The GoGlobal Blog

Category: Country

Life Update

Life Update

It feels like I’ve been here for over a year, but it’s only been a little over a month. I’m still homesick, but my mom told me I’m “Alec sick.” I’ve been traveling a bit since we last talked, which has been a major distraction. My classes are going well but I have little motivation to do much during the week. Let’s not talk about that, though. The fun part: where have I been these last few weeks?

As mentioned in my last post, I went to Naples the last weekend of January. This was a school run trip for our orientation, but it was still fun because I met a bunch of cool people. We did a bunch of history museums and such, which is not my favorite, but I made the most out of it. Next stop: Florence, Italy.

Florence has been my favorite city by far. It was a girl’s trip so, of course, we shopped and ate! We went to Gucci, Zara and the leather market and bought some fun things. We saw two different wineries’ in Tuscany on Saturday, which was so fun and interesting. We ate so much pasta and bruschetta that I am ready for some American food (definitely Chipotle and Canes). It rained most of the time while we were there, but my friends and I made the most of it. Next stop: Berlin, Germany.

I traveled to Berlin with a bunch of my friends from Loyola & Dayton during the second weekend of February. We ate some German sausage and drank German beer, which if you know me, I was not a fan of (check out my featured photo). We saw the Holocaust memorial and it was extremely eye opening. We also went to the Berlin Wall, which was full of super cool graffiti. It rained most of the time in Berlin as well, so we weren’t able to see as many sites as we wanted to. The main reason we went to Berlin was for the Louis the Child concert. It was so fun, but extremely overwhelming for someone who is 4”11. The highlight of my trip was definitely eating at a fake Chipotle. Next stop: Barcelona, Spain.

Maddy, Maddie and I traveled to Barcelona this past weekend. Barcelona is definitely my 2nd favorite city. We did some shopping (of course), saw the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s House and watched the Barcelona soccer match at a restaurant outside the stadium (mostly to send pictures to my dad). The views were gorgeous, and I slept a lot, which was much needed. The Cheetah Girls movie was definitely one of my favorites when I was a little girl, so I loved seeing all the spots they were at. Barcelona reminded me of Chicago, and it made me smile. Next stop: Milan Fashion Week.

My four friends and I are traveling to Milan this Thursday for fashion week, which is totally up my fashion alley. I get to shop for an outfit, which is even more exciting. I have been doing a lot in Rome during the weeks as well. I see a different Church every Wednesday for my theology class. My friends and I go to restaurants in the city center to get off campus for a little bit at least once a week. We went to dinner on Valentine’s Day and my family sent me flowers, which was definitely a happy! Midterms are coming up and FOMO is a major issue in my life right now, but I’m powering through.

I hope you all enjoyed my little life update. Alec is coming in early March and my parents are coming in late March, so I am really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and getting hugs! Before I know it, I will be back in the states, but I am really enjoying myself (and my homesickness). Thank you for reading this long, long post!

Talk soon xoxo.

LUC in the Land of Harry Potter

LUC in the Land of Harry Potter

Last year, being in the NCAA Final Four was such an exciting time to be a Rambler. With national coverage of the basketball team, we became “the Harry Potter school” with our maroon and gold striped scarves, more famously known as the Hogwarts colors. Here, in the city where J.K. Rowling wrote many of the Harry Potter books, I see maroon and gold everywhere in windowshops, on people’s hats and scarves, and I get so excited to throw my “‘blers up” hand before remembering what they mean when they sport maroon and gold stripes. As I pass closer, their merchandise always says “Hogwarts” or “Gryffindor”. Still, I am always happy to see our school colors and it makes me feel a twinge of familiarity in this new place. I have shoved homesickness (or “schoolsickness”) to the back of my mind successfully for a few weeks (not a method of coping that I would recommend), but the maroon and gold stripes always make me a little sad. However, I am not a fan of Harry Potter, and it makes me giggle to see people line up in front of The Elephant House Cafe, famous for being the exact location where J.K. Rowling wrote many pages of the first few books of the series. They wait in the rain, snow, and sleet to get in, and from many online reviews and testimonies from people I meet who have visited, it ends up to be a disappointing experience as far as the actual coffee and cakes go. I am sure they would be happier to spend their money on food and coffee that is worth it, maybe in Cafe Arrivadolce, listening to the construction along North Sheridan Road, watching Chicagoans fight against being blown over in the harsh Lake Michigan winds as they make their way down the street. They might like Metropolis Coffee Company on Granville Ave, close to where people were paintballed by a moving vehicle last year, and where I have seen countless domestic disputes under the train tracks (there is never a dull moment in Chicago). Maybe they would like to be visit the school that made the 2018 Final Four after over 50 years. At least, that is where I would want to go right now; that is my maroon and gold.

