The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Gabriella Lunich

Ciao! This Los Angeles native Gabriella (Gabby) Lunich hasn’t been everywhere, but it’s on her list! Follow her Spring 2015 adventures while attending the John Felice Rome Center in Rome, Italy in pursuit of receiving her Advertising/Public Relations and Marketing degrees from Loyola University Chicago! She lives a life filled with "Pinch Me Now" moments, with her dreams of traveling the world finally coming true! Watch as she ROMEs Europe and falls in love with the beauty within it. Oh the places she’ll go…
10 Things I hate about Rome

10 Things I hate about Rome

I sit on the second floor of the library looking at the covers of books around me and find myself stumbling upon an English Italian dictionary when I really should be packing. Without any purpose, I flip to a random page in hopes of gaining knowledge of something in which I didn’t already know, but mostly to get my mind off of the fact that in three days I will be getting on a plane without a return ticket to Rome. I find my eyes meeting one word, perfect. “Perfect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” First and only thing that pops in my head is the place around me, the place in which I’m soon to be leaving, Rome.

I find myself thinking back on the last 4 months, thinking of all the components that made up this experience. I think of the amount of trees I could have saved if Ryan Air didn’t make me print out my boarding pass each time I left for another country. I think of the calories I could have deducted if I didn’t go for that second gelato flavor multiple times a week. I think of the amount of shoes I could have worn for years if I hadn’t spent months walking numerous marathons along the cobblestone streets. I think about the amount of years I have added to my life because I spend my days laughing. Then, I think of how one day can change everything.

No place is perfect. Every city has a construction zone, a homeless population, trash in places other than a garbage can, bad weather, and tactics that you will never be able to understand. Every city also has its own specialty food item, generous individuals, a unique culture, and lingo that is unlike the rest. Places everywhere all have a foundation made up by the same principles. Although some have roads of concrete, while others place cobblestones under your feet, or some prefer carbs to healthy options all are fundamentally the same. Each place is different, but what makes the place I’ve come to call home so unique?

With the start of my last week already in full swing, I begin to attempt to justify that Rome cannot be perfect, and that although I have only raved about my experience studying abroad there is something I must truly hate about it. I think and think and think about the 100 days, about the board in the entrance of the John Felice Rome Center with everyone’s selfie on it from the first moment we walked on campus, about how my feet left footprints in 14 countries, about how when waking up in a week I will no longer be in Room 237 with Allison and how when getting on the airplane across the Atlantic I expected nothing.

I think back on the word “perfect” and look around me in hopes of coming up with something I hate. I’m brought to tears and nothing can stop it.


1. I hate that it’s a Roman tradition to have a Siesta.

 For now I’ve come accustom to never going out from 1 to 3pm everyday because I know every tabacchi, restaurant and store will be closed. I must accept that I can’t get a take away pizza down the hill from my favorite place, pick up pear juice from Simply or get my prescription from the pharmacy because it’s a time for everyone to take a break from the motions of everyday and relax because life deserves a break at times, just so you can keep going. It holds the intention of being a time when workers can take off in the middle of their workday to go home and enjoy time with their family, take a nap so they are fully ready to go out later that night before walking home at sunrise, and smoke a pack of cigarettes. It means that for the rest of my life when seeing 1pm on the clock I will think of the streets of Roman neighborhoods being empty and windows filled with families joined together in perfect harmony. No other place in the world does it, but Rome finds it necessary. It’s 120 minutes when everyone gets the chance to realize that work isn’t everything, that life isn’t about who’s more successful or makes the most money, that you must take time to reward yourself each day for your accomplishments, and that home is everything.


2. I hate that when sitting down for dinner you already know its going to take three hours.

Italians do not believe in eating quickly or eating little meals and find it necessary to include multiple courses for dinner, although they understand in taking calories that late in the day stay with you. Meals are not intended to be rushed, but instead are there to be savored. Due to this habit in Italy, it forces me to enjoy every bit of the food placed in front of me from the antipasti of bruschetta to the pasta dish followed by meat and potatoes to ending with a shot of lemonchello. It’s allowed me to experience the best food the world has to offer and taste each spice that comes my way. It’s given me Buffeta Pizza that literally has taken a pizza my heart, gelato crawls where I’ve experienced 18 flavors in one afternoon, and vino straight from the vines of Tuscany. Italy’s food has reminded me to not count my calories, but count my blessings. It’s not a time for rushing, but holds the intention of truly enjoying all aspects of life that others seem to forget. At the end of what can be a very eventful and busy day, it’s a time when I am reminded of how fortunate I truly am. Of how I have never ending amazing food placed in front of me when others around the world go hungry, about how it’s a time to get to know those sitting around the table with you because God brought them into your life for a reason, and about how in that moment everything is forgotten, except for what’s right in front of you so you must fully experience it. It’s a new habit that’s made my stomach, heart and mind nourished.


3. I hate that the words “Rome” and “Roam” sound the same.

For before even entering this city you know what you’re in for: a lot of walking and unknown destinations. The buses seem to only work when the drivers feel like it, so you’re forced to walk if you want to get anywhere. This without realizing it is the greatest blessing Roma has to offer. It not only allows you to embrace the carbs you are in taking because you walk a marathon daily, but enjoy life the way were all suppose to. It forces you to see every detail around you from the trees blossoming with wisteria, to the kids running in the school playgrounds, to the street performers playing the accordion, to the people riding four wheeled bikes in Villa Borghese. It allows you to feel the air around you, hear the joys of life through strangers, and see the world as it is from the cobble stone walkways. It reminds you that your destination is not a place, but a way of seeing things. It’s Rome’s special way of being. Rome gives you the beauty of roaming allowing you to accept that you are never lost, but simply going to the destination you didn’t know you were meant to be at. It encourages you to wander and see the adventure we all seek. It reminds you that life is one great adventure full of endless possibilities. It’s a constant example of one word having two meanings that constantly intertwine. It’s special to put it simply.


4. I hate that no matter where you are in the city you can always see the Vatican.

I’ve been given the opportunity to attend 6 Papal Audience Events, multiple masses in different churches around the city, and see people called to the religious rite daily. I’ve purchased rosaries in the bunches, said prayers in St. Peter’s Basilica, served God’s people through the Panini distributions on Fridays, been blessed by Papa Francesco and gotten lost in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. I’ve completed the “To Do List” of all religious things in Rome, but found that while living here anywhere I go, I’ve been reminded to see God in all things; for if I turn to the right angle I can see the tip of the Vatican from any point in the city. Every day without trying, I’m reminded of how good my life has been due to God making it possible and how seeing the world is the greatest gift I’ve received. By living here I’ve been given a new appreciation of the religious component of my life and strengthened my relationship with Him and his people. I’ve seen the gifts God has given me in the center of the Catholic Church found within the walls of Vatican City and even through a little keyhole on top of Aventino Hill on the opposite end of the city. God has made me a part of this world that’s filled with beauty and I have full faith that wherever it takes me is where I’m meant to be. My current place of living has been the key of reminding me to stop my worries, praise the goodness of life and have faith in the world around me daily. It’s the Eternal City, reminding you that there’s more to life than what you’re living.


 5. I hate that Italian is the only language I hear.

There are three languages of love in this world, all of which I’ve learned at some point in my 20 years of living, but only one has been spoken while I’m dreaming. Italian, a language unlike any other because its hand motions are just as important as the words one is stating. Its sentences are faster than taxis; every vowel is emphasized no matter where it is placed and without trying it always sounds like you’re happy. I hate that I’ve learned Italian, for now I feel so connected to where I am that I can’t get myself to accept that I am leaving. Because of the knowledge I’ve gained by adapting to a world with a whole new vocabulary I’ve been given the opportunity to actually connect to the people and feel a part of the country. It’s not a place that even speaks broken English because it’s so absorbed in sticking with the Italian tradition that it brings you in as if you you’re one of them because you’re forced to try to speak it even if you came knowing nothing. By learning Italian I’ve learned the true Italian way and feel like I’m no longer a visitor, but one myself. It may not be my heritage, but has become a large part of who I am.


