Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Wow!  What an incredible weekend!!!!!

Almost all 43 of us left on Friday to take over Munich, Germany.  We left Lugano at 4:30 pm and had a nice 6 1/2 hour train ride ahead of us with 2 transfers.  When we were finally on our last third of the trip, Caroline suggested some games for us to play and they turned into competitions, and then eventually "Carolympics."  We had the whole train watching, laughing, and even participating with us.  Smize.

When we arrived at our hostel, Wombats, it turned out that everyone, except for Ashley and I, had accidently booked their rooms for the weekend before.  Wombats was completely filled for the night, so they all decided to go check to see if there was any room at the place next door, while Ashley and I went up to our room, 101 (dalmations) to get ready for the night.  Our room was a "mixed co-ed 6 person dorm," and when we walked in there was a bunch of boy stuff everywhere but no one in site.  We got ready and made our way down to the Wombar.

We heard the girls had gotten a room at the place right next to ours so we ran over there, just in time to celebrate Carla's 21st at midnight!  We were told by locals to go to the "Milchbar" and that is exactly what we did.  Beer in Germany is cheaper than water in Switzerland.  We made friends with everyone we met and it was a great first night to the best weekend!

When I woke up at 7 am to go to the bathroom, I heard Ashley saying "Michelle.....Michelle...Shelly,"  and saw four unknown males in our room.  Surprise!  I went over to Ashley's bunk and she informed me that she hadn't fallen asleep yet and didn't know what to do.  I told her to count sheep and her breaths and hopped back in bed for another 3 hours.  When I woke up again, there she was, still awake.  Our roommates were so funny, three from Whales and one from some part of northern Germany I could never understand him saying.  The room was full of accents and was hilarious.  Ashley was delirious, I was starving, so I went downstairs to get breakfast with the boys while she tried to sleep some more.

When we came back up Ashley was STILL awake, but we decided she had to push through it and we had to get up and tour Munich.  Robin, our German roommate decided to come with us and we all left to head to the Marienplatz, main square, where the New and Old Town Halls both stand.  Sure enough we found a free tour group and jumped right in to explore the city.  Our tour guide was amazing.  She had the perfect way of engaging everyone in all of her knowledge about the the extremely historic city we walked through.  We saw the Rathaus-Glockenspiel which performs at 11 am and 12 noon daily.  Our tour was at 1 so we didn't get to see it, but Stacey, the tour guide, gave us a pretty authentic acted out version of her interpretation of the whole thing.

We next saw the Munich Church, Hofbrähaus, many statues, the concrete wall where Hitler's plaque used to be nailed to, memorials to the Holocaust, stopped to buy a thicker pair of socks, ate a bratwurst, and found a Starbuck's!  Everything was so rich with history and information that I had only ever read in high school textbooks.  It was so cool to see everything first hand; the actual memorials, churches, and buildings.  It makes it so much more memorable and meaningful.  I'm so interested in everything and want to know more and learn about everything I possibly can.  I LOVE HISTORY!

We went back to our hostel after with Robin and napped.  Ashley's first sleep since Thursday night.  We woke back up and knew it was time to further check out the Hofbrähaus, a 400 year old beer hall - location Mozart used to go to back in the day, and where Hitler made a bunch of his infamous speeches.  It was just what you are picturing.  A huge hall with high ceilings, a live band playing German music, little German men and women all dressed up in official German dresses carrying boxes of pretzels and liters of beer everywhere, all around the HUGE haus.  It was a fun experience and good taste of German night life.

On Sunday morning we woke up and went to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp.  The entrance gate to this concentration camp carries the words "Arbeit macht frei," meaning "through work one will be free."  It was a pretty incredible and astonishing experience to learn so much about what actually happened there.  It was sicking yet eye opening and very informing to learn and see all of the horrific details.  Definitely an important site to visit, and something to be acknowledged and learned from.

