Field Trip: Morocco

•April 30, 2010 • 2 Comments

I am currently sitting in Rabat, Morocco.  It has cooled off substantially.  Yet, I’m still sticky and stiff from a long day of hot traveling, walking, socializing, and starting new career endeavors.  I came to Morocco this week to attend the annual agricultural faire that takes place in Meknes, a city near Fez.  My reason for attending the fair was to familiarize myself with the agricultural sector in Morocco, and see some of what my future summer employer does in the field.  If all of my security and medical clearances go through in time (inchallah), I will be working with the Morocco office of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  My responsibilities will be mostly regarding communications and their agricultural program.  I am actually quite excited.  For, while I don’t have much formal experience in communications, I think that MCC is a challenging case on which to work, as there is no other development organization quite like it (that I know of ).  So much current literature on the development industry is absolutely scathing… and for good reason.  Many organizations may be wasteful, misinformed, seek only concrete deliverables instead of long term investments in sustainable engines of endogenous growth, or be completely beholden to whoever provides their funding.  Interestingly enough, MCC has come up in much of this literature as an alternative approach which may (or may not) work as a future model for other bilateral aid organizations.  I will wait until I return to Morocco in June to give you a more concrete explanation of this model, as I am still learning about it and want to make sure I get it right!  Suffice it to say, they are all about “country ownership.”  That means that the Moroccans are going to decide what kind of development they need, and they are going to plan and implement projects to obtain those development goals.  MCC kind of sits quietly in the wings, offering technical and monetary support.  What I find seriously intriguing is that MCC has practically no operating costs.  Almost all of the money (and there is A LOT.  Enough to give me hear palpitations every time I say it out loud.)  is earmarked specifically for these projects.  This means that as a summer intern I will be working for free.  It also means that the country director and some MCC consultants have occasionally chosen to stay in the transit house where I’m staying now in order to save the organization money.  As the director told me today, “We’re the rich man with nowhere to sleep!”  As ridiculous as it might sound, I completely agree with this approach.  Of course I do, I was a Peace Corps volunteer and willingly gave up hot showers for two years!

Back to Morocco love…  I was happier today than I’ve been in a long time.  There wasn’t anything that happened in particular that made my day amazing.  Instead, I somehow managed to have wonderful interactions with many different types of people in French, English, and Arabic.  So many people smile and so many people are helpful.  Strangers become much more involved in each other’s worlds than they seem to in Europe and America.  Today, I made friends with a Moroccan girl about my age who works for MCC’s partner institution. We are already planning to visit “le Maroc en profondeur” when I return.  Having local friends makes the experience infinitely better and provides so much more insight into culture, religion, tradition, and the  modern generation.  What I love about Morocco and should be the case everywhere, is that this girl is religious and chooses to cover herself, but that it in no way will hinder our friendship.  Alhumdulilah!  Ok Europe, you’re next!

Today I also shared a train compartment with some friendly Moroccan women, one of which had visited California and spoke wonderful French.  She was dressed in a jalaba, headscarf, and sandals.  Jalabas remind me of the cloaks warn by the jedi masters in Star Wars, except that they come in a variety of colors and fabrics, to which you can match your headscarf.  After disembarking from the train, I took a ride with a taxi man who mostly only spoke Arabic.  He asked me to marry him before I got out of the taxi.  Oh developing world, how I’ve missed you!  Then, I reconvened with the lovely people in the office where I will work this summer (inchallah).  I feel myself shifting from the passive, receptive, academic mindset to the problem-solving, proactive, get-your-hands-dirty mindset.  I like this shift.  My feet have been dragging like crazy for the past few weeks and I’ve really needed a change.

My final positive interaction of the day came when I was searching for some sort of dinner for one.  I went into a cafe to see if they had anything to take away, which they didn’t.  However, the four men in their 60s sitting in the front insisted that I drink a coffee/tea/coke with them.  (Side note: I believe open drinking of alcohol is forbidden in the Islamic kingdom).  I initially resisted, but ended up drinking a coke and talking to them about Morocco and America and Obama and intolerance of Muslims by the West.  Although I was tentative, they ended up being harmless, helpful, and interesting.

