The GoGlobal Blog

Month: March 2018

How I feel after finishing my 2nd book ever

How I feel after finishing my 2nd book ever

By finishing, I mean reading every chapter.

Yep, any book assignment ever given to me I have never read the entire book. I tried every way to get around having to read. I would use the beautiful sparknotes or cliffnotes. I would ask my friends for summaries. Last, I would just not do the work and bs my answer in some philosophical manner. I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and read. I used to be a very hyperactive child. I never knew how to sit down. My poor parents. Also, my mind never slowed down. I am a product of the generation of “over-thinkers.” So, reading a book never computed in head. (DOES NOT COMUPTE, DOES NOT COMPUTE! HE’S DEAD JIM).

As I matured (although I will cling to my youth forever) I noticed how my peers, role-models in particular, read a lot. The people I admired, the ones who inspired me, were people that avidly read. I was jealous and tried to replicate their habits. My most fond attempts at reading was Magic Tree House series and the Artemis Foul series. I was reading below my level forsure, but magical-related topics were my jam at the time.

After realizing my immature “why can’t I do that” state, I ask my peers more questions about what they were reading. The overwhelming answers were “something that interested me.” That was the kicker. Before, I was reading books below my level, and I wasn’t challenged but interested. In school, I hated the idea that I was forced to read, thus I had no enthusiasm. Furthermore, I tried to read the books my friends recommended, but I was forcing myself to read something that I was not genuinely interested in. I needed to know and understand that sweet spot.

So now I am at a point of actualization. I am mature enough to read most books, I am not often forced to read, and I have a better idea of what I truly enjoy. Now that I think about it, I read a lot. I spend a lot of my time reading articles of wide-ranging topics, books, and news.

What does this have to do with studying abroad? Studying abroad provided me with the opportunity to understand myself better. I believe finding out more about yourself is the most crucial part of being abroad. Having a strong grasp on who you are will make everything else in your life so much easier. You will notice what does and does not compute, in your eyes. Studying abroad gave me time to slow down and think. Gee willikers have I thought a lot. My life is not necessarily any less hectic, but there is a lot less baggage. The beauty of this is that when I go home, the baggage that held me back previously will be gone. Or I will make it be gone.

I know, 2 books is nothing. However, I have a better idea of what topics I can spend hours pondering. I am positive that number will go up. 1 book a month sounds like a good starting plan (subject to change).

Hehe I never said what my two books were. You will understand why I wrote this post after you know what books I read. Both were by the amazing author Malcolm Gladwell. His books, on a broad level, are about social psychology.


It is about understanding your impulses or gut reactions. He helps you understand your ability to think without thinking. Thin-slicing is the method that he explains will improve your decision-making. Maybe I could say, holistically, it is about narrowing down what matters.


Geniuses are not what you think they are. That is what Gladwell tries to get across. Who we perceive as geniuses are people that had a tremendous amount of help along the way. Instead of being a genius based on academic ability, a genius can be defined as someone that seized the moment and took advantage of the opportunities provided.


Thanks for reading,


“The eyes perceive, the ears perceive, the mouth decides” – Angelo DeMarco

Husqvarna AB

Husqvarna AB

1600s, 1700s = Rifles, pistols, shotguns

1800s = sewing machines, ovens, stoves, cast-iron products

1900s = bicycles, motorcycles, lawn mowers, chainsaws, power cutters

Old models of bikes

2000s = robotic lawn mowers, demolition robots

The company Husqvarna AB has come a long way since making rifles for the Swedish Army. Husqvarna AB is the company and is in Huskvarna. Husqvarna AB changed its name once it became independent of the Swedish state. Obviously, not the first time they diversified.

Yesterday, I went to Huskvarna for two reasons. First, to visit the industrial museum connected to Husqvarna AB. Second, to visit Huskvarna library (biblioteket). The sun was up and I was ready to move and shake. A bus lets out right in front of the museum, but I wanted the long way so I took the train. I “lost” 20 minutes, slowly walking to the museum. I came across a beautiful view of the valley, with the church in the middle.

