The GoGlobal Blog

Month: January 2012

Parc Guell

Parc Guell

Park Guell Gaudi BenchesAfter finally vanquishing the final dregs of jet lag, I planned an afternoon to be a tourist. I hopped on the Metro, which is exponentially cleaner, more efficient, and all around better than the CTA (sorry Chicago), and made way to Antoni Gaudi’s famous park, Park Guell. Gaudi and Joan Miro are the two faces of modernisme, the artistic style of Catalonia that ignored the Gothic style at the time. Park Guell is modeled after an English garden-city model of urban planning, thus the architecture adjusts to the environment and not vice versa. In the pictures I took, you can see that Gaudi deliberately created organic looking structures and drew inspiration from the natural world around him. I did stop to admire the famous Gaudi dragon, though my favorite structures were the fences, gates, and stairs that Gaudi incorporated throughout the park. A huge, sweeping staircase caught my attention because it was almost out of place; a ballroom or grand hotel seem to be more apt locations for the staircase, not a public park. Walking most of the park took me two hours to do because the Casa-Museo Gaudi and the Casa Trias also occupy the expansive park and are worth visiting. Luckily, Park Guell is close to my university and I predict I’ll be back to relax for a siesta sometime soon.

Ready or not, estoy aqui!

Ready or not, estoy aqui!

I arrived in Barcelona today after 12+ hours of traveling. The Barcelona airport is a beautiful building with phenomenal use of space via clean form and simple function. I am staying at the Alberg Pere Tarres and the hostel is clean and friendly. It is also a short jaunt to the closest Starbucks so I am not too far from a touch of familiarity. I picked up a tall cappuccino after settling into my room and perused the surrounding blocks more to enjoy the 58 degree weather than anything else. It’s already clear to me that Barcelona is a premier international metropolis; I’ve heard French, German, Spanish, plenty of English and I think I identified an entire family speaking Catalan. The next day is to rest and fight the impending jet lag and then I’ll take some time to familiarize myself with the city. Despite my short time here, I am intoxicated by the energy of Barcelona!

One simply does not walk into Barcelona…

One simply does not walk into Barcelona…

It seems that this whole “study abroad” endeavor is a reality and I leave real life to have fun, fake life in Barcelona. The goal is to (re)learn how to carpe a diem. To do so, I relinquish my professional life for 6 months of unemployed bliss; I shed my personal life to step into a fresh persona; I drop all pretenses that I have any clue what I’m doing.

Follow this blog to ensure I am indeed alive, to live vicariously, and to add your suggestions on seizing the day. In the end, I hope my enthusiasm is contagious.

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tomas_estoyaqui (for Spain-ish antics)
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That’s Amore

That’s Amore

January 24, 2012

“When the Stars Make You Drool Just like a Pasta Fazool…
That’s Amore”

Buongiorno! I’m writing you from the library this cloudy Tuesday morning. (That is if you consider noon to be morning?) Either way, I promised I would tell you all about my trip down the Amalfi Coast this weekend so here’s my story…

School Dinner in Salerno

I boarded the much too early bus Friday clad in a hooded trench, umbrella, and filled with excitement!  We were off!  Reggia Di Caserta, Salerno, Paestum, a buffalo mozzarella farm, a lemon grove, and Sorrento were on the itinerary.  These names meant nothing to me, as I am sure they mean little to you.  It wasn’t until I marveled at the intricacy of the silk wall coverings in the castle of Reggia Di Caserta, savored the rich mozzarella di bufali, sipped on fantastic limoncello, and gazed at the views of the coast from the cliffs of Salerno and Sorrento that I could understand the greatness of this trip.

I have come back to the Rome Center with a new appreciation for Italy. To stand on the Amalfi coast with my toes in the water then board a 3-hour bus and be back standing in front of the Vatican is amazing to me.

Making Mozzarella!

In the sexy words of Dean Martin, “that’s amore”.  Italy is love in every sense of the word.  A country filled with passionate people and wonders around every bend…I can’t wait to fall even deeper in love here.