Today, everyone has smiled, everyone has been helpful, everyone has been open.  I feel like I’ve been closed off in Italy.  I know that there will be hard times here too, but whenever I head South, I realize that there is something about the developing world that I love.  I hear people in my program saying that they are going to do field work in order to flesh out their resume.  Like it is something that has to be endured.  I, on the other hand, feel that field work is what wakes me up and keeps me interested and makes me care.  I can’t imagine myself in a Washington cubicle working on policy that will be implemented on another continent without me.  At least not yet.

Today, I saw a huge group of kids, about 9 years old, at tables outside a gas station/rest stop.  They were on a field trip.  I thought to myself, “That really was always the best part of school.”  I’m ready for my next field trip, please!

PS  I’m sorry for the prolonged silence.  Apparently I needed Morocco to get me back on track.  Hopefully, I will soon write back-entries on my trip to Lebanon and spring break trip around Italy and Ibiza.  Inchallah.

Ready… Set… Prove Yourself!

•October 13, 2009 • 3 Comments

These past few weeks have been whirlwind adventures as far as my academic endeavors are concerned.  After living and breathing microeconomics for the week before the final exam (read:  no leaving the house, sleeping with the textbook, etc), I promptly tried to gather all relevant international relations theories readings that were huddling in some dark recess of my memory in order to pass the IR theories waiver exam.  During the exam, I realized, in fits and starts, that it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve written an essay test.  Directly after theories, I remembered that I would be attempting to obtain my proficiency in French, which would be another two hour extensive written and reading comprehension exam with the reputation of being rather impossible.  However, after studying French in school for seven years and speaking it in Cameroon for two, I didn’t really know how I could study, except read Le Monde and bite my fingernails with anticipation.

Finally, after taking the French exam and starting REAL classes, I found out that I passed everything!  This was an immense relief because: 1) it means that I don’t have to worry about obtaining language proficiency, 2) I can somehow do enough math to pass econ, 3) I have one core exam out of two under my belt, and lastly, 4) even though the school has been threatening us with speeches such as, “don’t worry if you don’t do as well as you’d like here, it’s normal,” I now feel like I can, as a British friend once told me, run with the big dogs instead of sleeping with the puppies on the porch 🙂  Before all of the exams, I felt like one big pile of rust, trying to scrape through the past couple of years of academic inactivity to remember what I know.  Now, I feel like I am relatively well-prepared to take on the challenges of the semester…  In theory anyway.

With all of these super-fun, party-time exams, I’ve also been doing some direction-related soul-searching (with lots of hyphens to emphasize all of the half-ideas and sub-options).  After much deliberation, I’ve decided to switch my concentration to African Studies (and international economics, which is what we’re all required to do).  I have been avoiding this step for a long time, wondering if it will confine me to work only in Africa.  However, after considering it for awhile, I realized that if I’m not working IN Africa, then I will probably be interested in working somewhere that has projects in Africa or deals with African issues.  It is what I know.  It is what compels me (and frustrates me).  Picking the concentration feels like I’m asking someone to marry me.  Maybe you’re never completely, 100% sure and sort of wonder if something better will come along, but at some point you know that it’s the right thing to do.  Oh god.  Please do not let my marriage be like this…

Courses for the semester (if all goes as planned);

  • Macroeconomics (scintillating subject material that will hopefully culminate in an epiphany that let’s me solve the economic crisis in one, fell swoop)
  • Politics and Policies of the American Emergency State (taught by a NY times op-ed columnist and offering a more “progressive” view of American foreign policy)
  • Modernity and Nationalism in Egypt, Iran, and Turkey
  • War and Conflict Resolution in Sub-Saharan Africa (if I can outlast the bidding war and bowl people over with my enthusiasm for the class- it’s capped at 17 and has more than twice that who are enrolled)
  • Arabic (beginning, of course.  3 days a week, in an attempt to branch out from romance languages)
  • Comparative National Systems (only auditing in order to take the core exam, which is a requirement for the African studies concentration)

Bear in mind that most of these classes are only once a week, the others being two days in a row every two weeks (except for Arabic).  This means that I have lots of time to fill with reading and anything else I might (have time to) fancy.  For now, this includes activities like choir at the university of Bologna, wine club, Africa club (when it finally meets), and French conversation.  There may not be enough hours in the week, but I’m excited to be active.  We’ll see if I change my mind once it gets REALLY cold, the days get shorter, and my life is completely inundated with reading and papers.  For now, however, I’m having fun writing in my  planner and taking in as much as possible.

