The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Vanessa Kamberis

Ciao! My name is Vanessa Kamberis and I am a junior at Loyola University Chicago, where I am double major in Political Science and Economics. Born and raised in Kansas City by a Greek family I have always loved to travel and experience other cultures. Get ready to hear about my study abroad adventures as I spend my semester in Rome, Italy! You can be sure to expect a lot about my friends, food, and fun as I "do as the Romans do!"
Under a microscope of hate

Under a microscope of hate

This past weekend was full of emotions for people all around the world. After receiving the news about the series of attacks in Paris I felt life stop for moment, everything went quiet, Rome lost its eternal vibe, and all around went solemn.

These past three months my friends and I have been living in a fantasy world frolicking around Rome, travelling every weekend, eating amazing food, consequently leaving us all to feel invincible. I am blessed to say; throughout all of this I have felt every emotion but fear like those in Paris. Friday evenings attacked left me overwhelmed with confusion, sadness, and anxiety. Sitting safely in my bed refreshing CNN my heart broke a million times over for all the innocent people affected. However, what happened in Paris is not limited to the country of France. Such horrific attacks are happening on a regular basis in other places such as Lebanon and in small villages throughout the Middle East. Millions of refugees are struggling to stay alive and find a safe place to live as they escape political corruption and violations of basic human rights. We as a society are not foreigners to such tragedies; it is just attacks in Paris are the ones that finally got the rest of the world talking.

Being across the ocean and on the other side of the map makes me feel so much closer and more connected to actions of extremism. I cannot help but assume that if I was back on US soil I would have not been able to grasp what actually happened. It would have been another CNN update that I saw and got upset over, I would not have actually had to process what went on in Paris. I would have changed my profile picture to the French flag, and then continued on with my day, I would have not truly being affected. However, not being home in my comfortable and familiar environment my life was affected. Since Friday night, I constantly find myself trying to process what happened. My thoughts have been filled with wishing I knew why tragedies such as the attacks in Paris happened, why a young study abroad student like myself lost her life, or why we use these events as channels to create more hate towards others. It is sad to see our beautiful world under such a microscope of discrimination and violence.

I believe humans are products of their environment. Thus, I constantly wonder what kind of environment are we creating for ourselves and for future generations? What kind of animals are we turning into? It is imperative that we, as an international community, use these tragedies as moments of reflection and focus on what is really important in society. Is it wealth, is it personal gain, is it peace, or is it equality? Are our actions individually and as a whole helping us achieve our ultimate goal? What is humanity turning into?

Although, I only seem to be focusing on the negative things that have happened since I last posted my past three weeks have actually been great as a whole. I spent Halloween weekend in Barcelona and fell in love. The city was full of energy and life. There is no doubt in my mind I will soon be back under the Barcelona sun.


12189605_10207986455524293_7254589316061477380_nThe following weekend I explored the historical city of Prague. I felt like I was living in a gothic fairytale.The John Lenon Wall was full of inspiring messages of love and peace, and every building was unique in its own way. The bohemian beer and the street vendors’ potato salad and sausages satisfied my enteral hunger. Prague was definitely a weekend to remember.



The time in between my trips I have spent exploring Rome and finding my own little niches. I am constantly astonished with all the adventure and beauty Rome has to offer.


I know all my friends are done with my over activity on social media, but I hate to say it I’m not. If I had it my way these last three weeks abroad would go on forever and my only worry would be where I would buy my next cannoli. All good things must come to an end but I’m not ready to say goodbye to Roma or figure out how to pack up all my new souvenirs and Zara purchases into two suitcases.

With all this being said wish me luck on the final lap of my trip, please keep Paris in your thoughts and prayers, and hope for a better tomorrow. Missing everyone bunches! Ciao for now!






Happy anniversary to Italy and I!!! It has been almost two months since I packed my two overweight suitcases in Kansas, and relocated to Rome for the semester. So far I have travelled to ten cities in Italy and have fallen in love with the country as a whole. From the people to the food there is an life, adventure, and beauty everywhere you look.





