The GoGlobal Blog

Month: September 2017

My Internship in Rome (Week 1)

My Internship in Rome (Week 1)

Ciao! This semester in Rome, I was fortunate enough to get hired as a marketing intern for a company called The Roman Guy. The Roman Guy specializes in various VIP tours of different tourist attractions all around Rome, as well as several local food tours in different areas. As an assignment for my class ROST 370, I am required to reflect on my experience of working as an intern for this company.

Specific tasks

Working as a marketing intern for The Roman Guy is an interesting job because all of my assigned tasks frequently change and I am never stuck doing the same thing. For my first week, my job has been very writing intensive as I have been working on creating and editing blogs, writing an article about the Colosseum for our Rome Key Attractions Page, and posting on our company’s food instagram (The Roman Foodie). So far, classroom knowledge has helped me a lot because I am able to use an abundance of information that I learned about marketing from taking the class this previous spring semester and apply it to what I am working on at my internship in order to help market our content better.

Learning objectives

 

As an intern, I was required to create several learning objectives that I want to achieve by the end of the semester. One of my biggest learning objectives was to improve my writing skills for blog posts and various social media apps, and have the whole marketing department critique my work for improvements. Little did I know that my first week on the job I would already be making progress towards my learning objective. I am not the most confident when it comes to my writing, but I am happy that my internship had my beginning tasks be writing intensive because then that way I can have more time to improve on this skill throughout the semester. There is a lot more to blogging than what meets the eye. At our company, we have a checklist called The Blog Lifecycle where there are about 15 different extensive tasks that need to be completed in order to have a successful blog post. My first day on the job, I learned all about the cycle and this is what I am using as my guideline in order to improve my writing skills and create a successful blog post which will ultimately help me make progress towards my learning objective.

 

Problems and Challenges

Some problems that I have had involving my internship is writing for an extensive period of time. Sometime I have to be writing the entire time I am working which can be around five hours. At first it was hard for me to stay focused, but now I am getting used to writing for a long period of time and also finding out about the free espresso machine in our office made everything a lot easier. Another one of my challenges is using public transportation to get to my work. During my first week, I learned how to correctly use the regional train the hard way as I accidently got on the wrong train and it took me about 25 minutes outside of Balduina. This was scary, because I had no idea where I was and it was getting pretty late at night. When I asked several people for help, they ignored me or told me that they didn’t know how to help me. Luckily, I found this one extremely generous lady who helped me get on the right train and she even taught me how to correctly use the Rome transportation system so that I would never make the same mistake again. Now I always leave a bit earlier so that I can make sure that I have enough time to get to where I need to in order to prevent getting on the wrong train from happening again.

What Impresses me about my internship

So far, the most impressive thing about my internship is all of my coworkers, as they are all extremely talented and good at their jobs. The Roman Guy is an extremely small company that is very successful, so it is amazing to see how the whole staff works together to create great content and get more customers. I am very lucky to be working in the marketing department with my coworkers Lorna, Sian, and Francesca, because they all very experienced in the marketing field and they all inspire me in many ways. It is only the first week and I already have learned many new things from them that I can apply to my future career.

Expectations for the future

In the future, I am expected to keep improve my writing skills as I have to create about 10 blog posts total for our company’s Key Attraction Page. I expect this to be very difficult, because each post needs to be thought out and edited carefully. It also takes a long period of time to create just one post, so I am ready for this challenge that I will be facing in the future.

I am so excited for the future and to see how my internship will help me grow as an individual, and I will keep posting updates on my work. Arrivederci!

Living my Pinterest Dream

Living my Pinterest Dream

Hey guys!!!! I’m so excited to share my travel experiences with you all, thank you for reading! I hope I can inspire you to see this beautiful world, please don’t ever forget, to travel is to live.

Travelling to Spain was something that I dreamt of for years. I have learned about the language and various traditions since the 7th grade, and now I would finally be immersing myself in the beautiful country where all the culture has flourished. Even before my semester began in Madrid, my friend, Michael, and I took a trip to Barcelona and the island of Mallorca…and I absolutely fell in love with both.

Our Airbnb hosts were incredibly nice, which was already a great impression of the Spanish people. The first half of our trip was spent at the island. Our Airbnb apartment was right off a main street in the city center, Palma. We lived right across a beautiful bakery, with Gaudí-esque architecture.

