The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Clare Majewski

Ciao! My name is Clare, and I am from Des Plaines, Illinois. I am currently a junior at Loyola studying Marketing with a minor in Italian Language. I chose to study abroad in hopes of improving my Italian speaking abilities, as well as immersing myself in many different cultures. I am very excited to spend my semester abroad and cannot wait for the amazing experiences that await me!
A Semester to Remember

A Semester to Remember

Oh wow, where do I begin? It’s so funny to go back and reread my first blog post and to see how scared I was. I remember those feelings of anxiety and fear, but they feel so far away. I read that and I don’t recognize the words. What I felt then and what I feel right now is so polar opposite.

How do I feel now? I feel sad, sad that I have to leave this beautiful country, sad I have to leave this school which is full of people I have grown to love, sad that I have to leave this culture and the Italian people who have shown me so much acceptance and warmth from the moment I stepped off the plane. Pure and utter sadness.

Yeah, the traveling was amazing, getting to explore places that I’ve only ever seen in pictures, places I never actually believed I would see with my own two eyes. However, what I have grown to love the most is the person I have become while I have been here. I have taken risks, I have traveled alone, I have made life-long friends with whom I share unforgettable memories. I have become a version of myself that I know the 13-year old me would look up to.

Younger me was afraid of the unknown and all that hid within it. She refused to stray from what was in front of her, no matter what lay on the path ahead. Once I got to college, I knew I needed to change, but I didn’t know how to go about doing that. And then studying abroad came to me, and I seized the opportunity with open arms, fully aware that I was diving right into that unknown that I have always been so afraid of.

And here I am, four months later and a complete different person. Someone who is happier, healthier, and above all, wiser. I am distraught that it is all over, but the passion for adventure and the drive to continue bettering myself will never end.

And now, a few of my favorite memories…

friends <3
ugh I miss you gelato

 

Duomo in Milan

 

I will be back soon Greece

 

Wicked!!!
Last night in Rome ūüôĀ so many emotions, but I am thankful for everyone in this photo (plus others!) who have shown me kindness, friendship, and love. I attribute much of my happiness to you all!

 

And with that, I am signing out. I hope you have enjoyed following my journey, and I hope I have inspired you in some way to seek your own adventures, whatever those may be. Do not let fear hold you back from finding happiness!

Arrivederci!!! <3 <3

Thanksgiving In Ukraine

Thanksgiving In Ukraine

Ciao a tutti!

My last out of Italy trip, and I am sad. This has all been moving by way too fast, but I am trying to enjoy it all and live in the moment and not get caught up by the impending doom that is finals week. Let’s focus on what is important here, that being my trip to Ukraine for Thanksgiving break.

You may be asking, what made me choose Ukraine? Two words: my roommate. She happens to be Ukrainian and has family living in the capital of Kiev. So, that is where our story takes place!

I will admit, I knew nothing about Ukraine besides the bits and pieces of history my roommate has told me throughout the years, so I really had no idea what I was walking (or in this case, flying) into. Most people speak Russian in Kiev because much of the city is still stuck in the Soviet Union times. My roommate told me that the West side of Ukraine has modernized, whereas the East side is still stuck in the past.

One thing I did know is that I did not understand a single thing anyone was saying because NO ONE spoke English. Because of this, I was kind of left to my own thoughts and I forced my roommate to translate for me, but even she was having difficulty because she knows the Ukrainian language, not Russian. However, this didn’t stop us from enjoying the true beauty that Ukraine had to offer: THE FOOD.

I feel like this should just become a food blog from how much I talk about food, so that’s what I’m going to do for this post. Now, let me introduce you to these beauties:

Varenyky

 

beautiful cake from The Cake

 

Borscht (ft. Varenyky)

And there you have it, ladies and gents. Ukraine was definitely a unique experience, but it was one of the most fulfilling for me because I got to see a part of Europe that I never thought of. And it meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to my roommate, who got to see her family and celebrate Thanksgiving with them. I am truly thankful to her and to them for showing me an amazing time. It will never be forgotten!

I want MOHER of Ireland

I want MOHER of Ireland

Ciao a tutti!

I’m going to pretend that you all didn’t moan at the title of this post, but instead, you are laughing at my puns because I am just so funny… (-:

You guessed it! This world traveler set her sights on Ireland, and now she is here! Along with London, Ireland was another dream of mine. And no, this is not because its the two home countries of the members of One Direction. (Okay, kind of) I just heard the Irish were so nice and beautiful that I had to test this theory out for myself. And I can honestly say…yes, yes they are.

In this post, I’m just going to talk about why I loved Ireland so much because I LOVED IRELAND SO MUCH. It’s tied as my favorite trip with Greece, and that’s saying something since we were in Greece for 10 days. Let us begin…

