Saturday, December 20, 2008


To preface this post, I know that I said that I was going to post a blog on Thanksgiving in Milan, but seeing how it is a month later that would be kind of anticlimactic. So in short, we went drank beer and played some backyard football on Wednesday night (yes, you can do both at the same time here, there are no open container laws!), followed by a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with chicken substituted for turkey on Thursday night, and then everyone went out to our favorite local pub for the last time afterward. It was genuinely awesome, because although we weren't with our families we were with friends that have gotten very close over the past couple of months.

This brings me to my next point. The past couple of months have been probably the best four months of my life. Not only have I seen much more of the world than most people will see in their entire life, but I have met so many great people from all over the world. Don't get me wrong, everywhere I have been has been absolutely incredible: I have gone on a gondola ride in Venice, visited old friends in Madrid, seen Big Ben in London, drank a pint of Guinness in Dublin, seen all of ancient Rome, been to the Louvre in Paris, witnessed Da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan, and countless other worldy experiences. But despite all of this, it feels so much better just knowing that I have friends all over the world. I have friends in England, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, Georgia, Canada, Japan, and many other countries. It's really weird because leaving all of this is unlike any other feeling I've had before. Similar to freshman year of college, you come here and make new friends and get to be pretty close over the next couple of months. But the difference is that when you leave at the end of your freshman year, you know that all of these people will be back in the fall. I leave here tomorrow night, and most of the people that I have gotten to know over the past couple of months I will never see again. It's a pretty weird feeling. But now if I want to, I can go ski in Whistler and have a free place to stay. I can go party in Brazil, and know that I have people that can show me where all the fun is.

I came here as an exchange student and as far as the student part goes it has been quite a failure. My grades are not up to par with what I would like them to be. Despite this, the experience as a whole has been a success. Sometimes what you learn isn't necessarily reflected in a letter that an instituition imposes on you. I have learned more about other countries and cultures, I have learned more about our country, and more importantly I have learned more about myself, both good and bad. I feel like as I return to the US, I'm a different person than I was when I left. I know more about what my values are in life, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and a little bit more about the direction that I want to go in.

It's 4:15 am here and I leave for the airport in 17 hours. It's a happy and a sad feeling, but I'm ready to come home. I know that I'll be back on this side of the Atlantic soon enough, as I haven't covered all of the ground that I want to yet (Top of the list: Budapest, Prague, Morraco, Greece, and Switzerland!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008


So it's December 15 and I haven't updated since November 24, even though a bunch of cool stuff has happened since then. I guess that I suck at this whole blog thing. Paris one of the coolest cities that I've been to so far, I know that I say that about every city that I've been in, but Europe has just been that cool.

We got in to Paris on Friday evening (11/21) and headed straight to the Louvre because it's free for students on Fridays from 6:00-Close. If I had to pick one word for the Louvre it would overwhelming, there is just so much stuff to see there! As a typical tourist I headed straight for the Mona Lisa, and just as everybody that's every been there will tell you, it's kind of disappointing. It's very small and there is tourists everywhere around it. I spent a little bit more time checking out the essential art that is in the Louvre, as well as a Picasso exhibit that they had going on for a limited time, but I spent most of my time looking in Egyptian antiquities as well as Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Antiquities. They had a ton of cool artifacts, probably the coolest of which I thought was the original Code of Hammurabi. It was huge, coming in at almost 7 feet tall and scrawled with ancient rules about throwing your wife into the water if she cheats on you and fun stuff like that.

The next day we went on a free four hour walking tour of the city that took you through all of the essentials: Notre Dame, by the Louvre, Jardin de Tuileries, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triumph, and looking on to the Eiffel Tower. If you ever go to Europe, take advantage of the free walking tours, you learn so much more than you would on your own and all you have to do is tip the guy at the end, definitely worth it. After the tour we headed over to the Eiffel Tower and took pictures and all of that good stuff. Some of the group went up to the top, but it was €12 to go up and about a 45 minute wait and that didn't seem worth it to me to be able to say "I've been at the top of the Eiffel Tower!" Just standing under it and admiring it was enough for me haha.

On Sunday we went to Versailles, and again we're cheap college students and didn't pay to go in (it was €15!), so we just walked around the grounds and went into where Marie Antoinette's resided. That was cool, but honestly the best part was just walking around the grounds because it was snowing really hard and was just very beautful. Unfortunately the snow didn't keep up and turned into rain once we headed back to Paris, and we found ourselves wandering around Paris in freezing rain. We honestly just wanted to get out of the rain as fast as possible, so a couple of us ended up escaping into a movie theater to go see Burn After Reading. I know, I know, it's lame to go see a movie in Paris.

The only other things I have to say about Paris are: Paris is the most expensive city that I've been to by far, and yes the French are assholes. It almost seemed to me though like it wasn't towards American's in particular, they're just generally pretty pessimistic people. And to elaborate on how expensive it was, we sat outside at a cafe and all I got was a cappucino figuring that it couldn't be that expensive. When the bill came it was €7!

Once again, sorry for not updating as often as I should. I promise that tomorrow I'm going to try and get on again to write about Thanksgiving in Milan, which should be my last one other than a wrap up entry concluding my time here in Italy.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Apparently some people have been waiting for my Amsterdam post, so here it is haha. Given that a lot of my family reads this blog, I'm going to write about what kind of festivities are available in Amsterdam rather than reflect on my personal experience. If you don't want to hear about a city full of drugs and hookers, don't read on, I've warned you.

