April, 2008

Aprile a Milano

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Ciao everyone,

April at Bocconi University means midterms. There are no classes for these two weeks, but still campus is abuzz with students. The library is so busy these days that on Monday my roommate, and I couldn’t find seats together! Like nothing I’ve seen at a library before. It’s been an experience, to say the least. I myself have two midterms to study for. One is a finance topic, and I’ve been studying with classmates, half of which are fellow exchange students, half of which are Bocconi students. The other midterm I have been spending more time preparing for, as the course is in Italian and the exam is timed. Fortunately it’s multiple choice, that helps!

I’m really enjoying taking courses in Italian. It’s been a challenge, but my Italian has improved so much. The experience of being an Italian-as-a-second -language student has developed my studying skills. Also, I feel like the class environment is different, and in that respect I’m having a real immersion experience. For instance, the students in my Italian classes applaud at the end of every lecture. It’s nice!

jenepher.jpgLast weekend I went to a soccer game and it was a blast. This was something that I was looking forward to when I came to Milan. I wasn’t especially a soccer fan before coming, but it’s definitely a part of Italian culture, given the coverage it gets on TV and newspapers. San Siro stadium is an enormous structure, and the fans come looking serious about their soccer. The crowd in the section below mine stood and sang and cheered through the entire game! It was so much fun! Although it was a smaller game (AC Milano vs. Cagliari), the stadium was nearly full. We’ve already bought tickets for our next game. It’s AC Milan playing Inter, which are both Milan teams, and they call it the Derby; so it should be an exciting event.

So next post I’ll have the results of two suspenseful events. Bocconian midterms and the Derby!

A presto!

Primavera en España

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

It has been six weeks since my last post, and I have been very busy as always. I have done many things and gone on several adventures since my last update. Everything is going well and there is definitely never a dull moment here. School is going very well. I am still learning many things in class and outside of class. I wrote my last post just before going to Ronda with my friends Oli and Fabien. It is said that Ronda is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and I would have to say, it certainly is. It is a lush green oasis in the middle of a very brown and yellow Andalusia. It is an ancient Arabic style town situated on top of an enormous cliff over a green farm valley. There is a beautiful old stone bridge connecting the new and old parts of the city over a very narrow but deep river gorge. It is also the birthplace of the modern bullfight. While we were there we took a tour of the famous Plaza de Toros (bullring) – it was very cool to see. We also tried to take a hike through the valley but as usual, we got lost. After avoiding several killer dogs, crossing a live railway and walking along a main highway we decided we had too much fun and headed back to town. But the weather was excellent and the scenery even more so. We spent most of our time just relaxing, which wasn’t difficult to do. All in all, a very successful trip.

After returning from that trip I just stayed in Granada for a few weeks anxiously awaiting the arrival of Emily (my girlfriend)! I managed to stay fairly busy with school, tapas, siestas, playing soccer, watching soccer, and hanging out with friends. One day a few of us went to the beach (an hour away by bus), which was a lot of fun. The week before Easter is a very big holiday week in Spain – they call it Semana Santa (Holy Week). Which, for me meant “No school all week!” and “it’s impossible to buy anything because everything is closed.” It was a very interesting time. Every day they have religious processions throughout the city, which are basically just parades with marching bands, people wearing traditional costumes carrying candles, and men carrying giant altars from various churches. Each day and each procession is supposed to tell the story of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. I watched a few of them during the week and got trapped by a few others as I was trying to walk somewhere else. The most exciting thing for me during the week of Semana Santa (besides March Madness beginning) was Emily’s arrival! She came in on the Wednesday of that week. Although one day that weekend we took a day trip to the Alpujarras in the Sierra Nevada. Since I had been there before we were able to successfully navigate the trail that Oli and I got lost on back in October. The weather was very nice and we had a nice time. But this trip was just a warm-up for bigger things to come. It has been very fun to show Emily some of my favorite spots around the city. I have even discovered some new things and places that I hadn’t known about before. She has been madrid-el-rastro.jpgenjoying herself very much and she is even learning some Spanish – both from me and from our Rosetta Stone computer program.

The last weekend in March and Emily’s second weekend in Spain was our three day trip to Madrid! Prior to this I had only ever seen the airport and the bus station in Madrid, which doesn’t say a whole lot for the city itself. (more…)

Spring Break

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Just returned form a two week Spring Break. I was so luck to be able to visit 5 cities in such a short amount of time. First I was off to London for three days. I chose to see Les Miserables and Wicked while there and I am so glad, they were wonderful productions. The second day I was there I walked through the whole city and did some major site seeing but didn’t have much time to go into any of the more popular sites or museums. I did however get to see the Tate Modern. I did a quick walk through; wish I could have stayed longer because it was very impressive. The next day we went to an Arsenal Game at night. The energy of the passionate fans was indescribable. I wish soccer was as popular in the states as it is in Europe; in my opinion it’s as fun to watch as college football. 

eliz.JPGThe next day we took off for Dublin just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Though it’s a religious holiday in Ireland there was quite the festival in Dublin. We were lucky enough to have a hotel on the route of the parade so we watched it from the roof. It was a beautiful day, definitely a St. Patrick’s day I will never forget. We spent the next day meeting up with friends from Dublin and exploring the city. For our final full day we took the train down the coast and saw some beautiful towns along the water. It was great to get a change of pace and see the countryside after having been in cities for so long.

From Dublin we were off to Paris. We were very lucky to find an apartment for only 100 euros (more…)