Category: Study Abroad

What Did I Expect?

What Did I Expect?

I think one of America’s biggest stereotypes of Chinese students is that they are very, well, studious. It may not always seem that American students are just as much, especially if you aren’t in university or don’t know many.

But trust me. Even in Chicago, even in Rome, especially in China, we American students have our nose to the grindstone! That’s really been what I’ve been up to. Study, study, study! I feel like I need to learn Chinese to talk to my grandparents and to get around here in Beijing, but if I never learned more I would be okay. Not too great, but alright.

Like I said last post, though, some people came here with no Chinese experience. In fact, one girl never left her home city before coming all the way here! She’s very brave. So everyone is studying very hard – I’m actually sitting in the quiet section of our lounge right now, and every sitting spot is taken. And it’s a Sunday night! The only sounds I can hear are the clicking of keys, the smacking of pens being flipped around, and music slipping out of people’s headphones. And the sipping of bubble tea.

Of course bubble tea! It’s China! Although boba has only swept into mainstream American foods/treats in the recent years, I have to say, we practically landed here right onto a bubble tea stand – I feel like there’s not an hour that goes by without me seeing the drink in someone’s hand. Here, you can get it warm too for this cold, cold weather. I never knew that in America! Trust me, if you haven’t tried bubble tea before, you absolutely should. Even if you don’t like tapioca pearls or the textures of the myriad other things you can put in it, there’s an endless variety of options. You can get it without the bubbles, in hundreds of ways! Plus here, unlike some places in the US that I’ve had, you can also get different levels of sugar and ice depending on your preference. Talk about endless options!

What else has been surprising but shouldn’t have? Well, I’m sure I already mentioned the heaven of food I have here. And how cheap everything is? This past weekend, I bought a blanket from the shop Uniqlo for 79 kuai, or about ten dollars. China’s really big on bike riding, and they have bike-sharing companies where you can rent a bike… for one kuai an hour. So if you bike twenty minutes to the mall like me, it’s just straight up free. Uh, yes please! Faster is less cold!

I guess another thing is that most students here at TBC aren’t from Loyola University Chicago. In Rome, I’d say about 80% of the students were LUC students, but here it’s less tightly knit with Chicago, so out of the 38 of us here, there are only maybe fifteen or so LUC students. Sure, we’re the biggest school here, but not the majority of people. Many people here are the only ones from their schools! But it makes it really fun and interesting. My Chinese classmate (since there’s only two of us) is from Stonehill College in the northeast, and their school is about the size of my highschool, so she knows practically everyone there. Whereas at Chicago, there’s more people I don’t know then people I do, which is the fun of it – there’s always more people to meet!

One of my favorite things here is that we’ve been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender together recently. Not all of us at the same time, of course, we can’t all fit on the couch, but that’s the fun of a common lounge only for us – friends can pop in and out as much as they want! I like this small group a lot. Many people are nervous for our upcoming two weeks in Yunnan province, though, because fourteen days in close quarters with 37 other people can be tricky and hard, especially for the introverts. The other Ricci scholars and I aren’t too worried, since we survived ten days in Greece with 50 people, but it should be an experience. Next week and the week after is Chinese New Year, and I’ll be on the road, so I may not be able to post much, but I’ll make it up to you! Hang tight, and I’ll see you on next time!


Also, no pictures again this week. So sorry! I had to battle the internet for a few hours today and we’re both tired from that match.

Beijing Life and Living

Beijing Life and Living

Wow. I can’t believe I’ve been here for two full weeks already!

It’s certainly been an action-packed adventure already. If I were to go home now, I’d still have stories for a lifetime!

All of us here at TBC have settled into our lives here in Beijing, although just as a pattern and not as a hard mold. The fact is, we can’t explore Beijing much because it’s too cold! Nobody wants to go wandering the hutongs or exploring around the hip neighborhoods because after just ten minutes of walking around campus to get to class, we’re shivering and shaking. Of course there are still indoors things to do, such as museums and galleries and meals (of course meals) but the majority of fun things college-age kids like us like to do such as going clubbing or going to karaoke are nightlife, so we’re spending our days watching television in the communal lounge and studying. It’s been pretty good, lots of bonding between the small group of us.

