The GoGlobal Blog

Month: September 2016

Prada, Gucci, and Versace– Oh My!

Prada, Gucci, and Versace– Oh My!

Buongiorno a tutti!

Another weekend, another trip. And let it be noted that I am so So SO tired, but it’s okay. To quote my friend Sam, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” I took my aching body and sat on a train for 3 hours so I could spend my weekend in Milan. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to go to, and to top it all off, it was fashion week. I wouldn’t say I’m a fashion guru at all, since my wardrobe basically consists of a t-shirt, shorts, and my Birkenstocks. But since all my friends felt the need to dress cute, I tried my best to not look like a complete fashion faux pas.

Let’s talk about that Duomo for a quick second. My friends and I are walking into the city center, and we turn the corner and there it is. The magnificent and absolutely gigantic Duomo. I have a feeling I wasn’t expecting much because when I finally did see it, I was completely taken aback. Not just by its sheer size, but the detail that covers every square inch of its outside walls. Just upon quick observation, I could see and appreciate how much effort and work went into creating such a church. And with beauty comes tourists. The line to get in was a little unreal. It was twisting and turning all throughout the piazza in front, and we were all worried that we weren’t going to be able to go inside. But, we took our chances and bought tickets.

TIP #1: Buy a pass. I forgot the exact name for it, but for 11 euro, you can go into the Duomo, on its terrace (via the stairs), into the museum, and into another church. Or for 13 euro, you get all the same stuff, but you can take the elevator. I’ll talk about them later, but save your two euro and take the stairs. They ain’t bad.

While waiting for the line to die down a bit, we walked amongst the shops. And this experience was truly scary. I could basically hear my credit card crying because I wanted to buy every single thing I saw. Right next to the Duomo, there is this street that leads to this outdoor building that consists of not one, but TWO Prada stores, a Gucci store, and a Versace store. It felt nice for a solid two seconds to pretend that I could afford any of that stuff, and then I remembered ‘Oh wait Clare. You are incredibly poor. Keep walking girl.’ I went into the stores because I hate myself, and I love to see myself cry. Just kidding. Kind of.

Story Time #1: I went into the Prada store and fell in LOVE with these sunglasses. They were $400. You know, that’s total chump change. Basically, I knew I wasn’t worthy enough to even touch them. One of the salespeople was eyeing me because he could just smell the poorness on me, and there was no way he was going to let me touch those glasses. But no one tells me what to do, so naturally, what do I do? I put them on. And they felt so nice on my face, and I looked so cute. Oh the sheer pain I felt when I had to put them down and walk away. And when I finally did walk away, the salesperson honest to god grabbed them, wiped my poor people sweat off of it, and rearranged it back on the shelf. I had a good laugh about it, but I was dying on the inside. It’s fine, I’m fine.

After witnessing a woman purchase two purses for a grand total of $2,500, I knew I had to get out of there. But before walking out the doors, I made a vow that one day I am going to walk back in there and purchase those sunglasses and maybe even a matching purse. Just another thing motivating me to work harder in school. (Hey Mom. Hey Dad. I promise I’m doing school stuff. I’m gonna go purchase this 80 euro bag first though.)

Anyways, continuing on, we went back to the Duomo and waited in line. My friend timed how long our wait was, and he said it was only 9 minutes. Felt longer though because every 3 seconds, we had a guy come up to us asking if we wanted to purchase a selfie stick or trying to tie bracelets around our wrists.

TIP #2: If this happens to you, and it will, just say “No grazie” over and over again until they leave you alone. I wish I counted how many times I said it, but honestly it was at least 50 times. Also, there are men who will literally throw bracelets at you and then chase after you saying you have to pay for it. Just pluck it off you, drop it on the ground, and walk away. It’s a little rude, but it’s also rude of them to throw things at you. ALSO, DON’T LET THEM TIE THE BRACELETS AROUND YOUR WRIST. They will do it, and then make you pay for it. So, just say no and keep walking.

We went into the Duomo and walked around. Incredible is all I have to say. The ceilings were so high, the paintings so detailed. Everything was over the top, but it all seemed to work together. With the pass, you also get to venture down into the archeological area. At first, it just looks like a lot of rocks, but some of those rocks were graves in which they found hundreds of bodies. It’s worth checking out. We then went outside and began our ascension up the 250 stairs. Okay, it sounds a lot worse than it actually was. Yes, once I reached the top, I was out of breath, but I have also been consuming more carbs than a normal person should, and I have not seen the inside of a gym in maybe three months. So, you’ll probably fare a lot better than me, trust me. Also, the view alone is so worth a bit of sweat. You could see everything. The piazza, down the streets, over the tops of buildings, everything.


I’m really not even going to try to describe it because I will definitely not do it justice. I would climb those stairs over and over again if they led to views like this. And if you keep walking (and up a few more stairs), you get to the terrace and UM OMG. One part was under construction, but it was still one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The picture below received 100 likes on Instagram, a true monumental moment in my social media history. You are guaranteed some incredible pictures and even better memories. One memory being I witnessed a girl dropping her phone, it falling down the slope of the roof as you see in the picture, and slipping into the construction area and right off the Duomo. It was really traumatizing to witness, and I felt so bad for her. So beware of your belongings people!


