The GoGlobal Blog

Month: February 2012

And I Will Always Love You

And I Will Always Love You

February 14, 2012

And I Will Always Love You

Buon San Valentino! (Happy Valentine’s Day)  I have been away from the blogging sphere for 2 weeks now.  Somewhere between the picturesque streets of Amsterdam and the snowy weekend in Rome I lost the will to do much typing, but I’m back and ready to share my stories!  True to form I title my entries with elements from different songs I love.  Whitney Houston was the obvious choice for this week.  I was on a long walk downtown last night and I could hear this song blaring from just about every Fiat on the road.  The Italians are mourning too.

Heineken Experience

Beyond the tribute to the fabulous, I want to tell you about the past two weeks of my abroad experience.  Go to Amsterdam!  It is not just a city of vices though it does offer certain indiscretions.  It is absolutely beautiful.  We pulled into the city on an extremely snowy day and I couldn’t help but compare the architecture to gingerbread houses.  The coffee was splendid, the famous pancakes divine, and the waterways filled with colorful boats and icy water took my breath away.  I marveled at the works of the Van Gogh museum, I learned about brewery and drank some incredible beer at the Heineken experience, and I somberly experienced the Anne Frank House and Museum.  A group of 11 of us whole-heartedly took on the city and pretty much ate and drank our way through Amsterdam.  It was amazing.

When we returned to Rome we were excited to shed our scarves, hats and gloves for the better southern weather.  We were wrong.  We flew into the snowiest Rome I could imagine.  The Romans are perplexed, excited, and totally lost in the snow.  It is not like Chicago where we salt and clear all city roads in 20 minutes flat.  Here everyone takes a


vacation.  The natives keep telling us to take in the city because to see it in the snow is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Since very few forms of transportation are available in the weather, a friend of mine and I took it upon ourselves to walk the hour downhill to see Rome in it’s white glory.  It was gorgeous, breathtaking and unique.  I have realized now that ignoring my mom’s advice to bring a winter coat was probably not the right form of rebellious activity.  It’s cold.  Lucky for me, I found a winter coat here and I am ready to embark into the winter.  Next stop: Venice for Carnivale.

Sending you all my love from Rome today!



Snow in London… and much more!

Snow in London… and much more!

I checked the weather everyday for about a month before arriving in London so I would know what to expect. And everyday it said the weather was about 50 degrees. Since being here in London, it has not gotten above 38 degrees and it has snowed… twice (Oh and snow in London is a big deal! Even if it snows just an inch everyone freaks out!)!

I have officially been across the pond for over two weeks now, and I gotta say the time has just flown by! I am now living in student housing, as my other housing arrangement wasn’t working out. I am loving my new home, as my friends live on the floor below me and it is much closer to London Met, where my classes take place!

So a run down of my classes: on Mondays I have Cognitive Psychology for two hours in the morning, followed by an hour of a psych lab. I had my first lab today and it seemed pretty neat, as we did memory experiments and I learned how much my short memory fails me! On Tuesdays I have Journalism and Employability, where we learn how to become desirable future employees and get jobs when we graduate. In fact, in two weeks I have an “official” interview where we apply for a job on a student run website and then we work on the website the rest of the time. This is by far the neatest class I have here in London! On Wednesdays I have history of Victorian London and then on Thursdays I have Personality Psychology.

I really like the teaching style of the Professors here. They are so conversational (except for my Personality Psychology class, because there are about 75 people in my class) and friendly and they insist on you calling them by their first names. The one thing I’m still trying to get used to is figuring out how to get around campus. London Met has two different campuses, a Center campus and a North campus. I have two classes at each campus, but the north campus is so confusing because basically all of the classes take place in this giant building called “Tower Building” and it is so complicated to find your way! Even faculty get lost as my journalism professor said! I had to ask someone for directions on just how to get out of the building (haha that was embarrassing!).

Fridays are my days off which is quite nice! After a busy morning of moving my stuff into my new room, me and Christina decided to see Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. Actually, the platform to Hogwarts is at the same train station that I use everyday, Kings Cross Station. People were lined up to get pictures of themselves getting ready to leave the muggles behind! Yes, I was one of those people 🙂

On Saturday, my friends and I decided to adventure out to see Buckingham Palace. It was so pretty! The guards looked silly with their big, fluffy hats and their unique way of synchronized marching. I had always imagined many guards outside the Buckingham Palace fence, but there were only two, and they were inside the fence. My dreams of making a guard laugh were destroyed (haha). It was especially neat because the Queen was inside the Palace, evident by the flag being raised while we were there. After taking many pictures, we decided to walk to Parliament (because, being true Londoners, we walk everywhere!). It was pretty cold outside though so we had afternoon tea in a small restaurant in Hyde Park. I also indulged in my sweet tooth by having an “orange chocolate” cookie. It was interesting to say the least!