Cheers to exploring, cheers to new friends, and cheers to Italy!

Always yours,




So, many of you may be wondering why the title of this blog is wonderlust, well it is my new favorite word in the English language! Being in Chile, one of the things I’ve realized is just how delicate and beautiful Spanish is. It is a much more complicated language than I’ve come to realize. Also, I didn’t know that English was one of the Germanic languages of the world while Spanish is a romantic language, so I have had a Chilean friend told me that to them since they don’t speak English, when my friends and I speak English it is almost indistinguishable from German! That surprised me mucho!

Back to wonderlust though, it is the theme of this journey for me, its definition is- a desire to travel, to understand one’s existence. The more I see of the world, the more I come to realize just how little I actually know and will ever know of the world. It’s quite ironic really. Being here has been really hard, 6 months is the longest I have been away from home, ever! I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and really putting myself in a foreign world.

Anyway, this past weekend my class traveled to Isla Negra! About 1 hour from Santiago to the coast, it is a beautiful, little, colorful, dusty, impoverished town that is fully stocked with roadside stands of empanadas, fried fish, and helado (gelato!) There is where we got to tour one of the homes of Pablo Neruda himself! Pablo Neruda is one of the world’s famous poets and by far the best well known in Latin America because he is from Chile. His house was absolutely magnificent. Right along side cliffs with the ocean waves slapping up against them all day long, dark wooden floors, a collection of ancient Mayan Decoration and oriental rugs, porcelain bathtubs and stone walls throughout. If I ever had the chance to live there in the early 1900’s, constantly surrounded by the beautiful Pacific, white sandy beaches, Andes Mountains and the best seafood of my life- I would be able to write beautiful poems too. 🙂

Here is a little piece of one of my favorite Neruda poems- “I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

I will try and add a few pictures too of the house on this blog because it is so beautiful, but if I can’t figure it out which is likely, then just check my facebook!

After the tour we had an amazing almuerzo lado del mar (lunch next to the sea). It consisted of vino blanco, salmon, clams, garlic shrimp, bread and olive oils, and to top it off chocolate and pistachio gelato! Muy Rico! After our amazing lunch we walked along the beach and took lots of pictures, and just a quick 5 minute walk down the beach was the world’s largest pool! It was unbelievable. There were sailboats in the pool that is how big it was! We didn’t swim in it because it expensive but we did get a workout just walking around it haha.

We had a long exhausting weekend that’s for sure, and it felt good to come home and catch up on sleep! It is summer here though so there is always something to do! Saturday night my friend Eva and I went out to our first discotheque! It is the equavilant of a dance club here, it was pretty fun but weird for me also.

Today we had another long day of school and then we went out to eat for lunch all together and ended up talking for hours, we are true chileans 🙂

Oh and this morning we had ANOTHER earthquake!! It is quite loco just how many we have had, but it wasn’t a big deal just shook the apartment for a minute! I guess I have to start getting used to that.

Tonight our friend Miguel who studies at Loyola is having a small fiesta with his family and we are all invited! So that should be a fun time, I am off to do some more homework on my porch over looking the mountains. 🙂

Miss you all so much!

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.” -Buddha

Heading South

Heading South

Heading South

Early on Friday morning all of us at John Felice willingly arose at the crack of dawn to spend a weekend away from campus. After a week of orientation activities and the beginning of classes it was very nice to be able to spend a weekend all of us together. Most of our sleeping happened on the bus, and every other minute we spent wandering about towns, getting to know new friends, and eating a lot of good food.

Driving down the coast our first stop was Caserta. We saw La Reggia di Caserta, a Neapolitan castle which was quite the sight.  Although it rained most of the day, we had a great time. We had lunch at a very regally decorated place and then headed down to Salerno, where we would spend the next two nights. We kicked off our evening with inspiring speeches by the faculty here at the Rome center. They spoke about how special of a place this is, and how we will think about this experience every day for the rest of our lives. All of us are truly so lucky to have a staff that is so passionate about the students here and about Italy. Later in the evening we saw Salerno’s nightlife, and also enjoyed mixing in with the Italians at local places.