Huskvarna Church

I took a winding path down a hill and near the outdoor sports hall. Eventually, at the end of the path memories started coming back to me (I came to Huskvarna a month ago. Our fika lasted 3 hours and we missed the museum). I reached the museum, branching off the factory, which has motes on both sides. A 125 meter waterfall flows into the mote near the entrance.

Inside, a group of about 30 people were learning about the history of the company before starting their tour. They were an older crowd, and I can’t imagine the nostalgia they must have felt. Huge changes occurred during the 1900s, and if they are from Huskvarna, then they saw the impact this company had on the town. Once I started, I read, and read, and read because I am a history buff. The business-side in me was particularly interested in the people who ran the company. Each exhibit had at least one section describing the directors, and managers associated with dramatic changes. One man obviously stood out amongst everyone mentioned. His name was Wilhelm Tham.

He spearheaded what seemed like the largest change for Husqvarna AB. He became Executive Director in 1876. Remained until 1911 (35 years). He slowed gun production because there was no fighting. Instead, he focused engineers towards improved hunting rifles. At the same time, he enhanced production of cast-iron products, fireplaces, stoves, ovens, and most importantly sewing machines. He was a true entrepreneur. He noticed needs before they became needs.

Husqvarna’s guns over the years

Oh wait, he did more. He noticed that workers were commuting from the far countryside. He ordered 30 houses to be built for his workers. On average, each house had 6 families. He lived right next to them. In 1887, he joined the government of Jönköping County. He was the representative for Sweden’s occupational health and safety. Remember that church I mentioned? On Tham’s birthday, in 1901, he received a large sum of money from Husqvarna AB. He donated that money to build Huskvarna Church. Remember that sports hall I mentioned? Years later, he received more money as a present. He donated that money to build the sports hall. A bust of his head is near the site. He also expanded the street, Kungsgatan (King’s Street), to make Huskvarna a more complete whole.


Name one reason why Amazon keeps growing?


Did CEO retention come to mind? The CEO, Jeff Bezos, has been part of Amazon since he founded it in 1994 (2018 – 1994 = 24 years CEO). He eat, sleeps, breaths growth. That is why he and Amazon are still relevant. Growth can be simply explained by the person running the show. Bezos and Tham deserved to be CEO for so long. They knew how to constantly innovate and renovate. Tham also knew how to treat his employees and the community well. It was absolutely inspiring to read about a person who had such an impact on so many different things.

Husqvarna AB is now the leading provider of outdoor power products. Also, they just released bicycles again after many years of ceased production. AND THESE ARE E-BIKES. There are four models: mountain cross, light cross, tourer, and city. Also, look out for their sewing machine assisted by a pre-installed tablet. Husqvarna AB is an innovation machine.




Link to Husqvarna Bicycles:



Halfway done??? What???

Halfway done??? What???

This weekend I took my first solo trip. I spent the weekend in a hostel in Granada where I explored the city and built relationships with the others in my hostel. As I wrote this, I was on the bus home from Granada; I went first to Madrid and then I had a shorter ride back to Salamanca. I am exhausted from this weekend, but it was so wonderful and will absolutely be a trip I remember for a long time.

I began traveling at about 8:30 on Thursday evening, and I arrived in Granada at 6:30 AM on Friday. Overnight but travel wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable way to do this weekend, but I was able to spend the full day on Friday exploring Granada because of it. My hostel was about a 35 minute walk away from the bus station, so after a cup of cafe con leche I hauled myself and my backpack towards my home for the weekend. Throughout the semester I have been collecting photos of graffiti that has caught my eye, and the graffiti in Granada did not disappoint.

It was pretty early and I technically wasn’t supposed to check in to my hostel yet, so on my way I just wandered, took my time, and took in the sights of the city. I lived in the neighborhood Albaicín, which is located above the city center which means that it has some of the most amazing views you can find in Granada. I stumbled upon a beautiful view on the way to my hostel and decided to sit and journal for a little bit. I wanted to spend a weekend by myself in part because I wanted to relax and recharge, but also to reflect on the semester as it has gone thus far.

