A Weekend In Bologna, Italy

Our weekend stay in Bologna, Italy was short but absolutely delightful, to say the least. Being one of many Italian cities on the Forum-Nexus summer itinerary, I found Bologna to be the most authentic to the Italian culture. Bologna was much more laid-back and less touristy, giving me the opportunity to walk around and explore more freely.

Walking around the city was an absolute treat. The architecture was beautifully aged, yet vibrant. During my stay, I discovered Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world, The University of Bologna, a title highly esteemed by citizens and visitors alike. Bologna also had many other beautiful focal points including the Fountain of Neptune, Due Tori (two towers), Piazza Maggiore, and the Basilica of San Petronio. The rich Italian culture was evident everywhere I looked. Another popular feature of Bologna were the many shopping markets around the city. The markets were affordable and they were great places to buy leather products. The best aspect of discovering Bologna was how easy it was to navigate the city and not feel overwhelmed by tourists or city dwellers because it’s a very spread out and relaxed city.

What I was not expecting was how insanely delicious Bologna’s cuisine was. Of course, Italy is known for delicious food, but Bologna surpassed all of my expectations, especially compared to other cities in Italy we visited. I was not disappointed at any point during my food quests in Bologna. There were gourmet pizzerias and gelato shops on nearly every corner. The shops were friendly, affordable, and most importantly, the food was delicious. Throughout the weekend I was able to try a few customary Italian dishes including linguine with Bolognese sauce, tortellini, and Tagliatelle alla bolognes. I completely understand why Bologna is regarded as the “Foodie Capital of Italy”- and I agree!

GelatoNOODLES DOE

 Another great advantage to staying the weekend in Bologna was the flexibility to hop on a train and visit a nearby popular Italian city. The two most popular destinations were Venice and Florence. There was a very accessible train station near our hotel in Bologna. In a short five-minute walk, I was able to buy a ticket and board a train for a day-trip with my friends. Many other Forum-Nexus students took advantage of this as well.

Bologna might be considered one of those spots “off the beaten path,” but I am so happy I was able to visit. It was a relaxing, culture-infused, and memorable stay. I hope to return one day to re-experience the magnificence of Bologna, Italy.

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The Forum-Nexus Philosophy

You may have come across several articles explaining why one should study abroad. Some claim it broadens career goals while others encourage it because of the boost it gives to a resume. The one thing that everyone has agreed to is the cross-cultural communication skills that are indispensable in today’s global village.

Forum-Nexus Study Abroad programs have been evolving around this idea for 25 years now with a compelling mission of graduating global citizens through their programs.

We take our mission seriously:

“To provide a first-class international educational experience and to foster an appreciation for the richness of other cultures, by offering unique and life-changing summer programs that encourage the exchange of ideas with individuals from around the world, and create a community of students with a passion for learning and exploring the world with an open mind.”

Forum-Nexus Study Abroad is a unique multi-country study abroad program that is designed to expose students to different countries and cultures. This is not only achieved by traveling to different cities in one month, but through the diverse nationalities of students that travel, study, and live together during that time.

On its motivation to start Forum-Nexus, Dr. Hugo Hervitz,Professor and Executive Director, comments: “I wanted to take the students on site to know more about the global economy, to understand other cultures, to have fun… and to be exposed to other languages, to really enjoy cultural differences. I wanted to take them away from the provincialism that in some cases prevails, and it worked!”

Another aspect of our program, also driven by our mission, is our International IQ seminar. Every student who participates in our program gets to attend this seminar conducted by Dr. Hervitz through which relevant global issues and different cultures are discussed.

According to Christian Burns who joined Forum-Nexus as a student in 2014, “Hugo put so much thought into where we went, how long, the professional visits & how we arrived. I had the best time of my life on this trip & would recommend Forum-Nexus to anyone. On this trip I not only learned…[I] met some of my best friends, found some of my favorite places. If someone asked me about the time I had, I would just reply, ‘You just have to experience it!’

From our program you can expect to gain new friends from around the world, have a great and rich educational study abroad experience, an amazing summer around Europe, and of course become a global citizen with an increased level of International IQ!

Join us! www.forum-nexus.com

Chamonix 2014

Chamonix, The French Alps

When looking back on all the cities we stayed in, my favorite was Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. The experience itself was one I cannot even put into words. From the moment we arrived, I knew it was going to be my favorite city. The scenic view was beyond beautiful.

Once I saw the vast French Alps, I was jumping with excitement. I’m very big on hiking, therefore, I knew this city would have plenty of hiking activities for me. Once we arrived to Chamonix, I took a stroll to see what else it had to offer. While walking around, I noticed everything was very close by; the food-market, laundry, restaurants, bars and all other essential stores. It was a very convenient area because everything was walking distance. My friends and I didn’t need to pay for any transportation the entire stay; unless of course one planned on taking the gondola up the French Alps.

