The GoGlobal Blog

Month: October 2015

The valiant never taste of death

The valiant never taste of death

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once.”

– Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

This blog post brought to you from PARIS! Fall break has begun, and I’m spending the next week here playing tourist with my awesome uncles!

It’s been another exciting week leading up to the break. Monday we found out our scene partners for Stage Combat class and started putting together the fight choreography we’ll be working on for the rest of the semester. We also did mask work in Physical Theatre, a screenwriting workshop, and finished up work on our monologues in Shakespeare class. When we get back from the break it’ll be on to scenes from Twelfth Night, learning the polka in Period Dance, and choreographing our own final pieces for Movement.

Getting down to business in Stage Combat.
Getting down to business in Stage Combat.

Wednesday we went to another show at the National Theatre, Three Days in the Country. I was most impressed by the set design and the acting, though I found the script pretty dated and sexist. Still, it takes a really talented actor to keep me engaged and sympathetic to her character, even when I’m rolling my eyes at the actual words she’s saying.

Back at the National!
Back at the National!

After our last two days of classes, most of the other LDA kids were gone by Friday afternoon. Since I didn’t leave until this morning, I got the chance to meet up with some Loyola students who are studying at the JFRC this semester and traveled to London for the weekend. We headed to South Bank for drinks, and then went to see Nell Gwynn at the Globe. I’d never really thought about seeing a non-Shakespeare play there, but I’m so glad we went. As one of the first women to act onstage, Nell Gwynn has a really interesting story, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw played her flawlessly (with plenty of brilliant comedic performances from the rest of the cast, too). After the show we went out for late-night breakfast.

So good to see Loyola friends!
So good to see Loyola friends!

This morning I headed off to St. Pancras to catch my train to Paris. My uncles met me at the station and brought me back to our apartment for the week. It’s in Montmartre, and as I type this, I can see the Sacre Coeur all lit up from my window! We spent the afternoon out sightseeing inside the Basilica and around Montmartre, including the Moulin Rouge and the cafe where Amelie was filmed. We’ll be here until next Sunday, so expect plenty of Paris adventures in my next post!

Busy day in Paris!

Furry Friends and Day Trips

Furry Friends and Day Trips

London is very different from Chicago, as expected, but I’ve noticed that some things are universal.

Like mice.

In my last post I mentioned that parts of my flat were duct taped together when I moved in. I wasn’t joking. We’ve figured out that the duct tape covering up the corner where the kitchen counter meets the wall is actually covering up a mouse hole. We’ve bought mouse traps (no-kill ones because none of us have the heart to buy anything else) and put all of our food in Tupperware and cupboards, but we’ve had no luck in catching any mice. Seems like our furry little flatmate may be here to stay. However, I’m still a firm believer that the good outweighs the bad as far as the situation of my flat. I’m still entirely in love with the location of where I live. One of my favorite things to do is get coffee (still not a fan of tea) and walk through Regent’s Park. It feels like I discover something new every time.

One very cool thing about being in a country I haven’t been to before is that there’s always something new to see. Last Friday, I woke up and realized I wanted to see Stonehenge. So that’s exactly what I did. A program called International Friends has extremely affordable student discounts to go on all sorts of trips across England and Europe. So on Friday two of my friends and I bought tickets for a tour of Stonehenge and Bath, an old Roman city about 100 miles away from London.

Stonehenge was actually a lot smaller than I first imagined it, but I feel like most big monuments are. It was almost surreal being there in person, just because it’s something I’ve only ever read about or seen on TV. The real reason behind Stonehenge being built is still a mystery, but I’m still fairly certain it was aliens. Next, our coach headed to Bath, and it was a super cute town! After taking a quick walking tour and learning a bit about the architecture and history, we were given a good chunk of time to wander the city ourselves. There were a bunch of little shops and cafes to stop at and we wound up spending a lot of time in the park.


This week we actually started doing things in classes. Unfortunately. Lucky for me I have some classes that seem like they’ll be pretty interesting! On Tuesdays I have Policing in Practice in the mornings and Victims and Crime in the afternoons. On Wednesday afternoon I have Crime, Media and Technology and on Thursday afternoon I have Serious and Serial Offenders. It’s a lot of Criminal Justice classes for one semester but luckily I’ll get credit for all of them back at Loyola. Getting used to the British school system is taking a bit of work though. There’s a lot more independent work and reading and a lot more talking and discussion in classes. Luckily I think I’m starting to get the hang of it (except for understanding the grading scale)!

Yesterday the 3 people in the flat above us, my 4 flatmates and I all went on a day trip to Brighton, which is a seaside town south of London. If you get tickets for times that aren’t super busy, you can actually travel England for very cheap! It was really nice spending some time out of the city with my friends, and hanging out on the pier was a ton of fun. I’ve begun to notice that I can only go on a few fair rides before I get a headache now, but I’m still really bad at carnival games, and I still really love fair food! We spent a lot of time after the pier wandering the streets and shops (there was a ton of very cool street art that you don’t really see in bigger cities) and hanging out at a seaside pub in the evening. Our train was a late one (in order to get the cheapest fare possible) and we were all exhausted on our way home, but it was an incredible day trip!


