The GoGlobal Blog

Month: March 2015

I LANDed in a place of peace, Sicily!

I LANDed in a place of peace, Sicily!

Start each day with the mentality that you will learn something, whether it be from the people around you, places you visit, or information distributed to youHold on to the understanding that your greatest education is not in the number of degrees you hold, but in the moments you truly experience. It’s measured by how often you take yourself to a new place and discover something. It’s when you leave your comfort zone and explore, opening your eyes in ways you never thought possible. It’s taking something out of a single moment with you no matter how far in distance you goYou learn by living because lessons are constantly around you. 

I’ve been lucky enough to be taught beyond the realm of four walls, transforming a classroom into places bodies of water and continents apart. They’ve come to teach me more than basic subjects of science, history and math, making me evaluate what it is that can make me become a better individual and how I can not only help myself, but those around the world. Rome has opened my eyes to this world outside of my own and continues to remind me daily how important it is to take in all of life’s lessons. It’s taught me more than any other place ever could. 

 Although the world has been my greatest classroom, I still hold the role of student and am required to “study” like all others hoping to get diplomas, but am fortunate enough to go beyond the norm of lesson plans. Being apart of the John Felice Rome Center has given me the opportunity to combine my goals with experiences brought to me by impeccable educators. It has allowed me to remove myself from the typical scheduled curriculum and learn more than the limits of a syllabus. It’s a place without limitations, allowing students who are interested to attend courses even if only for a period. 

By doing this myself and joining a class for the day with no intentions of receiving credits, I learned, as the students ofthe Valued Based Leadership class do, that it’s only when you take the chance to see the world, that your blessed with the presence and understanding of world leaders. Professor Emilio Iodice, allowed me to learn the impact of world leaders by not sitting in a lecture room, but joining his students on a trip reflecting on Italy’s world leaders. 


We were given a private tour of Mussolini’s office, where we had the chance to stand on the balcony where he performed speeches and walk around a room where he planned the progression of a system of government, known as the Fascist movement. Although he lead a country to war and had much of a negative impact on the world, it was empowering to see how one place can have such on influence on the place I stand today. He brought Italy to it’s present day and I, of all people, was in his office. Realizing that much lead to Mussolini, we were taught about the leadership and impact of Julius Caesar walking the path of his daily life through the ruins of his home, senate, forum and temple where he later was assassinated. We were taught not be a book, but by what was right in front of us evoking emotions and empowerment within all of us. I stood in the place of former world leaders, making me question if there is ever anything stopping me from being one myself. 

My appreciation of the influential educators and people I’m surrounded with everyday was affirmed when attending the school trip to Sicily. I, along with 39 other students in my program, embarked on a journey to an Island in the Sun with the view of Africa across the sea. Without knowing it I had everything I ever needed, not a care in the world, and people just as beautiful as the places we were visiting. 

People always ask if you were stuck on an island, what would be the three things you’d bring. The answer would be simple, if I were to be lucky enough to be stuck on Sicily, absolutely nothing. After moments of stepping off the plane or ferry one loses sight of the needs for time, electronics, or worries. Watches were removed, phones were put away, and just being was all that was needed to fit right in. After what had been a stressful week of preparing for midterms, it was as if God knew this would be the perfect remedy. 

The Sicilian culture and people hit you before ever step foot on the island. Moments after take off, I learned through the actions and care of the Sicilian natives I was surrounded by that they were unlike any other people. They were more concerned with getting to know me as an individual, regardless of the slight language barrier, than the 45 minutes of sleep they’d be getting. They went for a simple conversation, but left me as life long friends I’d never forget. They invited their children to play with me, told me stories of their childhood among the mountains, and embraced me as if I was their own, when truly I was the farthest from it. It took me 45 minutes with 5 people, a two year old name Julia, her parents in their early thirties, and a couple happily carrying the title of Nonno and Nonna to experience first hand that regardless of origin or age, that these people and this trip would forever change me.