Amsterdam is probably the weirdest city that I've ever been in. The hostel that I stayed in was about a 10 minute walk from the Red Light District, probably what Amsterdam is currently most famous for (sorry Anne Frank). The Red Light District is full of "coffee shops" that are seriously about every third or fourth store, where you can go in and buy marijuana. This could come in several forms of course, you could order straight up pot, a pre-rolled joint, or even a space cake, which is a muffin or brownie with pot baked into it. Also in the Red Light District are "smartshops", or pretty much what would be a head shop in the US where you can buy pipes and bongs and all sorts of smoking accessories. What differentiates these from a head shop in the US is that they sell magic mushrooms, in several different intensity levels. The reason you can buy marijuana and shrooms openly in Amsterdam is because "soft drugs" are legal, whereas "hard drugs" like coke, heroin, and extacy are illegal. This doesn't mean that they aren't readily available though. If you walk around the Red Light District at night, every 15 feet a black person will whisper to you "Coke? Extacy?" It kind of catches you off guard at first, but you get used to it in a weird kind of way after the first couple times. The last thing that I have to comment on about the Red Light District are the hookers. Yes, prostituition is legal as well. Some of the streets in Amsterdam are lined on both sides with hookers in windows waiting to do whatever you want for the right price. Some are actually pretty hot, others are hideous. Apparently if you're going to partake in these activities, you should be pretty careful what street your on because some streets are lined with hookers that may look like females, but when the bottoms come off you'll be in for a surprise.

Outside of drugs and whores, Amsterdam does have some good clean fun! One of the primary modes of transportation there is the bicycle. They're seriously everywhere, they even have the right of way on the street rather than cars or pedestrians. We rented bikes for 3 hours and rode around, which was a lot of fun. We also went to the Anne Frank house, which was also fascinating. One thing that struck me about their hiding space was how big it was. I pictured them to be living in small, cramped, terrible conditions, but they actually had a lot of room. What made it terrible was just that they pretty much could not move at all due to the fear of being found. At the end of the tour of the house they had the original diary on display! The main Heineken brewery is located in Amsterdam as well, which we took a tour of. While it was still a lot of fun, the Guinness tour in Dublin was a lot better in my opinion.

Amsterdam itself was a very beautiful city; it almost seemed like a cleaner version of Venice. Scattered around the city are really cool windmills which also add to it's aesthetic value. I said at the beginning of the post that Amsterdam was the weirdest city I've ever been in, and I guess this helps to contribute to it as well. Here you have this city where you can pretty much do anything that you want to, things that everywhere else in the world deem immoral or wrong, yet it works for the city. Amsterdam is not out of control, it is a generally safe city, and it is beautiful as well. If somewhere like this were in the US, left wing hippies would go crazy on drugs, right wing religious nut jobs would be up in arms and condemn everyone to hell, and the city would eventually burn to the ground. It's just interesting to think about how a city got to be this way and make it work in today's world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Rome was one of the coolest cities that I have been to so far. It's hard to compare to some of my other favorites like Dublin and Cinque Terre because those were just beautiful and fun cities, whereas Rome was more of constant sight seeing.

The first day I was there we took a tour of the Colosseum. It was crazy just standing there and thinking about a stadium packed full of people watching prisoners and animals fight to the death. I learned a lot of cool stuff, such as how sometimes they would flood the fighting arena and bring in small boats and re-create famous sea battles. After this we kind of hung out outside of the Colosseum to watch the sun set, which was beautiful to watch over the Colosseum. We went out to dinner and got to bed early, as I was exhausted from waking up at 4:30 am for my flight.

The next day we woke up really early to catch a 3.5 hour tour of the Vatican. The Vatican museum was pretty amazing, they had a lot of cool paintings from artists such as Raphael, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio. The tour ended in the Sistine Chapel, which was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be. The ceiling was pretty awe inspiring, as was the Last Judgement, but I found it a pretty unpleasant place to be in. People were constantly trying to take pictures and talk, both of which were unallowed, resulting in security to literally yell "NO PICTURES" or "SHHHHHHH" every 10 or 15 seconds. It would be even more unpleasant if there were constantly talking and setting off flash photography, which kind of made me wonder why people can't just respect the rules and admire the artwork for a couple of minutes. Here you have a beautiful room covered in some of the most well known artwork in the world, and the whole aura of the room is ruined by yelling security guards. After the tour we walked briefly through St. Peter's Basilica, also amazing.

The next day we took a free tour of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. It was really interesting because I was talking to my dad afterwards and he was saying that he didn't find them that interesting when he was there, and that all it looked like was a bunch of ruins. It made me realize that you pretty much need a tour guide for these kinds of places to get the full effect. Because we had a tour guide, we got to see places such as where Julius Caesar was killed and where he was cremated. People to this day still but flowers over the spot where he was cremated!

That night was our last night in Rome, which turned out to be an excellent ending to our weekend because Andrea Bocelli was playing a free concert! I'm not much of an opera person, but hearing such a world renown singer perform live was incredible. He sang for almost two hours! I guess that we came on a good weekend, as apparantly he rarely does live performances let alone free ones!

All in all, Rome was one of my favorite places that I've been so far. It's just awesome how you can walk through a city and be surrounded by ruins of one of the most important civilizations in history. If you get a chance to go to Rome, take advantage of all of the tours that you can, it will make your experience there much more memorable!


We started out London on the morning of Tuesday November 4 with a free walking tour of the city ("free" means that you tip them at the end, but it's still a great deal"). The tour was a lot of fun, we went by Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and a lot of other typical London tourist spots. The tour guide was pretty funny and catered the tour to our younger group, leaving out boring facts and dates and replacing them with more interesting stuff. For example, in 1982 a drunk guy climbed the gates of Buckingham Palace (where the Queen resides) and made his way into the palace. He strolled the halls of Buckinham Palace, setting off every single alarm in the building, but the security guards thought it had to be a malfunction so they dismissed it. The guy found his way into the kitchen, where he consumed a royal bottle of wine, and finally made his way upstairs into the Queen's room. He had a drunken conversation with the Queen for about 30 minutes until police showed up to arrest him (yes, it took them 30 minutes to get there). The best part about it is that at the time there were no laws against trespassing on royal property, so he spent one night in jail and the only thing he was charged for was the bottle of wine that he stole.