6. I hate my address being Via Massimi instead of one in the heart of the city.

By being placed on the top of the hill in Monte Mario looking down on the center of the city, I’ve seen Italy in a completely different way. Tourists see Rome, I see that and the neighborhood of Balduina with the locals smoking cigarettes at the bar at the corner of the street, with the workers at the grocery store Simply that ask if you have change for that 50 Euro every time you walk in, with the running path filled with Romans in parkas in the middle of spring. I see Rome from the neighborhood and that’s given me an even better reason to love it. I don’t live with tourists. I live with natives. I wait in the same Pizza e Kebab line they do, I go to the Tabacchi to get AS Roma tickets weeks before the games, I take the 913 or 990 down the hill into the city. I see Via Massimi and look for the green gates leading to the olive garden and orange trees, I make my way to the big brick building filled with all the friends I’ve come to call family and think of home knowing that at the end of every day that’s where life will lead me.

If it wasn’t for living on Via Massimi I wouldn’t have my own Roman Family for it’s forced me to come to know the 235 people living with me. Rome was the location of this experience, but the people who made memories with me were the reason why it gave my life so much meaning. It’s as if God brought together the top 200 individuals in this world and brought them into my life. I’ve yet to figure out why I got so lucky! Because of the members of the John Felice Rome Center community Via Massimi became more than address, it was home, but not just me, but everyone who had a key.


7. I hate that Rome is centered around Piazzas.

It shows that Rome’s more than a bunch of sites and is centered around people coming together regardless of their differences. It was the first thing while being here that made me feel like a Roman. I had my Peroni in hand, found myself sitting on the steps overlooking a neighborhood and simply observing, taking everything I can in. There’s Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere filled with young people every night of the week bar hopping, there’s Piazza Navona crowded with tourists, restaurants and struggling artists, there’s Piazza di Spagna with flowers and groups of people lounging overlooking Via del Corso filled with people and shopping bags, there’s Trevi where all those with wishes find themself at, and there’s Piazza Cavour with people leaning on the palm trees in front of the courthouse. When navigating around Rome one finds themself using Piazza’s as their benchmark, for they are all unique found in different neighborhoods all known for something completely different. Whatever neighborhood you go into, you find something that gives it meaning. You take 5 minutes of your day and automatically discover what it is that makes that area so unique. You are welcomed into Rome’s core of bringing people together and without realizing it get lost in the music of the street performers, variety of people, and ancient beauty. It welcomes you with open arms and shows you that there’s more to Rome than just the buildings.


8. I hate that ruins out number the amount of people.

For you can’t appreciate where you’re going, until you know where you’ve been. Rome reminds you that you must cherish the past because it made you into what you are today. It brings history into your life every time you turn the corner and gives you a whole new view of what the world used to be. It makes you neighbors with the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Julius Caesar and Augustus. It reminds you that so many people came before you that have effected where you are standing right in this moment and it reminds you of what effect you will have. It’s like signing up for a history lesson every time you want an espresso, and gives you a resting place at the homes of ancient cities and world leaders. It takes you back centuries and ruins everything you know, giving life a whole knew outlook and meaning. It’s Rome and without trying, if you look at the rubble you can’t help, but get a whole new outlook on where the world has been.

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9. I hate that when looking at a map it’s close to so many other countries.

Greece. Hungary. Slovenia. Denmark. Sweden. Spain. Czech Republic. Germany. The Netherlands. Belgium. France. Austria. Serbia. Italy.

It’s because of Rome that I’ve been given the opportunity to see the goodness of each of these countries, to not see the world from a map, but with my own eyes, my own feet, my own being. I’ve seen all regions of the country I’ve come to call my own, enjoying Chianti Classico in Tuscany, Michaelangelo’s David in Florence, the views of the sea from Cinque Terre, the postcard perfect southern delight that is the Amalfi Coast, written my letter to Juliette in Verona, held up the leaning tower of Pisa, watched Mount Edna erupt in Sicily, enjoyed a gondola ride in Venice, saw glass being made on the island of Murano, explored the hometown of Leonardo di Vinci, saw the most colorful houses in the world off the island of Burano, walked through the 17 towns that made up Siena and ate what many would consider the best pizza in the world from Naples. I explored the country I’ve come to call home and realized just how special it is to have an address with my name on it in Italy. In between all of this I found myself spontaneously planning trips around Europe landing my feet in different countries with different groups of people almost every weekend. It wasn’t to see how many places I could go within a four-month period, but more that the travel bug bit me when arriving and I couldn’t find a cure to the disease. I fell in love with the life I was living, the cities I discovered, and people I was meeting. I left a piece of my heart all around Europe and changed the course I thought my life would be taking. I’ve left Rome for the Acropolis, thermal baths, Nyhavn, Swedish meatballs, the works of Gaudi, the John Lennon Wall for peace, canals of Amsterdam, World War II, Belgium waffles, the Eiffel Tower, classical music, and family. I traveled not to escape life, but for life not to escape me. Because of Rome, I was given more than a home, I was given the world having the opportunity of a lifetime to experience it fully.


10. But mostly, I hate the way I could never hate Rome, no matter how hard I tried because it made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Gandhi once said “be the change you wish to see in the world”, but how can you change the world if you haven’t seen it? I came into this experience thinking it was my opportunity to change the world, but instead it changed me.

I came in search of finding the world’s greatest foods, hidden gems, and roads less traveled, but instead found myself, what made me happiest, and why it is life is worth living. I just went and saw everything around me, met as many different people as I could, followed maps to their edges and then kept going. I never had a plan, but somewhere in between the airplanes, endless nights out, pesto gnocchi, multiple introductions, becoming the “social butterfly” of JFRC, 4th glass of vino, winning the Calcio League Championship with team Rosa and Italian speaking 4 months happened. This adventure awaited me and I’m so fortunate that I found it. I owe everything to this city, to the people who experience these past four months with me, to the John Felice Rome Center, and to my family. I experienced the world to it’s fullest and lived a life far better than my dreams, I’m still in denial that this is ending but will forever cherish the laughs, lessons, experiences and unforgettable memories for as long as I live. Life was meant to be one great adventure, and this was mine.

It took one day in the Eternal City for it to have my heart for an eternity. Rome became my home and will always be with me for it gave me life a whole new meaning and made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Ciao for now as I enjoy my last few days in the city

that’s given “Gabs Great Adventure” all its meaning,

Gabriella Lunich

The Paree-fic Break having an amsterDAM good time CZECHing out Brussels & BERLIN!

The Paree-fic Break having an amsterDAM good time CZECHing out Brussels & BERLIN!

Everyone needs a break sometimes. Some breaks last for hours with a book at hand, others are for days when you simply go for a weekend getaway, while the best lasts a little more than 10 days taking you around the world, so you can see why it is you never needed a break in the first place.

Few hours in our lives are ones we will fully remember forever, fewer days can be told beginning to end, and even fewer weeks are what some would be able to call perfect for every second. March 5th began the start of what would be a trip no other could ever compare to. No matter what city I was exploring or if the sun was rising or setting, there was never a moment I wouldn’t always take with me and forever treasure.

