Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Breaking News from Split

Split, Croatia:

After the walking tour, I hit the town. Here's what I bought:

--business skirt
--formal dress
--casual dress
--skinny jeans

All of this for only 120 USD. All of this was on major sale of course, but still!!! I finally have clothes!

Afterward, I went into the local theatre and asked when the next show of whatever would be. The man told me there was a ballet going on right now. It only took seconds before he just told me to go to the second level. That's right, I got in for free. The ballet had began only 15 minutes before I arrived. I saw Zorba. It didn't make sense until the last scene when that famous song came on. You know, the one they play throughout "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". There was no sign of a pointe shoe or tutu anywhere. Only long black dresses for the ladies and black zapato with a low heel and high ankles.

The plot was difficult to follow and there were three encores. Yes, the performers came out three more times to take a bow.

This ballet was unique and not what I was expecting at all, but it lacked a good view of the orchestra and a Franklin friend. For this, I have to say I enjoyed the Serbian ballet more. (This has nothing to do with the fact that the Serbians allign themselves with the Russians...)

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our most beautiful and most navegatable city so far! I tried going in the Adriatic in this seriously remote location but it was so chilly I only went in up to my waiste. Call me extreme.

We stayed at a Hilton. It was very well lit and they had a pianist in the lobby. (It's amazing how many piano's we saw in this was the equivalent to Bosnia's extreme number of cemeteries.) The seabass for dinner the first night was probably the best meal we've eaten together on this trip! Breakfast was always bomb, too. I would never have to buy lunch, that's for sure...(haha, I had all these plastic bags with me so I filled them with figs and hazelnuts from the bar when the waiters weren't looking and took a pear and yogurt for the road!)

Dubrovnik was such a contrast from Bosnia. This is "western" territory so all of the Roman Catholic churches were plentiful. I actually walked into the main cathedral the first evening and found a group of girls singing, each one holding a candle. There was one soloist that stood out above the rest. They giggled as they practiced or worshipped, but I stayed and listened as long as I could to their chants.

Last night Julie, Priscilla, and I went looking for internet and a hat shoppe and found a wine bar in the meantime. Julie and I had a glass of Rose for 20 kuna each and Priscilla had dry red wine for 35 kuna. Besides the fact that Rose was slightly cheaper than red, I chose it because I've never had Rose before. Can you believe that?? Incredible I know. I just love my red. All the wine was locally produced in Dubrovnik so that was comforting. The ambiance was romatically lit with dim lights and had cases of wine in mahogany cases and barrels everywhere. The three of us were the only ones in there...then again, it was 7:15 in the evening.

Fuego, the Latino Club, is apparently closed in the winter from sundays through wednesdays...what kind of an Academic Travel is this?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bosnian Food

Okay so I don't remember what they're called. I'll get the name later (It did begin with a "ce"). Whatever it was I ordered, it was pumpkin and it was served warm, mixed with local cheese, and in a bakalava kind of pastry. It was a bit greesey....a little sweet...eastern european food. yumm

For dinner last night, since we never eat traditional meals, we ate at the hotel again. Lauren and I had the vegetarian and we got two different things. There's always cabbage, but this time, they gave me an extremem amount of tomatoes.

Tomatoes in the salad. Lauren didn't want her tomatoes (grape or cherry served cooked, still on the vine). Extra, random tomato salad that came halfway through the meal. Don't forget the tomatoes that came as a garnish with my meal of grilled vegetables, rice, and steamed broccoli and cauliflour.

Desert was this fantastic mound of candied pear filled with crushed nuts and topped with a cherry! Uh, I'm salvatating.

Lunch was similar to the day before. I ordered another baklava-looking  thing but this one was cut in strips of about 10cm. For  2KM (like, 1euro) and 250kilos, I got them filled with spinich and cheese.

I love food prices here because it allows me to buy more stuff that matters, like turkish scarves and honey. hehehe

Bosnia, baby! day 2

Ended up going to bed around 1:00 last night and woke up before 7.

Opened the window and listened to some more Turkish music from a taxi.