That night was election night, so we went out to the bars for a little bit to try and catch some coverage. Sadly, all of the bars closed at like 11 (I thought the English could drink?!), so we headed back to the hostel to watch election coverage there. I ended up going to bed around 2:00 am, which kind of sucked because the results for Ohio ended up being announced at like 2:30. Needless to say, I woke up in the morning and Barack Obama was our next president, hooray!

The next day we went to the British Museum, which houses the Rosetta Stone and a lot of other cool artifacts. The Rosetta Stone is huge in real life! Next we made our way to the Globe Theater, which was interesting as well. After that, we were supposed to go on a free tour of older London, that included the London Bridge, Tower of London, and several other sights, but we couldn't find the tour guide so we just decided to go see them on our own without any cool commentary. That night there was a huge soccer match between Manchester United and Celtic, so we headed to a pub near our hostel to get some fish and chips and a couple beers. Katie Taisey from Water Works is studying in London right now, so she met us there to hang out. It was really cool seeing someone from home overseas!

The next morning we didn't have much time before we had to leave for the airport, so while the others went to Hyde Park, I met up with Katie again to go to King's Cross Station to see Platform 9 3/4 (the platform to Hogwarts, of course). It was really funny because there is a sign and everything for the platform with a cart stuck in the wall beneath it, but there is absolutely nothing around it that says anything at all about Harry Potter. After Platform 9 3/4 I went for "tea time" with Katie, even though it wasn't officially tea time. I'm kind of bad at the whole English tea thing. That afternoon I met up with everyone again caught a flight back home to Milan, where I did a load of laundry and slept for 4 hours before having to leave again for Rome. I'll update on Rome tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Dublin was probably my favorite place that I've been so far. It was awesome, not so much in a sight seeing way, but it was simply more of a fun town with beautiful countryside outside of the city.

We arrived there late on Thursday and checked into our hostel (worst hostel ever) a little bit after midnight. We weren't really ready to go to bed yet so we asked the front desk at our hostel where we could find a bar to get a quick drink, to which we were given an odd look and told that no bars with open this late. Seeing as how we were in Dublin, Ireland this didn't make much sense to us, so we ventured off on our own to find a bar. The front desk guy turned out to be an idiot, because a 10 minute walk rewarded us with finding The Temple Bar open and crowded with pints of Guinness flowing. We enjoyed our first pint of Guinness in Dublin and headed home to rest.

The next morning we woke up early for an all day tour for the countryside outside of Dublin. This was probably the highlight of my trip so far, the views were absolutely incredible. The tour went into green hills that were surrounded by mountains and secluded lakes with cliffs overlooking them. I know I said that Cinque Terre was the most beautiful place that I've ever been, but this was beautiful in a different way. Cinque Terre was beautiful land that was commercial and developed land, whereas this was more great views of land that was generally uninhabited. The area that we visited was very close by to where Braveheart was filmed, to give you an idea. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures because I'm an idiot and had brought my camera but left the battery on the charger.

The next couple of days we just did some random sight seeing and pub hopping around Ireland. Another one of the highlights was visiting Trinity College, which was my second choice school to study abroad at, and I totally regret not going there. Not only would Dublin be an awesome city to live in, but the college campus was simply incredible. Everything there was neat and clean and perfect, the buildings were awesome, and it is a great school as well. Bocconi on the other hand is ugly, dirty, and the facilities suck. The entire 2 week trip in general sort of makes me regret going to Milan.

On a lighter note, the last day that we were there we visited the Guinness Storehouse, which was a lot of fun. I had expected it to be a tour of the factory, but it was more of an explanation on how the beer is made, the history of Guinness, and a Guinness museum. Interesting fact: St. James' Gate, where Guinness is brewed, was leased in 1759 by Arthur Guinness for 9000 years at a rate of £45 per year. They've still got a lot of time to brew Guinness. It's also pretty interesting that you can make a complex beer like Guinness from only four ingredients: barley, water, hops, and yeast. The storehouse ended by going up to the gravity bar, a huge bar surrounded by glass that over looks the city of Dublin as well as the Guinness factory.

Not much else to say about Dublin, just that we drank lots and lots of Guinness. That's what you're supposed to do in Dublin though, so mission accomplished. It's funny because before I went to Dublin, I didn't really like Guinness that much. I hadn't really had one since my freshman year of college, so it had been awhile, but once I started drinking it again in Dublin I really enjoyed it. I'll update again tomorrow with London!

Monday, November 10, 2008


So I'm finally back from my two and a half week excursion, and I had a blast. I got to see more in that short period of time than most people will see in their entire life. It's definitely good to be back in Milan though, moving across Europe every couple of days starts to take its toll on you after awhile. Rather than put out a barrage of blog posts, I'm going to try and post a new one everyday for the next couple of days so be on the lookout.

Before I got to Barcelona, everyone told me how much I was going to love it there. Unfortunately for me, it rained two out of the three days that I was there. I'm still fairly confident that if I was there during the summer, I would have loved it. The night life there is supposed to be amazing and the city just had a fun feel to it. For example, the main street outside of our hostel was La Rambla. For a couple hundred meters on La Rambla were these really random pet shops on the street that sold everything from roosters, to turtles, to lizards, to porcupines, and so on. Also on La Rambla was this awesome open air market that was filled mostly with fruit stands (selling amazing fresh fruit juice!) and butchers. The butchers sold crazy meat that you would never find in the US, such as entire pig brains, whole skinned rabbits, and other stuff that would gross out a normal person.