Of course, all this cold hasn’t stopped some of us. This weekend two groups of us, about fifteen total, went out skiing! I have to be honest, the ski hill is about two hours south of Beijing and if you’ve ever skiied before, anywhere, you’d be underwhelmed by this place. It’s made for beginners and nobody else. Still, it was a nice experience to be with my roommate and just a few other friends.

The internet here in China is not good, so unfortunately I can’t add photos right now, but hopefully in the future I’ll be able to come back and add to this.

The Beijing Center also offers lots of activities and fun things to do to get to know Beijing and China better, even more than Rome did. To begin with, we have our Chinese roommates, who know the city and the area very well. And TBC also puts on programs such as a Culinary Arts lesson where they taught us how to make southern Chinese dishes, taking us to the arts district with a semi-guided tour of its history, and watching Disney’s Mulan with the roommates to point out the cultural inaccuracies of the film. Still, it’s all in good fun, and didn’t lessen my love of the film one bit.


We’ve all gotten through a week of classes and internships now, and gotten a gauge of how they’ll be. I’m really looking forward to it, to be honest, because I think I will really learn a lot in every subject. I’m really loving Beijing. It’s been an experience and I’m sure it will be even more so as I move through the semester. Right now I’m looking forward to our trip to the southern (and much, much warmer) Yunnan province, because, as they say in China here, I’m 冷死了 – leng si le – freezing cold!

Ni hao from China!

Ni hao from China!

Coming to you live (and early) from Beijing, I’m abroad once more and feeling great! (So far.)

A lot has happened in the past week, but I won’t bore you with the orientation details. Let me just tell you about some of the surprises I’ve been having, and will continue to have, in this chapter of the adventure.

First off, in Rome I had a taste of what it’s like to live in a country where you don’t speak the language. But I picked up Italian pretty fast, signs were usually in Italian and English, and people usually spoke both languages. Even in Greece, where the alphabet was different, everyone spoke English and I didn’t have a lot of absolutely free time to jump into the culture and living anyway.

Here, I feel like a baby. Here’s a photo from my first ever trip to China with my aunt. Pretty much how I felt this first week. I think I’m pretty lucky, however, to have at least some of the culture ingrained in me and to know at least a basic grasp of the language. The other Ricci scholars and my new friends here mostly came in with no knowledge of the language or the culture. They’re really starting from nothing! Every day and every interaction though, I’m gaining more confidence. I haven’t yet eaten alone or gone downtown by myself, but I have no rush to. I want to get to know the people around here first! Meals are, in my opinion, the best way to get to know people. All my rusty chinese is getting polished, and fast.


But sometimes not knowing the language or the culture can lead to fun surprises! I have to tell you this story: my friends Mark, Jacob, Jenna and I were out for dinner at a restaurant none of us had been before. Mark wanted to try some Chinese beer, so I taught him the word for it – pijiu, since he already knew how to order something. He said it alright, I thought, but the waitress pointed to the menu, gesturing to the whole drink list. So Mark, not knowing how to read, assumed she meant all the drinks were beers and he should just pick one. Five minutes later, the waitress came back with a can labeled ‘herbal tea’, and gave him a straw for it.

The food here is so good. Of course, that’s not a surprise, but I’m always surprised by how cheap it is for the quality! You can eat a good meal for about 20 kuai, or just about 3 US dollars. We have a meal card for the canteen on campus, but it only has about 400 kuai loaded on to it (you can add more when you need), and you can spend it on the on-campus convenience store, so I’ve already spent about 100 kuai, which is about 20 dollars, on snacks and school supplies and other little impulse buys. I can’t help it! Everything is so cheap here! My friends and I went out for famous chinese hotpot, and our total came to 115 kuai each, which is only about 18 dollars, but we were shocked already. We will hate returning to the expensive USA, I can tell already!

I love China, I really do. The living is less loud than in flashy, fancy Rome, and it’s been really strange to see my friends from university back home who have started in Rome this semester, but I can tell how different I am because of Rome. I’m so glad I’m here!

