The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Arianna Georgette Vranas

Arianna Georgette Vranas is a sophomore currently a Public Relations & Advertising major with a double minor in Marketing and Visual Communication. She grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago, Naperville, and is actually a first-year student at Loyola University Chicago post going to a university in Texas for her first year of college. Arianna loves to travel and spend her money more on experiences than items, which is probably why she is choosing to study abroad for the semester! She simply cannot wait to check countries off of her travel bucket list while also getting familiar enough with the city of Rome to call it 'home'.
Go on a Study Trip if you’re Hip !

Go on a Study Trip if you’re Hip !

(I’m sorry … that title was painful to type… )

ANYWAYS … three weekends ago, I got the opportunity to go on a study trip to Malta with 18 other JFRC students !!

First of all … what are ‘study trips’? Well, they are these trips that JFRC plans each semester and all you have to do is signup and pay for your part of the deal! They plan everything and literally all you have to do is show up! Okay, now that may not seem like a big deal to you BUT when you only have 14 weekends in Europe and until this past summer the only country you had been to in Europe was Greece … you begin to plan and make lists and look up flights and find things to do and try to save your money through it all and and and …. well the list could go on and on. Basically what I’m saying is that, especially when you haven’t grown up doing this, setting up short weekend trips can become exhausting SO why wouldn’t you want to go on a trip where you simply have to show up?!?!

For this semester there were SO many options as well that ranged from a spring break trip to either the Balkans or Greece all the way to an Assisi Pilgrimage !! SOOO why did pick the Malta trip … I mean where even the heck is it on a map ?!?!)

Basic facts:

Malta is an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and North Africa’s coast.

They speak English and Maltese … BUT mainly English.

Use the Euro currency.

And they drive on the other side of the road for various reasons that I will not get into right now…


WELL yes there are a lot more facts that are extremely important about Malta, however, this is all that I had heard about it when I signed up to spend a weekend there.

During this weekend I found out that, Malta is a beautiful country and there were many photo opportunities on the island. Also, per usual, I overate to the point of zero movement while still having fun. BUT, this trip was a little different than what the rest of my weekend plans would look like for the semester. How so? Simply put, it wasn’t all about me.

You see, because of it’s location, Malta has been extremely affected throughout their history with migration, and at present times this still holds true. SO … our study trip was not necessarily focused directly on us, students, but rather it gave us the opportunity to learn about something that is so much bigger than ourselves and that we don’t have to experience on a daily basis.

So during our short 3-day trip, I was privileged enough to … listen to the facts about the refugee crisis specifically in Malta … hear a heartbreaking testimony from a refugee about her journey to Malta … learn about what the Jesuit Refugee Services are doing to help undocumented migrants that come through Malta … experience the Maltese festivities of the Festival of St. Paul’s Shipwreck … appreciate all that Malta has to offer through a hike along the Dingli Cliffs … embrace the Maltese values of hospitality that were seen everywhere we went … and celebrate Mass with a refugee community.

It was truly an experience that I would never forget.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the trip was a life changing one. I was given an opportunity to peer into a life that was completely unlike my own yet I was welcomed with open arms to do so. And in the words of the refugee that shared her testimony with us, learning about the lives and experiences of others helped my peers and I to become “a little more human”.

So uhm yeah … all in all … just go on a study trip if you’re hip !!!!!

Win in Berlin

Win in Berlin

( I’m sorry … but … yes , I’m going to try and keep up with the ‘punny’ titles for all of my posts … just try to see past it if it really bothers you … )

This past weekend I went on my first independently planned trip of my study abroad semester !! Wohoo !!

— SO basically this post is going to be about my recommendations based on my trip to the said country and/or city , and I’m going to try and do this for every trip that I do in fact take part of in hopes that it might help you in your future travel whoever you may be … —

ANYWAYS … this past weekend a dear dear friend of mine ( lol we met each other on the orientation weekend trip a little over a week ago … PTL she hasn’t gotten sick of me yet !! ) and I traveled by the immaculate Ryanair to Berlin, Germany for the weekend ! And what an amazing weekend it turned out to be ! And let me tell you , it was not really at all like I thought it would be , which is always a good thing … life’s gotta keep you on your toes !

