The GoGlobal Blog

Month: January 2016

Simple Spanish Politics: A Background

Simple Spanish Politics: A Background

As the weeks go by and I continue to live and study in Sevilla, I’ve begun to try to uncover deeper layers of Spanish society and one that cannot go unnoticed especially in 2016 is Spanish politics. As one fellow student told me, “It’s a mess”. As I read through news articles from El Pais and El Mundo, Spain’s leading newspapers and also some outside media, I begin to understand the current scene a little better.

So let’s start from the beginning of the current “mess” which happened a little more than a month ago, on December 20th 2015, Spain held the most heated elections since the post Franco era in 1977. Four major political parties went head to head in general elections to elect all 350 seats in Congress of Deputies and 208 seats out of 265 seats in the Senate, which together formed the Cortes Generales, Spain’s bicameral legislature. For decades though Spain’s two major political parties had been the only players in town. If you prefered the right of the political spectrum you voted Partido Popular (PP), and if you leaned to the left you would vote for the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Voting for any other party would have been a wasted vote, similar if you were to vote for the Green Party in the US.

But this year was quite different; there were two new cowboys in town. The Podemos Party, a newly formed party unmistakably on the far left. Which was led by energetic Pablo Iglesias, a self-defined Marxist with a knack for populism and emanating a hippie vibe with his long ponytail and casual apparel.

The second – Ciudadanos – a party whose voters historically supported the policies of the PP but have increasingly grown weary of the PP’s recent stream of corruption scandals. The leader Albert Rivera has been referred by many in the Spanish press as a ‘politibot’ due to his robot-like prescence and sole purpose of leading a political party. He is young, clean cut, good looking, boasts a nice head of hair and without a doubt, an expert at kissing babies.

So how did these two new parties gain so much popularity that they were able to take hold of 105 seats in the Congress of Deputies, creating a political standstill? One must take a look at what is going on overall in Europe. Migrants are rushing to the shores of Europe demanding humanitarian assistance, Europe is still recovering from one of largest financial crisis in a generation and finally with corruption scandals across Europe and especially in Spain, voters domestically were ready for change in political parties.

Now, Spanish voters have demonstrated their opinions by casting their votes for new parties and have upset the powerful Partido Popular. Without an outright majority the party’s leader and current Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, is currently meeting with the King of Spain Felipe VI (a ceremonial procedure) to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition of parties to take control of the Congress of Deputies. But recent news has indicated that no party wants to cooperate and form an alliance. If this is the case, another election may take place to produce new results. I shall keep the readers updated of the unfolding events here in the coming weeks but at the moment there is a hung parliament.

Second Week in Sevilla

Second Week in Sevilla

The good part of going to a new place is that the first two weeks always seem like a nonstop party. Every new turn you take in the city or every new activity you embark on feels like a constant adventure and keeps you engaged for a long time. Sevilla is a small city yet I continue to find new paths to take on my bike and I continue my best to get to the know the city.

Another thing that is unique is the schooling system; at first resembles in many ways the American university system, classes twice a week, lectures that try to involve the class and sometimes discussions. But then you look at the syllabus and realize that in most of the classes the final exam is worth 70% of the final grade! This is extremely intimidating and most of all keeps you on your toes because you realize that anything the professor talks about throughout the course could be on the final. In addition, the grading scale here is different, to pass the class you must receive a 5 out of 10, which doesn’t seem that difficult until I heard from a professor that in the Macroeconomics course of last semester, only 47% of the class passed, it becomes even more alarming. Though, I’m not sure if that is just a reflection of the poor studying on the part of the students or if the exam was actually impossible. I’m hoping for the former. Also fortunately, I won’t be taking any Economics courses but rather taking law and international relations classes though I still may have trouble understanding the professor. In three of my classes the lectures are in Spanish, fortunately two of my profesors have allowed me to take the final in English (who knows if that will make it easier) while my fourth class is all in English. So far in all my classes there has been a lot of lecture which is boring but I have to keep reminding myself about the final and I have forced myself to continue to review the notes.

As my second week in Sevilla comes to a close, I continue to find the most mundane of bike rides a constant thrill. Also as I ride by the historic center I often stop and stare in admiration at the gorgeous architecture, especially in Plaza de España and next to the Cathedral of Sevilla. Places that will soon fall into the background of the city, still leave a deep impression on me.

