Friday, August 8, 2008

The long wait...

6 hour layover in LAX... after a 12 hour flight... Supposedly I should be back in Reno around 8pm tonight. I guess this blog is now From Reno to Torino to Reno.

Customs was a breeze, they really make it easy for American citizens to get back into the country.

A funny coincidence, the couple next to me on this flight from Europe was an Italian couple! They were on their way to their honeymoon in Tahiti. I helped them out with their emigration form because they had a hard time understanding it because it was in English. Although I couldn't translate a lot of it, between their jumbled English and my sparse Italian, we managed to get the form filled out. They were really nice and very appreciative for the help, they were trying to figure it out with a little pocket dictionary, since I had been in their shoes for the last three months I was really happy that I could help them, even if only a little.

Other than that it was a very uneventful flight, I can't seem to sleep on planes, only trains and buses...weird.

One weird thing about the whole process of entering the country that I think is new since I went to Australia, is they actually have boarder security at the end of the gate (actually standing outside of where you get out of the plane, on that little bridge between the plane and the airport terminal) where they check your passport. I think it is to make sure that you have a passport and didn't slip aboard or something, because if you step foot on American soil (which I think the airport constitutes, but not the plane) you can ask for asylum and other protection... Not sure but that's my theory.

While waiting for my plane to Reno, which I'm still doing, I went to Burger King...actually it was a combo Burger King/Starbucks, only in America :-), and had my first burger back in the states...yummy. I also got the large drink, which I think if an Italian saw, would scare them...

My big duffel bag had a little surprise for me when I pulled it off the machine in LAX, a ticket that warned the baggage handlers that it was a "heavy bag" lol, I guess I really packed that thing tight! I didn't see any liquids dripping out of it so I hope that means my two bottles of wine, and very good italian olive oil are still intact.

Still waiting for my plane, about 30-40 minutes probably. But after that I will be back in Nevada....back in Reno...and back with my friends and family. I'll be sure to do some kind of reflection blog about the whole trip, but I'll save that until I've had a couple days to digest everything.

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5g99UWMCBPpN8V8RM-ij1WcuVLYow

Luckily this was NOT my flight. :-)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tour de France

Here are some pictures of the Tour de France!!!

Tour de France

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rest of the time here...

Wednesday 7/30 - Free Day / No Class
Thursday 7/31 - Give Presentation on the EU Institutions for my class / Class all day
Friday 8/1 - Class from 9am - 12pm / Review for Final
Saturday 8/2 - Leave and Arrive in London
Sunday 8/3 - London
Monday 8/4 London
Tuesday 8/5 - Leave London in the Morning / Final Exam for class 1pm - 4pm
Wednesday 8/6 - Free Day
Thursday 8/7 - Free Day / Most of the other students leave in the morning
Friday 8/8 - Leave Torino, Italy after 3 months abroad... Arrive in Reno, Nevada around 7:25 PM PST

Trip to Paris

This last weekend, me and two other USAC students took a trip to Paris for the weekend...how cool is that to say?

While in Paris we roughly did the following:
  • Went on a great bike tour around the city to the main attractions. It was with a company called Fat Tire Bike Tours, which was recommended by a friend that just got back. We are going to do it in London also.
  • Saw Notre Dame and the Pantheon
  • Went to the Louvre and saw things like the Mona Lisa and other great works of art.
  • Ate bread and drank some wine on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower one night and watched it light up a bright blue and then sparkle on the hour.
  • Checked out Napoleon's Tomb, it's funny because the way that it's designed you have to "bow" to the tomb to check it out.
  • Ran across traffic to get to the Arch de Triumpf, can you say "frogger"?
  • Had a few creaps, two quieshes and other French food.
  • Saw a mini statue of liberty on the river.
  • And a bunch of other things that are in the pictures below!

    Paris

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I bought an Italian car!

Check it out!!!








We took a tour of the FIAT factory, its the only Italian made car. FIAT stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Turin). It was pretty cool, I couldn't take any pictures within the factory but it was interesting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lake Maggiore

Last weekend we took a "field trip" to Lake Maggiore. It's the 2nd largest lake in Italy.

Lake Maggiore

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Upcoming Trips...

Saturday USAC is hosting a trip to a lake near Torino for the day.

From the 13th to the 16th, I'll be traveling with a couple USACers to Barcelona, Spain.

Spain


July 25th to the 29th I will be hanging out in Paris, France.

August 2nd to the 5th we are going to London, England for a couple days.

And then I head home on the 8th!

