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.