  1. The People: What can I say that will do these people justice? Every single Irish person I encountered while in Dublin was genuinely the nicest person I have ever met, like every person was nicer than the last. Okay, besides the creepy married man that grabbed me in the bar on Saturday night. But everyone else was great. I can’t talk about the people without talking about our Prince. The Prince was a man that bought my friends and I drinks the entire night while we were at this¬†pub, but not once did he come over to us or talk to us. We felt bad and tried to turn him down, but the bartender kept coming over and saying that he insisted on buying us cocktails and shots. Thus we dubbed him the name the Prince. He came over when he left and we thanked him, but other than that, he met a lady friend, and we watched them hit it off while sipping on the 5th drink he bought us. On a different night, we just had the best night of our lives dancing with everyone. I was sitting at a table, waiting for my friends who were getting drinks at the bar, and this guy came over and said “Don’t just sit there, dance with me,” and so we danced! It was so nice! They just make you feel welcome, and I was so happy the entire weekend.
  2. The Food: This may sound dramatic, but it changed my life. It was so delicious, I’m salivating just thinking about it. It was very hearty with its meat and potatoes, something I didn’t exactly experience in the City of Carbs aka Rome, so it was nice to let my stomach take a break from me inhaling pasta every meal. The Shepherd’s Pie that I had… I… um… makes me speechless. We went to this little restaurant by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and it was very quaint and a little quirky, so we were a little nervous that the food wouldn’t be as good or would be expensive, but it was the exact opposite. Everything was homemade and we got an entire meal of Shepherd’s Pie, salad, and bread for 8 euro. Every meal I had while in Ireland was better than the next. I recommend The Hairy Lemon on Stephan Street. We went there twice, and we became best friends with the owner.15107236_1422595744432102_5250398412740109319_n
  3. The Views: Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it. It reminded me of London with it’s old-time vibes and quaint buildings, but it definitely had character that set itself apart. We visited Cliffs of Moher, and thankfully it was a nice, sunny day. We were literally at the edge of Ireland, staring into abyss that was the ocean. I felt every worry leave my body, and I felt at peace. It was so calming hearing the lapping of the water and feeling the breeze on your face. It was a tranquil experience, not to mention one of the most breathtaking sceneries I had seen thus far. Just don’t look down because it’s frightening.¬†
Paris in Pictures

Paris in Pictures

Ciao a tutti!

Paris is one of those cities that cannot be described in metaphors or imagery because words will not do it justice. So, instead of trying to create an image for you guys, here are some pictures (w/ descriptions) of the unfiltered beauty that is Parìs.

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The Louvre- A true masterpiece. An underground art museum that holds some of the most famous art in the world, including the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory. What made it even more beautiful was that it had free admission since we were studying in Europe.

 

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The Eiffel Tower by day…

 

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… and by night. A glittering light show that happens on the hour, every hour, for about 5 minutes. A can’t miss.
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From the top of the Eiffel Tower. Worth the 8 euro. DRESS WARM, esp if you are traveling here in later months, such as October. Feeling in hands was lost, but didn’t stop me from taking millions of photos of that beautiful view.

 

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On top of the Arc du Triomphe. Incredible history, and yet another incredible view, this time with the Eiffel Tower in the back. Try to avoid a foggy day, unlike what we did. Also, it’s free if you’re a student (-:

 

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Self-explanatory. Yum.

 

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Notre Dame minus the Hunchback. The line to get in was ridiculously long, but the outside views made up for it.

To quote my favorite movie¬†Anastasia, “Par√≠s holds the key to your heart,” and it indeed does.

Arrivederci i miei amici <3

Clare

London in 3 Days

London in 3 Days

Ciao a tutti!

Next stop, London. This has been a city I’ve wanted to go to since I was little, and I can’t believe I get to check it off my bucket list. Because I only got to spend a weekend here, I wanted to make the most of it and see everything that London has to offer. Here is how I did London in 3 days.

1. See all the sites at once: Your feet are going to kill, but it will be worth it. Our Airbnb was right by Buckingham Palace, so this was where our journey began. From here, we walked to Westminster Abbey, took a picture in a phone booth by Big Ben, crossed the Westminster Bridge, walked ALL the way to Shakespeare Globe, saw the London Bridge, crossed the Tower Bridge, sauntered by the Tower of London, then took the tube back. The pain in my body was immense, but I wanted to be certain that I would see all the important things in the short amount of time that we had. We didn’t go into anywhere because we didn’t want to pay the money¬†and the lines were incredibly long. However, if that’s something you want to do, I suggest an early start to your day and buying your tickets in advance to the places you want to enter. There might be difficulty in visiting every thing in one day then, but if you take the time and plan it out, then anything is possible.

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Basic but necessary

 

2. See a musical: DO IT. We saw Wicked, my all-time favorite musical on this planet, and it was by far the best show I have ever seen in my life. I might be a little biased, but the singing was amazing, the acting was amazing, and they all had British accents, which were pleasant to my American ear. The tickets weren’t that bad at 70 euro, and it was by far the best moment of the entire trip. Be watchful of the website you buy from because there is always the fear of buying counterfeit tickets. So either buy from the official theater site or the website I used was here. You’ll have to go to the theater and pick up the tickets, but it’s very simple. You present your ID and VOILA. Get ready for the best night of your life.

3. Abbey Road is overrated: I might get shanked for this, but I am not a big Beatles fan, never have been, probably never will be. However, it was still on my do to list, mainly because I wanted to buy a souvenir for my sister. We get there, it is on a very busy road, and it’s almost impossible to get a picture. We got lucky because we had¬†a very nice guy to stop his car for us, but everyone else wasn’t so nice. It’s also way out of the way, so unless you’re a huge Beatles fan, I wouldn’t recommend. But if you feel compelled to go much like I did, ignore the beeping, and strut like you mean it.

4. Make time for tea: I, a previous hater of tea, am now a spokesperson for English tea because I had the best cup in my entire life. My recommendation would be to go to the British Museum (which I will talk about next) and then cross the street and go to The Montague for tea and scones. OMG. Firstly, the place was SO cute, and the scones were to die for. You got to pick 4 scones and 4 jams, all of which were good except the chocolate ones because I hate chocolate. Also, they let you smell the tea leaves before picking one, so I picked one of the sweetest smelling ones and it was absolutely delicious. A+ 10/10 would recommend.