Swiss Trip

Last weekend I went to Zurich Switzerland to hang out with my mom. Zurich was really nice, the weather was really great, not too hot with a little breeze that helped with the humidity. One of the days we traveled to the town of Luzern,where we check out the city, a market was happening that day, and saw some of the shops. My mom bought me a genuine Swiss Army knife, which was pretty cool, the shop did free engraving too so it has my initials on it.

After spending a couple days in Switzerland, my mom came back with me to Torino to check out where I've been living for over the past month. She really liked it and was surprised at how nice my apartment was. We had dinner at one of my favorite resturants, St. Martins. I think she really enjoyed the trip, it was good to see her again.

Swiss Trip

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Last trip with session I: Italian Riviera

For the past few days I've been on the Italian Riviera checking out the beautiful landscape and saying goodbye to my friends from session I and saying hello to new friends from session II.

We left on Sunday and stopped in Genova and checked out the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. After taking a city tour we got back on the bus and headed to the beach. A little town called Santa Margarita. This is where we stayed for the weekend and was our homebase for all our smaller trips around the Riviera.

On Monday we went to five towns along the coast referred to as "Cinque Terra" where we split up into groups and hiked along the coast from town to town. We did 3 out of the 4 hikes and we were VERY glad we didn't end up doing the fourth (it was a lot harder).

On Tuesday we went to the famous town of Portofino which is the place were movie stars used to go and where we saw some of the largest yahts ever! After leaving Portofino we went back to the hotel and then went to the beach.

Check out the pictures, it was a really fun trip!

Today all the new people from Session II moved in and the gang from Session I is hanging out tin our apartment until their respsective departures. It's pretty sad, most of the girls have been crying a little bit, it's amazing how close people can get over 5 weeks. But I'm also looking forward to hanging out with the new group. I'm both sad and excited at the same time. Also a little homesick because everyone I've been hanging out with for the past few weeks is going home and have been talking about going home for the past couple days. Lucky for all of us, there is Facebook. :-)


Italian Riviera

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trip to a winery

We (Jenn and I) are going back to the winery in Alba that I went to with USAC tomorrow, we found their website and it's pretty cool!

Check it out!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Roma

So we just got back from our weekend getaway in Rome. It was amazing!

Day 1
On our train ride down we made friends with two Italian children Alberto and Frederico 6 and 10 years old, respectively. Frederico was very talkative and played games with me like tic tac toe, hangman and we took turns practicing Italian and English together. He taught me colors, letters and numbers! When we arrived in Rome at the Termini (main terminal) it was only a ten minute walk to our hostel.

Our hostel was in a nice building with lions on the doors and inside it had pretty marble floors, ferns and then a little tiny elevator and I mean, tiny, it fit like two people that took us up to the fifth room where we had a nice little room. It was a little after noon and we decided to jump right and go sightseeing.

We went to the Colosseum which was so impressive up close and took the tour inside and went through the museum. We walked through the rest of the archaelogical ruins near the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus which is where they had the Chariot races and where part of the film Ben-Hur took place. We did a ton of walking and got a little sunburnt -- it was a very hot and humid day in Rome. We walked back towards the main Termini and had lunch in a little Ristorante -- my first meal in Italy which was some really good pasta. We also went and saw the Fontana de Trevi which is a very famous and beautiful fountain and then we also walked up the Spanish Steps and had some Gelato. We did a little more shopping around and then went back to the Hostel to clean up for dinner.

For dinner we went to another Ristorante downtown in Rome and shared a bottle of Chianti and some more pasta. We also strolled by the Repubblica a large column style building with a big piazza and modern romanesque fountain in front of it. The fountain is said to be modeled after two Roman sisters who posed for it.

Day 2
The next day we set out to do the rest of our sightseeing. We ended up buying a pass for a tour bus that you can "hop on and hop off" which worked out pretty well. It took us through the city with an audio guide and described the different architectural details of different parts of the city -- barpque, medieval, gothic, etc. There are so many little churches and beautiful things to see that you could probably spend weeks in Rome and not see it all.

We ended up at a really large Federal building...I wish I could remember the name but the pictures of it are really cool. You could see the burnt parts on the building from WWII. Anyway, we walked around that and went inside to the military museum which has lots of really cool artifacts and is really nice. After that we also checked out some egyptian obelisks, the remains of another archaelogical site and hopped back on the tour bus thing. We got off again at Castel Sant' Angelo which is a short distance from the Vatican. We had some really good pizza from a little stand and ate it on the steps of the Tiber river.

