Aiding the Russians

I went out hard that Friday night with a short, talkative Aussie and got back at 6 o'clock the next morning. It was a club called Old Fashion. In Italy, people have to assert themselves just in order to get into a place where they’ll drop €40 or more through the course of the night. While that’s what one does at clubs, I still think it’s a bit strange. Why don’t clubs compete to have me come there instead? On the walk from the metro to the club, we tried to converse with groups of girls to help us get in the club. After a series of cold shoulders, three girls with broken accents approached us. Turns out they were Russian. They asked, “Will you aide us in finding the entrance?” We did gladly. If you don’t have a few babes hanging off your arms, it’s much harder to get into the clubs.

This Aussie turned out to be one of the most confrontational drunks I’ve ever seen after he spent over €100 on drinks. We met a group of Italian dudes who would take turns buying “rounds”—which were a single €10 cocktail for the entire group. They would come back with one drink and five straws and we would greedily huddle up and sip it down in three or four seconds. At the end of the evening, when it became clear the Aussie wasn’t taking home a girl that night, he switched into a belligerent drunk and I had to practically wrestle him into a taxi.

I spent the next day painfully hung over, watching MTV picking out funny mistranslations in the subtitles and wondered how everybody else at the club last night was feeling today.

That night I ended up going out again. I went to the same place as the night before, but this time I met the four Turkish students in my class. I had a conversation through writing messages on a cell phone screen with one because the music was too loud. The girl started with “Doesn’t this all seem meaningless?” I responded “What need of meaning is there in a discoteca?” She was quite a philosophical one and I elected to leave her and enjoy my time there. I stayed out again until 6:00 a.m. When I got back to the hostel, I had a lengthy discussion on the Italian female species with the Albanian night desk guy.

Over the last couple months, I had kept in touch with Andrea, a guy I met several months ago back in the Cinque Terre. He invited me to a “grigliata” on Sunday afternoon with a few friends to his house in the suburbs of Milano, so I went there and hung out for the afternoon. While zoning out for a bit in a comfortable lawn chair, I realized my friends were having a bit of a debate. It turned out to be over whether or not there’s a “gun shooting” merit badge for American Boy Scouts and the reason as to why there would be one in the first place. I told them I think there is, and I guessed it was just part of our culture, something that astounded them. They have their own version of scouts but would never think to have a badge for gun shooting. A few minutes later, I was told someone there could lick their elbow, something I’ve never ever seen. So after some pushing, I got him to perform his talent, and now I can die happy.

 The Italian I met in the cigar lounge back in London said I should check out the “fumatori” in the Milano Westin. A friend and I got dressed up and had a cigar and cognac in the well-air-conditioned room. Here I can understand the economists’ cries about people living beyond their means. Here I am, a poor student, spending an evening in the nicest hotel in Milan drinking fine cognac and smoking a Cuban cigar. But hey, I skimped on my food budget for the last three weeks so I figured why not. 


Crystal Cascante, University of Florida

Happy Backpackers

I've been in Europe since the beginning of January and have traveled every weekend. This Easter Weekend was by far the best one. The hostel was perfect and super convenient, I made a ton of new friends, and our guides (Andy, Rhianne, and Elena) made sure we saw absolutely everything in the city. The meals included were all absolutely delicious, and Andy even brought snacks every once in a while to hold us over in between meals. We were given our Easter Mass tickets the night before and strategically planned to be in the front for mass. We followed Andy's suggestions and got to sit in the very front for Mass. The wait was worth it and so was every cent of the trip's cost. I barely spent any of my own money, just on transportation to and from the airport, gelato, and food on my last day there. I would 100% recommend this company to all of my friends!

Crystal Cascante, University of Florida ~ AIFS London, Spring 2016

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