Rome is Home

Rome is Home

Well, it’s wild. I only have two more weeks here. Where in the world did the time go? I can’t believe it. I feel like just last week we landed, just yesterday I was in Greece for Fall Break, just an hour ago it was summer. And now the clock is ticking, everyone is preparing for finals and slowly saying goodbye to Rome as we take our sweet time walking down the streets.

So this week, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite places in Rome. I mean the city itself is a favorite, but inside it is a million gems that sparkle just as much. I wish I could take the time and say every single food place I love (which is quite a lot) but I’ll just tell you some, and why. Of the plenty of shops and fun places that don’t have to do with food, well. You can find those for yourself! From antique shops to tea stores to beautiful photography galleries, from tiny groceries to second-hand leather shops, Rome has it all. It’s a gold mine for each person to find on their own.

Bar (for Italians, this means coffee shop): Sciascia Café. Hands-down. Sciascia is nearly one hundred years old, decorates their cappuccinos with chocolate, and is decorated in such a cozy fashion, but it also has plenty of seating outside. It’s affordable, adorable, and just a short walk from the Ottaviano metro stop, the Vatican, and many local shops, since it’s in the hip but less touristy neighborhood of Prati. Check out their website here:

Lunch Spot: My favorite thing to do, whether I’m out and about downtown or just in the Balduina neighborhood, is eat pizza al taglio. I can’t quite recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but pizza is pre-made and you purchase it depending on the size or amount you want, to which they charge by weight and heat it in special ovens. This way, the chefs can do any sort of pizza they want, and many, many types at the same time. If you like pizza like me, you’ll be sniffing at these places as often as possible. And one of them just opened up in Chicago! Plus, most pizza al taglio places also sell suppli, the classic Roman equivalent of a mozzarella stick – except it’s rice fried inside the ball alongside cheese, and variations on that include chicken broth, cacio e pepe, arrabbiata, and so much more! I don’t really have just one that’s a favorite, since they are hole-in-the-wall type spots, but if you take a stroll around the city you can’t miss them. My favorite is in the Trastevere area, right across from the cocktail lounge Freni & Frenitizione.

Dinner Restaurant: I’ve already spent a whole blog post on Osteria dell’Anima, so I’ll tell you instead about Taverna Antonina, a lovely restaurant right in the heart of Rome. For all it is a very nice restaurant, it isn’t horribly expensive for Rome, and every meal is worth its price! I had a delightful rabbit leg, for example, which was cooked to perfection. Plus, they have been open since 1939, and specialize in typical Roman dishes. The lovely patio may scare away some student diners, but if you’re looking for a good meal, Taverna Antonina has it. Their website is here:


Aperitivo place: My friends and I love foodoo, a local place within walking distance of campus! Truth be told, I have not been there for anything except aperitvo, so I can’t comment on their food or other delights, but I can say they offer affordable and delicious drinks for the Italian happy hour! Traditionally, aperitivo also comes with free food, too, ranging from potato chips to a small meat dish or bruschetta. Foodoo gives you two kinds of bruschetta and a sort of fried dough ball that is very good! They don’t have a website, but they do have a facebook page here:

Gelateria: I adore Alberto Pica, a tucked-away gelateria between the river and Largo Argentina, where a cat sanctuary rests inside Roman ruins. Their gelato is genuine, home made, handcrafted, and bursting with flavor! I’ll be very sad to leave it when I must. Even today I got a gelato from them because I was in the neighborhood, even though it is considered cold around here. If you like pistachios (like me), get their pistachio flavor. It’s pretty much perfect.

Bakery: Another place in Prati, I love what’s called by the students “The Secret Bakery.” Its real name is Dolce Maniera, at least I believe so, but it has no outside advertising or label. You have to know where it is to find it, which the SLAs eagerly show students, and each sweet treat or breakfast bite – or really any sort of baked good – is there for two euros or less. It once cost me just two euros for a huge cronut and a pistachio-filled cornetto. So. dang. good. Even if you’re here for a short visit, go to this place. You won’t regret it.

And that’s my top places in Rome for eats, because #foodislife. Rome – and Italy – is so much more than food, but for understanding a culture and getting to know a city, food is the best place to start. There is no finish.


