The GoGlobal Blog

Month: January 2015

A Day Under the Tuscan Sun

A Day Under the Tuscan Sun

Because I had poorly timed my trip to Belgium, I had an extra day to spare over Thanksgiving break.  Therefore, I decided to not only vacation in Belgium Friday through Sunday, but also to take a day trip to Siena in Tuscany on Thanksgiving Day.  So I got up very early Thursday, boarded a fast train to Florence, and then took a regional train to Siena.

Although I was tired from travelling for three hours, I was very excited to arrive in Siena.  Even with the fog in the morning, there were some stunningly beautiful views from the top of the hill.  Overlooking a magnificent valley, it was very easy to see why people who went on my program’s study trip to Tuscany loved the town so much.

After mindlessly wandering the streets of Siena, I stumbled upon a café in the center of town where I decided to have lunch.  When the chef decided to give me a complementary stew before my meal, I thought the meal was going to be phenomenal, since the stew had so many flavors, herbs, and spices, as well as contained tomato and onion.  However, I was very disappointed with my steak; it was overdone, there was no red in the center, and it came with vegetables that were not that fresh.  I will make sure to remember this experience, however, since it reminds me that when I go on trips and culinary adventures, I should do a bit more research before going.

Once I finished my sub-par lunch, I decided to head over to the Duomo.  Since I had visited Florence the weekend prior, I was able to compare the two buildings.  Even though Florence’s Duomo is larger in stature, the Duomo in Siena is much more ornate on the inside; in fact, it even has a separate room full of art that was done in the same style as the Villa Borghese in Rome.

Upon finishing up at the Duomo, I decided that I wanted to try and stop back in Florence so that I could drink red wine, eat cured meats, and go to my favorite gelato place along the river.  So I boarded a regional train back to Florence, and in less than two hours, I ended up at a wine cellar just off the river in Florence.  There, for 10 euros, I got a glass of Chianti, a meat and cheese plate, as well as some other little snacks.  The wine, of course, was full-bodied, robust, and had hints of oak in it.  Afterwards, I got gelato by the river, walked around downtown Florence, and boarded a fast train back to Rome so that I could travel to Belgium the next day.

Ciao e buona giornata!


Generic First Post: Studying Abroad is Cool

Generic First Post: Studying Abroad is Cool

What everyone will tell you about studying abroad boils down to one big fact: it’s super cool. As boring, as generic, and as monotonous as that sounds, it’s completely true.

In the first five days since I’ve been in Italy, I’ve seen things that I can’t even talk about without shivering. The Vatican at 3 a.m.; the villas in Tuscia; all the piazzas in Rome; the Colosseum, the Forum; and this is just day five. Day Five.

The Vatican at night
The Vatican at night

The other thing that no one will tell you, (or maybe I didn’t talk to the right people), is that the whole experience is surreal.

Seeing sights that I’ve learned about from staid textbooks and lectures where I was half-awake has been almost too much, almost unbelievable. Taking a step back, putting away my Iphone, not taking pictures, and taking a deep breath has been the only way to truly internalize what I’ve been seeing.

Where do I go from here? Well, in the next couple of weeks, I’m heading to Venice for Carnivale, Barcelona (if I book the flight), Munich for a Bayern game, Florence for a week, and the Balkan countries for my spring break.

Hopefully I’ll catch some soccer in the interim, and truly understand why AS Roma fans are such fanatics about their sport.


Generic ending statement: Ciao for now?

That works.

Where am I?!

Where am I?!

london blog 1



Hey friends, welcome to my blog! For the next 5 months or so, I’ll be documenting my travels, adventures, and random musings of Europe all on this site. This first post might be kind of a doozy, and as much as I’d like to pretend the rest will be shorter, they probably won’t be.

This is my first time outside the US and I’ve rarely been so terrified in my life. Let’s keep it honest, travel is scary. For the past three months I’ve been waking up to panicked nightmares about studying abroad, and that’s why I did wait a while to pen my first post, to settle myself a bit before exploding onto the internet. I’m about two weeks in right now, and honestly, I’m having the time of my life. I’ve learned more in the past 14 days than I have in the last 6 months, and it’s all thanks to the magic that is travel.