SO Berlin is an UBER diverse city . And it can be seen through a weekend trip of hitting all the highlights . It is filled to the brim with hipsters , tourists , various cultures (German , Indian , Turkish , Greek , Vietnamese , Cambodian , Sudanese , etc. etc. etc.) , homeless people , white collared business people , graffiti artists , punk rockers , backpackers , street vendors , AND SO MUCH FREAKING MORE !! Basically what I’m saying is that no matter who you are ,  Berlin has a place where you can feel loved . It has truly turned into such an accepting city and those are almost impossible to come by these days .

My top recommendations for if/when you go to Berlin are …

  • Take a couple hours and walk the East Side Gallery which is the longest open air gallery in the WORLD by stretching 1,316 meters long. This area of the remaining Berlin Wall is a monument to the fall of the physical separation of East and West, with Germany’s peaceful overcoming and still to this day is a symbol to many of reunification. Give yourself time to take in all of the 101 murals on this stretch of the wall and simply reflect. The messages that this wall delivers says so much about the past, present, and future that we all need to be reminded of daily.
  • Schedule a Street Art Workshop through Alternative Berlin Tours. During this 4.5-5 hour stretch of time you will be taken on a tour of the back streets of Berlin to discover truly amazing graffiti / mural / street art (and yes, all 3 of those are VERY different ). Your tour guide will either be a graffiti writer / street artist / or both and this is a very key part of the day because not only do they know where all the best stuff is …  they will also offer an insight to you about this culture of street art that you probably have never considered prior. AND THEN at the end, you get to go to their workshop and get a tutorial on both street art and graffiti techniques AND practice such with actual spray paint. My friend and I took this tour and it was without a doubt a large highlight of our trip to Berlin and now we find it hard to pass street art on the streets of Rome without pausing to appreciate it or even recognize the artist that was there based on what we remember from the streets of Berlin.
  • Pay your respects at the Memorial for European Jews. Although this memorial may seem slightly out of the way from all of the other things that you will want to do in Berlin, once you step into this memorial you will completely forget that. You will get lost in the vastness and solemness of it. It is incredibly hard to explain, I got light headed walking through actually it was that overwhelmingly moving that I had to sit down. AND please please please do not conform to the disrespectful tourists that will be around you running in and out of the memorial or posing for ‘artsy’ pictures and what not. Trust me you will have time for that elsewhere.
  • Explore the flea markets ( called flohmarkts there ) and street fairs that Berlin will have on the daily! We went to the RAW Flohmarkt , the Boxhanger Flohmarkt , and a street fair that just happened to be going on the day that we checked-into our Airbnb and was just down the street! Not only are the set ups of these markets fun ( RAW is set up in the former site of the largest railway reconnaissance station ) but you never know what you will find & this environment is great for basking in the culturally diversified population of Berlin. — I actually ended up buying a map of Chicago from 1894 for only 20 euros —
    • Brammibals Doughnuts
      • Do you miss the interesting doughnuts that are around found all over Chicago? Pop into Brammibals to go back home for a little bit. — Side note , yes these doughnuts are vegan but they are still amazing nonetheless. —
    • Wonder Waffel
      • Why do Germans love waffels so much? Because they consume them COMPLETELY different than how we do!! At Wonder Waffel you first have to choose your sauce … then your fruit … then your ice cream … and then your toppings … I got nutella, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, almonds, and chocolate ice cream. You MAY feel like you will explode post-waffel BUT you will be happy without a doubt. And you’re studying abroad, pounds don’t count until you step off that plane back onto American soil right? OH also they will write your name in chocolate sauce on your plate so if you like taking pictures of your food … here’s a perfect photo-op !!
    • Good Morning Vietnam
      • SO good … just trust me ! ( I had some kind of noodle dish … I could bet that they are all great though )
    • Restaurant Bastard
      • My friend and I went here for brunch and it was amazing. The vibe, the coffee, the food so so so great ! You won’t regret going here at all and you will probably feel cooler by going … at least I did … I can’t speak for everyone though.
    • The Bird
      • PREPARE YOUR ARTERIES !!! Do you miss the fatty and greasy food of the states yet ?!?!? Surprisingly enough, at least it was surprising to my friend and I, Germany is known and quite popular for their burgers and fries … and if you go to The Bird you will NOT be let down. And this is all coming from a girl that really only likes burgers in the states if they come from her dad’s bar sooooo maybe I’d say I’m a reliable source on this one? ( I got DA Bird which I HIGHLY recommend, you’re SO incredibly welcome in advance ) Oh and PLEASE don’t gip yourself and skip out on their fries … probably some of the best fries I ever have eaten … like I didn’t even ask for BBQ sauce to eat them with and for me that’s a HUGE deal.
    • Amrit
      • Walking the streets of Berlin the smells of spices from Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants alike tumble through the air and after a while you will find yourself craving either a falafel shawarma or some chicken curry. For my friend and I it was whatever we ran into first which happened to be this HUGE Indian restaurant that was booming with business. And their food attested to why it was ! — and don’t worry if your’e a spicy crier like me … there are enough mild foods that will satisfy your hunger.
    • Roamers
      • IF YOU DO ANYTHING ON THIS BLOG LET IT BE THIS !!!!! The environment , the food , the music , the staff , the drinks , literally everything will have you smiling from ear to ear … that is if you have a heart … yup … I went there. AND I have to admit that this is where I believe I have consumed the best meal that I will ever have the honor of receiving and consuming. ( there may or may not have been tears )  I had a homemade granola bowl ( homemade granola, yogurt, homemade berry compote, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, chia seeds, sesame seeds, honey, and bee pollen ) and my friend had avocado toast with a poached egg. Oh and … GET A CINNAMON ROLL !!!
      • Get some coffee , get some fresh juice , get your brunch , get a pastry , and hey maybe stay for your next meal !!!! ( I regret not staying 100 % )
      • If that didn’t sell you … here is how they describe themselves on their website : “Farm house charm with a breeze of California,woody & rustic, stuffed with plants & country music, handcrafted food adorned with a fistful of love.” AND MAN OH MAN will you feel the love !!!
      • NOW if that didn’t sell you … here is the quote that they basically live by : “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers” RIGHT ?!?! amazing.
  • DRINK UP ( I apologize in advance for you beer lovers …  I know I know Germany is known for their beer but c’mon … I’m a coffee girl whaddya expect ?! )
    • Silo Coffee
      • They also have food options but are always very packed.
    • Brammibals (again)
    • Roamers (again)