The Gaudí-esque building across from our Airbnb!!! One of my first pictures on Spanish soil

We spent time exploring the city center with all the beautiful avenues marked with shops, bars, bakeries, and restaurants. But one of the highlights was a beach called, Cala Major, where I stepped into the world of my Pinterest boards and all the travel pictures that I pin, read and dream about. It was truly magical. This beach paraded crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean as well as amazing sea cliffs that Michael and I swam through to get to the other side!!! Super adventurous and definitely worth getting up close to these rock formations.  

 

Cala Major sea cliffs

 

Another highlight of Palma was a town called Sóller. 

The tram we took to and from the center of Sóller to the harbor

 

Yet again, I felt shaken in a positive way, and I was left in disbelief at the postcard views that were before me. My dreams were becoming a reality. I was no longer the dreamer living off of my Pinterest board to feed my travel bug, but I was transforming into the Pinner who inspires others to travel through their pictures and experiences. Sóller is a harbor so there were boats all over complimented by colorful architecture on the mountainside of the U-shaped shoreline. It was completely breathtaking.

                                             

 

Our next stop on this end-of-the-summer adventure was Barcelona. And, once again, I fell in love. But this time, with Gaudí. I could write a novel about our time in Barcelona, from the gigantic Gothic cathedrals to the churros & chocolate to Gaudí’s incredible masterpieces to the Olympic port and beaches. However, I will keep my focus on Gaudí.

The Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, definitely made his mark in the city of Barcelona. Of Parque Güell, La Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Familia, and La Pedrera, I have to say La Casa Batlló was my favorite Gaudí building. The entire design, like a lot of his art, was inspired by the sea where the iron balconies mimic seaweed and the colorful building itself is constructed of all curves and waves; absolutely no straight lines.

Casa Batlló at night

To get to La Sagrada Familia, Michael and I took the train-even though you will hear this time and time again, let me just say, the metro system is SO, SO easy to navigate in Barcelona. It is fast, easy, and cheap. I remember coming up the escalator to the street of La Sagrada Familia and as I turned around, there it was. This giant masterpiece. I had absolutely no words at all. I was in awe. The carvings are just marvelous and so detailed. It takes a mastermind to not only imagine, but create such a treasure. I am beyond grateful for this start and I cannot wait to share about my experiences in Madrid, where I am finally studying. Spain has already left me speechless as I lived my Pinterest dreams.

Rooftop of La Pedrera

 

La Sagrada Familia

~To travel is to live 

 

 

My ricebowl

My ricebowl

Salaam!

This is our 3rd week in Amman– koolshi mumtaz (everything is excellent)!!!!

Abigail’s host baba (who lives in the same apartment building as us) took me to the masjid for friday prayer and it was incredible. We parked pretty much in the middle of the street and when we came out after the prayer, cars covered the whole street, parts of the sidewalk too. And there was a truck selling grapes and shampoo haha. It’s seriously so beautiful to see the strength of faith in people. Any faith, it is just beautiful to see it in someone’s eyes that they really feel faith in their heart. Seeing the street covered with cars and people made me so happy because it shows how much love there is for faith and how good it makes people feel. Even at home I am always happy on fridays to watch all the people coming from such different places to pray together. It reminds me of Ramadan when so many Muslims go to the masjid to pray late at night and then we wake up again before the sun even rises because the love and feeling of faith and peace in our hearts is so strong.

Classes are amazing. We are taking arabic, refugees and displaced populations seminar, refugees health and humanitarian action seminar, and a research and methods class. We have arabic for three hours twice per week and it’s so much fun! Majority of people in Amman can speak english so we have to try our best to talk in Arabic with each other and anyone else we meet here! For our refugees health and humanitarian action seminar, every week guest speakers from NGOs, health providers, and universities come to tell us about what they do and the history of current refugee crisis and so much information about issues/risks facing refugees and the host countries that they are coming into. We also have many field visits to the offices and centers of these providers every week!

A professor that visited us last week taught us about the challenges and stress that is put on Jordan for hosting so many Syrian refugees. We talked about how limited the resources are because right now Jordan is the third most water stressed country in the world. And while the basic needs of refugees are far from being met, Jordanians are rapidly running low on their own basic human needs. She left us with this, “The cost of three tanks can feed 600,000 refugees for six months.” Crazy to think about the constrasting effects and costs of violence vs peace.

But yeah we are learning so much and we are also so lucky to be with the families that are hosting us! Geri (my and Hannah’s host mama) has been taking us to her friend’s pound class which is an all girls cardio class where we use drum sticks it’s the most fun gym class I have ever done and it makes me feel so strong!!