So we had to check out the Castel Sant' Angelo which was built by Hadrian in 135 AD as a masoleum and was later used as a military fortress and sometimes Popes would hide in it during times of turmoil. Its really pretty because the bridge leading up to it has all these statues of angels. Instead is a really beautiful statue of an angel done by Michaelangelo. The Castle itself is really neat, we got to go into the bottom and there are dungeons but we didn't see them. The rooms are huge and very ornate with frescoes on the ceilings and one room full of a huge cherrywood cabinent. Lots of artwork was on display also. In one room of the castle people were dressed up in costume and singing medieval hymns which was really neat to watch. The best part of the Castle was the view -- you could see the entire city and Taylor got a great panoramic of the city.

So we got back on the bus and headed to the next stops and ended up getting off at a church called St.Mary's Maggiore (I think thats how its spelled.) This church was really breathtaking on the inside because the ceiling was done in beautiful paintings and was covered in the first gold from the new Americas! Also this church is really old and was contributed to by a whole bunch of Popes so it is considered the best mix of many different architectural styles. That was the end of our sight seeing for Sunday because it was so hot and humid. We had kind of an expensive dinner at some place called the "Washington."

Day 3

Our last day in Rome we had to go to the Vatican. We got up at like 5:30am to get there really early which turned out really well because the place was pretty empty. The square in front of St. Peter's Basilica was empty too and we got some great pictures, oh and there were a ton of nuns going to the morning mass. Inside it was huge! The ceilings must have been like 100ft high and they were covered in frescoes, gold, and really ornate carvings and cornices. The Priests were giving the morning services in Latin and all the nuns where there -- so neat!

After that we went to the Musei Vaticani which led up the Sistine Chapel and all the other museums related to the Vatican. We saw too many tapestries, paintings, treasures, trinkets and other things to list so I will just say that the long corridor leading up the Sistine Chapel and the Sistine Chapel itself was very amazing. We also with the Posteo Vaticano and sent out some postcards...so, some special people will get special blessed mail straight from the Vatican. After that it was back to Torino on a long and arduous train ride that got us here two hours late (and was not that fun...but if anyone asks me now I will just say we got a scenic tour of the Italian Riviera.)

So, that concludes our trip to the Eternal City. We had a great time and we are going to do some fun stuff here in Torino :)

Roma, Italia

Monday, June 16, 2008

Trip to the Beach

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to a small town on the coast of Italy called Alassio where we spent the day hanging out at the beach. The town was really nice, I went with Britney and Jaime because everyone else was somewhere else in Italy or Europe this weekend.

Here are some pictures:

Alassio


Countdown to Jenn: 4 days!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Upcoming Weekend...

Weekend:
Everyone seems to have either a 3 or 4 day week end this week, which is pretty awesome. Two ofgirls across the hall with a couple guys from upstairs are going to Florence this weekend andshould be getting back sometime on Sunday. The girls from upstairs (Jess and Cassie) are going toRome and should be back sometime on Monday. So it looks like the only ones left downtown thisweekend will be myself, Britney and Jaime, possible one of the guys from upstairs but I'm notsure. I think we are going to go check out some of the museums in town (there are tons) we talkedabout going to the Cinema museum and maybe the Egyptian one again (Britney hasn't seen the dead bodies yet lol). We are also planning on going to the beach on Sunday. I think we are going to either Genova or some other beach town near by (about an hour train ride).

Weather:
So far this week it's been pretty nice, (it has been raining a lot in the past couple of weeks, almost non stop a couple days). But this week has been pretty nice, it was really warm yesterday and only rained for about an hour in the afternoon (of course the hour we went for a walk without an umbrella).

Next Week:
I don't have class on Friday or Monday so for me it's a four day weekend, which is nice because class is pretty tough. But I do think I am going to go in and see a tutor on Monday since I don't have class. And we have a midterm on Tuesday so that's probably what I will be spending my time on on Monday.

Countdown till Jenn comes!: 8 days

Best Gelati!

This place has the best gelati (ice cream) in Torino! Molto bene!
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Monday, June 9, 2008

New Italian Shoes

Bought some new shoes yesterday at the mall.... pretty sweet they are "Made in Italy" and have leather insides... :-) my other walking shoes were getting pretty grubby so I've been looking.
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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Trip to Alba (Wine Country)

Today we took a "field trip" to a city about an hour outside of Torino, called Alba. It's in what they call "Piedmont" which is generally the wine country in this part of Italy. It was extremely beautiful, there were orchards for as far as the eye could see.