Saturday was a very busy day. We started off our morning at an organic buffalo mozzarella farm. We toured the grounds and saw that these buffalo have it pretty good. With sweeping mountain views, and personal massagers it is evident that happy cows make delicious cheese. Next we visited visited Paestum. This ancient Greek town contains some of the most well preserved ruins of ancient temples around. Who needs Greece when you can come here? Not to mention the weather was almost perfect this day. Our lunch in Agropoli was a blast. Definitely the best pizza in Italy I have had so far. We had a truly authentic experience including a musical performance by local Neapolitans with music and dancing. After dinner we ventured through the town of Agropoli. The Italians here were very friendly and accepting which isn’t always the case. We watched the sunset at a beautiful costal overlook and were able to unwind for a bit.

We finished off our weekend with a day in Sorrento. What a day, southern Italy is just one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is incredibly lush and green, even in January. After breakfast together at the hotel we heading north and then drove down the narrow, steep, winding coast in our very large coach bus, luckily no one got sick. To fully experience what this land has to offer we went to an Agurturismo, or a sort of lemon farm. We tasted some limoncello and had deserts completely drenched in limoncello, I think we were all feeling a bit of a lunch buzz. After a quick walk about town we were homeward bound to Rome. After a weekend away we all realized how coming back to the JFRC is comforting, and no matter where you travel on the weekends we will all come back together here and feel honored to live in such a warm community.


Chuc mung nam moi!

Chuc mung nam moi!

I’ve been here 11 days now and I’m still almost at a loss for words on how to describe it.. Paradise comes pretty close, but it still misses something. This is by far the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The weather is amazing and the scenery is phenomenal; the food is absolutely delicious; the people are friendly and kind. When I landed in Ho Chi Minh City I was blown away by the city at night. Driving from the airport to the guest house at 2am was incredible! There’s a quirky mix of pagoda-style buildings, new age “high-rises” and a SPECTACULAR amount of plants, and mixed with the 78 degree humidity it made the city almost magical. Then I woke up and got to go eat my first real meal here and it all became real! Pho with beef.. A little disconcerting for a vegetarian, but it was delicious! It’s much easier to accept thath eating meat will make my trip easier, so I’m giving up the meatless life while I’m here. It became really apparent while I was visiting Vinh Long City with my roommate, Linh, that being a vegetarian was nearly impossible. In a single week I went from meat-free to having eaten blood and fish lungs. Yes. Lungs. And other body parts I don’t want to name. Let’s just say I justified it by appreciating that no part of the animal went to waste! Vinh Long City was amazing. It was cool to meet Linh’s family and just relax for a week.. It’s not something I get to do very often! Everything there was SO cheap and the city is right on the Mekong, so I got to see the Lunar New Year fireworks over the river. Unfortunately my camera is out of commission at the moment, so I don’t have a photo for this post. When I get back from Cambodia on Sunday I promise multiple! All in all, I’m really glad I ended up here (however I did it) and I can’t wait to share more of it with you all!

“Wait, where are you studying…?”: Why I’m in Bilbao, Spain

“Wait, where are you studying…?”: Why I’m in Bilbao, Spain

The decision to study abroad was, for me, an easy one. When I was in high school, my sister spent a semester in Santiago, Chile – her exceptionally positive experience there put study abroad options high on my list of important aspects of the universities I applied to. As a perspective student, the fact that Loyola offered opportunities to study just about anywhere in the world was a huge plus. When it came to actually picking a program, though, I was overwhelmed by the options. How could I pick just one place out of all of the fantastic options? I considered Australia – I’ve always heard it’s a beautiful country, I already speak the language (score!), and I’m more than a little bit fond of the accents. Or maybe Ireland, where my grandmother’s family is from – the history, the greenness, and the access to the rest of Europe all called to me. Or the Copenhagen program, which sounded incredibly interesting and would introduce me to a new culture. I knew I didn’t want to go to our Rome center, because even though I was sure Rome would be a phenomenal experience, I wanted more of an immersion… but what about Beijing? And the East in general? I couldn’t neglect that side of the world, either; a great deal of my education has been on Western culture and thought, maybe the best use of my semester abroad would be to spend it in Asia, rectifying the imbalance in my cultural awareness.

