charge $5 euros and will chase you down to get their money. They take their job very seriously! I thought the colosseum was really neat. I think its so interesting that the Roman government has torn down many of the ancient buildings to recycle the metal and scrap from them. The remains have been reassembled to look like they were many years ago. Another interesting fact was that Romans used to sit according to their class in society, so the wealthy people has pretty good seats for the fights and games. Fabio, our tour guide, warned us not to feed the tigers, so I really expected to see some hungry cats. But I guess Fabbio was joking and I kind of on to the joke really late!
After a long informative tour, it was finally time to get some Italian grub! We exchanged our money for euros and Fabbio took us to a local ristorante, a Roman bar where we got some spaghetti.
Journal Entry No. 3
Journal Entry No. 4
Today, we visited the Vatican. Our tour began with a short walk across a very famous courtyard. There, we all gathered around Flavia, our guide for the morning, and a display. She explained to us the different paintings we would come upon in the museum. There was the Sistine Chapel (La Capella Sistina), the ceiling (La Volta), and the Last Judgement (Il Giudizio Universal). We also learned about Michelangelo and other famous artists that contributed to the Sistine Chapel.
Journal Entry No. 5
It is a general consensus that this tour is one of the best, if not the best time of our young lives. I feel incredibly lucky! Italy, so far, is everything I expected and so much more. Everything, well almost everything, is different about the culture here from style of dress, food portions, public interactions and etiquette. It's great. Surprisingly, most people know some English so we haven't had a problem to much with the language barrier ... I could really see myself coming back one day. However, it wouldn't be quite the same because I wouldn't be with the Hoosier program.
Last night (Monday), we played our first basketball game here in Italy. I wasn't sure what to expect. The rules are slightly different and the Euro style of play is noticeably contrasting. I was a little nervous before the game, normal pre-game jitters. After the first quarter, my nerves settled. I felt very free and I had fun!
Well that's all for now folks! We are on the bus on our way to Florence!
Journal Entry No. 6
Next day here in Florence, we made our way to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This was a cool thing to see and the people that wanted to climb up it could. I climbed 300 stairs and six stories up, and it was tad scary because you are walking at a slant. It was also scary because I was six stories up and there were little railings for me (Yes people! I'm afraid of heights!) to hold onto. Overall though, I had fun and am glad I went up. After a few of my teammates worked on finding the angle for the famous pose of holding up Pisa, which was a struggle at first until a man I would have never have guessed directed us to where we needed to go and how to stand. Way to go Coach T! It was time to go after that so we loaded the bus and headed back. Have to have to have a little energy for our game tonight! Hope you're enjoying our journals!
P.S. The bus and our bus driver Mimo are becoming our new best friends, we take them everywhere!
P.S.S. The weather is beautiful here!
Journal Entry No. 7
Journal Entry No. 8
Whitney Thomas - Finding the Differences
Buongiorno from Italy! We have met three Fabio's since we have been in Italy, it seems to be a very common name here. I think we have gotten the best Fabbio of them all. He is our tour guide for the whole trip. He has a great sense of humor and he seems to have a liking for Sasha, but for that matter so does every other Italian here. They are so amazed by how tall she is and they also love basketball players. They think it is a big deal to be a player over here, so lucky us!
After our game last night, we loaded up the bus, very, very sweaty from the game (because there is no air conditioning) and out bus drive Mimo took us back to the hotel so that we could shower and eat before everything closes. In Florence, unlike Rome, is it a quiet area and things don't stay open late. All of the players got ready quickly and we walked down the street to a piazza ristorante. In Italy, going out to eat is much different than in the States. Here everything comes in a smaller portion. The cans of pop are smaller too and you don't get refills. A can of pop here is typically around 3 euros, which is a little over $4 in U.S. money. So we have learned very quickly to either wait to drink your pop until you get your food or either bring your own bottle of water because in the end it will save you some euros. They also don't do tips like we do in the U.S., but they charge a service charge almost everywhere you go.