 

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5. British Museum!: I’ll keep this short because you might not get it if you don’t go to Greece at some point or know Greek history, but they have parts of the Parthenon here and refuse to give them back to the museum in Athens, so as annoying as this is for someone like me who deeply loves Greece, it was still cool to see. Also, they have the Rosetta Stone and the mummy of Cleopatra. Cool stuff. Oh, did I mention it’s free? Yeah, it is. Worth it!

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the HORROR

I followed these simple steps, and I had the BEST weekend in London. It’s on my top 3 list of favorite places I went while abroad because I was able to have a very fulfilling experience and definitely get my money’s worth. I hope this helps for those of you looking to spend a weekend in London. I will absolutely be back there one day, hopefully longer than a weekend, so maybe I’ll edit this with more tips once I go back!

Arrivederci i miei amici <3

Clare

Se agapó Greece!

Se agapó Greece!

Ciao a tutti!

Or should I say, kalim√©ra (good morning in Greek). I had to say goodbye to Rome for a little bit because the next 10 days of my life will be spent in Greece through a program run through JFRC. To be completely honest, I was very skeptical because it cost 1300 Euro to attend this trip, which was basically more than half my budget. However, all my friends were going and as much as I love Rome, I didn’t want to be alone for 10 days. So, with special help from my amazing father, I was able to go and experience this once in a lifetime trip.

*Disclaimer: By the end of this trip, I cried. And for those of you who know me, I NEVER cry. Like ever. I didn’t even cry saying bye to my mom at the airport. Crying isn’t a part of my vocabulary. So, me crying shows how amazing this trip was.*

I am going to share with you my top 3 days while in Greece. Andiamo!

FRIDAY (10/7/16): 5 AM I am forced to wake up at because our flight is at 8 AM. I am NOT a morning person in the slightest, so I was miserable. But I took the hour and a half plane ride as an opportunity to nap, and I awoke refreshed and ready to take on our first day in Greece. We flew into Athens, grabbed our checked bags, and headed for the seaside in Sounion, which is on the outskirts of Athens. Here we grab lunch, and can I just say that this set the mood for the entire trip? The view was outstanding, with the temple of Zeus on the mountaintop just across the water. It was like we stepped into a painting. The water was so blue, the sky so clear. I couldn’t believe this was my life. We sat down and were given scary looking fish for lunch, such as mussels, octapus, and calamari. Again, for the people who know me, I hate fish. Living and dead. They gross me out, and I never want them near me. But I promised myself I was going to try everything, so I did. And they weren’t bad at all! I was actually sort of obsessed with the mussels, which took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to eat. I ain’t no foodie expert, I can’t even boil water correctly, but it all tasted so fresh, and I actually felt healthy after scarfing down entire plates full of food.

Lunch with a view (hey Poseidon)
Lunch with a view (hey Poseidon)

Afterwards, we visited the Temple of Poseidon (that itty bitty monument on top of the hill in the picture above). We had a 360 view of the entire Aegean Sea (which I kept calling an ocean, my b). We learned about the history while walking around, enjoying the beauty around us before heading to our hotel in Athens. We were exploring Athens and it’s active nightlife, when it started to downpour on us, forcing us back to our hotel. I thought this day was overall amazing, but I was soon to find out the greatness that Greece still had to offer.

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SUNDAY (10/9/16): Today, we headed for Delphi, a town situated on the side of Mount Parnassus, which in the ancient times was sacred to Apollo and the Muses. It had a temple dedicated to Apollo, an amphitheater, and a stadium that used to hold running tournaments.

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Good people, greater view

After all of this, we headed back to our hotel and got ready for dinner. We had to hike up 300 stairs in order to get there, so I was dying, but my appetite was ready for some good food! Also, the wine was probably some of the best I’ve had thus far. After a bit of wine, we all decided to get up and dance, and it was the most fun I’ve had in my life. We learned how to Greek dance and just enjoyed each other’s company. I talked to people I’ve never talked to before, and we all really connected that night. We¬†left and then went to another bar, and all 50 of us took it over. We were dancing on the tables, talking to the locals. We stayed here until the wee hours of the night, and I never wanted to leave. However, at about 2:30 in the morning, we decided to call it quits and headed back to the hotel. There, our dean of students and our tour guide, Ioanna, invited my friends and I to have drinks at the bar with them. We talked and laughed and finished off the night the right way, with Night Caps, which are dessert shots. They were so good! It had Bailey’s, whipped cream, and some other stuff, and it was so delicious. It was definitely a night to remember.

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This picture basically describes the night. Too much fun!

SATURDAY (10/15/16):¬†Last night in Greece! ūüôĀ The best, yet the saddest day of my life. I have grown to love everything about it, and although I love Rome, I developed such a deep bond with the Greek people and its culture. I think I miss the food the most, to be honest. It consisted of some of the best meals I’ve ever had. Anyways, on this day, we spent our morning in Mykonos and walked amongst the cute little shops.

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We then got on the bus around 10:45 and left for the boat, which was going to take us back to Athens. Four hours later, we docked and went to our hotel, which was AMAZING. It was called Mare Nostrum, and it was a resort spa. Yes, you read that right. They even gave us free passes to use the spa. We got ready for dinner and left for this restaurant that was about 15 minutes away. There, they had live Greek music and a DJ that was playing whatever songs we requested. Also, the dinner was beyond words. I really can’t get this saganaki covered in sesame with sweet jam out of my mind. Like I said before, I am going to miss the food so much. We spent the remainder of the night dancing, singing, and laughing. This was definitely my favorite night of the entire trip. We invited Greeks who were eating in the restaurant to dance with us, and they were so kind and having just as much fun as we were. The entire night felt like a dream, and I wish I could relive it over and over again. I made everlasting memories and friendships.

