The GoGlobal Blog

Month: September 2017

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Last Wednesday we had our Mass of the Holy Spirit which concluded the orientation activities. Students traveled to Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola or the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola for a mass where we were blessed and encouraged to continue our journey of education in the eternal city. There is an altar to St. Robert Bellarmine, one of the many people I have to thank for my introduction to the Jesuits and all that they stand for.


 After mass we celebrated our survival and completion of orientation to Rome with one of the best meals I have ever had, at Osteria l’anima. The highlights of the meal included the famous pear pasta that was absolutely to die for and the amazing company I had that night.

The Birthplace of Pizza

The Birthplace of Pizza

At 3:30am on Saturday morning I rolled out of bed (well, not literally because I sleep on the top bunk), dressed, and grabbed the small backpack I had packed the night before. That day we were going to Naples! As it happened, the day before my roommate and I spontaneously bought cheap train tickets to Napoli. Friends joined us until we had a group of seven. Our train left at 5:30am, and we met in the lobby of JFRC at 4am to get a taxi to Roma Termini, where our train would be leaving from. We played the card game BS while waiting for the train, which served as a little pick-me-up for all of us groggy travelers.

We arrived in Naples at a little past 8am and immediately jumped on another train to Pompeii. This was unplanned, and resulted in a scramble for all of us to purchase tickets on the same train at the same time. The train ride to Pompeii was about 45mins, in which we snoozed, and we hopped off and took a shuttle to the archeological site.

Pompeii is an absolutely amazing place to experience. It is much larger than I expected, and seems like we only covered a small area in the three and a half hours we were there. We didn’t get a tour guide, which I partially regret, because we’re all broke college students and couldn’t spare the extra seven euros. So instead we walked and explored on our own.

The streets are made of huge, worn rocks that have been walked on a thousand times over by tourists. The walls and some bigger structures are still intact, and the first thing we went through was a large amphitheater. We followed our feet, catching snippets of information from tour guides as we went. Mount Vesuvius loomed in the background, but the most we did was observe it from a distance.

This amphitheater is one of the first things we saw walking into Pompeii.
One of the lesser traveled roads in Pompeii.

It’s easy to imagine what the flourishing city of Pompeii would’ve been like when you walk through their living spaces, walk the same streets, and see Mount Vesuvius. I could feel the history surrounding all of us.

After exploring the site, we exited and hung around the plaza browsing through the many souvenir shops. It was sunny and hot that day, so we all wanted water and some food. I bought some postcards and a cup of orange juice that was so worth the 4 euros.

By 3pm we were back in Naples and ready to find a yummy pizza place for an early dinner. Walking out of the train station in Naples at first made me nervous. Naples is a smaller city than Rome, population wise, however Naples immediately felt busier and more crowded. It is a bustling city, as they say. One of my friends said that they felt like Naples was the kind of city people warn you about concerning pickpockets, unapologetic cars and Vespa’s, and just overall danger. I felt unsafe for about 10minutes, but was always walking with our group of seven. After that I adjusted to the city and felt like not everybody was staring at us.

On our way to the pizza place, we stopped in a few stores. Andrew, the only guy in our group, stood patiently near the exit of each clothing store, waiting of the rest of us to be done. I was with him, though, because I’m not a big fan of shopping for clothes! Eventually we made it to a beautiful street that we walked most of in order to get to the pizza. It was narrow, with stores, shops, and a few churches on each side. Cars and motorcycles would honk and slip through the crowds of people walking, and we all kept an eye out for each other to make sure we wouldn’t get hit. Smaller streets led off of the busier one, and between the tightly packed buildings people hung string on which to dry their clothes on. The only downside of our walk was that it was around 85 degrees and the sun was setting right in our eyes.

Via dei Tribunali in Naples, Italy.

The pizza place we decided on was quiet and the food was delicious. You can’t beat the prices in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, and the best part was that they had tiramisu for desert! I got a fried pizza that’s basically like a funnel cake. It was so, so good and was only 4 euros. Every pizza my friends ordered was amazing, even the traditional ones. We all got an equally delicious desert, and sat enjoying conversation.