The more I weighed the options, begged for advice from friends, and researched new programs, the harder the decision became. To be perfectly honest, a big part of me just wanted to stay in undergrad forever, and study abroad everywhere. Ultimately, I met with an advisor in the Office of International Programs, and she helped me narrow down what I wanted out of the semester abroad, and where best to go to get the experience I was looking for. Her suggestion of Bilbao, Spain was one program I hadn’t really considered at all. Being from the southwest, I’d taken Spanish through middle and high school, and was lucky enough to have the chance to visit Spain via a program through my high school. In the short span of a few weeks, we hit Madrid, Seville, Segovia, Granada, Costa del Sol… I knew I was by no means an expert on the country, but I hadn’t really researched any Spanish programs, because I wanted to go somewhere new. I figured that with all the options at hand, why go somewhere I’ve been, even if it was a brief trip? As such, when I first looked into the Bilbao program, it was not exactly an enthusiastic investigation.

Six months ago, all I knew about Bilbao was that it was the home of architect Frank Ghery’s Guggenheim museum. It is a major landmark and architecturally, hugely significant – but of the city around it, I knew next to nothing. The more I learned, though, the more perfect Bilbao started to look. It’s a relatively small city, the 5th largest in Spain, but its location in Basque country means that it is actually a very different kind of Spain than the one I had experienced in high school. Formerly a heavily industrialized area, Bilbao has recently undergone a dramatic revitalization (thanks, in part, to the presence of the Guggenheim) and is currently a fantastic modern city, with plenty of fantastic cultural outlets, a rapid transit system, and a great deal of international business. Surrounded by mountains and just off the coast of the Bay of Biscay, it balances city life with nature in a phenomenal kind of way. The final factor that made me choose Bilbao, though, was the language. One friend, when I asked him for his vote on where I should apply, made a point that really hit home for me: “Australia is gorgeous, sure, but save that for your honeymoon. Don’t waste this semester going on a vacation, challenge yourself! Learn a new culture, get better at a language. Go to Spain.”

I do really love a good challenge.

Rome Around the World

Rome Around the World

I am finally here! Roma! In a town called Monte Mario, not long of a bus ride away from the city, is the John Felice Rome Center Loyola University Chicago.

Today, January 19th, 2012, marks 1 week, 1 day here. Below consists of how fast my first week flew by:

Day 1:

Flight to Roma

– Chicago to Germany

– 3 hour layover at Germany

– Germany to Rome

    After long hours of flying, I finally made it. The weather was just wonderful – compared to the super cold weather back in Chicago, Illinois.

    Orientation Day 1 – January 11th, 2012

    Meeting new friends today was great. Not only are people here at the John Felice Rome Center from Loyola University Chicago, but other students from around the US are studying here as well. Today just consisted of registration, completing our forms to stay in Italy for more than 90 days, picture taking for our JFRC id and time for unpacking!

    Day 2:

    Orientation Day 2

    Italian Survival : This was a class that was more like a review of going over the basics of the Italian language : conversation starters and everyday phrases. After the first part of the day went by, my new friends and I walked down to the local supermarket and got some milk and cereal for breakfast. Can’t forget the good ol’ Nutella – Italian style, yummmmm.

    Night out in the city:

    Tonight, we are going to take a journey into the city! Using the bus and walking around using a manual GPS, we followed the detailed map of Rome and started exploring. We made it to the Fontana di Trevi – priceless view! We all made a couple wishes and threw the coins behind our backs, into the fountain. Then we got some gelato (nociola e tiramisu) …. Buona! We then sat by the Fontana di Trevi and enjoyed the rest of our dessert. After that, we walked to the Spanish Steps – 170 steps later, we made it to the top!

