The GoGlobal Blog

Category: Italy

Take a Hike!

Take a Hike!

On Friday I went on a hike around Monte Mario, the big hill that is home to the JFRC and the surrounding Balduina neighborhood. Soon after setting off, JFRC librarian and enthusiastic hiker Ann Wittrick in the lead, I heard murmurings from some other hikers that this trek would be four hours long. Four hours!? I hadn’t seen anything about this on the posters. Apparently, the information was on Facebook. Once again, I was out of the loop because I don’t check Facebook. I was not the only one taken by surprise though, other hikers quickly grew apprehensive, several suddenly regretting their light breakfasts of coffee and cornetti. Nevertheless, we were off! As our feet pounded along wooded trails, up and down the hills of Rome, many of the original bright-eyed travelers fell away, opting to catch a bus home as the rest of us continued. I’d say that about 15 of us stayed for the entire trip. I’m glad I stayed because I got some cool pictures of the city and saw the Olympic Stadium where Rome’s most famous soccer teams play.

We made our way up the trails of Monte Mario Nature Reserve which is 139 meters (456 ft.) high. The hill is home to a lot of biodiversity which is not so easy to find in today’s metropolitan Rome. The ground beneath the oak and maple trees is a mixture of sand and gravel from the ancient days of Rome. Though there was more wildlife there years ago, the area is still home to rodents like house and field mice as well as birds like the Jackdaw, Long-tailed Tit, and Rome’s infamous Starlings. (The last of this group swarm the city every year in November and December, burying the city in buckets of their, umm, gifts) The hill gave us some unique views of the city. From different viewpoints along the trail we could see the Vatican, the Colosseum, and the Olympic Stadium poking out among Rome’s orange and yellow apartments.

After the hilltop, we visited a French cemetery for fallen French soldiers of World War II. Many of the soldiers had German names, evidence of the many changes throughout France’s history between the cultures of Germany and France. There were many graves honoring fallen Muslim soldiers as well. These had gravestones with different shapes, and symbols of a crescent moon and star. One of the JFRC’s theology teachers was with us, and he remarked that the Muslim graves were here because there had been so many Muslim soldiers recruited by the French army during the war. Not too far from the cemetery stands a giant statue of the Virgin Mary, meant as a symbolic praise to God for keeping Rome safe during WWII.

As we made our way back to campus, we visited the Olympic Stadium which was built to host the 1942 Olympic Games in Rome, but did not because of WWII. The stadium and adjacent Olympic Village was used to host the games in 1960. We saw the buildings that housed the athletes, and a practice field and track next to the actual stadium. The grounds of the stadium are dotted with Greek style statues depicting muscular athletes. Our S.L.A Judy, told us that fascist leader Benito Mussolini had ordered the statues to be built, with the ideal fascist Italian man in mind. These brawny dudes (not a woman in sight of course) were meant to symbolize the way Mussolini wanted every man to look. I thought it was funny then, when Judy also told us that the reason each statue was made to look across the field at the statue opposite it, could be traced back to ancient Greek traditions; specifically, the tradition of young men forming relationships with older men as a way to enter adulthood. We also saw the old headquarters of the fascist party in Italy. It was, an extremely square, plain grey building with no defining features. It looked like it had come out of a Fascists Architecture 101 textbook. In the courtyard outside, there were huge stone blocks inscribed with a highlight reel of Mussolini and, by extension, the fascist party. The blocks at the end of the rows have been left blank, with the idea that they would be filled in as the fascists continued influencing the world.

At the end, though my feet were tired, I was glad the hike was so long. I left with the nice reminder that taking a nice long walk is an effective way to clear one’s head. A hike in the woods, or a walk through the town can boost your mood and bring everything into perspective. I hope to visit the Monte Mario Reserve at least once more before I go.