Muscle Memory

•September 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The rain finally came, and with it some sort of deadweight in my body that urges me to stay in bed instead of walking to school armed with my umbrella and rain boots.  I foresee many months of this ahead.  Although it rains every day during the rainy season in Cameroon, there isn’t the same darkness and chill.  I forgot what it’s like to have to give myself pep talks in order to coax myself out of bed in the morning.  I didn’t pack slippers, and will definitely need them in the coming months.  We only have tile floors, and I’m sure we’ll be trying to use radiators in each room as sparingly as possible.   Despite the rain the late-night bar-goers at the end of the block have not been deterred, safely sitting beneath the covered sidewalk and drinking until 2am.  My new way of trying to drown them out is listening to old episodes of This American Life on NPR.  I didn’t really discover it until now.  Falling asleep to it is almost like having a parent tell you bedtime stories.   The only danger is that the episode is so interesting that I just listen instead of drifting off.  At the moment though, I prefer it it earplugs, which are just a sort of dead silence and feel like they’re stoppering up thoughts in my head.

umbrella time!

umbrella time!

I sincerely forgot what it was like to be in school, not being able to sleep and only living through reading, prepping for tests, and writing papers.  By the end of the day, you’ve absorbed so much information that you’re like a zombie-sponge, lying awake in your bed, trying not to think about something you couldn’t figure out before you quit for the nigh, or about what you have to do the next day that you’re afraid you can’t get done in time.  Fun, fun.

I don’t really understand how it’s already September 17th and I’m almost finished with the third week of preterm.  We’re having our microeconomics midterm this Saturday (as if they aren’t torturing us enough by having a complex class condensed into a month), closely followed by the final exam on the 29th.  Today, I really gave into the intense studying, isolating myself in an empty classroom and listening to high-powered, high volume indie electronic music on my ipod while plodding through chapters and chapters and chapter and lecture note and problem sets in order to make my study guide.  The first three hours were exhilarating and I was feeling like I was back in senior year of college, during which I was essentially a studying machine.  After the third hour, I lost most of my momentum and focus.  I’m not used to this anymore.  Studying is a muscle that I’ve neglected to stretch.  Even though I can’t wait for preterm to end and real classes to start, I’m also glad for the opportunity to remind myself of the kind of commitment it takes to do well in school.  God knows I spent most of freshman year figuring that out.  Here, that kind of ignorance or lack of commitment is not an option if you want to succeed.  Welcome to serious time.

Ick.  Enough of that.  Moving away from serious time (especially because it seems like it might be the trend for awhile), last weekend we decided to rent a car and visit the Chianti region for some wine tasting, beautiful views, and medieval cities.  Raquel (my Spanish flat mate) drove with Fabio (Brazilian) as the navigator and myself, Jamie (another American), and Eleanor (my Scottish flate mate), chatting away in the back and being really no help at all as we lost ourselves on the winding roads of Chianti.  As luck would have it, there was a wine tasting festival in Greve in Chianti, where one could purchase a lovely crystal wine glass with the event information etched on it and then wonder around and taste 8 different wines.  Of course, flirting with or generally being friendly to the wine stewards increased our chances of not having our little wine cards punched and getting more than eight (large) tastes in the end.  Somehow, during the day we also managed to come across a woman offering free tours of the region, including transportation.  So, in the midst of the merrymaking of the wine festival, we decided to take a break and visit a medieval church, a Tuscan count’s family winery, and a classic Tuscan butchery.  Of course, while at the butchery I accidentally ate a piece of bread thickly spread with herbed lard, and didn’t quite feel right for the rest of the day.  The next day we went to San Gimignano, a medieval city with well-preserved towers, apparently somewhat of an anomaly for the region because of the frequent wars between city-states.  In the city we met some of the members of the Bologna professional basketball team- Americans who have lived in Italy for five years and still don’t speak a word of Italian.  Supposedly the fact that the Bologna team has American members means that its good- and that it has money.

Square in San Gimignano

Square in San Gimignano

Before we left San Gimignano we bought provisions for a picnic and drove to a hill in the country, overlooking a vineyard and shaded by trees.  Wonderful relaxation and something most likely found in either novels aimed at women or spiritual balance, but for good reason.  The last thing we did before we drove back to Bologna was visit a winery and do just a leeeetle more wine tasting.  When in Rome… I say again.