Due to our early morning/late night yesterday, I’ve spent most of the day lazing around the flat today, but luckily I have a four day weekend every week, so now I just have an extra day to put off my homework!

Wherever You Go, Go With All of Your Heart

Wherever You Go, Go With All of Your Heart

Confucius might have been on to something when he said the quote I’m using the title for this blog.. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

You’ve all heard of Milano, right? What do you think when you hear Milan? Many will say glamorous, stylish fashion capital. For anyone who knows anything about Italy, they could start to throw in some geographical knowledge and might add any familiarity regional stereotypes they might have and say that it’s located in northern Italy in the Lombardia region and that the milanese are sometimes known for being arrogant, cold and efficient in the working world.

If you would have asked me what I thought, I would have said all of the above, but if you asked me whether or not I was dying to visit it, I would have said, “eh.” 


Now, before you gasp at my indifference, forget Milano for a second. Along the same lines, what do you think when you hear Cusano Mutri? Many might say what or where or is that a type of pasta? Don’t worry about it, though, because I can tell you that even some Italians don’t know about it. _DSC0760

But what I’m getting at: what do these two places have in common (other than the obvious fact that they’re both in Italy…)?

I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in each of these places the past two weeks. They were as different as night and day.

Cusano Mutri, according to Google, is a commune of the Province of Benevento. It is located in the southern region of Campania and has just a little over 4000 residents. Its biggest party of the year is the Sagra dei Funghi, or mushroom food festival. I, along with 17 other students and two JFRC staff members, traveled down to Cusano for the first weekend of this festival. Needless to say, I was excited, because food festival + mushroom + Italian cuisine = happy Ola.

Why did I chose to go on the Cusano study trip? Other than my obvious love for porcini mushrooms and food in general, the trip seemed different than the other study trips that the JFRC offered. They also advertised hiking and beautiful scenery that included mountains and lakes. I’m a city girl, through and through. The closest I come to nature are the forest preserves that surround Chicago and the forests and lakes that surround my family’s hometown in Poland (and even then, that’s for a leisurely stroll and overall relaxation). Hiking? That’s a challenge. Going to a small town where little to no one that speaks English? That’s a challenge too. I wanted to try something new and give Cusano my all; and I’m so glad I did.


We did indeed hike, along a river and a lake. We learned how to make pasta and gnocchi from one of the head chefs of Lo Suago, the restaurant that was our home base during the sagra. Our SLA Fran gave us a wonderful surprise and we made s’mores under a sky illuminated by the moon and hundreds of stars. My new friend Luis taught me how to dance merengue and salsa as we danced with friendly and welcoming locals in the town’s streets and piazzas. There were spontaneous pickup games of soccer with Romans (also happened to visit Cusano), cappuccinos and probably the best cornetti con crema I’d ever eaten courtesy of our host, Clementina, and dinosaurs (oh yes, you heard me, dinosaurs… okay, it was a museum with some fossils, but one of them WAS a dinosaur fossil…).

_DSC0630_DSC0759_DSC0721Truly and genuinely- the trip to Cusano was amazing and I can’t begin to describe how much I loved it. For anyone coming to a future fall semester here at the JFRC; definitely consider going.

Milano, on the other hand, is world-renowned, in a industrialized region of Italy, with a population of over 1.2 million people- and that’s not counting the thousands of tourists and huge events that bring in thousands more such as Milan Fashion Week and, currently, the Universal Exhibition, or Expo 2015.

Now, back to my stunning lack of wow factor regarding Milan. Why wasn’t I as ready to embrace Milano as I was with Cusano?_DSC1246

Perhaps it has to do with being someone who’s been taught the Italian language and culture for almost six years by people who have been from southern or central Italy. Or maybe it’s because most of my neighbors and friends back in Chicago are from Calabria or Sicily. I’m not saying that they have influenced my views on the north negatively, but I guess you could say I’ve always had an affinity for the south probably because that’s the only experience I’ve had with Italian culture up until this point.

Instead of a study trip, myself and two other friends went to Milan on our own this past weekend. I was honestly pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it- but I didn’t initially. Promptly after landing, I remember thinking how expensive this city was going to be, how gray it seemed, how modern it was. I don’t know what it is about me, but when I think of Europe, I used to never think the word modern. Again though, I blame my previous experiences with Europe and by that, I mean my summers in a small town in Poland where my babcia had a small TV with only three channels (although now she’s really upgraded and has 15!).

However, after seeing a ballet at Teatro alla Scala for ONLY 11 euro (the story of how we got those tickets is ridiculous, so if anyone’s dying to know, hit me up), eating absolutely delicious panzerotti at Luini’s (what I would do for another one now that I’m back in Roma..), and sipping on sweet drinks during aperativo in the artsy neighborhood Naviglis: I fell in love with Milano. It’s hard not to. It’s such a cosmopolitan city and there’s just something about it. I often talk about the vibes I get from certain cities. Milano gave me a good feeling and  I was mad at myself for not giving the city the same chance I promised I’d give Cusano, so for that, my dear Milano lovers, I humbly apologize.


