Posts Tagged ‘Bologna Consortial Studies Program’


Britta: Milano

December 13, 2010
Saturday I took a day trip to Milan with my friend Hope. We went with the intention of seeing two exhibitions: Caravaggio, an Impossible Exhibition, and Salvador Dalì, Il Sogno Si Avvicina.  We first stopped at the Carvaggio exhibition and the woman working asked us if we knew that all the paintings were replicas. We hadn’t known so we didn’t spend the money and we skipped it- so unfortunately we didn’t see any Caravaggio.

Dalì’s work is breathtaking and inspiring. Destino is a short animation film he worked on with Walt Disney.

At this time of year Milan is crawling with markets full of trinkets and the such for potential Christmas gifts and lots of goodies like chocolate covered nuts, dried fruit, and cheese.

We stopped at the  famous Panificio Luini and got delicious deep fried panzerotti filled with spicy salami and mozzarella. This is a hot spot for lunch or a snack in Milan—two lines spill out the doors and there is a bouncer, all just for a delicious traditional pugliese calzone.


Britta: Christmas market

December 6, 2010
The Christmas market is now open in Strada Maggiore. It’s a little market overflowing with tinsel, ornaments, twinkle lights, pine cones, manger scenes, and every other imaginable Christmas decoration available.

It also has handmade scarves, hats, purses, jewelry, and other goods plus lots of candied nuts, chocolate, and tradition Italian sweets such as panettone, torrone, and breads.

The little market under the porticoes is crowded with Italians shopping for the holidays and brings a little Christmas joy to Bologna now that all the snow has melted.



Britta: Cioccolato

November 30, 2010

From Wednesday the 24th to Sunday the 28th Bologna hosted its 7th annual chocolate festival Cioccoshow: “the magic of chocolate”

They started setting up the stands in Piazza Maggiore, through Via degli Orefici to Via Santo Stefano over a week ago and when they finally opened they were filled with chocolate delight.

I enjoyed all sorts of delicious treats throughout the weekend:

chocolate truffles in pistachio, coffee, rum, caramel, honey, hazelnut … hot chocolate, which is more like dark chocolate melted— so rich, filling, and almost sickening. Also chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate liqueur.

Along with lots of chocolate, there was lots of rain, sun, and snow. This makes winter now official.


Meghan: 12 year olds & Thanksgiving

November 29, 2010

During high school, I would spend hours imagining what my life would be like in the future. Just as, I’m sure, almost everyone reading this blog has done as well. I feel like a different person, from those days when all I wanted to do was work with animals, or travel the world as an anthropologist. I am a different person. I never would have imagined that during my Junior year of college I would be sitting in a comfortable, yet bare bedroom on the third floor of an apartment building, overlooking an ancient and unique city, reminiscing about the previous week as my pumpkin pie takes its precious time baking in the oven.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I don’t think I could have had a better one, aside from being home with my family. Each day leading up to Thursday seemed to drag on, as I monotonously went to class…too excited for upcoming weekend full of celebrations, food and friends.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I willingly set myself up to go slowly insane…via twenty-five extremely curious, and outright hilarious, Italian twelve year olds. For the last couple of weeks I have begun working at The Scuola Media Gandino, and Italian middle school about twenty minutes from my apartment, teaching English… or really, facilitating any form of conversation from the rowdy kids. The first couple of weeks were more than entertaining: filled with “getting to know you” games and hundreds of random questions about my personal life. Typically, the class begins with a simple “what did you do this weekend?”, followed by a serious interogation of their new American teacher. Here are some examples, in order of importance (according to them):

  1. “How old are you?”
  2. “Are you from Scotland?” No. “London?” No. “Australia?” Do I sound Australian? “New York?” Nope. But you’re closer! “Miami!” “California!” Too far! “L.A.!” I wish. Oregon!” Oregon? Really? “Texas!!” God, no.
  3. (Naturally, I had to tell them. Who knew that no one in Italy has ever heard of Milwaukee, or Wisconsin for that matter.)
  4. Have you Facebook? Yes. “What is your second name? How do you write your names?” (These are normal sentence structures for Italian kids…quite entertaining! Also, they only want to know how to spell my name in order to become my “friend” on Facebook. Pigs will fly before I “friend” 70 Italian twelve year olds!)
  5. “Do you have a boy?” Translation: Do you have a boyfriend? No.
  6. “Is your boy the boy of your dreams?”(All the boys look up expectantly. The girls all giggle. This is only proof that Italian’s are all romantics at heart—even if your only in the 7th grade. They need to time to hone their skills. Why not on an American teacher? Also, this is proof that they don’t listen.)