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Thank you Greece for changing my life and for being so welcoming. Se agapó! (I LOVE YOU.)

Six Flags or Oktoberfest?

Six Flags or Oktoberfest?

Ciao a tutti!

Another weekend spent traveling, but this time, it occurs outside the borders of Italy. Wherever could I have gone next? The title probably gave it away, but I went to Germany! Munich to be exact, to attend the ever famous, ever raved about, Oktoberfest. All I got all week from everyone was, “You’re going to Oktoberfest? OMG you are going to have so much fun. It was the best weekend of my life.” Safe to say, expectations were high. And I am happy to say that these expectations were met and then some. But let’s start from the beginning.

Munich is probably one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to.¬†I feel like I’ve said that about everywhere I’ve gone so far, but in all honestly, I’m ranking this place at number one. Upon arrival, I instantly knew I was going to enjoy this weekend. Everyone was so kind, from the lady who helped us at the train station to the man making our coffee in Starbucks (Yes, you heard me correctly. STARBUCKS PEOPLE. I never ran so fast in my life to order that peach green tea lemonade.) On top of all of that, the city was so cute and homey feeling. Flowers in radiant colors of red and purple hung from the side of the buildings, which were carved with intricate designs that provided an ancient yet modern feel. I felt like I entered a Disney movie. I kept saying, “Does it not feel like we are in Tangled right now?,” which, by the way, is my favorite Disney movie, so you could say I was in heaven.

Rapunzel, where you at?

Every turn led to another breathtaking view, and I knew in that moment that I never wanted to leave. I was and am plotting my return because I want to spend the entirety of my life there. I know absolutely no German, but I think I can manage.

We went to the Hofbr√§uhaus for dinner, which was a very unique experience. We walk in and basically everyone is screaming chants, pounding on tables, and standing on their chairs. I thought maybe we had entered the wrong building, but nope, this was it and I was a bit scared. We eventually found a table in the far back, away from all the noise, which was kind of a relief. I’d normally be down for dinner and a show, but after being on a bus for 10 hours, I kind of just wanted to enjoy my food and the conversation with my friends without developing a massive headache. Yet, the headache came anyways when we ordered a beer, and it appeared in front of me in a stein (glass) bigger than my head. It was called the Radler, which is lemonade and beer, and it was gross. I hate beer, so you may be asking yourself, why even bother going to Oktoberfest? Because it about so much more than drinking!

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Had to use two hands to pick it up, it was THAT big

We went to Oktoberfest on Saturday, wearing our dirndls (shown in the picture below). I felt absolutely ridiculous, but mostly everyone was wearing one, so I didn’t feel too out of place. We walk in, and my friend turns to me and says, “Did we just enter Six Flags?” I had to think for a second because it truly felt like I was about to go ride Superman (I haven’t been to Six Flags in 6 years, please tell me that’s still a ride there- it was the best!) But the entire area was filled with rides, such as rollercoasters and carousels, booths with games and food. It was like a little kid (and my) heaven.

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Dirndls aka the most uncomfortable article of clothing on this planet

We walked around and ended up in a “tent,” which aren’t tents at all. I might be the only person on the planet who didn’t know this, but when I pictured Oktoberfest, I imagined literal tents that everyone stood underneath and drank. Nope! They are actual buildings, full of tables and music. I was a bit overwhelmed because everyone was standing on the tables, and it was SO loud. German music was blasting, and¬†I knew I wasn’t in Rome anymore. It was such a weird experience, but a lot of fun. Everyone was so kind, dancing and singing with us. A little advice, make sure to find a table because you won’t be served beer or food if aren’t sitting down.

The whole day consisted of hopping between tents, singing with others (we met people from Austria, Germany, Russia, everywhere!), eating lots of food (I don’t recommend the brats because I got food poisoning (: ), and having lots of fun. Also, don’t think you need to drink to have fun. I didn’t buy a drink the entire day because 10 euro on a stein of beer just didn’t seem worth my money. What did I buy? An apple strudel, duh. The best apple strudel on this planet at the dessert tent. You can have fun if you allow yourself to. I didn’t want to leave Germany because it was one of the best weekends of my life!

Tents I Recommend for Future Oktoberfest Goers: 

1. Schottenhamel- This was the first tent we went to, and it was definitely the most German in my opinion. Even though they played some ABBA, which was the highlight of my day, it was 99% German music, but so fun! We were able to easily find a table, and the waitress was always nearby in case you wanted to buy a beer. We met a lot of nice people at this tent, even a few older Italian men who weren’t shy to dance on the tables with us.

2. Caf√© Kaiserschmarrn- Not a beer tent, but it is truly God’s gift to humanity. It’s the dessert tent! They play live music and have the most delicious and beautiful looking treats I have ever seen in my life. You can order outside, but I recommend going inside because the line is always shorter. We went in there twice that day because we couldn’t get enough. I got the apple strudel, and as I said before, it was incredible. I think it was 4 euro, so not terrible when compared to all the other expensive food at Oktoberfest.

3. Hofbr√§u Festzelt- This is the counterpart to the infamous Hofbr√§uhaus. Go here early because by the time we went, they claimed it was full and weren’t letting anyone in. We went and hung in the beer garden in the back, but from friends, I heard it was such a fun tent. So, unfortunately I don’t have an opinion to give, but considering it’s one of the most famous tents, it must be worth checking out!

4. L√∂wenbr√§u-Festhalle- It’s considered the favorite “meeting place” of Oktoberfest, which seems fitting, since that’s where we met up with most of our friends. This tent was the most fun in my opinion because they played a bit more “American” music, such as Sweet Caroline (which was an awesome moment, may I add). ¬†We sat at a table with a few guys from Holland, and they were the funniest people I have ever met. They were dancing with us, as was everyone behind us. I thought it was the most social tent, although the waitresses were a bit more mean here. It’s rather hard to find a table here, so come early!

