The GoGlobal Blog

Month: March 2012

Sicilia è Tranquillo

Sicilia è Tranquillo

So, even though this happened like a million years ago, I feel obliged to update you on my trip to Sicily because of how awesome it was. I went the weekend before spring break and then the week before break was midterms (which are actually taken pretty seriously here), so there wasn’t much time for writing. However, here we are: back from break; rested (kind of); cappuccino next to me and ready to write.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about going on the Sicily trip at first. It was a study trip with the school, so I would be going with 45 of my classmates. None of my friends were going with me, so it was all about meeting new people and hoping that they didn’t mind a neKw buddy infringing on their group. However, it worked out perfectly as there were several of us who didn’t come with a group of friends and we all banded together.

Katie and I enjoying our cannoli.

My weekend started out with a bang at the airport. Due to flight issues, I spent the entire night in the Palermo airport. Don’t worry, I was prepared! I had my blankets and pillow, so I was all set for the uncomfortable benches. It wasn’t too bad and the fact that I was actually in Sicily was worth it. It was just a relief to see the rest of our group the next morning. Needless to say, I was ready to get going.

First, let me just take a brief moment to mention the weather. It was perfect. Beyond perfect. We couldn’t have asked for any better and it just made the entire weekend amazing. Also, I was basically in history nerd heaven because of all the ancient sites we visited. The first two days were filled with ancient Greek ruins (yes, Greek. In Italy). I had the best time just wandering around and getting my fill of history. I know, I’m a nerd.

See, this is how much I love ruins. =P

The last day was by far my favorite. There wasn’t much on my itinerary, but that was the beauty of it. We started off the morning in an ancient Greco-Roman theater where we were treated to the most glorious view of Mt. Etna. I have seen a lot of mountains and I can’t say I’ve seen one like that before. It was breathtaking. Then, we were given the day to wander the small town of Taormina. It was the most perfect day. The sun was shining, the volcano was overlooking the town and I had great company. Two of my new friends and I just wandered about, having the laziest of days. It was the perfect ending to a great trip! Given the chance, I would go back to Sicily in a heartbeat.

A Day at Pompeii

A Day at Pompeii

During this time around spring break, it is common for family members of students to come for a visit.  Since I am going on the school’s study trip to Tunisia for spring break, my parents came to visit me during this past week.  It’s an odd feeling having someone so familiar appear in the location where I’ve felt most out of my element.  I have been showing my parents around Rome, and yesterday we took a day trip to Pompeii.

We took a train to Naples and then continued on through a separate metro system to Pompeii.  The train station in Pompeii is right next to the archaeological site, making the journey rather convenient.  After entering the site itself, I realized that I had no idea how big this ancient city really was.  It was huge and filled with all sorts of temples, public spaces, and even brothels!  It was also neat to learn more about the city’s history and how the volcano nearby, Mount Vesuvius, erupted in 79 AD, killing off the citizens and animals.  I had always imagined lava pouring down from the volcano and taking the city within a couple of minutes.  However, the majority of the people died due to the smoke and ash in the air.  They simply suffocated to death.  There were also a couple of casts of bodies displayed throughout the site.  It was really creepy to see because it made the experience so much more real. 

After spending a few hours at the site, we took the train back to return to Rome.  Pompeii made for a really awesome day trip, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone!

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”

I came across one of the best quotes that I’ve seen in a long time, and I decided that I really want to try and make it theme of this journey for me.

It goes a little something like this-

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies. You may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins. You may miss your only love. You may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it, then: To learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing, which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. ”

~The Once and Future King~

I actually think this quote should totally be the moto for my life and hopeful future career as a foreign correspondent or photojournalist. I’ve been listening to NPR and BBC a lot lately trying to stay connected and there was an interview with a french photojournalist who just recently escaped from Syria, and all of the atrocities he filmed and witnessed for the rest of the world to see.. and how he lives with what he saw, makes me realize what I am in for, and how learning and turning these horrible, immoral acts into motivation for change is a huge part of what I want to do as a journalist.

