The GoGlobal Blog

Tag: Study Abroad Rome

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.

B

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.

The Vatican

The Vatican

I got to see the Pope.

Wait… what.

On Wednesday Loyola cancelled classes and got all JFRC students tickets to see Papa Francesco.

5 AM and my friends and I are beginning our 3 mile walk to the Vatican in the pouring rain. What time does the papal audience start? 10:00 AM. It’s ok though. When we reach the walls of the Vatican we are one of the first in line, which means we got the best seats. It paid off because Papa Francesco literally rode directly by us. All the while though, little old ladies and nuns became suddenly vicious and started throwing elbows to see the Pope up close…. Understandably so.

He spoke in 6-7 different languages, blessing the audience, our families, and any articles brought with us.

He truly is a contemporary Pope. When he passed a group of Loyola students, they got him to throw up some deuces for them. Talk about a cool Pope.

That’s it for this post.

B

get-attachment-1.aspx
Papa Francesco
Paris, Versailles

Paris, Versailles

This past weekend my friends and I hopped on a plane to the city of love <3 

Getting to Paris was definitely an adventure in itself. It began when the night before we were supposed to leave, we received an email from Ryanair (the most elite airline in Europe) that our flight had been cancelled. Why? Because the entire airport (Ciampino) decided to go on strike for the day. No biggie, Italians on strike is nothing new. I mean even today, they decided that tomorrow they are going on strike so none of the buses will be running. Except this is a huge inconvenience because we have the Papal Audience tomorrow which means my roommate and I will have to walk to the Vatican at 5 in the morning tomorrow. NBD.

So anyway, 3 of my friends were able to rebook their flights for free for the following day. But then there were two of us who couldn’t. Knowing the Italians are pretty chill, we decided to just show up at the airport (without tickets or even a reservation) and beg them to let us on the flight…

After explaining our situation to the ticket lady, she got her supervisor and the fun began (all of this took place around 5 in the morning). The supervisor came and promised us he would do everything he could to get us on the flight with our friends. He rushed us through security and within 5 minutes we were by the gates…. What.

And to top it off, one of my friends forgot she had brought her expensive lotions that were over 3 oz. But no worries, she made friends with one of the workers and she got her through security, cutting everyone in line and even stopping the x-ray machine so she wouldn’t have her lotions confiscated.

It was definitely an experience I’m never going to forget.

So that was the basic summary, details were left out that you probably would not believe unless you had been there. But hey, we made it to Paris!

Side-note: the French men are by far the the most polite, handsome, and respectful.

B

Naples, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii

Naples, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii

One thing I learned over this weekend was that Loyola will NOT let you starve. All of that walking too and from the Zone was pretty much all for naught. Literally, I don’t think there was one point during our entire stay this weekend that I was hungry.

So yes, Loyola does Wine and Dine you before raising your tuition.

We were taken to see temples and shrines and mountains. The place I want to talk about most though was the Amalfi Coast. Here’s a picture just so you can see why I am dying to talk about it.

View from my wonderful hotel room

So we were taken to this gorgeous hotel on the seaside and I fell in love.

That night we ventured down the mountain to a little town where the nightlife wasn’t too shabby. We wandered, just as college students do, and we found this amazing little hole in the wall. We all piled in there. It was like a Moroccan themed getaway. Instead of chairs, pillows were piled along the walls and mirrors surrounded us.

It was perfect since Loyola took over the place and it was fun to simply hang out with our friends in a close way. We literally sat crossed legged around tables. Talk about taking in the culture…

The next day we visited a buffalo farm which was probably the best thing ever. The buffalo were allowed to do whatever they wanted and they had little massage machines for them. They also got to listen to Mozart all day and they decided when they wanted to be milked. They were some pretty bourgie buffalo.

Our last day there we got to visit a winery next to Mount Vesuvius, where Leo and Bradley Cooper visited. I tasted some of the best red wine I’ve ever had and then we headed down to Pompeii. We ate at a restaurant near Pompeii and then headed home.

Before heading home though, I ran off with a few friends and we explored Pompeii a little more. I mean, we ate in Pompeii so why could we not see it?? We got to see some amazing sights and really see the damage caused by Mount Vesuvius. It was truly an experience.

Pompeii ruins

Loyola, kudos. You did well

B

Rome

Rome

I could do a clichè post about how beautiful Italy is so far, or how excited I am to start my semester abroad here. But I’m sure you already know this. I’m going to give you an honest opinion on my first few hours here at the JFRC (later in the night finding out people here have coined it “J-FORCE.”)

I walked into my new campus lugging two suitcases after spending a whopping 80€ on a cab (WELCOME TO EUROPE WHERE THE DOLLAR IS WORTHLESS). Then after registering I, and 5 other friends, dragged our bags approximately 1 kilometer to The Zone Hotel, which is where I decided to live this semester. After turning a 20 minute walk into a 40-45 minute long struggle of avoiding pot holes and dog droppings (which we quickly learned Italians do not use doggy bags…) and helping my fellow “Zoners” with their luggage, we arrived.

Now this, you could say, isn’t the most inviting way to experience my new life. But I beg to differ.

When told in depth, it’s actually quite pathetic how hard we made the moving in process, but it also makes a memorable story.

That same night when the rest of my friends arrived we took to the streets of Rome and had an interesting experience. Making our way to Campo de Fiori, which is the “American hangout,” we got to see the Pantheon and other buildings that looked really historically important and awesome.

We make it to The Abbey, which you could easily say is the italian version of P’Cos. YAY!

When we walked in, everyone from Loyola was there. As a recommendation to other students who may or may not read this, and are considering studying abroad here in Rome, The Abbey is comforting because of your fellow J-Force students around you, but you cannot experience “real” Italians here. Most of the guys who hang around the American pubs are total creeps.

So we bar hopped a little, stopped to get a pizzette from our new favorite version of Star Grill, then grabbed a taxi and headed back to our little home on the hill.

So welcome to Italy Britanny!

So far, the Italian men are creepy; if you ever get lost, just keep walking uphill and you’ll eventually find your home; and get ready to get some gladiator legs from walking 20 minutes UPHILL everyday!

But hey, its just the first day!

B

First Night: Pantheon
Best friends taking over Rome (clichè, I’m aware)