I wasn’t ready to give Milan a chance and I already had preconceived notions on what I thought the city was going to be like. I only started enjoying the city when I actually let go of those feelings. I had no expectations of Cusano and was open to experience something new. No matter where you end up with life- go with all of your heart. Be open, NOT SOLELY to new experiences, but to rethink old habits and ideas. Isn’t that the whole point of studying abroad? Opening up your mind to new ideas lets you  change the way you think and potentially how you view the world. You don’t necessarily have to, but it gives you that option.

I could have easily stuck with my prior ideas of Milano and been unhappy during the trip, but what would have that taught me? And what would have that meant about me? Did I want to be that type of person?

Give every new place a chance- despite what you may have previously heard. You may end up falling in love with it and actually becoming excited at the prospect of one day coming back and learning even more.


Give every new place a chance; especially if you had no prior knowledge of it. You may end up watching a sunrise from the top of a mountain.


Give it a chance, give it your all.

Wherever you go, go with all of your heart.


History in the Making

History in the Making

This past weekend I took a trip to 1944.

Utah was the NCAA basketball champion, Pensive won the 70th Kentucky Derby, the Oscar for best picture went to Casablanca, FDR was re-elected President, and Dwight D. Eisenhower was a five star general for the American Army serving as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe as World War II started to wind down.

The United States has been very fortunate not to have had many modern wars fought on domestic soil. Europe, however, is a different story.

For two days, myself and 40 other students witnessed first hand the graves, troop landing sites, battle sites, and museums of WWII. It is one thing to read about these things in history books; it is quite another to see the actual battlefields and read all of the names, ages, and hometowns of the men and women who fought and died. It is a strange and sobering feeling that creeps into your stomach when you realize that you are the same age as they were.

On the first day, we visited Pomezia, the German War Cemetery. The sheer simplicity of the layout, the entrance, and the tombstones perfectly reflect a classic German style. The space is somewhat small for being the final resting place of 2,740 soldiers, but it looks that way because three individuals are buried in each plot. I found two soldiers that I share a birthday with. They died at the young ages of 21 and 22–only one and two years older than me. If that doesn’t make you appreciate the life you have, then I don’t know what will.


Our next stop was the Museo Piana dell Orme. This was no ordinary museum. This museum had life-size replicas of scenes from the war, complete with real artifacts and chilling sound effects. There were authentic uniforms, war vehicles, audio tapes of bombs exploding, men shouting, planes, cars, and tanks. We went scene by scene through the war exactly as it happened in Italy: from the invasion of Sicily in July of 1943, to the Allied landing at Anzio that began in January 1944, and finally to the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944.


After the museum, we traveled to the site of an actual battle, Isola Bella. While the area is now occupied by houses and farm land, it was once littered with bullets and ash as the Axis forces residing on the hills surrounding the area targeted the Allied powers down below. The only remaining clues that a war was fought there 71 years ago, are two columns that had obvious damage from the conflict. Otherwise, Isola Bella is a now quiet and peaceful street.



It was then time to visit another cemetery. The Sicily Rome American Cemetery is located in Nettuno, just outside of Rome, and is the site for 7,861 American servicemen burials. In contrast to the German cemetery in Pomezia, the Sicily Rome American Cemetery had larger crosses, a fountain, a two room memorial, and only one person buried in each grave space. It was a peaceful and moving tribute to the fallen soldiers.


As a group we laid flowers at the grave of John Burke, a Loyola University of Chicago student who was killed near Cisturna in January of 1944. We also saw and read about others buried at the site: Ellen Ainsworth, a nurse who died while helping patients during a gun fight; Sylvester Antolak, a Medal of Honor recipient, and Henry T. Waskow, whose death was emotionally depicted in a widely-read column written by Ernie Pyle (who died in Japan in 1945).

We placed a wreath beneath the Brothers Statue (one man represents the Navy and the other represents the Army–they symbolize the bond American service men and women have) in the memorial, and were able to lower and fold the American flags as representatives of the John Felice Rome Center. It was an incredibly moving experience, and one I won’t soon forget.


Next on the itinerary was the beach at Nuttuno, close to where the Allies stormed the beach in Anzio. This was a nice change of pace compared to the rest of the day. The sound of waves replaced the loud roar of bombs, and the view of a luminous sunset replaced the visions of wounded and dead soldiers, the destruction of bombs and tombstones. After recounting my trip later to my dad, I found out that my great-great-uncle (my Grandpa’s uncle) had been a part of the landing at Anzio. This was so exciting! My dad said that my great-great-uncle lived through the fighting and made it back to the United States in one piece. I had no idea that I had a personal connection to WWII in Italy.


After the beach it was time for pizza and bed. To say that I was tired would be an understatement.

Day two was spent in Rome as we recounted the events that took place on March 23 and 24, 1944. Our first stop was a neighborhood in the city that houses a memorial called Fosse Ardeatine. This is the location of a massacre of over 330 Italian men on March 24, 1944. The events that occurred on March 23rd lead to the mass killing: A group of Italians bombed a German police force as they marched along a narrow street in Rome called Via Rasella, killing 33. The Germans sought reprisal for the attack: 10 Italians killed for each German killed. You can walk through the underground caves to see where the Italians were shot.