In the past few years I have realized how introverted I am, so even though I am very social and love spending time around others, it drains me of energy. I anticipated a weekend where I didn’t really talk to other people and would just be spending time with myself, but what I did not anticipate was how wonderful my hostel would be. I spent the weekend in Makuto’s backpackers hostel, which is unlike any other hostel I have stayed in. Immediately upon arrival, I felt like I was being welcomed into a home. It still wasn’t technically time to check in, but one of the employees got me set up with a shower and breakfast. In all other hostels I have stayed in the people living there keep to themselves, but at Makuto there were multiple rooms designed just for people to hang out and be in community with one another.

After I got showered and changed, I went back out into the city to explore. I walked around the city center, ate some lunch, stumbled upon a beautiful garden, and wandered. The beautiful thing about traveling alone is that I was able to wander without a destination without having to be mindful of what others are wanting to do. I just walked without any intentions, and experienced the sights of the city. After checking in later, I took a siesta (because I am now adjusting to the relaxed Spanish lifestyle and get a little cranky if I don’t get my daily nap oops), and began to talk to some of the people in my hostel. I ended up going for tapas with a group of 5 people– it felt like a group of friends though, rather than people I had just met. We went to a few different tapas bars, and spent the night enjoying each others company.

The next day, rather than going out by myself, I went on a journey to the Alhambra with a few new friends from the hostel. We didn’t have tickets, but there are a lot of places you can visit for free! We spent a few hours there, but we could have spent the entire day because it is so huge. Afterwords, we got chocolate con churros and pizza for lunch which was exactliy what I needed at that moment. We then relaxed at the hostel for a bit, before it was time for the guided walking tour!! Every night at about 6, the hostel provides a free walking tour of the neighborhood, which takes you to all the beautiful viewpoints. The last viewpoint was on a MOUNTAIN!! We climed a mountain for one of the most beautiful views I have ever experienced. We came home, and it was time for dinner. The hostel has a family dinner every night, and last night we had paella. We didn’t do much for the rest of the night, besides spend time with each other, and it was so wonderful.

I miss my mom. A lot. I miss my friends and family, I miss Chicago, I miss the kids I work with, I miss my apartment, I miss my dog– I miss home. A few days ago, I talked to my mom over facetime and I told her how much I missed her and how hard it is to be thousands of miles away from her. She asked me, “do you regret going to Spain?” because she said it worries her, how much I miss home. I was actually talking about this with a friend a few days before my mom and I talked, but I didn’t come to Spain to have an easy time, I came here to learn and grow. I’m not in Spain to feel comfortable, because if everything were comfortable I wouldn’t be growing. I have been in Spain for two months now, and these months have been incredible but they have also been so difficult. Despite the hardships, though, I have grown so much in both my Spanish but also as a person. I just spent the weekend in Granada by myself without having second thoughts. Two months ago, I would not have been able to just up and go to a city I didn’t know for the weekend without another person, but here I am.

This upcoming week marks the beginning of Semana Santa, Holy Week, but it also marks the beginning of me walking the Camino de Santiago. For about ten days I will be walking a section of the ancient pilgrimage trail by myself. I won’t be fully alone because there are going to be many other pilgrims walking the trail, especially since it will be semana santa. I have gotten all my gear, bus tickets, know where I will be sleeping each night, and now it just needs to be time. This is something that I never would have been able to do prior to being here.

I may miss my family endlessly, and I may want nothing more than to be in my apartment surrounded by my best friends, but if I were to have spent this semester in Chicago I would have had a regular semester and wouldn’t have gone so far out of my comfort zone and wouldn’t have grown as much as I have. I miss the comfort of my life in Chicago, I miss the monotony of every day life: walking to class, taking the train to work, being at the IC all night; however, I am so thankful for the experiences I have had, because without them I would be stagnant rather than growing. 

Romantic Solo Trip to Venice, Italy

Romantic Solo Trip to Venice, Italy

So, there I was, sitting in Rinaldo’s in my usual seat on the couch in the corner listening to my peers discuss travel plans for the upcoming weekend. I couldn’t join in because I had no plans so I decided I needed to go somewhere. I pulled out my computer and my credit card, searched “Rome to Venice” and booked a train ticket and a hostel for the weekend. Spontaneous and maybe even a little impulsive, I made the decision and didn’t need to discuss it with anyone. After I realized what I did, I thought, Oh my God I’m going to Venice, ALONE!! And there began the brewing of excitement tinted with unease in the pit of my stomach.