Its funny that when you study abroad everyone has this crazy idea that you are supposed to travel every weekend to a new crazy and exotic destination. Although this is so fun and makes for great instas it is utterly exhausting, and too often I feel like people forgot to appreciate the country they are in. It would be outrageous if I got home and couldn’t tell people all about the beauty of Italy. Soooo that is why over fall break my mom came and visited me and we spent our time together traveling throughout Italy. We started in Rome and had an eventful 48 hours. Of course we took a tour of the Vatican, went for aperitivo, sat around and drank coffee, and even got to visit the Villa Borghese Museum. Our time in Rome together was great; I learned all about Michael Angelo and loved showing my mom my favorite spots in Trastevere.


We then ventured north to Florence. Our four days there were jammed packed and I felt like we did it all. We saw the David, went to the Uffizi Gallery, visited the leather school, and admired the beautiful Ponte Vecchio. I was surprised to see how different Florence was from Rome, I almost felt like I was in a completely different country.





After Florence we took an easy train ride to Venice. Seriously, I think I left part of my heart there. It was beyond perfect. Every bridge lead to another quaint street with beautiful architecture leaving one with the impression that they were in a fairytale. My favorite part of Venice was wondering through the city and hearing the old men sing beautiful Italian songs as they took tourists on a classic gondola ride.


Our final stop before heading back to Rome was the town of Verona, home to the inspiration of the Colosseum and Romeo and Juliet. So far I can say with confidence that Verona is a hidden gem of Italy. Not only is the town full of life, but also the beautiful are actually all beautiful!


Beyond seeing all these wonderful places and learning about their historical significance, I have learned things that a textbook could never teach me. Italy has taught me to eat long meals, and savor every bite of delicious homemade pasta with a glass of good wine. Italy has taught me that time is irrelevant and to appreciate all the little moments in each day. Italy has taught me that you can walk almost anywhere you want and it will be faster than taking a cab or waiting for the bus. Italy has taught me that you dress to impress. Italy has taught me that there truly is history and culture in everything we do. And most importantly Italy has taught me life is much simpler than we think in America.

Ciao for now!



From the beerhalls of Germany to the battlefields of Italy

From the beerhalls of Germany to the battlefields of Italy

Alright alright I know its been forever since I have last posted but there has just been so much going on! I’ve been basic and visited Munich, Germany for OktoberFest and have brought my textbook knowledge to good use as I spent a weekend learning all about World War II. I feel like my posts just don’t do justice to my adventures but here is an attempt to tell you how much fun I am having and all the things I have been learning!

Waking up bright and early last Friday morning my friends and I headed for the airport as we set off for Munich, Germany. Upon arriving in Germany I was shocked as to how amazing and clean the city was. We walked off the train and found ourselves in MarienPlatz, the main square of Munich, facing the Glockenspiel. Looking into the sea of people, everyone aimlessly pointed their cameras to capture the building’s beauty.


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We spent the afternoon walking around the city and ended up at the original Hofbrauhaus (dating back to the 16th century) for lunch. I was instantly overwhelmed as we walked into the beer hall and saw everyone clanking his or her oversized beers together and hearing the band’s jolly music echo of the beautifully painted walls. Luckily, we were able to snatch a table in the corner and proceeded to eat a delicious German meal. Thankfully, one of my travel companions, Max, is of German decent and was able to order food for us because I had zero idea what to get. We sat in the beer hall for what seemed to be hours enjoyed a fabulous first afternoon in Munich.


Once we finished our meal we set out on a mission to find traditional German clothing to wear to OktoberFest for the next day. Every street corner seemed to have a vendor selling drindls and lederhosens but none of them looked appealing. Thankfully, we stumbled upon a shop that had authentic options opposed to the tourist trap choices. After our shopping extravaganza we tooled through the city a bit more. All the locals were extremely nice and welcoming to us and it fun people watching all the other tourists who travelled for the festivities.