Interestingly enough, the group of Germans responsible for the massacre had never before killed anyone, and so it is said that they were most likely pretty drunk when they shot the Italians. The victims were concealed in the caves when the Germans set off explosives to seal the openings. The bodies were found after the war and given proper burials. Each of the victims had a plot in the large memorial that included their name, age, occupation, and pictures. The eerie silence that surrounded this memorial was chilling.


After Fosse Ardeatine, we went to the Museo della Liberazione. The entire museum was just the three small floors that were the German SS headquarters during the war. Prisoners, and those involved in the resistance of the German occupation in Italy, were imprisoned, interrogated, and even tortured there. Two of the floors were small, windowless rooms that looked like closets. These rooms acted as solitary confinement spaces, where a prisoner would spend hours, or even days, in the room. It was chilling to walk into these rooms and see the carvings the people made on the wall.


The building was abandoned by the Germans when they found out the Allies were going to liberate Rome. They took a lot of important papers (the Germans were incredibly good at keeping records-for instance, all of the people killed in the Fosse Ardeatine massacre were listed by name and checked off when they were apprehended). Many other items in the building were well preserved.

The final stop for day two was Via Rasella. This was the street where the bomb went off on March 23. Our two leaders for the trip, Jim and Phil, (who both attended the JFRC as students), recounted the story of the bombing for us while we walked. After the explosion of nails and other shrapnel, the Germans started firing their weapons at anyone and anything around the site. Their bullets hit houses and buildings along the narrow street. There are still holes in some of the structures today.


What struck me the most during the tour of Via Rasella, was that I had ventured along the same streets two days before, but I was completely unaware of the historical significance. Friday. I decided to venture into the city by myself, partly as a challenge to see if I could navigate my way around, and partly because I was restless and anxious to be in the city center after a long week of classes. I started off by the Vatican and made my way to Via del Corso. I eventually found myself in front of the Trevi Fountain. It was breathtaking to be honest- partly due to the realization that I was standing next to the Trevi Fountain, and partly because there were hundreds of people in that tiny piazza and it was hard to move. Anyway, I then thought I would get to the Spanish Steps and take the metro train back to Balduina and JFRC. However, I was completely lost somewhere in between the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps with no wifi and only a package of blackberries I had picked up at a market earlier. That was when I stumbled upon Via Rasella. Of course I had no idea that it was the site of an infamous bombing that lead to a massacre. During my time living in Rome, I have found that this is the case with most of the city. You walk around and admire the ancient architecture that so naturally blends with the modern tones, then you find out there is a story behind everything. Maybe that story is from the age of Constantine in the fourth century, or maybe it’s from the year 1944 and the end of WWII.

This weekend was an emotional one. Seeing cemeteries, battle sites and museums dedicated to the deadliest and most destructive war of all time definitely stirred my emotions and brought out feelings that I cannot begin to accurately describe. There was pride, mixed with sadness, mixed with wonder. Next weekend will also be a busy one for me because it is the start of Fall Break! We are very fortunate to get nine days off from class to go out and explore. I will be traveling to to Munich, Vienna and Prague!

Ciao! Until next time!


From the beerhalls of Germany to the battlefields of Italy

From the beerhalls of Germany to the battlefields of Italy

Alright alright I know its been forever since I have last posted but there has just been so much going on! I’ve been basic and visited Munich, Germany for OktoberFest and have brought my textbook knowledge to good use as I spent a weekend learning all about World War II. I feel like my posts just don’t do justice to my adventures but here is an attempt to tell you how much fun I am having and all the things I have been learning!

Waking up bright and early last Friday morning my friends and I headed for the airport as we set off for Munich, Germany. Upon arriving in Germany I was shocked as to how amazing and clean the city was. We walked off the train and found ourselves in MarienPlatz, the main square of Munich, facing the Glockenspiel. Looking into the sea of people, everyone aimlessly pointed their cameras to capture the building’s beauty.


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We spent the afternoon walking around the city and ended up at the original Hofbrauhaus (dating back to the 16th century) for lunch. I was instantly overwhelmed as we walked into the beer hall and saw everyone clanking his or her oversized beers together and hearing the band’s jolly music echo of the beautifully painted walls. Luckily, we were able to snatch a table in the corner and proceeded to eat a delicious German meal. Thankfully, one of my travel companions, Max, is of German decent and was able to order food for us because I had zero idea what to get. We sat in the beer hall for what seemed to be hours enjoyed a fabulous first afternoon in Munich.


Once we finished our meal we set out on a mission to find traditional German clothing to wear to OktoberFest for the next day. Every street corner seemed to have a vendor selling drindls and lederhosens but none of them looked appealing. Thankfully, we stumbled upon a shop that had authentic options opposed to the tourist trap choices. After our shopping extravaganza we tooled through the city a bit more. All the locals were extremely nice and welcoming to us and it fun people watching all the other tourists who travelled for the festivities.