Once landing in Palermo, we started off our weekend in smaller surrounding cities among the hills where we experienced first hand the impact and influence the Greeks had on these Italian people. We got lost in the detail work of the Cathedral and Cloister of Monreale, wandered through the ruins of the Temple and Theatre of Segesta, and found ourselves overlooking the sea while admiring temples of Selinunte. We saw what we thought to be a place of true beauty, but little did we all know it was only the beginning, they were simply preparing us for what was coming.

We landed ourselves in the city of Agrigento where we’d be staying, learning about the enjoyments of their culture through food, tourists sites and night life. We enjoyed what I’d consider to be the greatest meal I’ve ever had at Trattoria Dei Templi, eating 9 courses that incorporated over 20 fish found within the waters of the Mediterranean daily. Between the changing of dishes and multiple toasts, I came to realize there was more than the food that was wonderful, it was the people on this study trip with me. 

After enjoying Agrigento we made our way East on the island to Piazza Armerina where we were taken away by the green grass and yellow Daisies found within the fields of ruins. Without even having to try, Sicily was naturally beautiful. The liveliness of its people resembled the bright colors of its land. The hills took us to the sea where we found ourselves in the city of Taormina, a place of high class, small buildings, and the greatest view of Mount Edna. Sitting in the Theatre with the sun shining enjoying a pistachio cannoli and the greatest view of the city was all I needed to get a full understanding as to why it was the top tourist destination of the island. There was no thinking just being, and the moment I realize I couldn’t leave we made our way to our final destination of Palermo.


Professor Evers warned us at the beginning of this trip, between being our very own tour guide, that Sicily would go straight into a special place in our hearts and become a place we’ll always strive to come back to. He was right about this, along with all of his historical facts, encouraging us to hold on to our memories of the island when needing a moment of relief for times of stress, doubt, or worry.

This trip brought me more than relaxation in times of complete insanity, it brought me lifelong friends who came with me as students, my Professor and Director of Academics Sander, and Student Life Assistant, Steven. I embarked on this weekend getaway without any of my closest friends, but came to experience the diversity and beauty of the students of the John Felice Rome Center through moments of complete chaos and serenity. We left our comfort zones together, enjoyed the wide range of activities and sites of the island and left being our very own “Sicilian” family. Sicilia settled in a special place in my heart because I was fortunate enough to not only discover an island, but the wonderful people I’m surrounded with daily.

Sicily opened my eyes to what was really important, to live a life finding the core reason to your happiness, whether that be in the amazing food you eat, in my case Sicily’s seafood, people you were surrounded with, or sites from hundreds of years ago. This lesson is the souvenir I returned to Roma with in hopes of finding a piece of Sicily within each of my days.


When returning to my daily routine I was brought back to the lessons given to the me earlier in the week about what it takes to be a world leader, one of which is recognizing when you need a break and the other finding the leader within all those around you. Sicily brought me to peace, while giving me a new and different appreciation for the country I live in. Roma, my home, brought me to the greatest leader in Italy and one of the most influential people in the world, an example who’s lessons are taken in by millions of people within the Catholic Church, Papa Francesco. Blessed with his presence during the return of my second Papal Audience, I was reminded that in order to lead an extraordinary life, I had to find the extraordinary way of living.

Ciao for now as I continue on my journey of leading & finding the many reasons as to why I’ve never been so happy.



Gabriella Lunich


A Spring Break Full of ‘Hygge’

A Spring Break Full of ‘Hygge’

God efftermiddag!

I just returned  from a wonderful mid-semester vacation in Denmark!  (hence, the Danish greeting)  I stayed with a former Rotary Exchange student of my family, Karoline, her husband, Mads, and their two daughters, Silke and Rosa.  My five days with them were filled with relaxing on their family farm, puzzles at their beach house on the North Sea, and just experiencing the true Danish culture.