Schottenhamel
Schottenhamel

Danke (“thank you” in German) Germany, back to Rome I go!

Arrivederci i miei amici! <3

Prada, Gucci, and Versace– Oh My!

Prada, Gucci, and Versace– Oh My!

Buongiorno a tutti!

Another weekend, another trip. And let¬†it be noted¬†that I am so So SO tired, but it’s okay. To quote my friend Sam, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” I took my aching body and sat on a train for 3 hours so I could spend my weekend in Milan. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to go to, and to top it all off, it was fashion week. I wouldn’t say I’m a fashion guru at all, since my wardrobe basically consists of a t-shirt, shorts, and my Birkenstocks. But since all my friends felt the need to dress cute, I tried my best to not look like a complete fashion faux pas.

Let’s talk about that Duomo for a quick second. My friends and I are walking into the city center, and we turn the corner and there it is. The magnificent and absolutely gigantic Duomo. I have a feeling I wasn’t expecting much because when I finally did see it, I was completely taken aback. Not just by its sheer size, but the detail that covers every square inch of its outside walls. Just upon quick observation, I could see and appreciate how much effort and work went into creating such a church. And with beauty comes tourists. The line to get in was a little unreal. It was twisting and turning all throughout the piazza in front, and we were all worried that we weren’t going to be able to go inside. But, we took our chances and bought tickets.


TIP¬†#1: Buy a pass. I forgot the exact name for it, but for 11 euro, you can go into the Duomo, on its terrace (via the stairs), into the museum, and into another church. Or for 13 euro, you get all the same stuff, but you can take the elevator. I’ll talk about them later, but save your two euro and take the stairs. They ain’t bad.


While waiting for the line to die down a bit, we walked amongst the shops. And this experience was truly scary. I could basically hear my credit card crying because I wanted to buy every single thing I saw. Right next to the Duomo, there is this street that leads to this outdoor building that consists of not one, but TWO Prada stores, a Gucci store, and a Versace store. It felt nice for a solid two seconds to pretend that I could afford any of that stuff, and then I remembered ‘Oh wait Clare. You are incredibly poor. Keep walking girl.’ I went into the stores because I hate myself, and I love to see myself cry. Just kidding. Kind of.


Story Time #1:¬†I went into the Prada store and fell in LOVE with these sunglasses. They were $400. You know, that’s total¬†chump change. Basically,¬†I knew I wasn’t worthy enough to even touch them. One of the salespeople was eyeing me because he could just smell the poorness on me, and there was no way he was going to let me touch those glasses. But no one tells me what to do, so naturally, what do I do? I put them on. And they felt so nice on my face, and I looked so cute. Oh the sheer pain I felt when I had to put them down and walk away. And when I finally did walk away, the salesperson honest to god grabbed them, wiped my poor people sweat off of it, and rearranged it back on the shelf. I had a good laugh about it, but I was dying on the inside. It’s fine, I’m fine.


After witnessing a woman purchase two purses for a grand total of $2,500, I knew I had to get out of there. But before walking out the doors, I made a vow that one day I am going to walk back in there and purchase those sunglasses and maybe even a matching purse. Just another thing motivating me to work harder in school. (Hey Mom. Hey Dad. I promise I’m doing school stuff. I’m gonna go purchase this 80 euro bag first though.)

Anyways, continuing on, we went back to the Duomo and waited in line. My friend timed how long our wait was, and he said it was only 9 minutes. Felt longer though because every 3 seconds, we had a guy come up to us asking if we wanted to purchase a selfie stick or trying to tie bracelets around our wrists.


TIP #2:¬†If this happens to you, and it will, just say “No grazie” over and over again until they leave you alone. I wish I counted how many times I said it, but honestly it was at least 50 times. Also, there are men who will literally throw bracelets at you and then chase after you saying you have to pay for it. Just pluck it off you, drop it on the ground, and walk away. It’s a little rude, but it’s also rude of them to throw things at you. ALSO, DON’T LET THEM TIE THE BRACELETS AROUND YOUR WRIST. They will do it, and then make you pay for it. So, just say no and keep walking.


We went into the Duomo and walked around. Incredible is all I have to say. The ceilings were so high, the paintings so detailed. Everything was over the top, but it all seemed to work together. With the pass, you also get to venture down into the archeological area. At first, it just looks like a lot of rocks, but some of those rocks were graves in which they found hundreds of bodies. It’s worth checking out. We then went outside and began our ascension up the 250 stairs. Okay, it sounds a lot worse than it actually was. Yes, once I reached the top, I was out of breath, but I have also been consuming more carbs than a normal person should, and I have not seen the inside of a gym in maybe three months. So, you’ll probably fare a lot better than me, trust me. Also, the view alone is so worth a bit of sweat. You could see everything. The piazza, down the streets, over the tops of buildings, everything.

#Views
#Views

I’m really not even going to try to describe it because I will¬†definitely not do it justice. I would climb those stairs over and over again if they led to views like this. And if you keep walking (and up a few more stairs), you get to the terrace and UM OMG. One part was under construction, but it was still one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The picture below received 100 likes on Instagram, a true monumental moment in my social media history. You are guaranteed some incredible pictures and even better memories. One memory being I witnessed a girl dropping her phone, it falling down the slope of the roof as you see in the picture, and slipping into the construction area and right off the Duomo. It was really traumatizing to witness, and I felt so bad for her. So beware of your belongings people!

