Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Bienvenidos a Madrid

This past weekend we visited Madrid; the place that I have always dreamed of going. Let me just say that all of my dreams of what Madrid would be like did not even come close to how amazing it actually was. The people of Spain are so friendly and willing to help, it reminded me of home. Not to mention, Spain is just so beautiful. There is so much history everywhere you look, it makes it really difficult to leave.

First we visited the Museo Nacional Centro del Arte Reina Sofia which houses the Guernica by Pablo Picasso. Having studied Spanish for so long, I was so excited to get to see this painting in person. The painting takes up an entire wall and it depicts the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Just being in the presence of such a historically important piece was amazing. The Reina Sofia also houses some original Dali pieces. I am personally a fan of Dali, so it was really awesome getting the chance to see them up close.

Museo Nacional Centro del Arte Reina Sofia
We also visited the Museo Nacional del Prado, home of many paintings by El Greco, Diego Velasquez and Francisco de Goya. I could have spent days in this museum! Unfortunately we only had a few hours, so we had to prioritize what we wanted to see. I would say we probably got through a third of the museum. After we visited Buen Retiro Park and saw the Crystal Palace. The day we went they had all of these cushions set up inside the Crystal Palace for visitors to grab and lay down on. They had strung all of these semi-transparent pieces of cloth all around as well. It was really nice to just lay there for a while after walking around all day!

Crystal Palace in Buen Retiro Park
The next day we visited Toledo, Spain which is about a half hour train ride (we took the bullet train). As soon as we stepped off the train it looked like we had stepped back in time to medieval Spain. All of the buildings had such ornate details, with the streets being purely cobblestone where we were. We explored the city a bit before venturing to the Toledo Cathedral. The Toledo Cathedral was easily the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. Construction on the cathedral began in 1223 and it took over 200 years to complete. The details in the cathedral were what made it so spectacular.
Toledo Cathedral
Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral
Overall I would say that our trip to Madrid has been one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. All I can say is that I hope I get to visit Spain again sometime soon!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Let's Go to the Beach...

Ciao! Here is my latest installation of my adventures in the beautiful Trieste. So Monday marked the first day of Accounting 1 at the University of Trieste. The university is relatively far from where we are staying, so we have to take the bus every morning. Let me just say that the bus system much more smoothly here in Italy than in the United States. It seems like everyone takes the bus in the morning, the bus we take gets especially busy. We are the first stop so we get seats every morning. Also, the buses are made by Mercedes-Benz; aka they are way nicer than American buses.

It's great because we have Italian students in our accounting class, and it really is true what they say about Italians being friendly. They are so willing to show us around, and they translate lots of things for us. One of the students took us to the Castle and Cathedral of San Giusto, which were built in the 14th century over a Roman temple. The best part is that the ruins are partially preserved, so I got to touch Roman ruins! They also have a small museum that has a bunch of artifacts as well. You could see all of Trieste from the top, it was truly gorgeous!
View of Trieste from San Giuspo
Castle of San Giuspo, Trieste

Roman artifacts
Yesterday we went to Barcola, which is where the beaches in Trieste are located. It's interesting because I call it a beach, but it doesn't have the sand that usually comes to mind. It is a paved sidewalk that sits right next to the ocean. There is a staircase that you can walk into the ocean with, or you can traverse the rocks and jump in. First off, the Adriatic Sea is cold! I had completely forgotten that it wasn't the Mediterranean, so when the boys told me it was cold, I was surprised at how cold it was! After a few minutes though, it stopped being so cold. 
Beaches at Barcola
I think that the adjustment process has ended. Walking around Trieste, I feel like I know where I am going (for the most part). Italy just has a way of making you feel right at home. Until next time!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Welcome to Trieste

It's been a while since I last blogged, but I've had the wonderful city of Trieste occupying my time for the last 4 days. The flight to Venice was long, but it was all completely worth it! As soon as we hit the ground in Venice, the difference in the culture just hits you. The baggage claim in Marco Polo Airport actually has a design painted on it. 
Detailed designs on the baggage claim at Marco Polo Airport
Then there was the Great Train Fiasco. Let me just say, trying to navigate the Italian train system is a lot harder than it looks, especially since everything is written in Italian. We were able to get our tickets and get to the platform with ease, getting on to the actual train was a mess. Not only were we the last ones on, but we had all of our luggage with us. The train was super crowded and we had all of our luggage in the aisles. There was a nice Italian man that helped us lift our luggage onto the overhead bins, so after that, the train ride went without a hitch!
Ocean view from the train
These first few days in Trieste have been amazing! One of the nicest things about it is that it isn't a tourist hot spot like Venice or Rome, so it is much less crowded and hectic. We are about a five minute walk to the pier from where we are staying, so the ocean is in sight most of the time. Walking around the city, the antiquity of the buildings surrounding you is what hits the hardest. To think that some of these buildings are over 500 years older than some of America's oldest buildings is kind of hard to grasp. 
Building in plaza

Yesterday we made the walk to the university, that was definitely a walk! I think it took us about 45 minutes. It's funny because the university seems so much older than UNC, but it was actually founded in 1924. It does have one thing UNC doesn't have though: a great ocean view! It sits on a hill overlooking the ocean, it doesn't get much better than that!
Outside the University of Trieste
Other than that, most of our time has been spent exploring the city and learning about the culture. I have had gelato five times in the last three days. I already know that gelato is going to be my biggest weakness. I have to say, it is so much better than American ice cream. Classes start Monday, so I'm excited to see what adventures we have next!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Bon Voyage!

Today is my last day here in the United States. To say that I am excited for Italy would be an incredible understatement! I would say I am about 55% packed; to be fair, it's better than nothing! The only thing I'm worried about is making sure I've got everything, and making sure I comply with the strict 50 pounds for my checked bag. Can I just say, packing is exhausting! 

My plans for my final day here include:
  • Frantic last minute packing
  • Quadruple checking that I have my passport
  • Making sure I eat good ole American cuisine (we all know I mean Taco Bell)
  • Keeping my excitement under control
Well, that's all for me today. Next time you hear from me, I'll be in Italy! Ciao!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

One Week to Go

Hi everyone! So my blog is finally up and running. I thought I should have an initial post explaining why I'm doing this. I'm Monica and I am a General Business student at the Monfort College of Business. I am also a minor in Global Business and Spanish Language. I have just finished my first year at UNC, and I'm excited to get the opportunity to study abroad this early on in my college career.

This summer I will be studying abroad in Trieste, Italy for two months, and I could not be more excited. As mentioned in the title, there is less than one week to go before I say ciao to Colorado for a while. I've been putting most of my efforts into learning Italian as of late, and while I would say that I'm not doing too bad, it's also not great!

Here's what I've got down so far:

Ciao, mi chiamo Monica (Hi, my name is Monica).
Io sono americana (I'm American)
Parla inglese? (Do you speak English?)

I've got a few more phrases and random words, but those phrases are the only ones I'm confident in pulling out in an actual conversation.

Well, that's all for now! I'll try to get in another post before I leave, but if not, arrivederci!