The GoGlobal Blog

Month: January 2012

Fabulous Firenze

Fabulous Firenze

With a train strike threatening our weekend, we started to picture simply staying here for some time to explore Rome, and become more acquainted with our surroundings, but… things turned out even better! Even with the strike, we made it out of the station and made our way up north in a little bit over an hour. Florence is truly inspiring. The streets make you want to go back in time to the Renaissance and play a part in the circle of ideas and artistic inspiration.

Popular sights to see are The Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, David etc., although, if you are planning a girls weekend as we did, the fashion museums are a must! We visited the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum and went to the Costume Institute at Palazzo Pitti. I learned a lot about fashion history, and from a new perspective really looked at fashion as art. Whether you are looking at a beautiful dress from the 20s that has been completely hand beaded, or shoes designed by a man who had an individual artistic and personally customized perspective on each pair he designed, we were awestruck. The city alone will blow you away with it’s beauty. It is much cleaner and friendlier than Rome, and because it is smaller, we were able to absorb the culture and atmosphere over a weekend.

When we weren’t doing the typical sightseeing activities, we enjoyed just being girls in a city where shopping is abundant. Might have spent a little more than I was planning, but this is of course the place to do it. Leather! That’s all I have to say, go ahead and splurge on a wallet, shoes, or handbag. You will appreciate the quality and have it forever. If you are not planning on spending too much head to the market and bargain for a possibly lesser quality material than you would find in a store, but of course it’s still worth it. It was so fun to also be able to eat great food and escape the cafeteria to order everything until our hearts were content. We found a few more affordable restaurants in a travel book and enjoyed every bite. On Friday night we met some other Americans at our restaurant and ended up spending the rest of the evening getting to know people in different, more mature company. It was a great experience to hang out with people who find themselves in the same place as you, but they can teach you a bit about life from a more experienced adult perspective and we had a ton of fun, actually found ourselves trying to keep up with them! ha ha.

I will definitely have to return to this city one day with someone special. Florence is relaxing in a way. You can opt for a lovely meal and chill night with wine, or go out and get crazy. But to really get the most out of your experience, I suggest you save the partying for other cities and just in bask in the grace of this city.


Some Like it Hot

Some Like it Hot

January 31, 2012

Ciao!  True to schedule I’m writing you on a Tuesday morning procrastinating the impeding homework of the day.  But who cares about that part anyway?  What is really swimming through my mind this morning is Ferragamo, Gucci, Emilio Pucci, and Prada.  Yes, I am in love with Italian fashion history.  I have purposely morphed most of my class

Ferragamo shoe worn by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot

projects into discovering the effect of fashion on political and social culture and have never had more fun researching.  This past weekend I experienced one of the most creative fashion centers of the world…Florence.  Leather and fur markets, dreamy department stores, and couture window displays epitomized my trip.  Unluckily, or luckily depending on whom you ask (*ahem* dad) I had no credit card with me on this trip.  To say the least, I will be going back with Visa in hand, but regardless I was able to scrounge the well worth it 5 Euro to explore the wonders of the Ferragamo Museo.  I am inspired.  Fascism and its effect on modernist art and innovation in the world of fashion were evident in this beautifully crafted museum.  I did not get the chance to check out the brand new Gucci museum though, just giving me one more reason to go back to Florence.

The Duomo in Florence

I stared at the majesty of the Duomo in Florence while treating myself to a gelato.  It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings I have ever seen.  The colors and attention to detail make it a splendid center of town.   Just beyond the Ferragamo museum, the Arno River and its decadent bridges left me even more in love with Florence.   The food was true to Italian gusto although I have a guilt ridden secret to share.  I did in fact eat dinner at the Hard Rock Caffe in Florence. I know! Awful! But, if I didn’t get some American food pronto I was fearful of pizza and pasta override!  Needless to say I will not be quoted in the next Food and Wine about the fine cuisine of Florence but hey, the burger was damn good.



Oh Lunes

Oh Lunes

Buenos Noches! Ah it is finally my favorite time of the day, when you can finally relax and lay in bed after a long day.

