For my first city on my Italian spring break, I visited the great city of Turin! I arrived by train about 2:00 pm on Friday and made it to my Air BNB which was only about 10 or so minutes from the station. I settled in and then I headed off to explore the city.  My first stop was a gelato place and then the cinema museum. Unfortunately,  the cinema museum was quite crowded and I couldn’t get in so I decided to go to the Automobile museum instead. It was a long walk but it was worth it! I really appreciated their use of space and in the end I picked up a t shirt. Then it was back to the BNB with a quick stop for dinner on the way back.

The next day I got up early and headed down to the Egyptian Museum (the best collection of Egyptian artifacts in the entire world). It was busy but I got to see some truly amazing sites like the a mummified man from before the time of the Pharaohs and  a statue of Ramses II. I would have gotten a shirt but at 23 euros ($28), it was a bit too rich for my blood. I then went to the cinema museum late in the evening. The museum is built right inside the Mole Antonelliana which at one point was the tallest brick structure in the world. I was able to go to the top of it so I went ahead and did that. I was absolutely blown away. The sight of the city at night was truly beautiful. I went back down the elevator and explored the rest of the museum. It mostly emphasized the early history of moving pictures and then it transitioned into the influence of music in movies across the 1900’s and early 2000’s. I then went back to the BNB and had pasta and tomato sauce.

My final day was a rainy one and I spent the some of it exploring the inner city with the rest of it being a sleepy recovery day. I bade my goodbyes the day after and onward I went. Next stop: Verona.


One of the lovely Venetian canals

Recently , the bulk of OUA students went on an exiting trip to Padova and then Venice! We got up early in the morning in order to make it down to the train station by 7:20 and thankfully, we all made it. The train ride took a few hours. We passed the time primarily by sleeping and gazing outside at the beautiful Italian landscape. When we arrived in Padova, we went to the beautiful Scrovegni chapel which was painted by Giotto, the early Renaissance artist. Kirk was quite passionate as he described how much of an impact Giotto had had on the art movement of the time as he broke away from the traditional gothic style of heavy symbolism and limited sentimental appeal. Throughout his paintings, the people are often engaged in actions and expressing emotion that really helps connect them to the viewer and help them understand what is happening in the scenes.

At this point in time we broke for lunch. I went to a lovely pizza place with a group and then some fine Italian shopping. I just picked up a burgundy hoodie but there were definitely a lot of sales to be had with some items being a full 70% off! We then rejoined the group and we all went to the local university where Galileo taught and many advances in medicine were made. Our tour guide spoke good English and like Kirk, spoke with passion about the importance of her surroundings. The anatomical theater was easily my favorite as it had been persevered very well since the late 1800s when it ceased to be used. At around 7:00 or so we had a lovely dinner at a local restaurant. A funny incident occurred as some students at my table attempted to send a bottle of red wine as a gift to Kirk’s table and he sent it back to our table. We then had the bottle ourselves. Quite funny indeed!

Look at those crowds!

Next was Venice! We all broke up into smaller groups and took the one-hour train trip to Venice. I was awestruck when I had first left the station as it was so full and bustling with Carnevale life. My group walked towards the Piazza San Marco and on the way, we picked up some delightful masks. I was the only one to go with the full mask (which was a bit pricier) but in my defense, it looked freakin’ cool. We had lunch at a lovely outdoor café where we had meat lasagna and pizza whilst overlooking one of the many canals. Piazza San Marco was crowded but it was still enjoyable to see how many thousands of people could fit in one small place. At this point our group split into two smaller groups and mine managed to visit the basilica and do some more exploring away from the crowds. We then took the 6:25 back to Arezzo and after posting to Instagram about my adventures, I went to sleep (albeit at midnight).

Thomas and I in our new carnevale masks (I’m on the right)

Welcome to Arezzo!

I have been in Arezzo for a few weeks now and I thought that now would be an opportune time to write a blog post about my experiences so far!

I came into the airport the day before the official entrance date so I stayed in a little BNB for the night. I was exhausted from the plae ride so I slept and regained energy for the next day. It was nice to see everyone when they came in as I knew I would be getting to know them all a lot better as time went on. After some quick pictures at the airport, we were on our way.

It was a 3 hour bus ride so it was another opportunity to get some sleep. The beautiful Tuscan landscape was breathtaking, but again, sleep was still a pretty big priority. When we arrived we were given our room assignments and everyone seemed to be pretty pleased with who they would be sleeping with. Then orientation week followed and that also went pretty well in my opinion. The classes I am taking are Art History, Modern Europe, Political Islam, and Italian 1. I have a lot of reading to do but I don’t mind too much!

I was not sure at first as to what this blog should be primarily about but I think food should be given a priority as it can be just so gosh darn delicious.

A cheap meal form Masterchip that consists of fries with sauce and a big skewer for stabbing. The sauce is barbecue in this picture.
Literally the best gelato in Italy (according to the shop in San Gimignano).

Of course I feel the need to insert pictures of me in here as well so everyone knows I still look good. I expect I’ll be posting fairly regularly so all the good food can have a chance in the limelight.

A rainy day in Siena

Climate Summit in France, U.S. Snubbed

On December 14, President Macron had a meeting in France which many world leaders were in invited to attend. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss overall climate policy and the decision by the United States to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Despite the fact that President Trump has stated he is in favor of renegotiating the deal, he was not invited to attend.

When the United States chose to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement earlier this year, it joined Nigeria and Syria as countries that did not agree to the deals terms. Since that time, both of the other countries have joined, leaving the United States on its own. It would seem that in President Trump’s efforts to weaken the international deal, he is strengthened it. There are many states and cities within the U.S. that have said that they will attempt to cut as much carbon dioxide emissions as the U.S. was supposed to have done.

