Campus Philly!

Last Saturday a few friends and I went to Philadelphia on a trip sponsored by the Muhlenberg Activities Council (MAC)!

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As lovely as the Muhlen-bubble is… It was so nice being away from campus and Allentown for the day. My friends and I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute, Love Park and spent the rest of the day exploring and getting lost! Since it was Campus Philly, museums across the city were free-of-charge to college students. None of us had a game plan, so we just went wherever we ended up.

Kate and Nikki tried recreating that scene by racing to the top of the stairs at the Museum

Kate and Nikki tried recreating that scene by racing to the top of the stairs at the Museum

we won free shirts!

we won free shirts!

Nikki and Jimmy

Nikki and Jimmy

Although we had no set plans, it ended up being really fun. I can’t wait until next year!

Until next time,

Felisa

 

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Fall Break

I love Fall Break! It’s such a strategically placed mini-vaca. By this time every year, everyone is annoyed with one another, everyone is stressed out with the amount of work that has been done and the work that will need to get done, and on top of that, everyone just wants to go home and cuddle with their dogs cough I mean see our parents and siblings cough.

If they’re luck enough to go back home… Unfortunately, I won’t be going home this break. It doesn’t make any sense anyway… Fall Break is really just a long weekend. Why on Earth would I fly all the way down to St. Thomas for that?

So, I’ll be here on campus. Thankfully the Office of Residential Services offers housing for students who live a certain distance away from campus during these breaks.

I love staying on campus by myself. It’s so quiet, there’s no one around and I feel like I have the entire campus to myself (because I basically do). As much as I love people, I also love being on my own. I love being able to read a book on the grass with my music playing, knowing that I won’t get interrupted by one of my acquaintances or friends. I enjoy being able to go to the park by myself and reflect on how my semester has been and not have people interfere in any way, shape or form. It’s nice being able to sit and think and dream and oft conspire… (Get it? The Alma Mater? haha! Muhlen-joke! Not funny? Okay… I tried…)

Fall Break gives my mind a well-deserved (if I may say so myself) break from everyone else. And I can also catch up on some sleep and Netflix episodes.

Can’t wait until Friday!

 

Until next time,

Felisa W

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Milan, the best hostel in the world, rose flavored gelato, and a casual trip to La Scala (the most incredible theatre in the entire world)

Hello! I feel like it has been ages since I’ve posted a blog, because there has been so much going on here in Italy. This past week was pretty typical regarding classes, but instead of having class Monday through Friday, we only had class until Wednesday, because on Thursday we left for Milan!

The Accademia organized a trip for us to go to Milan and see a performance at the Piccolo Theatre. The super cool part was that the lead of the show is actually our Commedia teacher, who we officially meet tomorrow when we have our first Commedia class!

The Arch of Milan

The Arch of Milan

The Duomo in Milan

The Duomo in Milan

We all hopped on a train early Thursday morning with Monica and headed off for one of the greatest adventures! Our first stop was our hostel, Ostello Bello, which is the most BEAUTIFUL hostel I have ever seen! It has to be the coolest place I have been in, and it is definitely the nicest hostel I will ever stay in for the rest of my life. It was just a really relaxed atmosphere, there was awesome food, and we got to meet so many other travelers. I LOVE OSTELLO BELLO!

After we checked into the hostel, we got to head on over to a tour of the workshop for La Scala. La Scala is a big, beautiful opera house in Milan that is the home for the La Scala Theatre Chorus, the La Scala Ballet, and the La Scala orchestra. This year alone, they are putting on 10 operas and 6 ballets along with tons of other performances. The workshop where we did our tour is a renovated factory on the other side of town that is the home of all the different shops for the theatre. We got to see the scene shop, costume shop, and prop shop, which were all insanely huge and super awesome.

The Workshop

The Workshop

After the tour was over, we had some free time before the performance at the Piccolo Teatro. I spent most of the time just walking around and emptying my bank account (oops). Milan is by far my favorite city I have been to since coming abroad, and I think a big reason for that is the fact that it is so easy to navigate! You can literally go anywhere and not get lost, and there is something beautiful at every turn. (Also it’s super easy to empty your bank account, once again oops)

After a really nice afternoon in the city, we all met at the theatre where we were going to see “Soria di Qu,” the play our professor is currently in.  After the show, we went home to Ostello Bello for some much needed rest.  The next day, we started out early and headed back to the Piccolo Teatro, because we got to go on a tour of the facilities and see the other larger theatre that is a part of the company.  The stage was massive, and the theatre was beautiful!  We even got to go into the costume shop where they were prepping costumes for The Adams Family, which is the next show they are doing in the theatre.