Worked out then ate this delicious breakfast! Have to be honest, wasn't a fan of the yogurt, but the scrambled are the best in the Balkins, I'm convinced.

For the next three hours we went on the best walking/bus tour so far. Maybe it's because I'm in the city I wanted to visit the most. We visited the tunnel that took 4 months and 4 days to build. It was 800m and it's the path the Bosnians used to escape or bring supplies in starting from 1993. We also visited the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. YES!! cool stuff, man.

Along the way, I bought some Bosnian-made slippers (19KM), dried plums (NOT prunes, 2KM for 1.5kilos), a Turkish scarf (15KM), and local honey (6KM). Score. Oh, I also bought a pillow for 5KM. The one I have at home is who knows how old...

I still need pants. You know, the loose kind like Aladin wears. more or less.

Time is running out and I have more Serbian Dinars than hairs on my head. Something like 2000. They are really hard to convert outside of Serbia. I knew I should have bought those boots yesterday...

We leave again tomorrow morning for Dubrovnik.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

After seven hours on our favorite bus, I. went. out.

I walked into an herb shop. The lady was Turkish and all her products were from Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania. I had to buy something. So for 2KM (Convertible Marka), I bought half a kilo of cinnamon sticks. The scents that hit me when I entered the shop were phenomenal. She had every herb in drawers in the wall. This place was tight. It was uncomfortable with five customers in there.

I went back to the hotel to get a massage. They were having a super special (turkish bath, exfoliant, and massage for the price of one. ) Never again. He loved my upper legs. Neverrrr again.

By the time I left that intrusive situation, it was midnight and I was just bored. So I went out. again. A British pub, Cheers, caught my eye so I stopped in for a glass of red wine. Dry, a bit tart, but to my liking. (I prefer Maltese wine, though). There was this live, local band playing and they were a jam.

The layout of the pub was disorienting for me and after the wine I guess I was  just lost. I tried walking between these two women that were sitting at two separate tables through this wooden structure, which I thought was a door. Some people were staring and I couldn't find the handle.

"Where's the exit?", I had to ask for clarification. The guys across from her were smiling.

"Oh, honey, it's over there!", she had to yell over the band. Those guys were bustin' out laughin. pff, so was I.

Balkanisation--problematic situation, unpredictable; negative connotation

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Zagreb: Observations

--have not seen a single jogger

--women don't wear bring pinks like they do in slovenia

--both professors we spoke with today wore light blue shirts with a dark red tie

--English language proficiency is higher in Slovenia (but better than Ticino, haleluja)

--streets are smaller, closer together than Slovenia. Buildings are also darker and more Gothic in color/style

--less comercial, less chains

--overall I believe Croatia is poorer than Slovenia

Zagreb, Croatia muah

Academic Travel continued...

had a haircut this morning in Croatia's capitol at 7:30. The lady didn't speak english; this was something the girls at the salon didn't tell me last night when I made the appointment. but it was fun. I had her chop off 5 centimeters. She washed my hair for an unreasonably long amount of time. She also didn't stop blowdrying my hair until I told her it was dry enough. I mean, I looked like a poodle after she blow-dried my hair!! So I just put it back in my typical bun and bobby pins after I left.

The countertops were clear of any products a typical Spaniard or US salon would have had; the lady brought out her bag of potions in something similar to my travel bag of toiletries.  There were three hair-washing stations. The lady took my jacket and scarf to hang it up right after I took it off. She even pushed the chair infor me when I sat down...I can't remember the last time a man did that for me...

The seats don't glide smoothly with the pump of a foot like they do in the States and Western Europe. The ambiance was a bit depressing. The colors were bleak, the furniture and hair driers were shabby, the woman was smiling.

I get cheap haircuts in the States, but I think this is some of the local differences you can see between different governments. I really think this place has seen the worst of socialism.

I paid 150 kunas. I'm very happy with it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Woke up this morning before my iPod, scrambled up, and headed out to meet the gang. I really thought the Grotto was suppose to be open so I could get my daily injection of cappuccino, but alas, it was not. How could I expect something that convenient?

