The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Molly Ketterer

Hi! My name is Molly Ketterer and I am currently a junior at Loyola University Chicago, studying Digital Media and Visual Communications. I am all about art, music, and adventure, which is basically why I chose to study in Rome at the JFRC for the Fall of 2016. And the best part - I get to share my journey with you all! Follow me as I check some amazing experiences off my bucket list and immerse myself into the culture that is Italy. See you on the other side!
How to Take Barcelona in 3 Days

How to Take Barcelona in 3 Days

Image-1I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but seriously, every place I visit is better than the last.

This weekend, it was in Barcelona, Spain where me and a few friends did some real adventuring. I have probably mentioned this before, but traveling in Europe is SO ridiculously cheap, and it seemed like there was a catch when our flight to Spain was only 80 euros round trip (we booked it a week before). Within just a couple hours of arriving to Barca and exploring the sights, two of my friends had their phones pick pocketed out of their purses on the metro. At first there was panic, then it was “ok, let’s figure this out,” and then we all collectively agreed we would Image-2still have amazing weekend, phones or no phones. We were, after all, in BARCELONA. These are moments where I’ve learned that it really does matter who you travel with. To quote my friend who got her phone stolen,

“If you’re with positive, wonderful human beings, the worst situations turn out to be the most epic adventures.”

I know what you’re thinking. Is it even possible to fall in love with a city in three days? The answer is yes, DUH, and I wrote a list explaining how. So listen up, here it is.

How to Take Barcelona in 3 Days:

1. Embrace being a tourist. We started off our weekend by seeing one of the most touristy spots in the city: The Sagrada Familia. This basilica is way bigger than you think or see in pictures, trust me. It was still under construction, but still incredible. A couple other places worth visiting are Park Guell, and La Rambla. I don’t see anything wrong with visiting the sights that many people do. From my experience, the crowds and waiting in line is totally worth it.

2. Utilize the train. It is surprisingly easy to navigate, unlike most train systems of cities I’ve visited. There are metro stops leading to all of the famous parks and monuments. It saved us a ton of money in the end; it was fairly safe to take at night, too. Only negative is watching out for pick pocketing, as I mentioned before. R.I.P. to the phones of Alex B and Alex K.

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 10.25.00 PM3. Go out at night. I was told before going to Barcelona, “You just have to go to Opium!” (It’s a famous club located on the beach). It was fun, but I had a better time at Dow Jones, one of the many local bars. It’s decorated inside to look like Wall Street in NYC, and the drink prices are shown on TV screens all over the bar. When the stock market “crashes” the bar gets crazy and all of the prices go down! It was as fun as it sounds.

4. Shop. Here’s where I personally fell in love with this place. La Rambla, which is a famous shopping street located in the city center, has multiple smaller streets off of it with local stores. The one we found ourselves on was all vintage and tatoo shops, bike rentals, and graffiti-covered buildings.  I think I need to live on that street someday.Image-4

5. Eat tapas. Tapas are basically Spain’s version of aperitivo, where they serve small food portions of Spanish dishes with drinks. The best part: the cheap prices. Sangria and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) pair nicely together!!

6. Wander. Lastly, My advice for any and every city, always. This weekend, I was having the best time when were completely lost together, wandering into random shops, restaurants, parks, and bars. These are the stories I know I will still remember years from now.

In conversation, I am constantly asking the people I meet abroad to name three places they’ve traveled: the most beautiful, the most fun, and the one they could see themselves actually living in. This question usually comes to mind when I return to Rome after a weekend of traveling. The answers are always changing for me, ever since stepping foot in Europe. I add more and more cities to the list and interchange them out for one another. But they are starting to become complicated in my mind. Each city is so wonderfully different than the last.

Optimized-ImageI was positive I wouldn’t see a place more beautiful than Switzerland. Then, Greece was different than anywhere I had ever imagined. The Amalfi Coast and Capri were undeniably stunning. Now, it’s Barcelona that has made its way onto my list somewhere.

I don’t know how I’ll ever decide. I just know I’m a lucky girl.

Greece – The Aesthetic Experience

Greece – The Aesthetic Experience

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written! Mostly because I was enjoying fall break in Mykonos, Greece, and Milan, Italy for the past couple of weeks.