When we got back we got lunch at a different beer haus and walked around enjoying the city.   The buildings and scenery have such a strong feel to them.  Everything looks so sturdy and powerful with tall gothic architecture.  All of the different shades of grey and brown buildings during the day, magically lit up at night.  Munich has definitely been my favorite city so far!

I went for the most epic run again yesterday.  Made it up the hill this time!

Back to Italy this weekend to visit Florence!  Trying to get through this hectic week.  We started Italian today.  Quiz tomorrow, midterm Thursday, then more travels!

Mi chiamo Michelle.  Buona notte.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Yesterday we went on a "field trip" to Milan, Italy!  Living in the southern most tip of Switzerland, Italy is just a short train ride away.  When we arrived, we walked up the steps of the metro and into piazza where the Duomo stood.  It was unbelievable.  Unlike any of the architecture I have seen so far in Europe, which makes sense considering it took 6 centuries to complete.  It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world!

Julien arranged for a local friend to give us a tour around the city.  We went to see a few famous statues, a huge castle, and then stopped for lunch at the most delicious place.  They served hot donut like pockets stuffed with tomato sauce and cheese and another with spinach and ricotta....YUM.  It melted in my mouth...and then I got another.  We walked down all the streets and saw the most high class fashion stores.  Ash and I used the bathroom in Armani.  We passed Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Prada, Ferrari, Burberry, Versace, Marc Jacobs... no wonder it is called the "Fashion Capital of the World."

We split up and walked around for a little after, and a few of us found a dessert stand.  I tried a Nutella Crepe and the best gelato ever.  It was quite the experience ordering again.  I didn't know where to order, where to pay, where to eat after I had ordered and paid, and got told in Italian all of this not so nicely.  I'm still learning!  The boys got Heinekens and then we all met back up with the rest of the group.

Took a nice train ride home and called it a day!  I love this place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Interlaken has come and gone!  Everything seems to be flying by so fast here.  It feels like I have been here for months, but it has only been less than 2 weeks!

We left for Interlaken right after class Friday and took a 4 1/2 hour train to our first hostel, Balmer's.  The ride was gorgeous!  Mountains, lakes, and a purple pink orange yellow sunset.  When we first got there we checked into our room and it was pretty much just what I expected...little beds everywhere in all angles and directions.  Our hostel had a club downstairs and that was our next stop.  Great happy hour... buy one get one free!  We met some hilarious Summer Heights High Australians and people from all over.  The night ended with the girls making our way back upstairs to our little German hostel and laughing with the 10 of us in the room and passing out.

Saturday we woke up and spent the day with our new Aussie friends.  We got lunch at a little cafe that had the best looking salad bar, but I couldn't afford it.  I got soup instead.  The Australians were so funny, I loved them so much...I hope I see them again later in life.  I'm going to go visit them in Australia.

After lunch we split off and Ashley, Jillian, and I went paragliding!  We were picked up from our hostel by a van filled with 7 German men.  Interlaken is in the German part of Switzerland so "Swiss-German" was the language spoken by mostly everyone.  We drove up a huge mountain and then got out and walked over to a grassy hill where they set up the parachutes and strapped us in.  Once I was strapped in with my "pilot" Tom, we ran down a hill and just jumped right off...into the air.  The parachute caught the wind and up we went, just floating around town.  The quote in the brochure says it perfectly "the proof of pure life."  Flying 4,400 feet above Interlaken was unreal!

Our day didn't end there.  Right after getting back our entire group decided to go night sledding.  When we got to the slopes I had no idea what to expect, but it was nothing like what I actually experienced.  We literally went soaring down the Alpiglen hills of the Swiss Alps.  It was Mario Kart 64's Flowercup second race, Frappe Snowland.  You could fall off the edges at any moment, into the dark deep unknown woods, but unlike Mario Kart, you would not be rescued right away and placed back on the course by a helicopter.  You were speeding down at star power going through anything that stood in your way, beneath the stars and mountains, down a windy slick narrow raceway.  The race ended at a restaurant and we were served authentic Swiss cheese fondue.  They gave us bread and potatoes to dip in it and it was kind of a disgusting dinner.  I basically ate a basket of bread and 4 potatoes.  Ashley got creative with her potatoes towards the end and started pouring sugar all over them and things got messy, but she ate them all.

