The GoGlobal Blog

Month: September 2015

Week 1

Week 1

Well I made it.

Feels like I’ve been in London for approximately 3 months but I’ve actually been here now for exactly 10 days. My first few days here kind of blurred together. Most of my time the first weekend was spent meeting my new flatmates (all four of them), buying things for the flat to make it feel less like a sterile hospital ward (it was mostly a success), and getting to know the pub that we live above (they already know me by name). Before I get to anything about London, I might as well tell you about my flat first!

The three bedroom flat has one bathroom, no dryer, and is held together with duct tape in some places (literally). Some windows don’t open, some don’t close, and our neighbors keep finding bees. However, it’s in the best location you could possibly ask for in London by far! Not only is it right above a pub with good food and a great atmosphere, it’s about 2 feet away from Regent’s Park and 2 blocks away from the Baker Street Underground Station, which is super convenient. (Yes, for those of you Arthur Conon Doyle fans, it is THAT Baker Street. I’m approximately two doors down from 221b, which makes Sherlock Holmes my fictional neighbor. It’s a cool story to tell but I’m already getting tired of weaving in and out of tourists to get to my front door.) The location around my flat is insanely cool, and it’s also a pretty easy commute to my school; only a 25 minutes Tube ride away.

The Underground has been fairly easy to get the hang of so far, which I suppose I can thank my experience with Chicago public transportation for. The Tube is pretty much just like the L in Chicago, except a bit larger with a few million more people using it. Unfortunately, all my classes either begin or end (or both) during peak rush hour times. I have to transfer lines at King’s Cross station, which kind of makes me feel like a rat in a maze, but so far I’ve always gotten where I needed to be, so I’m going to call my experience with the public transit a success.

While not at orientation, I spent a good chunk of my week last week hitting all the tourist-y places. Camden Market was probably one of my favorites; a maze of food stalls and vintage stores, sometimes indoors, sometimes out. My friends can all expect to get their Christmas presents from Camden Town this year! Regent’s Park is super close to me and a really nice sized parks. It’s easy to get lost in and a great place to sit and read. The London Zoo is also located inside the park. It isn’t free, but if you take the right path you can still sneak a look at the camels! Of course I also had to hit the typical tourist traps like Big Ben and Parliament. Not the MOST exciting, but a must have for the photo album. The architecture here is unlike anything you could find in the US! Another nice thing about London; all the museums are free. My roommate and I managed to stop at the science museum so far, and if it’s anything to go by, I’m very excited to see the rest!


School started today, and I can already tell it’s going to be a lot different than life at Loyola. The only classes available are blocks of three hours, so while I only have each class once a week, it still adds up to a LOT of class time at once. On Tuesday’s I’ll be on campus from 9am until 5pm, and Wednesdays and Thursdays are 2 until 5. The hallways are absolutely a maze (not just to us international students, but students that have been there for years as well). I showed up for class this morning at 8:25, but didn’t find my class until 8:50. I don’t think I’m ever going to complain about finding my class in Chicago again! (I am however, going to continue to complain about textbook prices in the US because 25 pounds ($37) is apparently “expensive” for students here.)

After a week, I’ve really begun to settle in here in London, though I’m still adjusting to looking the opposite way while crossing the street. I’m still looking for a way to watch American Football (even though the Lions are currently 0-3) and I haven’t found a home-y coffee shop yet (I can’t do this tea thing), but other than that, I’m beginning to feel right at home back in a big city!


An Improbable Fiction

An Improbable Fiction

“If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.”

– Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Hello friends back home!

Here we are at the end of another busy week, and an exciting one for a very special reason – as of yesterday, we’ve been here for a month! It’s hard not to think ahead and worry about knowing my adventure here has to come to an end eventually, but for now I’m just trying to absorb and enjoy.

I started off the week pretty sick and miserable, but luckily that didn’t last long. We’re getting to the point where classes are starting to get really busy, so there’s no time to be sick! This week we’ve started working on monologues in Shakespeare class, doing some intense text work for Acting, and moved into the eighteenth century for Period Dance. We also had a film workshop this week! The guest teachers filmed us while we did our scenes, and everyone who wasn’t performing got to watch the actors on the screen. I’d never done anything on camera before, so it was a fun and useful new experience.

exploring kensington
Prince Albert in the distance

Our walking lecture this week was on Wednesday, in Kensington Gardens. We learned all about Queen Victoria’s life, her husband Albert, and what they did for arts and sciences in Britain. That evening a group of us went to a reception at the home of a Fordham alum. We got to talk to lots of other students from the business and liberal arts programs, as well as some professors that attended. There was also so much art to look at, from three original Matisse paintings to ancient Greek and Roman pottery. It’s been really interesting meeting these alumni and learning about how Fordham and the London Centre fit into their stories and journeys to success.