Story Time #2: Okay, so we leave the terrace and walk back down to the flatter roof part. We are just about to descend the stairs back down to the bottom when all of a sudden, out the corner of my eye, I see someone. It didn’t register in my mind who exactly this person was, but I’ve definitely seen them before. And then, I remember and let out a shriek, “It’s Michael Phelps.” I’ve never seen the look of horror cross someone’s face so fast like it did on his face. He’s been spotted, and he was not happy about it. My friends and I kind of chase after him because, you know, he’s just a 25 time Olympic gold medal winner. And kind of one of the most famous athletes of today. He was with his fiancé and baby, so I understood the hope of not being spotted, but kind of hard not to notice you when you’re wearing a bright purple shirt buddy. Next time, go with a subtler shirt, so you blend in with the crowd better. I started to feel really bad because he was not feeling this sudden attention, so I kind of left him alone and just stared while the rest of my friends took pictures of him. “OF” being the important word because he wouldn’t let us take pictures with him. Anyways, he finally freed himself from our craziness. Regardless of his attitude, it was a surreal moment. How often can you say that you were chilling on the roof of the Duomo in Milan and you suddenly meet Michael Phelps? Probably not often.

My friend/roommate with the man, the myth, the legend. She told him congratulations lol
My friend/roommate with the man, the myth, the legend. She told him ‘congratulations’ lol

Milan was a dream and more. It’s pace and lifestyle are so different from Rome. It was a much faster pace and way more modern, which makes sense seeing as Rome is basically one big archeological site. Not that Milan doesn’t have it’s history, but I noticed people care less about that and more about it being the fashion capital of the world. It definitely lives up to its title. Ciao for now Milano, I will be back one day to buy loads and loads of Prada.

Arrivederci i miei amici! <3

I Fell in Love Last Weekend

I Fell in Love Last Weekend

Yes, you read that title correctly. I fell in love last weekend. But not with a person, no. With Milan.

This past week was fashion week in Milan: one of the most famous events that happens in the fashion industry. Sure, fashion week happens in several large cities, but how many people can say that they were at the fashion capital of the world during that time? Very few people.My friends and I were a little hesitant to go because the train tickets were a little bit pricey, but I think that we got more than our money’s worth in experiences and a good time. Our train arrived in at Milano Centrale at 10 am and we were more than ready to take on the city! However, we ran into the small problem of not being able to find out where we needed to go. This would have been a problem, BUT a marvelous woman who was traveling alone named Katherine knew exactly where we wanted to go and SHE TOOK US THERE. We were so grateful and amazed that this even happened.


Our destination was to the Duomo which was the main shopping district/ the name of the Milan cathedral. The first plan for the day was to visit the cathedral. Next to the cathedral, was a line of people in red tents, so we checked that out before getting the tickets. To our surprise, the line was actually a line to gain FREE ACCESS to the terrace of the cathedral. All they had to do was calculate our heart rate before and after walking up the stairs. Of course we jumped on this opportunity that saved us 14 euros. The rest of the day was spent wandering around Milan and enjoying this new city.


On Sunday, we spent more time exploring the city, but the most important things were to see The Last Supper and go to a fashion show. Before arriving in Milan, I looked up some places where fashion shows were going to be happening. We went in with an idea, but we actually had no idea where to go. Looking extremely lost allowed us to meet two Italian girls who were looking for the same show. So, we worked together and walked 2 miles to the Dolce and Gabbana fashion show. It was insane how many people were there and how fabulous the models and attendees looked!


After all of the fashion bloggers and models cleared, we headed to the Santa Maria Della Grazie museum to see The Last Supper. When we arrived at the museum, the worker explained to a man before us in line that there were no more tickets available and that we should have made reservations 2 weeks ago. We were pretty bummed about this because it’s such an iconic piece of Christianity and it would have been incredible to see it in person. When we stepped outside, my friend realized that the man who was in front of us in line was Michael Phelps with his fiancée and manager. We were 2 feet away from a celebrity and didn’t even realize it!To continue on our day, we decided to check out a castle that was close by that also gave us discounted tickets for being students! That was our last expedition for the day and we headed back to Milano Centrale to go back home.

So when I said that I fell in love with Milan, it’s probably understandable how. We had such a good time when we were there! Now, my heart is divided between Chicago, Rome, and Milan.

Frogger: Real Life Edition

Frogger: Real Life Edition

I title this blog Frogger because I think it accurately describes my daily life of trying to cross the street in China.

