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Tag: Study Abroad Rome

Villa Borghese – Art and Luxury

Villa Borghese – Art and Luxury

While reading my travel guide there was a palace that immediately caught my attention. According to the book, Villa Borghese was designed to prove the art of the Renaissance could compete with the classical art of Ancient Rome. I bought my tickets that same day and now I can confidently say the architects and designers fulfilled their vision.

I started my tour by walking around the gardens on my way to the museum. Walking around trees, bushes, fountains, statues, lakes and temples; I encountered some families, people walking their dogs and couples holding hands, giving the gardens a pleasant atmosphere and a sense of community similar to that of public parks in the United States.

        

I finally reached the museum and stepped into the luxurious rooms, beautifully decorated with columns, paintings, stucco sculptures, bronze busts and gorgeous marble centerpieces. Every room had several works of art depicting Greek stories, scenes from Christianism, and landscapes amongst other themes; giving each space an individual identity. Each piece must have taken such detail and care that my appreciation for artists greatly increased after the visit.

            

The best known statues are displayed as centerpieces in the rooms by the entrance. They are the Rape of Proserpina, Apollo and Daphne, and the David. The light installations and pillars let you appreciate the beauty of the marble and the details all around the sculpture. These depictions with muscular men, flowing fabric, and intricate details are beyond impressive and alone make the visit to the museum worth a trip.

   

After touring the two story house filled with art from the mosaics in the floors to the ceiling frescos, I headed back to the gardens for a snack and after walking around I went back to campus. I spent the bus ride imagining what it would be like to grow up in a house like that, surrounded by art and luxury with ample time to explore their secrets and ponder on their meaning. I love studying in Rome and getting the opportunity to witness all these works of art.

Exploring the Pantheon and the Church of Saint Ignatius

Exploring the Pantheon and the Church of Saint Ignatius

Last week I took a bus to the city center to explore the area in between classes. I visited the Pantheon, Minerva Square and The Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

I started by visiting the Pantheon, a Roman temple, originally built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa and then rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around 120 AD. It was later repurposed as a Christian Church dedicated to all martyrs. Its dome inspired the Florence cathedral dome, the dome of Saint Peters, and the US Capitol dome in Washington.  The oculus on top lights up the building and the altars along the walls acting as the only source of light.

     

Along the walls are a series of altars and tomb stones added in the 1700s once the temple was turned into a Christian Church. They were commissioned by Pope Clement XI and designed by Alessandro Specchi.

The main altar is decorated with gold and bronze elements as well as mosaics.

Statues of San Rasso and Saint Anastasius adorn its sides.

The Chapel of the Annunciation with a fresco painted by Melozzo da Forli.

Tomb of Umberto I, second king of Italy.

Tomb of Raphael, an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance.

Tomb of Victor Emmanuel II, father of Italy.

Afterwards I kept walking around the Pantheon and found the square of Minerva through an alleyway behind the Pantheon. I keep getting surprised whenever I find these churches, piazzas and obelisks around the city. Unfortunately the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva was closed but I might go back and visit it later.

         

I kept walking and after looking at Google Maps I found the piazza of Saint Ignatius of Loyola was nearby. It felt like a fun coincidence and since I am a Loyola student I thought it would be a great idea to go inside and explore.

 

 

 

After entering the Church I immediately turned to look at the ceiling and I saw this beautiful painting, depicting Saint Ignatius accompanied by angels. It includes an optical illusion of height and looking into the infinite sky.

 

 

 

 

 

I then walked to the front approaching the main altar, painted during the late 1600s and early 1700s. The paintings illustrate key moments in Saint Ignatius’s life and his vocation as well as the foundation of the Society of Jesus.

 

 

 

The altars and tombs around the main area dedicated to Jesuit saints. They are decorated with impressive marble statues, golden details, frescoes and spiraling columns. Each altar has a small dome on top with images of the sky and angels, including a light source illuminating the paintings.