With a new friend from the business school

Thursday I saw Tipping the Velvet, an adaptation of one of my favorite books! I had no idea there was going to be a play version until I saw the posters on the tube, and it just happened to be playing in the Lyric Hammersmith, which is a ten minute walk from our flats. The production was very entertaining, though not without flaws (mostly the length). It’s only in previews this week, so I’ve been wondering if anything will change before they officially open. I think I might go back then, since it could be a really interesting insight into the process of creating a new work.

Friday after class we all gathered in one of our flats for theatre games and a fun evening unwinding from the week. Then we headed out to the clubs! It’s been great getting to know everyone and being part of such a tight-knit group that works hard together and then goes out and has fun together too. Saturday England lost to Wales in rugby, which was less fun.

Out on the town!
Out on the town!

Today a big group of us went to the London Zoo as part of an assignment for acting class. It was quite the trek to get there, with some of the train lines closed, packed buses, and a lot of time wasted getting lost. But once we got there we were definitely impressed! We especially enjoyed the meerkats, the “In With the Lemur” exhibit, and watching an okapi eat some leaves. Tonight we’re back in the student lounge at school, finishing up work and getting ready for the week!

monkeying around
monkeying around
Stay in Band, Kids!

Stay in Band, Kids!

“Stay in band, kids!” It’s something I’ve heard my entire life and definitely something I’ve whole-heartedly embraced as I’ve grown up. Many of you know that I’m a total band/music freak and I’m not afraid to geek out and share that with people. Throughout my life, there have been many benefits from being a crazed band kid, and I’ve found many other benefits (as well as band kids) here in Uppsala.

I immediately made over twenty new friends upon showing up to a nation’s band rehearsal (a “nation” here in Uppsala is a student club/organization, each one having its own building, restaurant/pub, activities, gasques, choirs, bands, etc…). I decided to attend the “Hornboskapen Orkester’s” rehearsal one Tuesday evening, never having played any of the instruments that this “orchestra” was comprised of (only trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, and piccolo are allowed), yet I was welcomed with open arms (and beers all around) and was a part of that band family within minutes of showing up!

Before this, I had attempted to make a friends (or at least acquaintances) by spending time at the nations casually dining and drinking with the other American students and mingling with international and Swedish students. However, as previously warned, most Swedes are pretty reserved and difficult to warm up to initially, and us American folk from Loyola had made a total of zero non-Newman Institute related friends in the three weeks we’d been here.


(They had me recruiting more members after only attending two rehearsals!)
(Preparing music to play for the gasque attendees as they march up the stairs in couples.)
(Hornboskapen playing at the gasque)

Thanks to my staying in band since 5th grade and going to that first Hornboskapen rehearsal, I gained even more band kid friends (oddly enough – it seems that band kids even on the opposite side of the world have the same sense of humor, making it incredibly easy to fit in right away and feel at home). Additionally, I get to attend rehearsals each Tuesday night (7-10pm, playing everything from “The Circle of Life” in the Lion King to old Swedish folk songs. The thing I found most ridiculous about this Hornboskapen band was that rather than water bottles by most musicians’ feet, there are bottles of beer instead! Obviously, the drinking culture here is incredibly prominent and laid back.) as well as the famous gasques hosted by the Snerikes Nation for free! These gasques are pretty fancy- attendees must dress up in formal suits and dresses and the evening includes a three-course dinner, dancing, singing, drinking, toasting, mini-theatre, and even clubbing afterwards. These 12 hour ordeals are exhausting, but Swedes sure know how to throw a great party

So all in all, stay in band kids. You won’t regret it.

(From the perspective of Hornboskapen members as we are playing at the gasque)
(Marching to Uppsala University as a nation before the gasque festivities begin!)
Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.

Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.

(this Sunday blog post brought to you on a Tuesday, courtesy of poor internet connection and website errors)

“Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.”

-Shakespeare, Cymbeline

Well, here we are, another Sunday after another busy week! It’s been a particularly good one, too – lots of work but lots of time for fun too, and some great theatre along the way!

Classes are still great. This week we said a temporary goodbye to our program director Kathryn Pogson, who’s off to the States for four weeks to perform in Antigone. We also welcomed back our Drama Crit teacher Christopher from a week in hospital, and guided ourselves through a Movement class because our teacher Hannah was sick… let’s just say it’s been an eventful week. This week’s highlight for me has been all the detailed text work we’ve been doing in Acting for Shakespeare. Having never taken a formal Shakespeare class, I’m really enjoying learning all these different tools to analyse text and get it on its feet.

Actors in the making!
Actors in the making!

