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

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

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

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!

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!

Assisi

I know it’s been a few days since I last wrote a blog entry, but I’ve been pretty busy with class and quizzes. This past weekend I visited Assis on Saturday to see the Tomb of St. Francis and the local shops and restaurants. The views from the top of Assisi, which sits atop a large hill, were absolutely stunning! If possible, you should check out the Assisi photos on my facebook page (the photos I take are too high of quality to insert in my blog). When we got back from Assisi, a group of 5 of us went out to dinner and enjoyed a fantastic meal. I had 4 cheese gnoochi for the first course and I had steak for the second course. Easily the best meal I’ve had in Perugia so far!!! Today was spent relaxing and finishing homework for tomorrow. I will try to update in the next few days. Till then!

Alex

My Weekend: 9/23/12

So this past weekend I went to Bologna and Florence with six other students from the Umbra program. We had to wake up at 5:00 am to catch a taxi to take us to the train station. It was rather neat calling for the cab because I was able to use the Italian that I have been learning in class and actually perform a useful task. It felt very rewarding and reassured me that I am learning and getting better at absorbing the Italian language and culture. We arrive in Bologna and I was surprised to see that it was more modern than I anticipated. There were a lot of businesses and stores which housed everything that one could imagine. We walked through this huge market that had food, clothes, handbags, shoes, and a variety of trinkets. We walked around the city to just get a feel for how different it was from Perugia. We were able to see the two towers of Bologna, one of which, is leaning. We went to the Tempio San Giacomo Maggiore, which is a huge church with beautiful artwork and just everything that represents Roman Catholic religion. Some other sites that we saw include a memorial for a bombing that occurred in Bologna, a huge fountain portraying the god Neptune, and the ruins of Bologna. All of these were very cool and worth seeing. For lunch we decided and eat at this restaurant called Bluca Manzoni. The waiter was extremely generous and he encouraged to use only Italian, which we did. I had tortellini ostello, which is based on a famous Bolognese chef. It was out of this world!!! So delicious! The owner of the restaurant even came up to us and conversed with us and gave us two pamphlets on Bologna so we wouldn’t have any trouble getting around the city. The rest of the time in Bologna was spent shopping (you must understand that our group consisted of two guys and five girls, so of course we shopped).

Our train ride from Bologna to Florence was very nice and rather short. We arrived in Florence in the dark, which is always tougher to navigate around the city. Having a vast background in orientation and maps, I was designated the guide/leader of the group. We find the hostel and check in, but unfortunately it was full for the second night so we did some research for another hostel within walking distance.  We booked another hostel and decided to go out for a little and found a nice place called The Fish Pub, with great music and a good drink menu.  Saturday we get up and start heading across the city to the next hostel, me leading everyone through the maze called Florence.  Unfortunately, this hostel does not exist and we are forced to just come home Saturday night after seeing everything.  The first thing we went to was the Uffizi, which is a huge collection of marble busts and religious paintings.  It was a rather big hassle to get inside because it was so crowded with tourists.  Nevertheless, it was definitely worth the wait.  Then we walked to see the Duomo of Firenze, which is the dome that is an icon of Florence.  The rest of our day was spent walking around the city and just trying to see as much as we could.  We walked through the leather markets while the girls shopped and the two guys followed in awe.  After we had had our fair share of sightseeing, we decided to catch the train home to Perugia.

The trip was a blast and I wouldn’t have changed anything, except maybe being able to stay another night (we had an amazing dinner reservation at THE best steak restaurant in Florence, but had to cancel).  I know I wrote a novel for such a short trip but I just want to explain everything that happened and how much we were able to see during our expedition.

Till next time,

Alex

ps. My photos are too big to upload on my blog so if you would like to see pictures, they will be on my facebook page asap.

Monday!

So this weekend was a lot of fun! A lot of the students from Umbra went on a field trip organized through Arcadia University, but since I wasn’t through their program, I was not required to go. Instead, my roommate and I worked on homework and walked around Perugia. A group of us then went to the National Gallery of Umbria, which houses some of the most amazing artifacts from Perugia’s history. We saw a lot of pieces, mostly from cathedrals throughout history. Some of the pieces date back to the early 1300′s and the gallery includes artifacts though the late 1700′s. It was really neat to see how the style of art changed between eras. The rest of my weekend was fun, we went out each night and made some new friends with some local Italian students and we were able to work on speaking Italian, which is always good. I’m done with my classes for the day and I am trying to order train tickets so a group of us can take a trip to Bologna and Florence for next weekend, but it is rather frustrating. Hopefully everything will work out! Till next time, thanks.

Alex

Hello from Perugia!

Perugia

Wow! I can’t think of any other words to express how I am feeling when I look around at what surrounds me. My name is Alex Garlick and I am a junior Physical Therapy major/ Sociology minor student at Lebanon Valley College. I took this opportunity to study abroad because I knew I would not get a chance like this until later in life. I chose to study in Perugia because I wanted to learn Italian and I thought, ‘What better way to learn the language?’ Let’s be honest, the food is definitely not an issue either! I have been in Italy since August 31st so I have so much to say but I’ll try to keep it to a short story rather than a novel (those who know me well know that I tend to take forever to tell stories, due to the fact that I include every single detail). The first week of living in Italy came with its ups and downs, just like anywhere else in the world. Intensive Italian classes came with confusion, frustration, and curiousity of ‘how am I EVER going to learn this language well enough to speak with the locals?’ Classes officially started this past Monday, the 10th, and I am enrolled in four courses totalling 15 credits. I am taking Contemporary Italy: Culture and Society, the History and Culture of Italian Food, Photography, and of course Italian. I am making a lot of new friends and my roommates are some of the greatest guys ever. I know that when I am able, I will be flying out to Colorado to visit them. After such a short period of time, I can tell that this experience will be one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am only getting started. I will try to update my journey about three times a week so it can have some chronological order to it. I am not exactly sure how blogs work, but feel free to leave me comments and questions about anything! I am doing this so that I can help anyone thinking about studying abroad and give them guidance with how life is in a foreign country. Hopefully this hasn’t bored you to death and you are able to follow my thoughts. I will end this first blog entry with a photo that I took on the first day that we arrived in Perugia and I hope you enjoy!

Thanks,
Alex