The Piccolo Teatro's Larger Theatre

The Piccolo Teatro’s Larger Theatre

Another Costume for the Adams Family

Costume for the Adams Family

Costume for the Adams Family

Costume for the Adams Family

That night was just another really fun and low key night in Milan.  I actually had dinner at our hostel and hung out with some other travelers that I had met earlier in the day.  Some of them had just gotten to Europe and others had been traveling for months, both on their own and with friends.  I got to hear so many stories and see pictures from the most beautiful places in the world.  It’s amazing how easy it is to travel around Europe, and even though it can be overwhelming sometimes, it is so worth it!

Saturday was our last day in Milan and was originally just another free day, but Monica (our momma over here) has a friend who works at La Scala, and she got free tickets for a couple of us to go and see the final dress of a concert.  I immediately jumped at the opportunity, because I wanted to see the inside of the theatre after hearing all about it on our tour of the workshop.  We got to the theatre around 1:45pm and were not disappointed.  The theatre was GORGEOUS!  It was full of marble staircases, red velvet seats, and gold leafing.  Not only did I get to go into this theatre, but I actually got to sit in a box.  I had my own private little room with super comfy chairs and an awesome view of the stage all while listening to a beautiful concert in Italy.  Life is pretty sweet.

After seeing the concert, we all hopped back onto the train and headed back to Florence, where a couple of us actually stayed for the night, but I was exhausted and could not get back to my beautiful Arezzo fast enough.  When we got back into town, we grabbed a quick dinner and, of course, some gelato, and then came back home to the villa and got some much needed sleep.

Something I realized during our time in Milan when we were seeing all of the different theaters and performances was how universal theatre is.  Everywhere I go in Italy, there is always a language barrier or I feel like a tourist, but when we were in the theaters I felt like I could be anywhere in the world.  It was really nice to hear words that I knew the meanings of, and to see spaces that remind me so much of home.  Overall, Milan was awesome (despite my now empty bank account) and I cannot wait to go back, hopefully sooner rather than later.  Until next time, Ciao!

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The Week Before a Break

At this point, fall break is right around the corner. We are just over one month into the school year, which has already moved quick. It seems that every test and project for a class always land the week before a break. I personally have two tests and two papers due next week. Most of my friends and other people that I have spoken to have told me that next week is their worst week, too.

I don’t think it matters which break it is. Whether it is fall break, winter break, or spring break, there is always a brutal lineup of work waiting for you before you can begin your break. The thought of break is sitting right in front of you, but it feels like a never-ending amount of work before you are able to go home.

There is one aspect to this that is good, which is the fact that when you finally get home you don’t have much of anything to worry about. It’s nice being home for a break with the opportunity to sit back and relax with nothing to think about. This is most evident right before winter and summer break when we have finals. It feels like weeks of preparation and studying to take a few tests that all end in a couple of hours. The moment when you finish the last test is the best feeling there is. It is finally the time to let your body rest and forget any worry of taking a test or working on a project. That right there makes all the hard work worth it.

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Celebrating the holidays, more than just 2704 miles away

For my whole life, my family has followed the practices of Reform Judaism. For those of you who don’t know, it is a very relaxed, non rule-oriented, approach on religion. And from the time I was 11 years old in the fall of 2007, until I graduated this past June, I learned through the lenses of a similar style Jewish education. I followed the routine of Hebrew/Jewish studies classes and Friday services semester after semester for essentially all my teenage years.

Each year when September and October came around, a large portion of people I knew would temporary adjust their life in preparation for the “high holidays.” School would be canceled and my family and I would go to services, followed by a family dinner at my cousin’s house. We all discussed what we were going to make better for the new year while enjoying the time spent together. That was the annual holiday plan.

Now that I am 2704 miles away from home, ironically at a Lutheran-affiliated college, this week has been about figuring out how to reinvent the holiday season for myself.

Luckily for me, Muhlenberg, or as some have called it “Jewlenberg,” is not lacking in a Jewish community. For Rosh Hashanah this past Wednesday, many of my newly acquainted M.O.T (standing for Member of The Tribe or Jewish ) friends and I flocked to the beautiful Hillel for Kugel, grilled potatoes, and spiced chicken. We sang a few songs, said a few prayers, and devoured the delicious food.

Breaking the tradition of dinner with the family at my cousins interestingly gave me a different perspective on the holiday. Being taken out of my “Jewish element” of LA has stirred new feelings of strong Zionism. The prayers were almost refreshing to my soul as they left my mouth, and I felt honored to reconnect with my religion in company of so many other great people.

All in all, I would say my first Jewish holiday away from home was a momentous success. Happy new year!

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(My friends and I hiding from the rain at services on Thursday morning)

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