Our show of the week was The Beaux’ Stratagem at the National Theatre. It’s a Restoration comedy all about love, marriage, and deception, complicated by a band of thieving highwaymen. The whole production was just really clean and well done, and the overall impression was of a very cohesive piece. My favorite parts were the musicians, who played very well and frequently interacted with characters onstage, and the beautifully and creatively designed set.

The view from the top of the National Theatre at night. Wow.
The view from the top of the National Theatre at night. Wow.

Friday we had another walking lecture, this one to Middle Temple and the Inns of Court. We learned about English law, the Knights Templar, lots of architecture, and plenty of theatre history thrown in. We saw the Royal Theatre on Drury Lane, the oldest continuously operated theatre site in London. Finally we went to Covent Garden and saw St. Paul’s church (known as the Actors’ Church, and where Eliza Doolittle sells her flowers).

Here we are at Middle Temple during the walking lecture.
Here we are at Middle Temple during the walking lecture.

We spent Friday night in bars watching England beat Fiji in the opening match of the Rugby World Cup. Saturday we headed out to see Bend it Like Beckham the Musical, which was amazing. I expected a fun and feel-good theatre experience, but it surpassed that. There were lots of cool effects to show characters interacting with soccer balls, gorgeously designed and coordinated costumes, and some surprisingly emotional songs. It’s getting great reviews, and it deserves them! I’m so happy we decided to try to get tickets.

Me Bridge

As usual, today has been all about catching up on homework, cleaning, and trying to get the wifi to let me blog. I have a bit of a sore throat, so I’m hoping a restful day will have me ready to face another week!

See you next Sunday!

Stitches, Sports, and Saunas

Stitches, Sports, and Saunas

Before I launch into a variety of stories, I think it’s important that I add a little note to the beginning of this blog post (I really should add it to all my blogs, and pretty much everything in my life all the time but since that’s unrealistic this will have to do). What I want to do is make a public declaration of how GRATEFUL I am for the literal never-ending love and support that I receive from my wonderful parents, Corinne and Doug. I can honestly say that I absolutely would not be halfway across the world right now having the time of my life if it were not for them. I don’t know a lot (or really any) other kids who can say that their parents have so selflessly supported all their reckless and spontaneous decisions, especially when said decisions involved leaving home to study on the other side of the world four different times. So… THANK YOU MOM AND DAD. Only because of you is any of this possible, and for that I am exceedingly grateful.


Now then… I had big plans for Sunday. Well, not ‘big’ plans. I was going to make some tomato soup and then sit down to write a nice long blog post filled with sarcasm and witty observations. Instead, as I was making the first cut into the onion to put into the soup, I slid a butchers knife straight into my hand and went to the hospital to get 8 stitches instead (although I must say, in my defense I paid the equivalent of $2 for the knife at a Korean dollar store called Daiso. I did not exactly expect to be paying for a quality knife because, seriously, I was expecting a $2 knife to be as dull as a rock). I pride myself on being a good cook, but I like to balance out that talent by doing stupid things like licking food off sharp knives, which is exactly what I was doing the night before I sliced my hand open with another knife from Daiso, so I guess it’s inevitable that something like this was going to happen. Anyways, the silver lining of this whole mess is that I got a first-hand look at the intricacies of the Korean healthcare system:

#1: Healthcare is not free. I mean it sure beats the $700 I would have likely paid if I had sliced my hand open as an uninsured youth in the United States, yet I was expecting the equivalent of the European universal healthcare system. Sadly no. However $70 for 8 stitches is a pretty sweet deal.

#2: Koreans go to the hospital for everything. And I mean everything. Small cut? Hospital. Slight fever? Hospital. Sneezed a few too many times in a row? It could mean immanent death. You guess it. Hospital. As I was waiting to get my hand stitched up, I was sitting next to a four-year-old child whose mother literally brought him to the hospital with a simple bloody nose and was waiting to be seen by the doctor. Which now explains the reason I was initially told I would need to wait 5 hours to get my hand sewn up (they later sent me to a less-crowded, if not lower-grade hospital with a shorter wait).

#3: They err on the side of caution. For a simple stitch job I was given an antibiotic shot beforehand and then was sent home with painkillers (side note: by “painkillers” I assumed they meant a stronger version of ibuprofen. I found out in the middle of my first class, when I nearly wobbled out of my chair, that they had actually prescribed me something closer to oxycontin) and another course of antibiotics. In addition, I was told I need to keep my hand tightly bandaged for two weeks, change the bandage every 2 days, not expose the wound or bandage to water, ect… I mean I know I’m no expert but this seems a bit extreme for a small cut.

#4: Again with the dramatics. Any Korean I have come in contact with (language teacher, grocery store clerk, waitress, ect) has been intensely curious as to how I injured my hand and has proceeded to gasp audibly in shock/horror when I describe the incident. They react as though I am describing how I purposely stuck my hand in a garbage disposal for fun and not just mildly injured myself by my own stupidity. This is funny for many reasons, but primarily because the cut itself is pretty small (but a bit deep- I am a very vigorous onion slicer) so it’s just the bandage that makes the whole injury look exaggerated.