Besides also catching up on sleep, I accompanied both Karoline and Mads to the classes they teach in the town of Skjern.  As both an aspiring journalist and university student, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the inner-workings of the Danish education system.  It was amazing to see Karoline’s work teaching refugee students the Danish language, helping them acclimate to the local culture.  I was able to not only sit with them and work on my basic and very limited Danish skills, but also interact with them one-on-one.  Let me explain…

There was a Colombian woman in my learner class who spoke Spanish.  It was apparent just watching her from across the room she was comprehending hardly anything the instructor said.  When we went on break, I mentioned off-offhandedly I spoke a bit of Spanish.  For the rest of the day, I sat with the Colombian woman translating instructions and teaching her how to use a computer, for I’m pretty sure she has never seen one in her life.  And she is only one of the thousands of refugees the country takes in everyday.  It’s inspiring. The social system in Denmark, while it may still have its kinks, is astounding in its ability to educate and provide opportunity to every one of its citizens. But I digress…

Trying to speak Danish is incredibly difficult!  I picked up a lot on my visit, but it has to be one of the hardest languages to pronounce.  Karoline and Mads definitely humored my attempts 🙂   Although, it’s not imperative to learn Danish when you visit anyways since nearly all students are required to learn English.

In Denmark, I also found out that I love Danish food.  Karoline made it her mission to cook authentic Danish dishes for me almost every night, including making a full Christmas feast with pork roast, three kinds of potatoes, and my new favorite dessert, rice pudding with cherry sauce! For people unfamiliar with Danish culture, pork and potatoes are the main food staples.  And for people unfamiliar with my eating habits, I LOVE pork and potatoes.  I’m also  a new fan of the Danish brew, Carlsberg.  I was pretty happy about the situation.


Overall, my trips were filled with hygge.  ‘Hygge’ is a Danish word meaning the warmth of spending good time with good friends.  Karoline explained it to me on my very first night, sitting in front of a fire sipping wine in their beautiful farmhouse. It’s a Danish word that has no English equivalent and describes perfectly my time in Denmark.




Dub-town Funk You Up

Dub-town Funk You Up

With a stuffed backpack and bus ticket in hand, (and by in hand, I mean on my phone because it still takes me way to long to figure out the printer on campus) I headed off to Dublin on Thursday afternoon. While I was extremely excited to visit Dublin, I didn’t have much on my list to see, I had tickets to see the Book of Kells and go to the Guinness factory, but apart from that, I was just ready to explore. Luckily, I had the best tour guide sitting right next to me on the bus ride down. My friend Marypaz, had actually interned in Dublin for about 2 months a year and a half ago. While she didn’t have the city completely memorized, she did know what places to hit up, Irish friends to meet up with, and was ready to share it all with me.

Thursday night we arrived in our hostel where we quickly realized how spoiled we were in Amsterdam. In our Dublin hostel, we had no table or chairs, the wifi wasn’t that awesome, but the most awkward thing of all was that there were 3 strangers in our room with us. However, we chatted with them for a bit when we arrived, it was a French couple and a guy from Brazil who is currently living in Amsterdam, so we learned that they were cool, aka we could leave our backpacks in the room and not lock them up. That night we met up with two of Marypaz’s Irish friends, Shane and Conor, who brought us to a more local Irish night club where we were able to dance the night away (literally the night away since Savannah and I left ‘early’ at 3:30). We also were able to snag a Captain Morgan t-shirt that a worker was handing out and make the walk back with no trouble whatsoever.

We woke up early on Friday, and while the rest of our group went to the Guinness Factory, Marypaz and I went all around Dublin. We went shopping on Grafton Street, visited Trinity College, Saint Stevens Green, the Dáil Éireann (the house of Parliament), the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin castle, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. During our activities we were also able to squeeze in a lunch in a cute cafe and drink a cuppa in Dublin Castle. My favorite stop of the whole day was probably the National Museum where we were able to look at bog bodies. Bog bodies were bodies of people who have been thrown into the bogs in Ireland usually as a sacrifice of some sort. The bodies we saw were from 200-400 BC and yet, you could still make out the fingernails on their hands because the bogs are able to preserve the bodies so well. We even saw their hair. It was super cool and I took pictures at the beginning, but in the end, I felt a bit queazy and had to stop. Marypaz and I also wanted to tour the Dáil but we missed the tour times, so we could only stand outside and stare at it. However, everything else we did was very fun and exciting and after we met up with the rest out our friends, we geared up to go out to Temple Bar. Note: Temple Bar is not just one bar, it is a street of many different clubs and pubs, and it is also very touristy, it’s not exactly a place that the locals hit up on the weekend. We did have fun though and made it back to the hostel in one piece so we could be up and ready for another busy day.

