Kalamara! (Greek Good Morning)
It’s Spring Break and I’m on the Student Affairs faculty-led study abroad trip. There have been so many exciting things to see and exciting things that have happened.
Upon arriving in Athens, we toured the city and enjoyed the sites. That night, we stayed up until 1 a.m. and watched the WVU Elite Eight basketball game. At the time, we didn’t realize that we would also get to experience the time change in Greece. At 3 a.m. the time automatically changed to 4 a.m., all of us were up until 4:30 a.m. watching the Mountaineers move to the Elite Eight! We were back up at 7 a.m. to see all of the sites in Athens- including the new Olympic stadium, the Temple of Zeus, the Parthenon at the Acropolis, and everything in between.
After Athens, we moved to Kalambaka. There, we went to the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron and the St. Stephen’s monastery and viewed other monasteries at Meteora. One of the monasteries that we saw, the Holy Trinity, was used in the James Bond movie: “For your eyes only.” The town was small, but exciting. In Kalambaka, we all learned Greek dancing.
Delphi was where we went next. There was so many tiny shops and stores there! The first night, we had planned on going to a Greek disco, but chose to stay inside instead. Turned out, the disco closed that night because they were anticipating a mob after the “bus of beautiful American girls” arrived. This town was super small and everyone seemed to know all of our travel details. It was great to meet the locals, and we enjoyed the shopping!
The next day in Delphi, on our way to visit the Oracle of Delphi and the temple of Apollo, we were asked where we were from and when we responded “West Virginia,” we received a rendition of “Country Roads” by locals on mopeds. This always amazes me that WVU is truly a globally known group. It seems that everywhere we go, everyone knows or has heard of WVU or has seen the flying WV.
Today, we made it to Olympia and enjoyed seeing the traditions surrounding the Olympic games. We went to the ancient, original stadium of the games and the boys of the trip, all 9 of them, participated in a foot race one stadium long.
Tomorrow, we return to Athens with a trip to the island of Hydra on Saturday. As you can expect, we all plan on getting up (or staying up) to watch the Mountaineers on TV in their final four appearance. On Sunday, we return to Morgantown.
Will post again when I return home!
LETS GO! MOUNTAINEERS!
I had an incredible stroke of luck a couple months ago when I met a young composer, Diana Popoff, at a concert. She is the daughter of a well-known bassist, composer, and arranger, Yuri Popoff, and the niece of one Brazil’s greatest guitarists and composers, Toninho Horta. She has been very gracious in introducing me to other musicians as well as a whole style and sound that was pioneered by her uncle. The music comes from Minas Gerais, a state in the interior of Brazil. Many say that becuase Mineiros don’t have beaches like Rio de Janeiro, they instead turn to more introspective efforts. As such, the harmony in this region is deliciously rich and complex. A side note for jazz fans: the Pat Matheny “sound” is actually heavily influenced by this muisc; he traveled to Brazil and studied with Toninho Horta.
I had the pleasure to play a show with Diana with only her compositions. I think you’ll agree that her writing is very unique and sophisticated; it certainly wasn’t easy to play. Diana is playing piano and singing, her father is playing guitar, Rodrigo Ferreira is on bass (the same guy from the previous videos), and Kleberson Caetano on drums.
Click “Continue Reading” at the bottom to see the videos.
Soli Deo Gloria, Kellen
Soli Deo Gloria,
Soli Deo Gloria,
Soli Deo Gloria,
2 hours north of Milan is Trento. Its beautiful and its quant and cupped between the dolomite mountains. Once part of austria, its filled with its share of history, culture, winding streets and expansive piazzas. In the 5 months that I’ve been here, my most favorite is still the gorgeous and sprawling piazza duomo: there i have laughed whole heartedly with friends, ridden through on my bike, licked menta gelato from my fingers, purchased bouqets of flowers,gazed for hours at the differing merchants and artisans , and sat at one of the many outdoor cafe’s, wondering how life could get any better.
When first arriving in Trento, the first thing I noticed were the mountains, and the second thing, how far my dorm was from the center. In the end, this fear (or perhaps lazyness) was a gift in disguise because every day I was given yet another chance to stare outside at the beautiful scenery. It never once set in, (the snow capped mountains,trickling rivers and streams, medieval arches and alleyways)- I think up until the end, it seemed almost surreal. Each morning and afternoon I stared outside of the bus window (if i wasn’t reading from a textbook or chatting wityh friends/locals) and as packed, suffocatingly humid and unfortunately smelly, as it was at times, I loved those moments.
Even more fun was biking around Trento. First, I was a little nervious, I have to admit- the last time I rode a bike I was still shopping in the childrens section and instead of turning around a corner, ran into a mailbox. And then there was Trento- the city CREATED for bikes. There are not just sidewalks but “pistaciclabile”, which in the easiest way to explain them are wide sections of asphalt seperate from sidewalks and streets specially made for bicycle traffic. There, I saw everyone and their mother’s cousin riding a bike. One morning I saw an old man who looked like a mix between Al Pacino and Santa Claus, riding an old and seemingly rusty bike while managing to at the same time, smoke a ciggarette and weave around pedestrians walking near Piazza Fiera. I too decided to give bicycling a go and I loved it. The whole semester only one minor accident occured (minor is the keyword!) which ended in my tire in a man’s behind, him cursing in italian (which I unfortunately understood), me apologizing profusely in broken italian and a fast getaway.
