Mid-Semester, Spring Break and Travel

Hey everyone! I’ve just returned to Milan from my spring break trip, and I had midterms right before I left. Taking midterms here made me think a lot about how different the school I’m attending here is from what I’m used to at home. At my university here, there are hardly any assignments throughout the semester other than one or two projects or papers (yes, that also means usually no homework), but therefore each assignment counts for a lot more of your grade, and the majority of your grade in the course comes from midterms and finals. All of my midterms this semester were in test format, and were various levels of difficulty, but I definitely had to study for all of them knowing how important they were. Luckily, I had a lot to look forward to over spring break. The next day I flew to Paris for four days, came back to Milan for one, then took an overnight bus to Rome. Since my last post I’ve taken a few other trips as well, including Berlin, Prague, and some day trips to lakes in Italy. 

One of my favorite things I did in Berlin was a free walking tour, which are available in a lot of cities and I would recommend for anyone traveling in Europe. It was a good way to see a lot of the famous sites at once and get a feel for the history of the city, especially since I was only there for a weekend. During the tour I got to see several Jewish memorials, parts of the Berlin wall, the famous TV tower, and even the site of Hitler’s bunker. I also really liked the East Side Gallery, which is a part of the Berlin wall that has been covered in art and murals.

Visiting Prague was also really cool for me because my dad’s side of the family is Czech. The city is absolutely beautiful; I loved the main city square as well as the several parks and views there are overlooking the city.

I know I mentioned language in my first blog post in regards to Italy, but traveling to places like the Czech Republic and Germany where I also don’t speak the native language has made me realize even more how lucky I am that English is my native language. Somehow it has become one of the most universal languages, so as long as I’m in a major tourist city anywhere in Europe it seems I won’t have a hard time getting by because most people I encounter (in restaurants, stores etc.) speak decent English. It even seemed to be the most common language I would hear in public in these two cities in particular, which was surprising to me. On my way to Prague I found myself frantically google translating the words for things like hello, bye and thank you in the airport, only to find out I hardly even needed them. I took French in high school so I wanted to challenge myself to speak it when I went to Paris, but with it being so touristy, as soon as someone realized I had an accent they would respond to me in English, which was admittedly a little frustrating! Nonetheless, I feel very privileged that I can travel so much here and not have to worry a lot about language barriers.  

As for Milan, Spring is in full bloom and the weather here is beautiful! There is a courtyard outside the building where I have my classes that has become my favorite place to study in between classes. I’ve been discovering some other cool places in the city too, like a park near my house that’s perfect for picnics. I think Milan is sometimes underrated in comparison to other cities in Italy, but in my opinion it’s a really good place to live. 

Ciao for now!

Amanda

 

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