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!