                     

I really liked this church, I loved all the detail put into the structure and the way a building itself can embody and honor the life and legacy of Saint Ignatius.

Then I continued walking around until it was time to go back to campus. I enjoyed simply walking around Rome without a clear destination, finding obelisks, fountains, and monuments around the city. There is an undeniable charm to a city filled with so much art and culture at every turn.

Orientation Week

Orientation Week

Man, I can’t remember the last time I was as exhausted as I was during orientation week. It was really fun though, meeting a bunch of new people, exploring our new home, and learning about the new school. Here’s a little recap of how the week went!

– Tuesday/Wednesday –

I flew out of the United States from Newark airport, and there were a *ton* of college students on that flight. There were people heading to John Felice like me, both from Loyola Chicago and from other schools like Marquette or Xavier, people from Loyola Maryland heading to their campus in Rome called John Cabot, and even people from an architecture school in Brooklyn! The families just trying to get home must have been so confused.

My flight was the first one in, we landed bright and early at 8 am. We got shown to our rooms and registered, and I met some pretty cool people. My roommate, Cosette, came in in the afternoon, and she was super nice, we got along from the get-go! It was a very long day on very little sleep, but it was capped off by a walk down to a really good pizza place with all of the students, plus Tiramisu for dessert.

 

The main statue/seating area in the courtyard on campus
Walking through the courtyard with Emma and Claudia
First Italian pizza at our community dinner on Wednesday night!

By this time, I had already met a lot of great people: two sophomores like me from Loyola Chicago, Malena and Claudia, who are both studying nursing; Emma, a junior from Marquette; Anisha, a senior finishing out her college career at Loyola here in Italy with us, just to name a few. Wednesday night we decided to go downtown to explore some places that are popular among students, and got to see the Colosseum at night which was so cool!

The Colosseum at night where my friends and I ended up after exploring Wednesday night.

– Thursday –

On Thursday we had the first two orientation meetings and went to a little café to explore and get coffee in between. Afterward, we wandered around our new neighborhood, Balduina, and found the grocery store near us. That evening we had a walking tour of the neighborhood, getting more in-depth information from the Rome Start kids, who are Freshmen that spend their whole first year of college at the JFRC campus instead of in Chicago!

– Friday –

This was our first day trip as a school! We went to a town about an hour and a half outside of Rome called Caprarola to visit Filla Farnese, a palace built in 1556 by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. This cardinal finished building what his grandfather, Pope Paul III had started, and it is a beautiful structure that showcases Mannerist architecture and decorations. We had a guided tour of it and the gardens, and the trip was finished out with a community lunch at a nearby restaurant that had a great view of the town and mountains nearby.

A fresco on the ceiling of one of the rooms in Villa Farnese
The view of the village of Caprarola and the mountains in the distance

 

View of the back of the palace from the gardens, which are in traditional Italian style with a lot of “boxy” bushes

– Saturday –

A fountain at Piazza Navona, one of the most famous Piazzas in all of Rome
The fountain at the bottom of the Spanish steps, which is still fed by an ancient Roman aqueduct from thousands of years ago!

The biggest highlight of Saturday was our guided walking tour of Rome, we got to learn a lot about the history of many famous places in downtown Rome that I will definitely be going back to over the course of this semester.

We started at the Spanish Steps, and made our way down through Rome to the Pantheon, seeing cool plazas that had Medival, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture all in one place. Medival is plainer with few windows and no decoration, while Renaissance style has a certain brick pattern and more windows, and Baroque is super detailed and extravagant. It was super cool to see juxtaposed!

Friends at dinner in Piazza Navona– we stayed downtown after our walking tour
Malena, Anisha, Claudia, Emma, and I at the Trevi Fountain

 

 

– Sunday –

Me posing outside of the Vatican

Sunday was a semi-free day, that my friends and I capitalized on by going downtown. We actually decided to walk instead of taking the bus, figuring that we would be able to get to know the area and see more that way. We ended up walking over 9 miles, but it was for sure worth it.