Even though there was traffic on the way back, we made it home in about 2 hours.  Everything is so close, and there is so much to do.  However, with the midterm this weekend and the final coming up, I think my traveling is plans will be rather constricted.  Just for now, inchallah.

Also- I know that you may not have money for a myriad of reasons, I know that you may be busy with work, I know that you may already have visited Italy.  However, let these reasons not deter you from visiting me.  I miss you guys and being home for two months wasn’t enough.  Please?  Italy is much closer than Cameroon.

Bolognese Beginnings

•September 6, 2009 • 2 Comments

Tonight and last night have been the first signs that summer is ending.  (Thank God).  These are the first nights that I can close my bedroom window instead of having to leave it open, hoping to get a little breeze, but instead just hearing the insanely loud garbage truck violently shaking out the empty wine bottles from the canister in front of the wine bar down the street at 3:30 am.  This means no more sweating as I walk to school, no more fanning myself as I sit in the living room on the weekend, glued to the couch and sedated by the humidity.  I hear the wind and rain are equally as debilitating in the winter, but for now I’m ready for fall.

my room

bolognese bedroom

I’ve had one full week of classes, meaning that I’ve already learned (supposedly) one quarter of a semester’s worth of microeconomics.  I’m well on my way to being able to comfortably calculate scary-looking economic functions.  That’s right, I actually got the calculus questions right on the math diagnostic quiz.  Although I was initially unsure of my capacity to comfortably link math with economic theory, I think that actual application of functions is what might finally help me understand math… hopefully in a way that doesn’t just slip right back out of my ears, like math tends to do.

Along with the econ comes the survival Italian.  As in, “Ciao!  Mi chiamo Emilie.  Sonno americana dalla California.  E tu?”  As my mother said, this is always the beginning.  I can already tell that one of my econ procrastination methods will be to study Italian instead.  I’ve been devising new methods of guilt-free procrastination, such as studying Italian or reading the NY times or cleaning my room because I can still claim that I’m doing something productive.  My least productive, but most enjoyable way to procrastinate is gastronomically.

on the way to school

on the way to school

One of the best parts about discovering Bologna is the food.  There is a restaurant directly across the street from our apartment that has a delicious daily menu for (relatively) good prices.  Last week I had the most amazing cylindrical gnocchi in a cream sauce, tossed with fresh arugula.  We also shared a litre of wine for 7 euros.  The wine here is pretty incredible.  The region seems to be well-known for its Sangiovese, and spending 5 euros on a bottle of local wine is enough to give you something smooth and delicious.  So far, I’ve never been anywhere where the wine has been so consistently good for such good prices (although someone really pushed it at a get together this weekend when they brought a bottle with a twist-off top).  Back to the food…  last night we splurged on a fancy dinner that included shared appetizers of red snapper and grilled vegetables, creamy risotto, and….  veal tongue.  Yes, I finally ate veal and it was delicious.  Cameroon has definitely positively affected my willingness to try new things.  For the main course I had steak tartar with local mushrooms.  I only wish I had more dispensable income to throw at these places.  There is so much you can eat and it is all so fresh and delicious.  Sigh.  I know, my life is so hard.

raquel and emilie, off to a dinner party

raquel and emilie, off to a dinner party

This weekend, I went to Ravenna, a city famous for its beautiful mosaics dating back to the Byzantines in 500 AD.  They were absolutely beautiful.  I’ve never seen anything like them.  Being in Cameroon for so long made me forget how much I love art.  I was surprisingly moved when we walked into a mausoleum where the whole ceiling was covered with mosaic stars.  Florence and Cinque Terre are only train rides away.  One weekend soon…

the empress theodora in ravenna

the empress theodora in ravenna

Now, I just need to find a way to smoothly integrate studying, socializing, feasting, traveling, and working (the last one to hopefully balance the two right before), and still get eight hours of sleep a night.  Maybe not possible.  At least I can substitute sleep with perfectly crafted cappucini.  Yes, in case you were wondering, the plural of cappucino is cappucini and one grilled sandwich is actually a panino.  Don’t worry, I will talk a lot more about food in the future and try to keep the econ references to a minimum.

Side note:  Today I taught someone the Oscar Meyer Bologna song.  I hope to do this much more frequently in the future.