For those of you who think my semester abroad sounds like a nice little vacation – let me tell you – the classes I’m taking are actually pretty difficult. My “Rome: Aesthetics” class, for example, is both my most favorite course and my most challenging.

Since day one of the semester, the study of aesthetics in philosophy is a subject that took me by surprise as one of my most favorites. Perhaps it peaks my interest because in Rome, I am constantly surrounded by all sorts of aesthetically pleasing architecture, art, and people. It could also be partially due to the fact that I’m an art major. The class focuses on different philosophers and their opinions on subjects like taste, beauty, and what defines an artist. I don’t want to get too in depth, because it’s a dense sort of subject; but it delves into topics of how a person should approach beauty, what a work of art should do for a person, and how it all fits into the grand scheme of life. I truly believe this class has given me a different perspective on places I’ve traveled that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. In places like Germany, Switzerland, and Greece, I have been able to look at both natural and artistic beauty with this class in mind.

Greece, in particular, was a place where the study of aesthetics was constantly in my thoughts. Probably because it is stunning, really. Yes, for me, the beauty of Greece tops every place I have been abroad, even Switzerland. Right now, if you picture Greece in your head, I want you to multiply the beauty by 10. The houses and buildings are white as ever, stacking along the mountains and hills as close as they can get. The water is so, SO blue. You can open your eyes underwater and see everything. The Greek people always have smiles. There is not much green, but still, the desert-sort-of landscape is rich in beauty.

In relation to aesthetics in Greece, I want to talk about something that played a part in my experience there: photography. Let me start off by saying that in all my time spent in Europe, I never regretted taking my camera somewhere. I think it was our third day in Greece that I took my Canon T5i to Paradise Beach. Me and my friends wanted a break from the pool to a public place where we could get lunch and relax. As I picked up my camera to take photographs, I remembered something I learned in aesthetics class. Philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote that to view beauty and truly have an aesthetic experience from it, one must be devoid all interest. This means, in simple terms, that they stop wanting anything and everything, and are only focused on the beauty of that subject. In class, we discussed that in contemporary times, it means not taking photographs of something beautiful. For example, when seeing Michelangelo’s David, we must approach it without desiring anything from it, even something as little as a photograph.

My mind danced over that subject for a few moments before I started taking photographs. But in contrast to Kant and probably, to my professor, I do not agree.

All day, I took photographs of the beach and of my friends. And for me, this enhanced my experience. For me, photography wasn’t “throwing in interest.” For me, the art of photography WAS the aesthetic experience. It was through the lens of my camera that I was able to find the most beautiful moments in both people and in nature. They are seconds frozen in time, ones I know I will thank myself later down the road for having captured on film. I have found that in the split second of taking a picture, a person usually reveals some part of their personality. This glimpse of inner self is the most meaningful kind of photograph in my opinion. It is what makes me keep snapping them. I have to believe that all photographers feel the same way.

Enjoy some pictures I took of some of the beautiful people I have met abroad!

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While I don’t agree with Kant, it should be noted that this class allowed me to really contemplate this subject. In that sense, I am learning more about myself and what I believe in. As much as I have enjoyed my studio classes like drawing or painting, they have never revealed these sorts of things about me to myself. YES, I can confidently say that I like learning about philosophy. Trust me, I was surprised, too!

My family has been in Rome for the past week, so hopefully I can share my experience with them and our travels in my next post. Ciao!

Happy 21st Birthday to Me, Switzerland Style

Happy 21st Birthday to Me, Switzerland Style

Image-1 If you can remember all the way back to my first blog post from almost a month ago, pre-Rome departure, I had quite an extensive list of things I wanted to accomplish while in Europe. A big one – possibly one of the most important – was checked off during this past week.

So here it is, 3. Have a crazy 21st birthday

My actual birthday on Wednesday, the 21st, was filled with many messages and people that made me realize how truly lucky I am to be here. It began for me at 3:30am, witnessing a papal audience at the Vatican. I had lunch in the Balduina neighborhood with a group of friends, and then of course afterwards there was gelato. Later in the night was the first intramural soccer game of the semester (GO LALAVANDA! We won, by the way). Afterwards everyone came out to celebrate my birthday; it put into perspective just how many amazing people I’ve met already during my time here. It would’ve been my favorite birthday just after all of that, but the celebration only escalated from there.

