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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Eating Through Toronto


My name is Bryan Pirolli, and I eat. 

On a recent trip to Toronto for an academic conference, I didn’t plan too much time for cultural activities, but I did plan on racking up the calories. What I knew about Toronto I could put in a tweet. It’s in Canada and it’s a city. But a few quick Google searches revealed that I was in for more than I could chew – quite literally.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Turin: A Tale of Mummies and Chocolate


There should be a view of the mountains somewhere, but pollution haze took over.
The debate raged on over as we ate our burritos. Was in Turin or Torino? I couldn’t get it out of my mind that in English we said Torino, but the Brits in the running club insisted it was Turin. It was a  Wednesday night and I was leaving on Saturday, and I still didn't know how to pronounce the name of my destination. Either way it didn’t matter. I was going and that was that (note: it is Turin in English and French. It's Torino in Italian.)

The advantage of living in London, among other things, is a seemingly endless array of airports that whisk you away to far-flung places. For my holiday in April, I wanted to experience something new before heading to visit family in the south of France. Maybe Greece? Maybe Africa? Maybe, but no. Instead, I headed to Turin, a city of chocolate and Egyptians. Not so far-flung, but I needed a dose of Italy.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Passport to Academia

Look at that little academic go...courtesy of the Dubrovnik Media Days conference.

Who knew academia would require a passport so often? As my first term of teaching in London comes to an end, I finally have time to sit back and recap some of the highlights. The best part, besides having an actual teaching gig, has been my mini European adventures that were all part of the job. Really, it was work. Seriously.

Research is a large part of my job, and I should publish papers and present at conferences to continue staying in the good graces of my university. This was the somewhat happy revelation when I signed my contract at the London College of Communication. At first this seemed daunting, but once I realized that I wrote a PhD dissertation in French, writing a few thousand words in English didn’t seem so bad. I’m getting into it now and I have a list of topics that I want to address in papers once I catch up with all of the marking and planning that I have to through first. I’m hammering away at it as quickly as possible.

Research, however, has its perks. Over the past few months, I was able to make three trips across Europe to present my projects at various conferences. I had done this before in Paris, Strasbourg, and even Beijing, but to do three in one term was a mini shock. It made me feel, well, like a real academic. I grabbed my French passport and a carry-on bag with a nice shirt and slacks and learned very quickly all about London’s airports on my way to the continent.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Real High in Amsterdam Over 42 Kilometers

The reason for it all...the bling.

So close to a personal record! The Amsterdam Marathon, despite not scoring my best time to date, was one of the more entertaining marathons I’ve ever run.

I decided way back in February to run Amsterdam this year, with some 16,000 runners taking part. After running Lyon years ago and feeling totally alone out on the course, I only want to run marathons surrounded by hordes of people. It’s a lot easier to feel motivated when you have thousands of runners chasing you from behind. 

After some spotty training that began as I was moving my life to London, I still felt ready. Amsterdam brought out the sun at Olympic Stadium on Sunday as we gathered at the starting line. As the invited and elite runners took off, a rush of energy came over me (as did the urge to pee once last time) as I took off with the other runners.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Learning London: Columbia Road Flower Market

The blooms.
I love anything from the 19th century. Who doesn’t, really? London suffers no lack of history, but World War II took its toll on the city. It’s not always easy to know when you’re revisiting history or something from the late 1970s. But I’m managing well, so far.

The Columbia Road Flower Market, I learned, is one such remnant from the 19th century. So naturally I fell in love. While clearly a draw for tourists, I have no problem visiting the weekly market, playing tourist myself. Imagine the scents of fresh flowers and black coffee mingling with the intoxicating smells of frying bacon – what could be a better Sunday morning experience?

Monday, July 18, 2016

London: First Impressions

Welcome to London Saint Pancras Station...
As the French attendant at the Gare du Nord checked our bags, she said with a raised eyebrow, “You have too much baggage, it’s two pieces per person.”

“Oh really?” I said in my most incredulous French. I had a backpack, a computer bag, two crammed pieces of luggage, and a tote filled with baguette sandwiches and pastries. It would have cost me half a year’s earnings to get that sort of baggage on RyanAir, but this was a train. Weight wasn’t as much of an issue I thought. “Well we’re moving to London so we had no choice.”

“OK, well, I’ll let you go this time, but you’ve been warned for next time,” she said.

I smiled that sort of satisfied smile that you see in movies when the hero or heroine is about to walk off into the sunset, happily ever after. “There won’t be a next time,” I said, and we walked through customs, onto the Eurostar, and all was right with the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cheerio Paris!

Surprise!



Every love affair has an end. Or at least takes a long break.

This time, it’s me and Paris. Though I never planned on creating a life in Paris, it appears that, well, I did. It’s been nearly eight years since I stepped off an Air India flight from New York – now discontinued – with two suitcases, a job, and absolutely no idea how to be an adult. 

Lessons were learned hard and fast in 2008, as I tried to get into my new apartment, only realizing that I was on the 5th floor and not the 4th, having counted the ground floor as “1” and not “0.” Rookie mistake. But many jobs and two degrees later, I find myself at the end of one spectacular journey and at the start of another.

I’ll be moving to land that is just as grey and expensive as Paris, but where, I hear, the scones and musical theater are much better.