After arriving at Parliament, we were so cold we decided to go back and get ready to celebrate our friend Kathryn’s birthday!

Sunday was filled with doing Sunday chores and getting ready for the next week 🙂

Random fact but one of the days I was traveling using the tube (London’s underground subway system) someone, who hardly spoke English, had a list of English vocabulary words and he asked me what “journey” meant. It’s so neat to be surrounded by so many different cultures and having the opportunity to interact with so many people.

London, I’m obsessed!

Until next week, cheers 🙂

On the Road Again

On the Road Again

Or should I say, in the air again?  T-minus 2 days  until I am flying nearly ten thousand miles to the land down under. This trip snuck up on me this time. Unlike Prague, I had the entire summer to anxiously await the moment when I would step upon foreign soil, this time I feel almost ill-equipped for the journey and am rushing around purchasing last minute items like sunscreen and hats for my fun in the sun. I have spent the last 5 weeks looking over my European adventure pictures, catching up with friends and family, and trying to wrap my head around the experiences I had while living in Prague for four months. Unbelievably enough, I get to start all over again in Melbourne, Australia.

The Australian university calendar is very different from the typical American one. Classes run from March to late June for trimester one.  While the rest of Loyola has been slaving away under their piles of books in the IC, I have been twiddling my thumbs at home with my dogs. I even made a quick stop back at Loyola to meet with advisors and I felt almost alien to my own campus since I have been away from dear Lake Shore since May 2011. When I arrive in Australia I will have two orientations, one on campus for the logistical things like receiving a campus id and class registration, but the fun starts when the university takes us on a trip to the Great Ocean Road. This field trip entails hiking in the rainforest, surfing lessons, yoga on the beach and breathtaking views of the Twelve Apostles ( you know regular school activities).

I’ve learned a lot about myself and I am taking that new knowledge with me to that land of OZ. I know how to navigate airports, city centers, all sorts of public transportation systems, and how to find the best hostels, flight deals,and cheap eats.  I have made some adjustments since my last study abroad adventure. I am taking one suitcase not two. I am hoping to find a part time job there since with their visa you are allowed to work as well as study. I am finding my own housing when I get there because I want to find a really affordable place and I preferably want to live with some Aussies. However, I am going in with the same sincerely open mind and heart that is so imperative when you relocate to another country. I am ecstatic to experience something so entirely new and strikingly different from Prague.  Plus, the seventy degree weather is an added benefit and I cannot complain when I am doing my homework on a beach.

The flight is nearly 23 hours so I hope to hunker down and get some z’s because when I land it will be 2 days ahead. I leave on the 15th and arrive on the 17th, insane right? I guess that’s what happens when you cross the international date line and journey on down to the southern hemisphere. In typical fashion, I have not packed my bag yet, but I am sure now with all packing wisdom that I have attained from packing and re-packing a bag about 30 times last semester that I can conquer this task.

I’m going to go make my travel playlist now and dream of kangaroos and koala bears, preferably together and in my arms.

Talk to you soon. Happy Reading!!

la Catedral

la Catedral

As if Sagrada Familia was not enough, Barcelona is also home to la Catedral, also known as the Church of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Construction began in the late 13th century and it took more than 100 years to complete the grandiose structure. Barcelona Cathedral is the seat of the archdiocese of the Catholic Church for Barcelona and the Catalan region and is dedicated to the co-patron saint of Barcelona, Sant Eulalia. Eulalia was martyred at the age of 13 by Romans and the Cathedral houses 13 geese in her honor. Legend has it that she was exposed naked in the public square and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity. The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street (according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulàlia). The body of Sant Eulalia is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt.

The church pierces the skyline of el Gotic, aptly so since la Catedral is a masterpiece of neo-Gothic architecture. Not only can you see the church from the skyline, you can also see the skyline from the church. Visitors are allowed to take a tiny, rickety elevator up 3 floors to the rooftop and walk around. While the view of the city is breathtaking, I was much more intrigued to tilt my gaze down and examine the structure itself. The opportunity to examine the roof and windows was incredible and my favorite aspect was one of the windows that allow sunlight to flood the interior but are invisible from external view.