Beijing is set up via a system of Ring Roads, which I did not know until about 2 weeks ago. Ring Roads

What I like about many of the streets here is there are not a lot of lights and instead there are walkways either above or under the street. However, unless the street is really busy or a major one, people can generally cross where they please. Most of the time there is a smaller lane (similar to a bike lane) followed by larger lanes on each side and another smaller lane. It is crazy though the amount of cars that just drive especially in the bike lanes because they do not really obey lights. Small scooters and bikes even drive on the sidewalk!!! It’s nice because here in Beijing I’m not constantly walking around looking down at my phone because I have to pay attention. But it’s like Frogger in that you cross the bike lane, try to make it halfway across the cars lane, make it across the other cars lane, and then to the other bike lane all which is completely possible as long as you’re paying attention. I actually don’t even see many accidents here, because as crazy as traffic can get, people are actually paying attention to the roads and somehow know how to navigate the madness.

To add to my crazy foods list …. Last Sunday, we went for Dim Sum, and I ate Chicken Feet. I don’t think I’d ever eat it again, but it was at least worth trying.


There are tons of malls with western stores in China! My friend and I went to visit this very large one about 7 Subway stops away from my school and I was able to pick up some nice booties from Forever 21 for only RMB 20 (about 3.3 dollars!)


Last Saturday, some classmates and I visited the Temple of Heaven, which is such a majestical place filled with ancient Chinese architecture. It was in a huge park, so it was nice to also enjoy some green space away from the bustling of Beijing. The Temple of Heaven was conveniently located next to the Pearl Market so we were able to go and barter away for some souvenirs to bring back for friends. I always enjoy bartering because it is a great way for me to practice my Chinese to see how much of discount I can get on certain items.


We concluded that day by going to see an Andy Warhol exhibit in the 798 district of China. This district is very cool because it is the art district, though we missed much of the street excitement because we went at night, so I’m excited to go back and explore. The nice things about this exhibit though, was it was a bunch of contemporary art, my favorite being the balloon exhibit (silver clouds they were called) below.



There’s so much to do in Beijing and I already know I’m not going to do it all, but the random things we stumble upon like the art exhibit make this experience so much more meaningful.

Next week marks the Chinese National Holiday (I’m excited because that means a week of vacation!!!).

Until next time … Peace.

Work It, Girl: Milan Fashion Week

Work It, Girl: Milan Fashion Week

milan duomoAs Italy’s business and industrial capital, Milan moves with a fast pace. And as someone who grew up in the D.C. area and now lives in Chicago, the only pace I move in is LIGHTENING SPEED. I’d return to my Rome home for a nice vacation, but Milan is the city that works for me!

But this particular weekend, it was the other way around, and I was working for Milan! I packed all my cutest fall dresses for my 2-day trip because this week was a week unlike all others. THIS WAS FALL FASHION WEEK, BABY!

On Saturday morning, our group of six hit the ground running. We started by visiting Il Duomo, the large, magnificent cathedral that serves as Milan’s most recognizable landmark. There were two separate lines for admission: one for worshippers and one for visitors. The prayer line was shorter, so we took that one! I’m so glad that we did, though, because I was able to light a candle and say a prayer for my family, wishing them well while I’m abroad.

After that, we juxtaposed that spiritual experience with a materialistic one, walking next door to La Galleria, Milan’s outdoor shopping mall.

The strip malls where I live are lined with PetSmart and Target. In Milan, they are lined with Prada and Gucci. Looking back, I wish I had gone inside to take a look. At the time, I was too scared. Besides, I probably couldn’t even afford a pair of socks from one of those designer stores!milan galleria

Apart from high fashion, La Galleria had a plethora of amazing bookstores to explore. Since my group consisted of 4 Ricci Scholars, a jazz musician, and a writer (myself), all of us went crazy over these bookstores’ seemingly endless selections. From sheet music to religious books to historical fiction to stationary (yeah that one was me), all of us found something with which to fill our brains (or in my case, with which to unload my brain!).

But the coolest part was seeing Naomi Campbell.

HAHA I fooled you there. Ms. Campbell didn’t physically grace the bookstore with her fabulousness, but there was an old picture of her on the wall doing a book signing there. So I can say that I breathed her air.

For some more affordable fashion, we took a trip to H&M, which was tucked in the far corner of La Galleria, away from Giorgio Armani and his expensive friends. But the cashier at H&M was so pleasantly surprised by my Italian language skills that she gave me a €5 gift card! There’s nothing better than getting paid to go shopping.

To conclude our trip to La Galleria, we indulged in the superstitious Milan tradition of spinning on your heel three times on the private parts of a floor mural of a bull. I couldn’t tell you why people do it, but it’s fun, and hopefully it’s lucky, too!milan castle

On Sunday, we went back downtown for an adventure at Sforza Castle. The interior had been renovated into a museum of sorts, housing many pieces of art and ancient artifacts, including Michelangelo’s final unfinished sculpture of La Pieta Rondanini (Mary crying over Jesus’ body after removing it from the cross) and an Egyptian mummy!

After a long day exploring Sforza Castle, we decided to complete a 3 kilometer long victory lap through Milan and to the train station. On the way there, we spotted a sculpture of a giant sewing machine. How appropriate for one of the world’s fashion capitals! I couldn’t help myself but to ask my friend Brenna to take a picture of me lying under the needle.

