The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Andrea Carrillo

I'm a junior from Oswego, IL studying Journalism and Sociology. I'm excited to share my experiences of my travels in Europe and inspire others to study abroad! I love books, art, food, and expanding my horizons. Like they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do! 
Home Is In Plain Sight

Home Is In Plain Sight

My weeks have turned to days which have turned to hours. Tomorrow is my last full day in the magnificent Rome. Why am I crying in the club right now.

Time here has truly flown by, it’s hard to believe I’ve accomplished everything I have in these past few months. Multiple countries, so many new friends, endless bowls of pasta…My complete history of trips includes:

  • Bologna
  • Florence (twice)
  • Copenhagen
  • Amsterdam
  • London
  • Paris (twice)
  • Barcelona
  • Dublin

Even looking at my list it still blows my mind how much I’ve experienced in such a short amount of time. I could honestly type out an entire novel, chronicling my adventures in full detail, but I’ll spare you. I’ve made so many friends that I know will stick with me even after we land in Chicago. I could not have had a better roommate, as Alexa and I are similar on every level (most importantly on our sleep schedules). Italy has taught me so much, like how to roll with the punches, how to take local social cues with a grain of salt and be more patient, the importance of calling my mom every once in awhile, and never ever ever taking for granted the privileges I’ve been blessed with. I’ve grown and blossomed into an entirely different person. Did I mention I even got a tattoo??? I mean, WHO AM I THESE DAYS.

The point is, this entire study abroad experience has taught me more about life and independence than in my three years of college life in Chicago. I never could’ve imagined my life would take this turn. I only dreamt of living in Italy, I’m not even 21 and I’ve already been to more than eight foreign countries. My stories are endless, and while I’m aware that the reverse culture shock is real, I’m excited to share every story with anyone willing to listen. I’ve partied with the professional Denmark basketball team, visited the house of the late Amy Winehouse, got tatted in Rome, listened to the Weeknd’s new album in Paris, stuffed myself with lasagna in Bologna, and the list goes on and on. I’m prepping to take my last final tomorrow, but I feel as though I’m prepping for something much bigger when I get home.

Strutting the Streets of Barcelona

Strutting the Streets of Barcelona

Ah, Barcelona. Before this trip, most of what I knew of Barcelona came from my extensive knowledge of The Cheetah Girls 2, which they don’t even have on Netflix there… The city definitely exceeded my expectations. The colors, streets, food, language, and company all made Barcelona one of my top visits this semester.

Our flight landed at about 5pm or so. While traveling is one of my favorite hobbies, it’s definitely exhausting to say the least. Plane rides somehow suck all the life out of me so the last thing I want to do is take an hour commute to some crummy hostel where not even the towels are complimentary. But you know me, anything to save a buck. When we got to the hostel, we settled down and knew right away our first destination had to be for some paella near La Rambla, a famous food market. I didn’t really know what this was, but paella and I got very acquainted over the next few days. Funny thing was, although we had two native Spanish speakers aboard, myself included, we were drastically misunderstood and brought one medium sized paella for all six of us to share. I guess those two bites were tasty? Being the Americans that we are, we ended up at KFC about an hour later.

After our makeshift dinner, we decided to get some drinks and explore the night life. We ended up at an Irish pub, indulging in some Women’s Passion (the cocktail of the day). When we realized the pub catered to an…older crowd…we attempted to find a livelier scene. To our dismay, we were told that the nightlife doesn’t truly come alive until after 1am. We hightailed it back to the hostel and crashed for the night.

On day two, we took a tour of the Gothic quarter and were able to walk the lovely streets just before it started to rain. Rain in Spain is something I can’t quite explain, as even the showers look graceful on the cobblestone streets. We stopped at a hole in the wall restaurant for some more paella and patatas bravas and croquettas, and ate till our bellies were full and our spirits were high. We went back to the hostel for a true siesta and woke up feeling truly refreshed. What’s a trip to Spain without a visit to the beach? We trekked the mile or two to the sandy refuge and basked in the sea salted air, feeling wind in our faces and giggling at Spanish men who tried to spit game at American tourists. That night we experienced a true Spanish club and danced the night away. 5am rolled around and tapped us on the shoulder which was our cue to get going.