Carole and her pizza from Pizzeria Donna Sofia.


The bill was paid and we set off down the street again to explore in the time we had before our train departed for Roma. It was more pleasant this time because the sun was further down on the horizon and not in our eyes, and we wandered in the general direction of the train station. By the end of the walk I could see why people would want to and wouldn’t want to visit Naples. The city itself has a fast-pace, and there is trash everywhere along with cigarette stubs. A huge part of downtown is residential, and there were street vendors along every street we walked.

Overall, I love the city. We weren’t there for very long, so we didn’t get to see many of the touristy places. If we go back, we’re definitely getting more pizza!

From Roma, with Love:

From Roma, with Love:


I have made it to Rome.

And it’s pretty spectacular.

Actually, I have been in Rome for about two weeks already. I should say: finally, i’ve made it to this blog post, which has been open for the past week. Classic, procrastinating Joe. It’s okay, i’m on Roman time. I’ll be better in the future, pinky swear.

Once again, i’m very late! Apologies to all my fans…

Thank you, thank you.

It’s absolutely grand to have you all here. As Dr. Beazley, our beloved Dean of Academic Affairs would say: “I’m overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.”

Anyhow, i’ve looked forward to writing these posts for a long time, and i’m thrilled to be able to share my adventures with all of you. Before I actually get down to the topic of my Roman holiday, I believe that relatively brief, one-sided introductions are in order:

My name is Joseph Ignatius De Larauze, known to most as Joe, to many as French Joe, and to a select few as French. As stated by my sobriquet, I am French and American by birth. I was born in the lovely town of Evanston, Illinois, in the distant year of 1997. After 8 years living in the vicinity of beautiful Chicago, my family moved to France, in a town west of Paris. Culture shock, patriotism, and a strong dislike for the French (inevitable for one who has to live with them for the first time), ensued. But never fear, I lived a very eventful and incredibly awkward decade of my life in that beautiful country. I was schooled in the Lycée International, which still has a very special place in my heart today, even though it was no piece of cake. After High School, and after the International Baccalaureate, I said au revoir to my parents and two sisters, Nathalie and Maggie, and made the hop across the pond, back to Chi-town. I have been studying at Loyola University Chicago for the past two years, and am currently studying abroad at the John Felice Rome Center, which is the reason for our encounter today. I read with an all-consuming passion, which has influenced my majoring in English, and aspire to write and set people’s hearts on fire with my stories, as mine has been by theirs. I am also an Economics major, though i’m still trying to find my way with that one. I am a (very) part-time musician, love to listen to music, play it, and occasionally compose it. I love good food, good company, and hugs. I am Roman Catholic by birth and practice my faith intentionally, though imperfectly. There you have it. I hope that this introduction will suffice to help you get to know me, if you do not already.

So, about five paragraphs in, let me lead you through my journey, as it has been since my arrival in the Città Eterna. I did warn you I would be relatively brief, remember? I will accompany my narrative with a few pictures, but would rather let my words take you to where I am, and have been. On that note, let’s begin. Wherever you are, sit back, relax, get some coffee, and enjoy.

The Eternal City carries her name well. There is a kind of agelessness to her that is palpable, walking her streets, speaking to her people, admiring her splendor. Before my arrival here, I had believed Rome to be luxurious, like a crown perched upon a hill. I thought she would be ornate and sparkling, like the Eiffel Tower at night. I likened her to Paris, my point of reference as European cities go, and the real city of Love, thank you very much.

Now, I have arrived. Half-walking, half-tripping along the cobblestoned streets, I make my way through crowds of tourists, who snap pictures right and left. I try my best to escape the noise. I pass countless gelaterie, restaurants and street-vendors brandishing their wares like trophies. Rome is a tourist attraction. Yet, exploring the city, the edifices built hundreds and thousands of years ago, Rome beckons to me in a secretive manner. I am privy to something greater.