 

 

 

Some of the Muslim graves in the French WWII cemetery we visite

The public soccer field next to the Olympic Stadium

View from Monte Mario trail

 

 

 

 

 

What I Learned: Cinque Terre

What I Learned: Cinque Terre

At the beginning of February, I visited a region of Northern Italy called Cinque Terre, which translates to “five lands.” This is an area of five small towns, and in just two days, I was able to visit each one. While I was there, I learned a few things that I thought I’d share with you all.

  • Before you go on a trip, you should do more research than a quick Google search.

The week before we left, I was stressed. Classes had really picked up, and I had a lot of work to do. I was traveling with just one other friend, and I let her do a lot of the research and planning. My research consisted of reading the first few things that popped up when I searched “What to do in Cinque Terre.” While these were helpful and gave me an idea of what to expect from the region, I wasn’t asking the right questions. I should’ve been searching the best time to go to Cinque Terre, for starters, because we ended up going during off season. This seems obvious- Cinque Terre is right on the water and many people go there for the beaches. February isn’t the best time to sit on the beach. But we still expected there to be more to do! As we sat in a restaurant for lunch on Saturday shortly after we arrived, we tried asking the waitress for some suggestions of things to do in the region. She laughed, a bit nervously, and said, “Well, in the winter, there’s not much to do here.” If we had done a little more research, we would’ve known this!

  • But you don’t always have to listen to what your research tells you.

That being said, I’m almost glad we didn’t know that going in. It would’ve skewed my idea of the region. It was almost funny, us walking around trying to find things to do. Even though we saw it in most of the towns, we were still surprised when we made it to the next and seemed to be some of the only people there. The weekend we went was a shorter weekend for us (we had had classes on Friday, so we were only able to travel Saturday and Sunday), so we had just the right amount of time to wander through all the towns before heading home. If it had been warmer, we might’ve gotten distracted by the beach and wanted to sit there all weekend. Don’t get me wrong, that would’ve been great, but going in February allowed us to really see all the towns, compare them, and pick which was our favorite. We saw some beautiful views and captured pictures that I will forever want to show off to family and friends.

  • Go to the bathroom whenever one is offered to you, but don’t look into it too much.

This has become something I’ve learned of Italy in general, but bathrooms are… different here. Public restrooms are often available near big tourist sites, but you usually have to pay up to one euro for entry. Restaurants have bathrooms, but you are of course expected to purchase something in order to use them. Stores like clothing stores and supermarkets do not have bathrooms. So, on weekend trips and whenever I venture into the city, every time I stop for a meal or gelato or a cappuccino, I make it a point to go to the bathroom. This was especially important in Cinque Terre because we were constantly on the go, and we didn’t always know when we’d find another open restaurant or bar. So… My second comment probably sounds a little confusing- why shouldn’t you look into the bathroom too much? During lunch on Sunday, asI entered the bathroom of our restaurant for the second time (trying to take full advantage of a free bathroom in reach), I looked at the ceiling and saw THE BIGGEST SPIDER I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. I am pretty terrified of spiders, so the appeal of the bathroom was quickly diminished. In general, bathrooms here are fine, but many toilets don’t have toilet seats. The bathrooms are usually in the basement of buildings, and after trekking down steep staircases to get to them, they can be pretty dirty. So, use bathrooms when possible, but always carry hand sanitizer with you and don’t look up!!

  • Talk to the locals, even though it’s scary!

The friend I traveled with is much more advanced in her Italian skills than I am, so I leaned on her throughout the weekend to help us navigate the unfamiliar towns. I am used to keeping my head down and avoiding nerve-wracking situations, but she was great about asking the locals for suggestions. We met the owner of a nearby café (where we ate breakfast on both days and I had a late night snack on Saturday), and he gave us directions and made great cake!! I realized how important those interactions can be, even if they’re scary. This local’s café was our favorite place in Corniglia, the town we stayed in, and we were able to see more of Cinque Terre because we talked to the owner. (I’m hoping to write more about conversations with locals in a later blog post, so stay tuned!)

My best Italian is still me ordering gelato.

  • Embrace the local culture and norms of where you go.

I have never been the most outdoorsy person, and when I started telling people I wanted to go to Cinque Terre, they kept mentioning the hiking there. My friend and I left for the weekend hoping that the trains running between the towns we heard about weren’t just a myth. And they weren’t! We used the trains to get from some towns to the next. But once we’d spent some time there, we realized how big of a role the hiking trails played in the “culture” in Cinque Terre. We completed two hikes during the weekend (one on each day), and it ended up being one of our favorite parts. We decided to try the shorter trails so as not to burn out, which was a good decision because wow! I was sore for days afterwards! But the views we saw along the way were breathtaking. I snapped pictures constantly, each time muttering, “Okay I know I said the last one would be my last picture but look at that!” We met some very nice locals and fellow tourists who helped guide us in the right direction, and we enjoyed some good conversation along the way.

Some views from a hike.

Although the weekend wasn’t really what I had expected or what I would have planned, it ended up being so relaxing. It pulled me off campus without completely exhausting me, as some of my longer trips have. I learned to go with the flow for the weekend- something I’ve never been great at. It really payed off, and Cinque Terre has been one of my favorite places so far.

In front of our favorite view!

 

Che Figata!

Che Figata!

As Rene Descartes says, “If you spend too much time traveling you will become a stranger in your own home” but does it count if your home is in a foreign place..?

While in Rome I have become acquainted with the old nomadic lifestyle of constant movement. Whenever it seems that I may remember the name of the corner coffee shop, the corner changes along with the name of the city that I am staying in. However, not all is lost, along with my lack of orientation, because as the cities change I maintain my curiosity.

However, it is neither the illustrious Churches with all their golden skies and white marble cloud covered floors, nor the magnificent statues who bring older men to their knees in envy of their immortal essences that grab hold of my mind and soul. There are those places unseen and unrecognized that hold true rare brilliance. There is a museum found curbside the Arno River, near the city center, that has little to no foot traffic. Constantly ignored by the diamond-eyed tourism, is Galileo Galilei’s dedication from the people of Florence. When walking through the levels of repossessed mechanisms, it is enlightening to look at the makeshift wonders that still currently shape our mind and beliefs in the material world. From 500-year-old equipment made to predict the arrangement of our stars today, to the first pulleys whose design would lead to the industrial revolution and elevators. If you are allowed the chance, visit Florence and return home to the origin of what we call direction, speed, and the primary properties. Then take the elevator down to experience his brilliance. Che Figata!

The Joys & Pains of Solo Travel

The Joys & Pains of Solo Travel

Solo travel. What is it?

Could be a trip across town using good ol’ solid public transportation. Could be making your way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and you’re homebound. Could be taking any journey on your own through a path you’ve never taken before. For me, my first truly solo experience was my trip to Naples & Pompei: three days in two cities in one country that is still pretty foreign to me. Given, I am independent by nature. I don’t typically need to rely on anyone to get a job done and I definitely didn’t want anything to hold me back from being able to pursue a trip that would make a great story. So, while my friends packed their bags to go to Munich for the weekend, I departed in a separate direction to the Northern half of Italy.

Traveling solo is an experience that is typically marketed as “easy” …for men. Men and women simply aren’t subject to the same variation of dangers that travel entails. While traveling in any group to any place should be approached with caution and research (let’s not be naive here), men have it easier. That’s just the way it is! And don’t worry, I’ll always be salty about it. Women have to worry about what clothes they pack, their demeanor on the streets so as not to attract the wrong kind of attention, and keeping an eye on the closest exit at all times. It’s a STRUGGLE. But if you can pull it off, not only does it give you amazing street cred, it gives you a personal sense of intense satisfaction that, hell yeah, you are officially a solo traveller.

First things first, be prepared. I can not stress enough how much smoother a trip will pan out if you do your freaking research on the area. This includes transportation to and from the city, to and from your lodging, whether to book an Airbnb or hostel or hotel, what landmarks are nearby and how long it takes to get there, and my favorite, where to eat! So basically: location, transportation, lodging, fun and food. Once you have your plans set, all it takes is a bit of a pep talk, a backpack of necessities, and you’re good to go!