My vacation was not meant to be spent lounging at a top resort located on a beach with a margarita at hand like the typical college student. Instead it was finally the time to cure the disease of being bit by the travel bug. Although all my weekends in the past and future would be filled with trips here and there an urge to travel and see new lands continued to remain within me, leading me to plan what would be my greatest adventure yet.

I’ve always had this mentality to travel as much as I can, as far as I can, and as long as I can because my life was never meant to be lived in one place. I’d already made the move to Rome, and realized after much reflection that the world was mine and I had every chance to see it. Nothing about it scared me, it just encouraged me to pack my bag and go because nothing was stopping me and my opportunities were endless. My dreams of experiencing, seeing, and adapting to new cultures always intrigued me, which was embodied in one trip many would call “Spring Break”. With my best friends, Allison and Zach, and new friends from my program, Ali and Roshni I was ready.


My long overdue realization that of being filled with wanderlust, lead me to find myself undergoing a trip that would take my feet to 5 famous cities within 5 countries during the duration of a week and a half! Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris weren’t ready for me and in return I wasn’t ready for the lessons they’d teach me. I witnessed the beauty and authenticity found within the walls of Northern Europe and was surprised to see just how much I’d crave to return again.

Every place in the world is unique and I feel as if it’s my task to find out why. Some are more difficult to discover, while others you know simply by first site. Prague was one of these places where automatically you’d found yourself walking through a fairytale. It took one stroll along the Charles Bridge and participating in walking tours of New Town, Old Town, and the Jewish Quarters, to realize this was where Disney got it, this is where dreams became a reality. Prague was the place.

I experienced first hand the impact and aftermath of what had once been a division of 5 towns and how each came together, but still remained to be completely their own seen through the preservation of their culture and landmarks. Within only a short period of time, one would go from seeing the Jewish cemetery of what holds more than 30,000 bodies placed within the Jewish Quarters in the center of their neighborhood to Old Town Square filled with vendors selling “turtle neck” dessert and tourist waiting every hour on the hour to watch the 12 Apostles Clock performance. Sites of the National Museum, State Opera, Old Town Hall, Petrin Lookout Tower replicating the Eiffel Tower, and the Prague Castel were followed by an 80s Dance Club, the Kafka Museum, John Lennon Wall and Charles Bridge, although so different it only took one a short walk across the river to go from feeling like you were the next Cinderella to being apart of what many would consider the greatest boy band of all time, The Beatles.

It was the perfect mix of liveliness and being trapped in a daydream. There was nothing like it, but the feeling it gave me only made me want more. It’s a place you simply can’t just Czech off your list, you’ll always want to go back not only to see it, but be reminded that life can be its own make believe place filled with joyous people, endless hardy food, and castles that tower over you. You don’t just see the city of Prague while walking the streets, you get lost in the daydream of fun filled energy.


After fully accepting my life as a dreamer, I was taken back to the times of Hitler in the city that shows one country’s ability to overcome a difficult past. I was transformed into a historian walking the paths of world leaders before me, being taken back by one place’s ability to make such an impact on the world. With a sausage in one hand and Haagen-Dazs in the other, I strolled the Flea Market found within Museum Square meeting the strong willed, yet kindhearted German people.

I later found myself directed to what I’d consider, the most fun and unique embassy I had ever seen and was proud to discover it was the United States’ placed directly across rows of grave tomb stone like statues making up the Holocaust memorial. Moments after stepping in, one realizes they are alone and gray like all that surrounds them allowing the piece to transform you and remind you of those who made the world what it is today, taking appreciation of all people. I later spent hours reading the stories of Jewish families described through artifacts left behind and admired current Germany’s ability to learn and grow from it’s past.

Berlin was seen and experienced through a tour of Brandenberg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, The Reichstag, Mitte Town, and Museums Island, followed by a shopping break at Potsdamer Platz and an afternoon strolling bits and pieces of what makes up the 100 mile wall created with the intention to divide East and West Berlin. Art liberated the people and brought visitors to awe over their mural talents communicating a message of freedom, equality and peace to all those who witnessed. As if the sites weren’t moving enough, the German people had this way of appearing intimidating, but once opening their mouths only filling your ears with love. The city and wonderful community was a reminder of anything’s ability to pick itself up and make it better, and how there’s always more than meets the eye.


The city of walls, sausage, and history was later traded in for bike paths, tulips, and canals leaving behind Berlin, for the city I thought I’d like the least, Amsterdam. Once hearing of places all over the world one has a way of creating an impression on it, some being positive while others disgusting you in more ways than you can count. Amsterdam was one of these locations that held three of my least favorite things: bikes, the Red Light District, and “coffee houses”.

Once arriving, I realized how thankful I am for one of my greatest traits, my ability to constantly be open-minded. This changed my whole view of Amsterdam, seeing more than what it was known for world wide and getting myself lost in the tulip market, I am Amsterdam sign, works of Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, and the most moving museum found behind a simple bookshelf, the Anne Franke House. I explored the city, unlike what guidebooks had suggested and found my own unique reasons to fall in love with it. When walking along the never ending canals, I couldn’t help but think that if I picked any two places in the world Nether land would be as perfect as where I was standing in that moment. I lost myself in it’s simple natural beauty and architecture not realizing that where I was standing was a place I had disliked for much of my life.

Amsterdam changed me. The one trip I thought would be a waste of money, was one I never could fully pay enough for. I walked into my hotel after immediately arriving saying I was done with the city, but left coming up with plans to be a resident in one of the narrow black brick painted buildings along the never ending canals. I lost my negative perception and got a friendly reminder that life always has a way of being filled with surprises. Who would of guessed I’d learn that in Holland!


As if I hadn’t eaten enough already in between the heavy meat and potatoes found within the previous three cities, I embarked on a journey to what I’d consider my personal “land of food” supplying me with the goodness of French fries, waffles, and chocolate. I had entered Brussels, Belgium with the full understanding that no matter how much I prepared my stomach it would never be ready. I strolled around the Grand Plac, a large square found within the center of government and retail buildings and was placed with the difficulty of having no hands due to the food breaks I continued to participate in.

Although my stomach was happy, the feeling and contentment of the environment was what was rewarding. I felt the calmness that was passed along the streets of the city and saw its beauty in its simplicity. Within minutes, I understood why it was the capital of the European Union because it simply made everyone happy. A few hours is all one needs to enjoy the small town found within two large countries, but if you could take its mentality and plates with you, you’d forever be lucky. It’s one that seems to be forgotten by many, but cherished by all those who find themselves at its’ coordinates. Brussels was the perfect break to prepare me for what was next, Paris!


It’s said that you’re always meant to leave things with a bang, with France as my final destination it was fulfilling it’s purpose by doing just that. Couture, High-Class sophistication, and romance surrounded me as I walked along the streets of Champs Elysee holding bags filled with my purchases inside, followed by eating nutella crepes and the best macaroons in the world, LaDuree in the parks alongside the Love Lock Bridge. To see the city from more than floor level I made my way to the top of the Arc du Triomphe, searched for the hunchback in Notre Dame, gained a new appreciation for art in the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay while catching up with Mona Lisa and the works of Monet, and couldn’t get away from the view of the Eiffel Tower regardless of where I was in the city. I enjoyed authentic French cuisine, the best meal I’ve ever had, when meeting up with other friends from our program and enjoyed nights that turned into morning in the city with my closest friends. As if enjoying Paris to its full capacity wasn’t enough, I made my way to Versailles to admire what is considered the most notable palace in the world admiring the gardens that go as far as your eyes can take you and entering rooms you can’t imagine only one royal family lived in. It was everything I thought it would be and more. They were right, Paris is always a good idea.

Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France were more than places I checked off the list, they were filled with moments I will forever remember, placing the Northern Loop and the greatest Spring Break in my heart forever. I found my future in the canals of Holland, love for food in Belgium, brought out my high end classy side in Paris, met the man of my dreams from Germany, and walked through the streets of Prague waiting to bump into Disney princesses. 10 days did more than make me fall in love with Europe, it confirmed that I’d be living here someday. It was more than a Spring Break, it changed my life path I’d always thought I’d be taking. My dreams of having the “American Dream” transformed into life traveling throughout Europe, taking the culture and energy forever with me. It was meant to be a break from life, but instead taught me why you always have to keep living. I vowed to myself to never take a break from seeing the world. I’ve been bit by the travel bug and there’s nothing that will ever stop me.


Ciao for now,

Gabriella Lunich

I LANDed in a place of peace, Sicily!

I LANDed in a place of peace, Sicily!

Start each day with the mentality that you will learn something, whether it be from the people around you, places you visit, or information distributed to youHold on to the understanding that your greatest education is not in the number of degrees you hold, but in the moments you truly experience. It’s measured by how often you take yourself to a new place and discover something. It’s when you leave your comfort zone and explore, opening your eyes in ways you never thought possible. It’s taking something out of a single moment with you no matter how far in distance you goYou learn by living because lessons are constantly around you. 

I’ve been lucky enough to be taught beyond the realm of four walls, transforming a classroom into places bodies of water and continents apart. They’ve come to teach me more than basic subjects of science, history and math, making me evaluate what it is that can make me become a better individual and how I can not only help myself, but those around the world. Rome has opened my eyes to this world outside of my own and continues to remind me daily how important it is to take in all of life’s lessons. It’s taught me more than any other place ever could. 

 Although the world has been my greatest classroom, I still hold the role of student and am required to “study” like all others hoping to get diplomas, but am fortunate enough to go beyond the norm of lesson plans. Being apart of the John Felice Rome Center has given me the opportunity to combine my goals with experiences brought to me by impeccable educators. It has allowed me to remove myself from the typical scheduled curriculum and learn more than the limits of a syllabus. It’s a place without limitations, allowing students who are interested to attend courses even if only for a period. 

By doing this myself and joining a class for the day with no intentions of receiving credits, I learned, as the students ofthe Valued Based Leadership class do, that it’s only when you take the chance to see the world, that your blessed with the presence and understanding of world leaders. Professor Emilio Iodice, allowed me to learn the impact of world leaders by not sitting in a lecture room, but joining his students on a trip reflecting on Italy’s world leaders. 


We were given a private tour of Mussolini’s office, where we had the chance to stand on the balcony where he performed speeches and walk around a room where he planned the progression of a system of government, known as the Fascist movement. Although he lead a country to war and had much of a negative impact on the world, it was empowering to see how one place can have such on influence on the place I stand today. He brought Italy to it’s present day and I, of all people, was in his office. Realizing that much lead to Mussolini, we were taught about the leadership and impact of Julius Caesar walking the path of his daily life through the ruins of his home, senate, forum and temple where he later was assassinated. We were taught not be a book, but by what was right in front of us evoking emotions and empowerment within all of us. I stood in the place of former world leaders, making me question if there is ever anything stopping me from being one myself. 

My appreciation of the influential educators and people I’m surrounded with everyday was affirmed when attending the school trip to Sicily. I, along with 39 other students in my program, embarked on a journey to an Island in the Sun with the view of Africa across the sea. Without knowing it I had everything I ever needed, not a care in the world, and people just as beautiful as the places we were visiting. 

People always ask if you were stuck on an island, what would be the three things you’d bring. The answer would be simple, if I were to be lucky enough to be stuck on Sicily, absolutely nothing. After moments of stepping off the plane or ferry one loses sight of the needs for time, electronics, or worries. Watches were removed, phones were put away, and just being was all that was needed to fit right in. After what had been a stressful week of preparing for midterms, it was as if God knew this would be the perfect remedy. 

The Sicilian culture and people hit you before ever step foot on the island. Moments after take off, I learned through the actions and care of the Sicilian natives I was surrounded by that they were unlike any other people. They were more concerned with getting to know me as an individual, regardless of the slight language barrier, than the 45 minutes of sleep they’d be getting. They went for a simple conversation, but left me as life long friends I’d never forget. They invited their children to play with me, told me stories of their childhood among the mountains, and embraced me as if I was their own, when truly I was the farthest from it. It took me 45 minutes with 5 people, a two year old name Julia, her parents in their early thirties, and a couple happily carrying the title of Nonno and Nonna to experience first hand that regardless of origin or age, that these people and this trip would forever change me.


Once landing in Palermo, we started off our weekend in smaller surrounding cities among the hills where we experienced first hand the impact and influence the Greeks had on these Italian people. We got lost in the detail work of the Cathedral and Cloister of Monreale, wandered through the ruins of the Temple and Theatre of Segesta, and found ourselves overlooking the sea while admiring temples of Selinunte. We saw what we thought to be a place of true beauty, but little did we all know it was only the beginning, they were simply preparing us for what was coming.

We landed ourselves in the city of Agrigento where we’d be staying, learning about the enjoyments of their culture through food, tourists sites and night life. We enjoyed what I’d consider to be the greatest meal I’ve ever had at Trattoria Dei Templi, eating 9 courses that incorporated over 20 fish found within the waters of the Mediterranean daily. Between the changing of dishes and multiple toasts, I came to realize there was more than the food that was wonderful, it was the people on this study trip with me. 

After enjoying Agrigento we made our way East on the island to Piazza Armerina where we were taken away by the green grass and yellow Daisies found within the fields of ruins. Without even having to try, Sicily was naturally beautiful. The liveliness of its people resembled the bright colors of its land. The hills took us to the sea where we found ourselves in the city of Taormina, a place of high class, small buildings, and the greatest view of Mount Edna. Sitting in the Theatre with the sun shining enjoying a pistachio cannoli and the greatest view of the city was all I needed to get a full understanding as to why it was the top tourist destination of the island. There was no thinking just being, and the moment I realize I couldn’t leave we made our way to our final destination of Palermo.


Professor Evers warned us at the beginning of this trip, between being our very own tour guide, that Sicily would go straight into a special place in our hearts and become a place we’ll always strive to come back to. He was right about this, along with all of his historical facts, encouraging us to hold on to our memories of the island when needing a moment of relief for times of stress, doubt, or worry.

This trip brought me more than relaxation in times of complete insanity, it brought me lifelong friends who came with me as students, my Professor and Director of Academics Sander, and Student Life Assistant, Steven. I embarked on this weekend getaway without any of my closest friends, but came to experience the diversity and beauty of the students of the John Felice Rome Center through moments of complete chaos and serenity. We left our comfort zones together, enjoyed the wide range of activities and sites of the island and left being our very own “Sicilian” family. Sicilia settled in a special place in my heart because I was fortunate enough to not only discover an island, but the wonderful people I’m surrounded with daily.

Sicily opened my eyes to what was really important, to live a life finding the core reason to your happiness, whether that be in the amazing food you eat, in my case Sicily’s seafood, people you were surrounded with, or sites from hundreds of years ago. This lesson is the souvenir I returned to Roma with in hopes of finding a piece of Sicily within each of my days.


When returning to my daily routine I was brought back to the lessons given to the me earlier in the week about what it takes to be a world leader, one of which is recognizing when you need a break and the other finding the leader within all those around you. Sicily brought me to peace, while giving me a new and different appreciation for the country I live in. Roma, my home, brought me to the greatest leader in Italy and one of the most influential people in the world, an example who’s lessons are taken in by millions of people within the Catholic Church, Papa Francesco. Blessed with his presence during the return of my second Papal Audience, I was reminded that in order to lead an extraordinary life, I had to find the extraordinary way of living.