Switzerland is probably the most beautiful, scenic place I’ve ever been (so, so sorry for the amount of times I use the words “beautiful” and “amazing” in this post). I dragged three friends with me to Zurich for the weekend, where we stayed in an airbnb in the Oerlikon area. We arrived, totally exhausted, at around 12:00am on Friday night/Saturday morning. About four hours later, we were up and going, trying to catch the train to Interlaken at 5:00am. All four of us were extremely tired, but kept reminding each other that what we were about to do would be worth the journey. We got on our train at 5:30, only to come to the harsh realization that we had three different connections via train we had to catch, and hardly any time to catch them. There were a few different moments during this trip when we looked at each other, panicked, thinking we wouldn’t make it on time. We barely, I mean BARELY made it to the Reichenbach im Kandertal train stop in Interlaken. Relieved Imageand thinking we were in the clear, we went to a little grocery shop to get breakfast before heading to our destination. There, the grocery clerk informed us that the Kandertal airport we were looking for was actually a 20-minute walk away. Once again, we were on a time crunch to get to our destination. At that point it was just funny to us that we had made it that far. For 30 minutes, we walked through the countryside of Switzerland, through random farms and people’s backyards, searching for something that looked anything like an airport. If it weren’t for the few locals we spoke to in broken English, we probably wouldn’t have ever found it. We reached the airport at 8:29am, with one minute to spare. We had a pretty good laugh at the fact that we actually made it there, since our entire weekend lacked any sort of plan or schedule whatsoever. What’s that saying about taking the road less traveled? Well, we took the road literally NEVER traveled…

Skydive Switzerland is a tiny, box of an airport. It was just big enough to fit a small plane inside, which we saw roll out as soon as we walked up. “THAT IS SO SMALL. How will we all fit?” Even still, none of us had really grasped the fact that we were about to jump out of a plane. Our names were called by skydive instructors who suited us up and strapped us into our harnesses. We filled out paperwork that basically said if we died, they weren’t responsible. Still, it hadn’t hit me at all. It wasn’t long until they were guiding us toward the plane. There were about 6 of us diving at that time, all with individual tandem instructors. Fun fact: on average, each instructScreen Shot 2016-09-26 at 11.45.41 PMor does about 8 skydives a day. We got in the plane and we were off. The houses and people of Switzerland got smaller and smaller as we went up and up. We floated around the mountain peaks of the Alps; it was stunning. That’s when I fully started to comprehend it all. We were about to free-fall out of a plane at 14,000 feet in the air, the Swiss Alps surrounding us. I literally couldn’t stop smiling. I don’t think any of us stopped smiling. We kept looking at each other in disbelief. “Wow, we are actually doing this.” It’s something I had been talking about for almost a year, and I was minutes away. Our instructors attached us to them a little tighter. “Now wherever you go, I go,” my instructor said. At one point, the skydive instructors laughed because they realized none of us were briefed before diving. They actually laughed!!! Then they said, “Here’s how it’s gonna go. Head back, feet tucked under, hands holding onto the harness. Good?” And that is literally the only instruction we were given before falling 14,000 feet. I watched, one by one, as my friends dove out before me. The instructors didn’t even give us any chance any chance at all to back out. Soon enough, to my horror, it was my turn. Still, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I scooted all the way to the edge and dangled over, forced to gawk at the beautiful Alps in the widest view I’ve ever seen. Rocked back and forth, 1,2,3… We were out.

I wish I could explain this moment. There is a split second in the air where everything is quiet, and you haven’t started falling at yet. It is a moment of hanging in suspense over the earth. A tiny moment of silence. Everything is calm. You can’t make a noise or breathe or do anything. You just hang there in the air… It is peaceful. And then, all at once, the wind is on your face and you are free falling, arms stretched out. Soaring at 120 mph, it is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. It is one of the best things that a person can feel.