I spent a good hour and a half walking around the church to appreciate the individual chapels and magnificent guild work and craftsmanship. Also, in the center of the interior there is the choir stall where the back of the seats are adorned with various coat-of-arms. With a little research, I discovered that the different coat-of-arms identified the members of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is kind of a big deal in Europe and greater Christendom. After I paid my respects to Sant Eulalia, I made my way to the nearest cafe to re-energize and enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon.

Home Away From Home

Home Away From Home

Last weeks of January…

It seems like time here in Rome flies by way faster than back in Chicago, that’s for sure! It still feels like I arrived in Rome just a week ago!  Living here at the John Felice Rome Center has been wonderful so far. The campus is located in Monte Mario, on one of the many famous hills in Rome. Vatican City is only a bus ride away as well as  local restaurants, shops, bakeries and cafes within walking distance from campus.

View of campus from my dorm room window

The few past weeks have been an adventure. Last weekend, my friends and I took a day trip to Anzio, Italy. Only about an hour and a half train ride, there is a seaport and a beach off the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We walked along the beach, explored the WWII Historical Center and ate at a local restaurant with a view of the ocean. The food was delicious! Fresh fish, a glass of wine, some limoncello and time spent with friends was a good start to the weekend!

Fresh fish and spaghetti

The next day, friends and I went to the Vatican City and shopped along Via del Corso. During the month of January, there is the event called “Saldi,” where almost everywhere you go, there are sales galore! We all took advantage of the saldi, shopped around for hours and finally bought some new clothes and boots!

February 1, 2012

Today, my friends and I attended the Papal Audience at The Vatican. We saw the pope and were given a blessing.  What an awesome experience!

Weekend of February 3rd, 2012

For this weekend, my friends and I were supposed to take a trip to Florence, however, Mother Nature decided to swap weather with Chicago… 6 inches of snow in Rome! Unfortunately, the train was canceled due to the weather so we all spent our weekend on campus. Instead, a group of us spent the day outside, made snowmen and had a couple snowball fights. Only in Rome! …

“Snow day on campus”

“The JFORCE Snowman!”

Overall, getting adjusted to the Roman culture has been an experience so far. From roaming around downtown Rome, sightseeing with friends, eating the most delicious food in town and tasting the many gelato flavors available, life here in Rome is not bad! It is home away from home!

” By far THE best cappuccino I’ve had in Rome”


More blogging on the way! Next up….  second attempt to Florence!

Week #1: “Estoy perdido.”

Week #1: “Estoy perdido.”

Getting from my home in Arizona to my host madre’s apartment was definitely a bit of an undertaking. I flew from Phoenix to Dallas, to Madrid, to Barcelona, to Bilbao. From the airport in Bilbao, I then took a cab to Getxo, the suburb where all of the students in my program actually live. It was long, there were delays, and it definitely wasn’t the most exciting 30-some hours of my life, but it definitely could have been worse. At least it was more or less without incident. Lots of napping, lots of reading (I brought part of the Game of Thrones series along — nothing quite like a good book to make the time go by quickly), lots of waiting in the airport between flights.

I haven’t studied Spanish in an academic setting since I was sixteen. In the five years since my last Spanish class, I most definitely lost a tragic amount of what I’d learned (if only the saying, “if you don’t use it you lose it,” weren’t so true), but I managed to get in enough practice over the years that I maintained at least some of my Spanish-speaking ability. One of my main motivators for choosing to study in Spain was the hope that I could regain what I had lost, and end the semester truly proficient in the language.

My first few days in Bilbao and Getxo were more than enough to remind me just how rusty my Spanish had become. My host mom speaks no English — which is fantastic, because it means I really have to practice… but is also super challenging, as it means I can’t throw in any English words to fill the gaps in my broken Spanish. Many people here have studied English, but generally, they are at either extreme: fluent in the language, or hardly speak it at all. For the first week here, I typically came across Spaniards who fell in that latter category — especially when I was lost, which to be honest, happened a lot. I wasn’t exactly gifted with the best sense of direction, but I usually am able, at least, to finding my way back to where I’d started… it’s just getting to where I’m going that I’m less than fantastic at. So when someone in my program would give directions, (a.e., “Get off the metro at the Areeta stop, cross the plaza, the restaurant is right there,”) and I inevitably would walk in exactly the wrong direction (“cross the plaza” may be the vaguest direction ever – plazas do not have only one entrance/exit) and wander for an hour, at least I was always able to make it back to the metro. And being lost was great practice for my Spanish, too — “perdon, estoy un poquito perdido — sabe usted donde está ___?” (“Excuse me, I’m a bit lost — do you know where ___ is?”) is a fantastic conversation starter with locals, who fortunately are incredibly nice and generally very willing to try to help. Less fortunately, they also seem to not be much better at directions than I am.