Ciao for now as I continue on my journey of leading & finding the many reasons as to why I’ve never been so happy.



Gabriella Lunich


Gaudi, there sure is no place like Barcelona!

Gaudi, there sure is no place like Barcelona!

Wherever life takes you, just be there in the moment and take it all in. Realize the best dreams happen when you’re awake, even when you’re not prepared for them. Just go and know you’ll end up where you belong, trust in God and do more than simply exist. This is the life I’ve come to live. I’ve traded in the fast paced lifestyle for that of taking time to see the world and have been given one thing, a taste of the fullness of life, my greatest gift.

There’s no time to be bored in a world like this. There’s people, places, culture around every corner waiting for me to absorb it in. I get caught up in the kids popping bubbles at Piazza Trasevere, get chants stuck in my head from the Roma Soccer Stadium, and find a piece of myself a little more walking along the streets of another unknown city. I think to myself what a wonderful world it is and how lucky I am to truly experience it.

I learn constantly, about myself, my surroundings, the world, everyday. Through class assignments, such as my Italian Movie Project, I am forced to immerse myself in a culture completely. To attempt the language, hand movements, and warmth of the people around me. My homework is more than piece of papers, it goes beyond what’s right in front of me, making me leave my comfort zone and try something entirely new just to see where it takes me. It’s talking to people I’ve never met, speaking a language I’m starting to grasp, and inviting them to join me on my adventure even if only for a moment. These are my grades, they transform into my story.

The lessons of my classroom have become lessons of my life taught by people all around me with more than just the title of Professor. Although my teachers have gone above and beyond their job, I’ve come to get to know and connect to the John Felice Rome Center community. I have gained relationships with the chefs of Mensa (our cafeteria) knowing life behind their uniforms, have shared conversations and meals with the Director of our program, someone I admire and see as a great friend, and have grown to have a large appreciation for the people who operate these facilities. My Student Life Assistants do exactly as their title explain, assisting me in all manners of my life, becoming friends and mentors along the way. As for my peers, they allow me to be placed in an environment filled with authenticity, an emphasis on education, and full enjoyment of life that constantly keeps me going. The community here inspires me daily to not only see the world around me, but encourages me to change it.


With this newly developed mentality and positive environment, I have gone beyond my comfort zone, leading me to events, people, and places I never would of expected, including times where I traded in the field for the stands taking the skills I’ve learned in Calcio to root for the actual team! With a group of around 40 study abroad students in my program, I attended a typical Roma soccer game filled with more security than fans and cheered on the city I’ve come to call my own. I experienced first handedly the importance sports have on Italian culture and how teams tie with political and social views. Calcio, Italian soccer, is more than a sport played within a 90 minute time period. It’s a part of who the Italian people are. They see it as something that defines them. This just like many other things shows the passion of the Italian people and pride in all things that define them. It’s a rarity I’ve never seen among any other group of individuals, but hope to gain from living here.

 Getting to see Roma in this different light allowed me to appreciate the complexity of cities, leading me to the perfect destination next on my list, Barcelona. Flavor, passion, and rooted culture were discovered within every restaurant, street corner, and cathedral. The city represented more than the country of Espana, giving it’s own individuality as the Catalan people.

While walking the streets, one gets lost in the beautiful work of Gaudi, a man who envisioned more for Barcelona and took his talent to transform the city into what it is today. The streets, parks, monuments would be nothing without him. He made Barcelona and he was only one person. His impact on an entire city makes me think someday I can use my individual talents to do the same. This encouragement and inspiration was not something I only found in myself, but saw in that of others as they walked the streets of La Rambla and the coastline with me.


There was so much to take in during such a short period of time, but that never intimidated me. On top of walking more than a marathon around the entire city limits, I embraced the mentality that life is all about walking up an hour early to live an hour more, using the map in my hand to guide me and taking well deserved breaks enjoying the natural juices of the St. Joseph Market to keep me going.

Through experiencing this city, I recognized how the Spanish people make everything transform into something beautiful, whether it be the parks, monuments, cathedrals or benches on your way to the beach. They take art and give it a deeper meaning using that as a source to express their values and morals as a community. They added rooted heritage to their Catedral, celebrated their power in the world by creating the Font Magica at Monjuic and Arc de Triomf at the entrance of Ciutadella Park, embraced a new time of technology at Torre Agbar and Els Encants Flea Market, as well as, established a place for community at Park Guell and home of Gaudi. Everything was their own, traditional and authentic.

The Catalan people of Barcelona live in a way that everything will always fall into place, taking their history of a torn city to lay as the foundation of their current success. They take pride in their people, like Picasso, Gaudi, and Colombus who changed the course of history. The people of Barcelona weren’t just people their, they danced in the streets on Sunday morning before heading to mass at the Cathedral, sold authentic and natural goods in the markets, lived in apartment buildings found between the amazing Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, and passed the masterpiece of Sagrada Familia daily. They celebrated life everyday through their never ending night life and lived in a way where working as a team and taking your time was the only way to success. They showed things without every having to state them. That was Barcelona and that’s why I loved it.


I was fortunate enough to not only see the monuments, but the lives of the people, sharing my weekend with mutual friends who lived in the country and enjoying John Felice Rome Center students outside of the norm. It was an adventure I’d take again any day and have already set on going back in 2030 when a century of work is complete. The city changed my perspective, faith, and appetite, things I will forever take with me.

When returning from to my home in Roma, I realized the date. The setting around me and the people I share my experience with have made my enjoyment overcome the need of keeping track of time. It’s a blessing, but also a curse. I am now almost half way through this adventurous chapter of my life and can only hope that the days remaining come easy, the moments pass slowly and each road leads me to where I want to go. If I had one wish it would be that a trip like this could last forever, but I’ve come to realize that’s sadly not my truth, so I take in each breathe fully and pray that I’ll really live each moment because it’s the least I can do. I’m off like always to explore a new city and fall in love with my own all over again. I don’t know my next stop or lesson, but can promise you one thing, I’ll continue to mistaken my reality for a dream, if you lived my life, you’d be doing the same.


Adios for now,

Gabriella Lunich

Under the Tuscan Sun a Pisa my heart was taken

Under the Tuscan Sun a Pisa my heart was taken

Adventures come in the most unlikely of ways and arrive you at destinations you never even thought of going to.  Some take you thousands of miles away, while others are within the comforts of your own home, both allowing you to experience the world differently. It’s a big world out there, one I feel the need to constantly explore.

The more my wanderlust grows, the more I find myself going back to the lessons that brought me here. I am who I am because of the person I was yesterday. My yearning for knowledge and sense of adventure has grown with me throughout the years. It’s something I continue to take with me. I was taught that you must leave every day learning something and that you can take something positive from everything and everyone. The lessons I’ve learned have come in the most unlikely of ways, at moments when I needed them most.

Similar to any day, between the hustle and bustle of classes and exploring the beautiful city of Roma, I was caught with a question brought up by my professor out of the blue, interrupting a lecture on Kant. “Have you experienced the aesthetics of Italy or taken in what it is that truly makes this country unique?” At a loss for words, in one moment, everything hit me. There are so many places I’m going to have the opportunity to see, but I have to appreciate what’s right in front of me.