Here’s my “excited-to-travel-alone” selfie.

After a late night of cheering on the Men’s basketball team and celebrating their victory into the Sweet Sixteen, I woke up (a little hungover), packed, and made my way to the train station. I’m not an anxious person, but when it comes to traveling with a deadline, I’m always on the edge of panic but everything went smoothly and I made it on the fast train headed to Venice. With a grin on my face, I admired the hills and fields passing me by as I sped over 150 mph towards the City of Water. Four hours later, tired and hungry (the default state of being for a college student studying abroad), I arrived in Venice, immediately dropped my backpack off at my hostel, and went off to explore the narrow streets and winding canals.

Venice is a maze. Google Maps would tell me to walk down what appeared to be a dark, deserted alleyway but, when I would turn the corner, the street would be bustling with life. I thought I was walking in circles because I would pass Murano glass shops, mask shops, and pizzarias then I’d walk over a bridge and pass more glass, masks, and pizza. I happened upon Piazza San Marco, the only piazza in Venice, crowded with one half tourists and the other half pigeons. Children were chasing the pigeons, couples were dancing to live music emanating from the caffès lining the piazza, men were feeding the pigeons and trying to get tourists to pay to take pictures with the birds, and tourists were walking around with their selfie sticks, always looking up with their mouths agape. When you travel a lot, you start to notice the typical tourist giveaways.

At the East end of Piazza San Marco lies Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basilica. Unfortunately, I was unable to go inside but I did admire the facade, which was highlighted with gold mosaics and sparkled in the golden hour sunlight. The sun was approaching the horizon and I realized that now was my opportunity to see a Venetian sunset so I frantically walked around trying to find that perfect view that I’ve seen in photos but, unfortunately, I could not beat the sun. I started back towards my hostel, meanwhile glancing at all the menus posted along the way. A woman, whose job consisted of getting people into her ristorante, advised me about the perfect Venetian dishes to try for a seafood beginner (I’m not a fan of seafood but I wanted to be adventurous). I ate spaghetti alle vongole which was spaghetti with teeny, tiny clams in their shell and tomatoes with garlic sauce. Delizioso! Oh, can’t forget the glass of white house wine, one must drink wine in Italy.

I began my second day in Venice with a cappuccino and a trip to Murano, an island about a thirty-five-minute waterbus ride from my hostel. Murano is famous for its glass production which began in the 7th century. I went to the Glass Museum and saw some ancient glass and learned the history surrounding the main product of Venice. The glassblowing process is so fascinating, I wish I could’ve seen it in person! After leaving the museum, I walked along the canals and browsed through the shops lining the water. It took lots of deliberation but I found some beautiful souvenirs to bring back home for my friends and family.

Let’s talk about transportation in Venice. There are no roads, only canals, so you can either walk or travel by water. Waiting for the bus consisted of standing on a swaying platform next to a dock and hopping on a boat when it arrived. Venice did not feel like a real place because it is so different than any city I’ve ever seen. Florence has mopeds, Amsterdam has bikes, London has the Tube, Paris has the Metro, and Venice has waterbuses and gondolas.

Gondolas have set rates in Venice so one gondola for forty minutes is €80 and you can have a maximum of six people splitting that cost. As we know, I was traveling by myself and I could not afford an €80 private gondola ride on my romantic solo trip but I couldn’t go to Venice and not ride a gondola! I scoured the internet until I came across a deal on for a walking tour plus thirty-five-minute gondola ride for $51. US DOLLARS! Lifelong dreams were coming true that day. It was time to meet up for the walking tour of Venice and my tour guide was a Venetian with a sarcastic, dark sense of humor and I enjoyed it. We toured an area with less tourists and saw a few of the one hundred and twenty-five churches of Venice. Venice sinks about 12 cm a century so now is a great time to invest in the housing market (credit for that joke goes to my tour guide, Marco). 