There were numerous activities to choose from; such as mountain biking (offered by the hotel for free), paragliding, hiking, sightseeing and so much more. Since I’m such a hike fanatic, over the weekend a few of the students and I decided to go on a hike up the French Alps. About ten of us took the gondola over to the first mountain and took plenty of gorgeous scenic pictures of the mountains. After pictures, we separated from the group and only three of us decided to go on a hiking excursion. While hiking, we ran into many tourists/locals who were much older than us who were fully geared. We were very surprised to see how fit everyone was for their age. Here’s a tip to future Forum-Nexus students: if you plan on hiking, make sure you are wearing proper attire. My hiking buddies and I also ran into three deer, which at one point, lead us to the right path on the hike. Overall, the hike will be an unforgettable memory that I will always carry with me.

Another reason why I loved Chamonix was because it was a place you could relax. You’re surrounded with beautiful nature, the hotel had a swimming pool and spa- which after lots of traveling, is exactly what you’re looking for. In addition, it was really great to have classes held in the conference room of the hotel. Having classes there allowed us to get more sleep since we didn’t need to take transportation to a university. Also, since Chamonix was such a small area, all of the students bonded and went out together. Either that or you would run into your classmates while out and about which was always nice. Chamonix was my favorite city on the Forum-Nexus study abroad trip. I would definitely come back and visit multiple times, especially during ski season!

By: Jowita Chomentowska, Forum-Nexus 2014 Alumna

Jowita Chomentowska

UN geneva

A Visit to the United Nations

Not only was the visit to the United Nations my favorite, but it was the professional visit I was most excited about going to! The main reason I loved the visit was due to my long-time interest in the United Nations as an organization. Ever since I decided to study the field of political science for my major, I’ve really hoped that one day I would get to work for a non-governmental organization. As time passed and I studied more, the United Nations became the one specific organization I want to eventually work for.

Although I had already written multiple papers about the United Nations for my university, the visit surprisingly taught me more than I already knew. We were fortunate enough to have a very nice tour guide who answered an array of questions from many different students; questions I did not know the answer to and would have never thought to ask. I liked interacting with the tour guide because it gave me a chance to hear about the work he does for the United Nations. It  also made me realize that the UN really is a diverse organization where  people with very different backgrounds and nationalities all get to work together.

I had always known that to work for the United Nations, a person would have to know at least two languages. However, I was mistaken to think they needed to be two European languages. As it turns out, Arabic is one of the six official languages used at the United Nations. Being a bilingual (Arabic and English) and finding out that it would allow me to hopefully work one day for the United Nations was the highlight of my day. The professional visit at the UN made me realize landing my dream job is very possible and not just a fantasy in my head.

Another reason this was my favorite visit was because we were able to tour the actual headquarters; just being inside the building was an amazing experience. Seeing all the huge conference rooms, where some of the most important international conferences take place, grasping an understanding of how the most important issues from the past and even present are dealt with was an incredible experience; and not just for the handful of political science majors but to all the other students as well.

Lastly, I loved viewing all the art pieces, donated by each of the member countries, kept at the headquarters. From the chair outside the UN headquarters, to the meditation room ceiling, the art clearly symbolized the mission of the United Nations. The mission to unify all different countries and bring peace. Although it is speculated  whether the organization manages to achieve its objectives or not, the art displayed on the walls in the conference rooms and all along the corridors, is a great initiative from all the countries . It shows hope for peace between all the many different countries of the world in the future.

 

By: Dana Habib, Forum-Nexus 2014 alumna

Dana Habib

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Geneva, Switzerland

As we departed on the short hour and half bus ride from Chamonix, I was relieved as the breathtaking views of Geneva, Switzerland cleansed my senses. The sound of falling water from one of the most powerful fountains in the world echoed in the background as everyone walked into the small square overlooking the crystal clear lake in awe.

“Wouldn’t you agree that America is the best planet on the country?”  my best friend Christian asked, with a patriotic look in his eyes. I couldn’t help but respond with, “I don’t know, this place is pretty damn beautiful”. We set off to the city and walked into the first of many watch shops we would visit that day. The first watch Christian tried on was a timeless classic. A solid-gold, diamond embezzled Rolex. The crown glittered in the light, and so did Christian’s eyes as he wondered if we could actually afford this piece of decadent horological art. We decided that a Rolex was a bit cliché, and plus, it was time for our visit to the United Nations, so we headed out the door back into the open Swiss streets.

The rest of our day was filled with a tour of the UN which broadened our political horizons, and ultimately helped me reach the epiphany I had hoped to gain this trip. As our tour guide explained that several colleges surround Geneva, I thought to myself, “Hmm, college in Switzerland? Doesn’t sound half bad to me”. It was with this thought that I realized that my new goal for graduate school will be to apply abroad and study law somewhere outside of America. We finished the tour and walked around the elegant city, which is known for making some of the nicest watches in the world. I was sad to leave the city, but knew in the back of mind that it wouldn’t be the last time I would be in Geneva.