In other news, last weekend the Yon-Ko games were held, in which Yonsei University and Korea University face off in 5 different sporting events (rugby, soccer, hockey, baseball, and basketball). I only attended one of the games (basketball) but that was enough to get a pretty good idea of what Yon-Kon is all about. The first thing I’ll say is that I rarely attend sporting events, but when I do it’s to watch the athletes engage in physical activity. To be honest I usually just show up for the food; it’s rare to find Dippin’ Dots outside of sports arenas in the United States. Point being, when I attend as a spectator I do not expect to be the one getting the workout. However, at the Yon-Ko basketball game I attended, from the second I walked through the door of the stadium it was like entering a beehive; the entire stadium was on its feet engaged in rapid, intricate dance moves, led by the respective Yonsei and Korea University dance teams. The dance teams themselves are a whole other story. The Yonsei dance team was dressed in costumes with elements of both go-go dancers and French Renaissance fashion. They led the crowd in a series of non-stop dances that lasted the entire span of the game. Unlike sporting events in the US, the dancing was not limited to pregame festivities or the halftime show. Rather, for the entire duration of the match, speakers blasted music and the crowd furiously danced, cheered, and managed to watch the game at the same time. The other Korean students were clearly familiar with the dance moves and as such they followed along comfortably with the dance team. My fellow exchange students and I, on the other hand, were totally out of our element, a fact which was made incredibly obvious as we were grouped together in the stands (as part of the “Mentor’s Club” mentioned in previous posts, Korean students paired with exchange students) and our section was the only one that remained awkwardly out of sync with the rest of the stadium. Nonetheless the atmosphere alone was not to be missed. As much as I love Loyola, I will admit that sports are not our strong suit (save for men’s volleyball that one year) therefore it was nice to experience a bit of rabid school spirit.

Yon-Ko Dancers

The Yonsei dance team at the Yon-Ko Games

A few weeks ago, on a late Friday night (or early Saturday morning, I should say, as it was nearing 5am), I found myself in a Korean bathhouse (called a 찜질방) which was awesome:

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.22.27 PMFor a mere 11,000 won (about $10), you can splash around in hot tubs, cold tubs, saunas, cold rooms (humid rooms? I’m getting creative with the names here) and even get a ‘scrub down’ (I opted out) in which a stranger uses a cloth similar to fine sandpaper to, well, scrub you down.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.22.27 PMThey give you a nifty outfit to wear, not unlike nurses’ scrubs. You are also provided with a ‘towel’ (which is a generous word, because I don’t understand how you are supposed to use a piece of fabric about 6×12 inches to dry your whole body).

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.22.27 PMCommunal bars of soap are provided and widely used by everyone, which I’ve never thought was very sanitary. So far everything in Korea has been up-to-snuff sanitation wise, except when it comes to the practice of using communal bars of soap. In most public restrooms, there is no liquid soap but instead a bar of soap usually attached to the wall by a metal bar for easy access. Puzzling.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.22.27 PMNudity is the name of the game. This might not be a shocking thing to people outside of North America (as I am told that people go to bathhouses/saunas naked in Northern Europe and elsewhere), but I have never been to a sauna in the United States in which people were not wearing either towels or swimsuits. Obviously it’s strictly separated by gender, but still, communal nudity is not a common occurrence and it definitely takes some getting used to. It’s funny that Koreans dress more conservatively than westerners in public but in private, nudity is not problem yet for westerners, public provocativeness is a non-issue and in private, modesty is more important.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.22.27 PMPeople go to the bathhouses to sleep. After paddling around for awhile like a drunk duck in the various hot baths, I put on my scrubs and wandered into the communal area to get a drink. Upon opening the door, it looked like I had entered the Jonestown commune. There were bodies sprawled on every inch of the floor, in various states of consciousness. After a night of drinking, if people are unwilling or unable to make it back to their homes (the subway is closed from midnight until 5am), people simply convene in bathhouses (it’s cheaper than a motel and cleaner than the street). You can also sleep inside the actual 120-degree saunas, which are shaped like little clay igloos and are heated by broiling furnaces, but I have yet to discover the health benefits of this behavior besides headaches and dehydration.


Until next time! Hopefully by then my hand will be healed because right now my left hand is bandaged up like a flipper which makes typing slightly tedious.


As an awkward afterthought, here is a picture of the older part of the Yonsei campus as I realize that I have shared very few (i.e. none at all) pictures on this blog.