Relating that back to my travels here in Chile, I really want to take this opportunity of me being so incredibly far from my comfortable, happy place back home to take these occasional feelings of sadness, loneliness, foreign-ness or just being blatantly lost- into something bigger. I know that nothing worth having comes easy, and as my host mom roughly told me the other day at dinner-  ” You already have the hardest part over with, you had the courage to come to a foreign country where no one speaks your language and to start over for half of a year, it takes a different kind of girl to do that, and I’m proud to call you my host daughter, you are more brave than a lot of people.”

Every time I feel sad or weak, that is just more of an opportunity for growth! One of the girls here from Chicago, Teresa who I’ve grown really close to, is kinda in the same boat as me when it comes to struggling with the language barrier.

Every single time we have no clue what is going on because every one is speaking so fast we just have to remind ourselves, that this is just an opportunity for growth, and not to let it get us down.

Teresa’s mom back home told her something that really stuck with me the other day, to fully experience this trip you can’t live with one foot in the USA and one foot in Chile, you really have to give these few short months your all and immerse yourself in the language and culture.

I definitely took a step towards that this past weekend because I bought a bike! It is so great and convenient to have this thing. I rode my bike to and from school yesterday, it is a little far- about 8 Kilometers from my house, or almost 5 miles, so there and back is a 10 mile ride, lets just say my legs and butt are definitely feeling it today! I feel like such a local riding my bike around and I can just see so much more of the city on bike than on the metro crammed in between crowds and crowds of people rushing to work.

This past Saturday my host mom, Teresa and my friend Cassie went to the coast to escape from some the heat for a day. We took a bus to a beach called Agarrobo, but it turns out we picked a bad day to go because the whole beach was inside a cloud! It was so foggy! But it was still warm out, and we had fun walking around and relaxing on the beach! When we got back that night, the metro was closed off because a man had fallen onto the tracks during rush hour from all the people and died. It was scary to see all the crowds of hectic people and ambulances. So we had to take another bus home, and I saw my first storm in Santiago. It wasn’t exactly a storm because there wasn’t any rain, but there was a crazy amount of lightning in the mountains.

I am planning on riding my bike back to school today after lunch, and we are buying our bus tickets to go to a beach in the south about 3 hours from Santiago to take surfing lessons this weekend!!

So excited to give it a go, and I promise there will probably be pictures and embarrassing stories to go along with it.

Miss you all so much!

Besos c:

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

The Magic of Tunisia

The Magic of Tunisia

Not many college students in the States can say that  they spent their spring break in Tunisia, Africa. I spent the past 10 days on a life changing experience that I will never forget. When signing up for this trip I didn’t really even know what to expect, I just thought to myself that this is an experience I could probably never imitate again for the rest of my life. So why not go for it?

During these 10 days away from Rome I learned so much about a completely different culture and in return learned a lot about myself. Our many adventures were fun and educational. Even in a country that had just over a year ago undergone a national revolution, we didn’t feel threatened once on the entire trip. One of the many highlights of the trip for me was the day we spent getting to know Tunisian students our age studying in Tunis. They told us about what they had to go through during the revolution. I cannot get over how much courage the youth of Tunisia have to fight for what they believe in. They value their education so much, most of them speak three languages and are just overall more focused on their studies compared to American students. I learned though this experience that knowledge is power, and education means so much more than we realize. This is not something we should take for granted for one minute.

We also participated in some rather rugged activities including visiting Star Wars sights, riding camels, dune diving, hiking through ancient sights, and last but not least our night camping out in the Sahara. Unfortunately, the weather was not exactly what we expected for the desert and it didn’t get above 60 the whole trip long. Another downfall occurred when half of the group got terrible food poisoning the day we were to be camping, and some were continually sick the rest of the trip.

Although as a reward for the sickness and non stop action, our last two days we were finally able to relax a bit and have some time to ourselves. All of our hotels were very nice but our last resort was extremely comfortable, with good food, nightly entertainment and a spa we were all set. Unfortunately, it was far too cold for the beach and pool but most everyone spent the whole day Saturday relaxing at the spa.

This trip has reassured my love for travel, especially to places I would have never expected to visit. Because in those trips is where you will learn the most. Coming back to Rome I now have a slightly different perspective of what life could be like in a completely different country. Although I missed all things American more than I ever have before, I will now appreciate everything so much more when returning home. We are so incredibly lucky and many of us don’t even acknowledge the smallest things from toilet paper to big things like democracy. I strongly recommend this trip to every Loyola student whether it be while at JFRC or during the summer trip. It is an experience very unique to Loyola, and upon graduation in two years I will think back upon this experience having shaped who I am and who I want to be.

So shukran Tunisia!


Hitting the Streets Aussie Style

Hitting the Streets Aussie Style

Whenever I travel somewhere new, one of my favorite things to do is to take public transportation into the city, hit the streets and explore. I try to do this before I come up with any major conclusions about the place itself. I listen, smell, taste, see and breathe in everything the place has to offer.

Although school has started, I have gone into the CBD (the central business district or downtown as I would call it back home in Chicago) frequently.  Due to my rocky start, I was not able to explore as much in the beginning because I was concerned with my living arrangements so now that I am settled I have been able to do what I truly love and that is exploring.

Let me first say that I am not the guidebook type of traveler. In fact, I surprised myself by doing something I never do. I actually did buy a guidebook for Australia but left it at home because it was inconvenient to pack. Yes, strange I know, but when it comes down to that last dress or a guidebook, I will always choose a dress.  While I respect those that are very prepared travelers, I prefer to learn on the fly. It is my style to learn about a place through word of mouth, asking strangers on the street (which in my experience has always led to amazing places), flyers around town and the occasional quick google search. I find that I am more flexible if I go in with no exact plans and just find things on my own. This works particularly well for me because I usually have extended periods of time that I am in places, so for most people who have a day limit on a vacation I see the appeal of having their time planned.  Thus, in typical fashion whenever I have gone into the city, I usually get off at a popular stop and simply explore that way.

Now to describe Melbourne’s streets is a bit tricky. The city is pretty well laid out located on Port Phillip Bay with its city centre hugging the Yarra River.  While the city centre has typical wide streets with bustling traffic in amongst skyscrapers, there are pockets of the city that look as unique as the stores that line the streets and the people that inhabit them. My favorite streets as of now in my early explorations are Chapel Street which is located a few kilometers north of the city centre, and Bourke Street which Melburnians  ( yes, I just used that word, I like the way it sounds despite the spelling that throws me off ) like to call the “second street” after the main Collins Street. Chapel street is  unconventional in the way that it is not strikingly pretty for a city street. The stores, pubs, and restaurants are just a bit too crowded and varied to give any semblance of smooth aesthetics. However, it is the quirkiness  and controlled chaos that hold the appeal for me. It very much reminds me of Belmont and the surrounding streets. If you know me at all, Belmont is perhaps my favorite street in the city so Chapel scored high marks for me.  Bourke St is similiar in that it is definitely varied; however, because it is downtown there is a cohesive identity to the buildings in a way that differs from Church St.  I have come to love Melbourne’s CBD and as is my usual reaction to most cities because I am the epitome of a city person, I am truly pleased and satisfied every time I visit the CBD. One of the things I truly appreciate about Melbourne is that like its people, the city is so varied as well. There is Chinatown, Little Italy, Docklands, City Centre and so on and so forth. It is a gentle blend of a very contemporary city with the feeling of an artistic culture mixed with individuals from all over the world. In a nutshell, this is my kind of city.

My school and house is located in the eastern suburb of Burwood so in order to get to the CBD I take the tram in. First let me just say that I have ridden a lot of trams; I took them everyday when I lived in Prague and everywhere all over Europe. I usually consider myself a train person alas due to my love/hate relationship with the infamous Chicago ‘L.’ However, Melbourne’s tram system is phenomenal and quite extensive. Melbourne is the proud owner of the largest tram network in the world and it runs smoothly every time. It almost puts the ‘L’ to shame, but I loyally love the rattling noises and persistent technical errors of Chicago’s elevated trains.  I simply take one tram, the number 75, in case anyone is planning to visit and voilà I am smack dab right outside Flinders Train Station and within walking distance of Federation Square (the main square in the city). Flinders Station, I might add, is a gorgeous cultural icon for Melbourne. Despite not being a local quite yet, I have found myself saying the popular phrase “I’ll meet you under the clocks” which refers to the multiple clocks that line the inside of the station by the main entranceway.  I am partial to the nighttime view of Flinders where the oddly colored yellow building glistens gold against the nighttime sky highlighted by the streetlights.

Nonetheless, I have found some fantastic spots in the city and have had some great fun venturing into the CBD. I have kowtowed to my weakness for clothing and found a few shops that catered to my budget and style.  A few friends and I are planning on visiting Parliament, Victoria Market, and anything else we can find later this week. I cannot wait.

Happy Reading!

Bonjour- From Across the Pond!

Bonjour- From Across the Pond!


Wow! This has been the most incredible week thus far! I will focus on my weekend in Paris, as that has been my favorite part of this week! I apologize for how long this post will be, as I can’t help but describe every detail of my trip… the main point of this post is if given a chance, you must go to Paris, the most romantic city in the world!

Friday morning we had to get up at 5am in order to make the charter bus at 6:05am. After finally getting on the bus, it finally hit us that we (Kathryn, Carmen, and I) were going to Paris! We expected to sleep on the bus for the entire 6-8 hour journey to Paris, however we hardly slept at all! We drove to Dover, where we got off the bus and went through French customs (which really just consisted of a frenchman talking french, then asking where we were going, and then stamping our passport). We then got on the ferry, which was nothing like a ferry I’ve ever been on- it was more like being on a cruise where there were restaurants, bars, and even stores that had beauty products. It took about an hour and a half to get into France. Once we arrived, we got back on the bus and drove for about another hour and a half where we then took a lunch break and went to “Quick”- a burger place that had a “Dark Vador Burger” and a “Jedi Burger.” Of course we had to try them! It was very strange ordering in French, as I spoke no French, Carmen only knew Spanish, and Kathryn knew some French. Luckily, Kathryn got us through!

After eating we got back on the bus and drove another hour and a half until Paris was finally before our eyes! It was breathtaking! The moment we saw the Eiffel Tower I knew I was going to love Paris!

We went on a boat tour on the river and saw various historical sights and then we went on bus tour around Paris. It was marvelous! We then had free time where we grabbed crepes for dinner at a crep restaurant across from our hotel. I had a nutella crepe with bananas!

After dinner we decided to go on an adventure and look around Paris. Our tour guide told us we should go near Notre Dame to a popular student area where they have different pubs and shops. It was supposed to be a 15 minute walk from the hotel. Apparently we took the wrong turn because after 30 minutes or so, Notre Dame was no where in sight. We got out our map like classic tourists and just stood there trying to figure out where we were. I was a little hesitant to ask for directions because I had heard French people tend to dislike Americans and won’t try to help you if you ask for directions. However, that was not the case at all, in fact throughout the trip, every person we asked was very helpful and did their best to help us. It was funny because we would ask for directions in choppy french, and then many times the person we asked would just respond in english like they knew we spoke english!

Anyway, we never did make it to the Notre Dame, but we walked around the river a little bit and managed to find a small restaurant on the river. We were all really tired so we ended up going to bed around 12a.

The next morning we had to wake up at 7a (you really don’t get any sleep while traveling, although I have no reason to complain), where we got a free complimentary breakfast (it was literally the best breakfast ever!). There was the usual eggs, sausage, cereal (although it was chocolate cereal), and then there was the amazing croissants, ham, cheese, and french bread! They also had a fancy coffee machine, fresh orange juice, and milk. “Wow” is all I can say!

After breakfast we were off to our busy day of seeing Butte Montmartre, a small, beautiful neighborhood right outside the old Paris walls where famous artists like Van Gough and Picasso once lived. It was very neat because there was an artists’ square where many different artists were painting and trying to sell their own art work. There was this one statue of a famous singer in France (whose name escapes me at the moment) but her life was very tragic- she had three husbands all of whom ended up committing suicide while being married to her- eventually leading to her committing suicide- anyway the reason I bring up this statue is supposedly it brings you good luck to rub her chest area- something that seemed totally bizarre! After walking around for a while and stopping to admire Van Gough’s old apartment (an older Japanese lady now owns it but only visits about once a year and leaves flowers in the windows to pay her respects to him) we got lost from the group! Kathryn, Carmen, and I were all freaking out because we couldn’t find our tour group anywhere. Eventually we did, but for about 15 minutes we were completely lost. It’s all part of the experience, right? 🙂

After the walking tour we went to Notre Dame, where the gothic architecture was just gorgeous. To my surprise, you were allowed to take pictures inside the beautiful cathedral, which in a way seemed to take away from the experience, but I’ll admit I did take some nonetheless. It was too beautiful not to!

After taking in the site of the gorgeous cathedral, my friend Carmen wanted to get a good picture of her jumping in front of Notre Dame so we kept taking pictures, but none of the shots captured her in the right moment. After about ten tries, we finally succeeded at getting a good jumping picture! We celebrated and a group of people started clapping because they were watching our many failed attempts at getting a good picture! It was so funny! We bowed and just laughed off the moment.

We then went to grab some lunch at a local cafe with a few people we met on the tour. I had the “madame,” a sandwich on french bread with cheese and ham. It was pretty delicious. After getting full on french bread, we decided to find Angelina’s, a restaurant that is supposedly known for having the best hot chocolate in the world. It just so happened it was fashion week in Paris and we just so happened to pass where fashion week was happening. There was something about just knowing famous people and designers were just a tent away just made our experience in Paris that much more exciting.

We passed a hotel where a lot of people were just standing around the front door. We couldn’t figure out what was going on so we asked why people they were waiting outside of the hotel… it turns out Jessica Alba, Kristen Stewart, and other famous people (there were about five) were staying in the hotel for fashion week. It also turned out Angelina’s was right next to this hotel! The line just to get into Angelina’s was about a 45 minute wait and yes, we waited over 45 minutes to get this hot chocolate. Let me tell you, it was worth every minute! The whipped creme was different than whipped creme in the U.S. as it wasn’t very sweet but it was somehow still very good. Everything about Saturday was just amazing!

We were pretty tired so once we got back to the hotel, we rested for a bit and then went on a pub crawl. In order to get to the pub crawl we had to take the Metropolis (Paris’ version of the L). Carmen got on the train and then the doors were closing so I decided to stick my arm in the door thinking it was like an elevator and would open. Much to my surprise the doors closed right on my arm without any warning and my arm was stuck! Luckily another person thought they could take on the doors as well and was literally stuck half on the train and half off. They opened the doors after about 20 seconds but those 20 seconds seemed like the longest 20 seconds ever!

On Sunday we woke up early to get breakfast (again, amazing!) and then we went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, besides some other breath- taking artwork. Our guide knew a “secret” way to get into the Louvre so we didn’t have to wait in line to see the museum. The museum was massive! Supposedly it would take someone 6 months to see every piece of artwork in the museum, and that’s only looking at each piece of art work for 15- 20 seconds!

After our visit to the Louvre, the reality of going back to London began to sink in. We left Paris around 1p and got to the British customs around 4p. Unfortunately we were stuck in traffic just to go through customs for about 3 hours. By the time we got through customs and finally on the ferry, we were starving so we got our first fish n’ chips! It was good, but one complaint I have is you have to pay for each ketchup pack you use… this is bad news for a ketchup addict like myself (haha)!

We arrived back in London safe and sound where it was nice to be home!

Since I am here to study, I guess I should mention I actually had my first paper due today (thursday) for my personality psychology class. The way to turn in papers is different from in the U.S. in that you don’t put your name on your paper, you have to print off a cover sheet that has your student id number on it, and you have to turn your paper in to the undergraduate office sometime before your class! The British are all about the anonymity!

Anyway, I am off to make some dinner! Tomorrow I actually leave for Edinburgh, Scotland!

Cheers! 🙂

P.S. The reason Paris is the most romantic city in the world in my opinion, is there is this bridge where couples go to leave a pad lock on the fence of the bridge and then they throw the key into the river to symbolize they will be together forever! Men if you’re a sap for romance, this would be the perfect place to take your lady!

C’est la vie

C’est la vie

We followed our day-trip to Monaco with a visit to the cities of Cannes and Antibes. Cannes is the city where the very well-off are willing to pay a slightly exorbitant amount of money to do nothing. Besides the phenomenal beachfront littered with every luxury brand imaginable, along with a “caviar house,” there is not much to do in Cannes save enjoy a scoop (or two) of gelato on the beach. So I did. After I soaked up an adequate amount of sun, a small group of my cohorts and I made way for the neighboring town of Antibes. Antibes was my favorite part of the Cote D’Azur weekend because the city is able to capture a quaint, small town feel while still embodying the plush environment of southern France.

I had researched Antibes before we left and discovered that Picasso spent time working in the “castle” along the shore, focusing on antiquity through the lens of modernity. A friend and I quickly made our way to the Picasso Museum in order to delve into the works of Picasso and his contemporaries for a meager three euros. Antiquity and classical artwork is a personal interest of mine, thus it was fascinating to see how Picasso utilized the themes and figures in the ancient works in his modern style. Picasso’s other works clearly had Mediterranean influence and with such a magnificent setting as Antibes, it is no wonder that a vibrancy and happiness emanated from the paintings and sculptures.

That night we joined the final celebrations of Carnaval in Nice and what an unexpected surprise that was. The floats and costumes were elaborate manifestations of wild imagination, some at least two stories tall, and the whole city was out to partake in the festivities. Children peppered us with confetti and silly string and participants in the parade gladly broke rank to dance with onlookers. It was an excellent way to conclude my visit to the French Riviera and I long for an opportunity to return!

So this is what it feels like to be a foreign exchange student..

So this is what it feels like to be a foreign exchange student..

Yesterday I had my first real day of meeting the other college students here at Alberto Hurtado! My university is very different than Loyola for a lot of reasons, first off there is actually an equal ratio of sexes, if not even more boys than girls.. my life feels more like it is at an equilibrium that way! My school is also a lot smaller than Loyola, it almost feels like high school honestly, how the classes are smaller, everyone here is more laid back similar to high school oh and just overall all the students and teachers and people as a whole are shorter and look younger. It is nice because I feel like finally I am tall or at an average height! My friends and family are always telling me that I look really Chilean too!

I really do have so so so much more respect for foreign exchange students! I am only here for 6 months, I don’t know how all of the students that are at loyola for 4 years do is such a change and you feel so strange and out of place, but I guess that feeling is only something that can help you grow as a person.

So, yesterday was freshman and exchange student orientation, and lets just say I really did feel like I was a freshman all over again. It was over 100 degrees yesterday, I literally felt like I might pass out at some moments. We ended up in a huge tent outside having to listen to speeches from the president of the school, student leaders, professors, etc.. it was quite boring honestly but really good practice for my spanish. Orientation started at 8:30 yesterday but I accidentally ended up sleeping in until 8, and the school is about 45 minutes away from my house on the Metro, but when I woke up and my Chilean mom told me don’t worry you will be right on time for Chileans, I was a little less worried although I still did act like I was in Chicago and ended up half sprinting and half power walking to the metro while my water bottle in my backpack broke and ended up pouring water all down my back..embarrassing start to my day.

The metro was SO JAM PACKED with people!!! I literally had to push and squeeze my way in and hold my arms really close to my chest so I could fit inside the doors while they were closing, guess that is something I will have to get used to! The metro was just mostly filled with lots of businessman in suits going downtown to work, woman going to work and lots and lots of college and high school students. I only ended up being 2o minutes late to school, and the majority of the students were just showing up! Typical me I got lost in the building and couldn’t find the journalism class room but ended up outside of the Political Science room and just went in since that is my double major too. Most of the day I was just stared at and pretty sure a lot of people were talking about me in spanish but I would never know..I did make a really good friend who is also a foreign exchange student from Guadalajara, Mexico. Her spanish is much easier to understand and she even told me that she had trouble understanding the chilean spanish because of how fast they speak! I did also make a few chilean friends who really want to learn english! They agreed to help me with my spanish and I’ll help them with their English- win win!