Sadly, due to the rain, our sightseeing was minimal in Barcelona. We went to go see Familia Sagrada, which was one of the most unique looking churches I have ever seen. It almost looked like one of those dripping sand castles that you build at the beach. It cost money to go inside, so while some of our group went in, the rest of us relaxed in Starbucks for over an hour. Sounds boring, but it made our day because there are no Starbucks in Milan!

The last night we were there we all went to the coolest bar I've ever been to. It was a bar that ONLY sold shots (there were hundreds of them), each of which was presented in a different way. For example, for the boy scout shot you were given a marshmallow on a stick. Then, they lit the counter on fire, you roasted your marshmallow over it, dunked it in your shot and ate it, and then took the shot. Another shot did this crazy thing involving fire that created a vacuum that sucked the shot from a saucer into a shot glass. Another one, the "Rambo", involved me putting on a helmet and holding a fake assault rifle while the bartender put on a drill sergeant's fatigue and yelling at me, after which she shoved a shot down my throat that included spices and tabasco sauce. The shots weren't strong at all though, probably less than half the strength of a normal shot.

Probably the coolest part about Barcelona was just hanging out in the hostel. The hostel was my favorite that I've been to so far, but not because it was the nicest. The people staying there and the staff there were a lot of fun, and the hostel itself was just a cozy place to be. All of the furniture was wood and gave the lounge a really rustic look. The people staying there were awesome; one kid had come to Europe in the summer planning to stay for three weeks but he lost his passport. That was three months ago, he decided to just call off fall quarter of school and hang out until he was read to go home. Another guy I met had graduated from college already and worked as a bus boy on a small Greek island all summer. He wanted to make a career out of shaping acoustic guitars. Everyone there was just really free spirited and fun to be around. All of this was topped off by an excellent happy hour that was held at the hostel every night. If anyone is ever going to Barcelona, I highly recommend staying at "Kabul", you won't regret it.

That's about all I have for now, hopefully I'm productive enough tomorrow to write about what a great time I had in Dublin!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I´m not gonna lie, Madrid has been the highlight of my time in Europe so far. My family had a foreign exchange student from Spain when I was in high school, Dani, and I have been staying with his family this past weekend. I also knew his brother Javier before, as he was friends with another one of our former exchange students. During my stay here they have made me feel like I was at home and they are one of the nicest and caring families I have ever met. I´ve been stuffed with some of the most delicious food I´ve ever tasted over the past couple of days, not once coming even close to hungry. They also have one of most beautiful houses that I´ve ever been in.

I arrived on Friday and was picked up at the airport by Javi. When we arrived at his house, I was greeted by Dani and his mom. Immediately I was sat down and fed jamon (spanish ham), a spanish omellete, and a couple of different kinds of fruit. We all talked for awhile, then went to sleep because Dani and I were going out the next morning.

We woke up and I was treated to a breakfast of jamon on toast with olive oil and tomatoes. It was funny because I´ve always heard my brother talk about this from when he visited, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. [A quick note on jamon: it´s nothing like ham in the US, it´s actually illegal in the US. They have a giant pig´s leg in their basement and they go slice off pieces whenever they like. It´s much chewier than we´re used to, almost like more raw and salty bacon. But it´s delicious] After breakfast, Dani and I went to "El Escorial", an old palace where kings of Spain used to live. It was very interesting and the mountains and view that surrounded it was great as well. We went back to Dani´s house to eat paella for lunch, it was easily the best paella I´ve ever had. And if you haven´t noticed yet, this post is going to be mostly about food so get used to it :) That afternoon Dani, Javi, and I went to downtown Madrid to get some sight seeing done. We went to see the royal palace, the opera house, Plaza Mayor, and this cool structure that was donated by the egyptians. That night we went out to get tapas (sort of like appetizers). We ordered fried mushrooms, croquettes, morcilla, and french fries with jamon and eggs on top. Dani wouldn´t tell me what morcilla was until I tried it, which was a good plan because I ended up liking it but I probably wouldn´t have tried it had he told me before hand that it was rice cooked in pigs blood and then put into pig´s intestines. We were supposed to go to a club that night but it didn´t work out so we pretty much just got a bottle of rum and a bottle of whiskey with a couple of his friends and stood around and drank in the streets of Madrid. Sounds boring, but when you´re not allowed to do this in the US it makes for a great time. We came home around 5:00 and I slept like a baby.

We woke up on Saturday and me, Dani, and his girlfriend went to Segovia to eat cuchinillo. If you don´t know what cuchinillo is, it´s pretty much like a baby pig roast and they serve it to your table with pretty much it´s entire body. Search for it on google, you´ll get the idea. I´ll also have pictures of it up on facebook when I get back to Milan. I really enjoyed it, but its not exactly something that I would want to eat everyday. After that we went walking around Segovia to see an aqueduct built by the Romans, the cathedral, and a really cool castle that was complete with a moat and everything. I didn´t end up going going out Saturday night because I was really tired and not really in the mood to stay out till 5:00 am again.

Today (Sunday) we went to go see their mom sing at church, which was really cool. The singing was a lot more lively than what we are used to in American churches. After church, everybody goes to a building right next to the church to have a beer or two and eat some food. Yeah, how awesome is that, having a couple of beers in a church owned building is socially acceptable. Following the post-church beer, we went out to another fantastic lunch. We had some tapas of french fries with eggs, fried mushrooms, and mussels. The main course was fabulous, it was ox that comes out rare and you cook it on a very hot plate that you have in front of you individually.