That evening we took the train and headed for the town of Mammendorf. We truly immersed ourselves in the German culture as were hosted at Max’s Aunt Maria’s home. Maria lives in the town of Nassenhaussen, which is a tiny village of 400 people, on the outskirts of Munich. Patiently, we waited at the train station in Mammendorf for Maria to pick us up as we arrived a few minutes early. To be honest, I was a little nervous sitting on the sidewalk waiting for Maria. I couldn’t help but think we were in the wrong town and were going to end up stranded in the middle of Germany. (I didn’t say anything though, because no one likes the travel friend who always has anxiety.) Thankfully, Maria showed up and drove us to her home about 15 minutes away.


Staying with Maria was an experience I will never forget. I was so excited to be seeing Germany from an authentic perspective. Throughout the weekend she made us several home made meals that were delicious and welcomed us with open arms every time we arrived back. However, communication was a slight problem. Maria spoke no English, and Max was the only one who spoke German out of our travel crew. The only phrase I was able to catch onto over the course of my stay was danke meaning thank you. By knowing this one word and having a simple simile on my face I felt like I was able to communicate enough for her to understand how much I appreciated staying with her and how happy I was to have met her. Although, she probably thought it was somewhat strange that I repeatedly nodded my head saying thank you for three days.


Saturday morning we put on our drindls and set off for OktoberFest. We arrived around 7:45 am and waited in line in the beer-garden for the beer-hall to open. Right as we walked under the welcome sign I felt like I was in a movie. It was the biggest carnival I had ever seen and I could not wait for the day to begin! The grounds that the festival is held on have giant carnival rides, games, cute German shops, and beer halls on every corner. When the doors of the Hofbrauhaus Tent opened at 9am everyone aggressively flooded in dressed in their German clothing. I felt like I was being carried through a wave of people. Never in my life have I experienced so much pushing and shoving it was insane. Once we were in the giant beer tent we raced to get a table and establish our territory for the day.



The hall was filled with thousands of excited people desperately waving down the waitresses who were carrying 1-liter beers and fresh pretzels. We spent the afternoon in the tent hanging out with old and new friends. Every other minute someone would walk up and cheers with you or would offer you a bite of their pretzel. After leaving the tent we got a bite to eat from one of the stands outside, walked around for a little, rode a ride, and then headed back to Nassenhaussen to have dinner with Maria. Overall the day was a complete success!



Sunday we had a completely different change of pace and went and visited Dachau concentration camp. Dachau was one of the first and most brutal concentration camps during the Holocaust. There is not much I can/want to write about because the experience was so powerful and upsetting. Immediately, after walking through the same front entrance that the trains once brought prisoners my stomach tuned upside down and remained in knots for the rest of the day. Words cannot even begin to describe the sadness and disgusts that I felt when walking through the camp knowing that not that many years ago so many people suffered. The experience was very moving and emotionally draining, as I couldn’t even begin to imagine the cruelties that occurred on the grounds I walked on.

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After spending over four hours in Dachau and seeing the museum we headed back to Munich to do some more exploring. Monday morning we arrived back in Rome and got back into our routine of school! Tuesday night a group of students went to Eataly for an amazing wine tasting! Even though the Eataly in Rome is probably twice the size of the one in Chicago, I still felt like I was back in the windy city being in a familiar place. I am sure when I get back to Chicago I will appreciate the Eataly a little more after falling in love with all the food here! The night was so fun and was filled with amazing fresh Italian food and delicious wine!


I spent the rest of the week and weekend in Rome getting to know the enteral city a little better. Friday afternoon it was lovely to meet up with family friends from home, The Valdez’s, and then I enjoyed a nice afternoon of shopping. (For some reason when I was packing I didn’t think to pack any fall sweaters or scarves so naturally I keep ending up at Zara.)

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Saturday and Sunday were a bit more on the educational side as I went on a study trip focusing on World War II in Rome. The trip was lead by two incredibly intelligent Loyola alumni who provided us students with a plethora of information.

Saturday the day began by visiting the German War Cemetery Pomezia. Seeing the hundreds of crosses throughout the field honoring the men and women who died for their country reminded me of how many people perished from both sides during World War II.

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Our next stop was Museo Piana delle Orme, which was one of the most impressive museums I have ever seen. Our whole experience was completely interactive and really helped me understand more about WWII. Each exhibit had life size manikins dressed in a soldier’s uniform while commentary played in the background to make one feel like they were on the battlegrounds. Aside from the serious part of the museum there was a lighter side, we visited the toy museum, which was on the grounds. That afternoon we also visited Isola Bella and the Beach of Nettuno, which were both historical and significant sites during the war.

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However, my favorite part of the day was when we visited the Sicily Rome American Cemetery in Netunno. This cemetery is commissioned under the American Battle Monuments Commission and is absolutely beautiful. The cemetery has over 7,000 headstones honoring American men and women who fought in Italy during the war. Walking through the grounds it was difficult to process the fact that most of the people who were fighting in the war were the same age as myself. This revelation made me so thankful for the opportunities I have in my life and reminded me how lucky I am to be an American. The cemetery is 77 acres and in the back center there is the “Brothers in Arms” Memorial. The symbolism behind the memorial is that the young men that were fighting in the war were all brothers no mater what branch of the military they served in. It was an extremely moving experience when we placed flowers on the memorial and read a pray to honor all those who served for our country.


Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.20.52 AMSunday we retraced the events that occurred on March 23rd, 1944. We began our day by visiting Fosse Ardatine, which are the caves where 335 people were killed in reprisal for the events that occurred at Via Rasella. A simplified version of the story goes as such: several members of a political opposition group planned a bombing on a German police parade. Consequently, Hitler ordered a reprisal for his men that were killed, this lead to the execution of 10 Italians for every one German dead. These Italians were killed in the caves we visited and the caves were later blown up to cover up the evidence of any murders. Visiting the caves put my stomach in similar knots to the ones I had when I visited Dachau. It was so intense seeing the massacre site and visiting the graves of the men that were killed.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.22.56 AMWe continued our afternoon at Museo della Liberazione on Via Tasso. This museum was the former Gestapo headquarters as well as a prison for the Jews of Rome. From the outside of the building one would never know that it had such a historical significance. Walking through the building we were able to see the actual jail cells that prisoners were held in and see the rooms where Nazi meetings were held. The walls of the cells are filled with personal belongings and memoirs of the hundreds of people that were detained there. Seeing this reminded me that average men and women were locked up and beat for no real reason, they had normal jobs and families like anyone else. We heard countless stories of the people that were in prisoned and really got to see the Nazi’s oppression first hand.

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After visiting the museum we went to Via Rasella where the bombings that triggered the murder of the men in Fosse Ardatine. We walked up and down the street and heard the story of the brave Italian men and women who planned the attack. Looking up at the sides of the buildings you can still see the bullet holes from the attack. We took a break from our history lesson and had a fabulous lunch in Piazza Navona.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.25.50 AMWe concluded our day by visiting the Jewish Ghetto. This neighborhood is were the Jews of Rome were forced to leave and were later forced out of. It is estimated that around 1,040 Jews were taken from this neighborhood and only 15 survived by the end of the war. The neighborhood was really fascinating to see and we ended our day by eating delicious Jewish doughnuts! Throughout my two-day trip I think I learned more about World War II than all the information a textbook ever provided me. So far studying abroad has given me so many great opportunities to learn about other cultures and see history first hand.

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Rome is still absolutely amazing. The weather is starting to change, street vendors are starting to sell umbrellas instead of fans, and fewer tourists fill the streets. My new favorite “Italian” thing to do is enjoy aperitivio which is a cocktail and finger food buffet. It is pretty much a happy hour but Italians just sit and talk and enjoy the evening before they go out for the night. As for my Italian language skills I feel like I can understand more than I can speak but that is expected. I finally have the bus system and the Metra down which is a huge personal accomplishment! Next week is fall break and I will be travelling throughout Italy with my mom!

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GRAZIE FOR READING! XOXO11181875_10206603152830531_7090343740594758230_n




So you want to eat out in Seoul…

So you want to eat out in Seoul…

Food is my favorite part of any day, thus I try to spend as much money as my budget allows stuffing my face with various Korean (and various other) cuisines. As I do not have a meal plan, this means I must venture out into the greater Seoul area in search of daily meals. For the unassuming foreigner, Korean restaurant etiquette is a tricky thing. My first few experiences left me red-faced and flustered, despite many a chipper waiter who chattered away in a cacophony of Korean in what I assume was a well-meaning (yet unsuccessful) attempt to guide me through the motions of eating in a Korean restaurant.

– Firstly, diners set the table themselves. As far as I know, only in western-style (or perhaps very fancy) restaurants will the cutlery, cups, and napkins be neatly waiting at each diners’ places beforehand. Instead, chopsticks and spoons are neatly tucked away in wooden boxes or in a drawer on the side of table waiting to be distributed. In addition, Korean chopsticks (unlike Chinese chopsticks) are made of metal and are usually flat, not round (a much more comfortable shape). As somebody who had never used chopsticks before, the first few weeks of using flat chopsticks made me feel as incompetent as Edward Scissorhands (and speaking of scissors, they are also typically provided by restaurants in place of knives to cut noodles or meat).

– It is rare for each person to get their own menu. Rather, people share one menu (or in the case of a larger group, additional menus will be provided, but the total will still fall short). This makes for some awkward moments: either no one wants to be over-eager and be the first to snatch the menu, or everyone is starving and is desperately trying to pry the menu from each other’s grasp before the waiter approaches to take the orders. I have encountered two types of waiters in Korea: the first type places the menu on the table then immediately proceeds to stare at me until- in a panicked state- I am forced to blurt out an order like a contestant during the final round of Wheel of Fortune, whereas the other type of waiter will leave me sitting with the menu for so long that I reach the point of hunger in which the menu itself seems like a viable (if not hard to digest) food option.