It was finally time for my gondola ride! I was put onto the boat with two couples and another solo rider and we embarked on our thirty-five-minute expedition around the winding Venetian canals. My gondolier did not sing or wear a fun hat like I saw other gondoliers wearing but he peacefully propelled us along. The best way to experience Venice is by water and I am so glad I was able to go on a gondola ride. It was peaceful and beautiful but over all too quickly.

After disembarking from the gondola, I wondered around a bit and happened upon Piazza San Marco, again. There are wooden walkways for when the city floods stacked all over the piazza so I went off towards the Doge’s Palace to sit on the walkways with the other tourists. I had a salami sandwich in my purse leftover from my sack lunch and I was starving so I thought it would be a good time to relax for a minute and eat. Plus, I was saving money because I did not need to buy another meal. I pulled out my sandwich, unwrapped the tinfoil around it, and took a bite but within thirty seconds of that first bite, a seagull swooped down and grabbed the sandwich from my hand. The seagull landed about fifteen feet in front of me and eight other seagulls were fighting that thief for my sandwich. I was completely shocked. Did a seagull really just take my sandwich? The other tourists around me also looked shocked and I started to laugh hysterically. I could not believe that just happened and I thought it was hilarious because it was such a stupid mistake to try and eat in a piazza FILLED with birds. If you go to Venice, please do not eat in the Piazza San Marco, learn from my mistake!

There I was in the piazza, hysterically laughing, alone, and without food so I wondered around until I found a take away pizza place. I had walked past it a couple of times during my earlier adventuring and there was a spinach and ricotta pizza that I had been eyeing. Of course, I got the pizza because it was only €3.50 and the slice was huge! I think my sandwich was meant to be taken from me so that I could enjoy that delicious pizza. It was waaaaay better than any pizza that I’ve eaten in Rome so far.

The sun was setting on my second day in Venice and I found myself at a dead-end with a perfect view of the sunset. It finally hit me that I was in Venice. Traveling is hectic and everything moves so fast that it’s possible to forget to take a breath and really appreciate the place you’re in. I felt the cool breeze on my face and I knew that if I touched the water, it would be cold. I’m not sure for how long I watched that scene but I did not walk away until the sun made its full decent beyond the horizon.

Venice is gorgeous, unique, and a little bit ridiculous and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to visit before it sinks. I’m kidding, that’s not going to happen for a while. Traveling to Venice felt unreal because it is so different than any city that I have ever seen. This small town will forever hold a place in my heart, even if it feels like just a dream.


Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo

On Friday, March 23, I visited the famous Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. I have wanted to see this building in its entirety since I first visited Rome junior year of high school. I had seen the outside many times but now I finally had the opportunity to step inside and walk the halls and passages. I must admit, a big reason I like this building so much is because of its appearance in the video game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The game franchise was one of my favorites growing up. Okay, it’s still a fun series and I am excited to play it more when I get home. Castel Sant’Angelo serves as a fortress and hideout for the antagonist in the video game. During one mission the player must scale the walls of the castle, sneak past countless guards on their patrols, and kidnap the wife (and sister) of the bad guy. Breaking into that fortress was always so challenging and now I know why.

Built in the second century AD, the castle is a huge cylindrical tower of stone and brick. It has been a prison, a fortress, a hideout for fleeing popes, and an apartment complex for wealthy political leaders. It was first built as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian to store his remains and those of his family. Since construction began, the tower was built upon gradually as different popes and emperors took power and added what they wished to the foundation. So many of Rome’s ancient structures have been reduced to ruins over time but this castle still stands tall overlooking the Eternal City. I took a solo tour and slowly worked my way up to the top, where I got some great pictures of the entire city.

Inside the castle you’ll find weapons used by guards that worked there. Swords and incredibly long, heavy guns encased in glass give you a sense of how intimidating those guards must have been. Each viewpoint has an informational sign that guides you through your own tour. There are lavish apartment suites and guest rooms used by the rich popes and clergymen who lived there. My favorite parts were the various traps and obstacles put in place to ward off invaders and attackers. If Rome was to be attacked, the rich people taking shelter in the fortress would have been protected by a moat, trap doors, catapults and cannons.

