The GoGlobal Blog

Month: February 2015

Scones and Clotted Cream

Scones and Clotted Cream

   Well, I suppose another update is required. It is now the sixth week of the 14-week theatre conservatory and just about mid-term season. Yet, even with homework and exhaustion bearing down on all of us, we are still enjoying ourselves in our beautiful European home. And, of course, working hard and learning lots!

In the little free time I have had, I’ve been able to explore even more of London, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and Kensington Palace, home of Prince William and Princess Kate. While touring the palace, my friend Meghan and I learned all about the romantic tale of Queen Victoria and King Albert, who, suffice to say, have become my favorite monarchs. It inspired us to watch Young Victoria, a film starring Emily Blunt about Victoria’s rise to the throne and her relationship with Albert, on Britain’s Netflix directly after and make a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


During our time at St. Paul’s Cathedral, we went on bit of an adventure, climbing over 300 steps to the very tip-top of the dome to overlook the city. As a person who is rather fearful of heights, I was very impressed that I made it all the way up, even though that did include some gentle urgings by Meghan along the way. But the view was worth it J


Four friends and I also made a quick trip to Amsterdam for a weekend! Unfortunately, it was by bus, which took 11 hours one way and required a ferry… However, in the end it was an enjoyable experience. While there, we visited the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House (or huis as the Dutch spell it), and the Royal Palace of Amsterdam! We also made the decision to pay for a canal boat tour, which was one of the best choices of the trip as we were able to learn much more about the architecture and history of the city we would have missed otherwise.


The list of plays I have seen is becoming overwhelmingly long; I have somehow already written more than 50 pages in my dramatic criticism journal! Anyways, some of my recent favorites have been Billy Elliot, How to Hold Your Breath, The Nether, and The Grand Tour. And, I can finally cross “seeing a play at the Globe Theatre” of my bucket list, since we saw The Changeling by John Middleton there last week.

Amidst everything, I taught myself how to make scones and they are delicious.  When you eat scones here, the popular thing to spread on them is jam and what is known as clotted cream.  I’m not sure how to describe it besides saying it is a magical invention that is similar to butter and whipped cream, in essence, heaven.  I can’t believe it is not a thing in the United States and I will do everything in my power to recreate it when I return!


Anyways, next week, I am looking forward to spring break, which starts on the 28th.  I will be traveling to Denmark to visit a family-friend, Karoline, and her beautiful family. So, you can expect pictures of the Danish countryside and seaside in the next posting. Until then!





Fun U.K. Fact! The Welsh (people from Wales, hope you know that, but just in case) call microwaves “poppity-pings”

Under the Tuscan Sun a Pisa my heart was taken

Under the Tuscan Sun a Pisa my heart was taken

Adventures come in the most unlikely of ways and arrive you at destinations you never even thought of going to.  Some take you thousands of miles away, while others are within the comforts of your own home, both allowing you to experience the world differently. It’s a big world out there, one I feel the need to constantly explore.

The more my wanderlust grows, the more I find myself going back to the lessons that brought me here. I am who I am because of the person I was yesterday. My yearning for knowledge and sense of adventure has grown with me throughout the years. It’s something I continue to take with me. I was taught that you must leave every day learning something and that you can take something positive from everything and everyone. The lessons I’ve learned have come in the most unlikely of ways, at moments when I needed them most.

Similar to any day, between the hustle and bustle of classes and exploring the beautiful city of Roma, I was caught with a question brought up by my professor out of the blue, interrupting a lecture on Kant. “Have you experienced the aesthetics of Italy or taken in what it is that truly makes this country unique?” At a loss for words, in one moment, everything hit me. There are so many places I’m going to have the opportunity to see, but I have to appreciate what’s right in front of me.


I’ve become much of a jet setter, constantly packing my bags and hopping in the next taxi to Fiumicino Airport, but forgot just how big my new home is, within the walls of Roma and that of this amazing country. Due to this sudden awakening, I found myself spontaneously making my way to the library checking out every book on Italy. There is something you learn from everywhere you go, but the things you take with you are from the places you call home. Roma has become that for me and due to this, I made it my duty to find what is that makes it the place for me. Within minutes I transformed a graph paper into a bucket list, something I now constantly take with me.

Through this experience I’ve adapted to a life of looking at the beauty of the unexpected, so I look at my bucket list not as something I must complete, but as a source of motivation to live every moment and see where it takes me. My week was much like the others filled with an unnatural amount of wandering. I just go. It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter where, but I allow it to be a part of my journey.

Now, living much like a local and not like a tourist, I’ve come to find my favorite spots when I need just a sip of Espresso, am in the mood for singing and dancing, or am craving the best pesto pasta ever placed on a plate. I spend much of my mornings attending classes, but due to this beautiful weather I force myself to leave and wander around my neighborhood of Balduina or make my way down to the center of Roma. I may continue to get lost, but my list of familiar places continues to grow each day. I never know where my every day takes me, but from this study abroad experience I’ve come to know it feels great to be lost in the right direction, that being any corner on the streets of Italy.

Through my long walks without a map and just a gut feeling, I have finally taken some time in my life to just think. I have come to realize how large of a difference there is between “I can’t believe I did that” and “I wish I did”. I’ve always wished to get to know and adapt to the place I live, grasping a life like those around me, while continuing to express my uniqueness from the memories I experienced prior to that moment. I realized there was nothing stopping me from making this wish a reality.

Italy is a beautiful country with so much to see, so while spending my week in my city of Roma, I realized it was my calling to make my way north to the architectural wonder city of Florence and enjoy the vineyards of Tuscany. One moment, one realization, is all it took for me to book my tickets to leave central Italy and explore the North. This experience allowed me to see first hand the differences within a country and how each city, with its people and culture, is unique.