(For the record- I had been going really slow and he jumped in front of me- there were witnesses!)
The strange thing about trento, or even italy in general, is you forget how old it is. In trento’s case, how medeival. It’s almost as if it takes tripping over a cobblestone for you you to realize, oh wait, isn’t that a 900 year old castle staring me in the face? Sure, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a United Colors of Benetton store, but its those random times when you stop to think about where you are when you come to realize you are walking amid history. Where landmark councils were held and wars were fought.
If the gorgeous scenery and history wasn’t enough, Trento has its own special something: its austrian-ness. Before WW1, beloved, beautiful trento was part of austria- and though i’m not an expert, sometimes you really can see the remnants all over the place. There are the “Alpini”, for example, Italy’s mountain military forces, with their green uniforms and hats with the long feather sticking out. (google it). Another aspect is the local dialect, which many times consists of cutting the end of words, as in “mezz pezz de pan” instead of “mezzo pezzo di pane” (half a piece of bread). I can recall one day when I was riding the bus a man continued to talk to me in ‘Trentino’ for at least 20 minutes, despite my “confused and boggled” facial expression and my completely irrelevant answers to his questions.
Then there’s the food! The sour krout, the canedeli, the doey struedels and of course wurstel (hot dogs). Sure, you can still find a great plate of pasta or an amazing slice (or 8) of pizza, but the local food is more characteristic. One of my favorite local dishes is called “strangola dei preti”or priest stranglers. Who knew that gnocchi( potato dumplings) with spinach could sounds so blasphemous…
In the end, to be openly bias my favorite thing about Trento was the fantastic people I met from all over the world and the amazing times we shared. Leaving aside my own personal memories and speaking just about Trento, I would say that, for me, one of the most memorable things about the area were the mountain top refuges. Its a strange pick, I know. Whether it was during the winter when it was so cold and foggy that we couldn’t see 5 feet before us or summer when the mountains were like a lush, green canvas, the refuges always remained. Its hard to explain but every time they came in sight it was as if admist the silent and inherently stark nothingness of nature, there was this wooden structure. Depending on the Refugio, you can rest your feet, eat a warm meal and some, even sleep the night. Their simplicity, beauty and sheer remoteness make them, for me, something you must see and almost certainly will never forget.
pictured above is the Alimonta Refuge, Dolomiti di Brenta, (2,580 meters)
So finally, after three months in Denmark…school has actually begun. Up until this point I have really had no real assignments. The instructors never took attendance at lectures and classes only lasted eight weeks. I’m still in the process of understanding the system and it’s a very very different one. Now, while all of my friends at home are finishing up their semesters and heading home, I’m just now beginning mine.
My grades this semester are based entirely on my final “take-home” exams. These consist of two twelve page papers and two seven page papers. In addition to that my biggest assignment is a fourty-five page group project. This is due in just a few weeks and so far I’ve written almost nothing. My group members and I have spent a total of over twenty hours in the library trying to brainstorm and get some ideas down on paper. Somehow it’s not coming together as we liked.
Clearly this study system was designed for someone with a lot of self-discipline, and honestly, after two months of no actual work, I’ve lost all the self-discipline I came into this with. It’s becoming very frustrating. Fortunately It think I may be starting to get some back. Now that the deadlines are approaching I’ve finally begun to buckle down, but it’s really been a challenge!
In the meantime there are lots of student activities to keep me very busy. This school has really done an excellent job of giving international students things to do in their spare time. Things like the weekly “International Night” at the student house, weekend trips to Sweden, and Erasmus trips around Denmark to historical sites and fun places like Legoland are very enjoyable.
So just to recap…I’m having a great time! Getting started was tough, but I’m really going to be upset to leave. There’s nothing like being part of an international student community. But there are lots more things to look forward to before it’s over!
A group of us on a trolley in Gottenburg, Sweden
On the beach in Skagen, the northern-most point of Denmark
After over a month of computer and internet problems, I have returned and will try to make up for the time lost. This first post is of my first real gig here in Brasil, at a restaurant called TriBoz (tribes). The restaurant was started by the trumpet player in the clips, who is an Australian musicologist living in Rio (he switches between English and Portuguese when he’s announcing tunes). I found out about the place through the bass player, who is a fellow music student at the university. After sitting in a couple times, the trumpet player asked me to be part of this gig, and others in the future. The alto player is also a really interesting guy: he’s Brazilian but has lived for a while in Canada, the US, and France. So it’s a multi-cultural group.
The “theme” of the evening was the cool jazz style, typified by the “Kind of Blue” album by Miles Davis. I can’t honestly say that we stayed true to that style very much, but it was fun nonetheless. The lineup of the group is as follows:
Mike Ryan trumpet
Marcelo Padre alto sax
Yours Truly tenor sax
Tomás Improta piano
Rodrigo Ferreira bass
Eduardo Magliano drums
“Trish & Tansy” (TNT)
Soli Deo Gloria,
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