Geri also took us to her friend’s son’s engagement party the other day and I didn’t have anything fancy to wear so I went to the mall to buy a dress (I found the most beautiful green turkish style dress) bought it and then when I was riding the taxi home, the driver ripped me off and I forgot the dress in the taxi… lol it’s all good. Hopefully someone really nice and cool has it now <3 But I did learn so much after that. My baba, mama, and my friend Sawsan told me before I left to stay really alert and guarded while I am here and I think I got to comfortable. It helped me realize that a lot of people here are in poverty now because there is not that many good paying jobs and sometimes people can get desperate and take advantage of others. So anyways I learned that even though it is good to allow myself to trust and feel comfortable, I really have to protect myself and stay alert. Safety first :))

Anyways anyways sometimes it is really easy to feel too confident or too comfortable and of course its good to have that feeling but also I have to always remember that I am still learning, I will always be learning, and I definitely do not know everything so its best to listen to my parents and all the other people who love me <3

“And hold out your empty ‘ricebowl,’ as it were, and see how the universe and love fills it to overflowing, time after time!” -Ms Penny

 

 

Beaches, Star Wars, and Bull Fights

Beaches, Star Wars, and Bull Fights

It has been a few weeks now since I started classes and exploring Sevilla.  Everything is starting to feel more familiar: the food, the streets, the language.  I have even visited a few beaches!  The first week I went on many tours of the city with a group called Erasmus.  This group organizes many events for international students from all over the world to meet each other and make the most of their study abroad experience.  The tours are great, with lots of history included and free food after! I also went to a beach in Portugal called Tavira and a beach near Cadiz called Bolonia Both were so beautiful!

If anyone is a Star Wars fan, then the Plaza de España is the place to visit.  This breath-taking building with influences from all over Europe and even Latin America stars in Episode 2 of the Star Wars series.  On my way to the shuttle for school or if I walk into town, I get to pass this plaza and I am amazed each time.  Whether it is during the day, when the sun is setting, or during a late night walk, it never ceases to fill me with awe.

The park that this plaza is a part of is one of the biggest in Spain, and was a gift to a Spanish queen’s sister.  It is filled with sparkling fountains, intriguing statues, and intricately-detailed buildings.  Walking through this park is a nice way to end a stressful day or pass a lazy Saturday morning.

One of the things I love the most about traveling is trying the new food.  One of the coolest things I have found throughout Spain is their markets.  Sevilla has two markets just a block away from each other.  One market, the Market of Triana, is an older market in what used to be a Moor castle.  It is full of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits to the famous Jamon Iberico.  There are even cooking classes offered to anyone interested in expanding their culinary skills.  I spent an afternoon wandering through this wonderful place and plan to go back again.  The other market is just across the river.  There are more prepared, traditional Spanish dishes here.  I found a huge octopus at one of the vendors!

 

I was able to visit the legendary bull fighting ring as well called the Plaza de Toros.  I went on a day that was very hot and had to wait almost two hours to go on the tour, but it was free and definitely worth it.  Before actually entering the ring, we walked through displays of paintings and sculptures all about the history of bull fighting.  I also saw many of the trajes de luces (literally suit of lights) that famous matadors wore during the corridas (bull fights).  I had learned about the corridas in school so it was very fascinating to see everything come to life.  I walked through the chapel that the matador goes in to pray one last time before entering the arena and the stables where the horses wait for their turn to enter.  When I finally walked through the gate into the arena, I was stunned.  It was as if I entered a different world.  Turning around taking in the thousands of seats, I imagined the anxiously matador awaiting in the sand for the moment that would determine the rest of his life.  The doors where the bull enters were opposite of the balcony where the king and queen sit when they visit the corridas.  I left feeling as if I had traveled back in time. 

 

I hope to keep exploring not just Sevilla, but all of Spain.  I am finding a good balance between studying and wandering around the city, which was something I was nervous about.  A good family friend gave me some advice before I left and I have repeated it to myself every day since I have arrived.  He told me that I am going to have rough days, days where I won’t want to do anything.  But I should try to do something exciting every day, especially the challenging days.  So whether it is just a walk through the park or I go to explore the city, I try to do something every day.  Every day is a new day to visit something else, and this has made my experience even more memorable.  I am taking it one day at a time, and each day is bringing a new adventure that I cannot wait to share.  Hasta luego!

 

Three Weeks in Rome

Three Weeks in Rome

Ciao amici! I have been living in Rome for the past three weeks and it has been quite a ride! Every single day there are new towns to be explored, amazing new foods to try, and incredible people to meet. So far these past three weeks have been completely unforgettable, and here is an update on how things are going while studying abroad in Rome, Italy.