Tonight I am going to the Real Madrid game with Javi and then tomorrow I catch a plane to Barcelona. I´ve had a great time here, it´s going to be hard to leave tomorrow and go back to the poor college student life!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cinque Terre, Classes, and Another Boring Weekend

Once again, sorry again for not posting anything for awhile, I don't seem to be the greatest at keeping up with this thing. Last Tuesday I took a solo trip to Cinque Terre, which was just about the coolest place that I've been on this Earth so far. It's basically 5 small towns in the mountains on the coast, and you hike between all of them. All of the houses in the towns are brightly colored, and when you look at it from a distance it almost looks like a box of crayos. The hikes provide for absolutely gorgeous sights along the way, most of which were up and down through vineyards. They were pretty physically exhilerating, especially between towns 3-4 and 4-5; both of these were pretty much 50 minutes up stairs and then like 40 down. It was well worth it in the end though, except for smelling like a locker room on the way home. I definitely recommend this to anybody who will be Italy when it's still warm enough to do this type of thing!

Classes seem to be getting better, my Economics of Globalization class is finally starting to get better. We're actually getting into stuff that I've somewhat heard of before, thanks to my partial reading of "Guns, Germs, and Steal" by Jared Diamond. The class makes me wish I had the book here in Italy so that I could finish it. All of my other classes seem to be going good as well, I got my presentation done in International Business Management so I can pretty much relax in that class until finals.

This weekend I stuck around here again, and that was boring, again.

As for now, I'm going to hang out with the Brazilians next door for a cookout that we have every Monday. It's a really good time, just sit around and cookout, listen to Bruno play the guitar, and drink Caipiroska. Two weeks ago, my friend Vini and I mixed up a batch of Caipiroska and everyone said that it was the best batch that they've had all year. I was officially deemed Brazilian after this haha. That's about all I got now, I leave for Madrid, Barcelona, Dublin, London, and possibly Rome on Thursday and I won't be back until November 9 or 10. I'm not sure if I'll be able to update until after that, but hopefully I'll have some good stories for my next post!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Boring Weekend

So this has been the most boring weekend so far.

Friday I woke up and went to Lake Como for the day with Josh and John. The view was beautiful, it's a lake with beautiful houses on it that is surrounded by mountains. Apparently George Clooney has a house on the lake somewhere. Once you get past the view though, there's really nothing that cool there. We took a 2 hour boat ride to Bellagio, got off for a half hour, then got back on the boat for a 2 hour ride back. Friday night I wasn't feeling the best, so I just stayed in and watched The Godfather by myself.

Saturday I still wasn't feeling that great and I ended up laying in bed all day watching episodes of Weeds and reading "Anthem" by Ayn Rand. I ended up finishing Anthem all in one sitting, as it is only like 100 pages. Pretty boring day. Saturday night I headed up to Mark's room to watch the Ohio State game. Our microscopic chance at the Championship got slightly bigger after last night!

Today I woke up to the best part of my weekend so far. I got on facebook and Alvaro, my family's foreign exchange student from Chile when I was in 3rd grade, had friended me. Apparently he is studying in Berlin right now! I wasn't planning on going to Berlin, but if I got the chance to meet up with him that would great! It was so random and unexpected to find out that he's in Europe right now. I haven't seen him since I was like 10 or 11!

Sorry if this was a kind of boring post, but it was a pretty boring weekend. Next weekend I'm going to have to find somewhere fun to go!

Monday, October 6, 2008


Oktoberfest this weekend was a blast! We left on Friday night around 11:00pm, with an expected arrival in Munich at 8:00 am. Everyone was drinking before we got on the bus and continued to drink on the bus until everyone fell asleep and woke up in Munich. It's kind of like magic how that works haha. Once there, my friends that I was with (Jan, Neri, Rebecca, Tiago, Agnes, and Stephen) and I somehow got separated from the group and assumed that we were going in the first big tent that greets you as you walk into Oktoberfest. This ended up being a fatal error, as we were separated from the other Bocconi students for the rest of the day. At 9:00 am they opened the doors to the tents and it was one of the most insane things I've ever witnessed. Imagine several hundred (maybe over a thousand) thirsty Germans trying to get through one doorway and into the tent so that you can get a table. It's really important that you get in and get a table, because if you don't have a table you don't get served! Luckily we got in and seated upstairs in the tent, and settled down to a nice breakfast of 2 German sausages, a pretzel, and 2 liters of beer; it pretty much put a new meaning to the phrase "breakfast of champions". The best part was the pretzels, no pretzel I have ever had even comes close to how good the pretzels are at Oktoberfest. Not to mention that they are like a foot in diameter. Inside the tent was awesome, everyone was standing on tables, singing, and drinking (remember that it's still before noon). Sadly, around noon the upstairs of the tent was apparently reserved, so we got kicked out of the tent.

Around this time, Oktoberfest started to suck for a couple of hours (don't worry, it picks up again later). If you're not in a tent at Oktoberfest, it seriously blows, especially if it's near freezing temperature and raining. Picture a typical state or county fair in the US, but add freezing rain. Not fun! We walked around and tried to get into a couple of tents, but after waiting for around an hour without them letting anyone in at all just quit. Eventually we met up with Jan's friends Kristof and Michi. By this time, everyone was so sick of waiting around in the rain trying to get in a tent that most of our group left to go hang out elsewhere in the city of Munich. I stuck around with Kristof and Michi and found a table outside to get a couple of more liters. Also at our table were a couple of Germans, Felix, Tommy, and Ralph (a 46 year old man who came to drink by himself all day). They were all a lot of fun, and eventually the sun ended up coming out and made things a lot more enjoyable.