I could go on and on with the most ridiculous questions possible from 12 year olds, but I’ll let you use your imagination! Every hour that I spend with them brings not only new insight into the world of teaching (and discipline, for that matter) but the feeling that I’m doing what I love and feel passionate about! Be it lessons on movies, Thanksgiving, or the meaning of the American flag and the Thirteen Original Colonies (try to ask a 12 year old American today if they can list all 13 without looking… My Italian kids can!). I always leave the school happy and confident.

Now, to round things off because I’m tired and need to finish the never-ending blog post. This weekend I :

  • Had an amazing Thanksgiving meal at a local restaurant and ate so much food I pretty much had to roll myself home;
  • My friend Miche, from Tuscany, came to visit and we had an amazing time doing the following:
  • Going to three different markets, both normal and Christmas
  • Ate delicious Indian food
  • Watched three episodes of “Are you Afraid of the Dark” and “Monsters Inc.”
  • Had an American “Home-sickness Party” with the necessary Hamburgers!
  • Ate my weight in chocolate at the local chocolate festival!
  • Wandered around Bologna admiring the beautiful Christmas lights!
  • Pumpkin Pie!!!!
  • and finally: Played in the SNOW!!!



Britta: An Italian Thanksgiving

November 28, 2010
This is definitely the best Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving meal I’ve had away from home. BCSP was very kind and helped us Americans celebrate one of our favorite holidays. We ate at Trattoria Scacco Matto, with all the students, and the professors from the pre-session and other people who have played an important role in making it possible for us to study abroad in Bologna this year.

We started out with a delicious pumpkin soup which tasted like the fresh innards of a pumpkin, flavorful but yet a light texture. Then they brought out the turkey, and the director and his son made the first cut. It was a turkey stuffed with a blend of ground turkey, onion, and other spices. And they did it just right by serving mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, green beans, and a salad. To finish off the meal we had apple pie in a sweet cinnamon sauce.

It was a delicious meal in the company of good friends made while in Bologna, full of laughter, and some embarrassment of our knowledge of U.S. history as one girl continued on her family tradition with a Thanksgiving quiz.


Britta: Soup

November 12, 2010

As the days are starting to get cooler, more soup recipes are coming out in the kitchen. But soup isn’t such an easy translated word from English into Italian. If you go to wordreference and do a search for soup you get three results:

  1. Minestra
  2. Zuppa
  3. Minestrone

So whats the difference?

The answer is debatable and often comes up at the dinner table with my roomates while we’re eating a delicious warm bowl of minestra/zuppa/minestrone.

Minestra: is a soup served typically as a main dish with a dry base such as pasta.

Zuppa: is a type of minestra with mostly bread and vegetables. Bread with boiled vegetables gives a semi-solid composition therefore differing from minestra.

Minestrone: again- a type of minestra except with lots of vegetables and broth. Pasta or rice can be added. This variation is known to be made with the vegetables that are available in the house, maybe not the most fresh.

I wouldn’t say there really is a great difference between these—add a few more vegetables and your minestra becomes a zuppa. And we can’t forget a vellutata which would be like a creamy asparagus soup or cream of potato. Who knew that a bowl of soup could be so complicated and complex?


Meghan: Knock on wood

November 2, 2010

Today is All Souls Day, a holiday almost entirely overshadowed by Halloween and All Saint’s Day, that commemorates the dead. Being in a very Christian country, “The day of the Dead” is definitely not something to be taken lightly. My curiosity has gone into overdrive these last couple of days, and I was especially curious on how Halloween was celebrated in Italy. The idea of “Trick or Treating,” or as Italians like to call it “Dolcetto o Scherzetto” has just recently become popular, mainly in the bigger cities; and trying to find adult sized Halloween costumes is almost impossible…not that I tried very hard. Considering the fact that seeing adults dressed in ridiculous outfits has been, until recently, reason to send them to an Asylum, we expected quite a few comments.