Week 1

At first, it was hard for me to adjust to my new life living in Rome. When I arrived, I found out that I would be in a single room because my roommate had dropped out of Loyola’s Rome program. This caught me off guard because I have shared a room with someone my whole life; my younger sister at home and a roommate in college. The first night was different but now I love having a nice quiet place to myself after a long day of socializing. The second day here, I met some of the most genuine people and I became friends with them very quickly. Our school organized a scavenger hunt all throughout downtown Rome for everyone to participate in. I went with my new friends, Anna, Maddie, Maria, Ashley, Jen, Cecily, and Riley but as soon as we stepped off the bus we were lost. This was a blessing in disguise, because as we were walking around the city we stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon which was an amazing surprise. The next day, our school spent a day at the Colosseum and The Roman Forum. Both of these historical sites completely took my breath away, and I couldn’t believe that the sites that I have always seen in magazines and in movies were right in front of me. On Sunday, our school took a class trip to Maccarese beach and I could not wait to take my first swim in the sea. However, my excitement quickly faded as my two friends, Maria and Jen, both got stung by Italian jellyfish as we were all swimming. Despite this, everything was completely fine after they realized the lifeguard who would be helping them looked like an Italian Zac Efron. As the day came to an end, our extremely sunburnt class made our way back to campus, as we all needed plenty of rest for our first day of classes the following day.  

Week 2

The first week of classes were very laid back since it was syllabus week and everyone was still getting to know each other. It is so nice having class at the John Felice Rome Center, because everything is in the same building which means I can literally roll out of bed five minutes before my class starts and still be on time. The week went by very quickly, since we don’t have class on Fridays here which is the most amazing thing ever. On Friday, our school had a class trip to Umbria, Italy. When we arrived, I was astonished by how gorgeous the Italian countryside is in person. There were cobblestone streets everywhere, huge hills and mountains all around us, and cute little churches on every street. Our school took a boat ride to a small island where we got to try traditional mediterranean seafood. The food was interesting to say the least, but I am happy that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried some new food that I would never usually eat. The next day was by far my favorite day, as our class took a trip to Le Climate do Montefalco which was a beautiful winery in the countryside. We got to take a tour of the whole vineyard and taste some of the different types of wine that were made at the vineyard. After the vineyard, we went to a small village in the mountains where we toured an old church and a mummy cemetery.  Everyone in my group was completely freaked out by the mummies, but I thought it was fascinating because it reminded me of The Catacombs in Paris that I went to in high school. After the museum, we had the option to attend mass of to explore the town. I originally wanted to attend the mass but my plans changed as I saw that the last bus left without me. Although I was bummed, it was a blessing in disguise because me and my friend Anna decided to hike in the hills and we found an old castle. The castle wa so beautiful even though it was damaged and falling apart. It had the best view of the whole entire town and it was a moment that I will never forget. After that, our class went back to the hotel where we had an amazing dinner of traditional pasta bolognese. The last day in Umbria, a huge storm came which resulted in some of the plans being canceled. Although this was a bummer, I was happy that it was raining because Italy has been in a severe drought for almost four months. The day seemed like it lasted forever, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the campus which is a place I now consider my home.