— ENDING SIDE NOTE — Bring a filled water bottle with you everywhere unless you enjoy the feeling of dehydration ! Berlinians ( I just made that up … creative huh?!? It’s why they pay me the big bucks !! jkjk I’m not paid for this … ) do NOT drink water !!!!!! When my friend and I would go to dinner ( namely Good Morning Vietnam and Amrit ) and ask for water as we always do back home we would sometimes have to order alcohol first and then get a shot glass sized water offering. And don’t even try to get a refill … we tried at a restaurant and the server said that was all we could receive. Like we couldn’t even pay for water. —

ANWAYS, anyways, bring a water bottle with you and simply go to Berlin and enjoy all that the very very cultured city has to offer you. Soak it all in man.


May The J-Force Be With You

May The J-Force Be With You

Wow hi all !!  (or whomever happened to stumble across this page… STAY !! I’ll try to make it interesting)

My name is Arianna Georgette Vranas and I’m a sophomore currently studying abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center AKA J-Force. I am an Advertising and Public Relations major with a double minor in Marketing and Visual Communications SOOO I may be decently creative (sometimes) BUT – I am by no means a Journalism major and I basically write like how I would talk… So I apologize in advance if you have decided to check out my blog and can’t follow it… Just try and picture a short-haired girl sitting cross legged in front of you with an oversized t-shirt on and is talking a mile a minute (probably stumbling upon her words) with her hands doing most of the talking because well I am 100% Greek.

ANYWAYS —  exactly 14 days ago, I said goodbye to my mom as I entered security at O’Hare and flew across the pond to join a group of 219 strangers in a country that I had only studied their language for a semester.