Walking south of Balduina, we wound up outside of Vatican city after about 45 minutes. We were able to go in for free, to both the city and Saint Peter’s Basilica, and even caught the end of Pope Francis’ Sunday service out in the plaza! We continued to walk into downtown Rome and found a great little sandwich place a few blocks away from the Colosseum. We finished out our trip by wandering around the Roman Forum, looking at the ruins, and sitting down to read near a band playing on the street, listening to the music and reading books, soaking in the sun (which we definitely wouldn’t be seeing if we were back in Chicago) and the sights.

 

 

 

Overall, it was a very busy and tiring week, but filled with adventure and fun as well, and I was so excited to see what the next weeks would look like.

I have more pictures on my Instagram for this semester, @lauren_goesabroad !

Renaissance Art and History – A day trip to Villa Farnese

Renaissance Art and History – A day trip to Villa Farnese

As a part of our orientation we went to Caprarola to visit Villa Farnese. The town is surrounded by volcanic hills and the view of the region from the entrance of the villa is breathtaking.

Palazzo Farnese

View from the entrance of Villa Farnese

The house was commissioned by Alessandro Farnese, also known as Pope Paul III. It was designed by a team of architects, artists, scholars and members of the family to represent the power and accomplishments of the Farnese family.

After entering the reception hall and walking to the courtyard, along the walls you can find paintings depicting the coat of arms of other powerful families the Farnese were allied with, demonstrating their influence in Europe.

Courtyard
Painted arch in the courtyard

Then, as you go up the Royal Stairs, you can see depictions of the Farnese’s many territories, these beautiful landscapes reinforced the idea of the Farnese as powerful and influential. In addition, the dome above the staircase includes the Farnese’s coat of arms with 6 lily flowers.

Royal Staircase
Dome above the stairs

Entering the room on the second floor you can see the Loggia of Hercules, a room depicting the story of how Hercules brought water to the land of the Farnese family and made it fertile, providing food and work for its citizens.

Fountain depicting the abundance of water in the region
Hercules providing water to the people of Caprarola

Then you step into the chapel built by Federico Zuccari after his brother Taddeo Zuccari, who was originally working on the project, passed away. There is an alter and in the center of its dome there is an image of Christ creating the world.

Altar
Chapel’s dome

Next you can enter the Sala de Fasti Farnesiani where big paintings adorn the walls depicting scenes of Farnese family members marrying into European royalty, the role of the family in the war against protestants and their participation in the Council of Trent.

          

   

Walking onto the following rooms you encounter Alessandro Farnese’s living spaces. He studied, meditated, and slept surrounded by art, carefully curated to guide him as he acted to enact God’s will on Earth. In these rooms scenes from mythology and characters from the Renaissance are intertwined to show the appreciation of past and present ideals and how they complement each other.

Room of the Philosophers
Room of Aurora
Room of Dreams

Continuing onto the shared spaces we can find the dining room, decorated with motifs of penance designed to prevent the gluttony and greed often seen in wealthy families of the time. 

Dinning Room Ceiling

Next to this room we can encounter the Room of Judgement where Alessandro Farnese took on the role of judge for the community. This room has depictions of King Salomon, who represents fair leader and an example of righteousness for Christian judges.

Room of Judgement Ceiling

Afterwards you can find the Room of the World depicting several maps of the continents along the walls and the portraits of Christopher Columbus, Americo Vespucci, Hernando Cortes and other Europeans who explored the American continent. It also contains a map of Italy and a map of Judea.  

Map of the World

Finally we visited the Room of the Angels where meetings were often held due to its incredible acoustics. 

                              

After exiting the villa we continued onto the gardens. The Lower Gardens are characterized by hedges in geometrical shapes and rose gardens. 

                        

Then we walked through the chestnut forest to the Upper Gardens decorated with statues of the Citizens of Caprarola at work and fountains often visited during the summer. 