I don't know how we did it, but we woke up early this morning after a festive night so that we could get some shopping in before we were off to the next stop. Florence is known for their leather and gold, it was everywhere. Whitney (Lindsay), Lindsay and Coach Jack all managed to buy leather purses. Lucky them! Today we have a four hour bus ride to our next stop, Treviso, where we will play a game tonight! We are all falling asleep on the bus, so until next time. Ciao!
P.S. Be thankful for public restrooms in the States, because here at many places you have to pay to use the restroom.
The group departed Venice and took a 4 hour drive north to Lake Como, where they will stay until Monday, March 25. Tomorrow, Saturday, March 23, the Hoosiers will hold a clinic for handicapped children in the Como area.
Journal Entry No. 9
Well, Good Morning ... from Treviso, Italy. For as long as we have been here, I still have not caught on how to say Good Morning in Italian, so I will stick to good ol'English. As I am writing this, we are getting ready to leave Treviso and head to Venice. This is going to be a not too long trip to Venice. In Venice, I guess they do not use cars so once we get there, we will take a water taxi. After Venice, we are heading to Lake Como, which everyone is looking forward to. Since we have been here, it has been sooo hot. All of have received some pretty nice tans. Last night, we played our third game. Happy to say that we won ... it was a comeback victory. We were down at halftime, but we kept on working hard and slowly chipped away at their lead. Oh I wish I could play, but being a teammate on the bench and screaming in Fabio's ear is as close as I can get to the action until later on this summer. After the game, we headed back to the hotel for dinner. Can I just say that this bus has to have something on it that puts us all to sleep because no matter how hard we all try to stay awake, WE ALL FALL ASLEEP!! So hopefully, today will be the first time we are not knocked out .. I highly doubt that. Well when we got back to the hotel, we all went to dinner ... some went to take showers from the game. I went downstairs to do my cardio workout. I guess I was in the zone so much that I did not see Whitney (Thomas) come down to get me to eat. Dinner this time around was okay. It was pasta (nothing surprising), chicken, potatoes and water. I am pretty sure that when we return home everyone is going to have a greater appreciation for water because water here is very limited I guess and we have to pay for it everywhere we go out to eat. After dinner, most of the team headed out to get some gelato. We all took a good 20 minute walk to a place Whitney (Thomas) found on the bus on the way back to the hotel. It was very good! It was also good bonding and chill time with each other. When we returned, we all pretty much went to our rooms to go to sleep or other teammates' rooms to talk and chill. Sad to say that this trip is almost coming to an end, but I know that we will enjoy the rest of our once in a lifetime trip. I could not be happier to be here with my teammates, more like my second family.
I am pretty sure when I leave, Fabbio and Mimo are going to be sad without 'SASHAAA'.
This has been an Indiana Women's Basketball Takeover update. Until next time, this is Sasha Chaplin saying Ciao from the bus to Venice!
P.S. I just looked to the back of the bus and everyone is knocked out! Like I thought they would be ...
Journal Entry No. 10
We arrived in Lake Como last night! The view from my room with Amber (Jackson) is incredible! Waking up this morning to the beautiful colors of the mountain tops, buildings, and of course, the lake was amazing. But more amazing than the looks of Lake Como was the community service we did this morning. We went to play el basket (basketball) with some underprivileged teens ... some of them our age. We went to an event held right outside of Como that was a sports activity day for children. There were sports like soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and even marital arts! At the basketball court we took a group of young men through some ball handling and shooting drills. They then showed off their basketball skills in a game where they played each other. Jamie (Braun) and I coached one team and Jori (Davis) and City (Danilsa Andujar) coached the other. The rest of the girls cheered for a side. Our team won! Thanks to Coach Mori's leadership out on the court of course his offensive and defensive boards!