For the first day of orientation, my host mom pointed me in the right direction, told me I needed to exit the metro at the Moyua stop, (fun fact about Basque country: even though everyone speaks Spanish, all of the signage is in Basque — and the two languages are really not all that alike… at all) but I failed to have the foresight to ask, “and then what?” After wandering downtown Bilbao for about 10 minutes and realizing that the building I was looking for wasn’t immediately obvious, I popped into the public library and asked, in my broken Spanish, if the lady at the front desk knew where I was supposed to be. She was probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and went out of her way to look up my program, make a few phone calls, and walk me to my orientation (which of course was just a block away), all the while speaking slow, clear, simple Spanish so I could actually understand. Even more impressive, that sort of genuine kindness and helpfulness is far from being the exception here; Basque people are typically more reserved than Southern Spaniards, but everyone I have encountered has been incredibly sweet.

And really, being lost in Bilbao is definitely not unenjoyable — it’s just unplanned exploration of a beautiful city.

Who said being lost has to be an unpleasant experience?
Nueva Familia!

Nueva Familia!

Ah fresh starts, you have to love them. So, as a few of you may know I was having issues with my old host family..I won’t get into because es el pasado, but today after a lot of packing, more tears (when my host mother was being mean again) and finally new contracts signed- here I am. In my new host family, and I couldn’t be happier! It was like having a second chance, now I speak better Spanish, knew what to expect a little, and just feel so much more comfortable here! My host mother is a yoga instructor, vegetarian and amazing cook. If you know me well, you know this is basically perfection.

Also, I have a pet! I have a little kitty named Luis 🙂 He loves cuddling and laying on my window sill, he won’t fill the hole where Lady and Doogie were but it is a new companion.

Only 3 days left until the big day! We are leaving for the south of Chile, here comes snow, hiking and not showering for days on ends. It will definitely be an experience I will never forget. I am just so excited to really get out there, and hike in one of the places National Geographic put on the top of their adventure lists!

Tomorrow I have to present a poem and an analysis in my class, all in Spanish of course. I really do love poetry but I wish that the professor would realized from the blank stares that some of us, well only 2  out of the class of 7of us have no clue whats going on half the time and would actually teach us Spanish…

Tambien para mañana, I have 2 skype interviews with ResLife at Loyola to become an RA next year!!! I am so nervous yet so excited at the same time, so many things are happening all at once, it really is crazy how much life can throw at you.

Oh and the other night I was introduced to a guy from Peru, and his accent is a million times easier to understand than the Chileans. He even said himself sometimes he can’t understand what a Chilean is trying to say because they slur their words and speak so fast, so that made me feel so much better! I’m still improving though, I just need to really focus in and stop speaking English with my friends so I can get into the Spanish state of really is a state of mind, a constant exercise for my brain and being here in Chile for 6 months is like running a marathon for my brain.

Last night the exchange students, we all went to an American Bar and watched the super bowl! It was pretty funny to see the looks the other Chileans were giving us, and to see how they actually loved the half time show. The whole time though I was thinking, wow so all of the South Americans watching this right now think- ” Oh so this is what America is like, lots of flashing seizure-causing lights, skanky outfits, and lip syncing? ” Maybe, maybe not.  The world peace thing at the end of the half time show was too ironic though, I couldn’t help but giggle.

I’m sure I will be going around the house tomorrow taking lots of pics of this cute little house and uploading them for you to see my new life and home! I want to know what is up with your life too, so do not hesitate to e-mail, skype, facebook, telepathically send messages or comment below!!

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.” – E.B. White

I-I-I workout

I-I-I workout

I decided that the languid pace of European living is detrimental to my physical well-being, so I joined a local gym along with some other ERASMUS/study abroad friends. The facilities are great, however, I had to make one major adjustment: the machines, weights, and equipment are expressed in metric units, which I did not grasp immediately. It wasn’t until I biked the fastest 10 “miles” in my life that I discerned the need for a conversion rate.