In the words of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, “I. DIE.”milan sewing machine

Happy 21st Birthday to Me, Switzerland Style

Happy 21st Birthday to Me, Switzerland Style

Image-1 If you can remember all the way back to my first blog post from almost a month ago, pre-Rome departure, I had quite an extensive list of things I wanted to accomplish while in Europe. A big one – possibly one of the most important – was checked off during this past week.

So here it is, 3. Have a crazy 21st birthday

My actual birthday on Wednesday, the 21st, was filled with many messages and people that made me realize how truly lucky I am to be here. It began for me at 3:30am, witnessing a papal audience at the Vatican. I had lunch in the Balduina neighborhood with a group of friends, and then of course afterwards there was gelato. Later in the night was the first intramural soccer game of the semester (GO LALAVANDA! We won, by the way). Afterwards everyone came out to celebrate my birthday; it put into perspective just how many amazing people I’ve met already during my time here. It would’ve been my favorite birthday just after all of that, but the celebration only escalated from there.

Switzerland is probably the most beautiful, scenic place I’ve ever been (so, so sorry for the amount of times I use the words “beautiful” and “amazing” in this post). I dragged three friends with me to Zurich for the weekend, where we stayed in an airbnb in the Oerlikon area. We arrived, totally exhausted, at around 12:00am on Friday night/Saturday morning. About four hours later, we were up and going, trying to catch the train to Interlaken at 5:00am. All four of us were extremely tired, but kept reminding each other that what we were about to do would be worth the journey. We got on our train at 5:30, only to come to the harsh realization that we had three different connections via train we had to catch, and hardly any time to catch them. There were a few different moments during this trip when we looked at each other, panicked, thinking we wouldn’t make it on time. We barely, I mean BARELY made it to the Reichenbach im Kandertal train stop in Interlaken. Relieved Imageand thinking we were in the clear, we went to a little grocery shop to get breakfast before heading to our destination. There, the grocery clerk informed us that the Kandertal airport we were looking for was actually a 20-minute walk away. Once again, we were on a time crunch to get to our destination. At that point it was just funny to us that we had made it that far. For 30 minutes, we walked through the countryside of Switzerland, through random farms and people’s backyards, searching for something that looked anything like an airport. If it weren’t for the few locals we spoke to in broken English, we probably wouldn’t have ever found it. We reached the airport at 8:29am, with one minute to spare. We had a pretty good laugh at the fact that we actually made it there, since our entire weekend lacked any sort of plan or schedule whatsoever. What’s that saying about taking the road less traveled? Well, we took the road literally NEVER traveled…

Skydive Switzerland is a tiny, box of an airport. It was just big enough to fit a small plane inside, which we saw roll out as soon as we walked up. “THAT IS SO SMALL. How will we all fit?” Even still, none of us had really grasped the fact that we were about to jump out of a plane. Our names were called by skydive instructors who suited us up and strapped us into our harnesses. We filled out paperwork that basically said if we died, they weren’t responsible. Still, it hadn’t hit me at all. It wasn’t long until they were guiding us toward the plane. There were about 6 of us diving at that time, all with individual tandem instructors. Fun fact: on average, each instructScreen Shot 2016-09-26 at 11.45.41 PMor does about 8 skydives a day. We got in the plane and we were off. The houses and people of Switzerland got smaller and smaller as we went up and up. We floated around the mountain peaks of the Alps; it was stunning. That’s when I fully started to comprehend it all. We were about to free-fall out of a plane at 14,000 feet in the air, the Swiss Alps surrounding us. I literally couldn’t stop smiling. I don’t think any of us stopped smiling. We kept looking at each other in disbelief. “Wow, we are actually doing this.” It’s something I had been talking about for almost a year, and I was minutes away. Our instructors attached us to them a little tighter. “Now wherever you go, I go,” my instructor said. At one point, the skydive instructors laughed because they realized none of us were briefed before diving. They actually laughed!!! Then they said, “Here’s how it’s gonna go. Head back, feet tucked under, hands holding onto the harness. Good?” And that is literally the only instruction we were given before falling 14,000 feet. I watched, one by one, as my friends dove out before me. The instructors didn’t even give us any chance any chance at all to back out. Soon enough, to my horror, it was my turn. Still, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I scooted all the way to the edge and dangled over, forced to gawk at the beautiful Alps in the widest view I’ve ever seen. Rocked back and forth, 1,2,3… We were out.

I wish I could explain this moment. There is a split second in the air where everything is quiet, and you haven’t started falling at yet. It is a moment of hanging in suspense over the earth. A tiny moment of silence. Everything is calm. You can’t make a noise or breathe or do anything. You just hang there in the air… It is peaceful. And then, all at once, the wind is on your face and you are free falling, arms stretched out. Soaring at 120 mph, it is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. It is one of the best things that a person can feel.