Bog Body fingernails
Drinking a cuppa a Dublin Castle

Saturday was equally as busy. I woke up and went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the old library. All I can say about that exhibit is WOW. It sounds cheesy, but it was so beautiful and impressive I was seriously blown away both by the artwork of the book and the history behind it all. One of the most interesting things for me was that the Book of Kells was made around 800 AD and in 1661 the book was given to Trinity college by the Bishop of Ussher. To me, it was amazing to think about how in 1661 the importance of this book was recognized and at such an early time, and the steps were made to ensure that it was preserved all the way until now. But not only was the Book of Kells magnificent, but the old library in Trinity college was mind-blowing. Fun fact: the library in Harry Potter was actually modeled off of the old library in Trinity, so that should give you an idea of how beautiful it was. I think that if this was the library I could actually study in, I may complete my homework in a timely manner.

Old Library


The Old Library


Book of Kells

After the Book of Kells, I was able to take a different tour of Dublin. Savannah, Marypaz, and I actually took a bus to the outskirts of Dublin to a place called Howth. Marypaz had previously said that her favorite place in all of Dublin was Howth so I knew that was definitely going to be something to check out. When we arrived, we met up with Shane, who was going to be our tour guide for the rest of the day (tour guide being taken very lightly). We looked out into the coast at Howth and walked around for a bit before the rain caught up with us. Luckily for us, Shane had managed to borrow his dad’s car for the day so we were able to be chauffeured around to see all these little suburbs outside of Dublin. We were able to see a castle in Malahide, try Nandos (a super good chicken place that isn’t in Cork), drink a couple of pints, and relax with great company.



Malahide Castle

My final day in Dublin was exciting because at 9am I was able to see my roommate and Chicago buddy, Alyssa. Alyssa flew in and arrived early on Sunday so as soon as she dropped her stuff off at the hostel I was staying at, I had to fill her up with an Irish breakfast, and then go to the Guinness factory. Pretty much ensuring she would be aware that she was in Ireland within the first few hours (plus it rained half of the way there, in case she wasn’t sure).  After the Guinness factory, we stopped in a little pub for lunch where we were able to watch the start of the Ireland vs. England rugby game (Ireland won btw) before we had to head off to the bus station.

Enjoying a pint at Gravity Bar in the Guinness Factory

Overall, my weekend in Dublin was fanatic. One interesting aspect about Dublin though was when I was at Dublin Castle and Trinity, I noticed pig statues all around the place. For all of my Cincinnati readers, you will know why I thought this was so funny. But for everyone else, in Cincinnati there are statues of flying pigs all over the city (the Cincinnati marathon is even called ‘The Flying Pig’) so I saw a little connection between my home town in Dublin. Another realization I came to when I was in Dublin was how happy I am that I am studying in Cork. Visiting Dublin was extremely exciting and it reminded me a bit of Chicago– both major cities, but because of that it made me recognize how safe Cork is. Cork is much smaller and more centralized, and while I have never walked home by myself in Cork, I would feel completely safe doing so. That means for people who say that Dublin is so much better than Cork, have you even been to Cork? Both cities are very different, but I am happy with my choice.


Finally, Marypaz and I are already planning a trip back to Dublin. I didn’t realize how much there was to see in Dublin until I was there and leaving. We hope to go back again in April and have a political tour of Dublin. We want to try to tour the Dáil, go to Arbor Hill cemetery, Croke park, and any other place we can squeeze in. Hopefully this happens because the more and more I learn about Irish politics, the more I want to visit all of these historical places. I also have to mail my postcard from the GPO which I was unable to do this past weekend (and yes the postcard is written to me, so it can wait to be mailed, I’m not going to be home anytime soon).

