Stephan Brown-Study Abroad, Nicosia, Cyprus (Week 8: Italy!)

During the summer of 2011 I met a girl from Italy named Sara while working for the free library of Philadelphia. We instantly became friends the first day she starting volunteering at the library and after her first day we ended up hanging out 24/7. She was the first European I met and she taught me something new about Italy and Europe everyday that we hung out. We went on a new  adventure everyday and we always had a good time party rocking around the city. unfortunately, all the fun and good times came to an end when she had to go back to Italy. For four straight years we kept in contact over Skype and we always talked about me coming to visit her home some day. Sara was my biggest inspiration for wanting to study abroad in Europe and she is the main reason why I choose to study abroad in the first place. Now I’m proud to announce that after four years, I’m finally reunited with her in her country; Italy. This was not only the highlight of my study abroad experience, but this was also one of the best moments of my study abroad experience!

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(Myself, Sara and Cam back in 2011 when we first met!)11056945_10206137911717799_18357733_n

 (Sara and myself 4 years later n 2015!)

So for all those who know me, you know that anything that I do involves a struggle, either at the beginning, middle or end of my experience. Well my struggle began once I landed in Rome and realized that I had no idea where to find my bus to the train station.  I looked around for a good ten minutes before asking anyone for help and when I did ask, a lovely group of girls from London helped me find the bus station. My bus arrived 30 minutes late and took almost an hour to arrive at the train station (My train departed at 3pm…I did not to get to the station till 3:40pm!). I once again became lost and a random local missed her train to help me find the gate I was supposed to  (Thanks so much random woman!). Since I missed my first train, I had to wait in a long line to switch my tickets and the whole process almost caused me to miss my train.When I got to the train station, I couldn’t believe that I arrived in Milan. I was looking in all directions and almost forgot to look for my friend who was waiting for me. When she saw me, we gave each other the biggest hug and I had the biggest smile on my face! When we arrived at her house, I met her parents and her siblings and they made me feel right at home. Later that night, Sara introduced me to her friends and they took me out for traditional Italian pizza.  We spent a good while getting to know each other more as well as getting a better understanding of each others culture and lives.

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(Myself, Caterina, Marta, Sara and Andrea)

The next day, Sara gave me an awesome tour of Milan. When you first arrive in this city, you notice a giant needle and thread sculpture stretching across two blocks. This sculpture pretty much represents that Milan is the fashion capital of the world!

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As we continued to walk through the city, we came across Sforzesco Castle. The Sforzesco Castle has been around since the 15th century and was created by Francisco Sforza, The duke of Milan. When you walk inside you notice many people, nice architecture, beautiful art and a beautiful park on the other side.

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(Sforzesco Castle)

Our next stop on our tour through the city was the Milan Cathedral. This church took six centuries to complete( It’s still in construction) and it is the fifth largest church in the world. When I entered the church, the first thing that I did was look up at the ceiling. The church is so big that it literally took my breath away with every step that I took. This place is definitely a must to visit if you ever come to Milan!

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(Duomo di Milano)

Our final stop in my Milan tour concluded at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the worlds oldest shopping mall.  The place is filled with expensive brands like Gucci, Prada, Armani as well as thousands of tourists!…Oh yeah, Sara also introduced me to her Italian friends who grew up in the U.S and Italy. You do not understand how shocked I was when they spoke perfect Italian and switched over to perfect English . They are literally the coolest people and I enjoyed meeting the both of you!

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(Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ll)SAM_1725(Sara’s friends and I)

On the next day we took a road trip to Mantova, Italy which is located about two hours from Milan. This town is a hidden gem in Italy and when you go here it feels like you took a trip back in time. The first thing we did once we arrived was try more authentic Italian food (Which I do not have a problem with at all). Sara and Andrea convinced me to try pumpkin filled ravioli and although it sounds strange, it was actually pretty good (Now I need to figure out how to find pumpkin ravioli in the states. After we finished eating, we headed down to the Castle of Saint George. The Castle of Saint George has been around since 1406 and is the main attraction of Mantova.

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(Myself, Sara, Andrea)

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(The Castle of Saint George)SAM_1804 - Copy

(Clock Tower)

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(Rotunda of San Lorenzo)SAM_1800

(Cathedral of St.Peter the Apostle)

They also had a really cool flea market were you could buy vintage items that your great grandparents probably owned! Like seriously check out these cameras, I really wish I bought one 😦

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We ended our trip in Mantua by visiting the Palazzo Te. This place is filled with classic and modern art and every room has a different architecture that takes your breath away. Each room also gives a story about all the art within the room and once you step outside you are surrounded by beautiful scenery and sculptures.SAM_1815 - CopySAM_1831SAM_1832

(Palazzo Te)

During my last two days in Italy I got the chance to experience the day in the life of an engineer in Italy. I followed a few college classes (They were all in Italian) and I met more of Sara’s friends.  Let me tell you that physics in Italian is not fun and I do not even need to understand it to know that the struggle is real XD.

Final Goodbyes and Thank You’s

The first set of people who I want to thank are Sara’s parents for allowing me to stay at their home for the week. You both made me feel like I was at home and I really enjoyed all the Italian food and coffee.  Sara’s parents are some of the nicest European parents that I met so far and I really appreciate everything you did for me.

The next person that I would like to thank is Andrea for showing me around Milan, Pavia and Mantua. I know it was hard for us to communicate with each other (English/ Italian language barrier) but, we still managed to talk and become good friends by the end of my stay. You are really nice and your home is really awesome and I hope to see you again soon! Good luck in aerospace engineering! Thanks for everything dude.

I also want to thank Damiano for showing me around his favorite places in Milan. I enjoyed getting to know you more over art, Pizza, crazy clothing stores and ice cream. You are definitely one of the coolest people I met during my stay and I enjoyed your company! Also congrats on your acceptance to The University of Santa Monica! I really hope you accept the offer and once you do, I will be visiting you!..Live it up, Soak up the sun and enjoy California.

I want to thank Caterina and Marta for being so nice to me from the first day I met the both of you. You two are smart, funny and cool and I am really impressed that you all are engineers! Good luck with everything in the future and I hope to see you in Italy soon.

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(Myself, Caterina)

I want to thank Elisa for all our awesome kitchen conversations and for making me laugh whenever we talked to each other. You have the happiest personality and that will really take you far in life. Good luck in Spanish class and See ya in Philly this summer hopefully!

Thanks again Sara for a wonderful week and lets hope that will see each other again sooner!

P.S. I am really gonna miss this Sara’s brother! He spoke very little English and I spoke no Italian, but we somehow managed to communicate through video games! He is the coolest kid ever!

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(Mateo and Myself)

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Hello everyone!!! My awesome roommate Caleb has entered a photography competition here in Cyprus. It focuses on the beauty of nature. What’s amazing is that the top three winners get their work printed on the packaging of the 6-Pack Kykkos water bottles for 1.5 months AND they reward the winners with a flying drone that can be used with your GoPro!!!! The winners are decided by judges and most importantly, FACEBOOK LIKES!!!! So please, like his entry! Share it! Tell your friends!! All you do is click the link, and under my entry (it should be the only one on the page) you will see a heart button that you can press to like my piece. It’s all in Greek but all you need to know is how to like the image. Thank you so much for your support, It would be awesome if won! Click here VOTE FOR CALEB!

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