It’s kind of weird thinking of what this building used to be, compared to what it is now. I sat in a cafe built into one of the upper floors and sipped an overpriced cappuccino. Centuries ago people may have died in that same space, fighting to build and protect a powerful city. What was once a powerful symbol of Rome’s dominance is now a tourist museum that the locals probably mean to visit but never get around to it. (Hello Willis Tower and Chicago Cultural Museum) I want to make more of an effort to visit places like this at home. If you can’t be a tourist in your own city, why live there? Of course, we don’t have any landmarks with that much history in them, but we do have some really great sights and things to do. Sometimes seeing places like Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome only make me want to be home so I can explore our landmarks too.

Michael The Arch Angel watched over Rome



An examples of armor worn by castle guards.




Many famous Roman landmarks can be seen from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo




LUC Mens Basketball Final Four… and I am abroad

LUC Mens Basketball Final Four… and I am abroad

I want to write this post to fathom my situation right now. Our basketball team is committing a feat that hasn’t been done in 55 years. I haven’t kept up much with our basketball team these past 2 1/2 years, and I know I would be a total bandwagon in this situation… but oh my god I wish I was back home right now. Loyola Chicago is known around campus to be a spirit-less school. Students never had much to rally behind, except for the mens volleyball national championships. Even those were under-hyped on campus.

The mens basketball team is doing more than just rallying Loyola students for the 2017-2018 year. The team is starting a spirit revolution. I believe this will kickstart students to think more about the collegiate sports on campus. By the looks of the insane videos of people crunched up in our student center, Damen, every student is jumping on the history wagon. Students will want to keep this spiritual momentum going once its all done. We have all been waiting for something to back up.

Congrats to the team and the true fans for sticking it out. AKA Carl Stradel. He has been hyping up the mens basketball team since day 1 on campus. Honestly, from the way he always backs them up in arguments, it is like he knew this was coming.

Richardson and Moser repeated that belief in their abilities, themselves, and their teammates got them to the Final Four. Carl also believed. This Cinderella story goes to show that belief goes a long way. It separates the sheep from the sheepdogs.


What Do I Do Now?

What Do I Do Now?

Part of my midterm was giving feedback about my company. I’ve already written tons on how that’s going for me, but I also got back the review they gave on me. For the most part it’s going well, they enjoy that I work there and I contribute solid ideas. I noticed the areas that I scored lower in were communication and making sure I complete all requirements in a task when I have to get it done quickly. So, with that, I was trying to reflect on what I’ve done up until this point, and how to change it going forward because by the end I want to make sure that I made the most of it. During the beginning of the semester, there wasn’t much structure to my internship because things kept changing. For example, they wanted me to create a schedule and brainstorm idea of what and how I want to post to social media. Then I ran into the problem of the company not having enough content for me to post so I had to find my own. On sheet the company  filled out detailing my strengths and weaknesses they also listed my responsibilities as managing social media for The Roman Foodie (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). However, so many more responsibilities kept getting tacked on to that.

Now, I’ve worked on following growth for The Roman Guy, and The Paris Guy. I’ve added tripadvisor reviews to the Roman Guy website. I write the monthly blog posts for the Roman Guy. I’m writing a blog bost for The Roman Foodie. I create content for The Roman Foodie social media accounts which includes going out to take my own pictures, finding quotes to lay over it, and schedule it into MeetEdgar to post at specific times a day. I’ve done research for my supervisor to present on how to use Instagram to turn in a profit/make sales. So, especially in the beginning it was very overwhelming. In retrospec

t,  should have been straightforward about when the amount I had to do in a week was unrealistic because of time restraints, but going forward I feel more comfortable being honest about that. I used to me worried that it would look bad if I said there was something I couldn’t handle, but it’s far worse to have to do too much and turn in poor work or miss a requirement because of stress.

So, what am I going to do now? Definitely prioritize school and be more honest about what I need in work wether that be more time or less tasks. I’ve been keeping work and my life separate. It’s really annoying when I’m out with friends and I say, “Hold on I have to get to wifi so I can post this thing on Instagram for work.” So instead I’ve been taking pictures randomly throughout the day ahead of when I need to post something and create a caption at work so it doesn’t take up so much personal time. Since I decided to do this and keep work at work, my life has been so much more enjoyable and relaxed in Rome.