Anyways, the bus was about 30 minutes late, we stopped for a 30 minute bathroom break, and had an hour to blow in Ljubljana. Everyone else I asked ended up sleeping more (because a six hour bus trip isn't enough time to sleep) but I. went. out.

I gave myself the grad tour of my surroundings and stumbled on the opera house (no shows tonight), and two art museums; and I hit the jackpot. Not only was the first museum I went into free for students, it was a specialy museum in Slovenian art! One artist sticks in my mind in particular: J. Petkovsic.

One scene of a peasant with wheelbarrel struck me. A placard mentioned his austere and melancholy undertones were what made him so promenent in this region. He only had half small room dedicated to his works with only six or so of his paintings on display. Maybe that's all he painted.

The opera house was not particularly striking. This was the first opera house I've seen though, where they have tutu's on display behind glass. It's a very simple form of advertisment, I think. Very sophisticated.

We went on a three hour walking The Maltese version was more pleasing.

Dinner wasn't anything to mention either. We just ate at the hotel. I could tell this professor wouldn't be big on "eating for cultural knowledge". And so far I've been right. Let's hope things improve.

And hopefully I can get a haircut tomorrow.

The rest of the evening was spent working out in the hotel (four stars) with my roomie, Lauren. Yeah man, pumpin some ironn.

Then I hit the sauna and steam room. I think those were well deserved after these past two weeks.

Oh, and there's a Zara right across the street from this hotel (Best Western) and the prices are outrageous. There's no place like Vegas...

Day 1 of Academic Travel

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Twas the Day Before Travel

Woke up with the sun only to be ditched by the person who said she was going to go on a hike with me this morning.

I had never gone hiking in Lugano before and she was suppose to show me the way. Not matter, two hours later a friend had tol me how to get there and I made my descent.

With each stride, I noticed it felt more like fall than Spring: there was a bite in the air, leaves were brown and scattered all over the muddy ground, unnoticed. It was almost disorienting.

Going up San Salvatore, I couldn't believe how many steps there were. Rocks littered the terrain underneath the sheath of leaves but the Swiss really love to put steps on their trails...

It only took me an hour to get to the top. That includes short stops for scenic views. This was the cleanest I've experienced Ticinese air and the most beautiful I've seen Lugano. The panoramic view from the top of the 19th century church was inspirational.

The church was one of Switzerland's more shabby, but a little ways down was a (free) museum of the area so I peeked inside. A lady wrapped up in what I considered a winter parka, greeted me immediately.

So, on this fine visit, I learned more about the geological and religious history of the area I lived in while improving my Italian and French.

I trekked back down thinking how much my parents would have loved to do something like that with me, but glad I was alone since they couldn't join me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


FYI: If you ever have to deal with me, remember that I don't understand computers, especially Macs. I don't need to be told that I'm not intelligent when dealing with computers because I already know it.

And I don't know what's up with this whole "I'm turning into an introvert again" phase. I have my days yes, but sometimes I just really don't want to talk to the people here. Just some of them. Visit me and you'll know what I mean. It's not really the students, it's the professors. you wouldn't believe some of the things they say/wear/do. Maybe that's all University campuses and I just haven't the experience to notice it.

I just want my acceptance letter from UCAS please. Get me outta here!!

Just thought of something. The type of music I've been listening to has changed dramatically. My iPod syned with my roommates iTunes account and it's always like trying to find a good song on the radio during a bad streak so you just settle on something mediocre. I'm stuck until August with Katy Perry, Ke$sha, and a bunch of Korean stuff. I've given the Korean stuff a shot, but it just isn't the same as Chopin's Noctures, Vivaldi's Concerto's, or even Carlos Vives, my dearest Columbian.

This is why I'm getting stupider. I know it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Take a look at THIS!: Itinerary for Academic Travel Spring 2012

This is "technically" referred to by FC students as The Magic Bus Tour part II because this is the second bus trip Professor Schlein takes in an Academic year, but this is the more famous one.