(But if you’re looking for a great museum/important landmark, go to Castel Sant’Angelo, in the first photo. I think I’ve spent like 24 hours in there total, I love it so much. And it has a great view of Rome!)

On-Campus JFRC Activities

On-Campus JFRC Activities

Living in Rome is so much fun, and living in JFRC certainly helps make it so! Whether you go meet a Swiss Guard with Father Al, see St. Ignatius’ rooms where he stayed when he was in Rome, or go on a gelato crawl with the SLA’s, there is always stuff to do if you’re on campus!

Of course, you’re always welcome to do things with your friends, such as movie nights, going out for aperitivo, or just hanging out, but here are some of my favorite things that I’ve done that were organized with the whole of campus! It’s not a full list by any means, and it’s just the things that I’ve done – who knows, when you get here, they may do the same things, and there may also be new and more exciting things to do!

Also, this is not including various so-called ‘Study Trips’ that you can sign up for at the beginning of the semester. These opportunities pop up every week!

First off, I have to tell you about my time at a cooking class here in Rome! We went a specialty location run by the people at , where in just three hours we 25 students made food enough for forty with our own hands, and ate it too! From the Roman specialty pasta alla carbonara to home-made tiramisu, it was all delicious! And, it was only twenty-five euros, which is cheaper than what I would pay for a five-course meal like we had! We also made meatballs, and an artichoke contorno.

Second, I loved getting a meal with Father Al – I know I mentioned him before in meeting a Swiss Guard, but he also enjoys taking students out for pizza at a local neighborhood restaurant – on the Campus Ministry’s budget! And Father Al is a kind and generous – and interesting person. An Italian meal typically lasts hours, but with him and the other students as company, it just flew by!

Third, Dr. Andrews who is the Director of the JFRC, has an adorable dog named Bacio who is here every Tuesday and Wednesday for about four hours for students to visit as they please. He’s not really an organized event, per se, but he sure is cute. And more dependable to find than the JFRC cats!

Fourth, I love everything that the Student Activities Committee does! You can get involved too. SAC does a couple of annual events per semester, such as organizing a town hall meeting for people to suggest ways to better the community and the campus, a talent show (where yours truly aided a rendition of The Devil Went Down to Georgia by playing the air-fiddle, another girl juggled mozzarella balls, and the SLAs and Dr. Beazley, Dean of Students, performed a cheer routine), a silent auction wherein all proceeds go to charity, and more! SAC provides fun and free ways to be involved on campus.

And fifth, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Calcio! Calcio is the Italian word for soccer, or football as it’s known to the rest of the world, and Calcio unites us like no other. There’s a myriad of teams, usually six, that play against each other every week and then go out for pizza and beer together after! Of course, there’s no obligation to show up every week, but a little friendly competition lets you meet people and get to know them while working off the steam of academics! And if you’re not athletic, that’s okay too. The spectators have a lot of fun as well – this semester, each team has an unofficial ‘team mom’ who leads cheers, brings snacks, and is all-around the dependable fan. And if you’ve got a wide social circle, odds are your friends will be on different teams, making the nights when they go head-to-head ones to remember!


These are just a small sample of what’s to-do and what’s been done here at JFRC. What will you do?

What NOT to Bring to Rome!

What NOT to Bring to Rome!

There are packing lists for ever and ever out there on the Internet, but I wanted to give a brief post as to what not to bring. I’ve seen some people make these mistakes, and boy are they regretting it now.

First off, yes, no matter which semester you come here, it will get very, very hot. That’s climate change for you. Don’t bring a fan, duh. Some people knew what was coming and brought little ones, but they just take up space. You can tough it out here or buy some here. Heck, some of them didn’t even work because of the voltage differences! On that note too, don’t bring your straighteners, curlers, hair dryers, or other large appliances like that. They just won’t work! Sure, you can bring endless amounts of bulky converters, but even then there’s no guarantee. And why waste space?

Second, don’t even think about the heavy down-feather winter coat. Bring layers of jackets, and jackets that layer. Even if you’re going to go up north to say, Norway or Iceland, the more jackets the better for the fall/spring weather, but a winter jacket just isn’t worth all of the space and hauling for a short weekend. Trust me, you don’t have room!