That evening we took the train and headed for the town of Mammendorf. We truly immersed ourselves in the German culture as were hosted at Max’s Aunt Maria’s home. Maria lives in the town of Nassenhaussen, which is a tiny village of 400 people, on the outskirts of Munich. Patiently, we waited at the train station in Mammendorf for Maria to pick us up as we arrived a few minutes early. To be honest, I was a little nervous sitting on the sidewalk waiting for Maria. I couldn’t help but think we were in the wrong town and were going to end up stranded in the middle of Germany. (I didn’t say anything though, because no one likes the travel friend who always has anxiety.) Thankfully, Maria showed up and drove us to her home about 15 minutes away.


Staying with Maria was an experience I will never forget. I was so excited to be seeing Germany from an authentic perspective. Throughout the weekend she made us several home made meals that were delicious and welcomed us with open arms every time we arrived back. However, communication was a slight problem. Maria spoke no English, and Max was the only one who spoke German out of our travel crew. The only phrase I was able to catch onto over the course of my stay was danke meaning thank you. By knowing this one word and having a simple simile on my face I felt like I was able to communicate enough for her to understand how much I appreciated staying with her and how happy I was to have met her. Although, she probably thought it was somewhat strange that I repeatedly nodded my head saying thank you for three days.


Saturday morning we put on our drindls and set off for OktoberFest. We arrived around 7:45 am and waited in line in the beer-garden for the beer-hall to open. Right as we walked under the welcome sign I felt like I was in a movie. It was the biggest carnival I had ever seen and I could not wait for the day to begin! The grounds that the festival is held on have giant carnival rides, games, cute German shops, and beer halls on every corner. When the doors of the Hofbrauhaus Tent opened at 9am everyone aggressively flooded in dressed in their German clothing. I felt like I was being carried through a wave of people. Never in my life have I experienced so much pushing and shoving it was insane. Once we were in the giant beer tent we raced to get a table and establish our territory for the day.



The hall was filled with thousands of excited people desperately waving down the waitresses who were carrying 1-liter beers and fresh pretzels. We spent the afternoon in the tent hanging out with old and new friends. Every other minute someone would walk up and cheers with you or would offer you a bite of their pretzel. After leaving the tent we got a bite to eat from one of the stands outside, walked around for a little, rode a ride, and then headed back to Nassenhaussen to have dinner with Maria. Overall the day was a complete success!



Sunday we had a completely different change of pace and went and visited Dachau concentration camp. Dachau was one of the first and most brutal concentration camps during the Holocaust. There is not much I can/want to write about because the experience was so powerful and upsetting. Immediately, after walking through the same front entrance that the trains once brought prisoners my stomach tuned upside down and remained in knots for the rest of the day. Words cannot even begin to describe the sadness and disgusts that I felt when walking through the camp knowing that not that many years ago so many people suffered. The experience was very moving and emotionally draining, as I couldn’t even begin to imagine the cruelties that occurred on the grounds I walked on.

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After spending over four hours in Dachau and seeing the museum we headed back to Munich to do some more exploring. Monday morning we arrived back in Rome and got back into our routine of school! Tuesday night a group of students went to Eataly for an amazing wine tasting! Even though the Eataly in Rome is probably twice the size of the one in Chicago, I still felt like I was back in the windy city being in a familiar place. I am sure when I get back to Chicago I will appreciate the Eataly a little more after falling in love with all the food here! The night was so fun and was filled with amazing fresh Italian food and delicious wine!


I spent the rest of the week and weekend in Rome getting to know the enteral city a little better. Friday afternoon it was lovely to meet up with family friends from home, The Valdez’s, and then I enjoyed a nice afternoon of shopping. (For some reason when I was packing I didn’t think to pack any fall sweaters or scarves so naturally I keep ending up at Zara.)

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Saturday and Sunday were a bit more on the educational side as I went on a study trip focusing on World War II in Rome. The trip was lead by two incredibly intelligent Loyola alumni who provided us students with a plethora of information.