The play ground of the rich and famous & time travel

The play ground of the rich and famous & time travel

This past week and half have been (wait for it) legendary! I am officially in love with Italy and studying abroad. I have been in the same places at the same time as Beyoncé and the Pope and have been able to time travel back to 79 AD. Although I have not yet reached my euro chic fashion status, the adventures I have on my bucket list are already getting smaller and I have only been here for a month!


I think I visited heaven last weekend, as I spent three days in the Amalfi Coast. There is no doubt in my mind that God spent a little extra time creating this part of the world because it is absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever been to and seen! Also Beyonce was there the same time I was and I didn’t even know it. So that’s pretty cool? Thursday night my roommate Adrian and I headed for the train station to meet our travel group for the weekend. Obviously, we over packed and received vicious glares as we had our roller bags instead of travel backpacks. I guess learning how to not over pack just comes with time. (No promises that I will master this skill while I am here though) We took a two and a half hour bus ride and arrived in the town of Sorrento. The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch our ferry to Capri. Upon arriving into the port of Capri I was overwhelmed, it looked just like all the pictures and movies!

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I was on the playground of the rich and the famous. We then took a little boat ride around the island. Every few minutes our guide pointed something out to us. I learned that Capri comes from the Latin word-meaning goat and it is common to see mountain goats hanging out around the island. During our boat ride we visited the three famous Grottos (caves) of the island. Unfortunately, the tide was too high to take a row boat into the Blue Gratto, so we only got to see the White and Green Grotto, which were both still amazing.


We returned back to island and walked up to Capri Town. The walk was more of a hike and once we reached the top I was straight up dripping in sweat. Immediately, I forgot of the pain in my calves  when I saw the breath taking view. Not only are the houses and bulidings nestled perfectly in the mountain, but also the water is a shade of blue that is so vibrant you can’t help but feel a sense of tranquility arise over you. The white columns bordering the balconies are full of life as everyone eagerly peaks of the edge to attempt to capture the island’s beauty. (Of course no pictures do any justice) We walked around Capri town then got in a miniature bus and made our way up to Anacapri.

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First things first Adrian and I went to buy limocello for our families. I learned that this region of Italy is known for citrus so it only seemed fitting to bring some back for everyone! We then took a chair lift to the highest point of the island, where the views were once again breath taking! We tooled around the island for a bit longer and ended our evening back in the town of Sorrento.12032141_10205269777410515_1993804980723382628_nIMG_0615_2



Saturday morning we woke up and took a bus to Positano to spend the day at the beach. Upon arriving I fell in love. The village of Positano is perfectly placed in the side of the mountain and looks like colorful legos stacked up on top of each other. 11998857_10207690449684332_1593404274538199777_nThe highlight of the day (and arguably of the trip thus far) was when we rented a boat for the afternoon. A crew of us girls purchased prosciutto, cheese, and prosecco and spent the afternoon on the water. Our driver Maximo pointed out all the important sites along the water and took us to his favorite local places.


We visited several caves that we got to swim through and climb on. The reflection from the light on the water in the caves was unbelievable and glowed like nothing I have ever seen. One of the caves we swam in holds the legend for being the home of the mermaids. (No, unfortunately I didn’t get to see any) Of course sitting on the rocks in the cave I had flashbacks to the Disney Chanel Original Movie The 13th Year. Maximo then docked his boat outside the famous African Nightclub and took us on a tour of Onassis’ favorite hangout. (I was very excited about this) The weather that day was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t help but feel like a princess being in such a beautiful place. After spending several hours on the water we headed back for the main beach in Positano, where we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.


Sunday was a bit less glamorous and significantly more historical as we spent the day in the ancient city of Pompeii. Before visiting the site I was unaware of the historical significance of the town and how amazing it is that the public has the opportunity to actually time travel back to 79 AD. A quick and very simplified summary of the story of Pompeii is that a Mt. Vesuvius erupted and covered the whole town in her ashes, killing everyone and destroying everything. Around the year 1748 farmers discovered that the ash from the volcano actually preserved the ancient city and began bringing Pompeii back to life. Flash forward to 2015 and Pompeii is one of the world’s largest archeological sites spreading over 160 acres. Visitors can walk through the town and see where the shops and homes of the people of Pompeii. The fact that the town is so perfectly preserved makes this history lesson far from boring!


12032215_10207690455364474_2141430600209688678_nWalking through the stone streets and using my imagination to try to actually be in the past was an experience I will never forget. Visiting Pompeii reminded me that there is so much history all throughout Italy (and Europe)  that I can learn about while I am studying abroad. Once we completed our tour of Pompeii we headed back for our home base, Roma.