I walk the Forum, where countless musicians, philosophers, and various speakers once stood. I enter the Colosseum, and cheer on with tens of thousands of others as men fight men fight beasts. Bread and games. I don’t know about you, Russell, but i’m entertained. In the Campidoglio, rank upon rank of soldiers stand stock-still, eyes front, back strait, pilum held high. They await orders to conquer the world. I see the street-merchants, selling pottery and food and jewels, yelling over each other to attract customers.

Rome is history. All the years that have passed are still here, buried beneath my feet. Strolling through the city with my friends, I am awed by the ancient majesty of this place, eternal in her grandeur.

” Trois mecs”

Rome is a dream that I have lived every day since my arrival.

I miss Chicago. I miss my friends (you know who you are). But I am thrilled to be in this marvelous place, and I like to think that when you read of my journey, you are all here with me. There is still much more for me to share with you, so I don’t doubt that our paths will cross again.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

From Roma, with Love:

Joe I. De Larauze

And so the adventures have begun…

And so the adventures have begun…

Ciao amici from Roma, Italia,

I’ve been in Italy for about a month now and honestly, I like it more now than when I first arrived. I think I came with so many expectations of how Italy would be that I forgot to stop and think about what it could be. To experience Italy myself instead of pictures I saw on Instagram. In some sense it took away that aesthetic appeal that allows you to feel ‘awe’. 

After a three hour delay, I arrived in Rome where my aunt and uncle came to pick me up and we went to Padova. I stayed in Padova for the first two weeks of my trip, traveling to various near by cities.

The day after I arrived, we took a train to Venice.

First impressions of Venice: it’s so hot and crowded.

I don’t think I’d ever go back though. The buildings are beautiful and Venice itself is, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t feel impressed or that something different was there. If you plan on going to Venice in the near future, I suggest you go around or after 6 pm, that way you get to see the city during the day, but also during the night. Plus, it won’t be a scorching 92 degrees!! Also, a lot of people that I know that have taken a gondola ride, have said it’s amazing. But for me, I thought I was gonna drown the entire time because the boat was literally tipping to one side. And the water smelled really salty, not sure if this is recent, but it gave me a headache. But, I’m sure your experience will probably be better than mine.

Palazzo Giardino Giusti

Next, I went to Verona on the evening of my fourth day in Italy. We first went to Palazzo Giardino Giusti, basically there is a traditional renaissance garden with lots of statues. I highly recommend wandering around the gardens, there is quite a view at the top. Next, we went to Casa di Giulietta (the most awaited). It was very crowded, but definitely reminded me of the scene from ‘Letters to Juliet’. When I turned into the corner to her house, both sides of the walls were filled with letters, bandaids, big black heart outlines, and a statue of Giulietta (in bronze which is considered to be lucky) at the end of the entrance.

A few days later, we went to Switzerland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (can you tell that I was excited for this?) I had always wanted to go to Switzerland  and I was so happy that we were able to make this happen before school started, however, I would want to go back to spend more than a day there. In the time that I spent in Switzerland, we went Berne, Lake Brienz, Lucerne, and Interlaken. There’s so much to see and the VIEWS are absolutely breathtaking. It’s so beautiful!!

Lake Brienz
Giessbach Falls

***Lowkey wish that I studied abroad here (not that I don’t like Rome)***

My two favorite places in Switzerland were Interlaken and Lake Brienz because I felt it was something different from what you normally would see and feel. There was just a pure sense of serenity. We wondered off a little from Lake Brienz and found this magnificent waterfall that was hidden. Its called Giessbach Falls in Obwalden, it’s literally ten minutes from Lake Brienz (sorry I can’t upload the video:/ ). But, the view will not disappoint after you’ve hiked a little. Lucerne was nice too, but it’s just more of a city.

I can’t wait to go back someday! I’ve left a piece of my heart in Switzerland, for sure!

Came back to Italy for a quick trip before school started, but there wasn’t much to see in Pisa or Florence. Sort of wish I had more time to explore the town.