Keep in mind that what you are about to read will BOOGLE your minnnd! (is boogle a word?) All of this travel is done on a bus, meaning no trains nor planes will be used in the course of these two weeks.

March 11, Sun: Leave Lugano. Drive across northern IT to Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. Afternoon guided tour.

March 12, Mon: meeting with Slovenian economist/former gov't minister, slovenian prof of law. Drive to Croatia and capital, Zagreb.

March 13, Tue: tour or Zagreb. meetings with Croatian historian and an economist .

March 14, Wed: Depart to Belgrade, Serbia.
March 15, Thurs:  meeting at Mission to Serbia of the O.S.C.E , meeting with Serb experts on foreign policy and economy.

March 16, Fri: early morning drive to Bosnia and Herzegovina and capital Sarajevo, visit City Hall, meet with Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo

March 17, Sat: tour of Sarajevo, visit old Turkish bazar and where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated.(I'm SO excited for this stop, thank you Mr. Bradley's sophomore year WWII history segment.)  meeting with a Bosnian prof and theater director for politics and culture.

March 18, Sun: depart to Neretva valley, visit old bridge of Mostar, continue down Adriatic coast, drive to Dubrovnik

March 19, Mon: tour of Dubrovnik, visit to University of Dubrovnik and meeting with professor

March 20, Tue: excursion to MONTENEGRO!! drive to Cetinje, Lovcen pass

March 21, Wed: Depart for Split, guided tour of Split, visit to palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian

March 22, Thurs: departure to Rijeka then to Postojna in Slovenia

March 23, Friday: visit/tour of world famous vaces of Postojna! then drive back through northern Italy to Lugano.....

arrive in early evening.

so it's much more acadmically focused than my Malta Academic Travel, but I get to go to 5 countries , all of which use different currencies ( I believe. I'm pretty sure Slovenia is the only one I listed that uses the euro...)

let me name the 5, just for kicks:

3.Bosnia and Herzgovina
not to mention new parts of northern

bahahahah, how did I find this place. I'M even jealous of myself right now. Wow it's getting late and I still have to walk down the hill. I guess I better get crackin

Break Time frum ma MidTerms

I had four classes today starting at 8:30am (Calculus, yeah!). That also included a group presentation in Marcoecon (I was the only one in my group who presented), frustrations with a Mac in my Communications course, and a mid term in Biology, not to mention the mid term I took in Calculus.

Right afterward I had an appointment with my calc professor--cool guy. Then I headed straight to the library, wrote a report on my presentation for output gap in Switzerland and the UK from 1600 til 2000, quick dinner, and now I'm here: taking a break from my Communications Audience analysis 6 page paper I have to do. I just got to the second page.....

Last Friday night, at like, midnight, I decided to apply for University of Lausanne! It has a language program for me to integrate in properly and learn French, not to mention it has a strong Economics and Russian program. Not to mention it's also SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than University of Geneve. No, French isn't my beloved Spanish, but this is God taking me where He needs me. I'll do whatever it takes to keep me in Switzerland.

I sent the online portion in and I have most of the paperwork done, but I just saw today, gah, that I need to send in my CV. NO!~ my CV is SO far from being ready. I mean, I worked with the lady in the Writing Center on it but I have barely looked at the template since last week. Can't my beatuful American RESume suffice? please?...

So the group project I mentioned earlier. Yeah, I made the presentation, I found the graphs, I presented. I wanted this project to be solo and I got my wish. The first time I tried meeting with the two other group members, I waited for them for 45 minutes and neither of them showed up.

I. was. livid.

We didn't present because we ended up meeting the night before in their dorm building (15 minutes late) and they decided that this just was not possible.

Shoot me.

So for the sake of the group, I took a punch.

This morning, one of my group members was ill and the other couldn't find the graphs.

Okay I'm done with this. I can feel my temperature rising just writing this out.


On a happy note, the paper is turned in and the art museum by Lago Lugano reopens this Saturday. I'm going with my buddy from San Fran, Arnie!