Much of the cities in the North are smaller compared to Rome, allowing me to take the opportunity to put a lot into a four day, three-night trip. Five of my study abroad friends and I rented a flat in the city of Florence for the weekend, where we got to experience the beauty of it both during the day and at night. It was the one place where my ability to wander was of great value and my sense of adventure came into full effect.


Once realizing the advantage of my location, I planned trips to not only see and experience the beauty within Florence’s small city limits, but that of its famous surrounding neighborhoods. I reminded myself that life offers you a thousand chances and all you have to do is take one. I took the chance and landed myself on a tour bus seeing Tuscany in a day.

Not knowing what to expect, like much of my days here, I got on the bus with only the knowledge of my stopping points: Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano, tourist attractions along the Tuscan Region. I began my day tilting my head at the breathtaking Piazza dei Miracoli, admiring the Cathedral and famous Leaning Tower, walked the streets Leonardo da Vinci once walked on in the small Medieval village of Vinci, learned the proper technique of wine tasting at a vineyard, visited the wonders of the hilltop town of San Gimignano, and ended our day on the country side of Siena envisioning Piazza del Campo filled with horses on race day. All it took was a day under the Tuscan Sun to truly appreciate its beauty.

This day trip gave me an answer to my teacher’s question, Italy’s beauty is found within its authenticity. Each city was miles from the other, but prided itself in something completely it’s own, whether it was raising a genius or having the greatest grape fields in the world. It wasn’t the attractions that did it for me, it was observing those around me. Walking around, I couldn’t help but get myself lost in their people, seeing how happy they were to be there. I’ve never seen anything like it, individuals being so in love with a place they live, that they stay for generations and go by their location over a family name. I started in the Square of Miracles, but concluded the day by witnessing the miracle of being in Italy. I was lost under the Tuscan sun and couldn’t get myself from stop enjoying it!


As if that trip wasn’t wonderful enough, I departed for the Verona in Love festival, only fitting for Valentine’s Day. Life had a funny way of working out and allowed me to go with one of my closest high school friends who happened to be studying abroad in Florence, Michaela. With her by my side, along with two friends from my program who spent time exploring Bologna and her college best friend, we embarked on a journey to not fall in love with someone, but a location.

Allowing the day to just see where it would take us, we walked for miles experiencing life as Juliet witnessing people write letters for love guidance and roaming the Piazza’s delle Erbe and dei Signori. We saw the preparations for the Romeo and Juliette Half Marathon taking place in Piazza Bra and entered a greenhouse for marriage ceremonies without even knowing it! We stood in line to touch the chest of Juliet following the legend that it will bring us love, and stood on her balcony waiting for our Romeo. Love was in the air and everyone could feel it.

Realizing that every city has it’s history, we went back in time to appreciate the Roman Arena, house of ancient art performances like Romeo and Juliet, walked along the brick bridge and crossed the river to set foot in Castelvecchio (The Castle of Verona), said a prayer in Duomo di Verona asking for guidance of our hearts, and went to Lamberti Tower. It was Valentine’s Day in its most perfect sense.

As if falling in love with two completely eventful trips wasn’t enough I spent the remainder of my time appreciating the wonderful antique city of Florence, visiting Michaelangelo’s David at Galleria dell’Academia, surrounded myself in gold at Ponte Vecchio, gazing at the detailing of Il Duomo Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, admired the works of Gallerie degli Uffizi, enjoyed Piazza del Republicca filled with young adults playing on the Carousel in the middle of the night, and admired Cattedral di Santa Maria as well as Basilica di San Lorenzo. Florence took me back centuries, but brought me to the realities of how a small city really can change the world.


 I may have stayed within the boundaries of my own country, but got to appreciate it in an entirely new way. The language and hospitality stayed the same, but history and culture showed me how different where I live is from the rest of Italy. Each place you go to has something authentic that makes the world a wonderful place. Italy continues to amaze me, making it harder for me ever planning to leave. How did I get so lucky?! Pinch me now, I really am living the dream!

Ciao Tutti!

Gabriella Lunich

There Are More Bikes Than People in Amsterdam

There Are More Bikes Than People in Amsterdam

Last weekend, I had the amazing privilege to spend Valentine’s Day weekend with some of the most amazing friends I have met here in another amazing city– Amsterdam. This was my first time in the Netherlands and while there is a lot of hype surrounding Amsterdam, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, any expectations I may have held were completely blow away by the beautiful city. Our group landed in Amsterdam around 7:30pm, navigated the crazy airport (well not that crazy but it was the first reminder that I wasn’t in an English speaking country anymore as all of the signs were written in Dutch), managed to figure out the bus system so we only had to pay 5 Euro for a bus ride instead of a 70 Euro cab ride, and finally walked to our hostel in the dark with our walk being lit by streetlights that cast shadows on the amazing architecture that the city has. Our first night in Amsterdam was our friend Colin’s birthday (the reason for the trip in the first place) so we went to a nice restaurant called “Bazar” where we stuffed ourselves with delicious middle eastern cuisine. We then went out to the city center and hopped around a few different bars until we realized that it was 2 am and we had to be up early the next morning.