If you have the means, I highly recommend getting outside your daily routine and seeing someplace new. You don’t have to pick up and move around the world for half a year like I’ve done. Driving to the next town over is plenty. New perspectives are what it’s all about, because nothing beats the thrill of experiencing the undiscovered. New year, new you, right?

london blog 2

Right! But it took a lot to get me to this point. Financial planning, program applications, course approvals, mental preparedness… The list goes on. Getting myself to Europe was no small feat, but also one that I refused to pass up. The process was stressful, but I already know it was incredibly worth it. I always had my finger on London. Being an English major with a deep love affair with books of all kinds, where else would I go but the literary capital of the world? Nowhere else felt right. And it only took 24 hours in the city to realize what a perfect choice I made. This is my place.

But even after settling on London, I saw how many choices I had in front of me. Basically, I could choose between directly enrolling in one of London’s many fabulous universities, living and studying on a London campus right alongside local Brits and international students. Or, I could choose IES Study London, which would have me living in private dorms and taking closed classes with only fellow Americans. Both options had their merits, and I really considered playing it safe with the familiar. But where’s my sense of adventure? So, direct enroll it was!

After a two day orientation with everyone in the IES London program I was carted off with about 20 other students to Queen Mary University of London where my adventures truly began. I found myself dropped into campus housing, living in a flat with eight other students. These include two Americans, one Belgian, one Pakistani, and four Brits. I’ve also met students from Romania, India, and Bangladesh, just to name a few, in a matter of days. I’ve never been surrounded by so many different cultures in my life, and I’m loving every second of it.

london blog 4

I spent the last few months researching London and being told what to expect by various advisers and friends, but you can only prepare so much. To Americans, London may not seem like the most daring choice for travel. And they’re right, because it’s not. Thankfully, I’m already fluent in the language! But when you’re alone, any task can be daunting. And England is not America. Not even close. So I landed at Heathrow Airport on the morning of January 6th with no one to greet me, no one expecting me, and without personally knowing a single person in the entire country. But guess what? I lived! I made it across town with a few fellow IES-ers on my flight, struggling with way too much luggage and serious sleep deprivation. (Note: don’t ever expect to sleep on a plane. Economy just ain’t built for it.)

The rest of the week was kind of a blur, full of new faces, breathtaking sights, and a ridiculous overload of information. I made a few mistakes, dropped way too much money on my first legal drinks, and probably took a socially unnacceptable amount of pictures while sightseeing. But I wouldn’t change any of it. London is incredible, and I’ve only just scratched the surface. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next few months, because I know it will be life-changing. I’ll never be 20 years old in Europe ever again, and I don’t plan on wasting a moment of it.


More to come!

Walk with me: First Impressions

Walk with me: First Impressions


Against all odds, I MADE IT TO LONDON!! So far, I have seen incredibly beautiful buildings, walked over fifteen miles in two days, eaten some ridiculous food, had my bank card shut down (oops), discovered many websites that don’t work in the UK (get it together Pandora), and met some very charming people. In fact, as I write this, a delightful woman has walked in and is telling me about her life in Egypt and offering me half of her KitKat (incidentally, more delicious here than in the States). So, feel free to skim to your interests, but here are my first impressions about this lovely place.

1. Food– What am I eating?? Is this for one person? Is a sweet tooth nonexistent?!

Food is different anywhere you go, but British people take their food very seriously. Portions are huge, tea time is real (although tea often just means coffee), and you have to be very aggressive at the bar to order your food at all. A steak does not mean a juicy, red meat with A1 sauce on the side. Instead it’s likely to be pork based (we think- will report back). The grocery store has an entire aisle devoted to various flavors of crisps (aka chips)(Say that word out loud more than once and try not to cringe at the “sps”), but processed desserts appear to be against nature. However, the best thing I’ve discovered is the Cadbury Creme McFlurry. Finally, McDonalds does something right :,)

IMG_2619    IMG_2621    food

2.  Transportation

The tube is so.nice and so quiet. As someone who is used to the CTA, hopping on the tube is completely disarming. No one singing along to their iPod on speakerphone, no one jangling cups, no rowdiness of any kind. Although it is very nice, I almost miss the bizarre conversations people have with themselves on Chicago transportation. Also those two-story red buses? Not a mere tourist attraction. They’re everywhere and function the same as any city bus would. Finally, walking. It’s possible to walk anywhere and everywhere in the city (although it might take awhile). It’s 7:40 PM and I have already walked 6 miles today (thank you FitBit).