    Day 4:

    Saturday, January 14th

    Today, we went to the Colosseum!  Perfect day – blue sky, sunny and warm! The architecture is just breathtaking. The last time I visited Rome was back in 2003 with my family, but the second time around is even better! Then, we walked to the Roman Forum. So cool… Just imagine, 2,000 years ago, Romans lived, walked and had gatherings where we stood today. The city that is here today in Rome is above an old city that once lived long ago. It’s unbelievable that people back then were able to think, act and build something so beautiful and creative. How did they do such a thing?

    Then, we took a long walk from the Roman Forum to a place to eat. We each ordered our own individual pizzas with a couple glasses of Moscato wine. After that, we walked about 20 more minutes to the Vatican. WOW…. Is all I can say to explain how beautiful the sight of the Vatican at night looks like. From there, we walked to this gelato place called, Old Bridge… THE BEST GELATO so far. Delicious!

    Day 5 : School Trip to Tivoli

    Today was a little chilly. We took the charter bus to Tivoli, up in the mountains. The view was outstanding. The villa we went to go visit was built by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, known for it’s many gardens and fountains. So much beautiful land on top of a very high mountain! Then after that, we went to a typical Tivoli restaurant, that was literally a cave that was discovered by the owner’s grandfather. Very cool experience.

    January 16th, 2012

    This week is the start of classes. After the first couple days of orientation and getting settled in, it’s time to get back to the real world. I’m taking 12 credit hours, studying Art, Philosophy, History and Literature. Should be a great semester!

    January 17th

    Signed up for my study trip to Tuscany!! Never been there and cannot wait!! I’ve heard many great things.

    January 18th, 2012

    Signed up for another study trip to Sicily!!


    Well, after a week and 1 day of being here at the Rome Center, I’ve become settled into my home away from home for the next 3.5ish months. Tomorrow, the school is bringing us to a weekend long trip about 3 hours away from Rome. Stay tuned for more blogging!! =)

    First Impressions

    First Impressions

    Upon arrival the first day at the John Felice Rome Center last week I felt a bit unsure of my surroundings, I have to be honest. What many people forget to mention is that it is slightly hard the first night and next day realizing you are in a foreign country for the long haul. Coming straight off of a winter break with friends and family some slightly homesick feelings arose, and I felt a bit out of place. Although, all those thoughts I may have had of home the first night have completely diminished! I have not been as happy as I am right now in many years. Everyone tells you that going abroad is the best time of your life, and although this may sound like a cliche, it is absolutely correct.

    “Che bella citta” How beautiful this city is. Everyone and anyone can appreciate the beauty and history that make up Roman culture. In an ancient city that once ruled the world you can truly feel the culture and the dignity people feel in being Roman. This week of orientation has been event filled with non stop socialization and every minute has been planned out. Although we have been exhausted at times, and are trying to recover from jet lag a lot of adrenaline pumps through your veins as you make new discoveries and make new friendships with a whole group of new people.

    This weekend we took a break from the all of the preliminary, tedious tasks upon arrival. We headed over to the Roman Forum and Colosseum on Saturday, and on Sunday we took a day trip to Tivoli. At the Forum you can feel the living history of a place where the ruins have been so well preserved. With an excellent history lesson prior to our departure, I felt so inspired to be immersed in the residual area of the Romans living about 2,000 years ago!

    On Sunday we spent the day roaming through the gardens of the Villa D’Este and had a lovely lunch in a family run restaurant. This hill town has sweeping views of the city and lots of historical places to see including Hadrian’s Villa which I plan to return to visit.

    Classes have begun and things are starting to really settle in. My teachers are so passionate about what they teach, and I am looking forward to learning about things so unlike my typical studies in past semesters. I could be happy here for quite a long time.

    Ci veddiamo!