Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Arrivederci, Bologna

It's taken me a long time to conclude this blog, for a variety of reasons. I was pretty much drained after all of the goodbyes, the packing, the hornet battles, and my dazed but ultimately smooth trip home. More than that, though, my mind has just been completely occupied this summer by my work, friends, and family. So to finally wrap things up, I'd like to relate a few of the most important things I have learned through the experience of studying abroad.

1. How to live on my own, far away from home, and in a foreign language

2. How to use conversational Italian comfortably and proficiently

3. How the university system can work outside the United States, and the strengths of American higher education over the Italian system

4. How to cook - and eat - all'italiana

5. How to go with the flow while on vacation, and, more generally, how to accept and enjoy the things life gives you

6. Renewed appreciation for Brown, Rhode Island, the United States, and my life in general

My study abroad experience was immensely enjoyable and educational, and I think it was one of the best things I have ever done. I could talk for hours about my time in Italy, but I won't right do that here and now. Suffice it to say that whoever you are, I think that only good things can come from learning more about your place in the world.

As a side story... One of the last things that I did before I left Bologna was enter the Basilica of St. Petronius and look for the sun shining through the oculus (above) onto the solar dial to mark the day in the year. Unfortunately, the church closed for lunch before the beam made it to the dial. Whereas back in January this might have frustrated me, this time I was willing to content myself with the good fortune of seeing the sun beam land on a column, crawling ever so slowly in the direction of the sun dial. Maybe it was better this way...


I am now back at home, enjoying my time with my friends and family, and doing great research in a chemistry lab at Brown. I'm extremely grateful for all of the great people who made my stay in Italy so enjoyable, especially the people at the Brown in Bologna office, my American friends along with me on the program, and the many new Italian friends that I made in Bologna. Grazie, arrivederci!


A couple days before I left Italy, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather, and the end of my finals, and spend an afternoon exploring nearby Parma - somewhere I had wanted to visit since January but never had the right opportunity. I went by myself, but I got out of the house early and came back in the mid-afternoon, so I still had the rest of the day to hang out with my friends. Here are some of the pics from my day:

The 12th century Romanesque Duomo of Parma and the famous baptistery on the right. At center is the bell tower in scaffolding.

On the inside of the cathedral, there are several paintings by the famous Renaissance painter Parmigianino, and most notably, the frescoed ceiling of the dome: the Assumption by Correggio:

After walking around the center of the city for a while, I crossed the river and headed towards the Versailles-inspired Ducal Gardens, site of the Ducal Palace of Parma, below. Parma was ruled by the French for a long period of history, and the French influence has hung around the city in a variety of ways.

Other places I visited in Parma were the Teatro Regio, the opera house devoted to the opera of Parma's own Giuseppe Verdi, and the cemetery where Niccolo' Paganini is buried. My summation of Parma is that it is a charming little city packed full of art, history, good food, and old buildings. Below you can see the lovely torrente, or stream, that splits Parma in two: