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Category: John Felice Rome Center

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Mass of the Holy Spirit

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

 

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

The Birthplace of Pizza

The Birthplace of Pizza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via dei Tribunali in Naples, Italy.

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

Carole and her pizza from Pizzeria Donna Sofia.

 

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

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

From Roma, with Love:

From Roma, with Love:

Finally.

I have made it to Rome.

And it’s pretty spectacular.

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

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

Thank you, thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

” Trois mecs”

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

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

Until then, I wish you all the best.

From Roma, with Love:

Joe I. De Larauze

Oh, the Places I’ll Go

Oh, the Places I’ll Go

Ciao amici from Roma, Italia,

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

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

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

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

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

Palazzo Giardino Giusti

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

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

Lucerne
Interlaken
Lake Brienz
Giessbach Falls

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Just a few tips when traveling:

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

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

Arrivederci alla prossima,

n.p.

Following My Heart

Following My Heart

Hi Friends,

Deciding whether to study abroad can be a stressful yet an exciting process, but you also have to keep in mind whether you’ll graduate on time and be prepared for grad school (if you plan on going). Especially, if you’re a pre-professional major, like me. If you’re on the fence about taking this opportunity, I hope my study abroad journey sheds some light and gives you the answer that you’re looking for.

For all of you wondering how I decided on studying abroad, well here is the long story short.

Chicago (I’m on the right)

I’ve been asked multiple times throughout the last two years about what I’m studying, where I’m studying and why I chose to study what I did. The answer seems rather simple. My name is Niyati Patel, currently studying Biology and Psychology at Loyola University. However, the real question doesn’t start there. When I say that I’m on the pre-medical track, their faces would drop in shock, like they didn’t believe I’d be able to do it.

 

“Why are you pre-med?”

“You know it’s going to take 12 years for you to finish school, right?”

“Are you ready for this?”

“You better get all A’s…. and study hard for that MCAT!”

 

Hearing a lot of this backlash made me feel a little disheartened about my dream because I felt like I needed someone else’s approval just to gain mine. But in the last two years, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what others believe or think. I know what I want and I just have to keep my head up and work hard.

Loyola had always been my top choice. But before I started my journey at Loyola, I researched things that made Loyola stand out to me. And one of those reasons was the study abroad program. I have always wanted to travel the world, experience different cultures and meet new people. It would be a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, be a little more outgoing, and also meet new friends.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I became serious about planning a study abroad trip to Rome. I was hesitant to apply because of all the pre-requisites I needed to complete for medical school. Being a pre-med student, we’re bound by certain norms. Having to take the pre-requisites in a timely fashion, and basically just STUDYING, STUDYING, STUDYING. But that’s not how I want to be portrayed. I wanted to be DIFFERENT.  A few months before I applied for the study abroad program, I had a conversation with a first year medical student. We came upon the topic of studying abroad and whether it would be a good fit for me. All she said was “Follow your heart. Do what you want to do. Enjoy undergrad as much as you can. That’s all the admission committee is looking for (besides GPA and MCAT scores, of course!).”  This conversation made me feel more motivated to make this trip happen.

So, a few days later, I applied. Got accepted. I still hadn’t told anyone that I was planning on going abroad for a semester. I was cautious to say anything.

 

“What if I get BACKLASHED again?”

“But, I’m only following my heart…”

“And WHEN ELSE am I going to get this opportunity, again?”

 

It wasn’t until the end of my spring semester that I muttered up the courage to tell my roommates. At this point, my cousins didn’t even know. I told my cousins that I was going in July, a month before I was leaving. Even then, they were like…

 

“Why are you going? Do you HAVE to go? Is it ABSOLUTELY necessary?”

“What about the MCAT? Are you sure you’ll graduate on time?”

“Will you still be PRE-MED?”

 

Those five words haunted me right when they came out of their mouths. I knew deep down that medicine was the only thing I wanted to do, so why were they telling me that I wouldn’t be pre-med when I returned? They went on to explain that after people experience traveling and not having to study for a semester, they change their minds. So what if I did? It wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Honestly, being pre-med requires a lot of commitment and dedication not just to school, but also to other extra-curricular activities. I know what my end goal is and don’t need people to tell me otherwise. By me studying abroad it doesn’t change the fact that I still want to go into medicine. Instead, it makes me wonder how I can get involved in medicine while I’m in Rome. Not just that, but I can look for opportunities that would strengthen my skills, whether that’s learning to communicate with people of different cultures or experiencing the different and the changing atmospheres around me and learning how to respond to them. Both of which would be a crucial experience to have once going to medical school and even afterwards.

I’m just following my dream and my heart. I don’t want to leave Loyola in two years with regrets of the opportunities that I didn’t take when I had them.

I still can’t believe that the day is closely approaching of when I’ll be in Rome. It’s so surreal. I am extremely excited to have taken this opportunity to find myself and can’t wait to share my journey studying abroad in Rome as a pre-med student.

Remember:

You may be told NO a thousand times, but you only need one YES to make your dreams come true! If I can do it, so can you!

Hope you stop by next time when I’ll be in Roma, Italia,

Ciao(:

n.p.

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

This weekend we went to visit the beautiful Umbria. Despite the fact that we had to get up at 7am every day, the trip was overall a good introduction to the Italian countryside. On the two hour bus ride there, it was captivating to see the scenery change from urban to less urban, and then to flowing fields and mountains. Everyone did a lot of napping on the trip, which was much needed after going to sleep around 12am and rising at 6am.

Our first stop was the quaint town of Narni. We met up with our tour guides, and then split into groups for a walking tour. The town is beautiful, with little shops and houses. It offered gorgeous views of the valley, and we got to visit a underground place where prisoners were held. After that we boarded the buses again and headed out for lunch.

Valley view from Narni.
The view from the restaurant where we had lunch!

We took a boat to the other side of a small lake where lunch was going to be served. It was situated almost on the water, and was beautiful. Across the lake we could see rows of colorful houses that we associate with seaside towns. I’m beginning to realize that in Italy meals are meant as much a socialization thing as they are meant for the actual meal. We were there for about three hours, in which there was a three course meal. Another thing I have to get used to is the fact that Italians love their fizzy water, and sometimes do not even put out a pitcher of “regular” water.

After that we went headed to the hotel where we would be staying for the weekend. The SLAs divided us up into rooms of either three or four. I had two other people with me, who were roommates back at JFRC and had been for the past two years. My roommate was across the hall with two other girls. That evening we had dinner at the hotel, which was very good. There was always wine served with dinner, and at least three courses.

The weekend continued much in the same fashion. We’d wake up early, have breakfast at the hotel, and then head out for the day’s activities. We visited historical sites in various towns in Umbria, and had meals at local restaurants. My favorite place we went to would have to be the vineyard. It seemed like we drove up and up forever, and finally came to a good sized vineyard on the side of a hill. We got a tour of the facilities, and learned all about the process of making wine. The most surprising thing to me was that it takes 3-5 years after harvest for the wine to be ready to sell. It has to sit for a few years (different depending on whether it is a white or red wine), and then sit in its bottle for another year or two. It’s an extensive process, and although there may be a large spacious and hundreds of grape plants, harvest only takes a little over a week. After the tour we got lunch and then got to just wander and enjoy being at the vineyard.

Le Cimate winery.
Friends at lunch at the winery.

The last day we were in Umbria, it rained all day. We therefor didn’t get to go on the archeological tours that were planned, and instead simply visited the sites and then went to lunch before heading back to JFRC.

We’re back now, and just stared our second week of school. It’s not hard to slip back into my school routine, and I know that in a few days I’m going to miss the freedom of being here without a schedule. However, we have three-day-weekends so we can travel all we want! 

Umbria!

Umbria!

This past weekend was our last bit of orientation to Italy with a trip to Umbria!

Friday morning started bright and early with a bus ride to Narni (the inspiration for Narnia) where we visited an underground monastery and torture room that dated back to the inquisition over 3000 years ago. As a new(ish) Catholic I have never learned about the inquisition and as my friend Christopher put it “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam means something totally different now than it did then.” Visiting this site really shook my perspective of the Catholic Church.