View from old castle
Wine at vineyard

Week 3 

After a long exhausting weekend of traveling in Umbria, I was excited to be back at school and I couldn’t wait to start exploring more of Rome. On Wednesday, our school had the Mass of the Holy Spirit to wrap up the end of orientation. The mass took place at one of the most beautiful churches that I have ever seen in my life called Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. The interior of this church was some of the most intricate architecture and as the mass was going on, I couldn’t help but gaze all around the church and admire its beauty. After mass, we went out to dinner and I got to try the infamous pear pasta that everyone always talks about. It was one of the best things that I have ever tried and I can’t wait to go back and get more! The week came to a close and my friends and I took our first planned trip of the semester to the Amalfi Coast. We had to wake up on Friday at 5:30 in the morning in order to catch our train which left at 7. Although we barely slept and were extremely tired, it was all worth it when we got to the Amalfi Coast and saw how beautiful it was. My friends and I rented an Airbnb that was located on a lemon farm and was incredibly gorgeous. Our first day, we took a bus to a town called Positano which was personally my favorite part of the whole trip. When we arrived, we went out to eat and a restaurant that had the best view of the whole town, and I ate some amazing cream pasta. After lunch, we explored the town and went shopping where we bought limoncello, gifts for our friends and family, and a ton of new clothes that all put a huge dent in my bank account. As the day started to come to a close, we went to Positano’s main beach where we swam in the sea, watched the sunset, and saw a small local concert. Although it was the most amazing day, our bus ride home definitely put a damper on my friends and I. Everyone got extremely car sick because our bus driver was driving very fast and the roads on the Amalfi Coast are all hairpin turns which we are definitely not used to back in Chicago. Although that wasn’t the best experience, the end to our day was perfect because we got takeout gelato and pizza. The next day we had to wake up early again in order to take a ferry ride to the island of Capri. When we got to the island, I was amazed at how perfect the town looked with the gigantic cliffs and the crystal clear blue water. We had lunch and then took a private boat tour for two hours that I really enjoyed, but my friends did not since the waves were huge that day and it reminded us of being car sick the previous day. After the boat ride, we went to Anacapri where we took a chair lift to the highest point on the whole entire island. This was my favorite part of the day, because the view was incredible, as you could look out and see the other islands in the distance as well as look down at the whole entire town of Capri. After this, we went back to our airbnb and got the same takeout pizza from the night before because it was too good to pass up. On our last day, we explored the town of Sorrento and went on a shopping spree again. It was so much fun to bargain with all of the street vendors and get some of the best deals ever (I got an Italian leather purse for just 25 euros)! After a day of shopping, we departed on our long journey back to Rome. Although the Amalfi Coast was amazing, I couldn’t wait to get back to campus and be at the place that I now call home. These past three weeks have been full of amazing adventures that I will never forget, and I cannot wait what the future of me living in Rome has in store. Arrivederci!

Town of Positano
Mass of the Holy Spirit

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Last Wednesday we had our Mass of the Holy Spirit which concluded the orientation activities. Students traveled to Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola or the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola for a mass where we were blessed and encouraged to continue our journey of education in the eternal city. There is an altar to St. Robert Bellarmine, one of the many people I have to thank for my introduction to the Jesuits and all that they stand for.

 

 After mass we celebrated our survival and completion of orientation to Rome with one of the best meals I have ever had, at Osteria l’anima. The highlights of the meal included the famous pear pasta that was absolutely to die for and the amazing company I had that night.

The Birthplace of Pizza

The Birthplace of Pizza

At 3:30am on Saturday morning I rolled out of bed (well, not literally because I sleep on the top bunk), dressed, and grabbed the small backpack I had packed the night before. That day we were going to Naples! As it happened, the day before my roommate and I spontaneously bought cheap train tickets to Napoli. Friends joined us until we had a group of seven. Our train left at 5:30am, and we met in the lobby of JFRC at 4am to get a taxi to Roma Termini, where our train would be leaving from. We played the card game BS while waiting for the train, which served as a little pick-me-up for all of us groggy travelers.

We arrived in Naples at a little past 8am and immediately jumped on another train to Pompeii. This was unplanned, and resulted in a scramble for all of us to purchase tickets on the same train at the same time. The train ride to Pompeii was about 45mins, in which we snoozed, and we hopped off and took a shuttle to the archeological site.

Pompeii is an absolutely amazing place to experience. It is much larger than I expected, and seems like we only covered a small area in the three and a half hours we were there. We didn’t get a tour guide, which I partially regret, because we’re all broke college students and couldn’t spare the extra seven euros. So instead we walked and explored on our own.

The streets are made of huge, worn rocks that have been walked on a thousand times over by tourists. The walls and some bigger structures are still intact, and the first thing we went through was a large amphitheater. We followed our feet, catching snippets of information from tour guides as we went. Mount Vesuvius loomed in the background, but the most we did was observe it from a distance.

This amphitheater is one of the first things we saw walking into Pompeii.
One of the lesser traveled roads in Pompeii.

It’s easy to imagine what the flourishing city of Pompeii would’ve been like when you walk through their living spaces, walk the same streets, and see Mount Vesuvius. I could feel the history surrounding all of us.

After exploring the site, we exited and hung around the plaza browsing through the many souvenir shops. It was sunny and hot that day, so we all wanted water and some food. I bought some postcards and a cup of orange juice that was so worth the 4 euros.

By 3pm we were back in Naples and ready to find a yummy pizza place for an early dinner. Walking out of the train station in Naples at first made me nervous. Naples is a smaller city than Rome, population wise, however Naples immediately felt busier and more crowded. It is a bustling city, as they say. One of my friends said that they felt like Naples was the kind of city people warn you about concerning pickpockets, unapologetic cars and Vespa’s, and just overall danger. I felt unsafe for about 10minutes, but was always walking with our group of seven. After that I adjusted to the city and felt like not everybody was staring at us.

