1. Do you go to school in a buliding that is guarded 24 hours a day by police officers armed with huge guns (because of the terrorist threat since it’s an American University), but there is no alarm to prevent book stealing from the library.
2. Is the Asian market the only place to buy Ameican food and other imports.
3. Do waiters frequently tell you that your whole table has to order the same thing… in a restaurant!
4. Are there 20+ keys laying around your apartment, most of which you can’t use to open anything because you have no clue which lock it matches with. The rest never leave their keyholes!
5. Will there be a group of men at table sharing 2 bottles of red wine while trying to pick up some ladies at the bar.
6. Is it 100% normal to receive an SMS (text message) from a professor on a random Thursday afternoon.
7. Can you hit on a man by complimenting him on his purse!
8. Are elevators smaller than the tiniest powder room and everyday all four girls that live in your apartment ride it… together.
9. Is it considered ‘good luck’ to step in dog poop on the side walk or have a pigeon crap on your head.
10. Will a man make eye contact with you and try to flirt while hugging his girlfriend or holding her hand.

The past two weeks of my life have been filled with a lot of travelling, friends, and excitement. Last Friday, when my final final was over, I felt as if I could finally restart my life. Since the workload here has not exactly been heavy, it happened to fall all at the end of the semester. During finals week I make no joke when I say that all I had time to do was study, eat, sleep, and shower (sometimes). It was the hardest week of finals I have experienced so far in college, but that has been what my study abroad experience has been about… getting through hard stuff.

Saturday, the 4th, I headed to London! While there I got to see Big Ben (my real goal) and LOTS of friends. That night out at the pubs it was pretty much a Theta reunion, as there were 6 of us all having a fun time. One of my favorite experiences was when I introduced myself to a guy, who upon hearing my name replied, “God, Ashley, that is such an American name!” Needless to say, his name was James, the most British one I can think of. I then went north to Norwich, where there is another Dickinson program, to visit and stay with my friend GR. We had a lot of fun and she was the best host ever, even though she got me sick!

This is when I start ranting about the pound… The most horrible currency EVER! It is almost double the dollar, but you wouldn’t know it by the prices. First of all, everything in London is prepackaged (foodwise), and a sandwich for example costs 4 pounds. That is EIGHT DOLLARS! It is like they forgot to convert or something. It was a very expensive weekend and I was glad to get back to Italy where the Euro is my friend.

The first day of classes was last Wednesday. I am taking Political Leadership, Modern Italy, Italian Politics, and a John’s Hopkins graduate level class; Theories of International Relations. So far, I am in love with Political Leadership because we are able to have actual discussions in class, unlike any last semester which were purely lecture based. I would have to say that speaking in class is pretty much my favorite thing to do.

Saturday I went to the Olympics!!! Torino is such a beautiful city and I loved being there. The Italians were pretty disorganized and I am glad we speak Italian, because otherwise my friends and I would have been completely lost. No one seemed to know where to send us or what was going on. We did manage to stumble upon the taping of the Today show, which I got on!! It foreshadowed the fun to come during the rest of our amazing day. Next we sought out food and ate lunch with some Olympians in a small café near the center of Torino while watching some events. Then we found the Olympic Store, which had a 10-minute wait outside of it, and bought some extremely overpriced souvenirs. We made our way past the area where they have the medal ceremonies and were almost crushed in a huge and unruly crowd trying to get into the piazza.

We finally made it through security and into the Palasport Olympico Stadium, which was brand new and amazing. The seats were clear and looked like ice, but it was nice and warm in the small arena. Clearly, in ice hockey, the Canadians killed the Italians, but the energy of all the fans was overwhelming. My friends and I had a lot of fun talking to people sitting nearby and dancing to the music. We even got on the big screen during the dance contest!! My dad said he saw me on TV after the second Canadian goal when they panned the crowd. Two times on TV in one day, not too shabby! Overall, my time at the Olympics was amazing and unforgettable. I really want to try to go back next week since there are still tickets left for some of the events and because when else will I be able to see the games in Italy?

In other news, my program just recently announced that our spring trip will be to Warsaw, Krakow, and Auschwitz, Poland. I am part Polish, so this trip is particularly meaningful and exciting for me. I also think that going to a former concentration camp, while intense, will be an interesting experience.

Well, I guess that is all I have to say, except for an early Felize San Valentino!

1. Do people lock up their bikes and sometimes their pets outside of stores.
2. Would you see a person spend 50 Euros at the supermarket but bring their own bags to avoid paying 3 cents each for them.
3. Can you be walking down the street and pass a person smoking TWO cigarettes and they almost burn you with BOTH of them!
4. Will you see/hear a large group of students walking down the street (openly skipping class on a school day) chanting obscenities about the Prime Minister in their own make-shift protest about the current proposed school reforms.
5. Does water in a lot of cases cost more than a cheap bottle of wine. (this is really true, i’m not lying)
6. Will Bologna and basically its entire transit system be shut down by a group of 100,000 farmers who are rallying against the new national agricultural policy.
7. Can you speak critically about someone who is right next to you, assuming of course that they don’t speak English!
8. Will you see men unabashedly wearing scarves (even pink and purple ones!) as accessories
9. Do people wait at red lights for the walk sign even when there are CLEARLY no cars coming.
10. Do teachers answer cell phones and send text messages during class that are obviously more important than teaching.

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