In Pisa, we saw the Torre di Pisa and the surrounding buildings. The architecture was beautiful, however, I wasn’t a big fan since I live near a replica of the tower anyways (I see it almost everyday, LOL). But it was interesting to see the real thing in person. I found out that the tower was built on soft grounds (because it’s between two rivers) and the first level started leaning right after it was built. It took a 100 years, before the construction of the tower started again. Even then the tower leaned at 0.4 degrees. Right now, the tower leans at about 5 degrees and they believe that it should be stable for another 200 years, hopefully.


In Florence there are a lot of churches, and each of them has something unique about them. The outside of Duomo – Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiore was fascinating with the different colors that were used, but also the detailing. By the time we got to Duomo the tickets were sold out for the day, so plan ahead. We decided to look around before we went to Piazzale Michelangelo, where there was a breathtaking view of the city.

During the orientation days after we started school, we had the opportunity to tour the Colosseo and Foro Romano. This was the first time that I got to see Rome since I’ve been in Italy. We walked around the coliseum and then went to see the inside. Afterwards, I walked through the forum and at the top there was an awesome view that overlooked the ruins, but also the coliseum on the other side.

Just a few tips when traveling:

  1. You don’t always have to go to the major tourist attractions. I think the main thing I liked about going to the places I did, was that I tried to find a few hidden gems that normally tourists would miss. It’s because they are too focused on things they want to post on social media to show back home. I am guilty of this, it’s very hard! But there is so much to see and enjoy. So unplug(, if you can)!
  2. It’s okay to wander without having a set plan. It’s a great way to learn how to find your way throughout the city, learn to talk to locals and maybe even learn to use transportation. You also find places that you’d never see if you just went from point A to point B. After all, it is about the experience. Mind as well immerse yourselves into the culture.
  3. You don’t have to leave Italy!!! There is already so much to see and experience in Rome. And since you’ll be staying in Rome for three and half months, I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to get to know Rome.

Arrivederci alla prossima,


Madrid Madrid Madrid!

Madrid Madrid Madrid!


So I am now about a week and a half into my study abroad experience, and I’m still having such a great time! Now that I’m getting used to my classes, I am starting to think about the real reason why I came here: to travel! Travelling is my passion, and I can’t wait to plan all the trips I want to take. Even though I can’t wait to travel, most of my friends and students around me are spending their free time looking at flights trying to find the cheapest one. Like how boring is that? I mean I guess it’s cool when you find a good price because then you get to go on an awesome trip for super cheap! However, it’s still a hassle looking up flights all day. I’m not even kidding, so many of us are constantly on our computers and once in awhile you’ll here “omg this flight is 40 euro round trip!”. Then a discussion on if they should just book it now or wait for later. They were making me think that I need to get going on planning my trips, so I decided to book one! My friend and I made the spontaneous decision to go to Mallorca for two days! We’re super excited, and you guys will hear all about it in a couple weeks! However, I can’t go anywhere else until I know more about the city I am living in for 4 months, so this weekend was all about Madrid!


We’re always getting coffee somewhere
The Royal Palace of Madrid

My friends and I explored Madrid as best as we could! We first walked around Sol and then went to Retiro park, which is super beautiful. We rented row boats for 6 euros and got to spend an hour rowing around a lake, which was so fun! We also went on a bus tour and saw the amazing architecture and learned a lot of history. On the tour, we also visited the Royal Palace, which is super beautiful! Like if I could live there I totally would. Anyway, it was such an amazing weekend learning all about where I’m going to be living for the next four months!



At orientation, SLU told us all about how there are different phases of our study abroad experience. First is denial, then we experience culture shock, and then acceptance of our new life here. So basically they told us that we will be so caught up in being here that we will deny that we are homesick or the feeling that we don’t belong. They said that eventually we will fall into a pit of depression and most likely want to go home. They were so brutally honest that we thought they were joking. Unfortunately, they were not. But don’t worry, I haven’t fallen into my pit of depression yet! Hopefully I won’t but apparently it’s inevitable. So that’s fantastic, but it can actually be beneficial to us because we can then learn more about Spain and everything about it. That’s what I’m hoping at least! So right now I am still in love with Madrid and everything about it! My classes are getting a little difficult, so I’m starting to realize that I’m not on vacation and that I still need to focus on school. My classes are super interesting though, so I’m excited for everything that I’m going to learn! I’ll let you all know if I fall into my pit of depression, but honestly if I do I don’t think it will be bad. I’ve already made so many friends, and I can’t wait for all the trips I’m going to go on! Well, that’s it for now! ¡Hasta luego!