On our way to the pizza place, we stopped in a few stores. Andrew, the only guy in our group, stood patiently near the exit of each clothing store, waiting of the rest of us to be done. I was with him, though, because I’m not a big fan of shopping for clothes! Eventually we made it to a beautiful street that we walked most of in order to get to the pizza. It was narrow, with stores, shops, and a few churches on each side. Cars and motorcycles would honk and slip through the crowds of people walking, and we all kept an eye out for each other to make sure we wouldn’t get hit. Smaller streets led off of the busier one, and between the tightly packed buildings people hung string on which to dry their clothes on. The only downside of our walk was that it was around 85 degrees and the sun was setting right in our eyes.

Via dei Tribunali in Naples, Italy.

The pizza place we decided on was quiet and the food was delicious. You can’t beat the prices in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, and the best part was that they had tiramisu for desert! I got a fried pizza that’s basically like a funnel cake. It was so, so good and was only 4 euros. Every pizza my friends ordered was amazing, even the traditional ones. We all got an equally delicious desert, and sat enjoying conversation.

Carole and her pizza from Pizzeria Donna Sofia.

 

The bill was paid and we set off down the street again to explore in the time we had before our train departed for Roma. It was more pleasant this time because the sun was further down on the horizon and not in our eyes, and we wandered in the general direction of the train station. By the end of the walk I could see why people would want to and wouldn’t want to visit Naples. The city itself has a fast-pace, and there is trash everywhere along with cigarette stubs. A huge part of downtown is residential, and there were street vendors along every street we walked.

Overall, I love the city. We weren’t there for very long, so we didn’t get to see many of the touristy places. If we go back, we’re definitely getting more pizza!

From Roma, with Love:

From Roma, with Love:

Finally.

I have made it to Rome.

And it’s pretty spectacular.

Actually, I have been in Rome for about two weeks already. I should say: finally, i’ve made it to this blog post, which has been open for the past week. Classic, procrastinating Joe. It’s okay, i’m on Roman time. I’ll be better in the future, pinky swear.

Once again, i’m very late! Apologies to all my fans…

Thank you, thank you.

It’s absolutely grand to have you all here. As Dr. Beazley, our beloved Dean of Academic Affairs would say: “I’m overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.”

Anyhow, i’ve looked forward to writing these posts for a long time, and i’m thrilled to be able to share my adventures with all of you. Before I actually get down to the topic of my Roman holiday, I believe that relatively brief, one-sided introductions are in order:

My name is Joseph Ignatius De Larauze, known to most as Joe, to many as French Joe, and to a select few as French. As stated by my sobriquet, I am French and American by birth. I was born in the lovely town of Evanston, Illinois, in the distant year of 1997. After 8 years living in the vicinity of beautiful Chicago, my family moved to France, in a town west of Paris. Culture shock, patriotism, and a strong dislike for the French (inevitable for one who has to live with them for the first time), ensued. But never fear, I lived a very eventful and incredibly awkward decade of my life in that beautiful country. I was schooled in the Lycée International, which still has a very special place in my heart today, even though it was no piece of cake. After High School, and after the International Baccalaureate, I said au revoir to my parents and two sisters, Nathalie and Maggie, and made the hop across the pond, back to Chi-town. I have been studying at Loyola University Chicago for the past two years, and am currently studying abroad at the John Felice Rome Center, which is the reason for our encounter today. I read with an all-consuming passion, which has influenced my majoring in English, and aspire to write and set people’s hearts on fire with my stories, as mine has been by theirs. I am also an Economics major, though i’m still trying to find my way with that one. I am a (very) part-time musician, love to listen to music, play it, and occasionally compose it. I love good food, good company, and hugs. I am Roman Catholic by birth and practice my faith intentionally, though imperfectly. There you have it. I hope that this introduction will suffice to help you get to know me, if you do not already.

So, about five paragraphs in, let me lead you through my journey, as it has been since my arrival in the Città Eterna. I did warn you I would be relatively brief, remember? I will accompany my narrative with a few pictures, but would rather let my words take you to where I am, and have been. On that note, let’s begin. Wherever you are, sit back, relax, get some coffee, and enjoy.

The Eternal City carries her name well. There is a kind of agelessness to her that is palpable, walking her streets, speaking to her people, admiring her splendor. Before my arrival here, I had believed Rome to be luxurious, like a crown perched upon a hill. I thought she would be ornate and sparkling, like the Eiffel Tower at night. I likened her to Paris, my point of reference as European cities go, and the real city of Love, thank you very much.