Friday was most likely my favorite day in Amsterdam. We woke up, ate breakfast (which consisted of a Belgium waffle smothered in chocolate) and headed off to the van Gogh Museum. Going in, I had basically zero knowledge of van Gogh apart from knowing 3 of his paintings and the fact that he cut off his ear. However, the museum was INCREDIBLE, not only was I able to see most of his works, but I also felt like I knew him as an artist. The museum went in chronological order of his life so you were able to see his paintings develop and towards the end there was a large exhibit of the letters between him and his brother. Theo, his brother, helped finance Vincent (yes I am on a first name basis with van Gogh because I have learned so much) and was also the one who paid for his stay when he was in a mental hospital towards the end of his life. It was sad to watch the progression of Vincent’s talent and passion of his work never fade but his mental health deteriorate which eventually caused his suicide. Some amazing note about van Gogh was that in the final months of his life he painted 75 paintings in just 70 days (how????) and it was also his sister-in-law (Theo’s wife) that pushed for the recognition of van Gogh’s artwork. Theo died six months after Vincent did, so it was his wife, Johanna, that pushed for Vincent’s work to be recognized.

mean muggin outside van Gough

After van Gogh we spent the day wondering around the city where we took cheesy pictures of the I AMsterdam sign, walked uptown and gazed at the beautiful architecture and the canals that run through the city. We spent the night out in the city center again at a giant club where we danced until our feet hurt and finally made our way back to the hostel after stopping for a late night burger. The next morning we tried to wake up early again and went to the Heineken Experience. In general what was most impressive wasn’t the beer or how it is brewed, but the marketing aspect of most of the tour. There was games, pictures, and commercials that made you crave a Heineken (even if you never had one before).


After Heineken our group broke up and my friend Kristen and I were on a mission– find and ride bikes. Our friends were a bit hesitant to rent bikes with us for obvious reasons, biking in Amsterdam is on a whole new level. The bikers ride ridiculously fast, weave in and out of traffic, and have their own lane right by the street. However, Kristen and I figured we had what it takes to ride with the best (not really but we wouldn’t die) but while we may have had the determination to ride the bikes, we did not have anything it took to rent them. Our first stop was a bike shop that the receptionist at our hostel recommended but when we arrived they wanted a copy of a credit card to have on record, and both Kristen and I only had debit cards. Instead, he said, we could leave our ID and 50 Euro, but if we were not back in exactly 3 hours we wouldn’t get our money back. The issue with that plan (apart from obvious reasons) was that we wanted to return our bikes at the downtown location which was where we were meeting our friends later, and we didn’t think we would have time to ride there and back in 3 hours. So we went to a different bike shop where the guy not only wanted 50 Euro, but he also wanted our passports to hold onto while we rode the bikes– a big no no. So at last, we gave up and walked to the other part of the city. We did get to see more of the beautiful city as well as a protest (all on bikes of course) for climate change and getting rid of fossil fuels.


We met our friends at a World War 2 monument that was in the heart of the city. After dinner we did a quick walk through the red light district– don’t worry it was at 7pm and there was a group of 9 of us– but I couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not have at least taken a peak at the infamous area. After a little bit of wandering and shopping, we headed back to our hostel and spent the night laughing and playing cards against humanity since we had to be up at  6:30 for our flight the next day.

After arriving back in Cork, and taking a 3 hour nap, I began to mentally prepare myself for the week ahead– RAG week. RAG week (which stands for Raise and Give) is a week long event at UCC where there are new things going on every day to raise money for a large number of different charity organizations. While that seems fun and easy enough, there is one thing you must understand– the students go crazy. People who do not even attend UCC come for the week to take place in all of the crazy events. The bars on campus open every day at 12:30 and all of my classes for government were cancelled, with the excuse that it was “reading week”. I will be sure to go in depth about everything that has been going on and will continue during RAG week, but for now, I must nap and prepare myself for what continues to lie ahead.

Cambridge, Stonehenge, & Bath

Cambridge, Stonehenge, & Bath


Coming to you LIVE frooooooom *drum roll* …. my bed in London, where I am sitting in a towel and enjoying my first relaxed day in years (jokes, but it really feels like it). The last two weeks have been so busy with fun things I’m not sure where to start…


Sunday, February 8th

8:15am: Taylor and I gave the rising sun a dirty look, packed ourselves sandwiches, and headed off for Kings Cross Station to take the train down to the quaint college town of Cambridge, England. Sounds easy and super organized right? Nope- our tour guide arrived two and a half hours late due to a snoozed alarm clock.

12:00pm: After a quick coffee and a promise of a partial refund from the travel company, about half of the group + our apologetic tour guide, Oliver, board a train and pull off into the countryside. The rough morning was all but forgotten once I saw the rolling green hills of the English countryside.

1:30pm: We arrive in Cambridge and set off on a walking tour of the historical and beautiful campus of Cambridge University. At the second oldest university in the country (rivaled only by Oxford) we saw the birthplace of football (aka soccer), the study spots of many royals and Isaac Newton, and also kind of froze our butts off.

Taylor and I promptly forgot about the PB&J’s in our bags and dipped into Aunties Tea Shop to warm up and grab lunch. We both opted for a full English breakfast, and happily scarfed it down (beans and all!). It is also important to note that this is the only place I have been able to procure syrup for my breakfast (*crowd gasps*). As we left the tea shop, complaining of our incredible full-ness, we got a whiff of fudge and essentially floated into a place called the Fudge Kitchen. I am not exaggerating when I say they made us try every flavor. Obviously, we bought some.

Post-food, we walked all over the town and saw everything there was to see.We headed down to the river to see the fuss about punting- essentially sitting in a boat while someone uses a long stick to float you along, ala gandolas in Venice. It was all very cute to see, and the river was very picturesque.

Overall, it was a day well spent and I would recommend a day visit to anyone! (However, don’t use the International Friends travel company..)

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During the week, I spent my personal version of a perfect day shopping down Oxford Street and sitting in the sunny Hyde Park with a book, I went to the Wallace Collection for class and spent the afternoon admiring Rococo and Dutch art, and some friends and I went to a food design presentation by a chef who has worked in all five of the best restaurants in the world (he taught me how to shave an avocado). I also had a great time in a bar called Waxy O’Connors, where the only question is, which came first, the bar or the tree? Here I discovered the most delightful drink called a snakebite- grenadine, cider, and beer all in one! Finally, I explored the eclectic and adorable bars and streets of Shoreditch with my friend TW as we waited to meet up with some very lost friends from Loyola Rome. This last night went a little later than anticipated, and when I crawled into bed at 1:30am, my sleep was more like a nap…

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Saturday, February 14

4:01am: My silent alarm I had set on my FitBit went off all too soon, and by 4:45 am, we were off and moving towards Stonehenge!