Today I was finally able to catch up on sleep a little bit, and I woke up to my chilean mom knocking on my door saying that she had a gift for me! A big pink package from my family back in the states!!! The best thing that I could ever imagine!!! It was filled with all my favorite things, dark chocolate, clif bars, sundresses and skirts, and of course a card from my mom 🙂 Little things like that really make me realize how lucky I am to have such an amazing family that will always be there for me, no matter if I’m literally on the opposite side of the world, down the street, or in Chicago. 🙂

Today is my host brothers birthday, he is turning 30 years old, but of course he looks like he is 20. He is so nice and I just met him the other day but he teaches palates and Tai-Chi and invited me to go to one of his classes soon, so I can’t wait for that! Tonight my mom is going to make a Torta or Birthday cake and we will have a little get together at the house! My host sister has also been helping me find a used bike on the chilean E-bay called Mercado Libre, we found a really good one that costs about 40 pesos or 80 U.S dollars and tomorrow night we are going to pick it up!! I can’t wait to get my hands on the bike and start to explore the city 🙂

Well, today I just plan on taking it easy, relaxing and maybe going to the university today to meet up with some friends!

I uploaded a picture of us in Torres del Paine, and I’m sure there will be more to come, because the pictures are so amazing and breathe taking!

Besos y Abrezos!

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” – Mohammad

Backpacking through el Sur de Chile

Backpacking through el Sur de Chile

Wow, so here I am- back to home sweet home Santiago after 3 weeks backpacking throughout the south of Chile! I could literally probably write a novel about all of our experiences in the past few weeks, but to sum it up, we were so so so lucky.

We had amazing weather almost the whole time while hiking and camping, and of the 43 hours, yes 43 hours that we spent on a bus or plane over the 3 weeks, we had no accidents or delays what so ever- pretty rare and impressive for South America! We started off with a long overnight bus ride to Puerto Monte where we then took more bus rides and ferry rides to Chiloe, an island off of the coast of souther chile. We met up with the host brothers of Eva, another girl from Loyola. We then rented out a cabin for a day or so and just saw the sites of the island and cooked a magnificent dinner of fish and mashed potatoes!! After we took a bumpy bus ride to el Parque Nacional in Chiloe to do some very rainy but amazing hiking. We ended up doing one hike that just lasted about 1-2 hours but it was pouring rain and windy but ended up along a beach and it really was just one of those moments where I felt so alive and so happy! The next day we actually ended up doing a hike that was…brace yourself… 48 km long. Yeah. That means over 30 miles if you didn’t know. It was suppose to be a 2 day hike, but if anything could be said about that day it would be that we were unprepared. Unprepared is the biggest understatement ever! We hiked and hiked and hiked and oh my gosh I think my legs are still kind of beat up from that day, there still are blisters too and my skin is still really tan and freckly from that 12 hour hike! But it was worth the pain and ended up being one of those days I will never ever forget! So if you were curious and wanted to know how long it would take to do a 30 mile hike up some mountains.. it’s 12 hours. We left at 10:30 in the AM and got back around 11pm!

After Chiloe we took more buses and planes and ended up spending the night in an airport and frantically renting all of our hiking gear in a little town at the base of the Andes mountains and spending the night in our hostel before leaving on another bus to the base camp of Patagonia where we began our 5 day hiking excursion! It was the hardest thing I have done so far in my life probably, but one of the most amazing things also. Hiking and camping always makes me feel so accomplished, because everything that you do, you literally have to earn yourself. If you want a bed to sleep in, you have to set up your tent, and sleeping bag, if you want food, you have to start the stove, cook the pasta or if you want coffee in the morning you have to go down to the river and get water to boil to make the coffee, if you want to have those amazing national geographic pictures well, all you have to do is look outside your tent! But really, it was so magnificent and valle la paine!! (Worth the pain)

After Our Torres del Paine and Patagonia trip we ended it in Pucon, Chile a nice touristy town that was filled with fun things to do and relax in. It rained a lot of the time we were there but that ended up being pretty nice because I got the flu for a few days! One of the coolest things we did though was called Canyoning. We all had to put on hop in an off roading jeep and drive about 45 minutes outside of town up to this canyon/ mountain type of place where we put on wet suits, life jackets, water proof shoes, gloves, helmets and harnesses for rock climbing. We had 2 really cool guides and a photographer too that followed us around! She had the coolest job ever, and all my friends were poking me in the sides saying ” Hey shirls that is going to be you!”

For a few hours we were basically white water rafting without the raft! We got to swim through rivers and jump off cliffs and climb up rocks then slide down waterfalls! It was so fun but so exhausting! The next day was when I came down with the flu, probably because I swallowed so much of that ice cold glacier water every single time I would jump off the cliffs and hit the water- because lets just say cliff jumping isn’t really my forte.