At 4:00 pm we decided to make another attempt to get into a tent because around this time everyone that entered early in the morning is drunk and ready to leave. We didn't end up getting in until 6:00 pm, and even then was only because we snuck in behind some of the waitresses through the kitchen and into the tent. Had we gotten caught it wouldn't have been pretty, but it was a risk we were willing to take. The security at Oktoberfest is insane, they don't hesitate to get in your face or aggresively push and shove you. Once we got back in the tent, it was the same thing as it was in the morning but amplified times 10. I decided to head back to the bus at around 9:00. I ended up getting lost in Munich by myself and had a freakout moment for about a half hour, until I called Zach to help me out. Zach was in no state to help me, so he directed me to Adam. Eventually I met up with Adam, catching up with a bunch of the Brazilians from the residence hall along the way. We went back to the hotel, woke up in the morning and had breakfast. The breakfast was amazing, they had fresh fruit, eggs, sausage, bacon, and real coffee! It's been so long since I've had an actual cup of coffee as opposed to espresso, and it was sooooo good. At noon we got back on the bus to head home. All things considered, Okbtoberfest was an amazing weekend and I'm so glad that I went.

Total Oktoberfest liter count= 8 or 9 (cut me some slack, everyone lost count eventually)

Friday, October 3, 2008


Last weekend I went to Venice and it was a great time. I went with Adam, Erica, and Emily (all from OSU) as well as Alyssa (Illinois) and Kristen (Wisconsin). We woke up at 5:30 am so that we could catch a 7:00 am train, and arrived in Venice around 10:30 am. We walked around for a little bit and sat down at a restaurant to get some lunch. Everyone got pizza, which turned out to be just OK. After lunch we went on a gondola ride (mandatory in Venice!) and that was a lot of fun. It ended up being like €13 or €14 a person, and it was worth every penny. The rest of the afternoon we just sort of walked around Venice and enjoyed the town, going in all of the shops they have. Venice is known for it's glass goods, all of which were really cool. Adam and I were in this one shop and they had this amazing glass chessboard with really intricate glass pieces, one side being angels and the other side devils. Sadly, it was so cool that they could charge people €2200 for it, leaving a poor college kid like me empty handed. Adam and I also got the best hot chocolate I've ever had at a candy store, it was pretty much straight melted chocolate! My camera was out of battery for the trip, so I have no fun pictures to post.

The rest of this week has been pretty boring, just going to classes and whatnot. I had a presentation yesterday in my International Business Management class that took a lot of work, but it paid off because I think that we did really well. Economics of Globalization is turning out to be A LOT harder than I thought it was going to be, everything that she talks about is pretty much over my head. I'm pretty sure that it will only be like that for the materialy we're covering right now, so it should get easier later in the course. Intro to the Legal System is boring and easy.

I'm beginning to book flights for my 2 week break. Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I'll be going to Madrid, then Barcelona, followed by Dublin and London. So far I have from Barcelona to Dublin booked and Dublin to London. The only flights I have left to book are from Milan to Madrid and London to Milan. I'll be taking a train from Madrid to Barcelona. I also just booked a trip to go to Amsterdam from November 13-17. It's a lot of money, but I figure that I'm not going to be back here for awhile so it's worth it!

As for now, I leave to go to Munich for Oktoberfest in 3 hours, so I'll be back sometime next week with some crazy stories from that!

Monday, September 22, 2008

AC Milan, Pisa, and Florence

So last Thursday I went to the AC Milan vs. Zurich soccer match, and it was a ton of fun. AC Milan won 3-1. I went by myself through a program for exchange students at Bocconi, and I ended up meeting a guy from Argentina and another from Belgium and ended up sitting together during the game. We all sat in the fan section "Curva Sud", what would be equivalent to Block O or the Dawg Pound. I was pretty surprised at the size of the crowds, less than half of the stadium was filled. It was interesting seeing the differences and similarities between crazy American sports fans and crazy Italian sports fans. They definitely sing and yell a whole lot more than we do, sometimes it seemed like they were more focused on singing and clapping than they were on the game. In the US when you go to a sports event, almost every other person has a beer in their hand. I was kind of shocked because I saw probably only three beers the entire game; instead of beers everyone, literally EVERYONE, was smoking hash during the game (including the 14 year old kid next to me). I wasn't really expecting that at all, and if you're wondering, I didn't join in on the festivities (I'm a good boy Mom!) The only thing I was really disappointed about was that they didn't put Ronaldinho until the last 15 minutes. I guess they didn't want him to get injured for the AC Milan vs. Inter match that is next Sunday.

The next morning I was out of the residence hall at 6:00 am to hit up Pisa, followed Florence later that day for the remainder of the weekend. I went with Charlie from Illinois and Lisa from British Columbia, both students from the Bocconi exchange program. Pisa was awesome, but it was pretty much what everyone says it is: you get off the train, go and see the leaning tower, and that's about all there is. It was still awesome seeing the tower, we pretty much just got lunch, saw the tower, and took the typical pictures that you have to take at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Florence on the other hand was amazing. It is such a beautiful city, with so much art and fun stuff to do. At night, there are entertainers and street bands playing in just about every plaza. During the day there are open air markets everywhere with just about anything you could ever want, from scarves to bags to jerseys to watches, all of which you can barter for. The biggest open air market in the city seemed like it went on forever. We also went and saw the David statue at the Accademia gallery, which was simply incredible to see in real life. We ended up going to the Uffizi Gallery too, also incredible. The Uffizi Gallery houses paintings by Botticelli, da Vinci, Caravaggio, and other famous artists. The most famous painting in gallery is "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli, it was huge in real life! If you don't recognize the painting by the name, look it up, I guarantee you've seen it before. My personal favorite part of Florence though was the Piazza del Michelangelo. It's the plaza that you have to walk up a ton of steps to, but once you get up there it looks over all of Florence and the view is insane. You can see all of Florence and the hills of Tuscany rolling behind it. We went the first night, saw the city all lit up at night, and had a bottle of wine on some steps overlooking Florence (there's no open container laws in Italy). The next day we went back again to see it during the day and it was better than at night. We caught an 8:30 train to come back this morning. We were supposed to go on a wine tour of Chianti before we left, but I spent way too much money over the weekend and decided that something had to be sacrificed. All in all it was an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