For 45 seconds of free fall, I had that indescribable feeling of happiness, probably from adrenaline. Physically, I couldn’t stop screaming or smiling. Not once did I think to myself, I could probably die. Or, hopefully the parachute works and everything is fine! I was Image-2too busy being blissfully, stupidly happy. The parachute deployed, thank god. I’m alive mom and dad!!!! We floated around for a few minutes with the parachute above us, beholding all of the wonderful views of the Alps and of the bright-blue lakes of Interlaken. After landing, there were only hugs, high-fives, and laughs between my friends and I and the other divers. We spent the rest of the day wandering around Interlaken, still high off our adrenaline rush from earlier that day. It was easily the best birthday I’ve had. I genuinely can’t think of a better way to spend a 21st golden birthday. For everything, thank you Switzerland.

I want thank both everyone at the JFRC and back home who sent me nice messages and made my day great. This past week has really put into perspective how lucky I am. Also special thanks to my parents, who probably had heart attacks watching the video of me jumping out of a plane. Love you!

You can watch the video of my skydive on my Facebook!

So, who’s going to jump with me next time?



Germany – Surprise, Surprise

Germany – Surprise, Surprise

Image-3.pngI’ll take a break from talking about Rome for a bit to write about my past weekend spent in Germany. Where to even begin…

A group of us 20+ Loyola students began our trip to Munich, Germany very early Friday morning. We left the JFRC at around 3:30am. Some of us didn’t go to sleep from the night before (stupid, I know), which left the flight to Munich full of snoring students. We arrived to what was the cleanest airport I’ve probably ever been in. No joke, it was spotless. It took us few trains to get to our airbrb, where our German host greeted us, friendly as ever. Oktoberfest wasn’t until Saturday, leaving us the entire Friday to explore Marienplatz, the main central square of the city. In walking up from the train steps to the center of Munich, we found it bustling with busy locals and tourists. This was the area in which I spent the day shopping, tasting German food, and trying on some ridiculous-looking lederhosen with my friends to wear the following day. Like most places, it’s hard to sum up Germany or Munich in only a few paragraphs. I tried to narrow it down in my mind to the three best, most memorable things about Germany and the world of Oktoberfest.

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 7.24.03 PM1. The People – How incredibly friendly everyone was… Germans love to chat about anything and everything. Where you are from, what you are studying, what the states are like. The people took me by surprise because they were extremely eager to help us have an amazing time. One night, we ended up at a local bar (I don’t remember the name) and it was filled with Germans of all ages. It only took us 10 minutes to make friends with some rowdy locals who wanted to sing their national anthem to us. They even requested for some American music to play so they could sing with us, arms around each other, swaying in a circle. So great. We didn’t only talk to Germans, either. People came from all over for Oktoberfest. Turkey, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and much more. Everyone was there to have the same good time we were searching for.

2. The Beer – As big as your head! The steins at Oktoberfest were huge. And delicious. And awesome. Before I could finish one beer, the next one was being placed in front of me. Good thing they served some giant pretzels and cheese pre-beer marathon.

3. The Experience – A totally crazy one. We arrived outside the gates of Oktoberfest at 6:00am, in downpouring rain. No one was allowed in the beer tents until 12:00pm. The one my friends and I chose to spend our day in is called “Paulaner München,” and it consisted of mostly Germans. I can understand how people attend Oktoberfest more than once. There is plenty to do, and we only just got a glimpse of it. I bet you didn’t know Oktoberfest was part carnival?? I sure didn’t. After drinking way too much beer, a few of us decided to go on some roller coasters in the still-downpouring rain (It didn’t stop raining once during our visit). I only wish I had a video of our faces… It will go down in my book as one of the hardest times I’ve ever laughed in my life.

Image-1One of the neatest moments for me in Germany was a small, but significant one. I wandered with a few other girls into a small local jewelry shop near the city centre during some downtime. I’m totally obsessed with silver rings, and the woman behind the counter (who spoke almost no English) helped me pick one out. After taking my credit card, she smiled, looked up and said, “German name?” I nodded back without thinking twice. She then, in broken English, asked me how I pronounce it, and told me she had a friend with the same last name. And then it hit me. That moment was probably the first time I had really thought about my German heritage. How crazy is that? That I had basically ignored half of my family roots until right then and there? As sad or strange as it may sound, it was actually a meaningful moment for me. So meaningful, that I almost walked out of the shop with the ring I had bought still sitting on the counter. I was in deep thought. It stuck with me throughout the rest of the trip. How I’ve always only bragged about my Irish roots. They are the roots my family probably talks about the most; I’m not sure why it as always been that way. For years, I had passed off my German side like it was no big deal, nothing special, boring to talk about. Oddly enough, it took this moment for me to realize that, as glad as I am to be Irish, it is really only just a small part of who I am. Little by little, as I found myself truly enjoying the city of Munich, I became more and more proud of my last name. I was glad to be carrying a little part of that place with me. It has always been there and I just didn’t care to notice. I am proud to be somehow categorized, somehow connected with both Germany and the people of it.