8:00am: Turns out, waking up at the crack of dawn was worth it for the perks- We were able to weave our way through the strange, prehistoric monument instead of viewing it from 50 feet away with the rest of the public. Stonehenge was easily one of the strangest things Tourist Meg has seen here. Not only is there no real explanation for why or how these massive rocks are here, but it is also in the middle of nowhere. In fact, as I wandered around the stones, I made friends with a rogue sheep that seemed to have escaped from a mysterious location. The sun behind the clouds made for a really beautiful morning and it was definitely worth the trip.

We then made the hour drive up to Bath, England from Stonehenge and arrived just in time to make like hobbits and eat second breakfast. The town of Bath itself was very central and homogenous in look. There were stores, musicians, and authentic food everywhere you looked! We took a tour of the Roman Baths, which are exactly what they sound like. The Romans settled the town decades ago, and utilized the natural hot springs to create beautiful, luxurious equivalents of todays spas. It was very cool to see how creatively engineered the entire place was, and I was incredibly tempted to jump in. After our tour, we had just enough time to people watch (some of the pictures being taken near the main baths could entertain you for hours), explore the river and bridges, and grab some ice cream!

Overall, a great experience and one I would not hesitate to repeat.

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Next week- Amsterdam!! I am beyond excited to experience the city again, so stay tuned 🙂



Budapest Leaves me Hungary for more!

Budapest Leaves me Hungary for more!

My life has no boundaries or expectations, except this: to escape the ordinary and live the extraordinary. It’s unlike anyone else’s, for that, I find to be my greatest blessing. In my everyday life, I’ve come to see the beauty in routine things and realized that my usual way of living is not like many others in this world. I’ve been given the opportunity to act on one of my greatest passions, traveling the world and living in a city that’s far beyond my wildest dreams.

I have come to learn a lot at the John Felice Rome Center, like I have in any of my previous academic settings, and came to Italy with the intent of it being a study abroad experience. My greatest classroom is not the one in which I’m taking notes in or reading, but are places where I am not confined within four walls or have a rubric to follow. The streets, monuments, and Italian people are my classroom and have taught me more than any book ever could. Italy has become the place where I’m finding myself and continues to show me why it is Italians say “La Vita e Bella”, or Life is Beautiful.


My “normal” consists of walking around Piazza’s, attending the Papal Audience where you have direct interactions with the Pope, and getting on a plane weekly. It’s an adventure unlike any other, but continues to excite me. When not attending class in a school setting, I hit the streets in hopes of grasping more about the language and culture I’ve come to call my own. I hop on the 990 Bus and head down the hill seeing where the afternoons will take me, leading me to my favorite places or those in which I never knew existed. It directs me to interacting with French Nuns down the streets of Vatican City, finding the secret pleasures of small gelato places with friends on spontaneous afternoons when classes are canceled, and playing soccer in a Calcio league with my peers. This is my everyday and it is extraordinary.

I’ve come to experience that Rome is the perfect mix of fun and faith. It’s led me to live a life much like those around me who I’ve come to realize are some of the most sincere, adventurous, and kindhearted individuals anyone could ever meet. Every day I’m given the pleasure of getting to know them through various activities, like the Papal Audience where we stood in the pouring cold rain at 4 in the morning huddled together to keep warm or cheered each other on while kicking a soccer ball on Wednesdays. I was blessed this week by the Pope, but have come to realize through every moment I experience here, that I’m blessed constantly not just in that one ceremony. It was amazing to say the least, but did something in me that made me take a step back and realize that I got so lucky.

As if getting blessed by the Pope at the Papal Audience and winning my first ever Calcio Game 7-1 on Team Rosa wasn’t enough, I embarked on a journey to Hungary not knowing how much it would change me. Budapest, a city that was once divided only 25 years ago, showed me sincere unity that made me never want to leave. I would do a 15 hour bus ride with a group of study abroad students who were complete strangers any day just so I could return and feel the warmth of the Hungarian people and enjoy the soul food they constantly served. Through this experience a whirlwind of emotions came over me, doing activities that gave me the biggest adrenaline rush and complete serenity.

Everything everyday is a once in a lifetime opportunity because regardless if I repeat the motions and do it all over again, anything I do will never be the same. Due to this mentality I’ve established, my fearless nature has grown on me, leading me to caving in the world-renowned roots of their city. Expecting to remain on my feet the whole time, getting handed a heavy helmet and jumpsuit surprised me. The unexpected adventure awaited, leading me through the tunnels and rocks meters deep from the surface. When given the choice of going the easy or hard route, I always picked the difficulties. Squeezing through rocks with holes only big enough to get your head through, and trusting others I just met taught me how the world has more to it than what we see everyday and that if you put your mind to it, you really can do anything.


After a day filled with intensity, the exact opposite was experienced at the Szechenyi Baths where outdoor and indoor pools are naturally heated for locals and tourists to enjoy regularly. Steam filled the air and bar side crowded pools overwhelmed me with complete serenity. Strangers enjoyed each other’s company for hours sitting in swimsuits in 30 degree weather. It expressed Budapest uniqueness and community setting, something that they saw as ordinary.