 

By: Erin Barnett, Forum-Nexus 2014 alumnus

Erin Barnett

brugge

A Day in Brugge, Belgium

After an exhausting Friday spent gazing at the glamorous sites Paris had to offer, my friends and I decided to take a break from the big city life, and take a trip to somewhere completely different from the rest of the group. After inquiring about different cities to locals, we bought train tickets for Brugge. According to travelers who had been before, we learned it was best to just go and explore, without making any plans. This didn’t sit very well with me, because I have always been the type of person to go to bed with a detailed plan for the next day, especially when exploring a new city.

One thing we did know was that Brugge, along with the rest of the Belgium, was known for its chocolate, beer, waffles and French fries (or “frites” as we later learned).  So we began our adventure, only planning to eat lots of food and walk around. That is exactly what we did from 1pm when we arrived until about 7:30pm when we hopped back on a train to Paris.

It was amazing to me that within a matter of 24 hours we went from exploring huge cities with bright lights with thousands of tourists, to a tiny town with old architecture, surrounding canals, and family owned stores and shops. In Paris, the locals are not crazy about tourists crowding the city and blocking sidewalks to take a picture every four steps. In Brugge, the locals were extremely friendly and welcoming to those of us who were clearly tourists. We became those people taking pictures in the middle of the streets…oops.

In the main areas of Paris (Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, etc.) people at those sites were often hustling around, trying to get the best pictures, and to see as much as possible within a short amount of time. I must admit that the group of girls I toured the city with had done the exact same thing. However, in Brugge, our demeanors, as well as others tourists, seemed to change. Perhaps because there weren’t as many famous sites or museums to see, we discovered the best way to enjoy Brugge was to sit, and take in the architecture, and enjoy the people around you.

When we decided to just relax and sit in the town square enjoying the famous frites and Belgian beer, I felt more at peace than I had in any other city we had been to. Up to that day trip we had spent a few days in Paris and Barcelona and also made a day trip to Madrid in between. In all three of those cities, we constantly felt rushed to get in as much as we possibly could in one day. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved all of those cities and thoroughly enjoyed all they had to offer, but there was something different about my love for Brugge. Visiting the city of Brugge gave me the chance to sit back, relax and just enjoy every single moment of the day; especially the moments when we were taste testing all of the different chocolate flavors… yum.

Traveling with Forum-Nexus gave us the confidence to visit a city we had never even heard of, let alone visited. After getting acquainted to big cities like Barcelona and Paris, we knew that we could easily take on visiting a smaller city like Brugge. What we weren’t expecting was how two cities in such close proximity could be so different from each other. I will always remember Paris as a big, glitzy city, but Brugge was a city that taught me to truly appreciate every moment, no matter how big or small.

 

By: Brooke Hofer, Forum-Nexus 2014 alumna

Brooke Hofer

 

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Visiting different companies from around the world was a unique experience for me. I am intrigued to understand how businesses are started, how they develop, and what their future looks like. This outlook on businesses comes from my family background of entrepreneurs. As we have traveled from city to city with Forum-Nexus, my attention was caught by the OECD professional visit in Paris (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), where we listened to the OECD’s discussion of their better life initiative.

As a student with an ambitious dream of a career, I always wonder why certain people live the way they do. Whether traveling to another country or just walking along the city streets in the U.S., you find hundreds of people begging for money. Some people feel sympathy for these people, and to be honest I do too, but for a majority I wonder how they could not want to work for a better life. There are jobs all over the world that any person could do, even to just get enough money to eat every day. I know this first hand, because my family owns three businesses and all struggling to find workers. So, as I see the people on the sides of the roads I wonder what is going through their heads. My personal view of the world is what made the OECD’s better life initiative catch my attention.

Launched recently in 2011, the OECD Better Life Initiative focuses on the aspects of life that matter to people and what shapes their quality of life. Basically, the OECD has developed a website that people from all over the world can rate different qualities of life on a scale of 1 to 5. The different qualities are work-life balance, social connections, education and skills, civic engagement and governance, environmental quality, subjective well-being, personal security, jobs and earnings, health status, income and wealth, and housing. These qualities help the OECD improve policy making to improve quality of life all over the world. One thing I really liked about this web application is that any person could go in and submit their individual better life index. This makes the website and statistics from the results much more realistic because the information is from real people, in real struggles, instead of the government’s view of their country.

I went to the website and discovered some interesting facts about average American women and men. I have always heard that women live longer than men and the OECD statistics say the average female lives until 81 and the average male until 76. Another interesting discovery was personal safety in the U.S. versus personal safety around the world. The statistics show men and women feel safer in the United States than in other countries as a whole. This has become a realistic observation to me every time I have traveled to Europe. Having a fear of someone always trying to steal my purse is something I don’t enjoy, and makes me thankful to live in the United States. The last interesting observation was that for all users’ life satisfaction, health, and education are all ranked very high.

As I head back home, I will begin to compare different aspects of the United States versus Europe as a whole. I will have to remind myself as I see people begging for food that their life index most likely is not ranked the same as mine. This international trip with Forum-Nexus has been a life-changing experience. Once again my eyes have been opened to the different customs and ways of life for people all over the world.

By: Sarah Urbanczyk, Forum-Nexus 2014 alumna

Sarah Urbanczyk