Saturday the day began by visiting the German War Cemetery Pomezia. Seeing the hundreds of crosses throughout the field honoring the men and women who died for their country reminded me of how many people perished from both sides during World War II.

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Our next stop was Museo Piana delle Orme, which was one of the most impressive museums I have ever seen. Our whole experience was completely interactive and really helped me understand more about WWII. Each exhibit had life size manikins dressed in a soldier’s uniform while commentary played in the background to make one feel like they were on the battlegrounds. Aside from the serious part of the museum there was a lighter side, we visited the toy museum, which was on the grounds. That afternoon we also visited Isola Bella and the Beach of Nettuno, which were both historical and significant sites during the war.

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However, my favorite part of the day was when we visited the Sicily Rome American Cemetery in Netunno. This cemetery is commissioned under the American Battle Monuments Commission and is absolutely beautiful. The cemetery has over 7,000 headstones honoring American men and women who fought in Italy during the war. Walking through the grounds it was difficult to process the fact that most of the people who were fighting in the war were the same age as myself. This revelation made me so thankful for the opportunities I have in my life and reminded me how lucky I am to be an American. The cemetery is 77 acres and in the back center there is the “Brothers in Arms” Memorial. The symbolism behind the memorial is that the young men that were fighting in the war were all brothers no mater what branch of the military they served in. It was an extremely moving experience when we placed flowers on the memorial and read a pray to honor all those who served for our country.


Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.20.52 AMSunday we retraced the events that occurred on March 23rd, 1944. We began our day by visiting Fosse Ardatine, which are the caves where 335 people were killed in reprisal for the events that occurred at Via Rasella. A simplified version of the story goes as such: several members of a political opposition group planned a bombing on a German police parade. Consequently, Hitler ordered a reprisal for his men that were killed, this lead to the execution of 10 Italians for every one German dead. These Italians were killed in the caves we visited and the caves were later blown up to cover up the evidence of any murders. Visiting the caves put my stomach in similar knots to the ones I had when I visited Dachau. It was so intense seeing the massacre site and visiting the graves of the men that were killed.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.22.56 AMWe continued our afternoon at Museo della Liberazione on Via Tasso. This museum was the former Gestapo headquarters as well as a prison for the Jews of Rome. From the outside of the building one would never know that it had such a historical significance. Walking through the building we were able to see the actual jail cells that prisoners were held in and see the rooms where Nazi meetings were held. The walls of the cells are filled with personal belongings and memoirs of the hundreds of people that were detained there. Seeing this reminded me that average men and women were locked up and beat for no real reason, they had normal jobs and families like anyone else. We heard countless stories of the people that were in prisoned and really got to see the Nazi’s oppression first hand.

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After visiting the museum we went to Via Rasella where the bombings that triggered the murder of the men in Fosse Ardatine. We walked up and down the street and heard the story of the brave Italian men and women who planned the attack. Looking up at the sides of the buildings you can still see the bullet holes from the attack. We took a break from our history lesson and had a fabulous lunch in Piazza Navona.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.25.50 AMWe concluded our day by visiting the Jewish Ghetto. This neighborhood is were the Jews of Rome were forced to leave and were later forced out of. It is estimated that around 1,040 Jews were taken from this neighborhood and only 15 survived by the end of the war. The neighborhood was really fascinating to see and we ended our day by eating delicious Jewish doughnuts! Throughout my two-day trip I think I learned more about World War II than all the information a textbook ever provided me. So far studying abroad has given me so many great opportunities to learn about other cultures and see history first hand.

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Rome is still absolutely amazing. The weather is starting to change, street vendors are starting to sell umbrellas instead of fans, and fewer tourists fill the streets. My new favorite “Italian” thing to do is enjoy aperitivio which is a cocktail and finger food buffet. It is pretty much a happy hour but Italians just sit and talk and enjoy the evening before they go out for the night. As for my Italian language skills I feel like I can understand more than I can speak but that is expected. I finally have the bus system and the Metra down which is a huge personal accomplishment! Next week is fall break and I will be travelling throughout Italy with my mom!