Back in the eternal city I had a busy and fabulous week. Tuesday before class, I spent the afternoon exploring Piazza del Popolo and the Villa Borghese Gardens with my friend Eliza. Hanging around Piazza del Popolo made me feel like I was right out of the Lizzie McGuire Movie and I loved it.(Still searching for my Paolo though) After dipping my feet in the fountain and observing the beauty of the ancient architecture Eliza and I headed over for the gardens. Fun fact Villa Borghese is the third largest park in Rome and is in the shape of a heart. After exploring for a little we enjoyed a lovely lunch at a delicious café in the middle of the garden, and completed our afternoon by renting a little rowboat on a pond. I failed miserably at rowing us around but had fun trying.






Wednesday classes at the JFRC were cancelled so the students in our program could attend the Papal Audience in Saint Peter’s Square. The Papal Audience is held every Wednesday that the Pope is in Rome. We all woke up bright and early and headed to Vatican City at 6 am to get in line to get seats. People by the thousands lined up to get a blessing and hear words of wisdom from Pope Francis. As the time grew closer for the gates to be opened the crowds got larger and the pushing and line cutting escalated.


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Looking around I saw a variety of people from nuns to young couples in their wedding attire seeking to receive a blessing from the Pope himself. Once the gates opened the crowds flooded into the square to pass the security check point and race to get a seat. We were seated nearly 20 rows back and had a perfect view of everything. Looking around the square I was in awe at how beautiful the Vatican is and how perfectly detailed every section is. It is amazing to think of the how all the monuments were built so long ago and are so beautiful. The Pope focused his talk on sustainability and engaged the audience by welcoming everyone in nearly a dozen languages. This once in a lifetime experience was truly amazing.




The rest of the afternoon I spent exploring and walking around Rome. I finally got to see the Pantheon and the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.



That evening was the kick off to Calcio, Loyola’s version of intramural soccer. All the students got overly amped and engaged in some friendly competition. My team won by 2 goals, which was obviously very exciting. After the games everyone went and enjoyed beer and pizza which hit the spot.

Thursday afternoon I got a little more in touch with my “local” side and visited the Trionfale Market. The market was full of everything you could imagine from fresh fruit to meats and cheeses. I had a blast tasting all the different foods and trying to speak the little Italian I know. (It’s not much but it is getting there) The vendors were all very nice however, I tired ordering a slice of cheese and some how ended up purchasing a 5 euro block of cheese. Oh well, at least it was tasty!


Friday even though we usually don’t have class we had make up classes since we didn’t have class on Wednesday. I had my first on site class for Modern Art. We visited the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. The museum was delightful, I had a great time exploring, and observing the variety of artwork.


Saturday things got a little more touristy as my friend Max and I spent the day in Pisa. Contrary to popular belief there is more to do in Pisa than just see the leaning tower. We took a train ride up north and explored the town. Immediately after arriving we found a quaint street market where Max and I ate amazing fresh Porchetta sandwiches and homemade cannolis. (My love for cannolis grows stronger every day)



We then wandered down the vintage streets, crossed the river, and found Piazza dei Miracoli. Piazza dei Miracoli is home to the famous leaning tower, the town’s amazing Cathedral, the Baptistery of Saint John, the Campostanto Monumentale, and a museum. All of the attractions are full of tourist and one can’t help but giggle as they look around and see everyone posing for the classic leaning or jumping picture. The church was absolutely breathtaking and I learned so much from visiting the historical sites. After seeing the tourist spots of the town we wandered back and visited the street market again. Max and I got Italian craft beer that surprisingly tasted like Tank 7 (I was so excited) and people watched. Observing everyone that walked our way I have a new found respect for boys who can rock jorts and random phrased graphic t-shirts written in English. Our train ride home was easy and the day overall was a success.




Sunday we ventured to the Olympic stadium to see A.S. Roma vs. Sassuolo. Upon arriving it was evident that soccer is more than just a sport as the die-hard fans cheered loudly outside the stadium and waved their flags. Sitting in the stands was so fun as everyone around cheered and screamed throughout the game. Although the game ended in a tie the experience made me feel like I was embracing the Italian culture and I have now decided that I am a HUGE A.S. Roma fan.


12011150_10207735816698479_172551640932855160_nStay tuned for the rest of my adventures, tomorrow I am going to the original Eataly for a wine tasting, and traveling to Germany this weekend for Oktober Fest! Thanks for reading and miss you all bunches!



Life in the Eternal City (Part II)

Life in the Eternal City (Part II)

We’ve been in Rome for a month now, and so far I’ve crushed grapes for wine with my feet, jumped out of an airplane over the Swiss Alps, attended a papal audience and eaten enough carbs to last a lifetime. It’s been wonderful, but some old habits are dying hard.


A typical day in Chicago would consist of waking up and walking down the street to the nearest Starbucks or coffee shop for an iced coffee with caramel. In Italy, I can do the same. Except I’m not walking to Starbucks, because Starbucks doesn’t have a presence in Italy. My order has also changed, and pumpkin spice lattes are not on the menu.

