Excursions, Classes, & Milan,Italy with a Glimpse of Switzerland

Since I blogged last, I’ve been busy and the days have gone by fast. On Tuesday and Wednesday we had an excursion to Karlsrue and visited the German Federal Constitutional Court. Their task is to ensure that all institutions of the state obey the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since its foundation in 1951, the court has helped to secure respect and effectiveness for the free democratic basic order, especially to the application of fundamental basic human rights. We also all received a copy of their entire constitution; most of it was very similar to the U.S. Constitution, but there were several unique things that I was surprised to learn and that I agreed with more than the U.S constitution. 
We had another excursion on Wednesday that was much closer, in Kehl, Germany, and we discussed cross-culture cooperation and stereotypes and prejudices; it was one of the most interesting educational excursions we’ve had so far, in my opinion; maybe that is because it was more closely related to psychology than any other lecture or activity we’ve had here. Afterwards, we rushed to French class without having done the homework again. Wednesday evening was our potluck dinner to celebrate the end of our French class at the Chateau, and everyone brought some amazing dishes. I went with Moaazma to find a store with Indian spices so she could make Tandoori chicken, and although it took us over an hour, it was worth it because the chicken was delicious; I made pasta, and that wasn’t bad either!
Thursday was a lazy day for me. I didn’t do much, and was feeling very unproductive, but it ended up being one of my favorite nights here; we all went out for St.Patrick’s day, and I got to spend time with some of the other American, French, and German students living in our Chateau as well as a couple of students I had met a few months ago at a BDI event for school. The next day, however, I had to wake up early, catch up on homework and other things I had put off on Thursday, and go to my French class without having had breakfast or lunch. I spent the rest of the evening packing, for Milan, Italy!
The weekend trip to Milan, Italy was organized through the BDI club at our school. It was cheap and included transportation and a nice hotel, and it was safe and in a good location. There were about 30-40(?) students that went on this trip, but I spent most of the time with a few students from our GSU group here at the chateau. Since Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, we took the time to look at expensive things I would never buy at high-quality stores like Louis Vitton, Prada, and Gucci. Because we were in Italy, I made sure to try Italian Pizza, Lasagna, and Tagliata de Manzo–the most delicious sliced and seared steak I have ever had in my life–and potatoes with Italian herbs and spices, at a nice Italian restaurant we found for dinner. 
We also did some sightseeing and touring, although not as much as I had hoped, because it was such a short trip, but we made sure to see the famous Duomo Cathedral in the city center, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Milan. We paid 5 Euros to climb about 180 steps to the top, and it was worth it all. The view from above was of the entire city, and it was beautiful. The weather was the warmest and sunniest it has been during my entire stay in Europe, and it was so nice to relax and lay in the sun on the roof of the Duomo, and later eat Italian food at a nice outdoor restaurant with my friends–it was definitely one of my favorite days I’ve had here. On our 6 hour bus ride back, we passed through Switzerland, and even made a stop there where I bought a souvenir; we weren’t there for long, but the beautiful mountains and landscapes I saw are some that I will never forget!
Tomorrow morning we have our usual lecture by Dr. Wassenberg, but it is via Skype because she broke her back due to a very unfortunate skiing accident a couple of weeks ago. Afterwards, we have another excursion to the Koehler Papermill; the Koehler group reaches a turnover of Euro 50 millions and sales of 430,000 tons. It belongs to one of the last independant German companies in the paper industry, and I am actually very excited for our guided tour of this papermill tomorrow. I think that is one of our last excursions in our study abroad program, and I would definitely like to make the most of it.

We have less than 1 month before the end of this program, and I have papers, projects, tests and finals every week until we leave for Barcelona. But I feel organized and ready to be productive; I would hate to ruin this study abroad experience by getting bad grades and failing my classes, and I’m happy that 10/20 converts to a passing grade back in the U.S! On a different note, today is the Persian New Year’s, or Navroz, and I am excited for a fresh start. My resolution is simply to continue my resolution of 2010, which I have been doing pretty good with lately; however, I wish I could be at home today to celebrate with all of my family and friends. NAVROZ MUBARAK to all! =) Pictures of all of these adventures are on FB, for those who have access and would like to see them!

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