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

This weekend we went to visit the beautiful Umbria. Despite the fact that we had to get up at 7am every day, the trip was overall a good introduction to the Italian countryside. On the two hour bus ride there, it was captivating to see the scenery change from urban to less urban, and then to flowing fields and mountains. Everyone did a lot of napping on the trip, which was much needed after going to sleep around 12am and rising at 6am.

Our first stop was the quaint town of Narni. We met up with our tour guides, and then split into groups for a walking tour. The town is beautiful, with little shops and houses. It offered gorgeous views of the valley, and we got to visit a underground place where prisoners were held. After that we boarded the buses again and headed out for lunch.

Valley view from Narni.
The view from the restaurant where we had lunch!

We took a boat to the other side of a small lake where lunch was going to be served. It was situated almost on the water, and was beautiful. Across the lake we could see rows of colorful houses that we associate with seaside towns. I’m beginning to realize that in Italy meals are meant as much a socialization thing as they are meant for the actual meal. We were there for about three hours, in which there was a three course meal. Another thing I have to get used to is the fact that Italians love their fizzy water, and sometimes do not even put out a pitcher of “regular” water.

After that we went headed to the hotel where we would be staying for the weekend. The SLAs divided us up into rooms of either three or four. I had two other people with me, who were roommates back at JFRC and had been for the past two years. My roommate was across the hall with two other girls. That evening we had dinner at the hotel, which was very good. There was always wine served with dinner, and at least three courses.

The weekend continued much in the same fashion. We’d wake up early, have breakfast at the hotel, and then head out for the day’s activities. We visited historical sites in various towns in Umbria, and had meals at local restaurants. My favorite place we went to would have to be the vineyard. It seemed like we drove up and up forever, and finally came to a good sized vineyard on the side of a hill. We got a tour of the facilities, and learned all about the process of making wine. The most surprising thing to me was that it takes 3-5 years after harvest for the wine to be ready to sell. It has to sit for a few years (different depending on whether it is a white or red wine), and then sit in its bottle for another year or two. It’s an extensive process, and although there may be a large spacious and hundreds of grape plants, harvest only takes a little over a week. After the tour we got lunch and then got to just wander and enjoy being at the vineyard.

Le Cimate winery.
Friends at lunch at the winery.

The last day we were in Umbria, it rained all day. We therefor didn’t get to go on the archeological tours that were planned, and instead simply visited the sites and then went to lunch before heading back to JFRC.

We’re back now, and just stared our second week of school. It’s not hard to slip back into my school routine, and I know that in a few days I’m going to miss the freedom of being here without a schedule. However, we have three-day-weekends so we can travel all we want! 



This past weekend was our last bit of orientation to Italy with a trip to Umbria!

Friday morning started bright and early with a bus ride to Narni (the inspiration for Narnia) where we visited an underground monastery and torture room that dated back to the inquisition over 3000 years ago. As a new(ish) Catholic I have never learned about the inquisition and as my friend Christopher put it “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam means something totally different now than it did then.” Visiting this site really shook my perspective of the Catholic Church.

The tour of Narni was concluded by a lovely glass of wine and some snacks and followed by a rather strange lunch on a beautiful island.

Drinks with Francie and Christopher!

Saturday we toured le Cimate vineyard and had a lovely wine tasting and lunch! The rolling hills, sweet grapes and massive barrels are all etched in my mind forever (PC: Melissa C.). Not to mention the yummy rosé that I bought two bottles of….


A nice nap on the bus lead us to il Museo delle Mummie e la Chiesetta di S. Stefano where we saw perfectly preserved human remains from the 13th century and a beautiful mass at the ’Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle lead by Father Al (PC: Duncan C.).