Today was just another long, tiring Monday in Santiago consisting of waking up around 8 am to the construction 10 feet from my apartment, stray dogs yelping, fighting and mating extremely loudly and my host madre knocking on my door with the exact same tray of cereal, yogurt and fruit juice saying ” ocho y media mi niña, buenos dias!” Ah de mi…

Then I was off to my 45 minute transit to the university, a 15 minute walk to the Metro stop and then a 30 minute Metro ride, Alberto Hurtado reminds me a little bit of Loyola how it is so beautiful but nestled in a not so nice part of town. There are usually a spattering of homeless people, litter and homeless dogs galore outside of the university but inside, it is so beautiful! With brick walls, large oak tree INSIDE the cafeteria, palm trees galore, fountains and such great architecture! Oh the irony of Catholicism.

We had 4 hours of class today, then we walked over to Avenue Brasil for lunch, I had Pesto Pizza and it was delicious although not the best that is for sure, hard to compete when my mom at home is the master of homemade pizza 🙂

I would be lying horribly if I said I didn’t miss the food at home, sorry Chile you just don’t compare to my mom’s cooking.

We spent almost 4 hours just sitting at a table outside planning out our trip that is coming up in 10 days! It’s crazy thinking about it, we are going to buy the plane tickets and all of the bus tickets tomorrow after school after even more planning! Who knew that planning a 3 week vacation could be so complicated. But, once it is all set in stone I will let ya’ll know where we are going! Let’s just say..get ready to be extremely envious.

On Sunday my friend Teresa and I went hiking for a few hours and ended up talking about my experiences in Africa and what I want to do with my life, which brought me to feverishly writing in my journal at home, in yet another effort to keep the flame lit in my heart that Africa gave me.. and I really do believe that this journey is going to do the same for me! Get ready for yet another Shirley rant, of my typical journalistic, and social justice ramblings.

It has been a struggle adjusting to this new culture, family and just the blatantly unfamiliar. I’ve always been able to express myself in class perfectly and my strength has been my charisma and vocabulary. But here, I am constantly translating Spanish in my head and struggling just to say the right words. I usually end up just nodding and pretending I have nothing to say, when secretly I want to say a million things that I have no clue how to say in Spanish- so at the end of the day my brain feels like mush from translating constantly and at the same time holding in so many thoughts I can’t express.

I have come to realize that no matter where you are in the world, construction men are HUGE creeps, little old ladies who own cats are not just an American thing and great for asking directions when you are a gringa lost in a sprawling city, just because I’m living in a country called Chile doesn’t mean the food is spicy, and that finally in every single person’s life they forget what is important. Somewhere along the line people end up valuing test scores over character, money over the true value of life and the material objects over the condition of others. Somehow I lost sense of what was important to me, and only when I am reminded of the dreadful conditions people face, am I compelled to make a difference. Everyone is vulnerable, no one is as strong as they think they are and at the end of the day my true strength doesn’t lie in my bank account, new camera, or lap top.. it lies in my compassion and tenacity to carry on with what I feel compelled to do.

These past 2 weeks also have made me realize the significance of and power of providing comfort and compassion when you and others need it most, solidarity, friendship and support are the counter-solutions to the myriad of problems that the world faces.

” You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know, and you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” -Dr. Seuss

Oh, why “ello” there London!

Oh, why “ello” there London!

Well, I have arrived in London… Finally!

Getting here was quite the adventure, to say the least. After giving my mom, aunt, and boyfriend a million hugs goodbye, I crossed the point of no return 🙂

My flight left Chicago/ O’hare at 6:05p and I arrived in London at about 7:28a.

Not that the plane ride wasn’t an adventure in itself- experiencing airplane food for the first time, sitting on a plane for over 7 hours, and attempting to sleep while snoring and other airplane noises filled the plane- but the real adventure began after gathering my belongings, going through customs, and wandering around trying to find the “tube.”

After being that girl with all the luggage blocking the walkway in between seats, I got off at my stop. The public transit system over here seems amazing so far. It’s so clean and there are so many workers on each platform to guide lost, wide-eyed visitors like me.