                        

                         

I really enjoyed learning about the history of the family and imagining what life was like during the 1500s and 1600s. The art and sculptures were very impressive and walking through them felt magical. I look forward to visiting more villas in the region. After our tour of Villa Farnese we had a traditional Italian meal in Caprarola and got on a bus back to campus.  

Love at First Sight – An Evening Stroll around Ancient Rome

Love at First Sight – An Evening Stroll around Ancient Rome

I cannot believe I finally landed in Rome! These few days have been full of adventures and I am already starting to discover everything this city has to offer. From architectural wonders and monuments to small cafes and gelaterias, there are opportunities to learn about Italian culture, view works of art, and embrace a new lifestyle everywhere.

On my second night in Rome I joined some of the Rome Start students (who have been on campus since September 2021) for a evening stroll around Ancient Rome. Since they are more familiar with the area and some of them took a class on Art in Rome last semester, they guided us through the historical sites. We took a bus from the JFRC to the Vatican City where we saw Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Obelisk at Saint Peter’s Square.

We continued down Piazza Pio XII through the Vittorio Emanuele II bridge and to our left we saw Saint Angelo’s Castle and the Bridge of Angels.

After a few more blocks we found Piazza Navona and the Four River fountain.

Then we continued walking until we reached the Pantheon.

After spending some time in the piazza we headed for Trevi Fountain.

We continued walking south to the Altar of the Fatherland, the Roman Forum and eventually the Coliseum.

Then we took a bus back to campus.

I was really surprised by how many historical sites you could see in one night. Walking around the streets of Rome was lovely. Even residential buildings in the city center have beautiful architecture and you can find beauty in every corner. I look forward to visiting these sites again to explore the treasures inside and learn more about the history, culture, art and politics of the Roman world.

Ciao, Roma!

Ciao, Roma!

It has been a little over a week since I arrived at the John Felice Rome Center, and I still can’t stop pinching myself. From the aroma of oven-fired pizza on every cobblestone street to the blooming olive groves lining Via Massimi, I am starting to see why they say living in Italy is la dolce vita. 

This past week of Orientation has been planned minute by minute by our trusted Student Life Assistants to give us a crash course in Roman life. We’ve toured the Colosseum, splurged on a gelateria crawl, navigated public transportation, relaxed on the beach, and consumed bottles and bottles of wine (thanks Loyola) to toast the beginning of the semester. This weekend we had the opportunity to tour the Italian region of Umbria, and became aquatinted with the whimsical towns of Narni, Spoleto, Foglino, and Citta di Pieve. Sometime during lunch overlooking Castiglione del Lago, or wine tasting at a countryside vineyard, or even reenacting a Roman battle we grew from classmates to friends as we learned about the ancient history of these fairytale-esque Umbrian escapes.

With the commencement of Orientation on Wednesday upon the Mass of the Holy Spirit, I do have to admit that I’m excited to explore Rome on my own terms, and learn more about exactly what is la dolce vita (with the help of gelato, of course).

Three Weeks in Rome

Three Weeks in Rome

Ciao amici! I have been living in Rome for the past three weeks and it has been quite a ride! Every single day there are new towns to be explored, amazing new foods to try, and incredible people to meet. So far these past three weeks have been completely unforgettable, and here is an update on how things are going while studying abroad in Rome, Italy.