The entire trip was made up of surprisingly meaningful moments like the roller coaster and the jewelry shop. And If I could describe Germany in one word, it would be just that. Surprising. I repeated it all weekend to my friends. “I am so surprised by Germany.” Yes, I knew Oktoberfest and the beer drinking would be lots of fun. But it was so much more than that. Before visiting, it was never at the top of my bucket list. I didn’t really know what Germany was all about. But here I am, already wanting to go back someday.





10 Things I Learned in Just 10 Days Abroad

10 Things I Learned in Just 10 Days Abroad


Caio everyone! I have now been in Rome for over a week, but it feels like much, much longer. Many things have happened since arriving here; I truly don’t know where to begin. In just the past few days, I visited the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain (all of which were amazing and could each have their own individual blog post). I spent an entire day lounging with friends  on the beaches of Maccarese. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country who have also chosen to study here. I’ve also spent the last week getting familiar with the JFRC campus and a new class schedule. Phew! It’s been a whirlwind of a time so far. And I’ll just say this: Rome is a hard city to describe in writing. Usually when a person describes a new place, they can compare it to another one they have previously visited. It’s a little bit like here, or a little bit like there, they say. However, I find difficulty in describing Rome that way because, well… I’ve never visited a place quite like it before. It is chaos and adventure and history and and art all at once. Rome is, so far, a wonderfully overwhelming place to be. That’s the best description I can write at this moment. To be completely honest, Rome has something incredibly special about it, something that I ‘m still trying to think through. Anyways, while I figure out my place in this crazy city, I’ve written yet another list. I like lists! So here it is.

The 10 things I learned during my first 10 days abroad:

1. Rome is huge. It is definitely not what I expected in terms of size. And I’ve only seen such a small part of it!

2. Many Italians speak English, but they are super appreciative when someone tries to speak their language anyways. My accent is horrible – but hey! – at least I’m trying (and probably giving some Italians a good laugh in the process).

3. Getting lost is a good thing. Between the trains and buses and all of Rome’s winding back roads, I have already lost my way a couple of times. But it was during those times that I was forced out of my comfort zone and was able to talk with locals. I also found some pretty amazing gelato on the way. Which leads me to..

4. The food. AHHHH. Some parts of Rome are not at all what I expected, but the dining experience has surpassed all expectations that I had about Italian food. The pizza, the pasta, the wine, all of it. Molto deliziosa! Oh and did I mention aperitivi? It’s an Italian tradition of serving appetizers with drinks during early dinner hours. The BEST.

5. Street vendors are pretty much totally unavoidable. The first couple of days, the vendors were sort of amusing. We all had a good laugh. But after a few nights spent in the city, getting selfie sticks, roses, and polaroid cameras shoved in your face gets old!

6. The coffee culture is much, much different. For starters, there is no ice. There is no such thing as iced coffee here (Yes, in case you were wondering, I am going through Starbucks withdrawals). Taking shots of espresso every morning is just part of the Italian daily routine, leaving no time for chit chatting. How very different from the states! But the espresso here is deliciously strong, nevertheless. I plan on exploring as many of the bars and coffee shops Italy has to offer!

7. Perhaps one of the biggest culture shocks: the shopping.  There is no Target or Walmart or convenient store to get everything at once. Necessities are, for the most part, sold at different places. I guess, in a way, it’s part of the fun of exploring Rome.

8. There is endless amount of adventure at my fingertips.  It’s sort of like Chicago in that way, I suppose. Everywhere you walk, there is a new restaurant to try, and new store to discover, and exciting, interesting people to meet. Not to mention the hundreds of museums, monuments, and galleries to visit. It’s pretty clear that in my time here, I will never ever be bored.