F1 Monza and Classes

Once again, sorry that it's taken a couple days to update, I've been busy with classes and sorting some other stuff out. The F1 race was awesome! We left at 6:00 am to catch a 7:00 am train from central station. It was probably unnecessary to get there this early, as the race didn't start until 2:00 pm, but it's a good thing we did because it was a disaster getting into that place. From where we got off the train station to where I thought I was supposed to redeem my online ticket voucher was probably an hour walk. Once we finally got there I was told that was not where I was supposed to redeem it and they directed me to another ticket booth. That booth told me to go to another booth and so on, and I finally grew impatient. I was told that they didn't know where I was supposed to redeem it and they couldn't really help me. I was on the verge of buying another ticket (another €70), when one of the girls we were with suggested to try one last place, and that ended being where to get it. Luckily, everyone I was with was really impatient through the whole thing.

When we finally got in we settled in on a set of bleachers to watch some porsche racing before the actual event. At 2:00 pm the race started, and these cars were incredible. We were seated right after a curve that the cars took at 105 mph, on a straight away that the cars would eventually reach 225 mph by the end of. The sound they made was one of the loudest things I've ever heard, louder than any concert I've ever been to. I ended up witnessing F1 history, as the guy that won it was only 21 years old, making him the youngest person to ever win a Grand Prix. After the race they let you go on the track and walk around, which was probably the best part. I got to stand on the starting line and see some of the cars up close. The event was really interesting, and much different than Nascar. The track wasn't circular and boring, there is elevation change in the track, and the cars go much faster. The cars in particular were amazing, each car is so intricate and different from the others. In general, it sort of seemed like a classier version of Nascar (sorry Nascar fans) that most of Europe is crazy about.

This week I finally got into the swing of my classes. I'm taking Intro to the Legal System, Economics of Globalization, and International Business and Management. Intro to the Legal System seems like it's going to be very boring, but the latter two mentioned seem like they're going to be really interesting. It's awesome learning about subjects like globalization while abroad, you kind of get a more worldly view on it that I don't think you would get in the states.

The next couple days are going to be a lot of fun, tomorrow night I'm going to the AC Milan vs. Zurich soccer match and this weekend I'll be going to Florence. I'll try and keep you guys updated on those in a more timely manner than I've been doing!

Starting Line at F1 Monza

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Navigli Canals

Last night we headed down to a place called Navigli for apéritivo. Other people had been going out to get apéritivo all the time, but this was my first time and now I understand why they were going all the time. It's a really cool concept that I think would work well in somewhere like the Short North in Columbus. You go to a bar and order a drink, and you get a free appetizer buffet with it. For example, at the bar we went to I had a cachaça and got a plate of appetizers that included pasta with tuna, mini pizza, meat and cheese, as well as some bread with prosciutto. All of this ended up costing €6, which isn't bad at all considering that I was full enough afterwards that I didn't need to go home and make dinner. The atmosphere really made it, as Navigli is located right next to a canal with a river running between all of the bars.

As I had mentioned before, I was supposed to go to Cinque Terre today. I woke up this morning at 5:00 am to go, but I checked the weather and it was supposed to rain all day. Everyone talks about how beautiful the city is and I was really looking forward to seeing it on a nice day. I really wasn't looking forward to hiking for 6 hours in the rain, so given both of these reasons I decided to save it for another day. Everyone else still ended up going so hopefully it worked out for them, I'm interested to see how it was. I figure that we still have a good while before it gets too cold to go hiking, so I'll definitely still have time to go check it out.

I was pretty proud of myself tonight because I cooked my first legitimate meal since I've been here. Every other night I've just made pasta with canned/bottled sauce or boxed risotto, but tonight I got sick of that and wanted to try something different. I ended up making a variation on my favorite pasta dish that my dad makes at home: ricotta cheese and spinach tortellini (my dad uses tri-colored rotini) in olive oil with garlic, onions, cherry tomatoes, and some random spices that I could find. Pretty simple, but it's so good! I've watched my dad make it so many times that it wasn't too difficult to make a rough translation of what he makes. Along with a glass of red wine, it was a delicious deviation from the basic stuff that I've been making. It reminded me of home too, which was a good feeling!

Tonight I have the USC game at 2:00 in the morning, which will last until about 6:00 in the morning. Coincidentally, I have to leave for the Formula 1 race at about 6:00 in the morning so we'll see if I end up staying up all night. The Formula 1 race should be fun, it's supposed to rain which means that cars will be sliding everywhere at 200 mph.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sick in Italy :(

Sorry that I haven't really posted anything new lately, I've been sick and nothing really that cool has happened lately. On Tuesday night I wasn't feeling the greatest but I went out to a club anyways until 3:00 in the morning, even though my first class of the year was the next morning at 8:45. Needless to say, that didn't help me feeling better and made me feel a lot worse. Keep in mind though that coming home at 3:00 am is considered early here, most people stay out until around 5:00. The club was a lot of fun though, it was €10 to get in and that included 2 drinks. I ended up getting 2 vodka Red Bulls, which were served in 12 oz glasses with ice and were about half Red Bull and half vodka. You do the math, it was a pretty good time. Going back to my 8:45 class though, it was a lot like the first day of class in the US (syllabus day!) Last night I ended up taking it easy and ended up feeling worse today. Today I had a healthy diet of Dayquil, Zyrtec, and Mucinex, and am finally starting to feel better tonight.