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Story Time #2:¬†Okay, so we leave the terrace and walk back down to the flatter roof part. We are just about to descend the stairs back down to the bottom when all of a sudden, out the corner of my eye, I see someone. It didn’t register in my mind who exactly this person was, but I’ve definitely seen them before. And then, I remember and let out a shriek, “It’s Michael Phelps.” I’ve never seen the look of horror cross someone’s face so fast like it did on his face. He’s been spotted, and he was not happy about it. My friends and I kind of chase after him because, you know, he’s just a 25 time Olympic gold medal winner. And kind of one of the most famous athletes of today. He was with his fianc√© and baby, so I understood the hope of not being spotted, but kind of hard not to notice you when you’re wearing a bright purple shirt buddy. Next time, go with a subtler shirt, so you blend in with the crowd better. I started to feel really bad because he was not feeling this sudden attention, so I kind of left him alone and just stared while the rest of my friends took pictures of him. “OF” being the important word because he wouldn’t let us take pictures with him. Anyways, he finally freed himself from our craziness. Regardless of his attitude, it was a surreal moment. How often can you say that you were chilling on the roof of the Duomo in Milan and you suddenly meet Michael Phelps? Probably not often.

My friend/roommate with the man, the myth, the legend. She told him congratulations lol
My friend/roommate with the man, the myth, the legend. She told him ‘congratulations’ lol

Milan was a dream and more. It’s pace and lifestyle are so different from Rome. It was a much faster pace and way more modern, which makes sense seeing as Rome is basically one big archeological site. Not that Milan doesn’t have it’s history, but I noticed people care less about that and more about it being the fashion capital of the world. It definitely lives up to its title. Ciao for now Milano, I will be back one day to buy loads and loads of Prada.

Arrivederci i miei amici! <3

Ti Amo Amalfi

Ti Amo Amalfi

Buongiorno a tutti!

This past weekend marked our first weekend of solo travel, and to put it simply, it was an indescribable experience. Every single part of it felt like a dream, and I still can’t believe this is my life currently. I have to keep pinching myself and reminding myself that I’m here in Europe for the next 3 months. I’m not going to wake up one morning and find myself back in Chicago. Sometimes that’s been hard to comprehend because I really do miss my family and my friends back home. However, I’m lucky because I’m here in Rome with three of my best friends, one being my roommate and the other two studying at John Cabot whom I’ve known since high school. So far, everything has been incredible and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Enough with the sappy talk. Let’s talk about my weekend in the Amalfi Coast. Allow me this moment¬†to act like a total girl… OMG IT WAS LITERALLY BEAUTIFUL. I don’t want this post to be a boring spiel about what I did while there because I know that can get boring and very impersonal. And honestly, I already wrote all about that in my journal, so if you want to know more about that, feel free to ask me (-:

My Hints:

Sorrento

1. Go to Downtown Sorrento: We stayed at a hostel called Seven Hostel, which is about a 15 minute drive outside of the city center. Make the trek downtown because although you might like the idea of exploring the smaller neighborhoods for perhaps a more authentic experience, you won’t find much. We went to a restaurant by our hostel and they didn’t like us too much because we we couldn’t speak Italian. So, I recommend heading downtown because although things are a bit more touristy there, we just had a better overall time there. We went to dinner at a restaurant called Tasso, which includes some interesting decor of naked ladies and donkeys in compromising positions. It makes for a unique experience, and to top it all off, the food is actually delicious! I got this calzone (not very Italian, I know), but it was stuffed with ricotta cheese and ham. YUM. And it only cost 9 Euro. Also, the House white wine was one of the best I’ve had so far while in Italy. Another recommendation would be a restaurant called Il Leone Rosso “The Red Lion.” We didn’t go there, but multiple said if you’re looking for a real Italian meal, then this is your place. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy the nightlife of Sorrento due to the torrential rain we received each night during our stay.

2.¬†Watch Out for Scamming Cab Drivers:¬†You’ll hear this really anywhere you go in Italy, that you should be aware of how much your cab drive should cost before getting in one because they can really rip you off. But going into Sorrento, I had no idea how much things should cost. So, our tour guides told us right when you get in the car, tell the cab driver that you agree on 5 euro per person. That way they don’t even turn on the meter and don’t even have the chance to con you. We told this to our cab driver, and he knew exactly what we wanted, so it must happen a lot.

Capri

1.¬†Eat Caprese: Whether it be on a panino (I recommend this!), in a salad, or just by itself. It is so fresh no matter¬†what restaurant or bar you get it from. Caprese originated from Capri, so it only makes sense to eat it while you’re here!

2. Buy a Pair of Carlos’ Sandals: While roaming the shops, you will run across homemade sandals made by a man named Carlos. And I’m really not kidding when I say these are the cutest sandals I have ever seen in my life. They are a little pricier (ranging from 50 euro to 70 euro), but that’s because he makes each of them by himself in his store. He will even make customized sandals for you. You pick the design, color, everything. I really regret not buying a pair.

3.¬†Don’t Order a Cappuccino from the Bars by the Marina: Just don’t. We decided to be cute and sit at a table by the water, order ourselves cappuccinos, and do as the Italians do aka people watch. It was all fun, until we got that check. A cappuccino, the smallest cappuccino I have ever received, almost the size of an espresso shot, was FOUR EURO. My friend’s glass of white wine only cost two euro more at six euros. We should have known since we were sitting in a very touristy area, but if you value your money like I do, don’t do it. Just sit on the ledge by the water for free.

4. Get a Granita (with Vodka): A granita is basically an orange slushy, and you have the option of having vodka in it. I chose not to get any because it was only 10 in the morning, but it costs 5 euro with or without it. And they put in the smallest shot, so it doesn’t take like alcohol at all. Anyways, I drank this in like two seconds because it was so yummy.