In between the continuous stream of emotions, I got to enjoy the delicacies of the city taking breaks at restaurants eating Goulash and walking for miles from Buda to Pest grasping all of its history and newness. I became educated about the history of this forgotten country during my Communist Walking Tour and lost track of the miles interested in sight seeing more than the pain of my feet. The streets lead me to St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square, the Chain Bridge, the Great Synagogue, the Hungarian Parliament Building seen from a distance, and Castle Hill where the Royal Palace is located. After making my way from one end to the next, I enjoyed the world’s 3rd greatest nightlife at the Ruin Bars only a block from where I was staying. Night turned into morning after meeting new friends while singing Grease and making our way through the 6 bars in what seemed to be a huge apartment building. The weekend ended before I knew it, filling me with this urge of extending my stay. I saw the cities greatest attractions, but left feeling as if it had more to offer me.

Budapest is unlike any other city, for that exact reason, I grew to love it. It brought me to my highest levels of fear and then washed away my worries. It showed me the power of forgiveness and need for unity. It stood for more than an economically driven city, like those of our time. There were no souvenir shops, and only people speaking the world’s most complicated language, but it only brought contentment. Budapest left me Hungary for more making a weekend trip turn into a future residency.

One week is all it took me to realize life’s greatest blessings given to me by God. He brought me to the Pope and then to what I believe to be the world’s greatest city. I went from being a girl with plans of returning to America for a life of a white picket fence and backyard in the suburbs to dreaming about my future house across the Chain Bridge, exchanging Euros for Florints. My heart overcame my head as always, leaving me Hungary for more than the life I thought I dreamed of.

Although my wish list continues to grow, my heart continues to see the blessings my life has given me. I’m off to satisfy my hunger and continue this great adventure I’m experiencing.


Ciao for now,

Gabriella Lunich

Modena: Italy’s Racing Heritage

Modena: Italy’s Racing Heritage

Ciao tutti-

Last weekend was a very exciting weekend for me, as it was the weekend of my 21st birthday. As part of my celebration, I decided to venture to Modena, a city in the Emilia-Romania region of Italy where the racing company Ferrari was born.

After a few hours of travel, I finally arrived to the city. What was unusual about this particular day, however, was the fact that there were several inches of snow on the ground. Although I am used to the snow from being from the Midwestern United States, this was an abnormal occurrence for the people in this city; as such, travel and walking was incredibly difficult. Nonetheless, I was ready to explore the town.

My first stop, of course, was for lunch. Because many restaurants were closed due to the snow, I was forced to eat at a hotel restaurant. Though a bit overpriced and not the best food I have had in Emilia-Romania, the food and service was still quite good.

Before I even ordered anything, the wait staff brought me a free glass of prosecco, some bread, and prosciutto cotto (aka bologna). For lunch, I ordered a piece of bruschetta alla Modenese, lasagne alle Bolognese, and some Chianti red wine. Although the lasagna that I had in Bologna last semester was much more flavorful, I still preferred this lasagna over the lasagna from our orientation trip, as I prefer lasagna with a meaty ragu sauce instead of a mostly tomato-based sauce. The bruschetta antipasto was very flavorful; it was a combination of rosemary, cheese, balsamic vinagrette, and parma ham. Overall, this was a very good restaurant for an otherwise rainy and snowy day.

After lunch, I ventured to the city’s main attraction, which was the Enzo Ferrari Museum. Once I got inside, I was warmly greeted by a hostess who gave me my ticket and showed me the entrance. Inside the main car exhibit floor, there were several models of Masseratis, Ferraris, and Fiats. In addition, there was a whole history of the Ferrari company, as well as how involved the town of Modena was in its production.

In addition, there was a side building, where there were more cars, as well as a historical account of the life of Enzo Ferrari, the master behind the “Prancing Horse.” In one exhibit, there was a letter that explained how Ferrari could have entered into a deal with Ford to build a supercar. However, Ferrari wanted to preserve the integrity of his brand, as well as keep the heritage of the company all Italian. Instead, Ford decided to merge with the British car company Shelby; so thanks for Ferrari, the Shelby Cobra supercar from Ford and Shelby was created. If Ferrari had accepted the deal, the history behind the Mustang would be much different.

I was very grateful to see this museum and visit the town of Modena, as I have a great appreciation and love for everything car related, as well as for the food of Emilia-Romania.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, and I look forward to posting again soon!

A presto,


The Pope, calcio, Pompeii and good ol’ Rick Steves

The Pope, calcio, Pompeii and good ol’ Rick Steves

This past week has been packed with amazing experiences.

Tuesday was pretty tame, but I familiarized myself with the neighborhood and found a local café where I wrote a short story – something I’d like to get back into doing – while drinking a caffe latte. Later that night, I joined a floor event and watched American Sniper in Rinaldo’s Café.

Classes were cancelled on Wednesday, but I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to get in line for the Papal Audience at St. Peter’s Basilica. By the time the security gates opened at 7:30, I couldn’t feel my extremities thanks to the cold and incessant rain. Our group had also been edged further back in the “line,” which became more and more like a blob as Italians and nuns pushed their way toward the gate. The nuns don’t hesitate to use elbows, either. We ran to the Pope Pall VI Hall where the audience would be held and snatched up some good seats toward the front. Before the Pope entered the room, each country in attendance was recognized. It was remarkable to hear how many places were represented, how many people traveled so far for a pilgrimage of faith. When Papa Francesco finally entered the room, he walked slowly down the center aisle, greeting everyone and shaking hands. With people climbing over each other to reach out to him, it looked oddly similar to a One Direction concert. Almost everyone was standing on a chair just to catch a glimpse. But with smiles everywhere, some people crying with joy, and children jumping up and down trying to see over the crowd, it also reminded me of the scene in The Polar Express where the elves form pyramids and do backflips when Santa appears.

The audience was only about an hour long. Each passage of scripture and Pope Francis’s remarks were translated about eight times into different languages. I thought I had understood most of what was being said, specifically about the difficulties of fatherhood. However, I later read an article that said the Pope had made some controversial commentary about physically disciplining children, which I completely missed. My absentmindedness definitely serves as a testament to how limited your mental capacity is after getting only two hours of sleep. If I could do it all over again I’d get the extra sleep and push to the front of the gate, in true Italian fashion. Still, I’m in awe that I had the opportunity to attend such a significant event. When I woke up from a nap later that afternoon, I thought for a moment it had all been a dream.

