Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Florence Study Abroad Part IV: Weekend Trips; Bologna, Venice, Pisa

I swear this semester is going to be the death of me. Just finished three papers and now my professors have given me about 3 more and two books to read. OK. I've also come to the conclusion that these Italy posts are going to take me basically this entire semester to get up since there's so much information and so many pictures involved in them. I'll try to intersperse them with regular posts, but again my semester has been insane and I'm just now realizing I haven't made a post in a month....

So here's a post about my second weekend in Italy, when I went to a number of cities. On Friday after class, we took the high speed train to Bologna. It only took 35 minutes! We looked at the university, which is the oldest modern university in the Western hemisphere (1088). We walked around and saw the ruins of the old city of Bologna inside the library and the Due Tori (a pair of towers that are both leaning in opposite directions). Apparently, during this time period, towers were signs of power and wealth in Bologna and the city is famous for its competing towers. We ended the night with some famous Bologna fare: tortellini, bread, and great wine!

The city is very medieval looking, but there were tons of motorcycles and Vespas, just like everywhere else in Italy!

Bologna at night was breathtakingly beautiful.

On Saturday we woke up very early to go to Venice for the day. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't as great as it was for our Rome trip, but it held out and didn't rain. We spent some time walking through the city and got some lunch at a sandwich shop. Then we took the much talked about gondola tour. This was ridiculously expensive, but totally worth it. For four people for 45 minutes, it was 120 euro (30 euro each). If that sounds like a lot, you'd be surprised that it goes up exponentially at night and during the summer! 

The city itself was beautiful and romantic, the type of place with lots of cute bridges and narrow streets.

From our gondola ride!

After our gondola ride, we decided to go to Murano Island. Getting everywhere in Venice takes a lot of time because it's basically a water city. Venice is a lagoon and is serviced by what I would call a water subway system, which makes stops throughout the city and the "outer boroughs" of the two islands. Murano Island is famous for its glass blowing. On a day like ours during the winter, the island closed at 4 PM, so we got into the last free glassblowing demonstration at 3 PM.

This glass blown horse was made on the spot, right in front of us. I got some glass blown cat pieces.

The sunset from Murano Island.

On Sunday, we took a local train (not high speed) to Pisa. These trains are basically the equivalent of Metro North or the LIRR. It took about an hour to get to Pisa on the local train, since we made a lot of stops. The town of Pisa is actually quite large, and very quiet and residential (although most of everything was closed since it was Sunday). A lot of people told us that you just got off the train and then the tower was "right there". This was not exactly true. After 20 minutes of walking across town, and some time getting lost, we finally found the tower.

Like most towns in Italy, there was a river running through the center, and a big bridge.

Had to get my Pisa pic.


That was my second weekend in Italy! I'll post another blog soon about the class trips we went on and maybe another about the other day trips and activities we did in and around Florence. I'm just realizing how much stuff I did in just a month in Italy!

Erica

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Am Wild With A Capital W

I shouldn't be writing this because it's 11:24 pm and I SHOULD BE SLEEPING since I'm a mature adult now who has a sleep schedule and everything! (11-7)

February was awesome! I was a second-semester senior! I socialized like crazy! I went to Brooklyn College, saw a comedy show at NYU, saw Fifty Shades of Grey with my friends as a joke that ended up with us being slightly impressed with how they made it more of an empowering movie than we thought (I did NOT READ THE BOOK! Why does everyone think that?!), attended senior night that ended memorably with stuff collapsing on my head, and went to da club! I also attended 2 author events in the city with my favorite YA authors and got pictures with them and their signatures AND, AND, Sarah Rees Brennan replied to and favorited my tweets.
With all of this combined, I am basically very Wild (with a capital W, that's right).

When did I decide going out was more fun than staying in and reading books, you ask? When I realized I only have a few more months of living so carefree in the city with my best friends. This time will never return and I'm sad, but determined to appreciate it!
Now..it's March 22nd...which is weird, I think....Spring Break is soon.....I'm going to Phoenix for it! Because Nursing Conferences are awesome. And the opp fund has a category for academic conferences! We're presenting a resolution on bullying in nursing (cough, my idea, nbd).

Currently, I'm trying to get through the semester and get higher than 83s on my nursing exams. Stay tuned for more details as I discover if this is possible or not! I'm also enjoying my multicultural lit class because it's so racially charged (*shiver with joy*). Otherwise, I have been napping around, reading excellent Rainbow Rowell books (Attachments: an internet security officer falls in love with a newspaper writer after reading (monitoring, it's his job, ok?!) her emails back and forth with a friend. Emails! Falling for another person's thoughts and their soul! It's the ultimate romance.) and watching Bollywood youtube videos (nothing has changed).

Also, I ran 16/28 days in February and 17/22 days so far in March! Be proud of me, internet readers! I may have eaten 2 chocolate bars today, but it is Sunday and weekends are my weakness!
Also trying to get the nursing yearbook done in record time of one month. Feel free to stay tuned for that as well, as I play with the fate of senior year for many!

Amirah
PS. Movie recommendation: Queen : Bollywood movie that won best actress/film/director! It's great. The plot: A young woman goes on her honeymoon alone after her fiance cancels their wedding.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fifth Avenue and Match Day

Hi, everyone!!

It's snowing! And it's the first day of spring. haha. I can't complain much though because the view outside my window is spectacular. Snow covered benches and trees.

Today is Match Day, which is the day that most 4th year medical students find out where they will do their residencies. It's one of the most exciting days of a future physician's life because they have now almost completed med school and are finding out where they'll be spending the next few years of their lives and possibly their entire lives. I can't help but imagine myself on that day. What will I be like? What specialty will I choose, and where will I end up? Many exciting things ahead.

Columbia Match Day 2015

Speaking of Columbia, somebody I know got into Teachers College! How awesome is that??

On Monday, I treated myself and took a long walk downtown. As I walked down Fifth Avenue, I couldn't help remembering being there freshman year and thinking about the changes that I see in myself since then. The maturity and the perspective that has been building since then. Being in the last couple of months of college, I can't help but continuously reflect on all that's happened. What I did right, what I did wrong, the happy moments with friends, and the anxious moments before an exam. My first walks down Madison Avenue, the long train rides to school, and going to museums.

But I should save the reflections for my last (!) post on the blog. haha. Oh gosh.

Speaking of reflections, I sat on the steps in front of Lincoln Center yesterday and was reminded of the first time that I was there. It was August 2011, just weeks before I started college. Some of my high school friends and I had gotten together for one of our last days together before we all went off in separate directions. At that point, I was just learning about the subway system. I had seen very little of Manhattan and had spent little time away from my parents. Sitting on the steps yesterday was like a full circle moment. Now taking the subway feels like the most natural thing. I've been to parts of the city that I only knew by name when I was 18. I've spent countless hours on my own and with friends crafting my sense of independence.

So much for an end to the reflections...:p

I also took my first exam of the semester yesterday, on endocrinology. It wasn't too hard, thankfully. A couple of questions that I'm unsure of but otherwise, I think that it went well.

I have a test on cancer bio on Monday so I've been prepping for that too. Wish me luck!

S.

For this last semester, I've decided that I'll share one cool/interesting/thought-provoking thing that I happen to run across during the week:

The Backlash Against Mindfulness