A Birthday in Venice

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Italy has been amazing so far. I really love living in Milan, a transportation center with planes, trains, and buses to just about everywhere in Europe. For my 21st birthday, I took the train to Venice to celebrate with friends. Venice is an amazing treat unto itself. The city really is built right on the water. It’s exactly like the pictures- only the pictures don’t convey the amazingness of it, nor the charm, nor the sheer incredibility. Imagine stepping straight from a boat right into a store. It’s amazing. And so bizarre. I felt like I was floating on water for days after.

Kathy1Venice is navigated by a series of vaporettos, or passenger ferries. You can walk from some islands to others, but not all of them can be walked that way. Instead, you have to take the ferry. Luckily, being under 26, we bought cards valid for transport for 72 hours.

Friday, we went to the Venice Film Festival. We got tickets to the premiere of “The Bad Lieutenant” because it was in English, and “The Prince of Tears”- which was in Mandarin but had English and Italian subtitles.  Then, because we had tickets, we went into the main building and celebrity stalked. We went to the press conference level and mingled with reporters while eating amazing cheese, and drinking wine. We eavesdropped on the press conference with Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes, and then for “The Prince of Tears”.

After, we wandered around Lido and waded in the Adriatic Sea, before heading back for the red carpet stuff. Pressed against the barrier, we were able to have front row views of the stars for the Bad Lieutenant. And to see Paris Hilton (though really, what was she doing there? Seriously, not appreciated at my film festival…). In real life, well, Nicholas Cage looked pretty haggard. Eva Mendes though was gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.  Sherrylyn, the girl I was with, got her autograph.

Then we watched our movies. I didn’t particularly care for the Bad Lieutenant. Too strange for my tastes, though seeing it at the Venice Film Festival was amazing. The Prince of Tears though, I loved it. It’s a very sad movie, but the colors were gorgeous. And the music was good.

Saturday we went swimming in the Adriatic, watched glass blowing on Murano Island, and just enjoyed being in Venice. We did ride a lot of boats.

Thursday, though, my birthday, was just about perfect. I arrived in Venice, met up with people, had a great Italian dinner with wine, and then we ate coffee-flavored gelato. Pretty awesome. Especially because at night the street lights are tinted pink. Pink! It’s amazing. And you can see this trail of buoys with pink lights on heading out to the horizon… endless. We listened to the street musicians playing violins and watched the gondolas float by, and really, just enjoyed it. It felt very decadent, my word for Venice.

Two Week Break

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Today marked the first day back to classes for me after an awesome two week break from Bocconi.  Here, the school is not as quick-paced as I am used to with UW’s quarter system.  Students at Bocconi are given two weeks off from classes for midterms and most classes offered to international students don’t have midterms.  This means that my finals will be essentially all or nothing, which is something to consider if you’re thinking about studying here.  Fortunately though, this meant I had two weeks to travel around Europe with my friends.

1.JPGMy break began in Greece where I spent two days in Athens and two days on the Greek island of Mykonos.  It was really cool to see the history in Athens, and I’m happy to say that I can now cross the Acropolis off my list of famous world sites to visit.  Mykonos (that place in my picture) was just as great.  I was even able to swim in the Aegean Sea literally two days before Halloween.  Swimming in late October was definitely a new experience for me, as a Seattle native.  After Greece, I spent a couple days in the Swiss cities of Zurich and Bern, which were only about three hours away by train.  One of the great things about studying in Milan is that it’s so central.  With the help of a great train system and budget airlines (EasyJet and RyanAir are the best!), you can be almost anywhere in Europe within a couple of hours, even on a student’s budget.  I also happened to be in Switzerland during the election.  Probably one the coolest and most intriguing things that I have witnessed in my two months in Europe was my train ride back to Milan when almost everyone on train was reading the Swiss newspaper with Obama plastered on the cover.  Everyone seems to love him in Europe.  Following Switzerland, I made one last trip to Berlin, which totally exceeded my expectations.  There was just so much to see there and I can now cross the Berlin Wall off my list as well!

After my jam-packed two weeks of traveling, I am realizing more and more that there’s still so much more that I want to see and experience.  The only thing working against me now is time.  I can’t believe I only have a little over a month left.  Perhaps, another study abroad experience will be the solution…

First Impressions of Bocconi University, Milan & Italy!