Adventures in a country I never heard of

Adventures in a country I never heard of


Since the start of studying abroad, I’ve tried to travel and visit new places as much as possible. Prior to last weekend, I had been to the Luzern area twice and to Konstanz, a German town close to the Swiss border. Despite every single trip being memorable and unique, none of them had been to places far away or much different than the Zurich area. So, last weekend I decided to finally experience a country with an atmosphere and culture distinct from Switzerland.

When planning last weekend’s getaway, my friend and I were looking at various places like Spain, Greece, and the United Kingdom. However, we quickly discovered that all of these places were going to have poor weather the entire weekend. Despite that normally not being the biggest issue, there have only been about two sunny days in Switzerland so far and we needed to escape the cloudy weather. Finally, after considering nearly every country in Europe, we found a great deal to go to Malta. The only problem was that I had no idea what Malta was or where it was. After only about 10 minutes of research, which mainly consisted of looking at beaches, we decided to take a risk and book the trip.

As soon as we got off the plane and felt the warm air and sun, we knew we made the right choice. For the majority of our trip, except for some cold winds Saturday that came from Sahara, we were accompanied by the amazing weather that was missing in Switzerland. I took advantage of that as much as possible by walking around in a tank top and shorts, while also trying to visit as many beautiful beaches and bays as possible in two days. At all of the nature attractions we visited we took in the spectacular views for as long as possible, all while getting a much needed tan.

The Blue Lagoon
Golden Bay in the West part of the country
St Julian’s Bay, a two minute walk from our hotel








Aside from the warm weather and beaches, Malta also features wonderful cities and a rich history. When we weren’t tanning, we were visiting some of the famous cathedrals in the country or walking around the streets. My favorite city in the country, Valletta, was a place that I never wanted to leave. The atmosphere and streets were similar to what I imagine Italy to have, mixed with influences of Arabic and the traditional Maltese culture.

The funniest part of the entire trip came in Valletta when we went to the most famous cathedral in all of Malta, the St John’s Cathedral. The security in the front wouldn’t let me in because I was wearing a tank top and you can’t have exposed shoulders inside. They did eventually let me go inside, but I had to wear a cape to cover my shoulders. Along with all the looks and laughs I got inside the Cathedral, I got to keep the cape after so it makes for a nice souvenir. It also didn’t hurt that the Cathedral had stunning paintings all over and a captivating history to it. 

The last, and possibly best, part of Malta was the delicious and cheap food and drinks. The hardest decisions we had to make the whole weekend was where to eat because every single place looked amazing. The first night we chose to go to a traditional Maltese restaurant that our taxi driver suggested. I got a big ribeye steak that would cost four times as much in Switzerland. To make it even better, we got free appetizers and desert to go along with our meals.The next night we went to another Maltese restaurant but this time I got one of the most unique meals in Malta; rabbit. Even though I was a bit scared at first, it ended up tasting amazing and I would have it again. In between those two dinners, I had as many sweets and coffees as possible. Not a single thing I had disappointed and I’m hoping that all the walking we did burned at least some of the calories that were consumed over the weekend.

           Maltese Rabbit

Looking back on the trip now, it’s crazy to me how I can be in a place so different from Switzerland in just a two hour plane ride. Malta was a country unlike any that I’ve ever been too and I’m beyond happy that I made the spontaneous choice to go there.



WWII: Italian Invasion and Roman Resistance

WWII: Italian Invasion and Roman Resistance

I spent March 17th and 18th traveling around Rome and western Italy learning about Italy’s role in the Second World War. I discovered that during the war, Rome and the rest of the country played key roles for both the Allied and Axis powers. Lead by a JFRC teacher, SLA, and JFRC alumni Phil O’Connor and Jim Centner, the trip was extremely educational and fun. I was hesitant to go at first. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the money (€ 50) or the time, and I had no particular interest in talking about a war that I had already studied in high school. I figured I knew the history, and the trip would not be anything new. I am happy to report that I was wrong in every way. Not only was the trip worth every penny, it taught me a ton about the war and 20th century Italian culture.

