Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad Fall 2012

Lebanon Valley College

Home Stateside Once Again!

First of all, I would like to appologize for taking to long after the end of the semester to post my last blog that I had promised.  My only intent was to see the effects of the culture shock when returning to the United States.  Everything that I have experience has been so different.

So in case you don’t remember, I had said in my last blog that I was traveling to Rome my last weekend to see a Roma vs. Fiorintino football match (soccer game).  I ended up going with one of my roommates and a friend of his that finished her semester early (she was studying in Southern Africa).  So the three of us ventured off to Rome for our last weekend in Europe.  The whole weekend was emotional to say the least.  Two other friends came with us, to make five total, however, they just came for the sights of Rome.  The soccer game….oh my the soccer game…I have never seen such an event in my life.  The game was easily the COOLEST event I participated in while abroad!  Simply the atmostphere of the stadium just electrifies you, and you feel part of the team, part of the home crowd, part of ROMA!!!  Since soccer is so popular in Europe it is understandable why people get so worked up over what seems like a simple goal.  However, during each Roma goal, every single person in the stadium, minus the Fiorintino fans, would leap out of their seats and erupt in applause.  Please believe me when I say that you have never felt more alive than when you are surrounded by Italians cheering for their favorite “calcio” team.  Anyway, that was such an experience that I seriously have trouble typing exactly how I felt about it.

Rome was a very nice city.  It is simply a tourist city, obviously.  I really did enjoy the sights, however I did not enjoy the vast numbers of people.  The sights in Rome are rather trademark of Italy as well as rather self explanitory.  Therefore, I won’t waste time telling you about sights that have been talked about thousands of times.

I will simply move on to my last section of the semester, how I felt about my entire experience while abroad.  Studying abroad was simply the most terrifying, exciting, life-changing, eye-opening, wonderful experience of my life.  I understand that others before me have said the exact same thing, but I now understand why, because it is true!!!  I was scared because when first arriving, I knew very little Italian and hearing others speak it around me made me feel very uncomfortable, but excited to learn it as fast as I could.  The whole idea of being in another culture took a while to sink in with me.  After about three weeks of living in Italy, I was able to understand the daily routine that most Italians practiced.  My Italian became better and I was able to interact with other Italians on a daily basis.  My classes, especially Italian, really helped me with the Italian culture and what to expect of things and what not to expect.  Being involved with such a small school like Umbra Institute allowed me to make so many new friends, rather than just fit into a mold of many students.  My class only had around 80 students and I know that I became good friends with at least 50 of them.  Having new friends helped my experience because they were able to help me through the rough times and they made the good times even better.  I know that I will have some friends that I will keep for life, especially some of my roommates.  I am so pleased with everything that I learned while studying in Italy.  I know this is a huge commitment and everything seems so far out of reach.  I say that if you are on the fence about studying abroad, wherever you choose, you should!  I guarentee that you will not find another experience elsewhere, like the one you will have while abroad!  I have made some life-long friends, learned some valuable information about other cultures, and learned even more about myself.  Don’t waste time thinking about studying abroad, JUST DO IT!

Thanks again,

Alexander Garlick

Hampstead

Hello again from London,

Last night I attended my first ever pub crawl. Pub Crawls are very popular in London especially around holidays. The crawl I went to was organized by the club rugby team that I have been playing for since I arrived in London. Every year the Hampstead Rugby Club organizes a big pub crawl to raise money for charity. This year we raised money for a children’s hospital.

The pub crawl was a Christmas themed event where everyone wore a costume that related to the holidays in some way. The crawl consisted of 8 different pubs which ended at The White Horse which is a local pub and our club house. Signing up for the crawl took place at the first pub. Once all of the money was collected we proceeded to the next pub and eventually made our way through the list of pubs. Just before we left each pub we made sure to sing different Christmas Carols as a large group. We were able to raise a lot of money and really helped the local community.

Switzerland

Hello again from London,

Last week I visited Switzerland which I must say was probably one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to in my life. In addition to the aesthetics of the area, Switzerland was also one of the coldest places I have ever been to. While I was there, the temperature dipped into the lower teens. At one point it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit with 18 mph winds. It was so COLD!

