Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Acacia Opening Guru's First Foreign Bureau

Guru’s Note: As previously mentioned, Acacia is off to Italy Monday to study and to open the first foreign bureau at the Guru’s blog.

She wanted to check in, however, and offer some background and other nuances, while still stateside in her hometown, before heading across the Atlantic.

By Acacia O’Connor

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- This weekend I made final preparations for my five months studying and living in Bologna, a city in the Emilia-Romana region of Italy.

I’ve made these preparations twice before now, having visited Italy for the first time in 2002 and having studied in Tuscany this past summer.

However, one thing came up which I’ve never had to deal with before – hives.

It’s still unsure what exactly was the cause of the hives, whether allergies or anxiety or a combination of the two.

But their appearance marked the height and end of my growing panic of the adventure that lay before me.

On New Year’s Eve, I watched the ball drop in a antihistamine-induced daze from the comforts of my living room couch.

I’ve never really had any qualms about challenges or unknowns in the past, so my fear in this case was a little surprising.

Jitters are only natural, I see now – and I’ve been much more at peace and more excited than ever before about my trip and how it will affect me.

So now, with all of my belongings stacked neatly in air-tight ziplock bags within two large suitcases (which I pray do not weigh more than my allotted 23 kgs), I face my last day at home and stateside for awhile.

As for that, earlier Saturday I was writing a ‘good luck’ e-mail to my Vassar basketball teammates, who begin the second half of the season Sunday with a game against Morrisville State.

“How far is Morrisville from here?” I yelled to my parents in the other room.

Turns out, Morrisville is just a quick jaunt from Syracuse – a forty-five minute drive. So I’ll be driving down there for the Brewer’s 1 p.m. tip-off and to surprise my teammates, and see them all once more before I leave .

It won’t be the last ball game I see this season, however, I’m sure – Mel has already supplied me with locations of the Italian developmental teams to check out, something I’m pretty psyched about.

Much more so than writing about myself, truthfully.

At any rate, Bologna is a beautiful city that will offer a true experience as an Italian student.

UniBo, or Universita di Bologna is the oldest university on earth, founded in 1088, and it boasts 100,000 students (the population of Syracuse is something around 150,000, while Vassar College has about 2,400 enrolled students)

In Italian, Bologna is referred to as la rossa, la grossa, e la dotta: The Red (red = communist, leftist), The Fat (for the amazing food; Bologna is in the breadbasket of Italy) and The Learned or The Wise (for its brilliant students, *cough cough*)

It isn’t as renowned as Rome or Venice, but that may also be another one of its assets.

It will be amazing to spend time in Italy’s cities during the tourism off-season, so to speak. I hope to check out Carnivale, the famed Venetian pre-lent celebration which takes place the first week of February.

As far as my actual purpose goes, I’ll be studying language for the first six weeks and then my program courses begin.

All my classes will be conducted 100% in Italian and will cover a variety of subjects: history, women’s studies, art history.

In fact, I had to sign a pledge when I enrolled in the program promising I would speak only Italian for my entire stay.

Hopefully I can get an amnesty to conduct an English-language interview with Megan Mahoney or Laura Summerton, among others.

I’m extremely grateful just for the opportunities and Guru blog space I’ve been granted this past month and in the future.

I hope as the foreign bureau chief, I can prove myself worthy of the support I’ve received.

Grazie mille and arrivederci, for now!

--Acacia

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