Sunday was a bit of a bummer as we were rained out of our planned visit to the Partenza per Carsulae di epoca Romana (Archaeological Site). Instead we visited the (rather small) museum about the site and then made our way to lunch at La Taverna dell’Arco. Finally, we piled on the busses one last time to make our way back to campus and after a weekend of amazing conversations, views, and laughs we all passed out.

Beginnings in Beijing

Beginnings in Beijing

I’ve been in China for almost a month. And I’ve never been happier. I keep saying it to everyone I know, but I cannot help it. I feel like I’m flying, moving through my days with an aura of joy surrounding me, leading me into another hour of exploring the beauty this country has.

When I first arrived in Beijing, on August 13th, I expected to feel uncomfortable, out of place, shocked by the difference between the Chinese culture and the Western cultures I’ve grown up in. Instead, I felt curiosity, admiration, joy and welcomed into a community that in less than a month has become my home. I’ll admit I felt a little lost walking around the University of International Business and Economics, but I didn’t mind. Because I got to see a small lake in the middle of campus, cute hole-in-the-wall restaurants, little shops next to tea stands, and people walking around like myself, unafraid of not being in the right place.

I had about a week to explore UIBE and its surroundings, getting lost more times, visiting the Olympic Park and Tiananmen Square, eating more dumplings and noodles than I thought I was capable of, and struggling to find milk for my morning cereal, deciding to settle for delicious milk tea instead.

After a wonderful week in Beijing, visiting nearby bars and parks, we started our adventure on the Silk Road. Never in my life have I felt as fulfilled as on that adventure along the whole country of China, which took me to busy markets in the cities, small restaurants in the South of China, a stargazing night in the desert, a camel ride to watch the sunset, beautiful mosques and temples, and to learn about different cultures within one of the most interesting countries in the world. I spent two weeks sleeping in 14-hour trains, after having brushed my teeth with bottled water just to be safe; living out of the same four t-shirts and pair of pants; eating so many different dishes I couldn’t name them all; writing about my long days, all full of color and joy; and getting to know the people I will be spending more than three months with.

Now, back in Beijing, all that I lived and saw on the Silk Road feels like a dream, like it happened to someone else. I’m looking at the pictures and my throat is closing because I am so lucky that I had the chance to travel so much and that I still have endless sunrises and sunsets left in Beijing.

Finally Here!

Finally Here!

It has been a very long journey to finally arrive in Sevilla, and not just the plane ride.  When a student first decides to study abroad, the excitement of a new country is the only thing on their mind, not all the important details that go with this experience.  This process began around last February for me, with picking a university and the classes. Then during the summer, I applied for a Visa, which took some time.  And finally, I had to find a housing arrangement, which is definitely not as easy as it sounds!  I ended up finalizing my arrangements for housing when I arrived in Sevilla.

My parents flew to Spain with me to help me move in.  We flew to Madrid first.  In Madrid, we did a lot of sight seeing in two days, seeing everything from the famous Prado museum to the beautiful, timeless Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real.  We ate lots of tapas and I began to see why the Spanish take a siesta.  During the days, it easily reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit (I am slowly learning the conversion to Celsius).  After walking around all morning in the heat and eating a large lunch, obviously the next thing to do is take a nap!

The Plaza Mayor
Inside the Palacio Real
Symbol of Madrid

In Spain, their meals are very different.  I researched this before arriving, but it is still a shock to be immersed this different lifestyle.  For breakfast, a piece of toast with a puree of tomatoes accompanied with a coffee is the usual.  Then, around 2 to 4 in the afternoon is lunch time.  For lunch, there is often a 3 course meal.  The first course is an appetizer such as a tapa, then followed by the main course, which usually consists of a meat or fish dish.  After, coffee and dessert top off this feast.  Then for dinner, around 10pm, light tapas are eaten while enjoying the unending nightlife of the city.

Spanish tortilla with garlic                            mushrooms
Tapas at a market
Our first lunch in Spain!