Week 1

At first, it was hard for me to adjust to my new life living in Rome. When I arrived, I found out that I would be in a single room because my roommate had dropped out of Loyola’s Rome program. This caught me off guard because I have shared a room with someone my whole life; my younger sister at home and a roommate in college. The first night was different but now I love having a nice quiet place to myself after a long day of socializing. The second day here, I met some of the most genuine people and I became friends with them very quickly. Our school organized a scavenger hunt all throughout downtown Rome for everyone to participate in. I went with my new friends, Anna, Maddie, Maria, Ashley, Jen, Cecily, and Riley but as soon as we stepped off the bus we were lost. This was a blessing in disguise, because as we were walking around the city we stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon which was an amazing surprise. The next day, our school spent a day at the Colosseum and The Roman Forum. Both of these historical sites completely took my breath away, and I couldn’t believe that the sites that I have always seen in magazines and in movies were right in front of me. On Sunday, our school took a class trip to Maccarese beach and I could not wait to take my first swim in the sea. However, my excitement quickly faded as my two friends, Maria and Jen, both got stung by Italian jellyfish as we were all swimming. Despite this, everything was completely fine after they realized the lifeguard who would be helping them looked like an Italian Zac Efron. As the day came to an end, our extremely sunburnt class made our way back to campus, as we all needed plenty of rest for our first day of classes the following day.  

Week 2

The first week of classes were very laid back since it was syllabus week and everyone was still getting to know each other. It is so nice having class at the John Felice Rome Center, because everything is in the same building which means I can literally roll out of bed five minutes before my class starts and still be on time. The week went by very quickly, since we don’t have class on Fridays here which is the most amazing thing ever. On Friday, our school had a class trip to Umbria, Italy. When we arrived, I was astonished by how gorgeous the Italian countryside is in person. There were cobblestone streets everywhere, huge hills and mountains all around us, and cute little churches on every street. Our school took a boat ride to a small island where we got to try traditional mediterranean seafood. The food was interesting to say the least, but I am happy that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried some new food that I would never usually eat. The next day was by far my favorite day, as our class took a trip to Le Climate do Montefalco which was a beautiful winery in the countryside. We got to take a tour of the whole vineyard and taste some of the different types of wine that were made at the vineyard. After the vineyard, we went to a small village in the mountains where we toured an old church and a mummy cemetery.  Everyone in my group was completely freaked out by the mummies, but I thought it was fascinating because it reminded me of The Catacombs in Paris that I went to in high school. After the museum, we had the option to attend mass of to explore the town. I originally wanted to attend the mass but my plans changed as I saw that the last bus left without me. Although I was bummed, it was a blessing in disguise because me and my friend Anna decided to hike in the hills and we found an old castle. The castle wa so beautiful even though it was damaged and falling apart. It had the best view of the whole entire town and it was a moment that I will never forget. After that, our class went back to the hotel where we had an amazing dinner of traditional pasta bolognese. The last day in Umbria, a huge storm came which resulted in some of the plans being canceled. Although this was a bummer, I was happy that it was raining because Italy has been in a severe drought for almost four months. The day seemed like it lasted forever, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the campus which is a place I now consider my home.