Trump not being invited to the talks is not surprising but it is something that should be noticed. The U.S. was not invited to a major talk with much of the world and that weakens the U.S. on the world stage when it comes to how much impact it will have on events. In my opinion this trend of being snubbed will probably continue as long as Donald Trump continues to be our president. There is a good chance he will not be invited to many things including the wedding of British Royalty in May of next year. Funnily, former President Barack Obama may receive an invitation.

Russia Barred from 2018 Olympics

Recently, the IOC has announced a complete ban of Russia participating in the 2018 Pyeongchang  Winter Games. This means that Russian officials are forbidden to attend, its anthem will not be played, and its flag will not be allowed to be present at the competition. If the athletes compete, they will have to compete as individuals. They can win medals but none for Russia.

This ban is the result of a years long investigation into the extent of Russian doping.  It appears that 1/3 of the Russians who won medals in 2014 were involved in the scandal. The doping was hidden for so long as the urine samples of the athletes were doctored and replaced by members of the Russian sports ministry and medical staff operating on their behalf. This swapping out of samples was effective as genuine samples had been taken from the athletes prior to them taking drugs.  It was legitimately their urine, just from an earlier time. This was done in utmost secrecy and with the approval of the Russian state.

Russia entering the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver

I believe that this is fascinating as this is the largest penalty ever imposed on a participating country by the Olympic committee. This can be seen  by the world as a serious effort to reduce the amount of doping that is done in the events. I am confident that if the penalty were lighter, the Russians would likely continue with their abuses of the games as early as 2020, along with several other countries. If the IOC can be seen to have teeth, it may discourage others from following in Russia’s footsteps.

It is likely that I will watch the competition when I am abroad in Italy. With Russia out of the picture, countries like the U.S., Canada, South Korea, Japan, and those around the Baltic Sea will likely pick up quite a few more medals.

Latinist Lunch with Dr. Paulo Moreira

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to attend one of the Latinist lunches that are held often in Farzaneh Hall.  This one ran from 12:00pm – 1:15pm and it was entitled “Compulsive Memory: Contemporary Brazilian Cinema and the Military Dictatorship” and the talk was given by OU’s first full-time Portuguese instructor, Dr. Paulo Moreira.

This was taken during the lunch. Dr. Moreira can be seen in blue, leaning over to have a conversation with the lady to his left.

The talk centered around the genre of the Brazilian Dictatorship films (of which there are over 40 such movies) but it especially highlighted “4 Days in September” which is loosely based  off of a novel that describes the kidnapping of the American ambassador to Brazil. The ambassador is kidnapped by student revolutionaries who are protesting the recent government takeover by the military. Their plan was to exchange the ambassador with leftist political prisoners.

The movie has encountered some criticism as it is not as historically accurate as one would hope. There were some cases with the characters being the combination of several real people and another where a real women was split into two separate characters. One can imagine why this would cause outcry. The film also tried to humanize both sides of the conflict including the state torturers which really made some people who lost family under the regime quite upset.

However, it has been accepted that this is an important film genre for Brazil to have as it forces them to talk about horrible events that some had hoped would be forgotten. This phase in entertainment has been a catharsis for the people of Brazil who were around during that time and it has gotten young people more involved in Brazilian history.

Overall, I enjoyed the talk and the sandwiches were delightful as well!

Finished Reading “Revolution For Dummies”

This is a somber day as I have officially finished reading the book “Revolution for Dummies” by Bassem Youssef for my international reading group. The story is the true tale of how Bassem Youssef went from a heart surgeon to Egypt’s first satirist at the start of the Arab Spring and his eventual exile from the country. The show he created simply known as “The Show”, was heavily inspired by “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart as it also told the truth about current events through jokes. Jon Stewart would later be a guest on what came to be the most highly watched show in the history of Arabic television.

I learned a lot about Egyptian culture during my time reading and I was most surprised to learn about the absolute reverence the citizens of Egypt have for the military as a result from decades of military dictatorship. When the Muslim Brotherhood lost power and General Sisi  took control, Youssef started to tel jokes about him. This was incredibly unpopular by the populace as he was seen as an extension of the military and the military is always right. This drop in popularity gave the government a chance to threaten him more openly, prompting his departure to the United States.

My final group reading discussion is tomorrow on October 10th. I am sure I’ll have more to say then.

This is my group, aren’t they a lovely bunch?

OU Study Abroad Fair

I am sorry to say that I am uploading information about this international event quite late. It took place on the 7th of September in the South Oval from 10am – 2pm and I am happy to say that I was available to go around that time. When I first arrived, I saw the booths I knew would be there which included the more traditional OU ones for Arezzo, Rio de Janeiro, and Puebla. I will be going to Arezzo so I made sure to check out the booth and make sure it met my approval. After all, I can objectively say that Arezzo is the best out of the three destinations and you can take that unbiased statement as fact. 

The handout on the left in the image below is something I got from the lovely people of Arcadia. I saw that it was discussing STEM opportunities and I got all excited about all the exotic places I could go. I have to admit, I was somewhat disappointed when I saw that the main places to visit were in the British Isles. I mean, they are lovely, but what fun is a study abroad experience if you don’t get hopelessly lost and don’t know the language?

The one on the right is a country I would very much like to visit someday. I am honestly not sure why I would rather visit this country over that of Japan. Perhaps it is because I am drawn to a country with a chance of being involved in a devastating land invasion from a hostile foreign power, as that generally spices things up.  Is that just me or … ?

Overall, I enjoyed this event and I did learn about other possible study abroad possibilities.


This is what I took from the event.

An Introduction

This is a test image I lifted from creative commons.

Hello! This is a test post to see if I have truly got my blog up and running. I expect I will be posting more content in the future as my experience here with the University of Oklahoma continues.