“Dove la Biblioteca de Bocconi?”
Translation: “Where is Bocconi’s library?”
I found myself asking this question today after almost two months of non-stop traveling, late night cappuccinos, and unhealthy amounts of gelato consumption. Only when the Italian girl looked at me in disbelief did I realize how ridiculous my question must have sounded. Not only was my sentence a jumble of Italian and Spanish but surly I should know where the school library is by now – school has been in session for two months.
But that’s just it – study abroad has been the break I needed since I started the MPA program last fall and the fact that I have two more months of this makes me all the more excited.
So a little about Bocconi University: It is located just close enough to Milan’s city center and is considered Italy’s most prestigious business school. This coupled with the fact that Milan is fashion central means that my UT garb (aka: sweatpants and a hoodie) are undeniably unacceptable. Today was actually the first day that I stepped outside my apartment and felt cold – so wish me good luck this winter without my UT hoodie!
Classes here are extremely different than back home. For one thing, professors base 100 percent of your grade on the final exam. For some this may seem stressful, but for an exchange student (who spends 99 percent of their time traveling) it’s nothing short of a blessing. Here are a few destinations that I have hit in the past month and a half:
Aug 14- Aug 31: Before heading off to Italy I spent two weeks with my family in Kuwait and Jordan! My dad just took up an international assignment in Kuwait, and so it was amazing getting to spend some time in Middle East. Spent a lot of time visiting malls, eating falafels, and drinking a local yogurt drink (called Labhan). Towards the end of the vacation, my family decided to take a spontaneous trip to Jordan and it was absolutely amazing. Even though the country is quite poor, the people are extremely hospitalable. They say sometimes the poorest nations are the happiest, and I really saw that during my short time in Jordan. Some highlights included swimming (or rather the lack of since you float) in the Dead Sea and seeing Bethlehem and Jerusalem from our hotel’s balcony window! Another favorite was the Lost City of Petra – even though the site is full of tacky tourist stands, if you look past all it the site is extremely rich in history and myth.
Sept 9: Visted Lake Como (In north Italy) with Bocconi’s exchange students. Not only is this home to one of George Cloony’s mansions, it also has tons of cute Italian shops and eateries!
Sept 14 -16: CINQUE TERRE, Italy = my happy place. These five villages on the Mediterranean coast are really one of Italy’s gems. Basically, each village is roughly an hour’s hike from one another and you can stop at each village along the way. The great thing was that each village had its own flavor – while one had a gorgeous beach, another had a lagoon hidden at its base. After completing the six hour trek the first day, my roommates and I spent the second day sunbathing and swimming in the crystal clear waters and feasting on the city’s delicious pesto penne! Definitely planning to go back someday.
Sept 20- Sept 24: Barcelona, Spain: Honestly, I think I may be biased towards Spain (because of my summer there in 2009) but there is no way you cannot enjoy yourself in this city. We unknowingly went there during the same weekend as the city’s biggest holiday: La Merce which meant non-stop music and dancing on the streets, fireworks every day, and extra friendly Spaniards! Not to mention it is the city of Guadi – and Barcelona loves him. Even though the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell were infested with late summer tourists, the architecture was incredibly different and beautiful.
Sept 28: Went on a day trip to Munich, Germany with the exchange students for Oktoberfest! Its basically the Disney World for adults, not to mention everyone’s traditional German outfits were adorable!!
Oct 5 -Oct 7: Mini Tour de Mont Blanc, Switzerland (and even a foot in France!) This was by far my favorite trip so far. A group of 20 of us exchange students planned to go on this 2 day hike in the middle of the Swiss Alps. In the span of two days we: Hiked in the wrong direction and ending up in France, sang Disney songs/90’s songs on the trail, drank water straight out of the streams, ate Nutella and bread for every meal, stayed up late taking personality tests, attempted a hike at 5 am in the pitch dark, and saw the most beautiful view of the Swiss Alps. = ]
This weekend I plan to stay in Milan (about time, I know) and get some studying in so I don’t have to cram too much in December. If anything, this experience has made me realize just how grateful I am towards my parents who not only allowed but encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and study abroad. I can’t wait to take them (and my friends/boyfriend back home) to these European destinations in the future! Arrivederci, until next time!!