We turned in for the night and woke up just in time the next day to make our visit to La Sagrada Familia. From the outside, the massive cathedral is a mix of muted colors with signs of construction clinging to the walls. We managed to prebook our tickets and found ourselves in the midst of a church that was decorated with the prettiest stained glass windows I’ve ever seen. The interior was bathed in reds and golds and greens and blues, accentuating the intricate details of the amazing architecture. The building itself was a force to be reckoned with, although I’d beware of the 15 euro entrance fee, as most of the structure is under construction and unavailable to the public.

After our visit we went back to La Rambla and found a fantastic flea market. We walked along the booths and found little treasures that went past a typical keychain souvenir. There was jewelry, hair wraps, clothes, shoes, and other trinkets that made for great keepsakes. After the flea market we went back to the hostel to regroup. A few of my friends and I bought tickets to the much-anticipated Barcelona soccer game, which we could not have been more excited about. We had a great tapa dinner and made our way to the stadium. My favorite thing about soccer culture is the unwavering support from the fans. With everyone decked out in the team’s gear, it’s quite hard not to get hyped. The game itself was amazing. Seeing Messi on the field is truly once-in-a-lifetime and I wouldn’t trade the experience of bouncing off the seats for a goal for anything.

Overall, Barcelona was a trip that was full of good company, great food, and unforgettable experiences. While it’s been recommended to me by many, it’s my turn to recommend it to all of you. And don’t forget to try the paella.



The Final Stretch

The Final Stretch

When did this happen!!! I’m freaking out a bit because I’ve realized I really only have a little over a month left in Italy. It seems like yesterday that I flew in, but then again, it may as well be an entire lifetime. All that I’ve accomplished, all the places I’ve visited, all the food I’ve eaten, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. This opportunity has left me entirely awestruck and grateful to no end that I was able to even participate.

This past weekend I was able to go to Paris with my roommate and it hit me (for like the hundredth time) how blessed I really am. I routinely posted all the pictures I took and read the comments that my friends and family left me and couldn’t help but bask in the praise. When I’m old and wrinkly, I can always look back on being 20 and how I freakin’ travelled Europe. Does this sound kind of cocky? Probably. But it’s okay because if I can’t fully enjoy these few months and have all these memories to feel nostalgic about, then what was it all for?

I have a graduated friend who has spent the past few years bouncing all over Asia and South America. I’ve always been genuinely so happy for him. I mean, how many people can say they’ve spent their post-college years traveling the world? I’ll probably be freeloading off my parents as I sink into the abyss of adulthood. But he’s gone to so many beautiful countries and dipped his toes into so many wonderful cultures, sharing his experiences through his blog posts and Instagrams. However, the other day he posted a little gem on his Twitter that said:

“Since when did going to London, Paris, Barcelona, and Rome constitute traveling the world? Lmao please stop this nonsense”

HA. Okay. I was a little salty about that one. Omg maybe he was subtweeting me…who knows? And honestly, who cares!! I could write a book about why that tweet was BS but I won’t. Because first of all, traveling doesn’t have to be taking a voyage across the entire globe. Travel is as simple as taking a drive to a street you’ve never been before, visiting relatives in a different state, going on vacation to a warm, sunny place. Getting out of your comfort zone can even be travel! And even if you have gone to London, Paris, Barcelona, and Rome, hell yeah! Good for you! You a boss! Why would you bash on something as petty as that? My friend has been to more countries than I can name (kidding) but for him to come for those who have taken a step outside their usual routine is shady.

I don’t even know if anyone is reading this or cares, but I’m so proud of myself. I’ve been to more countries than those in my hometown and now have a collection of stamps in my passport and although I haven’t traveled the entire world, I’ve been to places I used to only dream about. If you have the opportunity and the means to travel or STUDY ABROAD, enjoy! You’re a world traveler! And if you’ve only visited a great aunt in Montana, hey you’re still a traveler! Small steps are still meant to be celebrated. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty. 🙂


Hello Rome, have we met?