I’ve become much of a jet setter, constantly packing my bags and hopping in the next taxi to Fiumicino Airport, but forgot just how big my new home is, within the walls of Roma and that of this amazing country. Due to this sudden awakening, I found myself spontaneously making my way to the library checking out every book on Italy. There is something you learn from everywhere you go, but the things you take with you are from the places you call home. Roma has become that for me and due to this, I made it my duty to find what is that makes it the place for me. Within minutes I transformed a graph paper into a bucket list, something I now constantly take with me.

Through this experience I’ve adapted to a life of looking at the beauty of the unexpected, so I look at my bucket list not as something I must complete, but as a source of motivation to live every moment and see where it takes me. My week was much like the others filled with an unnatural amount of wandering. I just go. It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter where, but I allow it to be a part of my journey.

Now, living much like a local and not like a tourist, I’ve come to find my favorite spots when I need just a sip of Espresso, am in the mood for singing and dancing, or am craving the best pesto pasta ever placed on a plate. I spend much of my mornings attending classes, but due to this beautiful weather I force myself to leave and wander around my neighborhood of Balduina or make my way down to the center of Roma. I may continue to get lost, but my list of familiar places continues to grow each day. I never know where my every day takes me, but from this study abroad experience I’ve come to know it feels great to be lost in the right direction, that being any corner on the streets of Italy.

Through my long walks without a map and just a gut feeling, I have finally taken some time in my life to just think. I have come to realize how large of a difference there is between “I can’t believe I did that” and “I wish I did”. I’ve always wished to get to know and adapt to the place I live, grasping a life like those around me, while continuing to express my uniqueness from the memories I experienced prior to that moment. I realized there was nothing stopping me from making this wish a reality.

Italy is a beautiful country with so much to see, so while spending my week in my city of Roma, I realized it was my calling to make my way north to the architectural wonder city of Florence and enjoy the vineyards of Tuscany. One moment, one realization, is all it took for me to book my tickets to leave central Italy and explore the North. This experience allowed me to see first hand the differences within a country and how each city, with its people and culture, is unique.

Much of the cities in the North are smaller compared to Rome, allowing me to take the opportunity to put a lot into a four day, three-night trip. Five of my study abroad friends and I rented a flat in the city of Florence for the weekend, where we got to experience the beauty of it both during the day and at night. It was the one place where my ability to wander was of great value and my sense of adventure came into full effect.


Once realizing the advantage of my location, I planned trips to not only see and experience the beauty within Florence’s small city limits, but that of its famous surrounding neighborhoods. I reminded myself that life offers you a thousand chances and all you have to do is take one. I took the chance and landed myself on a tour bus seeing Tuscany in a day.

Not knowing what to expect, like much of my days here, I got on the bus with only the knowledge of my stopping points: Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano, tourist attractions along the Tuscan Region. I began my day tilting my head at the breathtaking Piazza dei Miracoli, admiring the Cathedral and famous Leaning Tower, walked the streets Leonardo da Vinci once walked on in the small Medieval village of Vinci, learned the proper technique of wine tasting at a vineyard, visited the wonders of the hilltop town of San Gimignano, and ended our day on the country side of Siena envisioning Piazza del Campo filled with horses on race day. All it took was a day under the Tuscan Sun to truly appreciate its beauty.

This day trip gave me an answer to my teacher’s question, Italy’s beauty is found within its authenticity. Each city was miles from the other, but prided itself in something completely it’s own, whether it was raising a genius or having the greatest grape fields in the world. It wasn’t the attractions that did it for me, it was observing those around me. Walking around, I couldn’t help but get myself lost in their people, seeing how happy they were to be there. I’ve never seen anything like it, individuals being so in love with a place they live, that they stay for generations and go by their location over a family name. I started in the Square of Miracles, but concluded the day by witnessing the miracle of being in Italy. I was lost under the Tuscan sun and couldn’t get myself from stop enjoying it!


As if that trip wasn’t wonderful enough, I departed for the Verona in Love festival, only fitting for Valentine’s Day. Life had a funny way of working out and allowed me to go with one of my closest high school friends who happened to be studying abroad in Florence, Michaela. With her by my side, along with two friends from my program who spent time exploring Bologna and her college best friend, we embarked on a journey to not fall in love with someone, but a location.

Allowing the day to just see where it would take us, we walked for miles experiencing life as Juliet witnessing people write letters for love guidance and roaming the Piazza’s delle Erbe and dei Signori. We saw the preparations for the Romeo and Juliette Half Marathon taking place in Piazza Bra and entered a greenhouse for marriage ceremonies without even knowing it! We stood in line to touch the chest of Juliet following the legend that it will bring us love, and stood on her balcony waiting for our Romeo. Love was in the air and everyone could feel it.

Realizing that every city has it’s history, we went back in time to appreciate the Roman Arena, house of ancient art performances like Romeo and Juliet, walked along the brick bridge and crossed the river to set foot in Castelvecchio (The Castle of Verona), said a prayer in Duomo di Verona asking for guidance of our hearts, and went to Lamberti Tower. It was Valentine’s Day in its most perfect sense.

As if falling in love with two completely eventful trips wasn’t enough I spent the remainder of my time appreciating the wonderful antique city of Florence, visiting Michaelangelo’s David at Galleria dell’Academia, surrounded myself in gold at Ponte Vecchio, gazing at the detailing of Il Duomo Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, admired the works of Gallerie degli Uffizi, enjoyed Piazza del Republicca filled with young adults playing on the Carousel in the middle of the night, and admired Cattedral di Santa Maria as well as Basilica di San Lorenzo. Florence took me back centuries, but brought me to the realities of how a small city really can change the world.


 I may have stayed within the boundaries of my own country, but got to appreciate it in an entirely new way. The language and hospitality stayed the same, but history and culture showed me how different where I live is from the rest of Italy. Each place you go to has something authentic that makes the world a wonderful place. Italy continues to amaze me, making it harder for me ever planning to leave. How did I get so lucky?! Pinch me now, I really am living the dream!

Ciao Tutti!

Gabriella Lunich

Budapest Leaves me Hungary for more!

Budapest Leaves me Hungary for more!

My life has no boundaries or expectations, except this: to escape the ordinary and live the extraordinary. It’s unlike anyone else’s, for that, I find to be my greatest blessing. In my everyday life, I’ve come to see the beauty in routine things and realized that my usual way of living is not like many others in this world. I’ve been given the opportunity to act on one of my greatest passions, traveling the world and living in a city that’s far beyond my wildest dreams.

I have come to learn a lot at the John Felice Rome Center, like I have in any of my previous academic settings, and came to Italy with the intent of it being a study abroad experience. My greatest classroom is not the one in which I’m taking notes in or reading, but are places where I am not confined within four walls or have a rubric to follow. The streets, monuments, and Italian people are my classroom and have taught me more than any book ever could. Italy has become the place where I’m finding myself and continues to show me why it is Italians say “La Vita e Bella”, or Life is Beautiful.


My “normal” consists of walking around Piazza’s, attending the Papal Audience where you have direct interactions with the Pope, and getting on a plane weekly. It’s an adventure unlike any other, but continues to excite me. When not attending class in a school setting, I hit the streets in hopes of grasping more about the language and culture I’ve come to call my own. I hop on the 990 Bus and head down the hill seeing where the afternoons will take me, leading me to my favorite places or those in which I never knew existed. It directs me to interacting with French Nuns down the streets of Vatican City, finding the secret pleasures of small gelato places with friends on spontaneous afternoons when classes are canceled, and playing soccer in a Calcio league with my peers. This is my everyday and it is extraordinary.