Feeling at Home in Rome

Feeling at Home in Rome

I’d decided I was going to study abroad during my senior year of high school when the decision was, arguably, easy. I was leaving for college the following year, so I didn’t have any ties to life at Loyola’s Chicago campus yet. Even as I applied for the John Felice Rome Center my sophomore year, my nerves were at a low in anticipation of all the new experiences to come. When it came time to actually board my flight to Rome, however, my faith in the decision began to fumble. I was worried that I wouldn’t love Rome the same way I loved Chicago or that I wouldn’t make any new friends to travel with. My relief was palpable when, in just the first few weeks of my JFRC experience, both of my doubts were set aside.
Orientation was pleasantly exhausting. We spent most of the first week venturing around Rome, seeing everything from the Colosseum to a whole in the wall restaurant that served authentic pasta for four euro. The near constant immersion in the city made me fall in love with Rome and its contradictions; I’ve always loved Chicago, but even when I moved there for university, I never felt quite as at home as I did dodging puddles in the cobblestone streets near the Forum.

While I was discovering that Rome was the place I’d been looking for, I was surrounded by people who felt the same, the majority of whom had not come to the JFRC with a pre-established group of friends. I expected making friends to be the most difficult part of the journey, but everyone at the JFRC is there to meet people who share this same desire to see the world. During a scavenger hunt wherein we ran around the city taking pictures of all of the quintessential Roman sites, I made friends with a wonderfully positive group that shared my traveling desires and a few of my classes.
There have been nights where I miss my family and friends back home immensely, but the experiences that I’m having during the day make it much easier to cope with. As the days go on, I find myself reflecting on the cappuccino that blew my mind or the breathtaking view from the top of the Spanish Steps instead of how badly I miss Chicago. There are so many things to love about Rome; the hills are nothing like I’ve seen in the suburbs, pasta here is never overdone, and historic churches and ruins are always a few steps away, offering an insight into the city’s history, present, and future. When I do connect with my family and friends, they’re always anticipating stories about my life here and encouraging me to continue chasing personal growth in the eternal city. Connecting with a time change is easier than I’d thought, and the distance has made hearing about life back home is even more entertaining than before I left. I will never not miss my life in Chicago, but I’ll be back within four months. I’ll only have a life here in Rome once, and I can’t wait to live it to the fullest.

Head in the Clouds

Head in the Clouds

A quarter of the way through my time here abroad and I am all emotions. On one spectrum, I am happy and exhilarated of all that I have seen and done thus far. On the other end, I am exhausted, physically, mentally, and socially. I have traveled to the southern part of Italy to Campania, and I have traveled up to the northern part of Italy to Florence and Pisa. I have marveled at the history of the past, whether it is walking through a museum with centuries old art, or strolling through Paestum as if I can relive the past of so many people who came before me, my imagination has sparked in all forms. The other day, my class and I traveled to the Roman National Museum where we saw a fresco of Augustus’s wife, Livia Drusilla. It is a beautifully detailed garden scene that wraps around all four walls. It is believed to have been a part of their villa as their dining room decor. In my wildest imaginations, I can only dream about what those walls may have seen and heard. Yes, walls may not have a heartbeat, but they can still hold the memories of people, dead and alive. It reminds me how much of our lives, and our stories can become intertwined in art. It is able to keep alive pieces of us after we are gone, and connects us in all sorts of ways. I found the creativity and imagination of art again in Florence and Pisa. The architecture of the buildings breathe so much history while reminding me of a fragile card house, and a tilt-