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GRAZIE FOR READING! XOXO11181875_10206603152830531_7090343740594758230_n




The play ground of the rich and famous & time travel

The play ground of the rich and famous & time travel

This past week and half have been (wait for it) legendary! I am officially in love with Italy and studying abroad. I have been in the same places at the same time as Beyoncé and the Pope and have been able to time travel back to 79 AD. Although I have not yet reached my euro chic fashion status, the adventures I have on my bucket list are already getting smaller and I have only been here for a month!


I think I visited heaven last weekend, as I spent three days in the Amalfi Coast. There is no doubt in my mind that God spent a little extra time creating this part of the world because it is absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever been to and seen! Also Beyonce was there the same time I was and I didn’t even know it. So that’s pretty cool? Thursday night my roommate Adrian and I headed for the train station to meet our travel group for the weekend. Obviously, we over packed and received vicious glares as we had our roller bags instead of travel backpacks. I guess learning how to not over pack just comes with time. (No promises that I will master this skill while I am here though) We took a two and a half hour bus ride and arrived in the town of Sorrento. The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch our ferry to Capri. Upon arriving into the port of Capri I was overwhelmed, it looked just like all the pictures and movies!

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I was on the playground of the rich and the famous. We then took a little boat ride around the island. Every few minutes our guide pointed something out to us. I learned that Capri comes from the Latin word-meaning goat and it is common to see mountain goats hanging out around the island. During our boat ride we visited the three famous Grottos (caves) of the island. Unfortunately, the tide was too high to take a row boat into the Blue Gratto, so we only got to see the White and Green Grotto, which were both still amazing.


We returned back to island and walked up to Capri Town. The walk was more of a hike and once we reached the top I was straight up dripping in sweat. Immediately, I forgot of the pain in my calves  when I saw the breath taking view. Not only are the houses and bulidings nestled perfectly in the mountain, but also the water is a shade of blue that is so vibrant you can’t help but feel a sense of tranquility arise over you. The white columns bordering the balconies are full of life as everyone eagerly peaks of the edge to attempt to capture the island’s beauty. (Of course no pictures do any justice) We walked around Capri town then got in a miniature bus and made our way up to Anacapri.

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First things first Adrian and I went to buy limocello for our families. I learned that this region of Italy is known for citrus so it only seemed fitting to bring some back for everyone! We then took a chair lift to the highest point of the island, where the views were once again breath taking! We tooled around the island for a bit longer and ended our evening back in the town of Sorrento.12032141_10205269777410515_1993804980723382628_nIMG_0615_2



Saturday morning we woke up and took a bus to Positano to spend the day at the beach. Upon arriving I fell in love. The village of Positano is perfectly placed in the side of the mountain and looks like colorful legos stacked up on top of each other. 11998857_10207690449684332_1593404274538199777_nThe highlight of the day (and arguably of the trip thus far) was when we rented a boat for the afternoon. A crew of us girls purchased prosciutto, cheese, and prosecco and spent the afternoon on the water. Our driver Maximo pointed out all the important sites along the water and took us to his favorite local places.


We visited several caves that we got to swim through and climb on. The reflection from the light on the water in the caves was unbelievable and glowed like nothing I have ever seen. One of the caves we swam in holds the legend for being the home of the mermaids. (No, unfortunately I didn’t get to see any) Of course sitting on the rocks in the cave I had flashbacks to the Disney Chanel Original Movie The 13th Year. Maximo then docked his boat outside the famous African Nightclub and took us on a tour of Onassis’ favorite hangout. (I was very excited about this) The weather that day was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t help but feel like a princess being in such a beautiful place. After spending several hours on the water we headed back for the main beach in Positano, where we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.