I’ve come to experience that Rome is the perfect mix of fun and faith. It’s led me to live a life much like those around me who I’ve come to realize are some of the most sincere, adventurous, and kindhearted individuals anyone could ever meet. Every day I’m given the pleasure of getting to know them through various activities, like the Papal Audience where we stood in the pouring cold rain at 4 in the morning huddled together to keep warm or cheered each other on while kicking a soccer ball on Wednesdays. I was blessed this week by the Pope, but have come to realize through every moment I experience here, that I’m blessed constantly not just in that one ceremony. It was amazing to say the least, but did something in me that made me take a step back and realize that I got so lucky.

As if getting blessed by the Pope at the Papal Audience and winning my first ever Calcio Game 7-1 on Team Rosa wasn’t enough, I embarked on a journey to Hungary not knowing how much it would change me. Budapest, a city that was once divided only 25 years ago, showed me sincere unity that made me never want to leave. I would do a 15 hour bus ride with a group of study abroad students who were complete strangers any day just so I could return and feel the warmth of the Hungarian people and enjoy the soul food they constantly served. Through this experience a whirlwind of emotions came over me, doing activities that gave me the biggest adrenaline rush and complete serenity.

Everything everyday is a once in a lifetime opportunity because regardless if I repeat the motions and do it all over again, anything I do will never be the same. Due to this mentality I’ve established, my fearless nature has grown on me, leading me to caving in the world-renowned roots of their city. Expecting to remain on my feet the whole time, getting handed a heavy helmet and jumpsuit surprised me. The unexpected adventure awaited, leading me through the tunnels and rocks meters deep from the surface. When given the choice of going the easy or hard route, I always picked the difficulties. Squeezing through rocks with holes only big enough to get your head through, and trusting others I just met taught me how the world has more to it than what we see everyday and that if you put your mind to it, you really can do anything.


After a day filled with intensity, the exact opposite was experienced at the Szechenyi Baths where outdoor and indoor pools are naturally heated for locals and tourists to enjoy regularly. Steam filled the air and bar side crowded pools overwhelmed me with complete serenity. Strangers enjoyed each other’s company for hours sitting in swimsuits in 30 degree weather. It expressed Budapest uniqueness and community setting, something that they saw as ordinary.

In between the continuous stream of emotions, I got to enjoy the delicacies of the city taking breaks at restaurants eating Goulash and walking for miles from Buda to Pest grasping all of its history and newness. I became educated about the history of this forgotten country during my Communist Walking Tour and lost track of the miles interested in sight seeing more than the pain of my feet. The streets lead me to St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square, the Chain Bridge, the Great Synagogue, the Hungarian Parliament Building seen from a distance, and Castle Hill where the Royal Palace is located. After making my way from one end to the next, I enjoyed the world’s 3rd greatest nightlife at the Ruin Bars only a block from where I was staying. Night turned into morning after meeting new friends while singing Grease and making our way through the 6 bars in what seemed to be a huge apartment building. The weekend ended before I knew it, filling me with this urge of extending my stay. I saw the cities greatest attractions, but left feeling as if it had more to offer me.

Budapest is unlike any other city, for that exact reason, I grew to love it. It brought me to my highest levels of fear and then washed away my worries. It showed me the power of forgiveness and need for unity. It stood for more than an economically driven city, like those of our time. There were no souvenir shops, and only people speaking the world’s most complicated language, but it only brought contentment. Budapest left me Hungary for more making a weekend trip turn into a future residency.

One week is all it took me to realize life’s greatest blessings given to me by God. He brought me to the Pope and then to what I believe to be the world’s greatest city. I went from being a girl with plans of returning to America for a life of a white picket fence and backyard in the suburbs to dreaming about my future house across the Chain Bridge, exchanging Euros for Florints. My heart overcame my head as always, leaving me Hungary for more than the life I thought I dreamed of.

Although my wish list continues to grow, my heart continues to see the blessings my life has given me. I’m off to satisfy my hunger and continue this great adventure I’m experiencing.


Ciao for now,

Gabriella Lunich

Athens RUINS Everything

Athens RUINS Everything

There is no guide stating the greatest way to live my life, but somehow my spontaneity and constant sense of adventure continues to be on my side. I never know where an hour from now will take me or what will come next. I have no set planner or to do list, just the intention of making a difference. This unknown in my life has caused me to replace my fear with curiosity. Through this I’ve gained knowledge I never thought I could obtain and have experienced moments that will change the course of my history, whether it be making the decision to spend an afternoon in the center of town at a Piazza or to book flights to countries I’ve never been to three days prior to my departure. I could search for days as to what I should be doing abroad, but the story I’m creating for myself is so much better.

I have come to misunderstand how my university thinks fourth months in Rome are simply enough. Three weeks have flown by without me even noticing and it scares me to think the others will be the same. I have taken every moment in, but ironically continue to feel like there are never enough hours in the day, although time is of no concern in Italy. I’ve become accustom to hang drying my clothes, eating hours after sunset, and using my hands every time I speak. I may not be fluent in Italian yet or know the name of every street, but I’ve come to recognize changes in me and that in its self is exciting.


Being one with an abundant amount of wanderlust, I find myself trying to fill hours with festivities and enjoy the wonderful city I live in to the best of my ability. I spend a lot of my day studying, but attempt to explore or try something new each day I’m here. This past week I’ve been exposed to the wonderful Karaoke Bar’s downtown study abroad students are crazy about, Cathedrals stuck between apartment buildings for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, and what could be the best pasta in the world thanks to our program dinner outing where we were exposed to the life changing pear pasta. Expecting an experience with a sense of religious context, academics, and a whole lot of fun is only natural in Roma. Every moment I have here is life changing.

As if the city isn’t enough, the community I have become a part of here is one others could never compare to. I have met travel companions that are ready to plan and have their bags packed in any moments notice, karaoke partners interested in performing in front of hundreds of strangers dancing and singing to my personal favorite Sweet Caroline, and have been invited to almost every outing whether I’m close to the group going or not. This atmosphere makes it hard for me to leave them in order to explore much more of Europe, but gives me a sense of excitement that I have 250 people to come home to every Sunday or Monday night to share stories with of our great adventures.

Having it been my first weekend without Orientation, I was given the opportunity to plan a trip of my own, leading to something so frightening, yet thrilling. The world was in my hands and I had anywhere to choose from. When realizing this, I literally placed the words “Rome to anywhere” in my browser in hopes that it would lead me somewhere. To my surprise, Athens was my answer. I never expected it to be apart of my abroad experience, but was told once by a professor that every person needs to see the ruins at least once in their life, she couldn’t of been more right.


All you’ve ever heard, all you’ve ever read, and all you’ve ever researched never compares with the real thing. Athens, the Capital of Attica and the Capital of Greece, is one of history’s most influential cities and I was given the opportunity to breathe its air and step foot in history. I may have not been invited to participate in Greek’s most prominent Games of the Olympics or live in a time before monotheistic beliefs, but I did eat the world renowned food that’s simply too good, you can’t help but get two and stepped foot in the ruins that take you to a whole other place.

They say to never expect that you’ll be able to see and do everything you want in a weekend, but I hit every point on the travel guide and then some! Everything the city was known for, I was able to see. I started my days bright and early, even before the sunrise, with nine other study abroad students in my program. We strategized to start at the highest point of the Acropolis and worked our way down throughout the weekend, hitting sites, like the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Heod Atticus Odeon Theatre, Temple of Athena Nike, and Propylaia. All differing in stages of preservation and history, we were given the opportunity to see with our own eyes the world thousands of years ago and the impact it has on today. We spent hours roaming the Acropolis Museum and looking at artifacts in the National Archaeological Museum where art statues from 500 BC still remained. I was in awe over how well things were taken care of, especially because in our culture today, that seems to continuously be forgotten.

