The GoGlobal Blog

Week #1

Week #1



My love for Italy continues to grow daily! Now where did I leave off….


Day five. We took our first day trip as an entire school. We were bussed over to the beautiful Lazio countryside of Tuscia. While there, we received guided tours of Villa Farnese, a mansion designed and constructed for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III. The building was truly a sight to behold with its ornate, hand-painted walls and grand architecture. After the tour concluded, we traveled to a restaurant in the woods for lunch. We were served another mouth-watering meal complete with lasagna, chicken, cake and of course some red and white wine. I think we underestimated the power of altitude and a few glasses of Italian wine… This was easily the best meal I had up to that point. As much as I love my carbs and starches, I swear that is just about all we eat for every meal. Finally being served some protein made us all just about die of happiness. During our drive home, we got to witness an incredible sunset over the mountains.

Classes began the next day. Luckily for me, I am only in class Tuesday-Thursday so I had the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. That night, a small group of us decided to check out the nightlife in the areas of Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori. Our first stop of the night was at an Irish pub where we were treated to a free shot and drinks after making some company with the bartender. Following this, we checked out Scholars, a JFRC favorite. Just when we decided to call it a night, we ran into a club promoter on the street who sent us to her club with a coupon for a round of free shots. Once we walked in, I realized they had KARAOKE. I am a huge sucker for some good karaoke. Some guy was singing Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and he offered up the microphone when he saw the crazy American dancing and singing away to the song (I am referring to myself). After realizing that I clearly stole the spotlight, he took the microphone back and (unsuccessfully) attempted to regain the attention. And with that, we called it a night. This was our first time successfully making it to our destination and home via public transportation. You could say we were just a little bit proud of ourselves.

Tuesday began my schooling for the Spring 2016 semester. My courses are as follows: Comparative Politics, Interpreting Literature, Writing Fiction in Rome and Comparing Art & Science. The instructors here are exceptional and so knowledgeable and distinguished in their respective fields. I have not been this enthused for a semester of school in quite some time. That evening, roughly 80 students from the JFRC went out to Scholars for karaoke night. Seeing as I had just been there the night before, a friend and myself led about 35 of the students there. The bar was packed, but it was so fun getting to meet with some other classmates and students at other universities in Rome.

Side story: Thanks to my Grandpa Bob and my dad, I have successfully mastered the art of BS’ing. When I was over dancing in some corner that night, a girl came up to me and was like, “OHMYGOD! What are you doing here?!” After clearly sensing my confusion she goes, “You are Jack, right? It’s Lily!” Now, I had never seen this girl in my life, but I just decided to go with it for fun. So I say, “YES! I totally forgot you were going to be in Rome at this time too! I can’t believe we ran into each other!” Turns out Jack and Lily’s parents work together. She offered to do tequila shots with me, so of course I couldn’t say no. As soon as she took a picture with me and sent it to her mom saying she was with Jack, I knew I had to get out of there before she got a response back notifying her that she was indeed not with Jack. Jack was going to be getting a Facebook message that next day from Lily to go out again for drinks. So to whomever you are Jack, I’m sorry about that.

Wednesday was another normal day of classes, but that evening a group of us booked our first European excursion. In mid-February eight of us will be traveling to Budapest! I will be making the trip with friends both old and new, so it should be an exciting time.

After classes on Thursday, I traveled with two friends from the JFRC to visit our friend Mia who is also studying abroad in Rome. We ventured into the area of Trastevere and tried out a new restaurant that we happened to stumble upon. We split a bottle of red wine and each ordered ourselves a pizza. Pizzas here are rather large, but they are super thin, so you rarely have an issue finishing a whole one to yourself. Following dinner, we walked around the area for a bit and ended up in a bar that was essentially in a cave. There are always so many new and unique hidden gems to try out here.

On Friday morning, our entire class departed for the Amalfi Coast for a weekend trip together. We were blessed with some great weather the entire time we were there. After a stop for some lunch at a restaurant on the beach, we attended our first guided tour of Paestum, which was an old Greek village. Although a large majority of the village is still underground, three massive temples stood on the grounds in addition to lots of ruins. Each of these temples was dedicated to a different god and was where sacrifices and activities would take place. I’ve said it before, but the history that has occurred within the borders of this country never fails to amaze me. After the tour, we traveled to our very nice hotel for some dinner and sleep.

We left our hotel early Saturday morning to begin a full day of tours and visits. Our first stop was a vineyard in the countryside. After learning about the production of the wines and olives on the land, we were able to do some tasting of the finished products. The wine was quite good, but the oil and bread they gave us was the real winner. The bread they have here in Italy…to die for. Our next stop was a buffalo mozzarella cheese farm. We all thought this was going to be a rather mediocre tour, but we were all pleasantly surprised at just how interesting it actually was. The farm housed hundreds of naturally raised buffalo along with six bulls to keep up with reproduction (our tour guide informed us that the bulls stay veryyy busy). The buffalo were incredibly tame. In the morning the farm plays classical music for them, and at night they have special lighting in the barns for the buffalo to keep them in this manner. Because they were so calm, we were able to walk up to where they eat and pet them. Yes, even this city boy walked up and pet several of the buffalo. At the conclusion of the tour, we got to sample some of the mozzarella and gelato that they produce with the buffalo milk. Both were on point. After spending some time watching the sunset in one of the towns on the coast, we departed for our hotel. As we were all finishing up dinner at the hotel, music started playing. In walked a 6-piece male Mediterranean band complete with two female dancers. They were sooo much fun and had us all up and dancing. I couldn’t help myself from getting in the middle of the dancing circle a couple of times and busting out a few moves. One of our priests on campus now constantly refers to me as “the dancer”.

We made one last stop on our way home Sunday morning for a tour of the Montecassino Abbey. The Abbey was located above the clouds at the top of Monte Cassino. Saint Benedict had chosen this spot to construct the monastery in 529. Since then it had been destroyed and rebuilt on four different occasions. We were led through the cloisters, the room of Saint Benedict and the Basilica at Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica’s (his twin sister) grave. The whole place was absolutely breathtaking. The cathedral of Montecassino was beautiful with its incredible frescoes, mosaics and detailed interior. It was a great way to end a weekend full of memories and good times as a class.


I will wrap up this post with something I wrote in my Writing Fiction in Rome class. We were allowed to select a prompt and write whatever came to our minds.

The prompt I selected: “I (you/he/she) never thought Rome was/would be…”

A part of my response: “He never thought that Rome would be a foreign land that could feel so familiar. A place with chaotic traffic patterns that seemed perfectly synchronized. A place where the inconvenience of so many specialty stores seemed almost convenient. He never thought that Rome would be a place he could learn to love so quickly, but it was.”



Until next time,



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