Sunday we traveled home all day hopping from one train station to the next delirious and exhausted.  Interlaken was such a cool city.  It's unreal how you can travel just 4 hours north in Switzerland and move from a luxurious, wealthy, flashy, Swiss-Italian city, to a quiant, quiet, Hansel and Gretel, old-fashioned, Swiss-German city.  They are completely different but both part of the same small country of Switzerland.  It felt good when we finally got home and went out to our regular dining spot, Manora.

The wind is currently blowing our green shutters back and forth in room 13, in and out against our glass window...SPOOKY!  I just leaned out and screamed GOODNIGHT LUGANO!

We went to Milan today... I'll have to tell you about it later!

Bedtime now...

Goodnight Moon

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monte San Salvatore


Wow what a day.  The "hike" we went on was more of a treck up Mount Everest.  It was literally the most exhausting but exhilarating journey I've ever been on.  I couldn't feel my feet, I couldn't breath.  I was freezing and hot both at the same time.  We hiked for 7 hours... SEVEN!  When we finally got to the top it was overlooking all of Lugano and part of Italy and was beautiful!  Completely worth it.

Last night was a blast.  Our entire group walked down to the lake together after dinner to drink and play and Ashley and I split a bottle of wine.  We discovered that the clubs didn't open until midnight, so we had some time to kill, and Ashley and I spotted a Wine Bar across the way.  We snuck off together and walked inside and it was a much fancier restaurant than we thought!  They brought out appetizers and a basket of olive and tomato bread for us with our vodka tonics.  We ate anchovies.

The whole group went to a bar called New Orleans after and we salsa danced in the basement, then made our way to a discoteca, Tito's Place.  Ashley ran downstairs and jumped behind the DJ booth and started DJing with a big afro man.  The walls were made out of a couch.  There were glass cutouts in the ceiling where you could look up and see the people dancing upstairs.  There was a bathtub on the dance floor.  Mixed drinks were $19 francs.  It was so fun.  We pushed the birthday girl home in a shopping cart.


I miss all my deltas.  Can't believe I won't be there for recruitment!  Have so much fun!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Well the first half of the week of classes is done and done!  We started Consumer Behavior on Monday and will continue with it for two weeks.

Yesterday we had class in the morning from 9-12.  We had stayed up pretty late the night before so I was exhausted after class and took a two hour nap.  We had a mini Italian lesson at 4, where Julien taught us some simple phrases to help us get around for the next couple of days.  Afterwards we went to the Irish Pub about a 20 minute walk away for a little "apperitivo".  I had the best beer ever, it was called Leffe and tasted like pumpkin pie.

The weather here is beautiful now!  Today during class we told Brinberg we were going out tonight to celebrate Caroline's birthday, and since the sun finally has come out, he decided to replace tomorrows class with a hike up San Salvatore in Lugano!

After class today, Jillian, Katie, and I decided to go for a run.  Little did I know, the path they chose to run on was straight up a hill.  When I could no longer breathe, they kept running, and I started walking, until I stumbled upon a playground full of babies and kids.  When I saw it I ran to this rope netted ladder and climbed to the top then jumped down.  By this point Jillian and Katie were ahead laughing and then got lost in the distance.  I roamed around a little neighborhood for a while and then went down to the main street and started walking home.  I used the lake and mountains as a guide to get me back, until I bumped into Ashley and a few other girls on a walk.  Ashley and I split off from the group and walked down a flight of about 100 stairs, and when we got to the bottom a little Louis Vuitton was waiting for us.  There was also Lake Lugano, and I went down to take a closer look and fell in.  My running shoes were soaking wet with algae all over them.

Looking forward to celebrating the first Lugano birthday tonight, Caroline Giaimo's 21st!  I'm hopping in the shower now, then dinner and drinking a bottle of wine down by the lake.

PS I tried Swiss chocolate and gelato...yum.