I really enjoyed spending time with those kids today! We had a blast cheering for them! We could tell that they had fun too! One of the guys on my team was very good. His name is Max, but we kept calling him Lebron because he carried the team all the way to victory with his finishes and no look passes to his teammates. We all had a great time and it was definitely a highlight of the trip!
As I lay out beside the lake, I can't help by to reflect on my meeting with a cousin of mine who resides in the northeast of Italy ... a small country town called Fanna. (Which is in the region of Italy called Fruiliz-Venezia) My cousin's name is Celso (pronounced Chel-so). He drove about 80 miles to visit me in Treviso for lunch (on Thursday) right before our game. All I could keep feeling was excitement to be able to see family in my grandfather's homeland. I have always wanted to come to Italy ... I had no clue that being a student-athlete at Indiana would make one of my biggest dreams come true! This trip truly means so much to me! As I was chatting with my cousin, we got on the subject of differences between the lifestyle of an American and how living in Italy is so different. I got the best advice from my cousin Celso that day. He told me ... `in America, everyone is always so busy, busy, busy ... always in a rush, on the go, and there is not enough time to enjoy life. So is that even life? In Italy, the biggest difference is that we cherish life everyday ... no worry, no stress ... life lasts longer that way.'
Getting ready to go to dinner with the girls out on Lake Como! Buonosera! Ciao!
Journal Entry No. 11
Good Morning from Como!! Last night, the girls put on their beautiful dresses, and had a wonderful dinner as we overlooked the lake. Now we are all boarding the boat for a tour led by Paolo, the tour guide. His name is very popular in Italy. I've already met five people with that name.
The view of the mountains is amazing. House, hotels and restaurants site high within the mountains overlooking the lake. Thus far, we have seen various parts of Italy, but I must say Como is truly breath taking. The area is just elegant, and a perfect vacation area. Better yet, a place to live; we just passed the house of the famous actor George Clooney. Wow! All the girls are freaking out. Haha!
We just arrived to Bellagio, a place the Italian people call the most charming place in Italy. It is surrounded by mountains and extravagant botanical gardens. The shopping is among some of the best in Italy with Gucci, Prada and more. The stop in Bellagio was short, but we all seemed to find something special to buy our loved ones.
I was able to buy some hand made jewelry for my mother, and Italian silk for my father. The shops were full of quality gifts and the best Italy has to offer. The boat ride back was so relaxing, yet I could not close my eyes for one minute because the view was something I had never seen before.
Back in Como!! Everyone is still excited about the trip to Bellagio and happy we all had the chance to experience something so wonderful. Off to grab lunch and prepare for the game in a few hours.
Journal Entry No. 12
Buongiorno! Well this is the last day in Italy and we're now on the plane heading back to the United States. The last 10 days have been no short of a dream come true! For all of our wonderful followers, I'll do a quick recap ...
Day 1-3 Roma!
Day 4-5 - Firenze!
Day 5 - Treviso
Day 6 - Venice
Day 7-10 - Milan/Lake Como
We've had so many funny moments, but they will have to remain disclosed information until our book is published, entitled `The Italian Takeover' by the Indiana Women's Basketball Team. It is expected to be a New York Times best seller and on Oprah's book club list ... Ha ha!
On a more serious note ... We have seen so many beautiful buildings, famous works of art, and landmarks know by everyone but only seen by some. We have experienced an entirely different culture over the last 10 days. It is much more relaxed in Italy compared to the States. People living in Italy get the most out of every day. In America, we often rush so much that we don't take time to stop and truly enjoy life. I have learned that things are so much sweeter in life if you take a moment to appreciate what you have, where you are in life, what got you there and everything in between that God blessed us with. We have learned so much about each other and our coaches, which has allowed us to create a bond that will never be broken. This trip was a dream come true!! I want to thank those people who made it possible to go on this trip. Thanks to Coach Jack and the staff, and Mr. Glass and our administration for dreaming big for our team and making this a reality. You have no idea what this meant to us! We'll remember this trip forever!
Check back soon