ing jenga tower, about to be toppled down with one big blow of air. My friends and I filled our stomachs with warm paninos, carbonara, and chocolate souffles that were heaven on earth. We headed to Pisa for a day to see the famous leaning tower and we found it as cool as everyone says it is in all of its falling glory. On our last day in Florence, we stumbled upon a parade of renaissance dressed men walking along the cobblestone streets, marching towards a reenactment of some sort. Yet again, I found myself drifting into my childhood imagination of what the past might have looked like. These past few weeks have clearly reminded me to keep my imagination alive to retell the past, paint the present, and connect with others in the future. Let the dreaming and imagining continue…

Falling in Love with Spain

Falling in Love with Spain

Whilst being in Europe, we all get excited to go see all of the different countries especially because traveling is cheaper in comparison to America. My advice to students who want to study abroad would be to pick a handful of places you absolutely would love to travel to and plan those out. There may be a lot of pressure to hit a ton of countries, but as I have experienced these past few weeks, getting to know the country your living in is an incredible feeling. I am studying in Alicante which in itself is a beautiful city, my friends and I have been able to take trips to nearby cities in day trips, discovering hidden gems. A lot of these places have less mass tourism and are much more authentic, allowing us to get an intimate feel for the country we’re in. Altea is a small city on La Costa Blanca, or the white coast, which was a small town on the Mediterranean filled with immaculate white homes and buildings. We found a small restaurant where they insisted we get the lasagna, it was the best I had ever had, it was so fresh and rich. It was a lovely city and we had a perfect day. The next day we went to Calpe, another city a few hour from Alicante on train, where we hiked up a mountain there. The view was absolutely breathtaking, you could see for miles, even into other cities. We were above the clouds and able to see beyond the horizon. After, we had dinner on the beach and relaxed along the coast. I have had many of opportunities see the countryside of Spain and have had the pleasure of meeting manylocal people. When I go back to the states, I want to feel like I actually lived here, so I am so glad I’m able to travel within the country and immerse myself in the local culture.

Sitting in Altea
strolling through Altea
Views from Calpe

 

Calpe and Yoga

 

So I Moved Across the World

So I Moved Across the World

Hi, my name is Jaylinn, and this semester I decided to move to Europe. It’s crazy to think I decided to live across the world without ever having been here. But I knew it was something I had always wanted to do. Living in Spain is definitely a drastic change, but I would not trade it for anything in the world. It’s important to research ahead of time what to expect, for example, I researched social norms in Southern Spain. Europe is relatively similar to the United States but the little things like kisses on the cheek instead of hand shakes can throw you off if you aren’t aware. I also listened to Spain top 50 on Spotify to know what music they listened to. Lucky for me they listened to Latin American and some English music which I was familiar with. Although research beforehand was very helpful it’s important to keep an open mind and observe the first few weeks. Because of this I didn’t experience much culture shock, of course a little is inevitable though. So far this experience has taught me so much about myself in such a short amount of time. It’s the first time I had lived on my own outside of a dorm and has taught me about independence in that sense. Also about how much broader the world is outside of America. People from all over Europe are always in Alicante, and it’s common for people to move to other countries and just pick up on the language. Most of all out of this journey so far I feel like I have learned to keep an open mind, when it comes to experiences, cultural norms, and everything else in between.