Hello Rome, have we met?

Week Seven is already coming to an end. I can hardly believe it myself. As I reflect on the past month and a half, I can’t help but wonder, what have I actually accomplished in my time here? Home is where someone notices your absence. Has my home noticed mine? Have I already grown accustomed to a life away from the house and people I’ve always known? Can I honestly say I’ve taken advantage of the privilege of a life abroad and all that that entitles? My friends and followers all comment their envious blips on my posts, reaffirming my “luckiness.” I’ve met people from around the globe whose presence has affected me as a traveller and made me realize the importance of the impression you can leave on someone’s life, as big or small as it may be.

This might get real cheesy real fast, but bear with me. Call it what you may: meditation, homesickness, the cliche quest of a young adult trying to “find herself,” or whatever. Life abroad away from my family, friends, even weather, has made me realize just how much I take for granted. It started off with the little things like how close my house is to Target and the availability of a reliable dryer when I do laundry. It eventually built up to include how easy it is to FaceTime in the comfort of my house without having ten people walk in on me and the comforting feeling of knowing my mom is cooking up dinner in the next room. The familiarity of the home I grew up in has created a security blanket that I’ve had to shed in order to full enjoy what Rome has to offer.

While the rest of my classmates packed their bags to seek adventure in various European regions, my friends and I decided to slow down and spend two weekends in Rome. This consisted of a pretty empty cafeteria and hardly anyone adding to the arduous slamming of doors every ten minutes. While I agree on wanting to explore Europe at large (I myself have trips lined up), taking a step back is also a necessary part of enjoying a study abroad experience. Hitting up our favorite pub and dancing the night away to throwbacks of the 2000s (is that what they think Americans listen to all day?) can be just as rewarding as taking flights around the continent. All you really need is good company, good music, and a drink (I’m talking about Mountain Dews, baby!).

While I have yet to hit the halfway mark on my trip, I know there’s still a lot for me to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, etc. I often question how I can return to my life in Chicago when every day there’s something new to explore in Rome. At this point it’d probably take a lifetime to accept and adjust to the norms of European living. Despite the stress and late-night cram sessions (sometimes I forget I’m here to study), my time abroad has already changed me for the better. My appreciation for travel and culture will stick with me in everything I invest in. While my experience will certainly differ from the next person’s, reflection is key in understanding just what this period of adaptation means for the future. I know in my heart I’ll be back here, but for now I’ll take it one day at a time.


The Joys & Pains of Solo Travel

The Joys & Pains of Solo Travel

Solo travel. What is it?

Could be a trip across town using good ol’ solid public transportation. Could be making your way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and you’re homebound. Could be taking any journey on your own through a path you’ve never taken before. For me, my first truly solo experience was my trip to Naples & Pompei: three days in two cities in one country that is still pretty foreign to me. Given, I am independent by nature. I don’t typically need to rely on anyone to get a job done and I definitely didn’t want anything to hold me back from being able to pursue a trip that would make a great story. So, while my friends packed their bags to go to Munich for the weekend, I departed in a separate direction to the Northern half of Italy.

Traveling solo is an experience that is typically marketed as “easy” …for men. Men and women simply aren’t subject to the same variation of dangers that travel entails. While traveling in any group to any place should be approached with caution and research (let’s not be naive here), men have it easier. That’s just the way it is! And don’t worry, I’ll always be salty about it. Women have to worry about what clothes they pack, their demeanor on the streets so as not to attract the wrong kind of attention, and keeping an eye on the closest exit at all times. It’s a STRUGGLE. But if you can pull it off, not only does it give you amazing street cred, it gives you a personal sense of intense satisfaction that, hell yeah, you are officially a solo traveller.

First things first, be prepared. I can not stress enough how much smoother a trip will pan out if you do your freaking research on the area. This includes transportation to and from the city, to and from your lodging, whether to book an Airbnb or hostel or hotel, what landmarks are nearby and how long it takes to get there, and my favorite, where to eat! So basically: location, transportation, lodging, fun and food. Once you have your plans set, all it takes is a bit of a pep talk, a backpack of necessities, and you’re good to go!