So side note, I decided to stay with a host family instead of staying in international housing because I figured why not take a chance and integrate myself in the English culture?? The person I’m staying with, Chika, wanted me to call her when I got to the train station so she could pick me up. After putting in my 60 pence to make the call and dialing her number, the phone wouldn’t work.

Welp, this would be the first time I would start crying… So I asked one of the workers, James, if he could help me (in tears mind you) and much to my surprise he gave me a hug and let me borrow his phone. I got in contact with Chika, but unfortunately it would be about two hours until she could come get me.

James told me I could wait with him, given there is quite a chill in the air (England is experiencing a severe weather alert, with it being so cold) and that I had my giant suitcase, heavy backpack, and purse filled with everything that wouldn’t fit in my back pack.

As I waited some other public transit workers came over, Steve- from Scotland, Josh, and Ian who would all make me laugh and feel much better.

Eventually I went out to the street to wait for Chika, but she was no where to be found… so after 45 minutes of waiting out by the street, I called her (again using James’ phone) and it turned out she had been there for over 30 minutes, looking for me! She was literally behind the building! Funny how that happens!

Anyway long story shortened, I have arrived safely at my new home for a little less than 5 months, I have tried my first British meal- roasted chicken which was a much different meal than I am used to, and I am trying to adjust to my new life here in London!

Until next time!!


I have a feeling we’re not in Rogers Park anymore…

I have a feeling we’re not in Rogers Park anymore…


1. It’s January and it’s 90 degrees outside
2. I can buy a delicious sandwich for under a dollar, served wrapped in newspaper
3. Most people look different from me
4. I detect some sort of foreign language being spoken..
5. Strangers smile to one another
6. The street cleaners use witch brooms
7. Crossing the street requires skill and one’s full attention
8. I just saw a toddler urinate on the sidewalk with the help of her parents
9. Food safety is an ever-present concern
10. I miss my momma  (Happy Birthday Mom!)

11. I’m Relaxed

Picasso spent large parts of his life in different regions of Spain, however, a significant amount of his classical training occurred in Barcelona. Some friends and I visited the Picasso Museo today because it is free after 3pm each Sunday. We made the astute decision to arrive early; the line extended along the whole building by 3pm. I found out quite quickly that pictures are prohibited inside the museum. Most of Picasso’s famed works are scattered elsewhere in the world, however, his study of Velasquez’s Las Meninas was familiar to me. The 24-piece series, all done in Picasso’s famous cubism style, use varying shapes and colors to create different rhythms and tones in the works. I found that Picasso brought a lot of energy to the work and was able to draw attention to different parts of the original, such as the man in the doorway. Picasso’s ability to maintain a balance of light similar to the original is impressive and also shows his respect for the original work. This also gave me a new respect for Picasso’s cubism because it is clear that he did not just make weird shapes and angles out of normal objects, rather deliberately crafted each work. How else did my respect for Picasso grow? He was also an excellent writer and sculptor, Picasso even dabbled in ceramics with skill.

Following our tour of the museum, our group of friends decided to grab a café at a nearby café. Our posse included 4 Germans, 2 French students, 2 Midwesterners (present company included), and an East Coaster. My current favorite activity is to borderline interrogate the European students about their life and culture and they eagerly return the favor with questions about American living. It is perpetually a conversation of “we call that this” and “In (insert language/country), it is like this” and on and on. It is absolutely fascinating to share and hear common experiences and compare and contrast likes and dislikes about anything. The open-minded attitude of my peers really fosters a healthy environment to discuss and respect, and sometimes laugh at, the quirks of our respective nationalities. It is this spirit of camaraderie and cultural development that excites me for the rest of my time in Spain and Europe at large!

Breathing in fantasies..

Breathing in fantasies..

Hola mi amigas y familia!