3. Culture

I have experienced so much culture shock since I got here, and the English have a very distinguished way of life; however, I have also noticed a lot of parallels! As I was walking out of a store today, Mark Ronson serenaded me with ‘Uptown Funk’ and when I had to ask the front desk woman to repeat herself despite the fact that she was already speaking English, Taylor Swift was there telling me to ‘Shake It Off’. My sister took a friend and I to a place called Primark today in a shopping district and it was very similar to any outdoor collection of stores in the U.S. Primark itself reminded us a lot of Forever21 and its five stories of clothes and home goods rival the flagship on Michigan Avenue. We also have seen many places that remind us of home such as a Burton ski and snowboard store (in London?!), Burger King’s, Subway’s, and McDonald’s of course, and a Pret A Manger on every street. Perhaps what has delighted me the most is that the brand of wine, Barefoot, is seen as an imported delicacy from the States. Experiencing a completely different lifestyle is incredible, but it’s also nice to have some comforts of home! 🙂

street        IMG_2629

(I loved this street with its beautiful and apparently completely commonplace buildings and fun street art!)

Until next time lovely readers- wish me luck!!


Three Important Takeaways from Orientation Week in Rome

Three Important Takeaways from Orientation Week in Rome

While I can’t call myself an expert on all things concerning Rome after just a few days of being here, there are three thoughts I took away from orientation week that I think all students should know before studying abroad.

1. Don’t Live Through Your Screen(s):

Putting the phone and computer down is never an easy task, and the feeling of digital disconnection hits hard and fast once on the ground in Rome. Wifi at the JFRC is scarce on residential floors, and constantly checking to see if you can connect is only going to distract you from getting to know your classmates. Similarly, pulling out your phone to take pictures of incredible sights is important for memories and sharing your time here with family and friends, but when done in excess, takes away from why you’re really here. You want to remember all of the trip’s special moments through vivid experiences, and not by scrolling through your Instagram.

2. Throw All Your Expectations Out the Window, and Keep an Open Mind:

Small dorms, limited technology, and a world of unfamiliar faces can cause adverse initial reactions upon arrival for some. I caught myself making a lot of assumptions the first few days in terms of who I would be hanging out with, what I would want to do, and what I thought was important to see. I quickly realized that I had no idea what I wanted to get out of this trip, and thus stopped throwing ideas out before trying them. Taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, whether that be lunch with a new friend or skydiving in the Swiss Alps (no I’m not kidding), allows you to learn and take something away from each new adventure.

3. Learn the Language, and Attend the Orientation Events:

Knowing basic phrases and sayings in Italian is critical to making your life easier in Rome. Not taking the time to do so adds stress to navigating the city, and makes simple tasks such as grocery shopping very awkward when you need to ask any questions. Save yourself the anxiety and make sure to attend the Italian crash courses during orientation at a bare minimum. In line with that, being present at all the events Loyola has scheduled for arriving students in the first week creates an instant and important sense of community. For me personally, bonding with my peers during this time helped settle my doubts and concerns very quickly. While you may feel like you’re at summer camp for a few days, take a step back and see the value in learning more about your peers.

I thought orientation at the JFRC set me up for a successful semester abroad, and i’m excited for what’s ahead. Keep these thoughts in mind, and feel free to reach out to me personally with any questions via email:

‘Ello Chaps!

‘Ello Chaps!

Hello there from across the pond!

It’s been a week and a half since arriving and already there have been so many adventures.

Despite the nagging exhaustion of jet-lag the first few days, the other students of the Fordham London Centre program and I wasted no time setting out to explore the beautiful city.


After some brief orientation to our housing and on-site campus at Heythrop College in Kensington, we set out in groups to explore the city’s best and most famous pubs.  Of course, there was a bit of drinking, but many of us were much more excited to see the exquisite landmarks of the city.


To say we do a lot of walking is an understatement!  The London Dramatic Academy, the program I am involved in, is housed 20 minutes from campus.  And even though it would be easier most days (especially the rainy ones) to ride the bus, walking is really the best way to see many of the beauties of London.  However, the double-decker bus also offers a pretty spectacular view of the city.

And I can’t forget about the tube!  It has already been a most important for transporting me to theaters on the South bankside of London.  The other LDA students and I have already been able to visit the Rose and Globe theatre, two theatre known specifically for their relationship to Shakespeare.  We also attended a performance of Behind the Beautiful Forevers at the National Theatre.

Along with visits famous theatrical landmarks and walks around areas such as Kensington Gardens, we also have classes.  Unlike typical study abroad programs, LDA is a rigorous conservatory.  We meet five days a week, usually from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Our classes include acting, Shakespeare, physical movement, period dance, speech and dialect, voice, dramatic criticism, stage combat, and various workshops throughout the semester.