Between the culture and educational aspects of our trip, we paid respect at the forecourt of the Parliament to honor The Tomb of the Unknown Solider and witnessed the Pom-Pom Parade, also known as the changing of the guards. In between it all, we ate everything in site, as the food was so delicious, you’re mouth couldn’t help but water. Whether it be the Gyros from street vendors or baklava from an exquisite bakery, you simply couldn’t resist. As if the food and sites weren’t enough, the beauty I was surrounded by was overwhelming. Not only the historical landmarks like that of the National Gardens centered with The Zappeion, but also that of the Greek people who were simply enjoying their nights as typical youth do in Gazi, a neighborhood very similar to Soho. Beauty was all around me. Due to this, I didn’t mind that I walked so much, I could of done a marathon!


The sites are one all individuals should see in their life, and the streets of Plaka, a neighborhood in the center of the city constructed to be a lively and colorful mix of old and new Greece placed around an Orthodox Church, is something all should have the pleasure of walking down. Although this beautiful trip was interrupted with unsafe situations my group had to experience due our titles of being Americans, it taught me to always be alert of my surroundings and stand up for who I am regardless of the setting. The typical independent study abroad experience came full swing as safety was much of a constant concern, but it educated me in a way I never really had, teaching me that regardless of where I am, situations happen and you must always be careful.

Pericles said it best, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others”. Athens is so much more than a city of ruins. It’s filled with people of a deep-rooted culture, a complex language and endless amounts of history. It makes you look at the big picture and remind you that you are who you are because of your past. I strive to now live a life not worried about what monuments could someday be made of me, and focus on what monuments I should be sculpting through the lives of others, like that of the Greeks. This lesson is a souvenir I take with me and will bring back when I return to Santorini and Mykonos someday. I learned many lessons on this trip that may now be a part of my history. It was one for the books in good and educational ways, but is something I will always treasure because its part of me.

I look forward to another crazy adventure, where great lesson comes my way. I’m beginning to experience first hand the different dynamics in the world. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Athens ruined everything, it took me back to where I started and reminded me of life’s greatest treasures, regardless of the century.


Αντίο για τώρα.

Gabriella Lunich

SEAing Life’s Truest Meaning, Thanks to Amalfi!

SEAing Life’s Truest Meaning, Thanks to Amalfi!

There is so much beauty in doing things you’ve never done before, but there’s even more beauty when you realize you didn’t force it, it’s simply how you’re living. It may only be the start of my time abroad in Rome, but within this two-week period I’ve already learned that this experience has enabled me to leave my comfort zone and explore. It’s forced me to dive into the world and see it unlike ever before, in a rare and exciting form. This new sense of exploration has been placed in the palm of my hand by professors who have assigned curriculum that has never even crossed my mind and has been experienced through the places my feet have lead me. Whether it be sitting in the comfort of my dorm room with my wonderful best friend and roommate Allison or along the Amalfi Coast, all is the same, it takes me to places I’ve never been before and leads me to doing things far better than my dreams.

A large part in my exploration has allowed me to spend my time learning about Italy through more than just every day experience. By attending the John Felice Rome Center, I’ve been given the opportunity to actually study the wonderful country I’m beginning to call home. I have enrolled in classes specializing in the fields of Italian language, art, philosophy, and literature, all of which have allowed me to take the curriculum I am absorbing and applying it to the new life I live. Due to the Italian emphasis within each field, a drive to educate myself within these departments has been established. Through this education I have been given the opportunity to learn about Italy within the pages of the book of my wonderful life, as well as, books published by historians far beyond my time. It’s now more than just a place I’m living, it’s a huge part of who I am becoming.

The more I explore this beautiful country of Italia, the more I find myself falling in love with it. Each location has something beautiful to offer the world, whether it be the small towns along the winding roads of the mountain side or the cities along the coast mistaken for paradise. I’ve seen both and can tell you, there truly is no greater site. This past weekend I was given the opportunity to visit one of the most famous vacation spots in the world and can finally relate to everyone’s hype about it! If you’re human you simply can’t help, but fall in love with the region known as the Amalfi Coast. It’s colors, its clear sea, and its city pride of Italian culture leaves you teary eyed and speechless.


What many don’t realize is its views can’t compare to its history. Along my three hour journey south of Roma a pit stop was made to explore the linkage between the Greeks and Italians with guided tours provided of Paestum temples and museums before arriving to the beautiful cliff side, Lloyd’s Baia Hotel, where we would be staying (and taking over) for the weekend!

After a night of much needed bonding and celebration, a day spent at farms and small villages followed. Saturday began by focusing on the food and wine of southern Italy, teaching us the process behind what we have been enjoying at our dining room tables every day. We had a day filled with some of the world’s best cheese and wine at Vini Marino Vineyard and Caseificio Vannulo Mozzarella di Bufala. The Italian belief is that if you treat something well, it will reward you with something even better in return. Due to this mentality, we got to experience the high life of not only the Italian people, but that of their buffaloes who were massaged multiple times a day and had songs of Mozart as backgrounds to their lives. People may think it’s crazy, but after tasting their life changing gelato and mozzarella I firmly believe it worked!


As if the farms didn’t fill us up enough, lunch followed with the classic pasta dish with a form of meat and potatoes, and an alcoholic dessert. I can beat you anything that no matter where you go in Italy, a meal similar to this will be served! Following this was an afternoon filled with guided tours of Castello and Agropoli, where we later enjoyed a community mass at Santa Maria delle Grazie Church by the wonderful Padre duo known as, Father Al and Father Bohr. As if mass wasn’t beautiful enough, Italians from the community joined us in prayer showing me that no matter where you are in the world people can come together to praise God. After stepping foot outside of the church, I automatically asked to join the young Italian school boys in the streets for a game of Calcio where I got to let loose with my director and be reminded of how simple it is for strangers to connect.

It was a perfect day that just kept getting better. Later that night, I learned the greatest lesson of all, why I’m here. It took a surprise of Italian folk dancers and hours of making a complete fool out of myself in attempts to learn to Italian dance to realize I’m studying abroad not to escape life, but for life not to escape me. It was the first experience in my life where I was so happy my cheeks hurt from smiling so much the entire next day and where not a care in the world crossed my mind. It was me, my amazing friends in my program, and an Italian band that took me to truly live life. In that moment, I was the happiest girl in the world, there was no doubt about it. Memories like these are only found while studying abroad, where moments turn into reasons for living.


Before returning to Roma on Sunday, we took a last stop at Montecassino where we visited the Abbey of St. Benedict. It was jaw dropping to see such beauty and inspired me to be an example for others, just like he is. Overall, if the weeks coming up are anything like the one’s I’ve already experienced, I couldn’t be more excited to see where they take me. My trip to Amalfi has taught me that the greatest gifts in life are given to you when you explore, that you really must eliminate the idea of a comfort zone and just go for it, and that life should be spent doing things that make you convinced you’ve hit the highest level of happiness. One weekend, two weeks in, is all it took for me to find my reason for life directing me to Italy. Due to this, Amalfi will always be with me and there’s no doubt I’ll be returning again. Until then, I’ll be practicing my Italian dancing for the next time I’m at Mediterrean Sea of Southern Italy.


Ciao for now, I’m off to continue enjoying the wonderful life I’m living.

Gabriella Lunich

All Roads Lead to Rome

All Roads Lead to Rome

Life was meant to be a great adventure. One event leads to the next and everything happens for a reason. January 13, 2015 was the start of my greatest one yet; all my roads led me to Roma. I embarked on the journey of a lifetime having only one 50-pound suitcase, an empty stomach, and a full heart to accompany me. A long journey awaited me, but I was more than ready.

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