Finally updating. Travel post to come!

OK so I’m finally getting around to updating the world on what I’ve been doing for the past month while I’ve been living in Milan.

My school, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, is the biggest private Catholic university in Europe with over 400 international students, from all over the world. I live with five American girls and one Aussie girl in a crappy apartment that doesn’t have air conditioning, a dryer or a dishwasher (Whatever, we’ll live.) The boys who live below us are mostly American as well, plus one Canadian and one Brazilian.  Everyone gets along really well–we have somewhat of a family dynamic going that includes a lot of teasing, but an absolute guaranteed set of people that have your back. This is especially true for the group of six of us that took the pre-intensive Italian course before the semester began. 

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Bret (Netherlands) Jill (USA, Arkansas) and Patrick (USA, Long Island) wandering around Genova

 

 

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Jill modeling and Cheryl capturing.

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Jill and I and this ridiculous ball of fried risotto and meat

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We had to capture our final day in the pre-intensive Italian course…with brioche and espresso

February was a hectic, but very fun month. In our first week we went to three different clubs and because we had yet to figure out the public transportation situation, ended up staying out two of the nights until 6 a.m. when the metros reopened. Since then I’ve gotten my shit together (you can breathe now, parents) and decided that clubbing, though entertaining, is not really my scene. Going out in Italy is much more fun bar crawling in the beautiful, hipstery, canal Navigli district of Milan.

 

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Navigli at night

 

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We found American beer! (beside the weirdly ubiquitous 40s of Budweiser in grocery stores)

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Sebestien and his margarita from Tongs, a fantastic little bar with walls that are completely filled with books.

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More beer, this time Belgian.

I’ve heard a lot of Milan natives, including one of my professors, complain about the city. They say it’s dirty and not the “real” Italy. I know what they mean—when you think of Italy, the first thing you think of is either the Roman ruins or beautiful, Cinque Terre style pastel houses on the shore, not a bustling business metropolis. Honestly, though, I think that’s why I like this city so much.  I wasn’t made for the perfect postcard places. I know that one day it would lose it’s magic and I know how much it would sadden me to realize I’ve grown bored of a village as picturesque as Florence or Genoa or what have you. I need a little grime and grit to appreciate the rest of the beauty around me and Milan gives that to me with its mix of cathedrals and Chinatowns, couture and destitution, old stone homes and skyscrapers.

Here are some of my favorite buildings and views in Milan so far (that I’ve remembered to take pictures of.)

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I love the way everything is labeled here. Even street signs are like this–engraved onto buildings rather than a freestanding sign. So much attention to detail is given to the tiniest things

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The Duomo at night is absolutely stunning

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This is one of the views from the top of the Duomo. I love the contrast of an ancient and modern city in one

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Also from the top of Duomo.

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Ads on top of cathedrals: this is so Milan

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Seeing this view was one of those times that I had to stop myself and go, “oh yeah…I’m in Italy.”

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Rainbow on my walk to school

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Some wierdo art in this city, though.

 

 

 

Exhausted, but loving it

I arrived Monday morning at 8 a.m. and have been going full speed ahead for the past two days. Right now is the longest time I’ve been able to sit down in my apartment and just breathe.

But wow, it’s worth it. So far Milano is a wonderful city. Through the orientation events at the university we’ve covered a lot of ground and hit a lot of the tourist bases. We saw the beautiful Duomo cathedral and the big-label shops like Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, went clubbing on Corso Como, and consumed a lot of espresso. I’ve discovered a new favorite drink, though if I drank it everyday I would probably develop diabetes… I’s melted dark chocolate with a shot of espresso in it, served with a tiny spoon to scoop out the deliciousness. It was the house specialty of a gelato shop right by the Duomo and I don’t think it had a specific name, just espresso con cioccolato.

I think I should end this post because all I can think about is food right now..I will update tomorrow after my first Italian language class!

Ciao! (that’s one of about 11 words I can say so far…lI’ve got a long way to go, but a long time to learn.)

-Emma

BEYONCÉ IN EUROPE, Y’ALL

BEYONCÉ IN EUROPE, Y'ALL

So Beyoncé is touring in Europe the next couple of months and I’m absolutely going to be there. Unless the tickets are like €300, in which case maybe not…I’ll just re-watch the “Drunk in Love” video 1000 times and cry tears of jealousy for all the rich Europeans basking in her onstage glory.

SURFBOARD. SURFBOARD.

Top 10 European Cities to Stretch Your Dollar

Top 10 European Cities to Stretch Your Dollar

I found this list by accident today on StumbleUpon, but it’s basically exactly what I need. Milan is an expensive city to live in and on top of that, I want to spend a lot of my weekends and vacation days exploring other parts of Europe. But I’d rather not go completely broke… The only city on this list I had planned to visit already is Budapest–a friend of mine spent a weekend there last fall and came back with beautiful photos and fun stories. I’m excited to check out some of the other budget-friendly cities on this list when I arrive!

Exciting news!

Exciting news on the horizon, y’all! In addition to this blog, I will be contributing regularly to a blog for my university newspaper, The Appalachian, about the study abroad experience while I’m in Italy. I have been writing for the paper on the arts & entertainment desk for almost two years now and it’s been an incredible experience working with such a dedicated (and often ridiculous) staff. Now, if I could just get on the plane already…

You can check out last semester’s bloggers here and check back in about a month for my first post!

If you’re interested, check out some things I’ve written in the past, too.

 

Klingande- Jubel

I was bumming around the house today trying to clean and organize all of the things I’m not bringing with me that need to be put in storage and, as happens a lot recently, I got distracted. I’ve recently become obsessed with the idea of trying to go to a music festival while I’m in Europe. Unfortunately, Tomorrowland is in July, so I’ll miss that, but there are a few more up north around Stockholm and Copenhagen that I’d love to catch before I leave. But this distraction led me to a Google search of the Top 40 songs in Italy. For the most part it’s pretty much the same — Ke$ha and Pitbull, Miley, Lady Gaga, an Avicii song, that really sad song by Passenger — they’re all on there. But the #1 song was one I’ve never heard of before and it’s SO good. According to Wikipedia, Klingande is a French electronic duo with house and jazz influences (think a classier Gramatik?) and their #1 hit is called “Jubel.” I loved it.

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(Almost) all packed and ready to go!

Well, the big day is creeping up. I leave for Italy February 2 and because I haven’t had much to do over break and pretty much everyone I know is already back in school, I have already packed. Here’s a basic list of what I’m bringing with me so far.

So, here it is

5 pairs of skinny jeans/slim cut pants

6 pairs of leggings

4 sweaters, 2 big enough to be worn with leggings

5 winter/fall going-out shirts

4 spring/summer going out shirts

6 layering tshirts & tanks

4 bras, 2 sports bras & 16 pairs of underwear

2 pairs of running shorts & 1 pair of running tights

8 pairs of socks

2 pj sets, for cold and warm weather

1 swimsuit

1 peacoat, 2 rain jackets (1 nice, 1 sporty), 1 leather jacket & 1 army-style jacket

1 pair of running shoes, 2 pairs of flats, 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of flip-flops, 1 pair of heels and 1 pair of Vans

1 crossbody purse & 1 hiking backpack

This all miraculously fit in 2 bags.

This seems like a lot…especially since I haven’t even touched toiletries, books or jewelry. I may have to revisit this later.