Also surprised by the need for conversion

Also, my gym is right next to Sagrada Familia. Incentive enough to go to the gym just to look at the majestic facades of Gaudi’s most acclaimed, and incomplete, structure? I think so.

It’s been a week already?

It’s been a week already?

The title of this post says it all… I absolutely cannot believe it’s been exactly one week since arriving here in London, the city that really never sleeps!

Wow! It’s been a crazy fun experience thus far. Although I have had a few ups and downs in the past week, it has been a great time overall. I’ve never been abroad before so the shock of not being in the US got the best of me on Monday night; however once I went to orientation on tuesday and met a group friends, I was back to loving the  idea of being in London for the next 4 months!

If I could, I would write every detail of every day thus far because it’s been so great! But I’ll keep it short and simple 🙂

Although I was very nervous for orientation given that I didn’t know anyone doing this program, or even where I was supposed to go, once I finally found my way (yes, I got lost… again) and met Christina (from Norway), Carmen (from Mexico), and Kathryn (from Texas) I was again reminded why I wanted to study abroad. To meet people and experience an adventure, which I am proud to say I have managed to do both!

On Tuesday the study abroad people who were putting on orientation warned us that classes are much harder than in the US and that the required reading list is just that, required. One of the ladies jokingly said “Class isn’t story time like it is in the US, where the teacher reviews what was supposed to be read the night before…” Yikes! What a way to start off orientation! My new friends and I looked at each other with concerned faces over how difficult classes here have been made out to be!

Throughout the week, my friends and I have been planning where we want to go around Europe! Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day??? Yes please!! Take a three day weekend to Paris?? Count me in!

On Thursday everyone in orientation (including students from all around Europe) went on a bus tour around London where we saw icons like Big Ben, the London Bridge, and the Eye of London, just to name a few! We then took a boat tour back. It was gorgeous! The chance to see the sun set over London and to see London at night was just breathtaking! For dinner we went to an Indian restaurant, which I gotta say was better than any Indian food I’ve had in the US!

On Friday I went to Oxford Circus with my friends where we went shopping and explored some of the streets of London!

It is taking a little bit to adjust to how expensive London is! Even at McDonalds, which is much nicer than in the US, a value meal costs about 5 pounds, so about $7.50- $8.00 US dollars- and that’s just for a cheeseburger, medium fries (more like a small in the US), and a medium drink (again, equivalent to a small in the US).

My first weekend in London was fantastic! We went out to a pub on saturday night which was a lot of fun! The “Brits sure know how to party!” as one of the locals exclaimed as we were leaving for the night.

Today I started off my day with my first class, cognitive psychology at 10AM (I guess studying abroad has to involve some studying, right?). It will take getting used to because they have 3 hour classes one time per week. It is like Loyola’s night classes… all week! But alas, I survived my first day of class and my first week here in London!

It is time to take a much deserved nap 🙂

Until next time… goodbye luv!

“Carpe Diem”

“Carpe Diem”

Upon arrival into Amsterdam the snow was coming down and the cold was most definitely a shock to all of our systems. But… we got through and this weekend we all had a bit of a wake up call and it was truly life changing. Over the past few days certain events taught me lessons about myself and dealing with life situations in general.

After getting off a two hour shuttle from the airport, we were dropped off with our bags in a foreign city, with a very foreign language, and very little directions to get to our hotel. This is life without and iPhone and instant Google maps, or people who speak English. Luckily, they actually did speak English and thankfully everyone was very nice to us the whole weekend. Though our toes felt nearly frost bitten we made it to our hotel and began our weekend.

Observing the people of this town was entertaining. Everyone rides bikes, even with the slippery roads and inches of snow on the ground they get by like it were 70 degrees. The other option for transportation is the tram. Which somehow we figured out and took everywhere. it was quite the accomplishment, and having figured out the system we were able to fully experience this city.

My favorite attraction was the Anne Frank museum hands down. Truly a humbling experience, this place put everything into perspective for me. It makes you stop and think about how incredibly lucky we all are.

Our returning flight ended up being delayed for four hours, putting us in another testy situation. Let’s just say if you don’t have patience, don’t come to Europe. Without wi-fi, a charge on my ipod, a book, or a cent left in my wallet you have to make do with what you’ve got, and live in the moment.

I am going to see things a little differently after this weekend, now knowing that life is not predictable, nor can you have any expectations for what you will experience. Just live each day knowing there will always be someone out there in a far worse situation than yourself, and there is no reason to not have patience and seize the day.