View from old castle

Wine at vineyard

Week 3 

After a long exhausting weekend of traveling in Umbria, I was excited to be back at school and I couldn’t wait to start exploring more of Rome. On Wednesday, our school had the Mass of the Holy Spirit to wrap up the end of orientation. The mass took place at one of the most beautiful churches that I have ever seen in my life called Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. The interior of this church was some of the most intricate architecture and as the mass was going on, I couldn’t help but gaze all around the church and admire its beauty. After mass, we went out to dinner and I got to try the infamous pear pasta that everyone always talks about. It was one of the best things that I have ever tried and I can’t wait to go back and get more! The week came to a close and my friends and I took our first planned trip of the semester to the Amalfi Coast. We had to wake up on Friday at 5:30 in the morning in order to catch our train which left at 7. Although we barely slept and were extremely tired, it was all worth it when we got to the Amalfi Coast and saw how beautiful it was. My friends and I rented an Airbnb that was located on a lemon farm and was incredibly gorgeous. Our first day, we took a bus to a town called Positano which was personally my favorite part of the whole trip. When we arrived, we went out to eat and a restaurant that had the best view of the whole town, and I ate some amazing cream pasta. After lunch, we explored the town and went shopping where we bought limoncello, gifts for our friends and family, and a ton of new clothes that all put a huge dent in my bank account. As the day started to come to a close, we went to Positano’s main beach where we swam in the sea, watched the sunset, and saw a small local concert. Although it was the most amazing day, our bus ride home definitely put a damper on my friends and I. Everyone got extremely car sick because our bus driver was driving very fast and the roads on the Amalfi Coast are all hairpin turns which we are definitely not used to back in Chicago. Although that wasn’t the best experience, the end to our day was perfect because we got takeout gelato and pizza. The next day we had to wake up early again in order to take a ferry ride to the island of Capri. When we got to the island, I was amazed at how perfect the town looked with the gigantic cliffs and the crystal clear blue water. We had lunch and then took a private boat tour for two hours that I really enjoyed, but my friends did not since the waves were huge that day and it reminded us of being car sick the previous day. After the boat ride, we went to Anacapri where we took a chair lift to the highest point on the whole entire island. This was my favorite part of the day, because the view was incredible, as you could look out and see the other islands in the distance as well as look down at the whole entire town of Capri. After this, we went back to our airbnb and got the same takeout pizza from the night before because it was too good to pass up. On our last day, we explored the town of Sorrento and went on a shopping spree again. It was so much fun to bargain with all of the street vendors and get some of the best deals ever (I got an Italian leather purse for just 25 euros)! After a day of shopping, we departed on our long journey back to Rome. Although the Amalfi Coast was amazing, I couldn’t wait to get back to campus and be at the place that I now call home. These past three weeks have been full of amazing adventures that I will never forget, and I cannot wait what the future of me living in Rome has in store. Arrivederci!

Town of Positano

Canonization Celebration: Benvenuta, Santa Teresa of Calcutta!

Canonization Celebration: Benvenuta, Santa Teresa of Calcutta!

Never before have I been so excited to wake up at 3:30 A.M.

Fully self-aware of my tendency to wake up at a snail’s pace, I knew that I required some moral support to leave the John Felice Rome Center by 4:00 A.M. So, I spent the previous night sleeping on the floor of my new friends’ Stephanie and Brenna’s room. (Oddly enough, I got better sleep than they did because the cool floor dulled the intense Italian heat. Santa Teresa was definitely looking out for me!)

With drooping eyelids but soaring spirits, our small but mighty group of devotees boarded the N6 bus downtown to the Vatican, where we waited (somewhat) patiently with thousands of other faithful people for the guards to grant us entry to Mother (now Saint!) Teresa’s canonization. These people represented all ages, ethnicities, occupations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and other identifiers. The electrifying passion in the air was almost tangible!

Canonization Line

Only one other time in my life have I felt this way.

As a Washington, D.C. area native, I was immediately reminded of the two Obama Presidential Inaugurations I attended in 2008 and 2013. Landmark moments in history—the swearing in of the first Black U.S. President and the canonization of a saint–only occur a few times in a lifetime. Compared to the millions of people these events affect emotionally, only a marginal (lucky) few get the opportunity to witness them physically. You have to be in the right place, at the right time.

Back in January 2009, it was a special time to be an African American living in D.C. Now in September 2016, it’s an equally special time to be studying abroad at a Catholic university in Rome!

Admittedly, some of the less glamorous aspects of the Inauguration bled into the Canonization. Sure, there were some aggressive line-cutters (CAUTION: Nuns have VERY sharp elbows!), funky outdoor restrooms with ridiculously long lines, and extreme weather conditions (the frigid Washington winter and smoldering Italian summer).

Yet, these small nuisances were overshadowed exceedingly by the overwhelming feeling of joy among the crowd! In line for the Canonization, our group waited nearby a family of Spaniards singing their hearts out with hymns. Just like at the Inauguration, the Canonization was full of nothing but sleepy eyes and good vibes. Everyone couldn’t be happier to stand outside and wait at 5 A.M…and we still had 5 ½ hours to go before the Mass even began!