Now, I have arrived. Half-walking, half-tripping along the cobblestoned streets, I make my way through crowds of tourists, who snap pictures right and left. I try my best to escape the noise. I pass countless gelaterie, restaurants and street-vendors brandishing their wares like trophies. Rome is a tourist attraction. Yet, exploring the city, the edifices built hundreds and thousands of years ago, Rome beckons to me in a secretive manner. I am privy to something greater.

I walk the Forum, where countless musicians, philosophers, and various speakers once stood. I enter the Colosseum, and cheer on with tens of thousands of others as men fight men fight beasts. Bread and games. I don’t know about you, Russell, but i’m entertained. In the Campidoglio, rank upon rank of soldiers stand stock-still, eyes front, back strait, pilum held high. They await orders to conquer the world. I see the street-merchants, selling pottery and food and jewels, yelling over each other to attract customers.

Rome is history. All the years that have passed are still here, buried beneath my feet. Strolling through the city with my friends, I am awed by the ancient majesty of this place, eternal in her grandeur.

” Trois mecs”

Rome is a dream that I have lived every day since my arrival.

I miss Chicago. I miss my friends (you know who you are). But I am thrilled to be in this marvelous place, and I like to think that when you read of my journey, you are all here with me. There is still much more for me to share with you, so I don’t doubt that our paths will cross again.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

From Roma, with Love:

Joe I. De Larauze

Oh, the Places I’ll Go

Oh, the Places I’ll Go

Ciao amici from Roma, Italia,

I’ve been in Italy for about a month now and honestly, I like it more now than when I first arrived. I think I came with so many expectations of how Italy would be that I forgot to stop and think about what it could be. To experience Italy myself instead of pictures I saw on Instagram. In some sense it took away that aesthetic appeal that allows you to feel ‘awe’. 

After a three hour delay, I arrived in Rome where my aunt and uncle came to pick me up and we went to Padova. I stayed in Padova for the first two weeks of my trip, traveling to various near by cities.

The day after I arrived, we took a train to Venice.

First impressions of Venice: it’s so hot and crowded.

I don’t think I’d ever go back though. The buildings are beautiful and Venice itself is, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t feel impressed or that something different was there. If you plan on going to Venice in the near future, I suggest you go around or after 6 pm, that way you get to see the city during the day, but also during the night. Plus, it won’t be a scorching 92 degrees!! Also, a lot of people that I know that have taken a gondola ride, have said it’s amazing. But for me, I thought I was gonna drown the entire time because the boat was literally tipping to one side. And the water smelled really salty, not sure if this is recent, but it gave me a headache. But, I’m sure your experience will probably be better than mine.

Palazzo Giardino Giusti

Next, I went to Verona on the evening of my fourth day in Italy. We first went to Palazzo Giardino Giusti, basically there is a traditional renaissance garden with lots of statues. I highly recommend wandering around the gardens, there is quite a view at the top. Next, we went to Casa di Giulietta (the most awaited). It was very crowded, but definitely reminded me of the scene from ‘Letters to Juliet’. When I turned into the corner to her house, both sides of the walls were filled with letters, bandaids, big black heart outlines, and a statue of Giulietta (in bronze which is considered to be lucky) at the end of the entrance.

A few days later, we went to Switzerland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (can you tell that I was excited for this?) I had always wanted to go to Switzerland  and I was so happy that we were able to make this happen before school started, however, I would want to go back to spend more than a day there. In the time that I spent in Switzerland, we went Berne, Lake Brienz, Lucerne, and Interlaken. There’s so much to see and the VIEWS are absolutely breathtaking. It’s so beautiful!!

Lucerne
Interlaken
Lake Brienz
Giessbach Falls

***Lowkey wish that I studied abroad here (not that I don’t like Rome)***

My two favorite places in Switzerland were Interlaken and Lake Brienz because I felt it was something different from what you normally would see and feel. There was just a pure sense of serenity. We wondered off a little from Lake Brienz and found this magnificent waterfall that was hidden. Its called Giessbach Falls in Obwalden, it’s literally ten minutes from Lake Brienz (sorry I can’t upload the video:/ ). But, the view will not disappoint after you’ve hiked a little. Lucerne was nice too, but it’s just more of a city.

I can’t wait to go back someday! I’ve left a piece of my heart in Switzerland, for sure!

Came back to Italy for a quick trip before school started, but there wasn’t much to see in Pisa or Florence. Sort of wish I had more time to explore the town.