Roma: First Impressions

Roma: First Impressions



They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and likewise, neither was this blog post. My first two weeks in Rome have been exciting, overwhelming, and incredible. During this period of time, I have just dipped my toes into the the richness of Italy and its famed Eternal City, and have much to share about my experiences. With all the craziness that has pervaded these past weeks, it’s hard to sum up all of my experiences in a single post. Therefore, I’ll be starting this blog with a post about my first night on my study abroad trip (don’t worry, I’ll be sure to follow with all the rest soon). Here is the story of my first real meeting with Roma, Italia:


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My arrival (following a few days of travel that are documented in this video) was a blur of paperwork, meetings, unpacking, and settling into the John Felice Rome Center. As work hard play hard is a generally good model of activity to follow (within reason, let’s not get too crazy here), the busywork of the first day in Rome was followed by an evening getting lost in its cobblestone streets. Very, very lost.


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Myself and a group of new and old friends had managed to understand Rome’s public transit system well enough to make it to the downtown area, but couldn’t quite find our way once we left the bus. We had a goal of seeing the Trevi Fountain, which we did later on in the evening, but ended up getting lost trying to navigate the winding streets that are so unlike the grids of Chicago and other major U.S. cities. We wandered for a couple of hours, casually stumbling upon the Pantheon and the  Spanish Steps along the way, before we found our bus stop and headed home. Truthfully, in all the mess of discerning our proper path, there were some moments of stress and frustration, as is often the case when no one quite knows where to go but still has an opinion on which way is best. I took those moments as chances to be alone with my thoughts and reflect on the situation.


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I was lost in a foreign city with minimal currency in my pocket, poor language skills, and a phone without service, but I was in Rome. I was standing upon streets that have been walked by the greats of my time and the times before them, amidst structures that date back to the very first moments “Great” was even an earned title. I was tucked into a quiet little street, watching locals and tourists and students like myself pass in and out of doors holding freshly purchased gelato, or sit at teeny little tables on corners eating all the pasta the world has to offer. Under strung-up twinkling lights, between my fellow lost JFRC students, and above the roads that lead not just to Rome but to its plethora of contents, I took a moment to breathe in the city and recognize why it is dubbed “Eternal.”


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What Rome has to offer is unlike anywhere else – even places that try to emulate it. It is a city of beautiful contradictions between ancient and fresh and traditional and modern. It has been a catalyst for so much in the rest of the world, managing to find its unique niche in the past, present, and future. I am eternally grateful to be present as a part of life here in the Eternal City, and I’m excited to share the rest of my adventures in my upcoming posts. Stay tuned to read my next post about our orientation trips to some famous Roman sites, a papal palace, and coastal Italy. If you can’t wait, check out this video to preview some of what I’ll be discussing. Ciao for now!



Week #1

Week #1



My love for Italy continues to grow daily! Now where did I leave off….


Day five. We took our first day trip as an entire school. We were bussed over to the beautiful Lazio countryside of Tuscia. While there, we received guided tours of Villa Farnese, a mansion designed and constructed for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III. The building was truly a sight to behold with its ornate, hand-painted walls and grand architecture. After the tour concluded, we traveled to a restaurant in the woods for lunch. We were served another mouth-watering meal complete with lasagna, chicken, cake and of course some red and white wine. I think we underestimated the power of altitude and a few glasses of Italian wine… This was easily the best meal I had up to that point. As much as I love my carbs and starches, I swear that is just about all we eat for every meal. Finally being served some protein made us all just about die of happiness. During our drive home, we got to witness an incredible sunset over the mountains.

Classes began the next day. Luckily for me, I am only in class Tuesday-Thursday so I had the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. That night, a small group of us decided to check out the nightlife in the areas of Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori. Our first stop of the night was at an Irish pub where we were treated to a free shot and drinks after making some company with the bartender. Following this, we checked out Scholars, a JFRC favorite. Just when we decided to call it a night, we ran into a club promoter on the street who sent us to her club with a coupon for a round of free shots. Once we walked in, I realized they had KARAOKE. I am a huge sucker for some good karaoke. Some guy was singing Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and he offered up the microphone when he saw the crazy American dancing and singing away to the song (I am referring to myself). After realizing that I clearly stole the spotlight, he took the microphone back and (unsuccessfully) attempted to regain the attention. And with that, we called it a night. This was our first time successfully making it to our destination and home via public transportation. You could say we were just a little bit proud of ourselves.