Approach a solo trip like a friend who won’t judge you if you decide to sleep in till noon, who will let you eat what you want when you want to, who will officially let you switch on your Do Not Disturb mode. It is a time for relaxation and adventure and exploration and venturing into the unknown! Treat yo self! There’s no telling what you’ll see and do! Diving headfirst with an open mind is as liberating as you make it. It’s like that cheesy quote:

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Now that’s not to say you should jump at every opportunity. While there’s no one there to judge you if you said yes, trust yourself to deny the potential for an absurd story, and realize your own company is far more satisfying. No one knows you like you know yourself. I wasn’t prepared for the times I wished I could turn to a friend and say, “You need to try this!” or “Did you see that?!” And if you and your friends go separate ways, FOMO is real and it’s a downer. You have to fend for yourself in more ways than one. The amount of times I’ve been a target of heavy catcalling is enough to make me never want to leave my room!! Needless to say, I definitely perfected my mean muggin’, don’t-even-look-in-my-direction face when the sketch-o-meter was high.

But you know what? I was responsible for ma own self. I am capable. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and experienced a trip  that is unique to me. I can say I went to Naples and Pompei and navigated through a foreign city unscathed. I trust myself to protect my being against social and physical dangers and also to be a good judge of character when needed.

If you’re considering a solo trip, go for it! It’ll build your confidence, help you appreciate yourself a little more, and change the minds of people who think it’s impossible. Sure it’s a little scary and awkward. But all in all, if you’re smart and aware, and don’t let people hold you back from experiencing life and the world and all it has to offer, you won’t regret the experience. I know I don’t.

-Andrea

From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up

On Friday, February 9, I traveled to Napoli (Naples) with 7 members of my science class and our professor Stefania Galdiero. A native to Naples, Stefania studies the chemistry used in producing pharmaceuticals. Our class is titled Science of Italian Art, and in it, we talk about the many ways science and art overlap. (Think: DaVinci using his artistic talents to create accurate diagrams of human anatomy.) Stefania showed us around Naples for a day, taking us on a tour of the university lab where she works, as well as tours of a nearby Accademia di belle arte (really cool college for art students), and the underground caverns that helped shape the city.

The Accademia in Naples is one of the busiest, most prominent of all the accademie in Italy. Every major city has one, they are essentially museums and spaces to hold huge collections of fine art. David, the star of last week’s post, is housed in the Accademia of Firenzi. The one we visited in Naples is not only a home for works of art, but a school for young artists themselves. The walls are lined with sculptures donated by artists for the students to practice sketching and painting. Students at the accademia study there for five years, before going on to become cinematographers, painters, musicians and actors. One of our guides boasted at the workshop adjacent to the stage, where students and professors design and build all of the set pieces for the plays put on in the college. No other college in Europe, according to our guide, builds their own stage materials that they use in their plays. I couldn’t help but imagine what day to day life might be like for the students here. How much fun it must be to study sculpture, restoration, or cinema in a place like this. The few students that were there on Friday afternoon would laugh and share a cigarette with the professors they passed, before bounding down one of the open air hallways on their way to the studio. It was thrilling to see the workshops and spaces where artists of the future were learning and perfecting their crafts.

For lunch, of course, we had pizza. Now, the story goes that impoverished people in Naples were among the first to start adding tomato to their flatbread as a topping. Much of Europe believed the tomato to be poisonous when it was first brought in from the Americas in the 16th century. Once enough people figured out that tomatoes were not killers, pizza was born. As the dish gained popularity, more people traveled to Naples to try it, even venturing into the poorer parts of the city where the food was first created. The pizza I had in Naples was very good, (I had a veggie pizza with spinach, artichoke, and mushroom) but it was nothing life changing or magical as the hype had led me to believe. (Remember, I’m from Chicago)  That being said, if you’re ever on the hunt for the perfect slice, Naples is a great place to start. I only tried it at one restaurant so there is plenty of uncharted cheesy territory left to explore.