— BACKSTORY : I  transferred to Loyola for the Fall 2016 semester, meaning that when I went on my transfer student orientation at the beginning of the Summer of 2016 and heard all about the study abroad opportunities that Loyola offered, I literally went home, hopped on the computer, and applied to JFRC for kicks genuinely not expecting to get in right away. A week later my family just so happened to be going to Europe for our family summer vacation and amidst the Alps in Switzerland and visiting family in Greece we had decided to plop Rome in the middle. And, of course,  the day before we left for Europe, I found out that I had been accepted into JFRC for the Spring of 2017. ( crazy how amazing and quickly things can happen if you just go for it ! ) BUT , why did I tell you this? What freaking relevance does this have with me being abroad now ? This has SO much relevance becauseee it shows how amazing Loyola University Chicago is in SO many ways… but I’ll only name a few so maybe you’ll actually read this whole post —

1 — I am a TRANSFER STUDENT studying abroad. For most people that transfer schools life is a mess and credits are a mess, the thought of studying abroad can’t even cross their stressed out minds because they are too focused on the fact that they may have to graduate a year later than they thought they would. But for so many people (and I would confidently guess all students) that transfer to Loyola, it’s not a question of possibility but rather a question of when. ALSO, not only am I a transfer student but I changed my major as I transferred. And not even like a switch within the same school, I didn’t switch from Communications Studies to AD/PR… Instead I switched from Non-Profit Entrepreneurship (which is a Business major at my old school) to AD/PR (a Communications major at Loyola). The possibilities that Loyola gave to me even before I started school in Chicago were endless. Amazing.


2– I applied, got accepted, committed, and left for JFRC without knowing a soul out of my 219 new peers in Rome. (( okay this is a small fib… I came in knowing 3 familiar faces that I could put a name to, my friends back home had tried to introduce me to all their friends that were going BUT I wasn’t friends with anyone )) Which for most people is a SUPER scary thought. We like to be comfortable and I totally 100% understand where you come from! Especially if you’ve been at Loyola for a full year or two, you have your people back in Chicago so why would you leave them and be surrounded by strangers for a semester or a summer? But truly, these people will only be able to be strangers to you for so long. Just 14 days in and I am going to Berlin this coming weekend with a girl I became friends with just a couple days into getting here. How the heck does this happen? It simply happens by coming here. The community that Loyola has set up here is so incredibly inclusive to everyone. You may come into a program at JFRC not knowing anyone but I PROMISE you, you will not leave without becoming friends with handfuls of others that you have shared amazing experiences with.


3– The way I look at college is more flexible. At JFRC, since the whole campus is one building (yes you read that right, one building), this means that you live in the same building as all of your classes, the gym, the library, the dining hall (mensa), the coffee shop (rinaldo’s), and literally everything that you need… it for sure feels like school sometimes. You still have to go to class (STUDY abroad), you have dining hall swipes, you pay for your laundry, etc. etc. etc. BUT at the same time classes are formatted differently (some of them are onsite or literally just once a week), classes are only Monday through Thursday, you can participate in study trips with your professors or SLA’s ( who are kind of like RA’s buttt don’t tell them that, because they do a heck of a ton more than that ), oh yeeah and you are in freaking ROME! What?!? Literally, walk 5 minutes outside of the gates and hop on a bus and you can get to the Colosseum, Vatican City, and some dang good gelato. If you thought that going to school in Chicago would help you mature faster, imagine going to school across the pond in Rome. Right? What better way?! ANYWAYS — Loyola has made the idea of college more attractive to a person like me who doesn’t really get fired up about fraternity parties, attending sporting events, or trying to find a spot at the pack IC. And how do they do that? Through study abroad opportunities like J-Force! Heck, I’m highly considering studying abroad again next year and last year I had a ‘what’s the point of all of this’ mentality! Shoutout to Loyola am I right?!


ANYWHOOO this is just a simple introduction to my study abroad experience here at J-Force… I will try my hardest to keep this as updated as possible with all that is going on as I attempt to do as the Romans do!!

Until next time !! May the J-Force be with you !!