Tuesday began my schooling for the Spring 2016 semester. My courses are as follows: Comparative Politics, Interpreting Literature, Writing Fiction in Rome and Comparing Art & Science. The instructors here are exceptional and so knowledgeable and distinguished in their respective fields. I have not been this enthused for a semester of school in quite some time. That evening, roughly 80 students from the JFRC went out to Scholars for karaoke night. Seeing as I had just been there the night before, a friend and myself led about 35 of the students there. The bar was packed, but it was so fun getting to meet with some other classmates and students at other universities in Rome.

Side story: Thanks to my Grandpa Bob and my dad, I have successfully mastered the art of BS’ing. When I was over dancing in some corner that night, a girl came up to me and was like, “OHMYGOD! What are you doing here?!” After clearly sensing my confusion she goes, “You are Jack, right? It’s Lily!” Now, I had never seen this girl in my life, but I just decided to go with it for fun. So I say, “YES! I totally forgot you were going to be in Rome at this time too! I can’t believe we ran into each other!” Turns out Jack and Lily’s parents work together. She offered to do tequila shots with me, so of course I couldn’t say no. As soon as she took a picture with me and sent it to her mom saying she was with Jack, I knew I had to get out of there before she got a response back notifying her that she was indeed not with Jack. Jack was going to be getting a Facebook message that next day from Lily to go out again for drinks. So to whomever you are Jack, I’m sorry about that.

Wednesday was another normal day of classes, but that evening a group of us booked our first European excursion. In mid-February eight of us will be traveling to Budapest! I will be making the trip with friends both old and new, so it should be an exciting time.

After classes on Thursday, I traveled with two friends from the JFRC to visit our friend Mia who is also studying abroad in Rome. We ventured into the area of Trastevere and tried out a new restaurant that we happened to stumble upon. We split a bottle of red wine and each ordered ourselves a pizza. Pizzas here are rather large, but they are super thin, so you rarely have an issue finishing a whole one to yourself. Following dinner, we walked around the area for a bit and ended up in a bar that was essentially in a cave. There are always so many new and unique hidden gems to try out here.

On Friday morning, our entire class departed for the Amalfi Coast for a weekend trip together. We were blessed with some great weather the entire time we were there. After a stop for some lunch at a restaurant on the beach, we attended our first guided tour of Paestum, which was an old Greek village. Although a large majority of the village is still underground, three massive temples stood on the grounds in addition to lots of ruins. Each of these temples was dedicated to a different god and was where sacrifices and activities would take place. I’ve said it before, but the history that has occurred within the borders of this country never fails to amaze me. After the tour, we traveled to our very nice hotel for some dinner and sleep.

We left our hotel early Saturday morning to begin a full day of tours and visits. Our first stop was a vineyard in the countryside. After learning about the production of the wines and olives on the land, we were able to do some tasting of the finished products. The wine was quite good, but the oil and bread they gave us was the real winner. The bread they have here in Italy…to die for. Our next stop was a buffalo mozzarella cheese farm. We all thought this was going to be a rather mediocre tour, but we were all pleasantly surprised at just how interesting it actually was. The farm housed hundreds of naturally raised buffalo along with six bulls to keep up with reproduction (our tour guide informed us that the bulls stay veryyy busy). The buffalo were incredibly tame. In the morning the farm plays classical music for them, and at night they have special lighting in the barns for the buffalo to keep them in this manner. Because they were so calm, we were able to walk up to where they eat and pet them. Yes, even this city boy walked up and pet several of the buffalo. At the conclusion of the tour, we got to sample some of the mozzarella and gelato that they produce with the buffalo milk. Both were on point. After spending some time watching the sunset in one of the towns on the coast, we departed for our hotel. As we were all finishing up dinner at the hotel, music started playing. In walked a 6-piece male Mediterranean band complete with two female dancers. They were sooo much fun and had us all up and dancing. I couldn’t help myself from getting in the middle of the dancing circle a couple of times and busting out a few moves. One of our priests on campus now constantly refers to me as “the dancer”.