L’Albergo Italiano

•August 25, 2009 • 4 Comments

Somehow, since I last left you, I managed to wrangle all of my bags and nerves from San Francisco to Bologna, via Washington DC, Frankfurt, and Milan. In all honesty, the very last leg of the journey was the only part that posed any problems at all. In fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever had a more pleasant flying experience. This was, embarrassingly enough, largely due in part to the fact that I bought “Twilight” in the airport and read it for the entire plane trip to DC. It’s amazing how fast the hours pass when you’re reading a mindless, yet somehow mesmerizing bestseller.

My layover in Frankfurt afforded me enough time to change terminals and clothes, wash my face and brush my teeth, and sample some perfume at the duty free shop. The hard part was the train station. As I mentioned before, I have a packing problem. In the end, I had one 50 pound backpack, one 70 pound rolling bag, one approximately 20 pound computer bag, and one 10 pound purse. One’s luggage should not outweigh oneself, should one have to haul all of said luggage UP several flights of stairs at a train station without elevators and subsequently maneuver it to the 11th car without any luggage cart. The 11th car is, of course, just before the caboose. It was (and still is) also about 85-90 degrees, with humidity. After this minor nightmare at the end of a surprisingly pleasant trip, everything else has been smooth sailing.

I only had to spend one night in a hotel with an extremely helpful front desk manager before I found my new apartment and new roommate. My apartment is somewhat far from the school, but in a neighborhood that is known for its SAIS community and proximity to points of interest. Besides, this is my excuse to actually, legitimately, relearn how to ride a bike. I know that everyone says that you can’t forget, but I think that they may underestimate my limited coordination.

In addition to somehow finding a really cool Spanish roommate (I really don’t know how I ended up finding someone so nice and interesting), I’ve also been surrounded by a sea of nationalities. Two days ago, I group of us went to a small town outside of Bologna for a music/street performance fair. Among the countries represented in our group were Spain, France, Israel, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Wales, and finally, America. Not only do I get all of the political discussions I could ever dream of, I also get to hear historical and cultural anecdotes that you just can’t find in travel guide books or on two-week vacations. I find all of the differences completely fascinating.

Today, in fact, I had an in depth conversation with a Frenchmen about why Americans dislike the French and why the French dislike Americans (stereotypically speaking, of course). I might preface this by saying that I initially would not speak French to this guy, guarding my own stereotype (and previous experience) that Parisians (because he’s from Paris), might scoff at my attempts. However, after making way too big a deal about it, I finally started talking. And he said that I spoke well. This may have been to make me feel better after I was so shy, but this is still enough for me. Anyway, after discussing the stereotypes of loud, obese Americans plowing through Paris, destroying things in their wake and the cynical, black-wearing, arrogant French, I felt like we somehow communicated small, misunderstood aspects of our cultures to each other. This may sound boring to some of you, but after several years abroad that has given me a love/hate relationship with my own culture and many an identity crisis, it was exactly what I needed.

The Bologna Center gives us a list with all of the student names and nationalities. 40 countries are represented. 93 students are American, 116 are from other places. I feel so lucky to be able to meet so many new, interesting, motivated, intelligent people with so many different viewpoints. In the past few days, even though I’ve walked so much I can barely feel the soles of my feet and am very nervous about how well I’ll do once the real parts of school begin, I feel happier than I’ve felt in a long time. I am so happy that I decided to do this. What an amazing opportunity.

Plus- Chianti Classico, 5 euro, gorgonzola cheese, 1.70 euro, balsamic vinegar, 1.50 euro and I live in a neighborhood with endless cobblestones, cappuccinos, and a vintage clothing store that sells Chanel and Pucci. Yes, please.

I just really need to learn Italian (and calculus, of course). Ciao!

The Packing Problem

•August 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been back in California since Wednesday, somehow.  Therefore, I really can’t comprehend that it’s already Sunday night.  I leave for Italy on Thursday eeearrrrrrrly.  The real question is: What on earth have I been doing?  Answer: Thinking deeply about truly essential things such as, how many pair of boots should I bring…? Is five too much?  Yes, yes, too much.  But I can’t really decide which ones, so I’ll move on to jewelry.  And skirts and dresses and jeans and sweaters and and and. This is ridiculous and self-indulgent.  I feel like this whole packing undertaking should be much easier than my Peace Corps preparation.

During the month after I graduated from college, packing for Peace Corps was my full-time job.  I really don’t think that I did anything else except packing and unpacking, organizing everything in individually labelled tuperware and plastic bags, weighing my bags every other day to make sure that I hadn’t gone over my alloted weight limit.