– After delivering the food, the waitstaff does not return to the table to see if additional items are needed or to check the quality of the food. If you do not call your waiter over, you will literally never interact with them again before leaving the restaurant. However, the Koreans have come up with an ingenious solution: a call button. Each table is equipped with a button that when pressed, will summon the waiter to your table. This saves you a lot of awkward attempts at eye contact that usually just end with the eventual acceptance that you will have to do without that additional bottle of peach soju.

– Upon the completion of your meal, the check is not delivered to your table. In order to pay, you must approach the cash register (typically located near the entrance) and attempt to recall the Korean name of the dish you just inhaled. After listening to you pathetically attempt to (incorrectly) sound out the first two syllables, the man behind the register will give an exasperated sigh and demand your credit card, which you happily relinquish. Tipping is not custom in Korea, so with a quick signature the process is complete.


(Obligatory picture of food, known as 비빔밥)

Until next time.



Putting the “Study” in Study Abroad

Putting the “Study” in Study Abroad

Living abroad has without a doubt been the greatest experience of my short 20 years. I’ve had so many delicious meals, eaten more gelato than I will admit and am speaking fluent Italian. (Just kidding about the last one!)

Fall break, basically a 10-day vacation from our semester-long vacation, is just around the corner, and we’re all itching in our seats to catch our flights around the world. However, before we embark on those journeys, we have one last speed bump: midterm exams.

Everyone always talks about how exciting it is to study abroad, and it is, but they always leave out the “study” part. In addition to our weekend trips, late-night gelato runs and leisurely strolls through the city, we actually have a full schedule of classes. And they’re not all easy. Most of the courses here consist of a midterm, paper, final exam and maybe the occasional quiz. That means that these grades are heavily weighted into your final grade for the semester; therefore, it’s imperative to do well.

Like any exam, it’s important to spend enough time to study. This is much easier said than done, especially when Rome is your home. Here are a few tips I use to stay on track while studying abroad:
1. Set aside time every week to read and annotate the assigned readings. They may not seem important now, but when you have to site an author from the first week of class, it’s nice to have something to reference.
2. Plan ahead. Especially if you know you’re traveling over the weekend. You won’t do your IMG_3685homework on the way home; I promise. Get it done before you leave.

3. Form a study group. If you don’t understand the material, there’s likely someone in your class that does. You don’t want to do poorly on an exam because you didn’t understand the material. That could put a real damper on your time abroad.

4. Use a reward system. Homework can be tough to get through sometimes. Set benchmarks and rewards for yourself once you’ve completed each task. For example, treating yourself to your favorite gelato shop once you’ve finished the reading for one class.

Be Not Afraid of Greatness

Be Not Afraid of Greatness

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.”

-Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

What a week! It seems like every time I post, life is just getting better and better. I had lots of cool adventures this week all over London and beyond. Sometimes it feels like I spend all my time (and all my money) on the Tube.

Mind the gap.
Mind the gap.


Tuesday I finished with school at one after an intense monologue workshop session in Shakespeare class. I spent the afternoon at the Hunterian Museum. Housed by the Royal College of Surgeons, it has over 3500 preserved specimens from John Hunter’s collection (dating back to the 1700s). It also has exhibits on the evolution of surgery throughout time.  Despite being pretty disgusting, it was also really interesting, and very different from anything else I’ve done while I’ve been here. I thought the coolest (and ickiest) parts were human fetuses at all stages of development, bones that showed extreme deterioration from syphilis, and the skeleton of a man who was seven feet, seven inches tall!

Wednesday we left straight from class to go to the English National Opera. One of our teachers, Christopher, was hosting a pre-performance talk with some of the production staff, so we got a little history and some insider info about the production before the show. After a break for dinner, we settled into our seats (and I mean really settled in – it was three hours long) for The Barber of Seville. The opera was performed in English (instead of the original Italian), which I didn’t expect, and I’m not really sure I liked. Overall I think opera is something I can appreciate, but don’t necessarily enjoy. I’m still glad we went, though, and I love that our program includes opportunities to see all different kinds of performing arts.

The highlight of classes this week was a workshop on Theatre of the Oppressed. Thursday morning we met with Emma, our interim director, to learn all about Augusto Boal and the techniques he developed for using theatre as direct action in social justice. We played games and explored some of these techniques, just scratching the surface of what Boal created. I’d written a paper about Boal and read a lot about his work, but this workshop was really exciting for me because it was my first opportunity to see and participate in this style of theatre.

“Everyone can do theatre – even actors. And theatre can be done everywhere,  even inside theatres.” – Boal

Friday evening a group of us from school went out to see the new film version of Macbeth. I didn’t particularly like it as a whole, but Marion Cotillard as Lady M made the whole thing worth it. Then Saturday I had a big, exciting adventure at Thorpe Park! I’d been looking into the park since before I left the States and I could hardly believe I was actually there. We had an awesome day riding coasters and thrill rides, and I left with my coaster count up to 32!

Best. Day. Ever.
Best. Day. Ever.

Last night England’s rugby team lost to Australia, which means they’re officially out of the running for the world cup. But other than that it’s seriously been the best week I could have imagined. I love fall and Halloween, so October is a great month, and this week has gotten it off to a great start.