For 45 seconds of free fall, I had that indescribable feeling of happiness, probably from adrenaline. Physically, I couldn’t stop screaming or smiling. Not once did I think to myself, I could probably die. Or, hopefully the parachute works and everything is fine! I was Image-2too busy being blissfully, stupidly happy. The parachute deployed, thank god. I’m alive mom and dad!!!! We floated around for a few minutes with the parachute above us, beholding all of the wonderful views of the Alps and of the bright-blue lakes of Interlaken. After landing, there were only hugs, high-fives, and laughs between my friends and I and the other divers. We spent the rest of the day wandering around Interlaken, still high off our adrenaline rush from earlier that day. It was easily the best birthday I’ve had. I genuinely can’t think of a better way to spend a 21st golden birthday. For everything, thank you Switzerland.

I want thank both everyone at the JFRC and back home who sent me nice messages and made my day great. This past week has really put into perspective how lucky I am. Also special thanks to my parents, who probably had heart attacks watching the video of me jumping out of a plane. Love you!

You can watch the video of my skydive on my Facebook!

So, who’s going to jump with me next time?



Ti Amo Amalfi

Ti Amo Amalfi

Buongiorno a tutti!

This past weekend marked our first weekend of solo travel, and to put it simply, it was an indescribable experience. Every single part of it felt like a dream, and I still can’t believe this is my life currently. I have to keep pinching myself and reminding myself that I’m here in Europe for the next 3 months. I’m not going to wake up one morning and find myself back in Chicago. Sometimes that’s been hard to comprehend because I really do miss my family and my friends back home. However, I’m lucky because I’m here in Rome with three of my best friends, one being my roommate and the other two studying at John Cabot whom I’ve known since high school. So far, everything has been incredible and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Enough with the sappy talk. Let’s talk about my weekend in the Amalfi Coast. Allow me this moment to act like a total girl… OMG IT WAS LITERALLY BEAUTIFUL. I don’t want this post to be a boring spiel about what I did while there because I know that can get boring and very impersonal. And honestly, I already wrote all about that in my journal, so if you want to know more about that, feel free to ask me (-:

My Hints:


1. Go to Downtown Sorrento: We stayed at a hostel called Seven Hostel, which is about a 15 minute drive outside of the city center. Make the trek downtown because although you might like the idea of exploring the smaller neighborhoods for perhaps a more authentic experience, you won’t find much. We went to a restaurant by our hostel and they didn’t like us too much because we we couldn’t speak Italian. So, I recommend heading downtown because although things are a bit more touristy there, we just had a better overall time there. We went to dinner at a restaurant called Tasso, which includes some interesting decor of naked ladies and donkeys in compromising positions. It makes for a unique experience, and to top it all off, the food is actually delicious! I got this calzone (not very Italian, I know), but it was stuffed with ricotta cheese and ham. YUM. And it only cost 9 Euro. Also, the House white wine was one of the best I’ve had so far while in Italy. Another recommendation would be a restaurant called Il Leone Rosso “The Red Lion.” We didn’t go there, but multiple said if you’re looking for a real Italian meal, then this is your place. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy the nightlife of Sorrento due to the torrential rain we received each night during our stay.

2. Watch Out for Scamming Cab DriversYou’ll hear this really anywhere you go in Italy, that you should be aware of how much your cab drive should cost before getting in one because they can really rip you off. But going into Sorrento, I had no idea how much things should cost. So, our tour guides told us right when you get in the car, tell the cab driver that you agree on 5 euro per person. That way they don’t even turn on the meter and don’t even have the chance to con you. We told this to our cab driver, and he knew exactly what we wanted, so it must happen a lot.


1. Eat Caprese: Whether it be on a panino (I recommend this!), in a salad, or just by itself. It is so fresh no matter what restaurant or bar you get it from. Caprese originated from Capri, so it only makes sense to eat it while you’re here!

2. Buy a Pair of Carlos’ Sandals: While roaming the shops, you will run across homemade sandals made by a man named Carlos. And I’m really not kidding when I say these are the cutest sandals I have ever seen in my life. They are a little pricier (ranging from 50 euro to 70 euro), but that’s because he makes each of them by himself in his store. He will even make customized sandals for you. You pick the design, color, everything. I really regret not buying a pair.

3. Don’t Order a Cappuccino from the Bars by the Marina: Just don’t. We decided to be cute and sit at a table by the water, order ourselves cappuccinos, and do as the Italians do aka people watch. It was all fun, until we got that check. A cappuccino, the smallest cappuccino I have ever received, almost the size of an espresso shot, was FOUR EURO. My friend’s glass of white wine only cost two euro more at six euros. We should have known since we were sitting in a very touristy area, but if you value your money like I do, don’t do it. Just sit on the ledge by the water for free.

4. Get a Granita (with Vodka): A granita is basically an orange slushy, and you have the option of having vodka in it. I chose not to get any because it was only 10 in the morning, but it costs 5 euro with or without it. And they put in the smallest shot, so it doesn’t take like alcohol at all. Anyways, I drank this in like two seconds because it was so yummy.