I’ve actually had more time to pack for Italy, but haven’t spent nearly the same amount of time as I did for the two years in Cameroon.  Of course, this makes sense.  In Italy, you can easily find shampoo and you probably won’t offend anyone with your typical American attire.  Also, Italy is only one year instead of two.  Nevertheless, I still find myself sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, loathe to pick anything to bring.  This is not because I am worried that I won’t be in style or whatever etc. etc., but rather because I have only recently emerged from “the jungle” and have excavated all of my old possessions, many of which completely escaped my memory until they were dragged out of the garage.  This could be because I packed up my apartment the day after my grad night superparty, couldn’t see anything through my headache, and haven’t opened anything since.  Now I’m leaving again and have to rebury many of my discoveries.  I can’t (and don’t want to) bring everything I own to Italy.  However, at this point I wonder if I will ever be in a place with all of my possessions surrounding me like one big, happy family.  These beautiful wonderful things include a turntable and records, wooden shoes from Amsterdam, paintings and masks from Cameroons, and even replaceable things like kitchenware and the rest of my far too expansive wardrobe.

Believe me, my hemming and hawing and mourning and sighing makes me constantly question my apparent reliance on THINGS.  It seems that even if I travel somewhere with next to nothing of character (like I did when I went to Cameroon), I must immediately acquire things to make me feel at home and remind me of where I am and what I’ve done.  This seems all well and good, until I return home with my new loot and add it too the pile of old.  I’m decorating houses in 10 different countries and dressing myself for 50 different activities and buying souvenirs for 100 different people.  I can’t shake the memento.  And now, as I pack away all of the things from college, I’m adding things from Peace Corps.  Away again, for another year at least, until I come back and pile on more.  This needs to stop? I am addicted to tangible memories and can barely pack a suitcase.

New Beginnings

•August 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Pictured above: My dad & sister with her kids, me & my grandpa (Drinking margaritas.  Is this wrong?)

I am currently sitting in the Zeitgeist coffee shop in Seattle.  I am in Washington to visit my sister, her children, my father, and grandfather.  The last time I saw everyone but my father was two years ago, right before I left to do Peace Corps in Cameroon.  Since I’ve been gone, my  niece, who was a one-year-old baby when I left, has turned into a miniature person talking a blue streak and giving the classic “because” answer to why questions.  Two years doesn’t really seem like all that long, except when you look at the change in small children.  Or old grandparents.  My grandfather is in his 90’s, and was determinedly driving from Seattle to San Francisco by himself two years ago.  Since I’ve been gone, he has lost his strength to do it anymore.  With small children and old grandparents one can see marked physical changes in two years, whereas I see little change in myself.  However, even if I look basically the same in the mirror, I know that I have changed.  The change has little to do with my appearance, and a lot to do with my patience, my faith in myself, and my determination to do something with my life that challenges me intellectually, emotionally, and existentially.  America has changed to.  We have our first African American president, the economy is at a terrifying low, and everyone is talking about global warming.  I feel that being away has made me much better appreciate the magnitude of these changes, in a way that only complete separation can.

And now, after only 2 months of trying to ascertain and appreciate these changes, I am embarking on another adventure.

In two weeks, I leave for Bologna to begin my graduate studies in international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).  I will spend one academic year in Bologna and the next in DC.  In hopes of starting grad school right after I returned from Peace Corps, I studied for and took the GRE in Cameroon and applied to several schools based in DC (where the majority of the international NGOs are based).  SAIS was my first choice (the main campus is in DC, not Baltimore), and the acceptance to the Bologna campus a total surprise.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do a whole other year abroad after being out in the middle of nowhere for two, and spending my whole junior year of college abroad, with only senior year in the States.  However, I realized that I couldn’t say no to Johns Hopkins, and that I couldn’t say no to Italy.  Come on.  Bologna is where spaghetti bolognese comes from.

SO: This blog is a continuation of my blog  It will hopefully encompass all of the noteworthy events and circumstances of my next year in Bologna, and beyond.

I am scheduled to arrive in Bologna after a plane trip to Milan with two layovers, a shuttle ride to the train station, a train to Bologna, a taxi to the SAIS Bologna Center, and a most likely embarrassing walk down a narrow street carrying all of my luggage containing both freezing winter and scorching summer wardrobes.  Stay tuned.