After lunch, we squeezed down into what some refer to, creepily, as the womb of Naples. 40 meters below the bustling city is a complex labyrinth of tunnels that have been used for various purposes since the Greeks founded the city in the 7th century BC. First, a quarry was dug out to provide materials with which to literally build the city. The stone and metals from the Earth were used during the construction of Naples. The underground passages and caverns have an area larger than the city itself, and it was all carved by hand with chisels, hammers, and muscle. Looking up at the high ceilings, we could see the marks and divots left by the workers’ chisels. Decades later, the caves were filled with water and used as the city’s aqueduct system. Those who lived there used wells to access and bring up the water as they needed it. The smallest workers would climb down the walls of the well to clean the inside of the reservoirs as needed. Our guide told us that wealthy families would sometimes pay the workers extra to make sure their portion of the aqueduct was always full of clean water, often leaving others to deal with empty or dirty wells. For about 60 years, the caverns were used as the city’s garbage dump, but was cleaned up at the beginning of World War II. The space then provided shelter for Neapolitans as thousands of bombs were dropped on the city over the course of the war. In many ways, the caverns underneath Naples allowed for the city’s survival.

Overall, Naples is a very exciting place. The streets are alive with activity like they are in Rome. Motorcycles and scooters whiz by you on what you thought was a sidewalk, and every corner has a vendor selling something that smells delicious. There is graffiti on every building and a lot of garbage around. Some of the people in our group thought it was a bit too dirty, but I liked the artsy creative feel of every alley. I liked that the city doesn’t try to be too neat, or perfect. It just lives. Naples has been doing things differently since it created pizza in the 1700s and they don’t plan on changing their ways any time soon. While most of our group stayed in Naples for the weekend, I decided to make it a day trip. Even though it was only one day, I felt that I had seen and done plenty by the end of it. I realized this week that I don’t have to visit a new country or city every weekend. Planning these trips can be very stressful, especially on a student budget. I almost forgot that Rome alone is full of adventure and things to see. So I came back to Rome that evening, excited to get to know the city I started in.

 

 

Just outside the entrance to La Accademia di Belle Arte

The Courtyard of La Accademia                                                                                                                                         What the ancient aqueducts had looked like

 

The original Pizza!

 

 

 

 

David’s Home

David’s Home

Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David is bigger than you think, trust me. If you’ve never seen it in person, (or even if you have) odds are you’ll be amazed when you find yourself staring up, mouth agape, at the seventeen-foot-tall, marble depiction of the Old Testament’s most famous underdog. You might also be surprised, as I was, to find out that Michelangelo was not the first artist to try transforming that marble slab into something beautiful. In fact, the statue was originally commissioned by the Overseers of the Office of Works of the Duomo, now one of Florence’s most famous churches (pictured below).

In 1464, the church commissioned Augostino di Duccio, a student of Donatello, to construct a David for the project. He failed to create much more than a rough outline of the legs. Ten years later, another one of Donatello’s disciples, Antonio Rossellino, tried his hand. Rossellino was afraid that the previous work done on the marble had weakened it so much that it would never support a statue of such great size and weight, so he too failed to complete the sculpture. Fast forward to 1501, the marble block has now been lying dormant in the Duomo workshop for 25 years, naturally eroding in the elements, when a young Michelangelo agrees to do what the others could not. At this point, Michelangelo had recently finished carving his pieta, a statue depicting The Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus. This work would go on to be recognized as one of his masterpieces, arguably second only to the statue of David. 

Michelangelo took a block of old, discarded marble, and created one of the world’s most renowned sculptures. He didn’t protest, nor did he refuse the job because it seemed too daunting to others, he took what he was given and worked. His work paid off, as the completed statue was instantly recognized as a masterpiece. Partially because David was so stunning, those at the Duomo decided that it could not go on the roof, over 200 feet above Florence, but that it had to be on the ground, where it could be seen up close. First, David’s home was the Piazza della Signoria, but was later moved to its current location inside the Academia Museum which is where I got to see it this past weekend.