First we stopped in the actual city of Alba, and visited an outdoor market. I bought a new belt, which is made of "Italian Leather" and made in Italy, it's pretty nice. The market was huge and there was everything, from toys for little kids to hardware, to clothes and fruits and veggies. A couple of the girls bought new purses and a few also bought some scarves, so for the rest of the day they were all wearing them, it was pretty funny. After walking around the market for about an hour I found Cassie and Brittney and we decided we had pretty much seen the market and decided to go find a cafe. We found this really nice little cafe down the street, Cassie had a glass of wine, Brittney had a shot of espresso and I had a hot chocolate (they are really thick, really hot, and really rich). After hanging out at the cafe for about an hour and eating some antipasto (appetizers) we met back up with the rest of the group to head off to the winery.

About 10 minutes later we pulled into this small little farm/winery where we had lunch. It was really good, the USAC people are really good friends with the family that owns it. We had a ton of appetizers, cheese, salami, bread, Italian salsa and some other stuff. We also had some white wine, because apparently, you are supposed to drink white wine with appetizers. I tried some, it was pretty strong but not too bad.

Then for the main course we had some really good pasta which had ground beef in it. With this course we had some red wine. There were about three different types of red wine circulating the tables, one was called "Dolcetto d'Alla, which was really good, very smooth and it didn't have too much of an after burn. The other one I tried was called Cial, which I didn't like very much, it was a little stronger and a lot more dry. And the third I didn't get to try.

After we were all done with the pasta, the hosts passed out some cookies that were all different flavors, like peach and grape and a ton of other flavors, I tried the amaretto flavor, but it was really strong and pretty rich. With the cookies we had a different type of wine, what they call a dessert wine, which is sweet. This probably my favorite wine of the day, it tasted almost like a soft drink because it had a small amount of carbonation but it also was really sweet.

I ended up leaving with two bottles of Dolcetto d'Alba, a bottle of the sweet wine called Spasus and another red wine called Nesbiolo d'Alba, which I was recommended because it was like the Dolcetto but better. These are mostly gifts but I'll keep secret who gets what ;).

After leaving the winery we headed about 15 minutes down the road and up a hill to a castle that is about 600 years old. The castle was kind of boring but the scenery was the best part because you could see the entire valley and all the surrounding mounts from the top of this hill. I have plenty of pictures!

Overall it was a pretty fun day, got some really good food, some good wine and a great look at the Italian countryside, which most of us decided would be a great place to live!


Alba - Piedmont

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Muzeo Egizie

Jaime and me went to the Egyptian Museum in Torino on Sunday, it's supposed to be the second biggest in the world next to the one in Cairo. It was pretty cool, as you can see from the picture, they had mummies on display, it was pretty creepy. I was going to go on Saturday but me and the person I went with (not Jaime) couldn't find it, turns out we were like a block away at one point.

Museo Egizie

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day Trip to Venice!

Check out the link below to see the photos from my trip to Venice! It was a really nice place, very beautiful city, but there were tons of tourists and all these little crappy touristy booths with junk. Once we figured out how to get away from that area of town it was really nice. The whole place is pretty expensive, it took us an hour to find a place that we didn't have to sit down at (because they charge you more) and all I got was a big thing of water and a chicken sandwich and it was 7E! We saw tons of gondolas, but didn't get a chance to see how much they are, I'm sure they are a pretty Euro. Instead of like a normal bus system they have a boat bus system where you ride this big boat up and down the canal, or you can take a very expensive taxi ride, which again is in a boat. I saw more Americans on this little day trip than I had all week, so it's defiantly more touristy than Torino.


Venezia

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Update from Italia!


On Sunday we moved into the apartments, I'm living with a guy named Jamie. The apartment is pretty small compared to American apartments but, in relation to other Italian apartments, even the ones that the other people are staying it, it's pretty big. There are about 12 of us living "downtown", other people are living "midtown" and others are living right across the street from the school. The commute is pretty long from downtown to the school. First we get on the metro, which is basically a subway that goes in a straight line down the city, and then we take a bus for about 20 - 30 minutes depending on the traffic. The buses are pretty big, but they are hot as hell because it's really humid and they have no air conditioning and there are a ton of people.

We live right across the street from a supermarket, "supermarcato", but I haven't been there yet. The italian's have a really laid back schedule for all their stores. Everything, except a few stores, bars, resturants and caf├Ęs are closed on Sundays, and everything remains closed until about 3 on monday. So because we got here on a Saturday and moved into our apartments on a sunday, we havent had much time to stock up stuff in our apartment.

There are tons of "open markets" all around the city that sell everything, from fresh fruit to vegetables to clothes. We are going exploring today, and hopefully will find one. Supposedly there is one about 10 blocks from our apartment, so it should be pretty easy to find.