The tour of Narni was concluded by a lovely glass of wine and some snacks and followed by a rather strange lunch on a beautiful island.

bus
Drinks with Francie and Christopher!

Saturday we toured le Cimate vineyard and had a lovely wine tasting and lunch! The rolling hills, sweet grapes and massive barrels are all etched in my mind forever (PC: Melissa C.). Not to mention the yummy rosé that I bought two bottles of….

 

A nice nap on the bus lead us to il Museo delle Mummie e la Chiesetta di S. Stefano where we saw perfectly preserved human remains from the 13th century and a beautiful mass at the ’Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle lead by Father Al (PC: Duncan C.).

Sunday was a bit of a bummer as we were rained out of our planned visit to the Partenza per Carsulae di epoca Romana (Archaeological Site). Instead we visited the (rather small) museum about the site and then made our way to lunch at La Taverna dell’Arco. Finally, we piled on the busses one last time to make our way back to campus and after a weekend of amazing conversations, views, and laughs we all passed out.

Welcome Home!

Welcome Home!

The past 5 days have been a crazy hot mess but I never want to leave Rome! There has been so much information overload  and at times it  stresses me out and makes me really grumpy and not so fun to be around. But then I have moments like this one where I am sitting in the computer lounge with my friends and just jamming to Disney music and talking about life. There are so many places to explore, things to do, and food to eat that I’m getting worried I won’t have time for it all.  Here is a photo montage of the highlights from my first week:

Guinness tasting during the layover in Dublin from the group flight

 

GELATO <3

The Colosseum with friends

McDonald’s in Italy to avoid hanger

Nighttime view from my 4th floor balcony 

First Things First

First Things First

Ciao!

On August 29, the group flight departed from Chicago, headed to Rome with a quick stop in Dublin. We arrived in Rome in the early afternoon, and the first thing I noticed was the heat. It was a little above 90 degrees, but luckily I was clad in my usual t-shirt and shorts. Other people were wearing sweatshirts, which were quickly shed, and jeans. We all had at least two giant bags with us, and 21 unlucky people lost their luggage (later located and returned).

View from the 3rd floor of the residence hall at the JFRC.

Upon arriving at JFRC, we had the next five days mapped out for us for orientation. We picked up our IDs, discovered where the IC, bathrooms, Rinaldo’s, and Mensa were located, settled into our rooms, and got lost countless times as we tried to navigate the layout of the building. The worst thing to discover was that our dorms didn’t have air conditioning! The rooms themselves are cute, with bunk beds, desks, a sink, and plenty of storage. I’m on the 3rd floor, and the first thing I did when I got in there was to open the windows. The 4th floor rooms have small balconies, I’ve been told, and all floors have communal-style bathrooms. As I lived in Simpson LLC for my freshman year, this was a change for me. The first night at JFRC was difficult, simply because all of our rooms felt like a sauna. Luckily, eight days in, the weather has cooled off considerably, and now the high averages 80 degrees.

My first gelato!
Photo of the Castle of St. Angelo, taken on my first outing downtown.

Orientation consisted of a formal welcome by the Dean and other faculty members, survival Italian lessons, and sessions held by the SLA’s (like RA’s) to help us get acclimated to living in Rome. One of the first memorable activities was a scavenger hunt. The SLA’s gave each team a list of sites to visit and take pictures of with point values assigned to each, and set us loose downtown. That trip was a great leaning experience because it was the first time for me using the public bus system and being in downtown Rome. They also organized a trip to the beach in Maccarese, in which we all piled into three charter busses. That day was gorgeously sunny and windy, and the Mediterranean was quite warm. There was a buffet-style lunch, and I sat reading in a chair most of the time.

Beach day in Maccarese!

In addition, they took us to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Both sites summed up in one word: AMAZING. There really is nothing else like it. The Colosseum is huge, and you can’t really imagine it until you’re there. I could feel the history around me as I walked around the arena, imagining thousands of Romans crowding in. The Roman Forum was beautiful in its own way, and offered gorgeous views of the city.