5.¬†Take the Chairlift up the Mountain:¬†For 11 euro,¬†a 12 minute chairlift ride will take you up Monte Solaro and drop you off in Anacapri. I didn’t do this because I am terrified of heights, but my friends did, and they said it offered the most beautiful views of the whole island. If you are feeling adventurous and looking for awesome photo taking opportunities, all my friends say this is a MUST.

6.¬†Beware the Blue Grotto: The Blue Grotto, a cave in¬†Capri, was the one thing I was the most excited for. I’ve seen pictures of the radiant blue water that exists inside this dark cave, and I was instantly intrigued by its beauty. We pull up in our boat, and I jokingly point at this little cavity in the side of the island and say “Hey guys, we’re here.” Little did I know that we actually were there! I’ll attach a picture to give you guys more of a visual, but it was genuinely a funny situation. You go into a row boat and literally have to lay down, while the guy rowing pushes you inside. I was absolutely terrified. I was going to do it anyways despite my fear, but I really was nervous. Suddenly, by the grace of God, the waves picked up and it got really choppy, so they told us we couldn’t go in. I’m not trying to scare anyone into not doing it because you so should. The few people that were able to go in showed us pictures, and it was insanely beautiful. Just expect the unexpected when you finally see the entrance.

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You see what I mean? How? What? Nope!

Positano

1. Prepare Yourself for the Beauty: The entire time I kept thinking that this place cannot be real. I must be dreaming because nothing I have ever seen in life has been this beautiful. For one, the drive over is considered one of the most scenic routes in the world, which I completely 100% agree with. You can see all the colorful houses stacked on top of one another, you can see the bright blue water. The entire time my mouth was agape from awe. Then, you finally get to Positano, and I really wish I had the words to describe what I was looking at. Thankfully, pictures are worth a thousand words, am I right? Get ready to be Instagram famous because every picture you are going to take is easily worth 100 likes.

2. Rent a Boat: So casual, I know. It sounds weird saying it, but do it. There were 12 of us, so we were able to rent this speed boat for 2 hours for 20 euro. I think the regular price is 20 euro for an hour, so the bigger the group, the better. What made matters even better, our driver, Raphael, was quite possibly the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life. I’ll add a picture at the end (-:

3. Rent a Beach Chair:¬†For those of you who may get sea sick or don’t like the idea of being on a boat, for just 13 euro you can rent a beach chair, which might be preferable because the actual sandy beach part is very small. The beach is mostly rocks, and trust me, just stepping on them hurt enough.

4. Dine at Vini e Panini: A little store close to the beach, it sells, you guessed it, vini (wine) and panini. It’s not a sit down restaurant or anything, but you are able to take your small bottle of wine (seen in the pic below) and your panini back to the beach so you can enjoy the beautiful weather and the beautiful people. The guy who works there is so nice, we even started singing “Volare” together because who knows why. It’s authentic enough because the sandwiches are handmade in front of you, and you can choose what you put on them. Definitely worth the trip!

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Raphael: an Italian god

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Pompei

1. Pay for a Tour Guide: I believe the price was 20 euro, which is not bad, considering this place is huge! Also, there are no signs indicating what anything is, so you’ll basically be staring at rubble trying to decipher whether it’s an artifact or maybe just a random pile of stone. Our tour guide told us soooo much about the history of Pompei and how life was before the devastation, which really put things into perspective. I’ll be the first to say that I HATE guided tours, but I truly truly believe having a guide for this was beneficial.

2. Prepare to See ALOT of the Human Anatomy:¬†I’m not sure how to phrase this in a way that isn’t crude, but I’ll try my best. We get to Pompei, we are walking amongst the gift shops, and there was one common theme that was¬†consistently occurring throughout our roaming. There were a lot of postcards, keychains, figurines, you name it, that highlighted the male anatomy. It was a tad disturbing, and I’m still trying to understand why there was such an emphasis on it. I’m thinking because in the actual Pompei exhibit, there is a brothel that remained very much intact that included paintings on the wall of very detailed images. Google it if you’re interested, but it’s hilarious because out of everything that survived Mount Vesuvius’ wrath, the brothel was probably the one place that remained the most unharmed. Anyways, prepare yourself for it. Shield your children’s eyes, but you really won’t be able to escape it. Just embrace it, and buy yourself or a friend a keychain. They’re hilarious.

3. The Big Statues in the Courtyard are NOT Important: When we went to Pompei, there was basically an exhibit in the exhibit happening. There were these big statues of heads and bodies laying out around the yard, and they were created by an Polish/Italian artist named Igor Mitoraj. Basically, they have nothing to do with the actual Pompei exhibit, and it made me kind of sad that people directed so much attention to these things and hardly any attention to the actual buildings in front of them. They were cool, yes. I did take a picture next to them, yes. But, don’t waste your time when there is so much other cool things to see.

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Cool? Yes. Important? Nah.

I recommend going to the Amalfi Coast during warmer months. If you are studying abroad in the fall like I am, do it in September because the weather was so beautiful, despite a few rain showers at night or early morning. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life. If you wish to hear more tips or recommendations, feel free to contact me: cmajewski@luc.edu.

Arrivederci i miei amici! <3

6 Things I Learned From My First 6 Days in Italy

6 Things I Learned From My First 6 Days in Italy

Buongiorno a tutti!