I am so so sorry for the delayed blog post! As the old Spanish proverb goes, “Spanish wifi is very slow”. Nevertheless, I’m here to update you all on the most amazing trip I recently took. Last weekend we had a day off on Friday so my roommate and I decided to head up to Barcelona! The cheapest way to get there is by bus (ya girl is a struggling college student, cheap is good!) which took a total of 7 hours to get there. Barcelona is on the north west coast of Spain, opening up to the Mediterranean Sea. Known for the amazing art of Gaudi, incredible paella and for having the most attractive soccer/futbol team (matter of opinion but I doubt anyone will disagree with this observation) you can probably imagine how excited I was to see everything!!!

Birds eye view of Barcelona

Our first day was spent doing all the necessary touristy things. Our first stop was to see the Sagrada Familia! The Sagrada Familia is a huge Roman Catholic Church that dates back to 1882. It was designed by the infamous Antoni Gaudi and has been in construction for the past 100 years since his death in 1926. Although we didn’t get to go inside the cathedral, the outer construction was breath taking. The Sagrada Familia isn’t just big, it is massive! You can see a lot of Gaudi’s style represented throughout the design, my favorite being the colorful mosaic designs that pop up throughout the cathedral. The pictures I took do not do it justice, I could have easily spent all day there!

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

Our next stop was to see a couple houses located downtown, that Gaudi had designed. The first house is called La Pedrera and has since been recognized as more of a sculpture than a building because of its abstract design. I loved the shape of the house, the wavy walls reminded me of waves of the ocean, and the iron sculptured balconies were so intricately designed! The next house is known as El Drac de Gaudi at Finca Guell. As much as I loved the first house, I loved this one even more! My favorite part was of course, the beautiful mosaic designs seen throughout the house. One of the most interesting parts of the house are the balconies. They are literally designed to look like bones! The contrast between that and the bright color of the house is confusingly perfect. Who would have thought that bones and mosaic would go together so well??

El Drac de Gaudi at Finca Guell
El Drac de Gaudi at Finca Guell
Forgot to take pictures of La Pedrera so here is one from google!
Forgot to take pictures of La Pedrera so here is one from google!

Next up was the amazing Park Guell! Can I just say that I have been dreaming of this beautiful place ever since I watched The Cheetah Girls 2. Quick synopsis if you for some reason haven’t seen it (after you read this pls go to Netflix and watch it), the cheetah girls travel all the way to Barcelona to compete in a music contest in which they basically run around Barcelona having the time of their lives. In one iconic song (Strut Like You Mean It) they film a part of it in Park Guell and it is truly magnificent! After having seen the movie countless times I can say without hesitation that Park Guell truly lived up to all of my Cheetah Girls 2 fantasies. The infamous bench was right up my alley, colorful mosaic that snakes along the seats that overlook the city. It is actually incredible to think about all the work that must have went into creating something so beautiful. Besides the bench, Park Guell is also in fact a park. There are a ton of other Gaudi designs in the park as well as some really amazing gardens. Again, I could have easily spent all day there.

Cheetah Girls in Park Guell!!!!
Park Guell

The rest of our trip consisted of paella, beaches, and amazing people. We took a trip to Sitges, Spain which is the sweetest little town right on the beach. Filled with adorable gelato shops and colorful restaurants, Sitges is the epitome of a coastal beach town! While in Sitges we also had the opportunity to see a human tower competition. Basically, groups from different towns come together and compete to see who does the best/biggest human tower. It is incredible. There are easily 25+ people per tower and they stand on each others shoulders and climb up their bodies to create amazingly tall human towers. I feel like this is a bad description 🙁 but you can check it out in the picture I took below!  The paella that we had (You can’t go to Barcelona and not eat paella) was to die for. Salty and fishy (bad description, but so delicious) with a hint of lemon, my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it 🙁 The beaches in Barcelona are definitely different from the ones we have back at home. I witnessed a ton of nudity which is cool but also kind of unsettling when it comes to grandmas and grandpas doing it but hey, more power to them. The water was a lot cooler than I expected, (high expectations from growing up in Hawaii and being blessed with beautiful beaches everywhere) but the beaches in Barcelona are truly beautiful in their own way!

Human Tower
Human Tower!

In Barcelona we did a bit more sightseeing on our last day. We visited a beautiful park called Parc de la Ciutadella. It was similar to Retiro park here in Madrid, but it had a crazy magnificent waterfall fountain. Seriously, parks in Spain put the parks back home in the states to shame! Walking through we passed  by a group of parents and their kids doing yoga, a street performer making huge bubbles for little kids, groups of teens sitting around and playing guitars, so many people coming together in such a beautiful environment! Our last stop was to see the Arc de Triomf.  It was built as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World fair by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas.

Parc de la Ciutadella
Arc de Triomf

Although I didn’t get to meet my future husband Neymar (number 11 on the field,  number 1 in my heart), Barcelona was truly an amazing place to visit. From the delicious food, to the amazing art, I am already trying to find a way to come back! It is not a goodbye Barcelona, but a see you later!!!