The Roman Forum.

JFRC itself is located in the beautiful, quiet neighborhood of Balduina. It is quite different than the touristy centers of Rome, and was not what I was expecting. Despite that, I’ve come to love it. The neighborhood is constantly up and down, and when going to the grocery store or out for a drink one encounters many hills. But hey, exercise! Most of the area is residential, which offers a great opportunity to interact with the locals and to really put our Italian to the test. When I first arrived, I wondered how in the world I would ever remember how to get anywhere, with the way the streets curve and aren’t on a “standard grid” like Chicago or St. Louis. Now, having walked around, I’m beginning to get a feel for the place (although Google Maps is still my best friend). I look forward to the next three months, and I know I’ll be sad to leave when the time comes. 

Orientation in Rome

Orientation in Rome

Ciao! My first day in Rome was spent partly on planes. The first was traveling across the Atlantic Ocean from Chicago, and the second was traveling from Ireland to Rome. Upon arriving in Rome, the first thing I noticed was temperature. It was 90 degrees which explained why everything looked dry. I was amazed by the types of trees native to Rome, especially the palm trees. I was told that Rome was currently in a drought and resembled weather like that of a tropical climate. Leading up to leaving the United States, I did not do any research on what the weather was going to be. I made the mistake of wearing all my heavy fall-like clothing. This clothing included my north face jacket, a vest, a hat, a scarf, and booties.

This is an image of me standing on the second level of the Colosseum.

I flew with the group-flight and was happy tosee many familiar and new faces. After catching up with many of them, I realized that all our feelings well under similar categories. I was told that as soon as we stepped off the plane into Rome, orientation would begin. This later proved to be true because upon walking into the John Felice Rome Center, our whole entire next five days were mapped out. We had to register and turn in paperwork before heading to our rooms. The more interesting thing I learned about the campus was that it used to be home to nuns. Knowing that really helped me understand the reason for the strange lay out of the building. The worst thing I learned was that there was no AC in the dorms, this was super disappointing because it was 90 degrees outside and felt like 100 degrees inside.

This is an image that shows some of the JFRC campus and the many palm trees. To the left is the cafeteria and above that is the library.

Orientation is planned for a full two weeks. I had meetings with the SLA’s (like RA but graduated students), Director, Dean, and many others. They had two ‘Survival Italian’ sessions we were required to attend. During these sessions, I learned the alphabet and how to pronounce things. My professor told the class that if we knew these two things, we would be about to say any Italian word. After a few days in Rome, I started to be able to easily pronounce words even if I didn’t know what they meant.

The Colosseum and all it’s glory. 

This beauitful view is from an outcrop in The Forum looking over Rome. On the horizon you can see the Vatican.

I had officially finished one week of orientation and my three favorite experiences were going to the Colosseum, the Forum, and the beach day. The Colosseum and Forum could be summed up in one world: WOW. I was so taken aback by the immense size and fact that millions of people had walked on the same stones I was. Thousands of years ago, these two areas were the center of Roman life. Today, they still held a similar way of life but for tourism and the residents of Rome. The beach day was neat because I found out that I was about to swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The water was salty and the strong, everyone had to be careful not to be pulled out too far. We had our own area of the beach rented out for all the students and it resembled a very nice beach resort. There were beach chairs, beach beds, volleyball, and a bar and restaurant.

This is an image that perfectly describes what the area around the JRFC looks life. 

The area that the John Felice Rome Center is in is called Balduina. It is very different than the historic center of Rome. It is very quiet and family friendly, with many stores, food and drink places. Everything all of Rome is in Italian which can be confusing and immediately made Google my best friend. The city isn’t built on a grid and no such thing as ‘block’ exist, it is constantly up and down. I am really enjoying my time at the John Felice Rome Center and in Rome. I have seen so much beauty, art, and history with in the few days that I had been here. I look forward to the many more adventures that I had for the next three months.