Spring break, finally! For my first weekend on spring break I left for Interlaken, Switzerland through the Florence for Fun travel group. This post is about a village I visited called Grindelwald.
I departed on Thursday evening by bus. It was a 5 hour ride through the night.
South-eastern view of the mountains– I stayed up from 4:30 am when we arrived, and watched the sun rise. I ran out for a walk immediately and walked through some rural area, and saw the sun peaking over the snowy mountains. It was beautiful.
- Visit Grindelwald!
- Bring sunglasses — the glare from the sunlight reflecting off of the snow is uncomfortable and bad for your eyes.
- Pack light for hiking about.
- Make a snowman.
- Don’t eat any kangaroo.
- Consider visiting Lauterbrunnen and Jungfraujoch (although Jungfraujoch train tickets are expensive).
- Send some postcards from Switzerland
- Buy a Swiss army knife.
- Look up some places to eat beforehand. A lot of food here is yucky, other students had bad experiences with food.
- Wear rain boots.
- Don’t take a backpack on the walking tour.
- For fun: ride the vaporetto/water bus around just for sights of the city! Venice is a lot smaller than it seems, and it is enjoyable to see the city from the water.
- Go island hoping!! Visit the other little islands like Murano (famous for its glass) and Burano. They are apparently unique and adorable, and not visiting them is the greatest regret of my Venice trip.
- I got lucky because it didn’t rain the entire weekend I was in Venice. However, bring waterproof things and a warm coat and gloves.
- There is no night life in Venice, so don’t wait until late in the evening to go have fun.
Fiorentina is Florence’s soccer team. I went to the Fiorentina v. Atalanta soccer game with AIFS and my study abroad classmates.
Italy is a young country that is formed of separatists –It is a country united in its disunity. Soccer (or in Europe, “futbol”) is one of the only arenas in which people come together.
(Not my photograph)
Fiorentina v. Atalanta: I got very cold from sitting down in the cold stadium during the first half of the game, so after the intermission I ditched my seat and stood between some classmates and an enthusiastic group of Italians; the man next to me waved a huge flag (It was at least 6 feet across).
During the last minutes of the game the Italians and I were intent on the score.
(Not my photo) — Rossi channeling team spirit.
My eyes were glued to the ball– and I saw it slam into Atalanta’s goal — in the next instant my world exploded.
We’d won, 2–0
The Italian guy grabbed me and literally jumped up and down with me screaming with happiness. I yelled and waved my fist in the air. In the following moment, an extremely short Italian woman had grabbed me by the shoulder and leaped up and down while screaming with joy. It was a priceless experience.
I bought a jersey before the game like many of the other people in my group.
Rossi is Fiorentina’s American soccer player — he was born in the U.S. and lived there until he was 12 before moving to Italy. He was recently injured so he actually didn’t play at the game I went to.
The stadium: Jed (AIFS staff member) warned us that the stadium is more “basic” than us Americans are used to. I don’t attend sports games in the U.S., and I thought the stadium was adorable and cool. There are huge, clear panels that separate the home team from the visiting team to prevent violence or thrown objects from hitting fans. The stadium isn’t covered either.
If anything, I admire the straightforward approach to soccer. Fans go to watch in every sort of weather (it’s frowned-upon to leave early for any reason). I’m somewhat critical of the American attitude toward sports as it is. The energy of the Europeans’ love of soccer here is tangible and so real — it’s the one thing that can bridge Italy’s divisions. Their spirit (and skill) earned my respect.
Soccer is the world’s sport. America is unique in it’s lonely pursuit of baseball and American football. Soccer is played around the world by nearly every country — it’s the international game.
(I don’t have any photos of the game because large, “professional-looking” cameras aren’t allowed (camera’s with a removable lens). The small-camera people beat me out on this one! Check out Elizabeth’s photos of the game though.)
Tips for attending a soccer game:
- Wear the team colours! Don’t buy a jersey if it’s during one of the cold months. I’d buy a jacket (if you don’t mind buying something more expensive) or a scarf. It’s so cold that you’ll have to bundle up over your jersey.
- Bring a waterproof in case, it has been known to rain.
- Don’t bring your big camera — anything “professional looking” or that has a removable lens.
- Bring a form of I.D. — Driver’s license or passport are great.
- Dress warmly.
- Don’t just watch the game– watch the crowd! Try to stand next to an Italian group. It’s fun to listen to them cussing out the other team.
- Don’t bring any knives or lighters. Don’t bring anything that could be thrown at people.
I am a sophomore in college from Sonoma County, California, and am currently an Art major.
On January 25th, 2014 I will depart the U.S. for Florence, Italy, where I will study abroad through the Northern California Study Abroad Consortium (NCSAC) program for 3 months.
This weekly blog will document my adventures and experiences of living and studying abroad in Florence, Italy. I’ve never studied Italian, and I do not speak it at all (I have studied Spanish, French, and I’m almost fluent in Polish). In addition, I am vegetarian and gluten-free, so I will have to put some thought into making adjustments for my meals. I’d like to show that it’s possible to travel to a foreign country for an extended stay without knowing the language well and with dietary restrictions as long as you keep an open mind.
My goal is to help inspire future study abroad students by creating an interesting blog that documents an American college student’s life and immersion in Italian culture.
Hopefully reading about my experience of living in Italy will spark your interest in foreign cultures and travel!
I look forward to writing for you!