Hopefully all this rest pays off though because I've got a big weekend ahead of me. On Saturday, we're waking up early to catch a 7:00 am train to Cinque Terre, a city on the western coast of Italy that has 5 small villages that you hike between. It ends up being about a 6 hour hike and it's supposed to be beautiful. Then, on Sunday I'm leaving again to catch a 7:00 am train to go to a Formula 1 race that is like a half hour away. Everyone here is crazy about Formula 1 racing, so I figured that I better check it out to see what all the buzz is about. Hopefully I'll be able to catch some of the OSU vs. USC game a couple of hours before the train though, as it doesn't start until 2:00 am on Sunday here!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mi Residenza

People have been asking me what my room looks like, so here ya go:

My Bed

Desk Area

Tiny Kitchen

Back Patio

I have to share the kitchen and back patio with a suite mate, who still has to move in. I will also share a bathroom with him, but I couldn't get a decent picture of it. There's a couple of big kitchens on our floor that have more room and stoves that we can use, so that's great too. Hopefully this give's everyone a decent idea of where I'm living!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

52% Homemade Romanian Liquor

So the highlight of the night again has to do with alcohol haha. A kid from my program named Paul from Romania brought out some family made liquor that was 52% alcohol and made from plums. It was actually really good. The best part about it was how he kept insisting to us that it was healthy for you. According to him "If you get sting by bee or wasp, and drink a bit of this, you will not die." He also kept insisting that if you drink enough it will make you sleepy. I hate to break it to you Paul, but I think if you drank enough of that you might just get sleepy enough to pass out for the night haha. On a good year he said that his family makes up to 4000 litres, on a bad year only about 300 litres. So even on a bad year, they produce enough for just under a litre a day. Not bad!

Not much else is new, I've been having to sit through a boring Italian class for 6 hours everyday. It's seriously excruciating, the teacher goes so slow and it's all stuff that I've seen in Italian 101. Plus when I have at least a half hour transit to a class that is already 6 hours a day, it put a serious dent in my time that could be spent seeing what Milan has to offer.

On another note, I finally tried Italian gelato today. Amazing! I had a sort of vanilla gelato that was swirled with cherry. The only ice cream I've had that's better is from Jeni's in Columbus. Gelataria's are pretty much everywhere in Milan, but they're nowhere near as common as a "Tobacchi". A "Tobacchi" is a cafe that is seriously on just about every corner and only sells espresso, cigarettes, and gum. I swear that Italians run on coffee and gum. You can't find regular coffee though, only espresso. I've heard that you can order an "americano" at some places, but all they would do is give you a double shot of espresso in a tall glass and fill the rest up with hot water. One thing I still need to try is a "caffe corretto" which literaly means "corrected coffee". The funny thing about it is that a "corrected coffee" is coffee mixed with whiskey. Yes, this is a common drink in Italy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Viva L'Italia!

So I'm finally in Italy! The flight over was pretty uneventful, other than my flight from Cleveland to Detroit almost being delayed, which would have offset all of my other flights. On the way from Detroit to Amsterdam I sat next to a kid who was probably 19 or 20 and came here by himself all the way from Belgium just to go Cedar Point. He went there 7 days in a row! I thought that was pretty crazy stuff. On that same flight I noticed that two girls from my program, Erica and Emily, were also on the flight. That made me feel a lot better because I wouldn't have to figure out how to get from the airport to my room by myself, which turned out to be an adventure in itself.

After getting off the plane we took a 40 minute train ride to Milan. Once in Milan, we had to take a couple more trains to get to our rooms, which was very uncomfortable because we were carrying around all of our heavy luggage in hot and humid underground stations, occasionally having to squeeze into an even hotter elevator that was way too small to fit all of us. The coolest part was when we were sort of lost and we asked where to go. We were told to carry all of our luggage up two flights of stairs, which didn't sound too appealing, but we decided to take the stairs instead of finding an elevator.This turned out to be an awesome move, because at the top of the stairs we were rewarded with this sight:

Piazza Duomo! If you look closely at the top, there's a huge polychrome statue of the Madonna. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

My room is really nice, I have a back patio that's almost like my own little backyard. Everyone else already has a roommate, but I don't have one yet so that's kind of a bummer. For the next 7 or 8 days though I'll be stuck in Italian class that is 4 or 6 hours everyday, not the funnest thing in the world. The best part about Italy so far though is definitely the people in my program. There are about 12 of us from Ohio State, and they're all really cool, but I didn't really know what to expect as far as who else would be here. It turns out that there are students from all over the US (Wisconsin, USC, NYU, Boston College, etc.) and students from all over the world. I've met people from Germany, Brazil, Istanbul, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, you name the country and there's probably someone here from there. Last night everyone hung out and drank on a huge patio that is in our dorms. By the end of the night, a kid named Bruno from Brazil busted out a guitar and everyone was singing and dancing. At one point we had a group of about 15 of us, from all different countries, in a circle belting out "I Will Survive". It was pretty much amazing. Then the police showed up and started yelling in Italian that none of us could understand, so we all peaced out and went back to individual room's to keep drinking. It's looking like it will turn out to be an awesome trip!

Oh yeah, and through the university we get a trip to Oktoberfest for €125! How awesome is that?