Saturday, February 19, 2011

Torino Contra Peruggia

Last weekend I played in my first lacrosse game with the Bologna Sharks. Kind of. The thing is that the Bologna team doesn't have enough players to field a full team, so they generally team up with the Torino team to play games. So this Saturday, David and I were driven by Emanuele (our goalie) and Guilio (another dude on the team) 5 hours to Torino, where we suited up in the blue and yellow uniforms of Torino Lacrosse and played against the Peruggia squad.

I thought that with two Americans, our team was sure to win, but when we arrived, I discovered that Peruggia was headed by a 40-something Australian who had played some kind of semi-professional loacrosse in Australia. He had apparently played for the Italian national team last year, as had a bunch of other guys on the Peruggia team.

This one Australian dude aside (he scored 14 goals), we did pretty well for ourselves. David (who is a pretty amazing athelete) scored 7 goals, one of them a pretty awesome assist from yours truly. I scored a goal on a fast break, and would have had a second but I hit double pipes. I guess I'll have to pad my stats next game.

Overall the game was a ton of fun, and it was really great to play again, even though I got pretty tired by the end. The Italians overreacted every time they got hit and fell onto the ground writhing in pain, but I guess that's what they do in soccer too. There was also a pretty cool dude on the other team from Connecticut (or Vermont) who I got to face off against. We got to chat and make fun of the Italians during the game.

I don't know if I'll post on every game I play, but this is a pretty cool opportunity that I never imagined I'd have in Italy, so I wanted to at least share this one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Viennese Waltzes and Sore Feet

Last week my fellow students and I loaded onto a bus for an overnight drive from Bologna to Vienna, Austria. We had been invited to attend the IAEA Staff Association Ball. After a lengthy finals period, we were definitely looking forward to letting loose a little bit.

After an overnight drive we arrived in Vienna around 9 in the morning, checked into our hotel and spent the day taking naps, eating weiner schnitzel, sightseeing and taking more preemptive naps. At 5:00pm, my classmates had transformed from sweatpants-wearing grad students to handsome young men and women in evening gowns and dinner jackets. We all headed to the city hall of Vienna for a SAIS welcome reception.

On the walk from the reception to the ball, we stopped off at a little stand that sells kasekrainers. These things are genius! They poke a giant hole in a baguette and stick a giant sausage, some cheese and ketchup in it. I know America has stolen some of its best food from the old world in the past... we need to keep it up.

The ball venue was the Hofsburg Palace, the summer home of Europe's most famous royal family, the Hapsburgs. If you know me, you'll know that I was nerding out pretty hard about this.

After a cool opening ceremony featuring African drummers, opera singers and weird prepubescent dancers, the real fun got started! I started out with a little exploring, did a little polka dancing and spent some quality time getting my groove on in the salsa room (there were 7 different salons with different types of music and dancing). I got to sit down and meet one of my new professors, Thomas Row, who seems like a really excellent dude. At midnight, a bunch of us made our way to the main ballroom for the quadrille.

After the quadrille, I pretty much stayed in the main ballroom, with a few detours to dance in other places for a bit or to desperately gulp down water, but the ballroom was where it was at. I utilized my newly-found waltz skills and had a lot of fun spinning the night away. Cinderella really missed out by leaving her ball at midnight.

We finally stopped when the band stopped playing at 4:30am, a lone violinist played a sad song as we collected ourselves, re-tied our bow ties and headed home.

I awoke the next morning with baggy eyes and extremely sore feet, but that didn't stop me from doing a little sightseeing in Vienna, the historic seat of the Hapsburg Empire.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Final Exams - Success!

My blog is filled with fun stories about my extra-curricular activities, so filled that I sometimes worry that it looks like I don't go to school. I go to school. I spend the vast majority of my time studying, reading, taking notes and writing papers. This January was especially intense, as my final exam period for me spanned the whole month.

I began studying for the Evolution of the International System CORE exam around Christmas and New Years'. I had taken a very similar class as an undergraduate, so I decided to try my luck on January 10th and test out of the class (I was also secretly hoping to do really well so I could be the TA for the class in the spring). Here's the test:

I ended up doing really well, my only mistake was a little mix-up between Alexander I and Alexander II of Russia. Nobody's perfect...

Then, on January 11th and 12th I had my Spanish written and oral finals. I did ok, but could have done better. Here's to increasing my comprehension in the new year!

While all this studying was going on, I also had a paper for my Political Analysis and Strategy in UN Intervention class. I wrote mine on the Lusaka Peace Process and how the Angolan Civil War might have been ended by applying some realist policies used by the late Richard Holbrooke in the Bosnian war. I had kind of a hokey title, but I was really proud of the resulting paper:

Over the weekend, I studied for my International Trade Theory Exam, which I got out of the way right before Carrie came to visit on January 18th. After Carrie left, I had a day or two to study for my Theories of International Relations exam on January 24th, and then two days until my International Monetary Theory final exam. Of those three, I did best on my Monetary exam, so I'll show you that one:

I finished out finals "week" on January 30th, when my group turned in our Strategy and Policy paper on the implications of WikiLeaks on strategic communication. It was a heck of a month and now you can see why our trip to Austria was so sorely needed!