Ashley ate half a container of Nutella.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Today we decided to take the train 30 minutes north to a city called Bellinzona.  It is filled with massive castles and cobblestone roads.  We ate lunch at a pizzeria and had a funny waiter.  He was obviously annoyed that 20 "foreign" girls came in all at once not knowing how to read or order anything off the menu.  We decided to all get the Margherita Pizza (I wanted something a little more adventurous but when I asked the waiter what three toppings I didn't know were he informed me they were anchovies, tuna fish, and onions and I got scared).

After lunch we went to tour the castles.  "Today, its rich historical heritage, left from the Middle Ages, still lives on behind the austere charm of this Lombard town in the foothills of the Alps."  We climbed all the way to the top of two of the three big castles!  We walked through the town a little and visited a beautiful church.  It was the perfect way to end our first weekend.

Class starts tomorrow!  Heading to bed early to be ready to get up at 8.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 2!

Getting ready to go out to dinner at Manora.  First night out in Lugano...wahooo!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Goodbye America, Helloooooo Switzerland!

We have finally officially arrived to Lugano, Switzerland, and are here in our new home for the next four months, The Montarina.  It was quite the adventure getting over here and went a little something like this:
  • Arrived at Dulles 3:16 pm and realized I forgot my hiking backpack filled with important belongings
  • Went through check in, realized both my bags were 7 pounds over weight and had to shuffle items around and take out a few things which I had to leave behind :(
  • Went through security and took one of the new trains over to the terminal - all by myself! (first time ever)
  • Waited for our flight and sort of lost track of time from then until now... but we all got settled on the plane, took an 8 hour flight over and landed in Zurich, Switzerland!  This had to have been at around 4 am, but it was 10 am Euro time and we had a full day ahead.
When we were still in the airport waiting for the bus to be loaded with all 86 of our bags, a few of us went to order esspresso at a little restaurant in the airport.  It probably had something to do with the fact that I felt like it was 4 in the morning, I had barely gotten any sleep in the past 24 hours, and was delirious, but it was a funny first experience in Europe.  I watched all of the people in line in front of me order in Italian effortlessly what they wanted and thought about what exactly I was going to say when it was my turn.  Ashley and I both grabbed what we assumed to be bottles of water off the shelf, and I ordered in spanglish an espresso.  The lady must have understood the only word that mattered in that sentence, rung me up, I paid in Euro, and drank the cute little thing in 5 sips.

We next took a 3 hour bus ride from Zurich to Lugano - and were here!

We had the best lasagna I've ever had in my life for lunch soon after arriving.  What a great taste of what is to come.  Bringberg decided to give us a tour of the city after lunch, and we made our way to the L'Universita della Svizzera Italiana, our school for the next four months.  We were then instructed to find our way home, which we did pretty easily (walk straight ahead until you see the lake, then turn right and keep going until you're home).

There are no words to describe how beautiful this city is.  The town right by where we live is so "charming" as Ashley described it, with the cutest little restaurants, shops, and stands you have ever seen.  There are white Christmas lights everywhere.  Everything looks so homemade and organic.  Nothing manufactured, or standardized by a machine.  Fresh tomato and mozzarella panini's, bright, colorful fruit stands, meat hanging in stores from ceilings, flower shops, upscale fashion stores, palm trees everywhere - looks like the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast (minus the palm trees).  It is all unique and unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I am so lucky to be here.

The weather today was nice with a raining mist spritzing ever so slightly,  and it is gorgeous - I cannot even imagine what it will be like on a sunny day.  I am in love.

Ashley and I got the best room in the house - lucky #13.  Really though, we are the only ones with our own bathroom and shower - just for the two of us!  Our view is nothing but palm trees and other little pink surrounding Montarina buildings.

We are all settled in and unpacked and looking forward for what tomorrow will bring!

As for now, we will lay in our cozy twin beds, with our twin Macbooks, figuring out how to change everything back to English, until we fall fast asleep.  Listening to "Once In A Lifetime" by Talking Heads.