La Dolce Vita

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by Rich Landesberg

It sure has been the sweet life for all of us the past three-plus weeks. We traveled to six different countries (seven if you count the Vatican), at least 11 different cities and used three different currencies. We learned all about the different European Union institutions, how they work and how people perceive them. Our free-time discussions often centered on how things work in the new Europe. Along the way, we were tested on our knowledge. Our learning transcended books and institutions, delving into a more visceral understanding as we met new friends in these countries and explored monuments, museums, restaurants and more.

20120126-161041.jpgOutside every window here in Rome, there seems to be antiquity and beauty. Yesterday started with a trip to the Vatican to attend the Pope’s weekly audience, a moving event regardless of one’s beliefs. The afternoon was a 10-mile walk around Rome, from the Coliseum to the Trevi Fountain (many coins in–many trips back to Rome promised) and important points in-between. And that is where the class ended. Today, students have a chance to see whatever they want, to walk around Rome, or to spend a day living la dolce vita. Our bus leaves in a few hours–in the middle of the night–for our very early start and long day of traveling home.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

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Maybe not what Billy Joel had in mind, but every year we celebrate Betty’s birthday during this course. This year, Allie D shared the same birthday making the celebration even more special. The two posed for the “paparazzi” and enjoyed a surprise birthday cake from our friends at L’Orso ’80.

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Some Pictures from Rome

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Rome!

We are here…safe and sound and heading out to dinner. Check out what some of our students wrote when asked “why should American students study the European Union?” Answers are posted under “Student 1.”

Going with the Flo-rence

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by Rich Landesberg
Now…where were we. Right. In Munich (see photo above). Our unplanned stop in Germany, caused by a delayed flight in Zagreb that forced a missed connection, turned out to be a good chance to bond, chat and catch up on sleep. Our arrival in Florence the next day went off without a hitch.
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We walked all around this beautiful city the night we arrived and headed to Siena the next morning for a day trip that included a look at 13th century murals depicting the joy of good government…and the evil of bad government. It seemed just as relevant today as it did 800 years ago. Siena is a city of great food, great views and, on this Sunday, a football (soccer) game against Napoli. Our students got to see how other cultures get sports-crazed.

Today was some market time in the morning before heading to Fiesole for a fascinating lecture about Italy and the EU as well as some breathtaking views of Florence. Back home by dinner time. Tomorrow….art and history lecture and coach to Rome.

Here are some pictures of our group and where we have been in Italy

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Florence? Nein!

We should be in Florence now, enjoying some pizza and pasta. Instead, we are in Munich. Our flight from Zagreb was delayed, meaning we missed our connection and we are spending the night here, onto Florence in the morning. The airline is putting us up and giving us dinner. We think we have located a few decks of cards meaning a gin rummy tournament is about to break out. What some might think of as a problem we are looking at as an adventure. We learned a great lesson about the difference between US and EU policy toward airline passengers and their rights when things go wrong. We are safe, warm, in a great hotel enjoying a full dinner, all on Lufthansa’s tab. If we were in the states, we’d probably be on the airport floor, buying our own hot dogs.

See you tomorrow, Michaelangleo.

Zig Zag

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by Rich Landesberg

Zig Zag Medvescak (MED-vah-Shak). We heard that a lot our first night here in Zagreb as we watched the hometown Bears beat a team from Ljubjna, 5-2. Hockey is big in this part of the world and the 15,000 seat arena, built less than four years ago, was pretty full. In a country that would never have had t-shirts, jerseys, scarfs and other paraphernalia for sale 25 years ago, the fan culture is going strong now and our students are fans. It would be un-BEAR-able not to cheer for the home team.

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Our first full day here started with a city tour and brief history of this fascinating city that is unknown to most American tourists. We walked through the vibrant city market and over to the cathedral before having time on our own to eat and explore. Late afternoon, we met with a group of law students at their campus near the Parliament. The students had a lively discussion for two hours with topics ranging from the importance of Croatia joining the European Union to the upcoming US Presidential election. When it was all over, students from both countries adjourned to local coffee shops to continue to talk.

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20120119-162427.jpg (above: the main square; the market; outside the law school looking at the church near Parliament; the discussion with law students)

This morning, we met with the head of the UN Development Program for a two hour discussion of what Croatia needs to develop further and with the UNDP does generally. The afternoon provided an opportunity to catch up on what we missed here before we take a flight tomorrow morning to our last destination: Italy.
(below: the view from the train station looking toward our hotel, three blocks away)

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