Even though the schedule is demanding and often exhausting, the first week has been enlightening, fun and by far one of the most involved theatrical experiences of my life.

I could go on and on about all of the wonderful things we have gotten to do in the last several days, but I will refrain for now.  There will be more to expound upon in the next weeks I am sure as I continue my British explorations.

So for now, Cheerio!


Hoods Up for Curly Hair

Hoods Up for Curly Hair

I have finished my first week at Ireland and feel as though I can already relay loads of advice to anyone who wishes to come and visit. While some advice is more philosophical than others, the main piece of advice I can give you all is that there is one thing you must accept if you have curly hair– it will never look good. As someone with VERY thick and curly hair, I have grown up being told again and again how Irish my hair looks (no it’s not red but the curls are enough). So when I embarked on my trip to Cork, I loaded my suitcase up with hair product. Deep down, however, I had this hope and prayer that the majority of people in Ireland have curly hair, so there must be something about the air and water that allows curls to always look salon finished. I was very wrong. Every night I would wash my hair, go through my hair product ritual, but it would never work. The constant moisture in the atmosphere never seemed to allow my hair to dry and when it did, it was simply a frizzy mess. I have yet to completely give up on having a decent hair look, but a fellow curlier haired friend and I have simply adapted a catchphrase “hoods up for curly hair” which means that pretty much every time we are outside and we feel just one raindrop, hoods go up. Definitely not a full-proof plan, and it is a a sure way that we stand out as tourists, but it is only an uphill battle against the fight of frizzy curly hair, and our hoods seem to be our only weapon.

After a paragraph like the one above, dedicated to hair, you may think the only thing I do in Ireland is get ready to go out, go out, and then have my hair ruined. But I have been exposed to a number things in my week here. As a USAC group we went on a scavenger hunt of sorts in the city center. We broke up into teams of 6 and took pictures of various locations around the city. My team came in first, thanks largely (if not all) in part of one of my suite mates, Casey, who we simply call the human GPS. Our prize was a €10 gift card to Tesco (the grocery store) and when I received said prize, I was definitely more excited then I should have been. I have seen a lot of the city so far, been to a number of pubs, eaten at a number of restaurants (yes I have had fish and chips), and walked up and down so many hills in this one week then I think I ever have in my whole life.


cork pic
Best group out there


I have also begun classes here at UCC. The way international scheduling works here, it that we can go to as many classes as we would like the first week and then register by the end of the second week. This gave me the option to visit a number of classes before picking my final schedule. I will be taking Introduction to Traditional Irish Music, Aspects of Irish Folklore, Irish Politics, and Northern Ireland Politics. So it is safe to say that I will be a bit of an Irish expert at the end of the semester. All of my classes seem incredibly interesting and all of the professors seem so excited to teach their courses. This leads me to believe that going to class will not be a drag, especially because I get to go to class at such a beautiful, very green, campus.


This is the main quad at UCC, if you walk on the grass it is rumored that you will not graduate


My final note for this post must, of course, discuss my seemingly terrible luck when it comes to weather. Yesterday, it snowed in Cork for the first time in over 5 years. The last time there was any significant snow in Cork was back in 1976. Needless to say a lot of my West Coast suite mates were extremely excited to see the snow. But my 2 fellow Loyola friends and I simply groaned, we had assumed that we would not have to see snow ever again (or at least until we returned to Chicago). This snowfall was of great excitement to the Irish students as well, who posted all over Yik Yak (an anonymous social media site) how they were going to go out and have a snowball fight. However, seeing as the snow barely stuck and turned into rain for awhile, I don’t see how it would be possible to form even one snowball, let alone to have a full out fight. The snow and rain did leave me with yet another gift, a terrible cold. I am attempting to cure myself with an IV of tea and honey, and will hopefully be better by Thursday which is one of the main nights that all of the college students go out. But alas, it has been raining for hard for 5+ so my odds of fully healing are bleak.

More later!

Cultural notes:

~Whenever an Irish person asks where I am from and I say Chicago, 9 times out of 10, their response is, “Oh the Windy City! Barack Obama!”

~You have to flip on a switch every time you need to use an outlet. I vaguely remember it being like this last time I was in Ireland but I can’t remember if it like that in the rest of Europe. Normally, I remember the switch no problem, but two nights ago I turned on the stove, sprayed the pan, and cracked an egg onto it. It took me 3 minutes to realize why the egg was not cooking whatsoever.