Most Of Us

Most Of Us

Since I was a child, the idea of traveling has always excited me, whether it was trying flaky pastries in a small village in Paris, or walking through the historical entrances of Pompeii, I have always been fascinated by the world and all of the distance that separates us as human beings, and yet, all of the everyday commonalities that unite us. However, I am a deep dreamer, and thinker, constantly wondering, and often doubting, about the next move, step, or leap. Although this may be useful for planning and organizing, I have found that this state of mind can get me into trouble. You see, overthinking can turn your wildest, happiest dreams into a prison of fear, anxiety, and doubt. It can lead to a place of certainty, safety, and comfort, but what I have found over the past couple of years is that there is no room for growth, nor learning when set in a box of sameness. See, I enjoy a well rounded routine with a schedule that is almost set to the tee, but I am constantly faced with the decision to break free bit by bit from my comfort zone and face everything that scares me. This includes leaving behind a magical fall school semester, a beautiful city that I call home, and family and friends who have carried me through a tumultuous couple of years.

My decision to study abroad in Rome, Italy was surrounded

with months of contemplation and discussion with family, friends, advisers, and even strangers at the grocery stores who would jump at the chance to relive, or do over, their study abroad experience in college. However, my decision came only clearly to me through writing, specifically when overlooking the waters of Lake Michigan, watching the sailboats pass back and forth, and the sun hitting the water just right. One day, when I was sitting by the water, I turned to the left of me and found a lonely grasshopper. Now, I am known to believe in signs, and I, of course, took this as one. After researching the meaning of grasshoppers, I found that they are representative of jumping forward into the unknown, without jumping backward into the past. Believer or not in signs, I took this grasshopper as a symbol to not be afraid, and to jump as a means of moving forward, of moving towards my greater self.

Now, as I sit here writing this at the library in Rome, I look back on that decision making process with sheer joy and gratitude of the journey that got me right here. It has only been two weeks, but over the course of them, I have experienced so much already. The staff of the John Felice Rome Center do an amazing job organizing a jam packed schedule of events for the two weeks of orientation that include four course meals, city walking tours, and even a weekend trip down to the south of Italy full of wine and cheese tastings, and historical site adventures. Of course it has been overwhelming with the amount of new people, new places, new sites, new sounds, new food, new everything, but I have enjoyed the moments of sameness that stretches throughout continents, and cultures.

Most of us get stuck in traffic. Most of get caught up at the grocery store deciding which cookies to buy. Most of us run late to work on a Monday. Most of us get irritated when the bus does not come on time. Most of us love the smell of homemade food. Most of us love the comforts of people who love us as much as we do them. As human beings, most of us just want the same things. We all want to be seen, heard, recognized, and loved. A traditional, and universal message I have already found in the short two weeks I have been here. We are all trying to figure it out. We are all trying to make our way. Rome you have already taught me so much and I cannot wait to see what is next. 

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

I arrived at the John Felice Rome Center a little less than a week ago and it has been a whirlwind of a journey to say the least. After traveling for almost 20 hours, I was thrown into more orientation activities than I could count. I was extremely overwhelmed by all of the information and the culture and the foreign language and so much more. I mean, I couldn’t even read the blurbs on the shampoo or conditioner bottles, yet alone adapt to a new life in such a short period of time.

When I mentioned to people that I was considering studying abroad, I got the same answer from almost everyone: that it would be the most amazing, life changing experience and that I would never want to leave. No one told me I was going to be homesick. People mentioned it a few times here and there, but no one told me I was going to be THAT homesick. I have so many wonderful, caring people in my life that it was extremely challenging to adapt to a life with them so far away.

The thought of wanting to jump on a plane back to the states has definitely crossed my mind more than a few times. However, I know that would be a mistake. I am so blessed to even have the option to study in a different country with so many new and exciting opportunities right in front of me. My friends and I have started to make lists of all the places we want to travel to in the next 13 weeks, which makes my stomach turn (in a good way, of course).

Expect the unexpected. Like I said, homesickness was barely discussed in any conversation before I left. So, expect to be homesick. Expect to not be able to understand the Italians and their culture. Expect to cry a few times while you are adjusting. Expect for the homesickness to be gone with time. I have full confidence that mine will be because I have one of the best support systems at home. Life takes a few minutes to kick in.