Sunday was a bit less glamorous and significantly more historical as we spent the day in the ancient city of Pompeii. Before visiting the site I was unaware of the historical significance of the town and how amazing it is that the public has the opportunity to actually time travel back to 79 AD. A quick and very simplified summary of the story of Pompeii is that a Mt. Vesuvius erupted and covered the whole town in her ashes, killing everyone and destroying everything. Around the year 1748 farmers discovered that the ash from the volcano actually preserved the ancient city and began bringing Pompeii back to life. Flash forward to 2015 and Pompeii is one of the world’s largest archeological sites spreading over 160 acres. Visitors can walk through the town and see where the shops and homes of the people of Pompeii. The fact that the town is so perfectly preserved makes this history lesson far from boring!


12032215_10207690455364474_2141430600209688678_nWalking through the stone streets and using my imagination to try to actually be in the past was an experience I will never forget. Visiting Pompeii reminded me that there is so much history all throughout Italy (and Europe)  that I can learn about while I am studying abroad. Once we completed our tour of Pompeii we headed back for our home base, Roma.


Back in the eternal city I had a busy and fabulous week. Tuesday before class, I spent the afternoon exploring Piazza del Popolo and the Villa Borghese Gardens with my friend Eliza. Hanging around Piazza del Popolo made me feel like I was right out of the Lizzie McGuire Movie and I loved it.(Still searching for my Paolo though) After dipping my feet in the fountain and observing the beauty of the ancient architecture Eliza and I headed over for the gardens. Fun fact Villa Borghese is the third largest park in Rome and is in the shape of a heart. After exploring for a little we enjoyed a lovely lunch at a delicious café in the middle of the garden, and completed our afternoon by renting a little rowboat on a pond. I failed miserably at rowing us around but had fun trying.






Wednesday classes at the JFRC were cancelled so the students in our program could attend the Papal Audience in Saint Peter’s Square. The Papal Audience is held every Wednesday that the Pope is in Rome. We all woke up bright and early and headed to Vatican City at 6 am to get in line to get seats. People by the thousands lined up to get a blessing and hear words of wisdom from Pope Francis. As the time grew closer for the gates to be opened the crowds got larger and the pushing and line cutting escalated.


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Looking around I saw a variety of people from nuns to young couples in their wedding attire seeking to receive a blessing from the Pope himself. Once the gates opened the crowds flooded into the square to pass the security check point and race to get a seat. We were seated nearly 20 rows back and had a perfect view of everything. Looking around the square I was in awe at how beautiful the Vatican is and how perfectly detailed every section is. It is amazing to think of the how all the monuments were built so long ago and are so beautiful. The Pope focused his talk on sustainability and engaged the audience by welcoming everyone in nearly a dozen languages. This once in a lifetime experience was truly amazing.




The rest of the afternoon I spent exploring and walking around Rome. I finally got to see the Pantheon and the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.



That evening was the kick off to Calcio, Loyola’s version of intramural soccer. All the students got overly amped and engaged in some friendly competition. My team won by 2 goals, which was obviously very exciting. After the games everyone went and enjoyed beer and pizza which hit the spot.

Thursday afternoon I got a little more in touch with my “local” side and visited the Trionfale Market. The market was full of everything you could imagine from fresh fruit to meats and cheeses. I had a blast tasting all the different foods and trying to speak the little Italian I know. (It’s not much but it is getting there) The vendors were all very nice however, I tired ordering a slice of cheese and some how ended up purchasing a 5 euro block of cheese. Oh well, at least it was tasty!


Friday even though we usually don’t have class we had make up classes since we didn’t have class on Wednesday. I had my first on site class for Modern Art. We visited the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. The museum was delightful, I had a great time exploring, and observing the variety of artwork.