9. No wifi, no problem. At first it was a little strange not to have cell service or wifi, but I’ve gotten into the habit of staring at my phone less, and talking to those around me more. It is most definitely a positive thing. At this point, I mainly only use my phone for the camera use. I’ve already taken some amazing pictures! And lastly…

10. Rome is going to change me. It’s sort of one of those things a person can feel in their bones – that they will leave a place a different kind of person than before.

Thanks for reading! I just want to reiterate the fact that I have horrible phone service here. So for anyone who has been trying to get a hold of me, I’m not ignoring you. Promise! As always, the best way to reach me for anything is by email at And one last thing to add – I haven’t been able to get my photos to post at the quality I want. So once I figure that out, I will definitely put lots more on here.

Until next time!


Rome – My Bucket List

Rome – My Bucket List

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There has been so much “Rome” talk these past couple of weeks! I am totally anxious to board my flight to Italy on Tuesday, and it seems impossible that it’s just two days away. After being accepted to study at the John Felice Rome Center last year, I remember thinking August 30th was a lifetime away. Don’t get me wrong… though I am nervous for it to come, I’m definitely excited, too. The only idea I have of what to expect is the advice I’ve gotten from my mom, who recently visited Rome. She has given me her most meaningful tips, including taking an excess amount of black clothing and traveling as light as possible. And while packing has taken up most of my time this past week, I am more focused on arriving in Italia to start checking as many items off my bucket list as possible.

Here are 10 things I hope to do across the pond:

1. Befriend locals

Whether it’s in Rome, another Italian place, or a random city in Europe, I’d love to chat up people who actually live there. Talking to strangers is an everyday occurrence in Chicago, and I only hope to carry on the tradition abroad.

2. Visit Paris

I can’t really explain why this city is on my list, but ever since I have observed other students abroad visiting Paris, it has been making its way to the top of my list. Perhaps it is there because it contains the world’s largest art museum and monument, the Louvre. Something about it has always intrigued me.

3. Have a crazy 21st birthday

When I tell people that my 21st birthday will occur while I’m abroad, they seem sort of sad for me, since the drinking age in Rome is 18. Ha! You all just wait. I have something big planned.

4. Spend a day painting and drawing in a famous piazza

I am obsessed with arts and music!!! My love for the two happens to be a huge reason that I chose to study in the first place. Today, I purchased a couple of small drawing pads and watercolors to push me to sketch and paint while I’m there. Don’t worry; I’ll post pictures of my artwork, too!

5. Bring back at least one Italian tradition

Whether it’s an Italian dish or some Italian language, I can’t wait to share something foreign with friends and family once I return. I hope it ends up being food, to be honest!

6. Go to a concert

Rumor has it, the Chainsmokers will be performing in Milan during the month of October. For those of you who don’t listen to EDM, just know, they would be an AMAZING one to go to.

7. Fill up on wine, gelato, and espresso

I did mention I turn 21 in a month right? Also, who doesn’t love ice cream and coffee?

8. Visit the Vatican City

Well, you know I had to put something touristy on here? The Colosseum and Trevi Fountain are pretty much a given, but visiting the Vatican City is always something I’ve hoped to experience, as well! Besides, my grandma MJ would kill me if I didn’t at least try to see Papa Francisco.

9. Experience nightlife in more than one European city

I am a 20-year-old, after all. I absolutely have to experience the nightlife. Discoteca, anyone?

10. REALLY get to know Rome

This was a tip from the SLAs, to really get to know the neighborhood we live in as well as the rest of Rome. Even though I plan on traveling to much more than just Rome, I’ll definitely spend some quality time wandering around local shops and plazas.

After reading this bucket list aloud to my parents, they seemed slightly worried that the next four months sounded like just a vacation. “You are taking classes, right, Molly?” To justify the “study” in “study abroad,” and to put my parents at ease, know that I will be taking some awesome classes, too! If you have any tips for traveling or any specific spots I absolutely have to visit while there, email me at

I can’t wait to cross every one of these off my list, mostly so I can share this craziness with you all via blog. See you on the other side!