I think there’s a powerful lesson, not just in Michelangelo’s perseverance, but in the story of David’s changing locations. David was originally going to be part of a twelve piece series that would display on the roof of the Duomo. He ended up standing solo inside a different building. Even though it wasn’t clear where he was headed, David stands tall, guarding and representing the great city of Firenzi all the same. I guess I just have to appreciate the symbolism between David and young people who travel. Many of the students here at the JFRC often have no idea what country they’re going to be in next week, myself included. It is very freeing but at the same time extremely unsettling. One of the things that surprised me most about this semester has been how uncomfortable I have been. Being in new places, plunged into a new language, and unsure of pretty much everything can take a toll on anyone. Seeing David today reminded me that there is beauty in not knowing. Michelangelo likely had his doubts about that old marble he agreed to work with. The city didn’t know where their awesome new mascot would end up, but in the end, it worked out okay.

It can be difficult to explain to someone at home. When I tell friends in Chicago about a challenge here, about something that frustrated me or a time I was worried, they always say the same thing: “I can’t believe you’re complaining about being in Rome.” True, I am very lucky to be exploring Europe and I won’t forget what a great opportunity this is. That being said, culture shock is more real than I thought it would be. When I got to Florence it was seven AM, cold, and rainy. The sun hadn’t come up yet. We couldn’t check into our hostel until two PM. I was anything but comfortable as I had no clue where to go, or what the next 24 hours would look like. These circumstances at home would be nothing more than an inconvenient way to start a day. But take away the comfort of knowing exactly where your bed is, knowing that your family is close by, and shrink your language skills to those of a ten-year-old, and the situation changes. I knew I had my two friends Victoria and Chloe with me though, so I knew that together we would be just fine in this new place.

Once we started, we couldn’t be stopped. We toured the Uffizi museum, haggled with pushy leather salesmen in the street markets, (Chloe got a killer leather jacket down from $290 to $120) stumbled upon a parade, found a vinyl record store, and had some of the best fast food at 1950 American Diner. After all was said and done, my short weekend in Florence was my favorite part of the semester so far. I know I want to go back when the weather warms up, even though it would mean breaking my one rule of never visiting the same place twice. Sometimes, to squeeze the most out of life, you just have to do some things you didn’t plan.

If Michelangelo could make a masterpiece with discarded marble, I can make my way through a semester full of uncertainty.

Victoria (Left) and Chloe (Right) The drinks at Art Bar are as fun to eat as they are to drink.
David, who’s nickname is “Manu Fortis” which means Strong of Hand. This is likely why Michelangelo chose to make David’s right hand extra large.
The Arno River in Florence
The extensive collection at Move On, a vinyl store and restaurant.
Not Like Me

Not Like Me

I have been in Rome for a little over three weeks now, and when I started to brainstorm this blog post, I wasn’t quite sure what to write about. So much has happened! I’ve taken a trip with the JFRC; I’ve gone to Florence and Pisa with friends; I’ve seen the pope!!! Rather than listing everything I’ve done, though, I thought I could use this blog post to reflect on my experience so far. During orientation, the JFRC staff members encouraged us to explore Rome and to get lost in Rome. They said this is the best way to find cool things! Among all these reminders, one thing really stuck in my head: Go to a place, and don’t try to change it. Don’t try to make it like you. See what’s different, and let it be different. So while I’m here in Rome this semester, I am challenging myself to embrace this different country, language, and lifestyle. Sometimes it’s scary to be surrounded by so much difference. But in the few weeks I’ve been here, I’ve already noticed how it feels to adventure and let a place be different. And let that different place make you a little different too! So here are a few things I’ve noticed so far…

In Rome, meals take forever. They tell you that before you get here, but you think it’s going to be an exaggeration. During my orientation trip to Agropoli, Italy, we sat at lunch one day for over three hours. And while the food was amazing (we had these hush puppy-type things that were so good), we all got pretty antsy. I have always been a quick eater, so these meals were a little challenging at first. I still get frustrated when, at the end of a meal, you have to ask the waiter for the check or he won’t bring it for what feels like hours. Italians are social creatures! They like slow digestion and good dinner conversations! Long meals are starting to feel more normal to me, and I’m trying my best to enjoy my dinner company and the food I get to eat (and the wine I get to drink).

