The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Madison Linnen

My name is Madison Linnen. I am a sophomore Advertising/Public Relations major and a dance and marketing minor. I am originally from Canton, Michigan. I chose to study abroad because I recently caught the "travel bug" when living in Australia for a few years. Ever since then I have wanted to travel anywhere and see everything and what better place to do that than in Rome!
Scared to go back to my American data plan

Scared to go back to my American data plan

The most valuable thing I have learned while studying abroad hasn’t been how to plan trips, the Italian culture, or nine different languages at a two year old level… The most valuable thing I have learned while studying abroad is how to live in the now, how to be present.

The other night fifteen of us went out to dinner. We stayed at this dinner for about two hours. We talked the whole time and never once mentioned social media, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Except for the occasional SnapChat at the beginning and at the end of dinner, I didn’t see anyone’s phones.

This has never happened to me in America. Everyone checks their phones while eating out, everyone scrolls through Instagram when waiting for their food to arrive, or at least everyone mentions something that someone posted on some social media site.

Not just young adults either, almost everyone in every age group.

Why? Are Instagram pictures more important than having genuine conversations with the friends and family around you?

Here in Europe I can only use my phone when I have Wi-Fi. In Rome the only places with Wi-Fi are our school library and dining hall. When I am traveling the only places with Wi-Fi are places we are staying, which we are only at late at night.

And it has been incredible.

At first this gave me anxiety. What if I get lost? What if I can’t speak to a local when I need help? What if I just really want to call my mom?

The answer: be resourceful. And, calm down.

I have learned how to use a map, how to rely on my source of direction, different ways of explaining things, gotten over my fear of talking to strangers, and that I don’t need to ask my mom what to do in every little situation.

I often just leave my phone in my dorm when I go out, I can’t use it anyway. I don’t have a problem going all weekend not checking social media. It get’s pretty boring anyways.

I have learned to look around me, to observe the mannerisms of people in other cultures, to look around at the scenery in 18 different cities, to be present in what is happening right now. I have learned how incredible it is to communicate with friends for hours at dinner with no mention of irrelevant social media gossip or interrupting Snap Chats or texts.

I’m honestly scared that once I gain back the freedom of using my phone anywhere, anytime, I will get absorbed back into my iPhone. I will go back to constantly texting, constantly checking social media, constantly talking about social media, because everyone else will be.

Social media, texting, and calls absolutely have their advantages but, just for a day try to turn your phone on airplane mode, or go out to dinner with friends and leave your phone at home.

Let’s get back to living in the moment; because once you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.



I never would have thought that holding a plane ticket to Rome would feel like holding a place ticket home. Every weekend I get the amazing opportunity to explore a new city and every Sunday morning I can’t wait to be back home. Which is Rome. How crazy is that!?

I say Ciao, Si and Grazie in every country I go to instead of Hi, Yes and Thank You. I could walk the 913 bus route with my eyes closed. I am now the one that forgets about giving others personal space instead of just being the one not receiving it.

There is such a routine here now. But not an every day, hourly routine. Every day is still incredibly different. But now, that’s what is routine. Every day I wake up having no idea what the day’s challenges will be. Every night I reflect on the crazy experience I had trying to speak Italian or the cool new piazza I found. Every day I am put out of my comfort zone. Every day I try something new. That is the kind of normalcy I hope to hold on to for a very long time.

I never thought it would feel normal to travel to a new country every weekend. But, every Thursday  night I pack my small NorthFace backpack with similar items that I packed last weekend. I print out my boarding pass and feel normal every Friday morning waking up early, battling the inefficient public transportation and flying to a new country.

Every weekend it is normal to feel completely lost in a new country on a Friday afternoon and then be able to give directions to others by Sunday morning. How has this become normal in just 9 weeks? I have no explanation, but I know I’m going to be sad when it’s gone.

It feels normal to only have wifi twice a day, or even go all day without checking my phone. It’s been so refreshing and is something I want to carry back with me to America.

Everything that was so hard just a few weeks ago is now so normal. I can’t even imagine how this normalcy will change again in the next six weeks. But, I also can’t wait to find out.


The Trip of Many First’s

The Trip of Many First’s

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to go to Venice with three great friends of mine. It was the first trip we had all planned and executed all by ourselves. And it was nothing short of an experience.

When you’ve always travelled with your family you are so used to relying on them for the directions, them for the daily plan and them to keep you safe. I never realized how much I relied on them until taking this trip by myself.

Getting lost happened countless times on this trip (although Venice is probably one of the most confusing cities ever) and while sometimes it’s frustrating when you just want to get somewhere, I think it was really a blessing in disguise. One instance was when we were trying to find a gondola ride and decided to follow this big group of people. After following them for awhile they stopped outside an elementary school when the bell rang and hundreds of children ran outside.

We had followed all the locals to watch them pick up their children…

But, it was so cool and put into perspective that this beautiful tourist area include’s people’s homes.

On this trip we had to learn how to use public transportation all on our own. Asking our receptionist (twice) and then getting lost and asking countless locals, is always an experience. However, everyone was incredibly nice and almost excited to tell us how to get where we wanted to go. The language has never been too much of a barrier. Italian’s know a lot of English and once you know the base Italian words, you can make it work.

We got to meet this incredibly nice man named Marco in his mask shop. We knew we had to get a mask in Venice and we knew it had to be authentic. He was excited to show us how he makes his masks and so passionate when telling us he’s been doing this since he was a little boy. It’s people like that who help return you to the culture you are living in.


This trip was full of culture, full of new experiences and full of first’s. But, we made it through. We did it. I can’t wait to do it again.

It Feels like a Dream

It Feels like a Dream

I’m here in Rome! It’s currently Day 8 and it still feels like a bit of a dream.


It’s been an incredible week. I’ve already gotten the chance to visit the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Roman Forman, the countryside of Farnese, walk miles around Rome and even speak Italian to the locals.

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It has surprised me how quickly I was able to adapt. The first few days it was hard to get around but I already feel comfortable in this neighborhood and most importantly, I know where to get incredible gelato.


I’ve discovered that the Italian style of life is definitely something I could get used to. Eating five courses over three hours for dinner, not having to be on time, taking lots of walks and lots of naps, it really makes life less stressful.


A big adjustment has been communication with everyone back home. I don’t have data and on campus we can only get Wi-Fi in a few places. Honestly, it’s been nice. Finding our way around the city with just a map and a few Italian phrases has been a fun challenge.


This weekend I head to the Amalfi Coast and next weekend to Venice!


Also, fun fact: the dogs are cuter here.