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

bergamo-alta.JPGHi all!  My name is Tim Tran and I’m a junior majoring in Finance and minoring in International Studies.  It’s hard to believe, three and half weeks have already passed since I arrived in Milan, Italy, to study at Bocconi University (Univesita’ Bocconi) for fall 2008.  I came into Milan at the beginning of September to take an intensive Italian crash course offered to exchange students.  This took place before official business courses started and the rest of the Italian students arrived.

With over 1,000 international students, Bocconi is definitely a school with an international flavor.  Because all the exchange p1010101.JPGstudents were essentially in the same boat (in a new city where we all knew no one), everyone was extremely open and friendly.  I quickly made a bunch of friends from all over the world and by the first weekend, we were already traveling Italy together.  This was not something that I expected to happen so soon, but it’s definitely something that I love about this school.  With its smaller size, it’s much more intimate than UW, which, to me, was a welcomed change.  Just in the past few weeks alone, my friends and I have made day trips to Lake Como, Verona, Cinque Terre, and Bergamo, all awesome destinations no more than an hour or two from Milan.  The city of Milan is great as well.  Milan is definitely fast-paced compared to the rest of Italy (though still slow by American standards) and there’s a lively night scene.  It seems like the city never sleeps!

p1010472.JPGThe native Italian students, who arrived a week or two after the exchange students, are also very friendly and approachable.  Bocconi has a great international student buddy program that has hosted numerous events to help exchange students experience the school and the city.  These events have included a traditional Italian dinner, an AC Milan soccer match, and what seems to be a Milanese favorite, aperitivo (Italian for happy hour).

Classes have started now and so far, I am enjoying them all.  It’s funny that even though I’m half a world removed from home, the current events that we talk about in class are heavily focused on the US financial situation.  It has definitely been interesting to hear the Italian perspective on the recent financial crisis in the US!

Overall, I enjoying every moment here.  Occasionally, I crave the Ave’s Asian food and I can surely do without all the second-hand smoke I’ve inhaled, but these little things in no way detract from the fact that I am having a blast in Milan!

The Beginning of My Adventure in the Fashion Capital of the World – Milan, Italy

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

jenny1.jpgI am a junior in the Foster School of Business with a concentration in Marketing (declared) and perhaps Finance (still deciding).  I grew up in San Pedro, California which is roughly 20 minutes away from Los Angeles, before embarking on my four year scholastic journey at the University of Washington.  Attending school in Seattle was quite an adjustment for me since I was used to assuming everyday would turn out to be a sunny one when in SoCal; however, I love U-Dub mostly because of Foster!  The students and faculty that compose it truly are all diamonds in the ruff, and I feel so lucky to be a part of its community as they are responsible for facilitating my study abroad experience.

jenny2.jpgEver since I was a young girl, I wanted to travel the world to see what cultures from centuries in the past had left behind, in addition to what present-day societies were creating for future travelers to uncover.  Foster’s International Exchange Program provided the perfect means for me to fulfill this dream.   My international exchange, thus far, has been better than I could have imagined.  When I applied for the program, my first choice was to attend Università Bocconi not only for the fashion in Milan but because the school is ranked as the number one business school in Europe, third in the world (above Harvard).  Bocconi not only provides an academic challenge, but Milan offers a genuinely Italian experience.   I think I have eaten more pasta in my first 2 weeks than I have during my first two years at UW!  The night life is ridiculously abundant, the exchange students are extremely eclectic, and the list of things to do is exponentially growing.

I am thoroughly enjoying my study abroad opportunity.  I visited Cinque Terre- a group of five gorgeous beach towns along the Italian Riviera known for its very rigorous 6 km hike- last weekend and will soon be venturing to Venice; Munich for Oktoberfest hosted by Bocconi; and Cadiz, Spain to visit a friend also from UW on exchange.

jenny3.jpgAlthough I am having a wonderful time now, when I first arrived in Milan, I felt very overwhelmed.  Being away from home and in another country is a very different experience when compared to just changing locations in the United States.  You have to make new friends, figure out the society and language, and adjust to being away from family/friends.  The good thing is that within a few days those intense feelings of fear disappear, and you find yourself completely comfortable in a foreign place.  Just remain positive and embrace the opportunity that you have achieved; it will truly be unlike any other and the memories will be unforgettable.

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!