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The best picture I could capture of Pope Francis. The chaos is evident.

Also on Wednesday, I had my first calcio (soccer) match! I’d been super nervous about playing since I had never played soccer before, aside from once or twice in high school gym class. During dinner on Wednesday, the SLAs hosted a Welcoming Ceremony before the games started. Pedro asked us to stand and place our hands over our hearts for the Calcio National Anthem, and all of a sudden “Fireball” by Pitbull began blasting through the speakers. We also watched a video compilation of the greatest inspirational speeches of all time, which always pumps me up. After taking the calcio oath of good sportsmanship, my nerves had calmed and I was ready to play.

I watched the first round of teams play for a while before finally my team, Celeste (Light Blue), was up to bat.

I figured the best way to play was to give it my best shot and pretend like I knew what I was doing. I assumed what I considered a “power stance,” knees bent, shoulders back, and played the defensive position as best I could. Once, the ball hit me square in the thigh, which blocked it from the goal. It was very empowering to have helped my team by simply standing in the right place at the right time, but I gladly took the praise as Pedro shouted from the sideline, “You’re killin’ it Angie!” Even the teammates who are extremely talented at soccer were patient and supportive of those of us who lack skill and experience.

My goal for the next half was to strike the ball instead of just being struck by the ball. I managed to complete a pass at one point! It was haphazard, but I definitely was starting to get the hang of it. Celeste defeated team Arancia 6-0! All the teams went out for pizza and beer afterwards, upholding calcio tradition.

Thursday night involved a gelato crawl with my floor. I finally went to Giolitti. It was even more amazing than I expected, and conveniently right around the corner from the Pantheon! On Friday, my Art in Rome class met at St. Peter’s Basilica. We learned about the significance of the massive statues of saints, the baroque artwork by Bernini, and saw a Raphael painting. After class, a friend and I went down into the catacombs where numerous former Popes are entombed.

Saturday morning I left for Pompei (the modern city) to see the ruins of Pompeii (the ancient city). We navigated our way through the train station pretty easily, but things got a little hairy on the last leg of our trip (note the European joke), when we had to catch a bus. All of a sudden a lady started speaking to my friend and me in rapid-fire Italian. I desperately uttered, “Parlo inglese,” but quickly noted that many Italians could not care less whether or not they’re understood. They just keep talking and talking. The woman told us through various gestures and a few comprehensible phrases to get on the same bus as her, and so that’s basically how we made it to Pompeii.

It’s too bad we didn’t look up directions to the hostel before we got there. We wandered for a couple hours trying to find it, but did stop for some delicious pizza and calzone on the way. We engaged in “Defensive Eating,” not knowing when our next meal would be; I consumed an entire pizza capricciosa. No ragrets.

Pizza capricciosa
Pizza capricciosa

Long story short, we did not see much of the Pompeii ruins on Day 1. Instead, we got very familiar with the quaint little town of Pompei and had some lovely conversations with the locals (in Italian!).

On Sunday, however, we got up bright and early having slept well in our very accommodating hostel. We Defensive- Ate the free breakfast provided (Cornetti, yogurt, and some sort of tiramisu thing) and set out for the ruins. We saw the main entrance that Pompeiians used, the Forum, the Temple of Jupiter, the House of the Faun, and stumbled upon an old brothel. A comical Rick Steves audio-tour guided us through the experience. What was incredible about Pompeii was the size of the area preserved by the volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. The streets were just as they had been when the city was thriving – before Vesuvius “ruined everyone’s plans,” as Rick Steves put it. Seeing the castes of the victims was a sobering experience. One was frozen in a face down position; another with their hands covering their face. I kept thinking of how those last moments played out for the people who had either been too sick or too stubborn to leave.

For the next part of our trip, we took a minibus to the cause of the destruction itself. What’s amazing is that Mt. Vesuvius is still an active volcano, and so many people still live in the area. Our minibus driver, Pasquale, took us partway up the mountain and said, in broken English, “I stop here. Road: ice. Go two kilometers to top.” So we started hiking. Sure enough, 40 minutes later, we reached the furthest point possible (it was too snowy to reach the crater). From there, we had a superb panorama of Capris, Sorrento, and all of Naples. And now I can say I’ve climbed an active volcano!

On top of Mt. Vesuvius!
I made it to the top of Mt. Vesuvius!

Finally, Pasquale drove us to Herculaneum, a small, extremely wealthy city that had been engulfed in lava the day after Vesuvius’ first eruption. It stretches stories below the modern city, basically settled in a giant pit. The lava preserved everything so well that many roofs, wooden doors, and walls remain almost entirely intact. Many of the buildings are mansions of sorts with fascinating art and gorgeous mosaic floors. It was easy to imagine the marketplace bustling with activity and people enjoying their lavish lifestyles. My impression was put into perspective when, just before we left, I glanced down and saw dozens of skeletons piled on top of each other, beyond the arches of cellar-like structures that faced away from Vesuvius.

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The ruins and victims in Herculaneum

At the train station in Naples, we had time to spare before our departure so we walked around outside the station to get a feel for the city. I’ve been warned that it’s sketchy, and it’s true. My friend and I didn’t necessarily fear for our lives, but as she puts it, “The male gaze was strong.” It was certainly disconcerting. We decided that Naples is probably a lovely city when you get a mile past the train station, but we weren’t going to see for ourselves.

I’m deeply sorry for this absurdly long post. If you’re still reading this, thanks for making it through!

Buonasera, miei amici!