A goat cheese stuffed tomato on arugula, balsamic, and pesto.

Lasagna from Florence!

So much gelato.

Because I go to school in Chicago and try to travel around the city when I can, I am used to public transportation that is reliable and runs on a strict schedule. In Rome, on the other hand, bus drivers go on strike fairly often. Busses don’t run on any schedule we’ve been able to figure out. I’ve sat on a bus twice now that has broken down on the way home. My friends were stuck behind a bus today that had caught on fire. I’m not saying that I never use the busses here (I actually just bought a monthly bus pass yesterday), but walking has become my new favorite mode of transportation. The city of Rome is very walkable, and it makes me feel better to know I’m walking off some of the calories I’m eating! Similar to the long meals, I have started to become accustomed to the fact that getting somewhere will probably take a while, whether I’m walking there or bussing there. The Italians like to take their time, so I’m trying to be patient and enjoy what’s happening around me at all times!

Us walking around in Florence!

In Rome, people don’t usually have dryers in their homes. We have dryers here at the JFRC, but they don’t work very well. So my roommate and I have been hang-drying our clothes around our room. We like it because we save the 2 euro we would spend on a dry cycle, and we buy gelato instead! It’s a good trade off if you ask me.

More gelato!

Breakfast here is much lighter compared to breakfast in the US. I even heard someone call Italian breakfast “dessert for breakfast.” While I miss pancakes and hash browns and bacon and drip coffee very dearly, I am actually really enjoying the cappuccino and cornetto I have for breakfast every morning. Cornettos are basically croissants that have filling (I always get the Nutella filled ones) and powdered sugar or some kind of glaze on top. And cappuccinos are so foamy and probably better for me than the large coffees I get at home.

One of the best cornettos yet!

The best cappuccino I’ve had so far. This was in Pisa!

All that being said, I’ve found it’s important to find a few things that remind you of home. I still enjoy a good Coca Cola and some peanut M&Ms. And I’m really craving a good cheeseburger (even though I’ve resisted going to an Italian McDonald’s). Finding a balance between new and familiar is important to prevent burnout, and I’m learning how much I can handle as I go! I’m really excited to see where the next few months take me.

Thanks for reading,

Ciao!

Our group in Pisa.

Front row for the Papal Audience!

Festina Lente

Festina Lente


Do you remember somersaulting down hills as a child? Slowly you begin to gain speed and soon enough you lose sight of everything happening around you, seemingly lost in a whirlwind of fun, tossing and turning without any knowledge of current orientation or surroundings. Traveling from one foreign place to another can interpolate a very similar sensation of unconsciousness.

This past weekend I traveled to the home of the world’s most illustrious spas and bath houses. Budapest, unbeknownst to myself prior, is home to much more than saunas and savory local cuisine. The people there are the true prize to be seen. They ooze a sense on self individualized confidence. Not only can you feel it in the instance when the eyes of the older Olaf-esk brute from the other side of the steam room is staring you down to your soul, but also, as you are received by the jaunty bartender who offers you his best beer on draught with a smile and a trusting gleam in his gaze.

The city has been through quite a load over the past five centuries or so, (I challenge you to research that) and the stories are inscripted beautifully into stone and mortar in order to last generations. Moreover, the stories seen in the marble depicted scenes are of heroic ancestors and invading aliens; rather than victors and vanity, so that the true history of Budapest’s people will never be lost in time. My experience, on the contrary, seemed to have fallen victim to my hurrying from monument to monument, church to castle, and bar to bath; though I was constantly entranced by the east/west median of European culture, never once could I feel the slowness of home in which every second seems indulge-able. Nay, I would not suggest that I am home sick, but rather, I would infer that I must take a lesson from the story of August on my next trip, and that is to hurry slowly. Festina Lente!