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…)

Class in Bologna and weekend in Venice

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Early Wednesday morning our class left for Bologna pronounced “boloɲa” which is a large University town. As a class we were required to create a lesson plan and do presentations on Bologna while we were there. We had a creative lesson plan, presented some history on the town and planned a field trip to Grom’s gelato shop which is said to have the best gelato in town. We went to lunch at a restaurant that our concierge recommended and were welcomed warmly and directed to the second floor of the restaurant which provided a private atmosphere. We took turns deciding what the restaurant had previously served as because there was an abundance of red and lamps which led some to think it had been an Asian restaurant. At the same time there were some metal handrails around holes in the floor and an eccentric wall texture which alluded to a potential club scene. One of the girls eventually called our waiter over to bring menus to us and he came bearing just two for our group of 15. Though we tried to make the best of the shortage of menus we eventually caved in andcec1.JPG requested two more. In the end we had a good first meal in Bologna and looked forward to our next couple of days walking around the University area, visiting Modena, the Ferrari Museum and the Porticos of San Luca which encompassed a 3 mile long stretch up a hill and over 660 arches.

After our class ended in Bologna, many of us continued on to Venice to spend the weekend. Venice was an even bigger tourist attraction than Florence (more…)

Ciao da Milano!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

My name is Jenepher Schulte, and I’m a finance student in my junior year. For spring semester I am studying at Universita’ Bocconi. So far studying abroad has been an exhilarating experience. I arrived January 8th and took an Italianjen1.jpg course through the university for the first month, at which I made friends with many other exchange students from around the world. Each weekend we took the train from Milan and explored another part of northern Italy. During the week between the language course and the start of the semester I went to Florence with some girls. Florence was beautiful! There was so much history and art to see there! I look forward to traveling more on the upcoming school breaks.

jen2.jpgThis is the second week of the semester and I’m enjoying my classes very much. The majority of my courses are on business topics, and I’m enjoying greatly the experience of being a student in another country.

The weather has been such a treat, at least to me a Seattle native. It’s consistently sunny and around 65 degrees. One thing I miss from Seattle is the coffee, and for that matter, the coffee was the last thing I expected to miss. An espresso and brioche is a delicious breakfast; I’ve embraced it entirely! But during that early morning class a big, warm mocha would be nice.

A presto!

Fun, Sun and Snow in Greece

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

For President’s Day Weekend I went with a couple of the girls to Greece. I had wanted to go to Greece for the longest time and that desire was only intensified after watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants where there are scenes of a lovely white town on the hill along the sea. I wanted to see a white city for myself. We arrived in the afternoon to a nice sunny day after settling down in our hotel room we set about exploring the area around Monastriki. We found ourselves near a cecilia1.jpgstreet that was lined with great shopping stores which we ventured into encouraged by the Sales signs on the windows. That night we went out to dinner and I had an amazing cheese pie, traditional meat plate and topped it off with dessert, a plate of warm baklava and macedonia ice cream. It was a great first meal.

Over the course of the next day we visited the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, the new Mall in Athens and had the most delicious gyros called Thanasis recommended to me by my friend Vicky back home. She was right and we went back for another round. The only thing that put a damper on our day was that a woman who we met mentioned something about a snow storm due to approach from Siberia and we just tried to brush it off because it seemed ridiculous to think that it could really snow after the incredibly nice weather we were having.

We woke up the next day and I got what I wanted. A white city. (more…)

Adventures in Florence and Pisa

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Since this is my first blog I believe it warrants an introduction. My name is Cecilia Velazquez and I am a sophomore business student studying abroad through the Honors Program at the UW Rome Center. This is my first study abroad celia2.JPGexperience and it has definitely given me a thirst for more. Right now my classes consist of taking History, Art and Italian all of which come to life more so because I am living in it. What could be more powerful than learning about the Trevi fountain, the Vatican and the Pantheon than getting the opportunity to see them for myself?

My class went on a field trip to Florence the third weekend into the quarter to have a change of scenery and experience another city outside of Rome. Florence, like Rome is also located by the river, but the fact that it is smaller made it more manageable. On our first day there we went to lunch as a group and were able to try some of the famous Tuscan soups. Ribollita, which is a vegetable soup, was by far my favorite. I never knew that a vegetable soup could have such flavor and taste so good. One of my favorite activities that we did in Florence was climb to the top of a hill on which there was a church. The church was linked to a monastery with monks who chanted at the evening mass. While we did not arrive in time to hear them chant we were treated to an almost bird’s eye view of the city below, taking in not only the historic center and the river but also the landscape that surrounds Florence.

The one thing that surprised me most about Florence was that when we went in the markets the street vendors all spoke various languages. Depending on what language they thought we spoke they would address us differently. At one belt shopcelia1.JPG the woman running it spoke to us in English and Italian but also knew Spanish and Portuguese in addition to knowing phrases in other languages to help her in her trade. (more…)