Today marks the 1/12 of my journey (yes we are actually counting it down that much) or in other words my 2nd week in South America! If time continues to go this fast then I definitely can’t complain. Although day-to-day, everything here seems to go at a slower pace AKA Chilean time. The thing about Chileans is that they don’t really have a sense of a time, not sure if this is just a thing of the summer but really, people spend 3-4 hours just sitting at the table around meal times talking and laughing- Laughter is the universal language after all:) For example, my friend Mary and I noticed in the streets today walking to our favorite restaurant for lunch, everyone was just going at their own pace, talking, kissing cheeks..maybe they were so slow because everyone is 5 feet tall like me..who knows! Also, whenever I come home from school or anywhere my mom greets me with hugs and kisses and just wants to sit and talk about my day, sometimes for up to an hour! There are endless examples really, but I won’t drag on- I’m on a tight time schedule.

Just Kidding. My new favorite class is with a professor that I have usually on Tues/Thurs and we are learning about the culture, poverty and history of Chile. In class the other day we were reading these examples from adults that were in their 40s. They were from adults that were very poor- making 30.000 pesos a month or 60 U.S dollars/month.

They were given a sheet of paper and told to write their autobiography.  It was incredibly devastating to me, to see what they had written. There was one example where one person didn’t mention their name or even anything about their life. They had grown up in the slums in Santiago, constantly looked down on as a commodity, solely to make money for their family- he wrote in his autobiography he had nothing to say because he didn’t know who he was. This was a 40-year-old man writing this- can you imagine believing that about your life? I am only 19 years old and I would have difficulty writing my autobiography in 25 pages…he could write his in 4 sentences. Reading those autobiographies that consistently were less than a paragraph long, because people were ashamed of their lives- was something I will never forget. People grow up so poor, so vulnerable to poverty that they don’t even have the right to happiness because their needs always come first.

In this same class, we discussed the biggest problem in Chile right now- Public Education, and the factors to a child’s opportunity at receiving a quality education. The biggest ones were if they lived in a rural area, they had a 20% less chance of going to a school and the 2nd biggest factor was if they had a single mother- 13% less chance of the children ever going to school. This really hit me in the heart, because I never thought about how that could or even should have been me and my sister.. how lucky our family is that when my father passed away we had a choice to keep on living. For the majority of the population in Chile, and in the world if they lose the father of the house- they lose all hope for their future. In Chile, it is close to impossible to break out of the “cycle of poverty” that is so prevalent.

Ok, deep breath- now get this.. 4, yes you heard me- 4 families control 47%  of the stock market in Chile.Of course one of the families is the corrupt president that is in term right now. That is how devastating this income gap is, it is the 4th worst in the world. Also, one thing that Chile has in common with India is that they both use the Caste social ranking system according to their skin color. People with lighter skin and hair are automatically looked at as better off and more important than those with darker skin like the indigenous people.

I could go on for hours on this topic, and I think my professor knows, and he knows I’m an aspiring journalist so he always is sending me more info in emails after class!

So, after our class the other day we visited Hogar de Cristo- or the homeless shelters in a very poor part of the city. It again, was humbling to really see what we had been learning in class right in front of our eyes. For our jesuit internship next semester, one of our options is this homeless shelter, but I honestly don’t know if I’m capable of spending hours and hours there a week.. The homeless shelter consisted of a few buildings that we stopped in for about an hour each, first was the shelter that let only woman and children sleep and eat there every night, the other was a permanent home for men which helped get off the streets, get clean (drugs and alcohol are everywhere) and slowly get their life back if possible, and the 3rd was the mental institute for those too far gone and those who have no where else to go literally.. that was the last place we visited and I won’t go into detail but let’s just say it reminded me of the movie Shutter Island.

Well, it is yet another 95 degrees plus day, and I have a mountain of homework to do before this weekend is over with! But my host mother is singing in a jazz club in Bella Vista, the bohemian neighborhood of Santiago, on Saturday night and I definitely can’t wait to go!

Besitos y Abrezos!

“The place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes.” – Jane Myrdal

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Mass of the Holy Spirit

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a big deal here at the “Jforce”. It marks the end of orientation and sends you off into the semester with many well wishes from the staff and a delicious meal afterwards.

