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Posted in: Home / Archives for February 2008

STILL in Sorrento!

I’m still in Sorrento, we had a really interesting week this week. Some new students from the UK arrived so my school organised a pizza party for us all. Have you ever eaten a true Neapolitan pizza? They are SO much nicer than a pizza you can buy at home. REALLY tasty with lots of Mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes! My new friends really enjoyed it and it was such a good way to introduce the new students to the school. Oh and we also visited the volcano Vesuvio, an incredible view from the top and lunch in a nearby farmhouse, my Italian course is turning into a gastronomic tour!

But seriously, travelling around is such a good way to practice what you have learnt. I can now ask for tickets for transport, I can understand basic directions and I m meeting the true Italians who make you realise that a language has a living cultural aspect to it which is difficult to grasp when you just have lessons.

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Enjoy Yourself When in Rome!!

After an awesome trip to Italy, I am convinced that the number one city for an Italian course is ROME! It has such a unique atmosphere, incredible sites and sounds, and friendly locals everywhere you turn. I loved it so much I found it hard to say goodbye!

Everyone knows Rome for its incredible ancient remains, and I had done plenty of research in guidebooks before my trip… but no matter how many photographs you see of Rome nothing can compare to the feelings of awe when you actually see the Pantheon, the Vatican, or the Trevi fountain up close. Most amazing of all is the beautiful Colosseum for the first time – I was mesmerized! I imagined the arena being full of Romans watching gladiator fights, cheering and booing as they used to do. And the sheer scale of the Colosseum is breathtaking – it is enormous! I simply can’t imagine how it was ever built. The only word that I can use to sum it up is: “WOW!”

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Sunny days in Nice!

Nice is simply perfect – a beautiful. picturesque town, lying on the warm shores of the Mediterranean Sea with a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and INCREDIBLE weather! It seems the sun never stops shining! I loved it to bits! Seeing the sparkling Mediterranean each morning, enjoying the wonderful climate, and taking part in fun-filled school sponsored activities are just some of the many things I loved about studying in Nice. The weather is unbelievable, and makes all the difference when sitting, taking in the sun, at break time, chatting with other students in the school garden.

My mornings were spent in class studying, afternoons loaded with activities to help you practice French and become familiar with your new surroundings, and evenings full of Nice’s wide range of nightlife. It felt like my time there was not nearly enough – I long to return to my easy-going French lifestyle! It made it so easy to study, being surrounded by such a relaxing atmosphere. Walking along the promenade and enjoying a cup of excellent French coffee after classes was always a favorite activity of mine, and the afternoon outdoor markets are also something I loved. On Mondays the market behind the beach sells antiques, but from Tuesday through Sunday food and flowers are the specialty. Everyone outside selling their goods is welcoming. I just fell in love with the warm ambiance of the marketplace and couldn’t stop going back, looking at everything on offer, even though most of the time I was really just ‘window shopping’!

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Exploring Granada one Adventure at a Time!

Mexican poet Francisco de Icaza wrote…

“There is no greater sorrow than to be blind in Granada.”

I cannot think of a better way to describe this magical city. There is never a dull moment in Granada! The history and culture of this incredible city is visible everywhere. It is so easy to discover new things in Granada that it is an adventure to live and study there.

I just returned from studying Spanish in Granada and I have taken away so many life-changing memories from my experience there. I stayed with a wonderful Spanish host family on the main commercial street in Granada, Calle Recogidas. I really enjoyed my easy walk to the school in the cool of the morning as I could see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountain range in the distance. I would always take the long way to school by navigating my way through the maze of narrow cobbled streets. In fact, if you look close at the little metal posts along the sidewalks, you will see that the tops are cleverly carved into the shape of una granada (a pomegranate).

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PLEASE take me back to St Petersburg!

I think the first thing I really noticed about St. Petersburg was how beautiful it is.! I’d already spent some time studying in Moscow, which is a fantastic city, but I wanted to experience something a bit different, and friends had recommend that I continue my Russian studies in St. Petersburg.

The school was a perfect choice, since it’s so centrally located in the old part of the city, and as expected had all the facilities I needed, internet, somewhere to relax and have a coffee when the Russian grammar got a bit too much!

They call it the ‘Venice of the north’ because of the many canals that go through the city centre, but for me the most impressive thing about St. Petersburg is the architecture.

