Tuesday, July 21, 2009
A main difference between The United States of America and Europe is the often discussed and rebelled against drinking age law of 21. As we all know in the USA it is strictly enforced and almost 100% of the time an ID proving your age is required in order to be served any form of alcohol. Turning 21 in the United States is to most people a right of passage and a time to celebrate, but after spending a weekend with local Croatians it is easy to see that the drinking age in Croatia is not strictly enforced.
While visiting Croatia this past weekend I was fortunate to be led throughout the country by local Croatians. My favorite part of the weekend was when we were cooked an authentic Croatian meal in a small town called Marija Bistrica, Croatia. As we were stuffing ourselves with amazing dishes I spoke with local Croatian 24 year old Nikola Milički. Nikola was born and raised in Marija Bistrica where he still works and resides. With an outgoing personality it was hard not to get engaged in conversation with him.
As Americans are known for their illegal drinking I was curious on his insight on drinking in Croatia. With a smirk on his face he laughed and explained that there was a drinking age of 18, but he had never seen it enforced. He said, “It is pretty much normal to get drunk for the first time when you’re 14 or 15.” He explained that allowance to drink at such a young age is part of the culture. He believes it is not abused and not considered an issue. He did explain that if a young person is curious, they will experiment like he did when he was in high school.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Last Wednesday afternoon July 8th after a long day of classes and heat I was busy reading the website Perez Hilton in the common room of the Gould when I heard a mans very loud voice. Not paying to much attention because there are many people I do not know living in the Gould Institute I disregarded the loud conversation that carried throughout the building. Little did I know though that two minutes later I would be meeting the man with the loud flamboyant voice and he would be my source of entertainment for the next 24 hours.
Dressed in a short sleeve baby blue button up, dark jeans, silver Velcro shoes, and a huge Hermes belt buckle to complete the outfit Nick Verreos of Project Runway season 2 stormed into the common room. As his murse swung around his arm and his partner David Paul followed closed behind him Nick introduced himself before any of us could stand up or process the amount of energy that had just been brought into the room. After quickly shaking all of our hands he noticed that the Internet was up and running and he could not have been more excited. Before he could even finish explaining how bad the Internet was at his hotel he was sitting next to someone asking if they knew any information about “Whacko Jacko’s” funeral that had taken place yesterday in Los Angeles. Quickly switching subjects he saw that I was on Perezhilton.com reading the latest gossip. Screaming with excitement he threw his murse down on the floor and was hanging over my shoulder asking me to fill him on the new and latest gossip.
Just from having my first 20-minute encounter with Nick on the day he arrived I could tell he was full of knowledge and a very intelligent man. There could have not been a better man to pick to help put a twist in the Miami University summer Italy program for the Journalism students to learn about both fashion and journalism. Although he may be loud and sometimes say things that are completely outrageous I was not surprised the next day when he shared with us that he graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science before going on to FIDM for fashion school. He is a very composed man with an amazing sense of fashion.
The next day when we met him to head to the Polimoda fashion school he once again was dressed to the nines ready to impress the school with his fashion choices. Wearing a short sleeve white button up, skinny green and baby blue, dark jeans, strappy sandals, and a large YSL belt buckle he had a grin on his face ready to get busy and share his passion with us for fashion. As promised Nick “spilled the beans” on the stars he has worked with and we all read about in the magazines such as Lauren Conrad and Stephanie Pratt. He gave us great information and fun stories all while being very professional and remembering he was once their teacher and to act kindly.
Overall I found Nicks visit to Italy a HUGE highlight of my trip. Not being a fan of project runway I was really not exactly sure what to expect. But, after listening to him for a day speak about his life and passions, and share his stories of reaching the top I found every thing he said to be very beneficial whether it was in regards to journalism and fashion or reaching your goals in other areas of life. I really enjoyed his loud positive energy and how he not only wanted to share his stories, but he was interested in hearing ours as well.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Croissants, nasty chicken, and hot hand towels coming right up, except the only thing served hot is the hand towels. Upon arriving in Florence after a really long and boring flight from the United States there was one thing that was on my mind. Where can I get something to eat? The airplane food was less than pleasant and unappetizing and the last time I had tasted something good was the amazing chicken and salad my mom had made before we left for the airport. As we walked the streets out in the humid muggy air on our search for something to cure our hunger we noticed one thing, there was nothing to buy that we could snack on. Being close to dinner we did not want to indulge ourselves in a large meal, but we also needed something good to satisfy our hunger. It was then I realized a custom of the Italians. Their meals are made up of many courses that allow you to relax and enjoy the food you are eating. By having multiple courses in your meal it is not necessary to snack throughout the day or after dinner. The custom of multiple course meals helps keep the slow paced atmosphere that we Americans are sometimes not fortunate enough to experience.
While being lead around Florence by the hilarious Fernando I was able to listen in on two young girls from the United States that were visiting with their family. As I was suppose to be listening I could not help stare at their adorable red, white, and blue old navy outfits they wore and their excitement for the gondola ride they had just got off of. As they shouted and jumped for joy one of the girls said “Oh my gosh that is so much better than the lake at home” and the other agreed with a wide grin from one side of her face to the other. “I think we should get a boat at home like this mom, it’s kind of like a canoe”, “Yea lets get one”, they both agreed. Hearing these girls be so excited over a gondola ride in Venice made me so excited to be there as well. Being in a place where motor vehicles don’t exist can bring a smile to anyone’s face; especially finding out afterwards that the family was from Massachusetts, where the drivers are known to be terrible.
After having two meals in Venice that were just Ok Jenna, Pauline, and I decided it was time to find the real good food with the even better reasonable price. After walking for 45 minutes and getting absolutely nowhere we walked down a side street and we found a small cute dress/bead shop. Our main goal when entering was to find a local that could point us in the right direction. We were quickly distracted though when we saw the amazing beaded necklaces and dresses. All the work was scattered over the small shop, which took away from the ugly green dirty paint on the wall. Although it was almost too hot to stand in there we found ourselves looking at everything. The cigarette filled atmosphere did not bother us. After admiring the necklaces, and dresses looked to be fit for a weeding we began to speak with the lady. A small Italian woman who smoked the entire time we were there and had a tiny fan on her. As she attempted her English with us she never took her hands off the bead necklace she was in the middle of making. The beads were spread out all over her table, most of them no bigger than a black spot. After getting enough information on where to eat dinner we were on our way. Who knows when the last person had stopped in the tiny old store, but for us it was well worth it.