5. Take the Chairlift up the MountainFor 11 euro, a 12 minute chairlift ride will take you up Monte Solaro and drop you off in Anacapri. I didn’t do this because I am terrified of heights, but my friends did, and they said it offered the most beautiful views of the whole island. If you are feeling adventurous and looking for awesome photo taking opportunities, all my friends say this is a MUST.

6. Beware the Blue Grotto: The Blue Grotto, a cave in Capri, was the one thing I was the most excited for. I’ve seen pictures of the radiant blue water that exists inside this dark cave, and I was instantly intrigued by its beauty. We pull up in our boat, and I jokingly point at this little cavity in the side of the island and say “Hey guys, we’re here.” Little did I know that we actually were there! I’ll attach a picture to give you guys more of a visual, but it was genuinely a funny situation. You go into a row boat and literally have to lay down, while the guy rowing pushes you inside. I was absolutely terrified. I was going to do it anyways despite my fear, but I really was nervous. Suddenly, by the grace of God, the waves picked up and it got really choppy, so they told us we couldn’t go in. I’m not trying to scare anyone into not doing it because you so should. The few people that were able to go in showed us pictures, and it was insanely beautiful. Just expect the unexpected when you finally see the entrance.

You see what I mean? How? What? Nope!


1. Prepare Yourself for the Beauty: The entire time I kept thinking that this place cannot be real. I must be dreaming because nothing I have ever seen in life has been this beautiful. For one, the drive over is considered one of the most scenic routes in the world, which I completely 100% agree with. You can see all the colorful houses stacked on top of one another, you can see the bright blue water. The entire time my mouth was agape from awe. Then, you finally get to Positano, and I really wish I had the words to describe what I was looking at. Thankfully, pictures are worth a thousand words, am I right? Get ready to be Instagram famous because every picture you are going to take is easily worth 100 likes.

2. Rent a Boat: So casual, I know. It sounds weird saying it, but do it. There were 12 of us, so we were able to rent this speed boat for 2 hours for 20 euro. I think the regular price is 20 euro for an hour, so the bigger the group, the better. What made matters even better, our driver, Raphael, was quite possibly the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life. I’ll add a picture at the end (-:

3. Rent a Beach ChairFor those of you who may get sea sick or don’t like the idea of being on a boat, for just 13 euro you can rent a beach chair, which might be preferable because the actual sandy beach part is very small. The beach is mostly rocks, and trust me, just stepping on them hurt enough.

4. Dine at Vini e Panini: A little store close to the beach, it sells, you guessed it, vini (wine) and panini. It’s not a sit down restaurant or anything, but you are able to take your small bottle of wine (seen in the pic below) and your panini back to the beach so you can enjoy the beautiful weather and the beautiful people. The guy who works there is so nice, we even started singing “Volare” together because who knows why. It’s authentic enough because the sandwiches are handmade in front of you, and you can choose what you put on them. Definitely worth the trip!

Raphael: an Italian god



1. Pay for a Tour Guide: I believe the price was 20 euro, which is not bad, considering this place is huge! Also, there are no signs indicating what anything is, so you’ll basically be staring at rubble trying to decipher whether it’s an artifact or maybe just a random pile of stone. Our tour guide told us soooo much about the history of Pompei and how life was before the devastation, which really put things into perspective. I’ll be the first to say that I HATE guided tours, but I truly truly believe having a guide for this was beneficial.

2. Prepare to See ALOT of the Human AnatomyI’m not sure how to phrase this in a way that isn’t crude, but I’ll try my best. We get to Pompei, we are walking amongst the gift shops, and there was one common theme that was consistently occurring throughout our roaming. There were a lot of postcards, keychains, figurines, you name it, that highlighted the male anatomy. It was a tad disturbing, and I’m still trying to understand why there was such an emphasis on it. I’m thinking because in the actual Pompei exhibit, there is a brothel that remained very much intact that included paintings on the wall of very detailed images. Google it if you’re interested, but it’s hilarious because out of everything that survived Mount Vesuvius’ wrath, the brothel was probably the one place that remained the most unharmed. Anyways, prepare yourself for it. Shield your children’s eyes, but you really won’t be able to escape it. Just embrace it, and buy yourself or a friend a keychain. They’re hilarious.

3. The Big Statues in the Courtyard are NOT Important: When we went to Pompei, there was basically an exhibit in the exhibit happening. There were these big statues of heads and bodies laying out around the yard, and they were created by an Polish/Italian artist named Igor Mitoraj. Basically, they have nothing to do with the actual Pompei exhibit, and it made me kind of sad that people directed so much attention to these things and hardly any attention to the actual buildings in front of them. They were cool, yes. I did take a picture next to them, yes. But, don’t waste your time when there is so much other cool things to see.

Cool? Yes. Important? Nah.

