channeling my inner ahaan since 2019
It’s time for a blog post that isn’t about teaching – this weekend, I went exploring!
At my school in Rozzano, there’s another MIT student, Luke (also from Nevada!). On his plane ride over here, Luke met another MIT student who’s also in the Milan area. Last week, that person invited both of us to join him and 2 other MIT students to travel from Milan to Venice. I’m not exactly sure how the rest got connected, but somehow we did, and 5 near-strangers went off on a trip!
I love the trains in Europe. I first rode them as a boxboi in Switzerland, and now I’ve gotten to experience Italian trains, too!
I’ve mentioned that it’s around 50 minutes into the city via public transit. There’s a tram (commuter rail) that extends beyond the city and an underground that runs throughout the city. They connect directly to each other (woo!) and a single ticket is €1.90 for an hour of traveling to the city center. They’re always on time, very regular, and the (new) subway trains are incredibly modern. I want this in Boston 😦
Our train left from Milano Centrale, the big train station near the center. It’s a 2.5-hour train between the two cities, and the roundtrip ticket was €49. They’re so smooth! And big! And comfortable! Free wifi, giant seats, power outlets, ugh. They’re the best.
In contrast to all of this transit, Venice is a city of canals – no roads, anywhere. Anything that you might imagine to require a car (taxi, police car, garbage truck) has an analog in boat form. Taxis (and gondolas) are incredibly expensive, and so the best way to get around is simply to walk. I walked 44K steps and 20 miles over the 2 days o.o
There’s other islands near Venice, and traveling to them involves a highly commercialized (and tourist-oriented) system of ferries that effectively functions like a subway system or a commuter rail. During the middle of the day, there was standing-room only for the 45-minute boat ride, oof.
I didn’t actually know 3 of these people before going on the trip. I met two of them at an MIT Milan meetup the Thursday before the trip and then didn’t meet the last person until actually in Venice. This trip and the MIT meetup and have helped me understand the power of the “MIT connection” a little more. It’s so weird to interact with people that you have so much in common with, and yet your experiences are so different. We’re all connected by MIT, GIRs, IHTFP, GTL, and Italy, and yet we’re all leading very different lives at MIT that led to each of us 5 only barely interacting with the others before. For the most part, it just reminds me about how varied the MIT experience is and no matter how much I try, I can only experience so much of it. (And so, interacting with other people is always good c:)
This holds beyond just MIT. On the train to Venice, we met with 4 girls from Minnesota who were also here student teaching, but to help get their teaching license and here for 3 months. We ended up exchanging contact info and meeting up with them in Venice, and it’s so interesting to see the ways that other people go about the world.
We also randomly bumped into other MIT GTLers on the streets of Venice on Saturday night? Are MIT people everywhere? Probably yes.
Connections are fun — I love talking to people. During the 45-minute boat ride, I ended up talking with one of my travel companions about all sorts of things. What they think their non-MIT life would have been, what their best experiences at MIT are, and more. It’s awesome to have these kinds of conversations to learn about other people and the ways that they go through life 🙂
This is, after all, a travel post, and so how could I not talk about what happened in Venice?
The biggest canal in Venice is the Canal Grande. Riolta, one of the coolest bridges in Venice, goes right over it. It’s in a very tourist-centered area with shops on the bridge (and a Hard Rock Cafe next to it?). Even with the commercialization, the bridge is still amazing to look at. We woke up at 7AM on Sunday to see the sunrise on the bridge, and the view and the lighting that we got was definitely worth it.
St. Mark’s Cathedral! I don’t have too much to say about it — didn’t have a chance to go inside. Near a suuuper touristy area (with very high-end stores). Hm, this seems like a recurring theme.
Burano, an island near Venice, is known for its colored houses! They’re super cool to look at, take pictures with. The main industry is fishing, so lunch had some awesome seafood 😀
Murano is known for its glass blowing! Made me want to get into the lab at MIT, but who knows if I’ll get in or if I’ll ever have time. We saw lots of incredibly complex glass creations, some of which cost tens of thousands of dollars. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the big boiz, unfortunately, but here’s some others 😛
I ended up getting one of the horses that I’ll keep on my desk back at campus 🙂
And now, it’s Italy fun fact time brought to you by yours truly:
- Laser tag is “Laser game”.
- Gondoliering is usually a family business. There are people that are 8th generation gondoliers. There are around 436 gondoliers in Venice.
- A new gondola costs €50K. They last for 20 years.
- There is a dessert that is “Arancia e caffè” – sugar cubes in orange liquor mixed with coffee beans. You take the cube and some of the liquor and burn off the alcohol. It also comes with other combinations, like with mint, lemon, and cinnamon.
- There is a Twix version of Nutella. I don’t think this is an Italy thing, but still.
- I found Pringles that were ketchup-flavored. Also, ham and cheese flavored.
- The flag of Venice has areas that are cut and flap around.
- An update on “toast” and “salsa”: sometimes they put salsa in toast. I have very mixed feelings.
- Kids always enjoy making dotted lines with chalk. Teaching them is so fun. I think I’ve taught most of my classes at this point.
- There is a famous painting that just has an egg hanging from the ceiling.
Tomorrow marks my last day of teaching for GTL — 3 weeks pass so quickly. I’m hoping to do at least one more post about teaching before I leave (and maybe one about more travels?). But for now, I’ll get some sleep and get excited for GTL Italy teaching one last time 🙂