A castle, a gelateria, a Parmesean bowl, and a few piazzas (a long-overdue update)

A castle, a gelateria, a Parmesean bowl, and a few piazzas (a long-overdue update)

I’ve had two action-packed weekends and a two weeks of classes since my last update! Time really got away from me, so I’ll split it into two posts. Alas, here’s part one:

One highlight of the week before last was going out with a friend on what would have otherwise been a dull Tuesday. We spent a little bit of time walking around St. Peter’s Basilica, but then meandered down the street to Castel San Angelo. By the time we got halfway to the top of the castle, the sun was setting across from the Tiber River. It was as magnificent as anything you could imagine. Someone was playing guitar, a young Italian man was playing with a dog, people were casually walking around without a care in the world, light from the setting sun and streetlights just turning on were reflecting off the water…and I was standing in a castle. When we reached the top it was dark outside, and we got to see the whole city lit up. But more importantly, from the top of the castle, we spotted a crowd gathering around what could only have been Ed Sheeran — he was on tour in Rome that night!

Okay, realistically, it was just a large group of tourists gathering to take a picture. But I like to believe it was my pal Ed.

The view from Castel San Angelo
The view from Castel San Angelo

Later that night, we had a dish called Cacio e Pepe at Sparta Roma in Trastevere. It’s tagliolini (a type of pasta) served in a bowl made entirely of Parmesan. And, yes, you can eat the Parmesan. Best believe I did. I also highly recommend the tiramisu! We had the pleasure of dining next to a Korean-Canadian student named Elvis, who has long dark hair, wore a Misfits hat, and told us about how he’s traveling the world.

Another exciting thing that happened two weeks ago was attending the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Church of St. Ignatius, Loyola’s patron saint. The church, like everything else here, was stunning (I’m quickly running out of adjectives). There were “fake” domes painted on the ceiling, made very convincing through optical illusion. For this reason I spent a lot of time looking upwards during mass…which is totally appropriate in a religious setting, if you think about it. The sheer size of the church, still with so much attention to detail and symmetry, was unlike anything I’ve seen before.

While many people went on their first trips, I spent last weekend exploring Rome.

On Friday, a friend (shout-out to Val!) helped me discover my favorite gelateria in the neighborhood: Il Pelicano. For the past week I’ve found a way to incorporate it into nearly every conversation. I’m telling you, it’s nothing short of divine. It’s not enough to say that the flavors are wonderfully rich and creamy. The gelato is dipped (dipped!) in chocolate (chocolate!!) and nuts, and topped with whipped cream.

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Gelato from Il Pelicano


After we indulged in the divine, Val and I were taken under the wing of an American student named Grace who attends a nearby university. She guided us to Via Del Corso by way of the Metro, where we popped in and out of stores until finally we reached Piazza del Popolo at sunset. A guy was playing the electric guitar in the middle of everyone bustling around, a tall Egyptian Obelisk towered over the scene, and it felt like we had just discovered this incredible secret that’s been hidden from the outside world. Piazza del Popolo truly feels like the “People’s Piazza” – not necessarily a piazza for tourists, who so many of the other piazzas seem to serve.

We ventured to a lookout above Popolo called Piazza Napoleone and were rewarded with a serene view of the city. The clouds had parted just enough for us to see the sun setting directly behind the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. I could faintly make out the tune of “Stairway to Heaven” being played in the piazza below. “TI AMO” — “I love you” — was sprayed in giant black letters on a sidewalk. I reflected on how I’d started my day with absolutely no plan in mind, yet we hadn’t gotten lost for a single moment. And I realized that’s the secret to adventure: If you don’t have any idea where you’re going, you can’t get lost.

That revelation somewhat eases the pain of the fact that I also have no idea what I’m going to do for the rest of my life (yay college years!).

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Sunset over Piazza del Popolo


The next day, I ended up in Piazza del Popolo again with a different group of friends. This time, a man was entertaining children with a giant bubble maker, someone else was playing acoustic guitar, and people were sitting around everywhere, content, simply enjoying the moment. Behind the lookout on Piazza Napoleone we explored Villa Borghese, a huge green and lush park. We wandered around for a long time, past a dog park, a zoo, and the National Museum of Modern Art. Throughout the Villa there were busts of many of the most influential people in history… Cavour, Machiavelli, and Marco Polo to name a few. We walked through a free museum that had no art in any room except for one. This one displayed the art of refugees from all around the world. The artists scavenged tons (literally, tons) of garbage around Rome to piece together collages of monuments in this city. The art looks simple, but its message is powerful: a humble ‘thank you’ to the city that has taken them in.

Sunday, after finding out that the Keats-Shelley museum I’d set out for was closed, I treated myself to gelato and sat on the Spanish Steps for a while. Then I traipsed through Villa Borghese (again) to the National Museum of Modern Art. My favorite parts were the cracked-mirror floor in the entrance and the massive statues in the classics and mythology section, particularly one depicting a mother smiling at her infant with the most joyful, uninhibited expression. I also spotted a few famous works by artists such as Warhol, Cezanne, Monet, Clemente, and Magritte. I’m not an art scholar by any means, but I enjoyed being swept up in comparing the styles, color schemes, lighting, and contexts of all the paintings.

This is where I’ll leave off and begin crafting a post about this past week – I’ll try to post more often so I don’t have to keep making ridiculously long ones!

A dopo, ragazzi!

Finally Getting Used to This City

Finally Getting Used to This City

Happy February everyone! Today I write to you more adjusted to Rome than I was last month. It’s only the 9th but February seems like it will be a good month! Here are some of my highlights and fails thus far.

Papa Francesco

Papa Francesco

Yes, I saw Papa Francesco and I am still in shock and it happened last week. Loyola gave us the day off to attend his first Papal Audience for the month of February. Whether you are Catholic or not, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet the great leader of the Catholic church. A bunch of us Loyola kids were told to go line up early so we could get a good seat inside. Well us brainiacs thought that 4:30AM (yes people, AM) would be a great idea. Wrong! I will tell you, this was perhaps the biggest fail since I’ve been in Rome, HUGE rookie mistake. Just picture this in your head: 200 Loyola students huddled together in the rainy, cold, windy weather at 4:30AM. I hope you laughed, because I still laugh at myself for going that early. Regardless, I saw the Pope and it was amazing.



We had a makeup class day on Friday due to our day off for Papal Audience so my friends and I decided to check off some of the closer cities in Italy. Our first stop, Florence. Despite getting incredibly lost and walking around the city of Florence six or seven times, I will confirm that I in fact love the city of Florence. Coming from the chaotic city of Rome where everyone is going somewhere, Florence was a great change of pace. It is quiet, clean, small and simple. What I liked most about Florence was that there was a great balance between historical sites and entertainment (shopping). You could walk through the streets and get a taste of the tourist side of Florence but also life there in general. Currently planning a trip to go back!


Venice + Friends

Florence and Venice were our first trips we planned when we got to Rome and another rookie mistake we made was not knowing when Carnival was happening. I thought Carnival was only one week but it’s actually two! So when we went it was very crowded and did change my feelings towards Venice. If we had gone during a time that was not Carnival I think I would’ve liked it but being in a huge crowd with lots of people in costumes is not entirely my scene. A plus side was that it was great weather and very sunny, making the crowds slightly more bearable.

That’s all I got for now. Till next time! 


What’s More Irish: Whiskey, Castles, or the Countryside?

What’s More Irish: Whiskey, Castles, or the Countryside?

It seems as though weeks have gone by since I last blogged. Not because I have been particularly busy, but I have done and seen so many things in just a week and a half. Last Friday, a group of us went to the Jameson Distillery which is about a 15 minute train ride away. The distillery is located in Midleton which is a small town in county Cork. We were able to tour the old distillery where some of the buildings dated back to 1795. After the tour (which was much chillier than anticipated due to old drafty buildings) we were able to warm up with taste testings of whiskey. The taste testing consisted of a half a shot of Jack Daniels, a Scottish whiskey, and, of course, Jameson. In comparison to the other two whiskeys, Jameson was much smoother, most likely as a result of being distilled three times. The end of the taste testing resulted in me receiving my own certificate as a whiskey taste tester– something I will be sure to put on my resume.


The next day, we woke up early, climbed on a bus, and headed to the Rock of Cashel. This trip, provided and organized by USAC, was a fantastic look at one of Ireland’s oldest castles. The castle was gorgeous and one of the few projects that are under Ireland’s preservation work, so it was in excellent shape. We toured the castle which during its time was used as the seat of the kings of Munster and later on the head of the Archbishop of Cashel. The tour was both outside and inside the castle but when we ventured outside it brought be right back to Chicago. Not only is Ireland a bit windy naturally, but the Rock of Cashel sits on top of a hill resulting in extremely strong winds hitting the tour group as we moved in and out. After the tour of the castle ended we had lunch in the town and then went and visited Holy Cross Abbey. The church is still in use today and was a perfect little stop to end our day trip.

inside of the Rock of Cashel
Windy City pt. 2
Holy Cross Abbey

After our exciting adventures, we spent the next day gearing up for the Super Bowl. While one of our friends, Eric, is actually from Boston and was intent on watching the game and rooting for the Patriots, the rest of us had one thing in mind– food. As a group we planned and cooked a feast consisting of wings, chips and guacamole, burgers, fries, crepes, cookies, brownies, and more. After thoroughly stuffing ourselves with as much food as possible we went down to a bar that was showing the game. The game didn’t start until 11:30 and to my great dismay, they didn’t show any American commercials. While this makes sense in hindsight, the sorrow I felt after the first commercial break was extreme. We left in different groups throughout the evening, others lasted much longer than I did, but I went home not even before the end of the first quarter. My excuse was that I was waking up at 8:30 the next morning, but to be honest, if there wasn’t going to be fun commercials to watch, then why stay?

The week passed quickly as usual, and I even had to complete a homework assignment*gasp*! But a 1,000 word article review couldn’t bring me down, as the girls and I planned for one thing to keep us going– treat yo self. For all you Parks and Recreation fans out there you know what this means, and for those who don’t, all your questions will be answered if you just watch this video. Our treat yo self day was in honor of us all no longer being sick and was just what we needed. Since we didn’t have class on Friday, we began our day with brunch at Soho, where we drank champagne cocktails and ate waffles, we then spent all day shopping where I splurged on a purchase of a leather jacket (but that’s ok because treat yo self), we then ate some Mexican food (which was surprisingly delicious) and drank sangria, and ended the day with face masks back at our apartment that we had bought for 1 Euro at H&M. The day was fantastic but at the end we remembered that treat yo self can only happen once and we are now having a save yo money month.


Finally, 5 of us spent all day yesterday in the BEAUTIFUL Dingle Peninsula. I had stayed in Dingle the other time I had come to Ireland when I was 12 and knew I wanted to go back. We booked a Paddy Wagon tour, which put us on a bus with 20 other tourists from around the world as we drove all over the countryside of Ireland and stopped throughout Dingle. The day was too perfect to describe. There was no rain, not even a cloud in the sky, and everything I saw I felt like I was seeing in HD. The tour started in Cork, stopped in Killarney, then went to Dingle where we visited Inch Beach, Coumeenole Beach, and the town of Dingle, as well as taking a number of photo stops along the way. It was a perfect day in every way imaginable, complete with wonderful scenery, a wonderful tour guide, and of course wonderful company.

Inch Beach
Coumeenole Beach


Up next is AMSTERDAM! T-minus 4 days until my first out of the country trip and I cannot be more excited. Until next time…