So when Britta and I walked into a small tabaccheria before a “pre-Halloween” party from fellow classmates, the barman couldn’t help but tease Britta, who had drawn cat-whiskers, and promptly quizzed her:
Come si dice dolcetto o scherzetto in Americano?” “How do you say ‘Trick or Treat’ in American?” Naturally, we were able to answer, and got free chocolate! I have to admit, it’s my fault that the tabacchaio started to tease Britta. She came into the tabaccheria (a place where they sell everything, from phone cards to cigarettes, to candy and coffee) with a scarf covering her face to avoid that exact situation. So when the worker looked at me with a raised eye-brow, I couldn’t refrain from explaining that she drew whiskers on her face for Halloween and didn’t want people to see. Laughing and teasing ensued, along with the aforementioned free chocolate.

Maggie, the hostess, pulled out all of the stops, with help from her roommates and other friends from the program, serving chocolate cupcakes with amazing orange colored frosting, PB&J, and other delicious treats. It was definitely a Halloween party, American style. Another party, on the day of Halloween, was just as American, or Midwestern to be more precise, with a scattering of students from all around the world, and our wonderful Italians. The most interesting part of Halloween, for me, was learning all of the different superstitions and myths found in Italy. Here are some of my favorite:

Black Cat: Of course, the black cat is a very prominent superstition in America as well as in Italy; however, have you ever heard of someone while driving, saw a black cat cross the road in front of them, and subsequently stopping and waiting for a car to pass them so that they wouldn’t receive the bad luck caused by the cat?! Ridiculous…but a true story from a friend in Florence.

Toasts: You must never toast with a glass of water, and you must always look in the person’s eyes or else you’ll receive 7 years of a bad love life.

13: The number 13 is actually lucky in Italy! 17 is bad luck! Supposedly, and I have only heard this from one person, but 17 written in roman numerals is XVII, and rearranged it is VIXI, latin for “I lived,” which was commonly written on tombstones.

Shoes or Hats: You must never put new shoes on the bed or table. It brings back the idea that in the past, the dead used to be laid out on the bed/table in order to pay respects, and they would be dressed in new shoes. Doing so will bring bad luck for it is said that “you are tempting death to come over.” (In some places, it goes for hats as well.) So don’t tempt death and keep your shoes off of the table!

Nuns: Supposedly, if you seen a nun you must quickly ward of bad luck by touching iron: the italian version of “knocking on wood” or “touching wood” for you Brits! You can also yell “Your Nun!” to a person nearby and thereby pass on the bad luck to them.
The reason being, nuns were normally only seen at funerals and hospitals: two places you do not want to be.

Finally, and most interestingly, is the “Malocchio.” The “Evil Eye,” can be anything from giving or receiving a dirty look, or sometimes, a compliment that shows jealousy. It is said that giving a compliment is a way of tempting the spirits, and either you must wear the “corno” a horn-shaped charm, or perform the typical hand-gesture by pointing your pinkie and index fingers downward as you “push-away” the bad luck. Make sure that your fingers are facing downwards, because if they are facing up, it means that your significant other, has or is cheating on you.

I could go on and on, but should end this entertaining form of procrastination.


Britta: chestnuts roasting

November 2, 2010

When its a brisk, cool day in Bologna after having a day filled with classes, buying a bag of roasted chestnuts and sitting on the steps of San Pietro looking out over Piazza Maggiore is just the right thing to do.

As for classes, this semester I’m taking:

  • Cinema Italiano
  • Letteratura Francese
  • Filologia ed Esegesi Neotetaentaria (Study of the New Testament)

I’m enjoying my classes and have dived into studying. Unlike in the States, there isn’t assigned daily/weekly homework. You show up to class, listen, take notes, and on your own time you read the books that are listed in the syllabus in and out, backwards and forwards.