The Hermitage, (picture the scene from the Bond film where Pierce Brosnan storms in to the square in a tank via a huge archway!) is perhaps the most amazing building I’ve ever been in. It has room upon room upon room of art, jewels, and sculptures etc. It’s somewhere to really loose yourself.

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Oh Paris how I love you!

I immediately fell in love with Paris and could imagine myself living there- I couldn’t ask to have studied French in a better city! All of the marvelous sites surrounding you – the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe so close to school, the world famous Louvre museum and Notre Dame nearby, and such an energetic and cosmopolitan atmosphere… who wouldn’t want to live in Paris?

Whether walking down the remarkable avenue Champs Elysses to window shop through all of the top fashion stores, or relaxing underneath the beautiful Paris night sky at the Palais de Chaillot, on the right bank of the Seine river, watching the Eiffel Tower and the glistening city landscape, I had an amazing time in Paris! Read more…

It’s fun in Sorrento!

I’m in Sorrento, on the beautiful Amalfi coast and I just can’t believe it! I’m here studying Italian in a school just off the main square and I’m having a great time. Why go anywhere else in Italy to learn Italian when you can do it in a place which is slap bang on the Mediterranean, stunningly beautiful, with great weather, steeped in thousands of years of history and culture… and lots of fun!

Well, actually I’m not supposed to be having too much fun as I’ve really got to get my head around the “passato remoto”, amongst other things!… but I’m feeling really good about coming here and my teachers are great. I’d mistakenly thought that learning a language in the country of origin was only for the rich… but its really not that expensive and being here really makes the language work for you – you can ask for real things in shops, you can buy a real bus ticket, you can order and eat a real pizza and you can get some real sun!

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Wild adventure in Cordoba, Argentina!

Cordoba is just a beautiful colonial-style historic Argentinean city. There’s always so much to see and do here! For example, if you are seeking extreme adventure and high adrenaline thrills, then don’t miss The Rally in Argentina in late March. Come to Cordoba hills and enjoy 3 days of intense car races around winding mountain paths! It’s amazing!

2008 will be the 28th running of the Rally in Argentina and as always the most renowned car manufacturers and world-famous rally drivers will be challenging each other along the winding dusty roads. Citröen, Ford, Subaru and Suzuki will show off their best weapons as the Rally in Argentina continues throughout the days.

As a visitor, you will have the chance to witness the race just from a half meter distance and watch all the cars coming and going at an incredible high speed right in front of you!

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Uno, dos, tres…Flamenco!

Studying Spanish in Seville was the experience of a lifetime! What an unbelievable city with stunning landscapes, glorious weather, and a new adventure around every corner. I just returned from Seville and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a true Spanish cultural experience!

My sightseeing journey around Seville began with the impressive Cathedral, which is the third largest in the world (after St. Peter’s in Vatican City and St. Paul’s in London)! I didn’t want to settle for a picture from below so I decided to climb the ramp to the bell tower, La Giralda, to capture the essence of this architectural brilliance. From here, I got a breathtaking view of the city and of the Cathedral. Looking below I could see the magnificent Gothic-style buttresses surrounding the tranquil Patio of Orange Trees (El Patio de los Naranjos). Capturing the view of the citrusy, sunny glow shining upon the courtyard was well worth the climb and the sound of the huge bells unexpectedly ringing in my ears!

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The Siena time machine!

Siena has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! Arriving in Siena was like stepping into a time-machine then exiting it into this amazing place where the streets are cobbled, the town is still surrounded by a fortressed wall, everyone still walks everywhere, there are no cars, no pollution, only the smells of delicious food and the gorgeous rolling Tuscan hills on every side… I’d half expected a horse drawn cart to clip-clop around the corner carrying hay!

Yet, the awesome thing is, Siena still has everything you need. You can totally lose yourself in the winding medieval streets, the unspoilt views over the countryside, and the relaxed pace of life, but then pop into the internet café on the corner to chat on gmail with friends at home. I could spend an afternoon soaking up the sunshine out on the roof terrace of the historic building of the Italian school where I studied, wander out to meet a friend for a slice of Panforte made from a centuries old recipe and then grab a coca-cola and watch a game of football on television at one of the local bars. Ha ha, just like John Mortimer wrote in the novel Summer’s Lease; Siena has “all the delights of the Middle Ages without the stink and the fear of plague.”!

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