We made one last stop on our way home Sunday morning for a tour of the Montecassino Abbey. The Abbey was located above the clouds at the top of Monte Cassino. Saint Benedict had chosen this spot to construct the monastery in 529. Since then it had been destroyed and rebuilt on four different occasions. We were led through the cloisters, the room of Saint Benedict and the Basilica at Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica’s (his twin sister) grave. The whole place was absolutely breathtaking. The cathedral of Montecassino was beautiful with its incredible frescoes, mosaics and detailed interior. It was a great way to end a weekend full of memories and good times as a class.


I will wrap up this post with something I wrote in my Writing Fiction in Rome class. We were allowed to select a prompt and write whatever came to our minds.

The prompt I selected: “I (you/he/she) never thought Rome was/would be…”

A part of my response: “He never thought that Rome would be a foreign land that could feel so familiar. A place with chaotic traffic patterns that seemed perfectly synchronized. A place where the inconvenience of so many specialty stores seemed almost convenient. He never thought that Rome would be a place he could learn to love so quickly, but it was.”



Until next time,



Benvenuti a Italia

Benvenuti a Italia

The moment your feet find themselves wondering through cobblestone streets amidst the foliage of orange and lemon trees blossoming, you realize you have never been happier. And as you explore through hidden alleys, you slowly realize that the convoluted streets always meet and somehow you end up back where you started or close to the river, where you easily find your path back home.

Rome so far has been endless walking and endless discovery. An ephemeral place where green shutters contrast against brick walls with ivy crawling on them, where you can plan where to go, but in the end, you always get lost in a beautiful way.

Two weeks has been all it has taken for the nostalgic aura of the city to enthrall me. And for all the small towns in Italy we have visited thus far (Caprarola,Paestum,Vietri sul Mare, Agropoli, and Montecassino) to keep me wishing to seek more; the constant presence of a cemetery of buildings transporting you. And the wine, the bread, and the olive oil, the Mediterranean triad, just begging to be savored. And of course, the gelato…



欢迎来北京!Welcome to Beijing!

欢迎来北京!Welcome to Beijing!