Italy is finally here! These few summer months have felt like the longest days of my life, but I am about to board my plane and spend the next semester in the Eternal City. Crazy, isn’t it? Since my last post, my nerves have definitely calmed, and as I sit here writing on the plane, it all feels so real to me. I will miss my family and a few tears were shed the days leading up to this; however, I can’t help but feel ready. I’m ready for a semester of self-discovery and most importantly, a semester of learning about the many cultures and customs that make up not only Italy, but the entirety of Europe.

Here are the 6 things I learned during my first 6 days in Italy:

1. Italian Men are a Bit Aggressive (But Also Very Nice!): Not in a physical sense, although, a few did grab me while saying “Ciao bionda” (Hi blonde). I’m not even naturally blonde, I dyed my hair a few days before leaving for Italy, which was my first mistake. They don’t see many blondes in Italy, so if you want attention, you know what to do. Anyways, when talking to Italian men, I noticed they like to be right up in your face, which I am pretty sure is a cultural thing. But, they will kiss your hand, touch your waist, be VERY affectionate. Thankfully, every guy I talked to was so kind, one even helped me with my Italian speaking skills! His name was Francesco, and he is a jazz pianist. Like, can you get anymore European than that? However, if you don’t like the attention, just pretend they aren’t there. Literally. Do not look at them, smile, nothing or they will take that as a sign to engage you. Just like in America, there are good guys and bad guys, so just be careful, but don’t be against going out your comfort zone and talking to them! Like I said, if you are trying to better your Italian like me, they SO appreciate it if you speak to them

2. Get Ready For The Heat:¬†Okay, this could be just me because I get hot so easily. I’m a Fall type of girl, where it’s not to hot, not to cold. All you need is a light jacket. (Name the movie, people. Come on.) WELL, I do understand it’s still basically summer in Italy, but I was just not prepared for this type of heat. I didn’t bring nearly as many summer clothes as I should have. Expect to sweat. A lot. And to take a shower basically every day. With the hot days, however, come the beautiful beautiful nights with their cool breezes. They are truly wonderful. So, when packing, just take the time to research the place you are traveling and the temperatures that occur during the months you will be there.

3. Be Open to New Friends:¬†I came into this whole experience knowing one person, whom I met freshman year of college. I never claimed to be a very outgoing person; on the contrary, I am very quiet and it takes me a little bit to open up around new people. I decided before embarking on this trip that I wasn’t going to let this shyness overtake me and prevent me from opening myself up towards others. Upon arrival, I noticed people traveled in maybe packs of 5 or 6, all of whom they knew before coming to Italy. And that’s fine, but I think it’s sad that people become so focused with those they know and shun anyone¬†new¬†who tries to engage them. During the first day alone, I have met so many people who have been so kind that I am glad that I came knowing so few people. I feel it would be a whole different experience had I come with a huge group of people. Not bashing the people that did that! Just saying, for me, this experience was so much more than partying with my friends every weekend. I have goals, one being to better myself and¬†stepping out of my comfort zone whenever I can.

4. Eat Aperitivi. ALWAYS.:¬†If you don’t know what aperitivi is, it’s basically consists of a cocktail, wine, any type of drink really, paired with a bunch of small appetizers. This usually happens around 7 and then after that, around 7:30-8, you go to dinner at a restaurant. This took some getting used to because in the USA, I eat dinner maybe at 5 because that’s usually when I get home from work. So, eating so late has really been a struggle. Restaurants aren’t even open before 7:30. So, instead of trying to find a way around, embrace it. The appetizers are SO good. We went to this place called Roma Beer Company in the district of San Saba, which is located in Rome. It’s completely authentic Italian food, despite the name. All you have to do is order a drink and then there was a buffet waiting for us inside full of different little snacks and goodies, emphasis on the GOOD. There was this little sandwich, honestly I don’t even know what it was, but it was the best thing I have ever had in my life. I will absolutely be going back there, and you should to! And all of this only cost 7.50 like wut. You don’t have to do this before every meal, but if you want to have a true Italian experience, I recommend going somewhere for aperitivi. You won’t regret it.

5. Keep a Journal:¬†Each day is a new day, and with each new day comes a new memory. And if you are anything like me, I forget everything. Seriously. Even my friends know not to come to me for remembering things that happened in, say, high school because there is a 9 in 10 chance I won’t. Which is why it was such a blessing that I was given the opportunity to write this blog. However, there are some things I’d like to keep off the internet, so under my pillow at school, I keep a journal and each night, I jot down what happened that day, making sure to write down each detail so I won’t forget a single thing. This is truly a once in a lifetime chance and the memories I make now will be the things I will still be talking about and referencing for the next 50 years. Also, I want to be able to tell my parents, my friends back home, even my children one day the fun times I had while I was studying abroad. It can be a private journal, or if you don’t mind it being public, write a blog! It doesn’t matter how you decide to do it, but make sure you do!

6. Get Lost:¬†Literally. We were able to sign up for a scavenger hunt through our school that took us to downtown Italy and to neighborhoods I would have never imagined finding or going to. With map in hand, we tried to navigate the streets, but each turn led us somewhere new and around each corner was another beautiful site to admire. Soon enough, we ditched the map and allowed ourselves to get lost. We ended up in Piazza Navona, with its huge fountains and busy nightlife. We ate gelato at a random place down a random street. We rode the buses that we weren’t even sure how to ride. We said “buona sera” (good evening) to those around us, and it truly felt that Rome was starting to become my home. Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend doing this alone. Make sure to have some friends with you, especially if you are out late at night like we were.

These were the 6 things I learned over the past 6 days! Orientation is over and school begins. I can’t say I’m too excited for classes because with class comes homework and tests and studying. Ew. But I have high hopes for the next few months, and I can’t wait to continue sharing my journey with you all!

Arrivederci i miei amici!

Clare