That’s all for now! This coming weekend– Kerry (aka I better get to hold a lamb)

p.s. look at this super cool picture of me touching the bullet holes on the GPO (great post office) where shots were fired at the 1916 Easter Rising. I was probably way too excited than I should have been.


A profession of my love for Paris

A profession of my love for Paris

I spent the weekend in Paris. It still seems surreal…I’m in a comical state of shock about it.

I’ve dreamed of going to Paris ever since I began learning French in middle school. And finally, over the weekend, I lived that dream, and it ended entirely too quickly. It was absolutely magical in the most unexpected way…in the sense that it was magical in literally every way.

I went with 7 friends from the Rome Center, including one friend from my French class freshman year of college, Melissa. It was wonderful to discover Paris for the first time together! We left early Friday morning and I read a Paris travel guide while listening to my favorite French tunes during the 2 hour flight.

When we arrived, we went straight to the apartment we rented through AirBnB. Embarrassingly, there were issues communicating with the janitor about getting the key — and then separate issues getting the key to work — but finally a kind resident named Guillaume who spoke a little bit of English helped us assuage the janitor and find a working key to the flat.  It was a flat in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, a dingy artist’s apartment that had a ladder leading to a tiny loft with two mattresses laid out on the floor and rugs covering up disconcerting stains on the carpet. We settled in and set out to find the Eiffel Tower. On the way, we stopped at a cafe and I ordered an obligatory croque madame, which was obviously delectable. The French waiters laughed at us, as was to be expected.


We traveled on, turned a corner, and there it was: the Eiffel Tower. I rattled off facts I’d learned from Rick Steves’ audio tour iPhone app as we stood beneath the massive arches that curved into the tower’s legs. We first went up an elevator to the second floor, which was surprisingly extremely high above the city, and then transferred to another one that took us to the top. I stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Looking out over Paris. (This is still sinking in.) Any of my friends can confirm that the biggest, most dazed smile remained plastered across my face the whole time. That is, except for the times I got a little teary-eyed. I’m an emotional person. We could see Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Seine River, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe… all that I’ve been reading about for years, finally laid out in front of me. From above, Paris looks like a dollhouse. The buildings, white and pristine, and some a complementary grey, are delicately decorated but not overly grandiose. The sun was setting and the Eiffel Tower’s long shadow folded itself over a multitude of buildings. I’m terrified of heights but forgot about my fear when I looked out over the magnificent city of lights. It’s no wonder so many of the greatest writers found their inspiration in Paris…Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein. Ah, mon coeur.


So after going to the Eiffel Tower, and taking some fantastically crazy Ellen-style selfies with it (“Elfies”), we walked along the Champs Elysees, a mile-long street filled to the brim with luxury in all forms. Lamborghini’s, fashionable people, the highest-end stores. The Arc de Triomphe crowned the end of the street with a yellowish glow, the flashes of cameras twinkling from the top, where tourists stood. We savored macaroons of various colorful flavors at Laduree and then had dinner — sandwiches, escargot and wine, for most of us — to end the physically exhausting (and, for me, emotionally exhausting) day.


The next morning we went to a Boulangerie down the street and got baguettes for breakfast. We skipped all the lines for the Louvre and got in for free because we’re studying in Europe. Basically, we were VIP status. We saw many wonderful works of art, including a couple of Monet pieces, but I have to say I most adored seeing Napoleon’s tiny bed and artifacts from his palace. Outside, we took pictures with the pyramid, walked through the Tuileries garden, and held pigeons. A few of my friends wanted to go to Chipotle, a commodity to us since there are none in Rome. But obsessed with immersing myself in anything and everything Parisian while I had the chance, I opted instead to go get crepes. Bri and I ordered a crepe salee (ham, cheese, and egg) and a Nutella Banana crepe to split between the two of us. Yes, they were divine. No, I’m not the same person as I was before. It was so French. Sitting in a cafe, eating crepes, chatting about life and people-watching. Paris, take me back!

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Next, we went to La Cure Gourmande, a chocolate shop near the opera house, where they gave us samples and I conversed with the employees in French. And then we went to Galleria Lafayette, a grandiose shopping center with seven floors and clothes that were slightly hundreds of dollars out of my price range. We had a fun time perusing the French fashion– and I even found something lovely for under 30 euros! We went up to the roof and looked out over the city, with a view of the opera house, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe. I really could never get used to that view. From inside, in a glorified food court, we watched the Eiffel Tower’s light show. Each of us gasped when it began — the tower sparkled, covered in thousands of shimmering lights. Even watching through a window, it was magical. For dinner, we ate at the apartment. Derrick and Advait made pasta and grilled cheese (made with Gruyere), that we paired with wine. While they cooked, we studied for our theology midterm exam, like the responsible students we are. It felt so right, being there with a great group of friends, chatting and eating dinner together in our Parisian flat. It was like a heartwarming scene from an indie movie. We went out later to Rue Mouffetard, which was recommended to us by several people for its nightlife. There, despite the rain, we found a crowded bar where everyone was drinking the same Belgian beer and we learned a bit about France’s gay culture, to put it simply. A little ways down the street, we danced in a club where the basement was a series of caves and they played extremely outdated American music. “Play that Funky Music” and “Boogie Wonderland” were big hits among the strangely mixed crowd of people. At the end of the rue, we found a chic lounge-bar, where we talked for a while and tried not to fall asleep in the assorted comfortable couches and chairs.

The next morning, I bought a cream-colored beret and we visited Notre Dame. Naturally, as cultured college students, we took more Elfies with it and Nick impersonated the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I was really excited by the flying buttresses, which I remember giggling about in French class many years ago. Honestly, though, the church was gorgeous. It stands out among all the other buildings not only because it’s massive and on and island, but because it’s bravely dark and gothic. Inside, next to a statue of St. Theresa and Joan of Arc, I felt moved to pray for the first time in a long time.


Then we ate more crepes. On the other side of the river, we went to Shakespeare and Company, a quaint little bookstore. Upstairs, in the attic, I eavesdropped on an English-language writing class, taking notes on their prompts and tips. I felt like I had found a place where I could belong in Paris; I imagined myself living there, attending that workshop…the future felt possible. Ironically, right after having that profoundly inspiring moment, I bought a book of Sylvia Plath’s poems that were written in the three years leading up to her death. C’est la vie.

The group split up for the last few hours of the day; we were all trying to squeeze in the last things we wanted to see and accomplish. A few of us went to the Musee D’Orsay, which was once a train station but was converted to a museum. This makes the interior of the museum fascinating in and of itself. We saw Van Gogh’s second Starry Night, as well as his self-portrait. I saw a Picasso painting (and laughed at loud at his comical style — not sure if that was the intended effect, but it is what it is), and lots of impressionist paintings including works of Renoir and Monet. I stood mesmerized, looking at Monet’s water lillies, letting the flecks of color envelop me in the serenity that Monet himself must have been feeling. I felt truly present. Often, my mind is a thousand different places apart from where I actually am. But not at that moment. I was completely there, in Paris, standing in front of one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Next, four of us split off to make a mad dash to Montemarte, wanting to squeeze it in before meeting everyone else back at the apartment. We didn’t know if we would make it in time, but after dozens of flights of stairs and a lot of power-walking, we finally made it to Sacre Coeur. From the top of Montemarte, we took in a last breathtaking view of the city. A man was playing guitar and singing “Hey There Delilah” in broken English with a thick French accent. The immense domes of Sacre Coeur, just as I’d heard, billowed into the sky like clouds. That moment was the peak of the trip. Making it to Sacre Coeur under a time crunch and physical strain was a microcosm of my lifelong dream of visiting Paris, in a way. Because nothing incredible — nothing worth working for — has ever been easy.


To make the end of our trip perfect, though, we had to make it to Moulin Rouge. I used my mad French skills to ask for and receive directions, we ran past a plaza filled with artists and down a hill, and finally we turned onto the Grand Boulevard that had an astounding number of risque cabarets. We saw the Moulin Rouge’s appropriately red windmill from a distance. In front of the building, Kelly, Bri and I donned our rouge lipstick and posed happily as Advait took our picture. I had one final delicious crepe (the most delicious of any I’d had over the weekend) from a nearby crepe stand, and we made it back to the apartment to meet everyone at exactly 5 p.m. The perfect ending.