Being in Beijing for the past two weeks has been quite an experience! After getting off our 13-hour flight and getting through customs we hopped on the bus and headed to UIBE (University of International Business and Economics) in Beijing. Since it was dark out, it was hard to make out the details of the city, but it was intriguing to see the night life of Beijing with street vendors and tons of motorcyclists weaving through people and traffic. When we arrived at UIBE, we were told our room numbers and were assigned the task of bringing our luggage to our rooms, with help of course. The downside of bringing 50 pound bags is there are no elevators in the dorms. Thank goodness I only live on the second floor.
When I arrived at my room, I was interested to see what the dorm looked like. We were assigned Western style rooms, but typical Chinese dorms fit 5-6 students in one room. When I opened the door I wasn’t too surprised. There are 2 twin beds, 2 wood desks, wooden table and chair set, mini fridge, TV, closets, and a bathroom. I was very surprised when I looked into the bathroom. I stood in the doorway for a good few minutes trying to process what I was looking at. In the bathroom there is a lonely shower head in the corner of the room next to the toilet. It’s very interesting and definitely something I had to get used to because water gets everywhere. One of the first things I paid for in China was a pair of sandals to wear around the dorm since water can get tracked everywhere.
We are part of The Beijing Center (TBC) program which partners with UIBE, and our orientation was a week long. We participated in fun activities and listened to presentations. For the first two days, Chinese roommates and tutors took us to lunch, which was fantastic because even with my many years of Chinese, ordering food is one of the hardest things to do here in Beijing when there are no pictures to point at. After day two, we were on our own for getting food. On the third day, Aly, Sarah, (fellow TBC friends) and I wandered to the restaurant we had had breakfast at the previous day. The hardest thing about being Chinese in Beijing, is that I am not fluent. I get laughed at a lot by Chinese people when I start talking, but it only pushes me to try and get better at speaking Chinese.
One aspect of the program that I love, is the option for having a Chinese roommate. They are fantastic and have made the transition to Beijing so much easier! My roommate’s name is Amy who is a senior at UIBE and an economics major. Almost everyone at the program has a Chinese roommate. There are a few people who have other TBC roommates, and a few returners (students who were part of the TBC program last semester) are living with host families. After orientation, finals month (yes a whole month of finals) for UIBE students ended and the roommates started their winter break, which will last until March. All of the Chinese roommates are so nice and helpful. They help us with literally everything. From shopping, to ordering food, to helping us figure out how to use the heater, they are much needed and irreplaceable.
One day Amy took Aly and I to a big shopping mall. To get anywhere in Beijing you either have to walk (usually 10 minute minimum), take the bus, or the train. We chose to walk to the mall. We left campus and traveled through a local park, which was a little gloomy since there were only tree stumps, but I’m certain it will look beautiful in the spring. After a 30-minute walk, we reached the 8 story mall. Man I love that place! I’ve been back multiple times! There’s a restaurant called Grandma’s and it’s by far one of my most favorite restaurants. We had spicy tofu, shrimp, cauliflower, and beef. I have already been more adventurous with my eating habits because all of these dishes were delicious!!
We started classes Monday (January 19th). I am taking intensive Chinese language, Chinese history, Chinese medicine, architecture, and Daoism. I started off the day with my only class on Monday, Intensive Intermediate Chinese B. I was surprised with how much I understood since our teacher only spoke in Chinese with barely any English. Tuesday was language in the morning, then a quick bite to eat at a dumpling place that serves 10 dumplings for 6 kuai (6.5 kuai=$1). Wednesday was Chinese Medicine, Thursday was language and architecture class, and Friday was language class. On Friday we had to make a speech on who our idol is. I chose my mom  , and with the help of my tutor, received good feedback from my teacher.
Saturday morning the TBC group went to see a Llama Temple. It was enlightening to see all the Buddha statues and experience people worshiping. One of the rituals is to burn incents in any multiple of 3, then hold them slightly above your head, kneel down, say your prayer/wish, and bow three times. It was amazing to take part in this ritual. Sadly, it was a little hard to appreciate the temple fully due to the -27-degree wind chill that morning. No worries, no frostbite, just frozen toes and fingers. I will definitely go again when it is much warmer.
To celebrate surviving our first week of classes, later that night a small group of us went to a giant buffet restaurant. You pay a fee, then have access to all the food, beer, meat, fish, drinks, and pastries you want for two hours. The only downside, is that if you are wasteful and leave a lot of food at your table, you lose your 10 kuai deposit. After dinner we went to a karaoke bar. It was so much fun! What is really intriguing to me is that for all the events Chinese people partake in, such as going to clubs, karaoke, and just hanging out, there is not a strong emphasis on alcohol. At the clubs (we went to one named Vick’s) it’s all about dancing. At karaoke, people go to sing their hearts out with no judgement from their peers, and is usually a completely dry event. The culture of drinking in China is completely different than America, and to be honest, I like the nightlife better here in China. Nevertheless, karaoke was so much fun, and I may have overdone the singing since I have a slight sore throat from singing our endless playlists of Kesha, One Republic, T-Swift, JBeibs, and more. No Chinese songs for us, maybe later in the semester we’ll venture to Chinese music.
That concludes my first 2 weeks in Beijing! I can’t wait for what is to come. Soon we will be leaving for the Chinese New Year. Next Saturday we fly to the Yunnan province where we will spend our entire two-week break celebrating the new year, immersing ourselves in minority cultures, learn dances, try food, hike, and explore. Until then, 再见!

Vung Tau: A Weekend Getaway

Vung Tau: A Weekend Getaway

After completing our first full week of classes in Sai Gon, we decided to treat ourselves with a getaway. Almost all 22 of us piled onto a Futa Bus, where the seats were as small or smaller than those in economy class. Two hours later, we had arrived in the relatively quiet beach town of Vung Tau. We had been warned that it wasn’t the most picturesque beach in Vietnam, and while that was true, it served as the perfect day trip destination.