So after we finished exploring Madrid, we rented a car and drove 3 hours to Valencia. When we arrived, we visited the Turia park and the City of Arts and Sciences.  There was so much to see! From the futuristic architecture of the buildings to the beautiful surrounding landscape to the breathtaking life size photographs that had been taken around the world.  After we explored this unique park, we ate some tapas and called it a night.

The next day, we packed up and hit the road for a 6 hour drive to Málaga.  While this drive was definitely not fun, seeing the change of the land as we drove was fascinating.  There are so many olive trees, grape vines, and even whole fields of sun flowers.  And almost everything is planted in straight rows.

When we finally arrived in Málaga, we ate a late lunch, which was some beautifully grilled fresh-caught fish in a beach restaurant right on the Mediterranean Sea.  We then went on a walk along the sea and saw many small vendors and very large cruise ships.  Later on, we found a great rooftop restaurant that overlooked the sea.  The view was stunning!

The next day, we started our final 2 hour drive to Sevilla.  When we arrived, we returned our car and took a taxi to the hotel.  And it was a good thing that we had a taxi, because the streets in Sevilla are very small and very crowded with people and carriages with horses.  We had our first paella for lunch that day, and it was delicious!  Then my exploration of my new home began.  My parents stayed for a few more days to celebrate my birthday with me.  We saw a very moving Flamenco show, explored one of the biggest parks in Spain, and of course ate more tapas.


When they left, I made my way to a shuttle to the university for my first day of orientation.  Walking through the quiet streets in the morning made me fall in love with the city.  Even though heat is stiffing at times, I would not  trade any part of this for the world.  The unending beauty and rich history is like nothing I have ever seen before.  I am very excited to spend the next 4 months in this magnificent city and cannot wait to meet new friends and make many new memories!

The river Guadalquivir and the Torre de Oro
Habibi Amman

Habibi Amman

Salaam alaykum 🙂
This is my 2nd full day here. It’s midnight and Im sitting on a roof terrace at my homestay. I can see all of Amman from up here and all the far away city lights look like freckles I guess. Here’s a picture:


 it was taken by Hannah 🙂
because I am not good at remembering to take pictures yet. And I’m listening to What’s up? From 4 Non Blondes. Ok so now that I’m have written about how awesome this is, I want to make sure I write about how scared I was the week before I came and the first day I was here so that I never forget it.
m not

I feel uncool for admitting it but I WAS SO SCARED… The day before I came I was crying so much and I came two days late because my program started the same day my brother and sister-law had their wedding <3 so since I was two days late I felt like everyone was already friends and I felt saddddd. But that only lasted for less than a day because the other students in this program are so funny and awesome and welcoming, it’s sweet.

I didn’t want to forget about it because I want to remember to just have faith because things pretty much always work out. No need to stress. As long as I am doing my best things will work out 🙂
So far we have eaten good! We have eaten fool, hummus, cheese manoushe, chicken, kefta, chicken maklobah, and falafel.
Yesterday we went to a center where they try to teach others about and preserve Palestinian culture so they fed us and showed us these beautiful handmade traditional Palestinian dresses— they said they take about 2 months to finish each because the embroidery is hand-stitched!! The woman who told us about the dresses was so inspiring, she talked about the importance of having pride in who we are and where we are from! She talked about how there is not much expression of tradition and culture anymore and she showed us her wedding dress which was a really beautiful traditional Palestinian dress. Then they took us upstairs to watch the debke dancers practice!! So cool!
Today we got our host families and it was such a happy moment to see everyone connect with their host family for the first time!! My host mama is this absolutely inspiring woman from England who moved here over 30 years ago! She speaks beautiful arabic and she is sososo funny! She is a gym instructor! I’m also living with one other girl from the program- Hannah- the one that took the picture!! Our host mama has already made us feel so comfortable and welcome within just a few hours 🙂
I also talked to my real mama and baba a few hours ago :))
My dad flew with me here to Jordan and now he is in Palestine and I’m so happy he is there and I am so happy he came here with me for the first 2 days… Alhamdulilah I am so fortunate to have the family and home that I do <3
Habibi habibi habibi