The only thing I’m truly bummed about is that I didn’t get a chance to lean over in a restaurant and say to a Parisian, with a smirk, “Bon Apetit,” as Rick Steves highly recommended. Oh well…next time.

Paris, you can bet your baguettes that I will return! Tu me manques et je t’adore!








Hi readers!!

Last weekend a few friends and I hopped on a bus ( and then that bus hopped on a train, passengers and all ) and scooted over to the Netherlands for a few days in Amsterdam!  The trip was a bit of a hot mess. We hit the worst traffic our driver had ever seen on the way there, got rained on nearly the entire time, remembered we aren’t cut out for the 4am bedtime, and were subjected to the splash zone of a highly intoxicated traveler who barely stumbled through border control.

BUT we did get to see the Anne Frank house, which I have been waiting to do since I left Amsterdam in 2010, appreciate the very photogenic canals, try over thirty kinds of cheese, ingest approximately a million stroopwafels, watch a man blow water out of a freshly carved clog, take a million wet photos, try bitterballen (essentially fried gravy) and sleep in beds that may or may not have been handcrafted from the clouds (at least compared to our London beds 😉 ).

Our time in Amsterdam was in no way smooth sailing, but it certainly was a weekend I will never forget!

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On the way home, we spent the day in Bruges.

This little town was everything I’ve ever wanted out of Belgium and more. Not only did we go to a Frite Museum and learn anything and everything about the origin of the French fry/ chip/ frite/ slice of salty heaven, but we also got our own cone of authentic frites slathered in mayonnaise to enjoy as we admired the city.

Bruges itself was covered in painted buildings, horse drawn carriages, cobblestone (my poor feet), waffle stands, and history! I saw one of Michelangelo’s only sculptures housed outside of Italy, Madonna of Bruges. Then, we sprinted up the 366 stairs of the Belfrey tower for some aerial shots (my poor legs), and then promptly sped back down to get a Belgian waffle. And did we ever- those waffles are every bit as delicious as they look!

Overall, a wonderful place to spend the day and I would go back in a heart beat!

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I have lots more to tell you next time, so stay tuned!


On Saturday, We Go To The Opera.

On Saturday, We Go To The Opera.

Hello friends!

I know it has been quite a while but I wanted to write when I actually had something to update you all on. It has been a few weeks since I last wrote you and I will say that I do feel more at home in Rome, not completely because I still get so incredibly lost, but we are taking baby steps!

For the month of February my friends and I have been taking it easy and decided to stay in Rome and explore. Many JFRC alum have said that so many people travel to other cities in Europe that they often neglect the city that we live in. My friends and I wanted to avoid that, so we thought staying here for the month of February would be a good idea and I fully support our decision.


Gusta Pizza

Friday Torie, my friend, and I went back to Florence for round two. We both loved Florence and if you didn’t catch how much I really loved Florence, check out my first post about it!  This time around things felt different, we did not feel like complete rookies but what would a trip be without some rookie mistakes? We started off our day going to the infamous Gusta Pizza, supposedly the best in Florence. It was good pizza but I will say not entirely sure what the hype is all about (don’t hate me for saying that!). Everyone who goes gets a number ticket and I guess the tradition is to sign it and insert it into the table. So following on trend, we did and it was quite a struggle getting it in the table but it was success!

The first time we went to Florence we found a bag market and our hearts filled with glee. This time we found another bigger market and my heart pretty much exploded. Nothing a little retail therapy can’t fix!



On Saturdays, we go to the opera! I have never been to an opera before so I was not entirely sure what to expect but it was beautiful. We went to Tosca at Teatro Dell’ Opera and it was a dress rehearsal and the first show that they had.  Being able to get a little dressed up and just casually go to the opera on a normal Saturday really proved that I was in fact studying abroad in Italy. Being able to see a proper opera house and the costumes and set was quite an experience. I feel so cultured and so Italian.


Till next time!