My reading list now consists of:

  • Antique Christian, Greek, and Latin Literature Manual- Moreschini and Norelli
  • The Bible- New Testament
  • A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. James- Hort
  • Le Rêve – Émile Zola
  • Nana – Émile Zola
  • La Bête Humaine – Émile Zola
  • Le Tour de Monde en quatre-vingts Jours- Jules Verne
  • Salammbô- Gustave Flaubert
  • Cronologica della letteratura francese- Campagnoli
  • History of French Literature- Brunel



Meghan: Cookies & pancakes

October 24, 2010

Friday afternoon and I’m sitting in my overlarge sweatpants and a tank top sipping away on extra strong espresso, curled up in a blanket and watching The Simpsons. Indeed, it has been a perfect afternoon. I wanted nothing more than to return home after two hours of class, unfortunately in the early morning, and just relax. A tentative schedule has finally begin to form; a quick breakfast with the necessary cappuccino, a brisk walk to my Italian Literature class followed by Romance Philology or Contemporary Italian History, depending on the day, then back home for a quick lunch and study session. Some days, I take my habit of procrastination to heart and give in, preferring a leisurely walk around the city or spending some time with friends; until it comes to that point where you can no longer put off your readings or lesson planning, unless you are prepared to really regret it in a few days.
In all, my life has finally begun to be ruled by a comfortable routine, still flexible, but established all the same.

Speaking of lesson planning, I finally feel at ease planning and executing lessons that are effective and interesting, at least for the nine and ten year old boys on Thursday evenings. Let’s see if I feel the same way once I start teaching their Mom and Aunt in the near future.

At times I feel like I’m really on track, things seem to be going perfect; the way they should be in any case. Then, one of those moments arrive when you realize you were missing something huge; for example the small fact that I have about 12 books to read by January, meaning at least a book a week, before exams. Surprisingly, I’m not as stressed as I should be. Perhaps it’s the cool breeze in the apartment with the distinct smell of fall that has finally arrived in Bologna; the few trees changing colors and losing there sparse leaves. Perhaps it’s the calming effect of writing and contemplating my day-to-day life; something I’ve truly been neglecting do. I’ve come to the point now where things seem normal; the beautiful porticoes have become just regular streets that I numbly walk by everyday to class…even eating gelato has lost its shine! The thought that I am taking the absolute beauty and unique life in Bologna for granted by slowly becoming numb to it isn’t have as disturbing as the fact that I’ve done the exact same thing, for longer than I can remember, at home, in the Midwest. How many times have I walked around my block wishing that I lived somewhere else; somewhere warmer, somewhere interesting and lively? How many times have I taken for granted waking up in the morning with birds singing outside my window instead of the loud scooters speeding on their way to work accompanied by the sounds of construction workers clanging away in the early hours of the morning instead of the pesky squirrels dropping black walnuts all over the yard and patio; little bombs slowly destroying our yard. It makes me wonder how much I’ve taken for granted; how numb have I become to the world around me in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Will I do the same here? Now that I am aware, will I be able to take a step back often enough to never lose sight of the wonders around me?

Italy has made me appreciate a lot of things that before, I took for granted; such as chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven and pancakes. I never thought this day would come, but I can honestly say that I am dead sick of pasta, and pizza is on its way. So to appease this annoyance, cookies and pancakes went on our list of things “all American” things to do. So, Marta (a friend and intern at the school) as well as Kylie and Britta came over and we got to work making some of the best cookies, and slightly not the best pancakes, ever. Having such an American dinner, Marta thought it necessary to buy a bag of chips, and a huge bottle of Coke to seal the deal. Lets just say that our food choices that night were not the best we’ve ever made—our stomachs definitely let us know that later on. I don’t regret a minute of it!


Britta: Chocolate-covered Perugia

October 19, 2010

Last weekend I took a short trip to Perugia to visit a friend and to see the largest chocolate festival in Italy: Eurochocolate.

Perugia is a quaint, medieval city in Umbria, almost right in the center of Italy. It has a beautiful view which on clear days you can see all the way to Assisi, and there are little hidden narrow streets everywhere.

This weekend the quaint, medieval, university city was swarming with people. There was chocolate everything. Chocolate kebabs, chocolate sculptures, chocolate cards, chocolate computers, chocolate lamps, chocolate running down the drains and the smell of chocolate in the air.

There was also every kind of chocolate: violet, rose, cannabis, orange, strawberry, almond, hazelnut, cinnamon, cayenne, rum, anise, mint, coconut, raspberry, coffee, banana,…

Apart from indulging in such a delicious treat, I met some of the nicest girls and enjoyed eating Neapolitan style pizza, walking around Perugia, making English pancakes, and just hanging out.

%d bloggers like this: