Obviously going abroad you have to be ready for a culture shock, and I definitely started to miss little things from home. Some of these things seem trivial, but some are really important parts of my life.
If you know me, you know that I love my sports. Going abroad with 15 girls who care more about the tailgate than the game was somewhat difficult. Luckily, as the semester progressed we were able to drag a few out to an AC Milan soccer game in this random city called Udine. This was my first soccer game in Europe and Udine actually won this game (AC Milan was supposed to). The crowd was drunk and rowdy and very passionate. Somehow we managed front row seats which I was pretty stoked about, but there was a reason the locals didn't buy them since we did have somewhat of an obstructed view due to the benches.
Being Health and Exercise majors, I was lucky to be surrounded by health conscious students. No one ended up joining the local gym because it was extremely expensive and we would be paying for days when we weren't even in Italy. Plus the gym didn't open until 9am and closed pretty early. There was an 7 mile run called Su e zo per i ponti which means "up and down the bridges." Everyone in the house participated and we got to run all around Venice. It was really great to be motivated by others in the house, especially my roommates, and no one made you feel weird or embarrassed for doing a core workout in the hallway.
When I was in Barcelona, I splurged a bit and bought tickets to an FC Barcelona game. I couldn't go to Barcelona and not go to one of these games. My friend Megan from home is huge soccer fan and actually knew all the players. (I had to do a little research, because honestly I'm not that big of a soccer fan, but no one really watches any other sport in Europe.) The atmosphere in Barcelona was different than in Udine. There was more of a mix between young and old and more "sober" passion.
I attempted to watch some March Madness, but the time difference was too hard and I only watched part of a Kentucky game and my bracket was probably the worst it's ever been. On the way to Campo San Margherita there is little betting store and they have screens with several games playing. Occasionally I would stop by and watch through the window. One time I caught a basketball game and spotted Rudy Fernandez playing for Real Madrid. (Go Blazers!)
Callie made one of the best investments of the trip. A 3 euro mini soccer ball and a football that we would bring on trips. We played in Sicily on the beach and in the courtyard of Casa Artom. It was fun to get outside and play some team sports, even just casually.
Can't remember exactly where this was in Venice but I spotted an Oregon logo! There is also one outside the Nike store by the train station.
Another way I relieved the stress from this semester was cooking. I ended up eating at weird times, and usually by myself, but I liked it better that way. I wasn't competing for space in the kitchen and it was quiet in the morning and right after exams. I made homemade pizza, a lot of cookies and pancakes, and grilled cheese. It was great experimenting with the random ingredients Italy has, and sometimes the lack of familiar ones made me have to improvise. Sometimes these experiments turned out great and sometimes not so great. But all I would have to do was send a group message that there was food upstairs and it would be gone in a matter of minutes, even if I wasn't too proud of the result. (I guess being known as a good cook has its perks!)
Overall it was a good semester. I lot tougher than I was expecting but I'm lucky I was able to find some familiar things and learn to love another sport.