Saturday things got a little more touristy as my friend Max and I spent the day in Pisa. Contrary to popular belief there is more to do in Pisa than just see the leaning tower. We took a train ride up north and explored the town. Immediately after arriving we found a quaint street market where Max and I ate amazing fresh Porchetta sandwiches and homemade cannolis. (My love for cannolis grows stronger every day)



We then wandered down the vintage streets, crossed the river, and found Piazza dei Miracoli. Piazza dei Miracoli is home to the famous leaning tower, the town’s amazing Cathedral, the Baptistery of Saint John, the Campostanto Monumentale, and a museum. All of the attractions are full of tourist and one can’t help but giggle as they look around and see everyone posing for the classic leaning or jumping picture. The church was absolutely breathtaking and I learned so much from visiting the historical sites. After seeing the tourist spots of the town we wandered back and visited the street market again. Max and I got Italian craft beer that surprisingly tasted like Tank 7 (I was so excited) and people watched. Observing everyone that walked our way I have a new found respect for boys who can rock jorts and random phrased graphic t-shirts written in English. Our train ride home was easy and the day overall was a success.




Sunday we ventured to the Olympic stadium to see A.S. Roma vs. Sassuolo. Upon arriving it was evident that soccer is more than just a sport as the die-hard fans cheered loudly outside the stadium and waved their flags. Sitting in the stands was so fun as everyone around cheered and screamed throughout the game. Although the game ended in a tie the experience made me feel like I was embracing the Italian culture and I have now decided that I am a HUGE A.S. Roma fan.


12011150_10207735816698479_172551640932855160_nStay tuned for the rest of my adventures, tomorrow I am going to the original Eataly for a wine tasting, and traveling to Germany this weekend for Oktober Fest! Thanks for reading and miss you all bunches!



My Own Roman Holiday

My Own Roman Holiday

Whenever I would tell my friends or family that I was going to Rome they would all respond the same way, “Oh my goodness you have to see Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn!” Well, I finally did and I can say I loved it. I think my favorite part was when Joe Bradley finds the Princess on the street, puts her in a cab, asks where she lives, and she mumbles drunkenly, “Colosseum.” Of course the cab driver angrily responds “IS WRONG ADDRESS!”

Anyways, I am telling you all this not only because you should all go watch the movie but also because last week I got to see the Colosseum and it was unbelievable! (I now understand why Princess Ann wanted this to be her home.) Before arriving at this well-known site I did not know what to expect. Once we (all 250 JFRC students) got there I was instantly overwhelmed! The detail is absolutely amazing, and to think of all the historical figures that stood in the exact spot I stood was unreal.


After visiting the Colosseum, we walked down the way to the Roman Forum, which once again was incredible. We walked the grounds for hours and every five feet I felt myself stop to admire the ruins around me, and the viewpoints of the enteral city.

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We completed our afternoon strolling around Trastevere, which is my new favorite neighborhood in Rome. Every street corner was picturesque and so quaint.

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After surviving our first week of classes we completed our JFRC orientation in Umbria! This region of Italy was absolutely beautiful and full of history. Upon arriving in Passignano sul Trasimeno we visited a family farm called Azienda Agraria Orsini. The family was beyond welcoming and seemed very excited to have us. Several of the women gave our group a demonstration on how pasta is made, and then we got our own chance to try! (Sorry don’t expect me to be making any homemade pasta when I get back to America because I was not good at it at all!)


The farm does not just make their own pasta but also makes baskets, harvests grapes, and harvests beans/legumes! My favorite part of the afternoon was when we got to stomp on grapes picked from the fields to start the process for making grape juice and wine! The scenery was beautiful and the people were so eager to share with us their customs and traditions with us.

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Once we finished up on the farm we took a ferry through Lago Trasimeno to visit the Isola Maggiore. We had a fabulous afternoon exploring the island and walking in the footsteps of Saint Frances. That evening we had a wonderful welcome dinner at our hotel and heard from several faculty and staff members on how important the John Felice Rome Center is to each of them and their experiences.