Please continue to keep up with my journey here in Europe. Next stop: Naples!

We’re not in Chicago Anymore

We’re not in Chicago Anymore

It all hit me when I saw a palm tree rocking back and forth in the wind on the other side of a window at Fiumicino Airport. I thought of previous family vacations and tried to understand where I was, “Am I in Florida?” But I quickly nixed that thought as I worked through it in my mind. “This could not be Florida, there was a TV on the flight, I watched two whole movies and was served oddly sweet chicken teriyaki from a tin container.” This was no ordinary family vacation, this was going to be a journey, a five month journey to be exact. This was not a tourist-ridden resort town, oh no, this was Roma.

Roma and its overwhelming beauty and grand scale hit me hard on the first night. Fighting feelings of intense jet lag and the urge to put on pajamas, I ventured out with a group to The Vatican for a taste of our new home, and also gelato. With a cup of hazelnut gelato in hand, I walked up the street, the light glowing off the damp cobblestone. There on the top of the hill was a curve of columns, illuminated fountains and the wonder that is St. Peter’s Basilica all lit up. In that moment I forgot about how much my eyes wanted sleep, and instead, opened them wide to absorb every inch of beauty that surrounded me.

Now looking back on this first night, I smile with nostalgia, as if it were a memory from long ago. I’ve been here for seven days now and it feels impossible to me that I once didn’t fully know beauty of Rome. I’ve now seen the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and Villa Farnese but I’ve also sipped on a cappuccino from a beautiful coffee bar in the Trastevere neighborhood and enjoyed aperitivo before dinner in Monti. Even in the simple things, Rome seems to take my breath away. I don’t think I’ll get it back for five months.

 

The First Two Weeks In Beijing

The First Two Weeks In Beijing

When I left Chicago a lot was going through my mind. I was going to a country that I had never been to before, and one that not very many American students wanted to study abroad in, at least compared to places in Western Europe. After the fourteen hour long flight was finally over the plane landed at about 4 PM Beijing time. After a long taxiing to the gate I got off and walked to customs, and then baggage, and then out to meet the kind people who would be taking me and the twelve other students who arrived that evening to the University of International Business and Economics, the University where The Beijing Center was located. It was only a twenty-five minute drive and finally we had arrived to the school we had up until now only seen photos and videos of.

The campus is massive, the size of a small town in fact. We were all given maps along with instructions on how to use WiFi and other utilities that would be necessary for daily life. After everyone finally got to their rooms and settled in a bit, we woke up bright and early for orientation. Orientation lasted for a full four days and covered topics that ranged from how the classes would be structured to how to live life and get necessities in Beijing. During those four days there were also optional excursions one could go on with the group. For example, the third night virtually everyone went to downtown Beijing to see an acrobatics show and stop by a very nice mall along the way. The trip was also a good chance for anyone who was unfamiliar with using the Beijing subway system to learn how to use it. The experiences that were afforded to all TBC students were very effective at getting everyone accustomed to life in Beijing.

After we went on one last trip as a group to Tienanmen square and the forbidden city, our classes began. Classes at TBC are much like classes at Loyola, except they typically contain about a fifth of the regular amount of students. My entrepreneurship course consisted only of me, two Colombian women, the professor, and his wife for the first class. The experience is a lot more intimate than classes that have fifty or more people. These amazingly small class sizes make you feel like you’re at a small private school rather than a large school like Loyola. After the first week of class was finally over it was nice to have what felt like an actual break. The first two weeks of my time in Beijing were filled with fun, new experiences, trying new foods, and an interesting bathroom in which the shower, toilet, and sink share the same space, which is nice because it’s now very easy for me to clean the bathroom. I’m excited for what’s to come  and will keep everyone who reads this blog posted.

If anybody reading this has any questions about The Beijing Center, please feel free to leave a comment down below, or email me at fzigic@luc.edu.

 

See you all again soon!