Approach a solo trip like a friend who won’t judge you if you decide to sleep in till noon, who will let you eat what you want when you want to, who will officially let you switch on your Do Not Disturb mode. It is a time for relaxation and adventure and exploration and venturing into the unknown! Treat yo self! There’s no telling what you’ll see and do! Diving headfirst with an open mind is as liberating as you make it. It’s like that cheesy quote:

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Now that’s not to say you should jump at every opportunity. While there’s no one there to judge you if you said yes, trust yourself to deny the potential for an absurd story, and realize your own company is far more satisfying. No one knows you like you know yourself. I wasn’t prepared for the times I wished I could turn to a friend and say, “You need to try this!” or “Did you see that?!” And if you and your friends go separate ways, FOMO is real and it’s a downer. You have to fend for yourself in more ways than one. The amount of times I’ve been a target of heavy catcalling is enough to make me never want to leave my room!! Needless to say, I definitely perfected my mean muggin’, don’t-even-look-in-my-direction face when the sketch-o-meter was high.

But you know what? I was responsible for ma own self. I am capable. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and experienced a trip  that is unique to me. I can say I went to Naples and Pompei and navigated through a foreign city unscathed. I trust myself to protect my being against social and physical dangers and also to be a good judge of character when needed.

If you’re considering a solo trip, go for it! It’ll build your confidence, help you appreciate yourself a little more, and change the minds of people who think it’s impossible. Sure it’s a little scary and awkward. But all in all, if you’re smart and aware, and don’t let people hold you back from experiencing life and the world and all it has to offer, you won’t regret the experience. I know I don’t.


A Weekend in Bologna

A Weekend in Bologna

Snapshot Concept Based on a Forgotten Note on my Phone

Based on a true story.

Sitting in an apartment

in Bologna, Italy

Surrounded by people I’ve never met 2 weeks ago

Bob Dylan & guitar riffs playing in the background

Dainty jewelry around the necks of everyone

My cousin venting to me about a world back home

that I’m temporarily not a part of. 

Read More Read More

Bienvenuto a Roma!

Bienvenuto a Roma!

Week one has officially come and gone! I have to say, it feels like I’ve been here a lot longer. From the 24 hours of constant travel to full days of orientation to my first few days of classes, the reality of studying abroad still hasn’t sunk in. As I wait for the feeling of being at summer camp to wear off, I’ve managed to become open to as many weekend trips and late night gelato runs as possible.

Before arriving in Italy, the only expectations I had of the country were based off the movies I’d seen (Lizzie McGuire, anyone?) and posts I’d saved on Pinterest. Italian culture has always drawn me in and a dream of mine is to live in Italy once I graduate college. The beginning of junior year I had come to terms that I was stuck in a rut that felt impossible to climb out, so I took my study abroad plans off the back burner, did my research, and signed up. The process was stressful so if you’re a procrastinator like me, get everything in order ASAP, it’ll save you a headache later.

As a commuter, I’ve never had a true “college experience” in the sense that I’ve never had a roommate that wasn’t my sister, I haven’t had to deal with dorm drama and eating cafeteria food was never even a passing thought. So far, I’ve gotten lucky. My roommate is the sweetest, my dorm has the best view, and as for the cafeteria…well, I guess that’ll still take some getting used to.

Seeing the beauty of Rome firsthand is something that no picture can ever fully capture. I still have a long way to go on my list of things to see, but the mindblowing reality of the historical significance is almost too much to handle. Walking the streets and taking in the monuments I’ve only read about in textbooks is an experience unlike any other.

If you’re on the fence about studying abroad, or if you’ve never left home before (like me), just go for it. Don’t be one of those people that gets caught up in the 9-5 and comfort of home! Go out and explore! See the world! Wear whatever you want! Talk to people you wouldn’t usually talk to! Eat weird food! …just make sure to pack some snacks from home. I wish I did.