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The next day we walked around the ancient city of Spoleto. The town was beautiful and full of historical churches and buildings. We also visited the town of Foligno, where a traditional festival was taking place! Our evening was so fun, as we explored the historic cobblestone roads, drank delicious wine, and ate legendary gelato.10987412_10207637184072725_8127833146039209836_n11951267_10207637183512711_5961100849114880276_n


Our final day of orientation was my favorite. We started off the morning in the town of Todi, which is known for its amazing piazzas and beautiful buildings. Of course we visited stunning churches and had a delicious lunch, where I ate wayyy too much pasta. After our three hour-long lunch (yes meals take that long here and I love it) we visited Cascate delle Marmore. Cascate delle Marmore is the highest waterfall in all of Europe and probably one of the most beautiful. We hiked our way through the trails and got a nice refreshing rain shower when we made it up top and saw a breath-taking rainbow. This adventure reminded me of all the amazing things Italy has to offer.11986609_10207637187912821_75426153994160264_n10406823_10207637187112801_3698326011176363057_n

As for my time spent thus far in Rome I think I am slowly falling in love. The food is out of this world; please pray that I don’t turn into a pizza or pasta because I actually eat one of the two with almost every meal. Oh and the people are so beautiful. The men and women that casual walk through the streets are always so well dressed and walk with a sense of pride that I have never seen before. I think I may need a completely new wardrobe to fully immerse myself in the culture. Don’t worry I have already found the Zara, which has five floors!!! Every ally way looks like it belongs in a magazine and makes me wish I had a little balcony to sip my espresso on. (Sorry Dunkin Donuts I have found a replacement.)


Grazie for keeping up with me so far! I will be travelling to the Amalfi Coast this weekend so stay tuned!

Benvenuto! I have arrived!

Benvenuto! I have arrived!

Benvenuto! As you have probably figured out by now I am spending my semester in Rome, Italy at the John Felice Rome Center! Cool, right? Well after arriving only three days ago I can honestly tell that this semester is going to be amazing. Although I am junior I feel like I am a freshman all over again. These first couple days have been filled with orientation seminars to fully emerge us students into the culture and help us have the best experience possible. Everyone is slowly getting to know each other and awkwardly engaging in small talk. So far I have met students from all over the place such as Saint Louis University, Santa Clara University, Fordham University, and even a girl from Iceland! The JFRC (John Felice Rome Center) is located in the cozy neighborhood of Balduina. Although the neighborhood is a little quiet right now, as most of the locals are on holiday, it seems like a great place to be situated.

Through jetlag, orientation, and unpacking last night was the first night I finally realized I was actually in ITALY! Myself and several other girls ventured around the city and were just amazed. Thankfully, we arrived into the city center on the 990 bus (I am still trying to figure out the whole bus system) and easily found our way around. We got to see the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican for the first time!

Night 1


Vatican at night

Immediately I realized that there is so much I have to learn while I am here. Seeing these two sights emphasized that I know very little about Rome and its culture. I have already started reading and doing research on everything and I am so excited! (Trust me once I get it all down I will share my knowledge!) Another very significant event of the night was when I got my first gelato and it was ahhh-mazz-ingg! We ended the night by buying a few necessities in a local convenient store, where I was immediately overwhelmed. Speaking no Italian at all I nodded when the cashier rambled something to me. It turned out he was asking me how many grocery bags I wanted for my items because each bag is .10€ which I found to be a simple, yet interesting cultural difference.

Today was filled with more orientation sessions but our night was spent at a local restaurant. A group of students and several our Student Life Assistants went to a Sicilian restaurant with the best food I have eaten so far on my trip! The meal was full of a variety, ranging from seafood dishes, to interesting eggplant combinations, and of course wine. Around two hours later after we finished dinner and walked back through the cobblestone street. I developed 4 new blisters but it was worth it because I looked super cute in my wedges. We completed our night by taking a quick detour to the highest hill in Rome to see the city sparkle in the night sky, which was absolute breath taking.

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Stay tuned for more updates, I promise things will get more exciting and less Lizzie McGuire like as I get settled in! Ciao for now!