~ Most UCC students, go home on the weekend so the biggest night for students are Tuesday and Thursday. Leaving the weekends open for travel for all of us international students. This weekend, maybe Blarney?



The colloquial term for boyfriend/girlfriend in Chile is “pololo/a.” One of the very first things I noticed in Chile is that there are many young couples. Not only are there many young couples, but they are not afraid to show their love each other in public. In the parks, on the streets, in restaurants, and the metro, there are couples embracing each other as if there were no other people around. South America itself is a very touchy region, it is common to kiss cheeks as a greeting. One of my classmates even theorized that these young couples show their affection publicly because they usually remain in their parents’ home until late twenties, or whenever they get a job. I’m assuming living with the ‘rents for that long doesn’t entail a lot of privacy. Even in the host family that I’m staying with, the two boys still live with their mother and they are both in their twenties. It’s easier and more affordable for the children to live with their parents while going to school, which is the case of both my host brothers. Anywho, yesterday my class went on a guide of Santiago. We started out in Plaza de Arma, and for about 4 hours we walked around all of central Santiago city. One of the places we stopped at was Moneda, which is the equivalent to the White House in America. It’s considered their president’s house, and attached is a picture of all of us in front of it! (Check out my palm tree pants!!) There are 11 of us students that are in the program at Universidad Alberto Hurtado, and they’re all pretty awesome. La Moneda_2015-1 (1)


Anywho, I’m off to bed, I have class tomorrow morning.





I’ve officially survived my first week in Barcelona, a beautiful city that stretches from the mountains to the sea. It has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least, each day packed with overwhelming adventure. They definitely weren’t kidding when they told us that culture shock was real… so here are some things I have already learned in the short time I have been here:

1. Catalunya is not Spain.

Of course, technically it is, but Catalans see their region (Barcelona), culture and heritage entirely unique to that of the rest of Spain. Spanish is spoken everywhere, but Catalan is still the official language of the city and most maps, signs, advertisements and menus are in Catalan.

2. Eating hours change once you cross the Atlantic.

Lunch is the largest meal of the day and the time when most Spaniards want to sit down to a three-course meal, followed by a nice siesta when shops are closed from around 2-5pm. Then dinner is typically from 9 to 11:30pm. If your stomach can’t hold out till then, it’s common to snack throughout the day on little sandwiches and coffee. It was definitely hard to get used to at first but I’m really starting to enjoy this lifestyle.

3. Iced coffee doesn’t exist *gasp*

It’s true folks. Ice coffee is not common this time of year. If you order “café con hielo” in Spain, you are served two glasses: one with coffee and the other full of ice. It’s up to you to pour your coffee onto the ice cubes.

 And taking it to go is true American fashion.

Spaniards are in no rush. It is traditional to sit down at a cafe and enjoy your cup of coffee over a long period of time. With that being said, they call it “take away” coffee here, which only exist in certain chains like Farggi, and is frowned upon.

4. Eating out can be hard on the wallet especially with today’s euro exchange.

To avoid this, you can find off the beaten path neighborhood cafes that have daily deals. For 2 euros you can get a light meal of a sandwich and coffee or for 10 euros you can get bread, a glass of beer, a starter dish, an entree, dessert, and coffee.

5. Blending in is hard, but confidence is key.

Barcelona is a main tourist destination, and almost every Spaniard speaks English. Once they figure out you’re American, you are almost immediately treated differently. As if on command, they will speak to you in English, or hand you a menu in English without really giving you a chance to try out your Spanish. It’s a little discouraging but once I start to blend in and improve my language skills with confidence, I’ll get the hang of it and feel like a Spaniard in no time!

One week down, so many more amazing to look forward to.


Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya


Ciao !

After spending the last day in America sick with the flu, I made it to Chile! For all you Chicagoans, it is ridiculously hot over here. It’s been 90+ degrees and I’m already super tan. ;] The language barrier is real, it’s only been 2 days, but it has been very frustrating communicating with my host family at times. However, they’ve been nothing but nice to me and more than accommodating to my needs! I think my new favorite word is qué? Atleast, I’ve been saying it after every comment made towards me since I’ve landed. Like typical me, I’ve already been to the mall in Chile. It’s apparently the tallest and biggest in all of South America,which does not surprise me because I went three times today (for various reasons) and I still haven’t seen half of the mall. It’s absolutely gigantic. The currency exchange here is also crazy. I’m not exactly sure what the conversion is, I’ll have to double check, but I feel rich ;D. Anywho, I have class tomorrow at 9:30am, so I’m heading off to bed.