In Pisa, we saw the Torre di Pisa and the surrounding buildings. The architecture was beautiful, however, I wasn’t a big fan since I live near a replica of the tower anyways (I see it almost everyday, LOL). But it was interesting to see the real thing in person. I found out that the tower was built on soft grounds (because it’s between two rivers) and the first level started leaning right after it was built. It took a 100 years, before the construction of the tower started again. Even then the tower leaned at 0.4 degrees. Right now, the tower leans at about 5 degrees and they believe that it should be stable for another 200 years, hopefully.

 

In Florence there are a lot of churches, and each of them has something unique about them. The outside of Duomo – Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiore was fascinating with the different colors that were used, but also the detailing. By the time we got to Duomo the tickets were sold out for the day, so plan ahead. We decided to look around before we went to Piazzale Michelangelo, where there was a breathtaking view of the city.

During the orientation days after we started school, we had the opportunity to tour the Colosseo and Foro Romano. This was the first time that I got to see Rome since I’ve been in Italy. We walked around the coliseum and then went to see the inside. Afterwards, I walked through the forum and at the top there was an awesome view that overlooked the ruins, but also the coliseum on the other side.

Just a few tips when traveling:

  1. You don’t always have to go to the major tourist attractions. I think the main thing I liked about going to the places I did, was that I tried to find a few hidden gems that normally tourists would miss. It’s because they are too focused on things they want to post on social media to show back home. I am guilty of this, it’s very hard! But there is so much to see and enjoy. So unplug(, if you can)!
  2. It’s okay to wander without having a set plan. It’s a great way to learn how to find your way throughout the city, learn to talk to locals and maybe even learn to use transportation. You also find places that you’d never see if you just went from point A to point B. After all, it is about the experience. Mind as well immerse yourselves into the culture.
  3. You don’t have to leave Italy!!! There is already so much to see and experience in Rome. And since you’ll be staying in Rome for three and half months, I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to get to know Rome.

So, am I still pre-med? Of course I am!

Arrivederci alla prossima,

n.p.

Madrid Madrid Madrid!

Madrid Madrid Madrid!

¡Hola!

So I am now about a week and a half into my study abroad experience, and I’m still having such a great time! Now that I’m getting used to my classes, I am starting to think about the real reason why I came here: to travel! Travelling is my passion, and I can’t wait to plan all the trips I want to take. Even though I can’t wait to travel, most of my friends and students around me are spending their free time looking at flights trying to find the cheapest one. Like how boring is that? I mean I guess it’s cool when you find a good price because then you get to go on an awesome trip for super cheap! However, it’s still a hassle looking up flights all day. I’m not even kidding, so many of us are constantly on our computers and once in awhile you’ll here “omg this flight is 40 euro round trip!”. Then a discussion on if they should just book it now or wait for later. They were making me think that I need to get going on planning my trips, so I decided to book one! My friend and I made the spontaneous decision to go to Mallorca for two days! We’re super excited, and you guys will hear all about it in a couple weeks! However, I can’t go anywhere else until I know more about the city I am living in for 4 months, so this weekend was all about Madrid!

 

We’re always getting coffee somewhere
The Royal Palace of Madrid

My friends and I explored Madrid as best as we could! We first walked around Sol and then went to Retiro park, which is super beautiful. We rented row boats for 6 euros and got to spend an hour rowing around a lake, which was so fun! We also went on a bus tour and saw the amazing architecture and learned a lot of history. On the tour, we also visited the Royal Palace, which is super beautiful! Like if I could live there I totally would. Anyway, it was such an amazing weekend learning all about where I’m going to be living for the next four months!

 

 

At orientation, SLU told us all about how there are different phases of our study abroad experience. First is denial, then we experience culture shock, and then acceptance of our new life here. So basically they told us that we will be so caught up in being here that we will deny that we are homesick or the feeling that we don’t belong. They said that eventually we will fall into a pit of depression and most likely want to go home. They were so brutally honest that we thought they were joking. Unfortunately, they were not. But don’t worry, I haven’t fallen into my pit of depression yet! Hopefully I won’t but apparently it’s inevitable. So that’s fantastic, but it can actually be beneficial to us because we can then learn more about Spain and everything about it. That’s what I’m hoping at least! So right now I am still in love with Madrid and everything about it! My classes are getting a little difficult, so I’m starting to realize that I’m not on vacation and that I still need to focus on school. My classes are super interesting though, so I’m excited for everything that I’m going to learn! I’ll let you all know if I fall into my pit of depression, but honestly if I do I don’t think it will be bad. I’ve already made so many friends, and I can’t wait for all the trips I’m going to go on! Well, that’s it for now! ¡Hasta luego!