That Italian Life!!!

That Italian Life!!!

Its been three weeks as of today living in Italy. Its taken so much adjusting its crazy. I don’t think I’ve truly felt like I live in Italy until today.

I got a job.

Two actually.

Monday I started interning at The Roman Guy in their Marketing and Social Media department. I was so nervous the first day I thought I might die. I didn’t. I had a bit of trouble getting there because the office is located in a part of Travestere Rome that I’ve never explored before. When I got there my boss showed me to my desk where the team had laid out a map of the best places in Rome to go for food, drinks, and fun, three bracelets along with a bag with their logo written on it. She offered me some water and espresso and showed me my schedule for the first week. It was all very pleasant and laid back as long as I get my work done of course. I think I was more so astounded that I’m allowed to listen to music on the job and given a proper work space. My job is essentially to boost internet traffic through their social

media sites by 20% by April. I don’t anticipate that being incredibly difficult since their sites are ideal for finding amazing spots all around Rome. The whole process of dressing business casual, taking the metro, drinking espresso, and working for a Rome based company makes me feel more local than a tourist the longer I’m here. Every Thursday, everyone in the office does Thirsty Thursday and has a glass of wine together to boost morale. It really takes the pressure off working throughout the week. My main task as of now is to create my own schedule to produce content to post in Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook throughout the week. I’m loving the creative freedom and the opportunity to produce unique content to help the company grow.

 

Today, after attending the Papal Audience,my group of friends and I headed to HomeBaked (Via Fratelli Bonnet, 21, 00152 Roma RM) for the second time in two weeks. Its easily becoming my home away from home. Its the only place I’ve found that has coffee I

could cry tears of pure joy. The owner’s name is Jesse and knows me by name now. He’s from Buffalo, Ne

w York. He studied abroad here as an International Studies major and just never left. Its been 15 years. The most important part of living in Rome and adapting to this new lifestyle is getting into the community and forming meaningful relationships with the people you meet. I know that sounds cliche but its true and its the best part of living here. I want to bring Jesse back a Loyola flag to put on the wall with the rest of his university collection from people who’ve visited and loved it there.

After, I began tutoring two Italian children in English. Pier is 7 and Niccolo is 5. Its only an hour and I learn 20 Euro for the hour I’m tutoring. I read them books, play games in english to build their vocabulary, and get them used to hearing English from a native speaker. Its tricky because they’re different ages and have different language competencies. I really enjoy it though. Getting into the community and helping out also makes feel like I’m part of it. Whoever is reading this, if you get the opportunity to tutor, take it.

 

I’m worried I won’t want to go back home by April.

 

The Little Things

The Little Things

The little things seem insignificant yet define our everyday. Like the way the bus jolts or the cold humidity, which I’ve never experienced as a Chicagoian. Or enjoying my choice of three different flavors of gelato in one cone (flavor number one is always cioccolato). That moment of realization that I’m lost, but completely content. Dreading the uphill walk to get to class and making friends with the neighborhood cats. The warm feeling of sunshine coupled with the smell of espresso and fresh air. Awe at the grandeur of Roman art and architecture while weaving through the Saturday afternoon crowds congesting the small cobblestone streets in the city center. The feeling of accomplishment when I successfully navigate home from an adventure.

These are a few of the things that define my first three weeks in Rome, Italy at the John Felice Rome Center. These moments are mine and no one else’s. Before leaving Chicago to come to Rome, I wanted advice from anyone and everyone about being abroad but I’ve come to realize that everyone’s experience is unique. Moving to a new city has exposed me to the little things that I’ve become desensitized to in Chicago. I want to remember all the little things from every place I visit over the next three months, especially the gelato. This weekend I’ll be exploring Florence, Italy, stay tuned for updates of my adventures!