Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad Fall 2012

Lebanon Valley College

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

Fall Break Pre-Departure

My group of friends near the Duomo in Florence (I'm on the far left)

So the past two weeks have been crazy with midterm exams so I’ve been a little preoccupied with my classes. However, fall break is finally here! To make the break even better, Eurochocolate started this past Friday. Eurochocolate is a huge chocolate festival in Perugia that gets thousands of tourists from all over the world! There are hundreds of stands boasting their chocolate, claiming theirs is “the best.” This event truely is a sight that must been seen to believe. My friends and I are leaving for fall break today. We are going to Barcelona for two days, Paris for two days, and Geneva for three days. We were able to find flights for each stop, totaling only 110 euro for all flights. Since I will be traveling, I will not be able to blog, but as soon as I get back I will tell all about my travels!

Till next time!

Transportation in London

Hello again from London,
When most people think about London they tend to picture red double decker buses and telephone booths. From what I have noticed the telephone booths are more of decorations then for actual use because of cell phones. On the other hand, the double decker buses are fully functional and an essential part of London’s transportation service.

There are many different ways to get around in London such as; taxis, walking, buses, bikes, mopeds, and the tube just to name a few. As far as public transportation goes, you can take the tube (subway), bus, or rent a Barclays bike. In my personal opinion I think that the tube is the fastest way to get around. This is partly because I am way too scared to rent a Barclays bike and the buses seem to take forever. For all of you that do not know, a Barclays bike is a bike that you can rent from a docking station by using your credit card. There are many Barclays bike docking stations throughout the city of London and you can rent a bike from any one and then return it to any docking station. Although, I know how this works I am still too scared to rent one of these bikes because I am not used to the cars driving on the opposite side of the road.

Anyways, the main way that I travel is by bus and tube. The transportation here is really easy to use especially if you have an oyster card. An oyster card is a plastic card that’s the same size as a credit card. You can either pay as you go by putting money on your card or you can just buy a weekly, monthly, or yearly pass for specific zones in London. I am centrally located in London so I have been buying a weekly pass for zones one and two. This allows me to travel on the tube within zones one and two and ride the bus anywhere in London. All I need to do is swipe my oyster card to get on the bus and on the tube. Overall, I would say that London has one of the best public transportation systems that I have ever used.

Another amazing weekend!

So this past weekend I traveled to Florence on Friday with my History of Italian Foods class and to Siena on Saturday with my Contemporary Italy class. Both experiences were amazing! Friday we walked around Florence just taking in the sights, yet again for myself, and then we proceeded to go to a chocolate tasting. Easily some of the best chocolate I’ve had in my life! We tried 4 different kinds of chocolate ranging from dark chocolate to creamy chocolate with a slight peanut butter taste. Afterwards we went to Chef Alessi’s restaurant for a 5-course meal centered around old Italian dishes that are not prepared very often in the present day. We enjoy a pasta with walnuts and ginger, which had a very different taste but nevertheless enjoyable. Next was a dish that consisted of potatoes cut up to look like small pieces of pasta (an attempt to get Italians to eat potatoes, which were the ‘poor people’s food’ during the renaissance). The sauce that coupled the potato dish was fantastic! So creamy and just full of flavor! This was our classes favorite dish. The third course was the first of two boar dishes, the first having a chocolate-based sauce, and the second having a peppercorn-based sauce. The first boar dish was amazing! The meat was so tender and everything worked together in harmony. The second boar dish was excellent in my opinion, which was rather opposite of most of my classmates, who do not enjoy strong pepper like I do. The last dish was dessert, which was a small piece of pie coupled with a dollop of pudding. This dessert was so light and airy, but still sweet and filling. It had the perfect balance of flavors and textures and really helped close to an amazing meal.

Saturday I had to get up early and catch a train to Siena so I could meet with my Contemporary Italy class. We visited the chuch of San Domenico and saw the severed finger and head of Saint Catherine, which isn’t the most pleasant sight first thing during the visit. We then learned about the different contradas of Siena and the Palio, which is a huge horse race held every summer between the contradas. It basically represents who is the best contrada and gives the winner bragging rights for the year, however it is taken extremely seriously within Siena. We visited the museum of the eagle contrada and learned of their specific history, which was an amazing feeling to be apart of something that is so entwined into their culture. The rest of our time in Siena was spent just soaking in the sights of the city and seeing how important the Palio is to each contrada (Please my pictures on my facebook page. The pictures from Siena truely represent how important the Palio is to the residents of Siena).

Sunday was spent doing homework, washing clothes and dishes, and making lunch. I was lucky enough to have a friend make dinner for me while we streamed the NFL network from her laptop :) I miss not being able to watch football on a decent TV. The week has gotten off to a good start and I have my Italian midterm exam Thursday. This means that I will have my eyes deep within the pages of my notes going over yet again all the verbs, grammer, nouns, and rules that have been haunting my dreams since I arrived (Haha!). Wish me luck!

Till next time!

American vs British Vocabulary

During the past two weeks I have learned many different English words and phrases. I have been trying to use my new British vocabulary as often as I can to fit in with the locals. However, transitioning from my American phrasing has been really challenging. Although it has been difficult, I really enjoy expanding my vocabulary to gain a better understanding of the English culture. To illustrate some of the different words and phrases English people use I have put together a translated list of American and British words. In future blogs I will try to use my new English vocabulary to give you a better sense of the British culture.