Our 3 week vacation as a whole was one of those things that was so jam packed and adventurous it just flashed before my eyes and I can’t believe it over and already March. I met some of the coolest people ever while hiking in Patagonia and saw the best stars in the night sky!! Tomorrow I have to wake up bright and early and go to Alberto Hurtado for orientation for school! I still am not quite sure what classes I will be taking, everything is so disorganized here compared to what I am used to, but that is just another aspect of the culture that I am adapting to! I do know that for sure when I come back to the states in a few months I will look back and miss the laid back and relaxed style that is so unique to Chile and South America!

Today my sister and I spent most of the day together! My host sister is 27 years old, but acts and looks so young just like most people here! We slept in today until about noon then ate breakfast together, typical fruit and porridge and yogurt and then we went to the pool and swam and laid out enjoying the 90 degree weather! Then we came back had some lunch and just relaxed inside watching TV and talking and napping all day, it was such a relaxing and much needed break after our adventures these past weeks.

I will be sure to update you soon since my first day of Fall semester starts this Monday, how crazy is that?

Besos y abrezos!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

“Not all those who wander are lost…”

“Not all those who wander are lost…”

And then again, some are.

How many times have I gotten lost since I’ve been abroad? Well, honestly, I lost count after the first week. But I can’t say that I have ever been upset about it. Getting lost is part of the adventure. Here are a few of the places where I have gotten lost so far:

1. Paris – Paris was amazing. But it is so simple to not know where you are. The fabulous thing about Paris is that every view is beautiful and offers something new. And if all else fails, the metro system is one of the best I have seen anywhere. It runs like clockwork and connects you everywhere. None of the famous Parisian sights are really close together, so the public transportation system becomes your best friend. My favorite part about Paris was sitting under the Eiffel Tower with all my new friends. I love them, they’re great. It was wonderful to share that moment with them. And did you know that the Eiffel Tower actually sparkles at night? Seriously, it sparkles.

Other highlights: The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, The Champs-Elysees, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, and the best bakery in the world

2. Venice – I went to Venice during Carnevale. It was amazing. Venice can be difficult enough to navigate as you wind through the endless, narrow streets. Throw a bunch of masks on everyone and it’s even more difficult to figure out. It was freezing when we went and we tried to keep walking as much as we could to stay warm. But every time we came across something beautiful (every few feet), we would forget our chills, throw off our gloves and snap pictures like crazy. It was beautiful. Everyone there was having a ball!

Other highlights: Piazza San Marco, the Accadamia Gallery, the Grand Canal (and all the little baby ones), the Rialto Bridge, and all the amazing mask shops (which were really like art galleries themselves)

3. Orvieto – I LOVED ORVIETO. It was my favorite place to get lost for a few hours. It’s just a cute, quaint town way on top of a plateau. The Student Life Assistants (SLAs) planned the trip and took about 15 of us through the school. We had such a good time. All we did was eat and walk around, enjoying the scenery. We were able to take a cooking class with wonderful Chef Lorenzo of Restaurant Zeppelin. I learned a ton and I can’t wait to go home and cook for my family!

Other highlights: A guided tour of the Duomo by one of our own JFRC professors, a cooking class, the fresh foods market, a local wine tasting and a local olive oil tasting, and walking around looking at the beautiful ceramics that make the region famous

4. Florence – Actually, I didn’t get lost in Florence. Rather, we lost my friend John. Don’t worry, he’s okay. He had a blast wandering around while the rest of us saw the sites. (He’d been there before). This place was beautiful, but it’s easy to go through your money too quickly. The markets are so much fun. They have beautiful products to offer and you get pretty good at haggling. Also, if you get the chance, climb the duomo! It’s terrifyingly high, but so worth it. You can see everything for miles and miles.

Other highlights: The Duomo, the Campanile (bell tower), Ponte Vecchio, San Lorenzo Market, Michaelangelo’s house, Dante Aligheri’s house, Galleria degli Uffizi, the Galleria d’Academia (where the David is!), and many other sites featured in Assassin’s Creed

The point is, if you’re not getting lost, you’re probably not really seeing anything worth seeing. So wander, get lost a little. But maybe bring a map, just in case.