Last night me and about 6 other people went to this really cool "ristorante" and and calzones and pasta. It was a really nice place, but the best part was that when you go there on your birthday, they turn off all the lights in the entire place bring out a cake that has sparklers on it and the whole place gets really loud and erupts with clapping and this pizza maker ringing a bell.

I had my first class today, it was pretty intense. They guy is really nice, it must be really hard to hear us butcher his language, but he seems like a really good teacher. We are going to be writing a bunch of small papers describing our experience here in Italy, in Italian.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Arrival in Italia...

After hours and hours on planes and in airports I finally arrived in Torino Italy!

We took a bus from the airport to the "Hotel Roma" in downtown Torino. After resting for a little bit we went to this crazy Italian pizza place where they served us toasted bread with tomatoes on top and then pizza. The pizza was pretty good, the bread was pretty bad...

Tomorrow we are moving into the apartments. Students in USAC are placed all around the city, either near the school, in "midtown" or in downtown. I'll be living in downtown Torino, just a few blocks away from the hotel that I am at now. I don't quite know what to expect from the apartment, it will probably be small but it will be in Italy and that will be all that matters. To get to school each day I'll have to take either a bus or a above ground rail train, I haven't quite figured out which or how long it will take yet. I'll probably do that tomorrow after getting settled in the house and getting my bus pass from USAC.

So far everyone from USAC has been really nice, the program director and her assistants are very knowledgeable about they city and about the program, they seem to be real organized. It's a pretty open program as far as I can tell, they treat you like adults and give you the tools to have a good time. I haven't found very many students that are taking the Intermediate Italian, but I haven't met everyone yet. Hopefully there will be a good number of people in that class. Something I've found pretty interesting while talking to some students is that many aren't even taking an Italian language class. I met a couple people taking marketing classes and other business classes. Which I guess makes since because this University has a really high ranking business program. Hopefully they will learn enough Italian to get by for the term.

I don't know how often I'll be able to update this blog, the USAC people said that the University has Wifi so hopefully it's easy to access. It just means that I'll have to go to campus to get on the internet, which isn't too bad. Right now I'm using the WiFi at the hotel.

Overall, as far as I've seen the city is beautiful, and I've only seen about 1o or 12 blocks. There is an interesting smell (I know, it's a weird thing to say) that is everyone, I think it comes from the food. All the buildings are huge and the streets are paved with bricks, it looks like a Roman city.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last day at Clearstar!!!

It's my last day at Clearstar Financial Credit Union!!! I had a "party" on Friday with the lending department, so that was nice, so after I'm done with my work today and have my "exit interview" then I am DONE!!! :-) YAY

Grandma also comes in today...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jenn in Torino!

Jenn just changed her flight to Europe so she will be arriving a week ahead of time. :-) She will be in Torino with me from about June 19th to the 28th!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Turin or Torino

It's TORINO!!! Americans for whatever reason call it "Turin", while Italians call it Torino, I think I'm going to go with what the natives call it. Kinda like Ne-vha-da or Ne-vA-da.





Countdown with Taylor Anderson

  • 0 days of class left
  • 5 days till last final
  • 14 days till my last day of work at Clearstar
  • 17 days till take off to Torinio!

Pre-Trip Orientation

Yesterday, all the students from U of N who are going abroad this summer gathered in the Joe to get vital information... HA. That was a joke. After passing out the PowerPoint presentation the presenter proceeded to read the damn thing again word for word as we went through. Boring! Everything I found out that night, I either read before in something else they sent out or was pretty common sense. For instance, take money with you, Debit cards can be used at ATMs, make sure to bring your meds, or the best one, only pack what you can carry... Before this, I was planning on bring cash for the entire summer with me, and bringing 10 suitcases full of crap that all my friends help me take to the airport...


It was however interesting to see all the people who will be going all over the world this break. I almost won a raffle prize by like two numbers TWICE! My loss, I will never have a USAC water bottle now... damn!


T Minus: 25 days...

The countdown begins! I created this blog to keep track of my thoughts and my experiences up until I leave for my study abroad in Italy, and throughout the trip.

Here is a little outline of my trip:

I will be leaving on May 23rd, arriving in Italy on the 24th. I move in to my "housing" (I'm not quite sure what this entitles, they say it's a mix between dorms and an apartment, but I guess I'll see soon enough). The "housing" is supposed to be pretty close to campus, either walking distance or the city has pretty good public transportation.

The first term (May 26 - June 26) I will be taking "Intermediate Italian 1" which is like ITAL 211 at U of N. The second term (July 3 - August 5) I will be taking "Intermediate Italian 2" which is equivalent to ITAL 212 here.

Between June 29 and July 2 I will be going on a tour of the Italian Riviera! Which should be pretty sweet!!!