Nathan Schrader ’10 – Needless to say quite a bit has happened since I wrote about five or six weeks ago. However, I hadn’t traveled outside Rome until I met up with Danny King and Brad Jones in Barcelona on fall break. When I finally arrived at the hostel, the manager could not find Danny or Brad’s name in the computer. Figuring they would sleep in, I woke up around 9am and found after a few phone calls they were no where else but a McDonald’s on their way to the Aquarium! So much for immersing yourself in Spanish cuisine!

The main event of Barcelona was that my debit card was stolen out of my backpack. I guess you just never think it will happen to you. Apparently Greenhouse Barcelona hostel does not live by the Gentlemen’s Rule like everyone I’m surrounded by at Wabash. To make a long story short, the thief left a bottle of wine out of the three he bought with my card, which us Wabash men reluctantly shared before Danny and Brad flew off to Paris.

Next, I visited my cousin Yves and his family in Basel, Switzerland. It was wonderful to be in the arms of family. They had things planned out for me, like a Basel vs. Barcelona (we lost 5-0), hit golf balls on the driving range the wife owns, and eat cheese fondue at a family dinner. I even went to a high school English class where they were discussing creationism vs. evolution. When they watched a movie about it, Lafayette Jefferson High School, of my hometown, was part of the main story! What are the odds?!? All in all, Switzerland is a beautiful place, and like my cousin said about his visit to the US this summer, I felt loved, really part of a family that I can come back to any time.

Also while visiting these two places, I saw some phenomenal architecture by Gaudi, and many famous painters’ works in Basel, including Picasso, Hans Holbein, Mondrian, Chagall, and Paul Klee (a local Swiss as my cousin pointed out multiple times). Both were very inspiring and useful if I plan to pursue a career in architecture.

After a week of school, I relaxed in Rome. Halloween was interesting; the poor college student’s costume creativity has to go up another level when your country doesn’t really celebrate. I ended up being Bachus, the god of wine, and taped grapes all over myself. It was fun seeing some Italians try though – a lot of ghosts, skeletons, and witches. The next day, we went to Ostia-Antica, an ancient city near Rome to see some ruins, but we were ten minutes too late; the place was closed. Being so close to the beach, we watched the sun set over the sea.

Today, a classmate asked a few of us to play softball with some Italians. Being my first shot at anything close to baseball in over two months, I was at home plate in a heartbeat. For awhile, we took infield. The coach took the game pretty serious, but it was still a casual game in the park. No score was kept, we just had fun playing for the love of the game. And some of the Italians were actually alright. For not being born and raised on any sports requiring hitting a ball with an object, a few of them threw and hit pretty well. Using what little Italian I knew like “Gioco Uno” (“play one” or play is at one) and “a casa” or “throw home,” the game went pretty well. I can’t say the Americans had a difficult time standing out though. But when I heard the pop of the ball in my fake Ken Griffey Jr. signed glove like the one I used to have as a little kid, Rome couldn’t feel any more like home.

Oh, and keep up the great work Wabash Football. Win the Bell!!!