I recommend going to the Amalfi Coast during warmer months. If you are studying abroad in the fall like I am, do it in September because the weather was so beautiful, despite a few rain showers at night or early morning. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life. If you wish to hear more tips or recommendations, feel free to contact me:

Arrivederci i miei amici! <3

The American Chamber of Commerce

The American Chamber of Commerce

Lately, I have been on the ride of my life. So much going on! Isn’t a semester abroad supposed to be the “easiest” of all your semesters while in college?! I thought I was busy back in Chicago, but that does not compare to here aIMG_1020t all!I recently started my internship at the American Chamber of Commerce, located in Beijing! AmCham is basically a resource for companies from the United States (and beyond) to gain access to Chinese markets and business. They assist in all aspects crossing borders internationally. I work specifically under our Senior Director- John Zane. He is actually also on the board of directors at The Beijing Center as well…essentially he is my boss in every aspect of my life at TBC. He is the best! He challenges me at work and tells everything to me straight. My first day he gave me a stack of papers to IMG_0960examine and then told me that I would be writing a policy paper for him! That report would be sent to the American Embassy to be reviewed! That was nerve wracking because I was only used to writing papers andreports for class!
My latest work related event was a program that Amcham, the first in the series. It was called: Inter-Chamber Series- Career Women Forward. It was a joint task that consisted of the American Chamber, Australian Chamber, European Chamber, and many more. It is an initiative of dialogues from successful women from all around the world to share their story. Along with their awesome insight, they also spoke to the public about policies that they believe will promote gender diversity in the workplace. I got to visit the American Embassy here in Beijing and network with many people from all different industries. Although it is stressful, this internship has been the greatest opportunity I have had yet. It has taught me so much in so little time and I can finally say I have internationalized myself for my future career.


Day One Acquaintances

Day One Acquaintances

On the very first day that I started this journey I met two very special people in my life. I did not know it at the time, but these two would soon become my very close friends here at TBC. They get special recognition as my very first (very late) blog post! I want to introduce to you Sebastian Tobar Arce and Monica Contreras. I met these two during our first few “ice breaker” days during orientation. We all shared the same love for reggeaton music and instantly connected. They found it so amusing that I listened to Latin music, but did not speak a word of Spanish except for “Hola”. I continue to joke to my family that I came to China only to learn Spanish due to the amount of Spanish speaking students in our program. Any who… these two amigos have placed themselves in a very special place in my heart. They both are a part of my support group as we all take on the daring adventure of “CHINA”.

Let me introduce you to my Pequena bonita bebe, Moni. She is this little sassy chicka from El Salvador and I adore her so much. As of now she is a double exchange student {El Salvador –> Chicago –> China}. When I am around Moni I am always outrageously laughing, we cannot help but just laugh at all of the silly things we do together. A funny story actually: While we were on our Silk Road excursion, Monica and I accidentally stumbled upon a restaurant that catered to homosexuals while trying to grab a bite to eat! From outside of the venue all we could see was pretty lights, live entertainment, and people looking like they really were enjoying themselves there! We walked in and were ushered to a table right away by very friendly waitresses. As we sat down and ordered we noticed that every couple around us was of the same sex and were all having such a romantic meal! We sat through our meal laughing hysterically at our innocent mistake of finding that little gem in Xi An. My favorite person to talk to because she always knows exactly what I need to hear and she does not play around with sugar coating things- honesty is all she is about. I learn new things from her everyday and cannot wait until we can have adventures when we get back to Chicago!IMG_0780

Sebastian Tobar Arce, or as everyone else calls him- TOBAR, is a senior from Pontifical Xavierian University. Coming here to China was his FIRST TIME LEAVING Colombia! He encountered many “firsts” while coming here and continues to experience so many new things as well. We were bunkmates while on the overnight train so I had the opportunity to
learn so much about him! Tabor loves to have a good time with anyone and will never turn down an invitation. He also is such an old souled nerd and I love that about him…I’m talking so nerdy he can recite every line from movies and shows in both English and Spanish! My favorite thing about Tobar is that he is the sweetest and kindest soul you could come across on this Earth. I think he has a sixth sense where he can detect when someone is anything but happy because he is always there when you need him.

If you are looking for a good time…look no further than these two amigos. BESOS Y ABRAZOS

The Man on the Bus

The Man on the Bus

It is week three in Rome and completing this blog entry has just been one of an ever-increasing collection of things I have to do.
September 12 was the biggest holiday in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Adha. It’s the holiday in which Muslims perform the the pilgrimage to Mecca: Hajj. Unfortunately, I have a Roman Catholicism class right in the morning and felt it to be a poor choice to try and skip it to go to the mosque. So I arrived in Piazza Cavour at 8:45 that morning with a new friend, Sara, and meandered about until the rest of the class showed up with the teacher, who is a priest. He’s a lovely fellow, incredibly friendly. He reminded us several times that what we were doing was a “mini pilgrimage.” From Piazza Cavour, across the river (twice), and to the Vatican, a student eventually nudged me to inform the teacher, Father Bohr, that that morning had in fact been the day for Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. As a priest though, I didn’t expect him to take too much interest in the matter, but he did listen and eventually said he may ask for my help in planning for a lesson he does on Islam in the spring.
In some attempt at being festive, I did dress up and text some people back home. The highlight of my day came when, upon leaving the Vatican and attempting to navigate back to the bus stop solo, a man who was advertising for a tourist service called after me: Assalamu alaykum! Eid Mubarak!
There certainly aren’t many Muslims in Rome, but of the few they are, I greatly appreciate their presence.