The mass is held in a beautiful, historical church in Piazza Navona. All religions are welcome and many students get to participate in readings and songs. The religious staff of the JFRC host the mass. They are funny guys.

Tip of the day: get to know the priests here. They are the nicest, most accepting, funniest people ever. They also know everything about Rome, from the amazing history to the great restaurants to the best wines! These guys are good company.

After the mass, the whole group goes to dinner for a celebration before school starts. It’s a great way to chat and enjoy. Afterwards, a lot of people went out and just walked around the beautiful Piazza Navona before heading back to campus.

This was a fantastic experience and I truly enjoyed getting out into Rome and visiting with new friends! Thanks to the staff of the John Felice Rome Center for putting it together!


Kelsey O

Orientation in Rome is the best…

Orientation in Rome is the best…

Reasons why:

1.The sights! – This trip was a tour of the southern region of Campagna. We started with a tour of a huge castle called Reggia Caserta. It was filled with art and history and the gardens were massive! From there, we experienced Salerno and toured a Mozzarella di Bufalo (Mozzarella from Buffalo) farm and the historical ruins of Paestum. In Sorento, we toured a lemon farm and had a Limoncello tasting! I couldn’t believe how much we got to do on this weekend trip!

2. It’s free – Everything is included, from an awesome hotel in Salerno to all your meals and transportation. It’s excellent

3. Food – There is no bad place to eat food in Italy. All those delightfully free meals on this trip were all roughly four courses. First comes the antipasti, then the pasta, and then the main course (meat or veggie) with a side of veggies or salad. Oh yeah, and desert. Oh the deserts of Italy…

4. Nice buses – Long bus rides on these coach beauties are ideal for sleeping in between the fabulous sights of Campagna

5. Saldi – During the month of January (and again in July, I hear) all stores in Italy are on sale. It’s the perfect time to pick up a scarf for 3 Euro or post cards for 50 Eurocents.

6. Lemons – There are lemons everywhere on the Amalfi Coast! Try the lemon flavored gelato when in Sorrento! It’s where they grow all the delicious lemons! Also a good place to try Limoncello!

7. The sunset over Agropoli – This was the most amazing sight I have seen in my entire life. Nothing compared to it. Lights were just beginning to appear in the small towns below and sailboats floated in the harbor. Mountains stretched across the other side of the bay, slightly covered in haze. A church next to me rang the evening bells. An ancient castle cast shadows behind me. And in a matter of minutes the sun sank beautifully below what seems like the edge of the world. It was a perfect moment of tranquility and peace with my new friends. Which leads me to the best part of orientation in Rome…

8. New friends – I have met a million people since I arrived at the JFRC, but on the orientation trip, I was really able to get to know them. It was a great bonding experience for everyone and I think everyone came home a little more comfortable and confident about their semester!

More updates soon!


Kelsey O’Shaughnessy

I like to funicular

I like to funicular

Montserrat is the behemoth of the skyline looking south from Barcelona. This 1200+ meter monolith is an hour train ride outside of the city limits and legend has it that the Virgin Mary herself appeared on this very mountain. When you arrive at the base of the mountain, a cable car takes you to the famed monastery about halfway up the slope. The basilica, currently under renovation, is a functioning building that still holds mass on a regular basis as some unsuspecting peers found out. Montserrat is also home to a small museum with an impressive repertoire of artists, such as Degas and Carvaggio, though the works housed on the mountain are not any of their famed pieces.

Our group of intrepid, ambitious hikers chose to scale Montserrat to the peak or Sant Jeroni, the total height peaking at 1236 meters. The trek up the mountain took a little over two hours as we wound up dirt paths, inclines, and stairs upon stairs. Despite the chilly temperatures, the two hour Stairmaster session quickly warmed us up and only a sweater was necessary to combat the cold. Once at the top, the sight was impressive; more impressive, however, were the individuals climbing up over the railing with coils of rope. They had scaled the side of the mountain in two and a half hours to reach the top. And then they ran back down the mountain path. Champion status, indeed.

On a clear day you can see the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately for us, we were amongst the clouds (that high) and could only make out the surrounding towns and landscape. Darn.