The beach itself was a narrow strip that stretched as far as the eye could see, and featured plenty of open-air restaurants and bars. We found a cozy spot next to one such place, so we didn’t need to wander far for lunch. Some of us immediately lay out and basked in the sun and enjoyed the breeze that kept the air from become stifling hot. The rest hit the waves. The dry season in Vung Tau is known to have high winds and big waves with strong undercurrents in some spots. Evidently we had chosen the perfect spot: while the waves and current were stronger than what I am used to, not once did I feel anything more than exhilarated at being in the waves.



Of course, being the adventurous lot that we are, we didn’t want to restrict ourselves to just the beach, and so we set off for the lighthouse. We all know what lighthouses look like, so the structure itself was nothing too impressive, aside from the fact that it was built in the 1930s and looked great for its age. But my oh my, the view was something entirely different. The old lighthouse sits atop a hill, prime location for a 360 degree view of the city (Check my photos out above). We stopped here to simply soak in the spectacular view of Vung Tau and its houses, buildings, beaches, open waters, and hills. The view from the bottom of the hill was just as stunning. We arrived at the bottom right at the beginning of “golden hour” A.K.A. my favorite time of day. Everything was bathed in a magical golden glow, and served as the perfect ending to our little adventure.


Before leaving Vung Tau, we also managed to visit a temple and eat at one of our Vietnamese partner’s family restaurant. All in all, it was a day well spent.


My Tip of the Day:

  1. Do not underestimate the strength of the sun, especially when near the Equator like in Vietnam. Not getting the perfect tan is a sin I’m willing to make in exchange for not burning and peeling. Sunscreen is essential.
My first Week in Limerick

My first Week in Limerick

It took three flights and a whole day of travel to get to Limerick, Ireland. As our plane departed Newark airport, I looked back and saw New York City lit up like a Christmas tree and it hit me that this would be my first time being away from America and the farthest I have ever been from home. It was both exciting and terrifying. I am still in a state of disbelief that I actually made it here. I already miss my family so much that all I can think about is them coming to visit me. The first day I was here was rough because the Jet lag hit me hard and my unawareness of how to get around in this new city in this new country was daunting. It’s not hard to stick out like a sore thumb here and feel insecure about being an American, but the people could not be friendlier. Everyone I have met so far has been very kind and talkative with the ever charming Irish wit. I’ve been told that, like the people, the weather in Ireland is lazy and is slow to get going in the morning, which is true. It was still dark at eight in the morning, but it soon faded in to a pleasant blue and refreshing day, quickly followed by a lot of rain.

It feels like I have been awake for 48 hours straight and I am anxious to get past this slump so I can enjoy my surroundings even more and meet new people. I met quite a few at Mary Immaculate’s orientation and everyone is very nice and as excited to be here as I am. Tomorrow is the first Saturday I will be here and to start off the day I am getting up in the morning to go to the Limerick Milk Market which is an annual Limerick festival and I am going with some friends that I met yesterday.

I had my first fish and chips at the Milk market. I’ve heard that Limerick is the best place to get fish and chips and I don’t have any base for comparison, but I can say that it was delicious and made me feel very European. The festival was by a shopping center down town where I found clothes stores, book shops, restaurants, and more pubs. Out of the pubs that I have visited so far, Dolan’s is probably by favorite, but I also loved Fennessey’s. At Dolan’s you can get traditional Irish stew, burgers, and various other kinds of pub grub. I had the delicious seafood chowder and it was fantastic. At each pub, I had a pint of Guinness or “the black stuff” and it was enough to put me to sleep at the end of the day (still suffering from jet lag). Altogether, it was a pretty great first week in Ireland. I still cannot believe I am here and can’t wait to plan trips all over the country and to other countries. Everywhere I want to go in Ireland is only a few hours away from Limerick, which blows me away. I have already mapped out routes to Dublin, Cork, Clare, Mayo, Galway, and Dingle and have promised friends from home in Italy and Germany that I will see them soon. Also, “The Bank” is not a bank. Surprise! It’s a pub.


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You’re weird. But I like you.

You’re weird. But I like you.

-A Bug’s Life (1998)

We're mad. Entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret: All the best people are!
We’re mad. Entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret: All the best people are!

Hello once again from my cluttered kitchen table in Kensington, London!