SG3

After going through the rigorous (but colorfully suited!) Swiss Guard security, our group power walked as close as we could get with our tickets*. With the sunrise came thousands of more worshippers, some waving huge flags to represent their various countries. Perhaps the most frequently spotted flags, deservedly so, were the Albanian flag from Santa Teresa’s homeland, and the Indian flag from the country where she conducted most of her ministry and her first recorded miracle.

*By the way, the tickets were free of charge. This demonstrates how charitable and gracious the Church can be, even though these hot tickets were coveted to the point of Hamilton status!

At this moment, I realized the defining factor that made this Canonization different, and decidedly more profound, than the Inauguration of a Presidential “first”. Let’s look beyond the obvious factors of the U.S. Capitol versus the Vatican, the political versus the religious, or even the American versus the global. What separated this Canonization from that Inauguration was the fact that, despite any individual person’s political leanings, ALL human beings recognize INHERENT GOODNESS. None of us spectators were on the council of Cardinals that approved Santa Teresa for sainthood, and yet, by faith of our internal meter of morality, we INSTINCTIVELY KNEW that she belonged among the saints.

None of us checked a box…just our hearts. None of us had a say, but our souls answered for us.

I couldn’t help but cry behind my sunglasses. I will never forget this day.

Vatican Santa Teresa

Lido

Lido

Rome for the weekend.

This past weekend a few of my friends and I stayed in Rome. We explored the city and spent the day soaking in the sun. We got to relax by the Tiber near Castel Sant’Angelo and have a picnic. Literally we bought fresh cheese, wine, and bread and had ourselves a romantic little picnic for Valentines Day.

To top it off there was a little man playing his guitar and singing… It was like we were in a movie. I absolutely loved it.

The next day I decided to branch out a little and try something new. I hopped on the train after breakfast and headed to the beach. I jumped on the train to Lido and spent the most beautiful relaxing day wandering around. The train that took me to Lido was called “freccia mare” literally: Sea Train. Omg… I was in love. So I spent the day around this little sea side town.

This weekend was nice because I made memories, simple memories, had so much fun, and everything I did was unplanned. It’s nice knowing that you don’t have to go to another country every weekend to take full advantage of studying abroad. Especially here in Rome.

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photo 2 photo photo 1

Nella Citta Eterna

Nella Citta Eterna

Whoever said that taking a semester abroad is like being on vacation in college was slightly mistaken.

Although being surrounded by so much art, history, culture and great looking Italians has its perks, the workload that defines being a college student does not falter while abroad. Of course you do have on-site classes to look forward to which are necessary in order to fully understand what you are studying at the moment (in the case that the class pertains specifically to Rome/Italy). The ability to conquer sightseeing and enough study time is a fine art you will come to master during your semester abroad.

As for me, it truly is no lie that time flies when you are having fun. For a minute I could have sworn I had been here for barely two weeks and before I knew it has already been a month! I mean I know time is relative and all but could I be having that much fun or does the world turn faster in Europe? So far I have throughly explored my new hometown, the Eternal City, visited the Amalfi Coast for our orientation trip and went to one of the world’s smallest nations with one of the highest GDP per capita for a lovely party at the Italian Ambassador’s House in Luxembourg.

My advice to future J-Forcers: Definitely take time to plan trips out before arriving here in order to fully take advantage of your time here but leave room for spontaneous trips. You never know what life has in store for you. Plan on bringing clothes that aren’t so snug. Whilst living in Italy, it is NOT a good time to try starting a diet and I don’t care how many five-star Italian restaurants you have been to. It will never be the same as eating Italian food in Italy. Not to mention the fact that gelato is addictive and you will crave it at least twice a week. Enjoy the experience and don’t limit yourself. Also if you are set on not gaining weight here (HA), do plan on living at the Zone Hotel. That twenty minute uphill walk is no joke but the breakfast makes it totally worth it.

That’s all my advice for now. This weekend I’m off to London for Fashion Week so that should make for an interesting time. Until then it’s homework city for me.