As a Ricci Scholar with a project focused on Muslims, I do have the privilege of seeing them more than one might usually see them in Rome. The research mentor assigned to me here in Rome, Sabrina Lei, is a brilliant Italian Muslim convert. She’s been Muslim for ten years whereas I’ve been Muslim for almost two. Today, September 23, was my second meeting with my mentor. We met at a cafe near the Cipro metro stop, a bit of a walk west of the Vatican. I greatly enjoy her influence in that she’s against the victimization of the self; meaning, though she’s Muslim and a Muslim-minority country, she refuses to herself as a victim. It’s a stance I quite enjoy for she seems rather at peace with herself and her environment. Even despite the occasional roadblock she encounters as a Muslim, she acknowledges herself as being in a place of incredible privilege and instead focuses her energy on being thankful for that privilege while navigating that privilege to see how it can be used for the benefit of others. This last point manifests in her and her husband, who is Indian and also Muslim, consistently publishing books — often Italian translations of popular Islamic philosophy books otherwise available in English and Arabic.

Somewhat ironically, in taking the 990 bus back north towards the school after our meeting, I encountered a bit of a roadblock. The bus was utterly packed, yet a few bodies in front of me I spot an old man staring me directly in the eye. I hold his gaze. This little episode admittedly isn’t too strange: staring is a normal Italian cultural practice. However, he begins shaking his head several times over as I maintain eye contact and smile. By this gesture I assume he doesn’t like my hijab and think, so what? He certainly wouldn’t be the first one.

As stop by stop goes by and bodies filter out, I look around and spot a familiar face: a woman sitting in the back who I know works at the dining hall here at the Rome Center. She smiles and calls me over to sit by her. It’s soon established that she doesn’t know English, but we’re able to maintain some form of small talk in Italian. She’s in her fifties. She has a few kids. She’s worked for Loyola for over five years.

As we chat, the man who’d been staring at me suddenly steps in front of me and asks, in Italian, where I’m from. My companion tells him I don’t know Italian, but he asks again, so I tell him I’m American. He asks if I’m Muslim. Si. Always? No. I’ve been Muslim two years, I say, to which he asks why? I shrug seeing as that’s not something I can convey over the course of a brief bus ride, let alone in Italian. And with that, his demeanor very evidently sours. He begins preaching, telling me I need to be Christian, telling me he used to be Muslim and became Christian (which was very obviously a lie). He says my hijab is ugly, he pulls at an end of it saying I need to take it off. This little confrontation barely progresses five seconds before my companion yells at him, shooing him away, and announcing that I’m perfect before grabbing my face and twice kissing my cheek. He gets off at the next stop as she converses with surrounding patrons about how he’s crazy. Soon, we get off to walk to the school together. She made a point of sticking by my side, and I must say I’m quite thrilled to have found a friend out of her seemingly maternal desire to protect. That man may have stirred tension in confronting me, yet his confrontation created a closer friendship between me and my companion. I’m quite thankful for it, actually.



Last night, I played my first calcio game with my team giallo! As soon as I knew that the teams would be randomly picked, I was pumped. My team has a lot of people that I would not have talked to had it not been for calcio. This was great and really exciting because it’s easy to fall into cliques and not step out of your bubble and meet new people.
So back to calcio: we versed celeste and they were killing it. They had good communication, tried their best, and supported each other the entire game. I think they also were very happy with their random team. The game lasted for 45 minutes with a 25 minute first half, 5 minute halftime, and 20 minute second half. Even though the game lasted this long, the intensity never dropped, but it was a friendly kind of intense.
The game ended with 5-3 and giallo won! I have to say though: it was a very close call and most of the time we were tied with celeste. Afterwards, we did a high five line and marveled at how sweaty we all were. It was such a good game and I hope we get to play against them again. But if we don’t then giallo is ready for the next opponent!Last night, I played my first calcio game with my team giallo! As soon as I knew that the teams would be randomly picked, I was pumped. My team has a lot of people that I would not have talked to had it not been for calcio. This was great and really exciting because it’s easy to fall into cliques and not step out of your bubble and meet new people.
So back to calcio: we versed celeste and they were killing it. They had good communication, tried their best, and supported each other the entire game. I think they also were very happy with their random team. The game lasted for 45 minutes with a 25 minute first half, 5 minute halftime, and 20 minute second half. Even though the game lasted this long, the intensity never dropped, but it was a friendly kind of intense.
The game ended with 5-3 and giallo won! I have to say though: it was a very close call and most of the time we were tied with celeste. Afterwards, we did a high five line and marveled at how sweaty we all were. It was such a good game and I hope we get to play against them again. But if we don’t then giallo is ready for the next opponent!