While I was visiting the beautiful mountains country I seized the opportunity to go on a mountain tour. When I first started the tour it was in the middle of a blizzard which made it very difficult to see and take good pictures. However, once I reached the top of Mount Pilatus the weather began to clear up. On the way back down the mountain I was able to shoot some of the most fantastic photos. If you are in Europe make sure you visit Switzerland it’s an amazing place!

 

December Already!

So it has been a while since my last entry. Classes have been pretty crazy lately with papers, exams, and presentations. I only have 10 short days left in this amazing city! I have been trying to make the best of them and really connect with the Italian friends that I have made over recent weeks. I have not done any traveling since Copenhagen, but I am planning on traveling to Rome this coming weekend with some friends to see a soccer game. Rome is playing against Florence, which should be a good match. I will stay behind after the match to see the rest of Rome since I haven’t even been there yet! I’m currently in the last week of classes. I have my Italian final exam this Friday and then I have two finals next week. I am also participating in an art show with my photo class where we will present some of our best photos. I am looking forward to the last days. I will make sure to write one last entry before I leave to give my final thoughts and feelings on this amazing journey.

Till next time,
Alex

Exploring London

Hello Again from London,

Exploring London is one of my favorite things to do. I just grab my camera, look at a tube map, and plan my route. Although there are many amazing places in London, my absolute favorite place to take pictures is by the London Bridge tube stop. Obviously one of the main attractions here is the London Bridge, but if you walk around you can see the Tower Bridge. Not only does this area have famous landmarks, but it also is surrounded by beautiful buildings and amazing architecture.

Another fun place to visit is by the Westminster Tube stop. This is where Big Ben and the London Eye are located. There are many things to do and see in this area of London. My advice is when you are done with the touristy things just hop on a bus and go to some random place to explore. As long as you have your Oyster Card and a fully charged camera you are bound to have a fantastic time!

Shopping in London

Hello everyone,

Shopping in London is amazing. There are thousands and thousands of stores here. One of my favorite places to shop is Oxford Street. Containing over 300 shops and stretching over 1.5 miles, there is something for everyone on Oxford Street. I think that Oxford Street is comparable to Fifth Avenue in NYC. Although some of the stores on Oxford Street are very expensive, you can still find reasonably priced stores.

My favorite store on Oxford Street is Primark. If you are trying to find a store that sells cute clothes for an affordable price this is the place to go. They sell everything from shoes and clothes to luggage and home decorations. The best time to go to this store is early in the morning right when it opens on week days. If you go to Primark on a Saturday afternoon, you will wait a minimum of 30 minutes to try on up to 8 items. But all of this can be avoided by shopping in the morning on a week day. Regardless of how long you have to wait in line to try things on it is worth it. Primark has the best clothes for the best prices.

However, shopping in London cannot be confined to Oxford Street alone. There are so many different stores throughout the city it is impossible to list everywhere. The best way to find new places to shop is to hop on a random double decker bus and get off when you spot an interesting store that catches your attention. In fact, this is my favorite way to discover new places to shop. Finding new stores throughout London is an adventure I suggest you embark on one day.

London Markets

Hello again from London,

Recently, I have been going to a lot of different markets throughout the city. The first market that I went to was called the Borough Market by the London Bridge tube stop. Historical documents suggest that this market has been around since 1014. The Borough Market consists of many different street vendors that sell a wide variety of food. While I was there, I bought a fresh bunch of carrots and strawberries that were amazing! The food was really cheap and the market had a good atmosphere.

So far, The Spitalfields Market by Liverpool Street has been my favorite market. This market sells clothes, crafts, food, artwork, jewelry, and many other things. I liked the Spitalfields Market because it had so many good vendors and good prices.  Also, this market was inside which was nice because it was raining when I went. To warm up from the cold weather, I bought a hot chocolate from one of the food vendors while I was there. The hot chocolate was made using a secret family recipe and as a result was the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life. I am not sure how they made it but the sign said they used authentic Belgium chocolate. After purchasing the incredible hot chocolate, I continued to walk around the large indoor market and look at the different stalls. Overall, I really enjoyed going to the Spitalfields Market.