“Vorrei un caffè per favore” (I would like one coffee please) has become one of my favorite phrases. It’s also one of the few things I can say in Italian. The coffee culture in Italy is significantly different from that in the United States. Milk is frowned upon after noon. Ordering a cappuccino after then will not only get you strange looks it will also give away your nationality. Italians drink one cappuccino in the morning with breakfast — usually a small pastry— and then order espresso periodically throughout the day, including after dinner (which they eat at 8 p.m.).


Learning to navigate Rome is a bit of a challenge. Chicago is literally built on a grid, while Rome is pretty scattered. Students typically travel in groups, so getting lost is never terribly problematic. I would not recommend exploring on your own unless you know Rome like the back of your hand. If you don’t want to take my word for it, call the U. S. Embassy.

Lack of data has also played a role in the struggle of navigation; however, it gives you a more realistic feel of what Ancient Rome was like pre-Apple.

Classes have resumed, and it’s nice to be back on a schedule (unlike the public transportation of Rome). We’re all working to establish a healthy balance between studying and living abroad. I’ll let you know when I’ve mastered it.

Ciao until next time,


Overwhelmed (and that’s OK)

Overwhelmed (and that’s OK)

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I applied to study abroad for a whole year. And no, Roma hasn’t lost its magic and wonder in my eyes (I don’t think it ever could), but I think the realization is finally beginning to hit me that I’d be gone for a whole year from home. It’s also hit me that I’d be gone, but I’d still have to continue to study and work. I think homesickness and culture shock rolled into the mix, which contributed to some real self-doubt.

My friends back home were all telling me how excited and jealous they were of me, commenting on the fact that I could travel to so many places and see so many amazing things. While I do think that a great opportunity that study abroad here in Roma presents is the ability to travel to other places around Europe, over these almost four weeks (HAS IT ALREADY BEEN A MONTH?!– that is literally INSANE) I’m beginning to realize that that’s physically and fiscally impossible for me.

And that’s OK. Stai tranquilla, Ola. Breathe.

This past week in particular has been enlightening to me for a number of reasons, but the most significant happened this last Friday. I was part of a group of students that went down to Saint Peter’s Square with our SLA, Pedro, to help distribute food to the homeless. Juxtaposed with the magnificence of the Vatican, I have to admit, it was a very sobering experience. Here I am, complaining about not being able to go to as many places as I want and feeling overall overwhelmed about all of my “problems” (all while I’m already studying abroad and living in one of the most amazing cities in the world), while others are legitimately lining up to get what might be their only real meal in the next couple of days.

I was also surprised to have met two young Polish men who were in line for food. My language skills came in handy and it seemed to make them genuinely happy to hear a familiar language being spoken to them. They seemed so grateful, that I almost felt embarrassed by all of the whining I was doing about not being able to travel as much outside of Roma.

Moving on to a sweeter ending- after a short reflection on the square, Pedro led us to the “secret” bakery. Lemme tell you, it is delicious, cheap, open 24/7 a.k.a. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT IN LIFE?!. They also have cookies with Papa Francesco’s face on them… I don’t know how I feel about that, but there you go.


I also have found a cheap but really good pizza place near the Pantheon, where my friends and I spent a wonderful evening telling stories, eating pizza and drinking the house wine. Although things like this seem small in comparison to the old and overwhelming historic monuments, it’s the little things that make me realize I’m slowly making Rome into another home for me.


It’s important to remember that it’s okay to be overwhelmed and a little freaked out. That can happen when you’re not abroad and in the comfort of your own city. An adjustment period is necessary and it comes in different stages for everyone. Some people feel the culture shock within the first couple of days, while some, like me, experience it a month in.

I wrote about this in my other blog that I run, but I remember my mom saying to me at the airport: “Pierwsze sto lat to najtrudniejsze.” In Polish, it means “the first hundred years are the hardest.” The first hundred years of life ARE the hardest. Life’s easy after that, because (most likely) you’re dead. It’s a super Polish-type of saying and it really made me think while on the flight here to Roma. Life isn’t meant to be easy. You could get sick, you could miss people, you get hurt physically or emotionally, you can work hard with menial results, people leave you, whether you want them to or not and in various ways; basically, life seems like it was meant to suck.

But then I get a wake up call when meeting people who have next to nothing. Or when seeing someone’s face in awe when they walk into the Saint Peter’s Basilica for the first time. Or when seeing a rainbow at Cascata delle Marmore. Or holding an adorably cute puppy on a farm in Umbria. Or have my roommates and friends surprise me with a little cake for my 21st birthday.

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Breathe. Go for a walk. See the sunset from the top of Piazza di Spagna with gelato in hand. Enjoy the little things.