On the first day, we bussed around Rome, visiting historic sights at which major events took place during the Nazi occupation of Rome. First, we walked down Via Rasella, the steep and narrow street where, on March 23, 1944, a group of 16 members of a communist resistance group The Gruppo d’Azione Patriottica (Patriotic Action Group) attacked a column of SS police as they carried out their routine march through the streets. The attackers used an improvised bomb made of 40 pounds of TNT encased in metal and hidden in the bottom of a garbage cart. As the column of soldiers approached, the man pushing the cart lit the fuse on the TNT. The explosion killed 28 SS policemen and may have killed two civilian bystanders as well. When the bomb went off, the soldiers, confused and alarmed, began firing their weapons into the apartment windows above them. They thought that the bomb had been dropped onto them from above. Civilians near the windows were killed and the street was a scene of chaos as everyone panicked.

Following the attack, Hitler ordered a reprisal as punishment for the killing of his policemen. Nazi leaders agreed on a reprisal of ten Italians for every one German soldier. In the end, 335 Italians were killed as punishment for the deaths of 30 SS policemen. The 5 extra people were killed to keep them from disclosing the location of the massacre. You can read about the Ardeatine Massacre online, so I’ll spare you the details. I learned that reprisals like this one were common among opposing groups during the war. I spent the day wondering how and why people continue to do these things to one another. The area is now a cemetery for people killed in the massacre.

From there, the day became a little more cheerful. We visited the Liberation Museum in Rome. It had been a prison where some of the victims of the Ardeatine Massacre were kept, but since the 1950s it has been a museum celebrating April 25th,  in 1945 when Italy was liberated from Nazi rule.

Day Two started at 7 AM. We hopped on the bus and visited a large German cemetery. It was pouring rain so our visit was short. The cemetery was perfectly symmetrical with plain white crosses at each grave. Each gravestone marked the place of at least 6 German soldiers. Typical Nazi resourcefulness. As the rain cleared up, we made our way to my favorite place of the trip, Piana delle Orme, a huge WWII museum and park. We spent two or three hours at this museum, walking through the giant hangars full of jeeps and tanks used in the war, depictions of battle scenes, and iconic cultural items of the time. Many of the rooms used mannequins and models to create scenes of big events during the war. Several exhibits had red buttons that, when pressed, would play music and sounds of explosions and battle commands that enhanced the experience of each scene. Here I enjoyed walking around at my own pace, reflecting on each room as I tried to take in all the information. Before this trip, I didn’t know how important the invasion of Sicily had been. I had never thought about the combat that took place in North Africa. It’s hard to explain through this blog, but I felt connected to the time period more than I ever did before.

For whatever reason, the museum also had several exotic animals like peacocks and black swans called Cigno in Italian. The grounds were lined with palm trees and small streams. At one end there was a landing strip with several WWII planes and jets. After all of the death and sadness of the first day, the museum offered another look at 1940s Italy. Of course, we were still learning about the war, but the museum’s displays somehow made it all seem a little less grim. I left feeling proud and in awe of the sacrifices made by everyone who lived during the war, on and off the battlefields.

We visited The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial next, which was infinitely more beautiful than the German one from that morning. Nothing against German cemetery design, but we definitely did a better job here. The grounds were made of sprawling green lawns with a fountain in the middle. It didn’t hurt that the sun was shining and a light rain left a rainbow hanging over the Italian cypress trees. Adjacent to the graves is a building and memorial with paintings depicting the Allies routes as they fought their way up through Italy. We stopped in to hear more about the efforts to liberate Rome from the axis powers and took a group picture. Before we left, we visited a few graves. One was that of Ellen Ainsworth, a nurse who was awarded the silver star for her bravery.

The weekend was packed full of walking, learning, propaganda posters, 1940s music, pizza and beer, some sorrow, and more walking. Every time we talked about a tragic event from the war, something beautiful was there to remind us that life goes on. For any future JFRC students that managed to read this whole article, I highly recommend being a part of the WWII trip.  




A monument depicting the brotherhood between members of the U.S Navy and Army
A Menacing Sherman Tank on Display
A Rainbow Forms Above the American Cemetery
One of the lifelike displays in the Piana Delle Orme
Some Encouraging Street Art