Home from Denmark

So in my last blog I had explained that I was going to Denmark this past weekend.  I can honestly say that this was my favorite trip.  We started out catching a 4:18 am bus, followed by a 5:30 am train, and a 7:00 am train.  All which was neccessary to catch a 10:00 am flight out of Rome.  We had one stop in Amsterdam, then we finally landed in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Copenhagen is an awesome city.  There isn’t as much to see as a bigger city such as Paris, but it is a different type of city altogether, which yields its own beauty.  We walked around the city for the remainder of Friday evening and most of the day Saturday.  Then we changed into our Sensation White outfits, which as the title hints, must be all white.  The show lasted from 7 pm to 3 am.  Our group wanted to make it the whole way through the show so we didn’t go until around 9:30 pm.  The show was amazing!  I have never experienced anything like this before.  The music was really good, but could have been better.  The light show was phenomenal!  After leaving the show at 3 am we had to wait to catch a taxi, which was a task in itself since most taxis would not pick up people in all white, due to a policy they had.  I was able to flag a generous taxi driver down and we set off for the train station.  We took a 4 am train to the Copenhagen airport for a 6 am flight.  Sunday consisted of us traveling all day long to get back to Perugia.  We finally arrived in Perugia at around 6 pm with much relief.

This coming weekend is going to be a relatively relaxed weekend.  I have pictures to take for my photo assignment and a few papers that need writing before they are put off too long.  Sunday is my birthday so hopefully I will go out to dinner with my friends.  I have a feeling they are planning something but I don’t know.  I guess we will find out soon enough.

Till next time,

Alex

ps. I have a video of Sensation on my facebook page if anyone is curious as to what Sensation looks like.

Post-Fall Break

So, I returned to Perugia this past Sunday after traveling to Barcelona, Paris, and Switzerland. I really do not know how to explain my experience except that it was once in lifetime. I was able to see so many things that I would not have otherwise been able to see.

Barcelona was a very neat city. The main avenue where most tourists walk is very cool, with shops lining the street and people crowding the center walkway. We took the opportunity of a free guided walking tour. We learned a lot about the historical significance of Barcelona and how it has changed throughout history. The port/waterfront is by far the best part of Barcelona in my opinion. It is what I envision when I now think of Barcelona. The pier has these beams on both sides that stand 25 feet or so above the ground and run the whole way along the pier, very cool! The weather was relatively nice, except for some rainfall during one of the nights we were there.

Paris was our next stop. We were required to take a taxi from the airport to our hostel (with a hefty picetag of course) and found ourselves immersed in Paris traffic. I will be completely honest when I say that I was certain we would be involved in a fender-bender, but our taxi driver clearly knew what he was doing. We walked around the city the first day, but the second day we decided to get on a double-decker tour bus so we would be able to see all of the important monuments. We visited the Eiffel Tower, which is simply breathtaking. Pictures do not do it justice because it is simply THAT massive! Then we visited the Church of Notre Dame, which was very cool. The rest of our day was spent walking up and down the main street of Paris, just window shopping and going in any stores that caught our eye.

They say ‘save the best for last,’ and in this case, I completely agree. Switzerland was my favorite stop on our excursion. After arriving in Geneve by plane, we took the Golden Pass scenic train to Interlaken. I have never seen so many amazing sights as I did on this two and a half hour train ride. The mountains are very secluded, hence why they are so beautiful. The few houses and villages are decorated in traditional swiss fashion, which just added to the charm of our ride. Interlaken is a very small town. We were able to walk anywhere and it only took us maybe 30 minutes to walk to our hostel from the train station. We walked throughout the “tourist” area with all it’s shops and restaurants. Interlaken is an extremely quaint town, but it is not for the traveler with shallow pockets. There were multiple watch stores boasting watches going for thousands of francs and the most expensive watch we saw was 54,500 francs! Obviously not the place to shop for a student studying abroad. Nevertheless, Interlaken gave me some of the best memories that I will always keep with me.

All in all, our trip was a huge success. We saw a lot of different cultures and how they interact with foreigners and how their way of life is completely different from that in the states. Even being so far from home, we even indulged in some american fast food, just to get a small taste of America while abroad. I only have one more trip planned for my semester. This coming weekend I am going to Copenhagen, Denmark with some friends to see the Sensation Source of Light music show. I am looking forward to that and then it will only be a short six weeks until I am on my way back to America.

Till next time,
Alex
ps. My photos are not cooperating with me so I will put the link to my photos on my facebook page if anyone is interested.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.534023413280917.140234.100000197908053&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=551757754840816&set=a.534023413280917.140234.100000197908053&type=3&theater

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.534023413280917.140234.100000197908053&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=551760884840503&set=a.534023413280917.140234.100000197908053&type=3&theater