The Big and the Small

The Big and the Small


My first 20 days in Italy have been extremely busy but productive! Since arriving all of us at the JFRC have been learning how things work in Rome and on campus, and we all got to spend a weekend in the beautiful region of Umbria! Now that classes are picking up and routines are settling in, I have found I have more time to relax.

This past friday I spent the day roaming around Rome; shopping and sipping cappuccinos in a cute cafe while watching the rain. Friday night, however, was one of my favorite nights so far. Earlier in the week we had the chance to sign up to distribute Panini’s to the homeless in St. Peter’s Square. I signed up, excited about visiting Vatican City.

When I first walked into the square, I was taken aback by how massive it is. I have been in some pretty big stadiums and buildings, but combining the size and historical significance made it feel tremendously magical. It was strange knowing Pope Francis was somewhere in the Papal Apartments right above me.


I was assigned to bag fruit for the homeless to take with them after they got their meal. A few of us set ourselves up in an assembly line and started filling bags with apples, peaches and plums. They all gladly accepted the additional food and thanked us profusely. It was eye-opening how a few small pieces of fruit put such a big smile on their faces and hopefully, eased some of their stress. Everyday at the dining hall there are apples to take and I don’t blink an eye, but there in the middle of Vatican City, apples were revealed to be much more valuable than I assumed.

After that night I could not stop thinking about how important small things are. For example, on Saturday a few friends and I took a day trip to Pompeii. Last semester I took a class on Pompeii for my history minor, so walking around the streets I had read about was something I had been looking forward to for a while!


Toward the end of the day, we were standing in the forum when something caught my eye. On the ground in the middle of the large open space was the imprint of a sea shell in the stone. It was so small and the only reason I saw it was because I noticed a hole in my shoe.


It was such a sharp contrast to everything else we had seen. I felt like I had been looking up the whole day, admiring the mountains outside of the city and the architecture that had been so well preserved after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. After seeing the shell I started to notice details that I might have missed, like the carving of a gladiator in a home and a stone that looked like a lego.

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Overall I had another amazing weekend!

I am excited to get to know Rome better in the coming weeks and will hopefully notice more of the small and unconventional details while still gazing at the bigger things.



New Friends and Stranger Companies

New Friends and Stranger Companies

“And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,

To seek new friends and stranger companies.”

-Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

What a busy week! I think I’m coming to accept that while I’m here, I’m just going to be constantly tired. . . but I’m loving every second of it, so it seems like a pretty good deal.

Classes this week were great. Highlights include finding out our casting for scenes from La Ronde in acting class, feeling like a sword fighting pro now that I can sort of successfully carry out four different attacks and five parries, and having class in our corsets for the fist time in period dance. It’s hard to believe we’ve only had two weeks of classes, but so exciting to think of how much more is still to come.

Like I said, this week was extraordinarily busy. Wednesday after class we headed out to see Song from Far Away at the Young Vic, a one-man show about mourning and isolation (with plenty of full-frontal nudity just for fun). Thursday was the same, except classes got out much later, so we had an hour to commute to Sadler’s Wells in rush hour tube traffic, plus eating anything we had time to scrounge up for dinner. We saw Lest We Forget, a compilation of three dance pieces in tribute to World War I.

I was really terrible about taking pictures this week, but here we are at the pub, dutifully working on our theatre journals.

Friday we had classes in the morning and a walking lecture in the afternoon. We started out back at the Globe Theatre, learning all about the theatre’s history and beginning to talk about the transition from Elizabethan staging to later proscenium theaters. Then we walked across Millennium Bridge (yeah, the one that gets destroyed by Death Eaters in Half Blood Prince – luckily our trip across was very uneventful) up towards St. Paul’s for a lot of architecture history. We finished up with the site of the Blackfriars Theatre (roughly the same time period as the Globe) and Fleet Street.

Learning all about how St. Paul's survived the Blitz.
Learning all about how St. Paul’s survived the Blitz.

Saturday came bright and early as we all trekked out to London Bridge Station to catch our train to Brighton. Once there we got a tour of the Royal Pavilion, a pleasure-palace built by George IV when it first became fashionable for Londoners to spend time at the seaside. We learned lots more about Regency architecture and had a guided walk down to the beach before being set free to explore. We spent a little time at an outdoor cinema event on the beach and some people went to pubs or thrift shopping, but I caught the first train home. I was so exhausted that by the time I was back in the flat and had cooked myself dinner, I was too tired to eat it.

Lots of sights to see in Brighton, and a sunny day to enjoy them!

Today has been another lazy Sunday for blogging, homework, and fighting with the terrible Wifi signal in our flats. We went out for a little while, to a garden party hosted by a Fordham alum. She lives in posh Kensington now, so we all got to get dressed up and pretend we’re the kind of people who regularly go to garden parties.

I think we cleaned up pretty nicely!

Cheers until next week!