I’ve officially completed a whole week of conservatory theatre training and I have one word to describe that experience: EXHAUSTING. My mind was poked, prodded and stretched in my acting, audition, speech, dialects, Shakespeare, and dramatic criticism classes. My body was pushed, pulled, and exerted to the brink in stage combat, movement, Alexander, yoga, and period dance. AND THAT’S ONLY WEEK ONE! “But Taylor, how on Earth did you make it through all that?” Well, voices in my head, I wouldn’t have were it not for the insane group beautiful, colorful, and glorious friends I’ve met. It kills me that I can travel halfway across the world and find people who fit so beautifully with my personality. They inspire me to be a better actor, person, and friend, but they do so in a safe, encouraging way; always leading by example. There’s something about being thrown into another country that bands people together strongly and quickly, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to experience this phenomenon.

So, what else was so exhausting about this week? Well, beyond our MILLIONS of classes, we take trips weekly around London to visit historical cites as a group. Another shoutout here for my new wonderful friends for taking the stress away from getting lost on the way to the Rose Theatre! (Which, in my defense, is incredibly hard to find-it took archaeologists until the mid-1980s!) The story of the Rose Project is that corporate UK wanted to build on top of the cite, but when scientists found the remains of this famous Elizabethan theatre in the ground, actors and theatre enthusiasts from around the globe flocked to the cite to ensure its preservation. What you should care about: I stood in the same room that once held Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), DAME Judi Dench, and SHAKESPEARE HIMSELF. Some students even did a soliloquy or two while we were there just to say, ” I performed Shakespeare on the site of the performance of HIS first play, how was your Thursday?” It was such a fabulous and momentous day. I also got Ben & Jerry’s that day too, which made me almost as excited.

I also attended the huge, incredibly beautiful, but unbelievably crowded Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A museum for the natives). There was so much to see that I forced myself to just choose one exhibit this time and fully immerse myself in note-taking an sketching. So, I dove into the Fashion exhibition, which displayed clothing dating all the way back to the 1550s. And I don’t mean replicas or costumes, I mean ACTUAL CLOTHING. Some sweaty woman from 1675 actually fanned herself with that ivory and lace fan as she sat in her horse-and-buggy on her way to the opera. Some newly-wed gentlemen from 1730 actually thought that forget-me-nots embroidered onto his waistcoat wasn’t too corny for his wedding. It was amazing to see! My next goal is to get the curator to let me try on the shelf-like horizontal bustle of 1600s courtly women.

Alright, I’m rambling and I need to go read Twelfth Night, so I’ll be on my way. Let me finish this week off with a quick haiku for all my friends and family back home:

I’m loving it here

My new friends are so crazy

Also,  send money

(LOL JK, send food)



Yo no hablo – I mean – Io non parlo Italiano

Yo no hablo – I mean – Io non parlo Italiano

From a very early age, language has been one of the fundamental reasons for my love
of learning. I am absolutely enamored by the endless possibilities and practicalities that speaking multiple language provides. The rhythmic beauty and dialect of the Spanish language originally sparked my interest, and is one of the many reasons that I have become proficient in speaking the language.

Vietri sul Mare
Vietri sul Mare

Because of this, people are often surprised when I tell them that I am studying abroad in Rome. I arrived knowing no more than ten words in Italian, and it’s been somewhat of a struggle to attempt to rewire my brain with Italian phonetics instead of the English or Spanish to which I have become so accustomed.

With a little over two weeks under my belt in the Eternal City, I have developed a curious interest for the Italian language that has allowed me to further my vocabulary and pronunciation skills that I once lacked. The ability to immerse myself in the language through mundane daily activities – taking the bus, ordering espresso with breakfast, and asking a local where something is – have embodied the beauty of Italian culture, language, and the wonderful citizens that inhabit it.

Beautiful sunset on Saturday, January 23. The photo does not do it justice!

Although for now, I am merely an observer, attempting to eavesdrop on conversations to pick up some of the few words I know, and quite obviously an American, with my blue eyes, fair skin, and inability to communicate proficiently, I anxiously anticipate the adventures and opportunities that await me with this brand new language that I quickly have grown to adore. And, while I continue to introduce myself with “Me llamo Maura” instead of “Mi chiamo Maura,” I am grateful for the challenges of learning a third language and the omnipresent opportunity to expand my knowledge inside and outside of the classroom.