Third, pepper spray and other self-defense weaponry is a no-no. Here in Rome, the use of pepper spray, even in self-defense, is a crime. I don’t know about knives, but they probably wouldn’t fly in just the same way. Best not to risk it.

Fourth, books to read for fun? Don’t bother! The library here has plenty of fiction novels, and interesting non-fiction too. If you’re an avid reader enough to bring your own books, then you’ll be an avid reader enough to enjoy our collection.

Fifth, school supplies! The local grocery store sells things in their dollar bins. Notebooks, folders, and the other stuff? They just take up space! If you get them here, you can throw them out here, no luggage space occupied. Easy as that!

Sixth, hangers. Towels. Sheets. The school supplies them all. Toiletries like makeup wipes, razors, shower gel, and laundry detergent? Can get them all here. Since detergent likes to come in big jugs, I split mine with three other friends, and we haven’t yet run out.

Seventh, don’t only bring summer clothes! Italy will feel like eternal summer, or at least it seems like it should, but it doesn’t! It can get chilly at night, and besides, the locals dress for the season, not the weather. You don’t want to be THAT telltale American wearing flipflops and shorts at the end of October. And for that matter, if you’re bringing flipflops… they’re probably going to be shower shoes. Some people (like me) bring ten pairs of shoes, and some bring just one or two, but make sure they are versatile for the seasons, and comfortable to walk in. That’s key!

If you’re packing in the future and thinking, should I bring this? I might need it, I might not! The answer is no! If you really need it, you can get it here! If you can’t get it here for cheap, it’s a lifelong useful souvenir!

If you’re really unsure, drop a comment here and I’ll see if I can help. Until next time!

What To Pack: Rome pt 1

What To Pack: Rome pt 1

I’ll dedicate another post to the clothing of what to bring, but I wanted to take some time and talk about non-clothing related things I wish I had brought along with me, or that I brought and have not found much use for. I hope this list is useful to you who will come to JFRC, whether you are an incoming student just browsing about, or a student getting ready for your journey here next semester and you happened to stumble upon this page.

Also, just as a side note, I wanted to add that our President Rooney is visiting J-Force today! It’s very exciting for us LUC student, while my friends from other Jesuit universities like SLU and Santa Clara are less so.

So without further ado, the list. It’s not complete, since I haven’t completed the semester, and it’s individual, so if you think you’ll need something, don’t just take my advice – follow your heart!

First off, we do not have access to a kitchen here, unless you stay over winter break, so if you like to eat outside hours that the mensa or rinaldo’s is open, bring or buy some cheap Tupperware you can throw away at the end of the semester. It’s not encouraged, but if you’re of the rule-flouting sort, you can temporarily borrow utensils from the mensa without the knowledge of the staff. But there are microwaves, so if you have leftovers, eat just half a panini, or want a bowl to mix the groceries you buy in, bring a Tupperware.

Second, a shower caddy. All restrooms on the residential floors are communal, so you’ll want to bring a shower caddy for ease of transporting things to and from your room. And bring a bathrobe, if you are not a fan of walking down hallways in just a towel. If you’re like me with thick, long hair, a hair towel wouldn’t go amiss either, since they only provide you with one large towel.

Third, a money belt and padlock, either with key or combination. A majority of the students here travel on the weekends, and even if you’re staying in the safest of hotels or only flying to places far-off, neither of these things will hurt. I often put all my money except one 20 euro bill in there, so that I do not spend too much and also so that when I am bargaining the price of something with a vendor, I can show them my wallet and honestly say I don’t have anything more and can’t pay their price. That’s gotten me quite a few bargains in my time. Padlocks on your luggage is just good sense, for flights, buses, or hostels. Can’t go wrong – but don’t lose the key!

Fourth, extra things you can’t live without. By that I mean adaptors, headphones, portable chargers, and charging cords for your electronics. I have lots of friends whose electronics that have been lost or broken by use, and they bemoan paying the price when they could have spared a square inch or two and packed their extras they have back in the States. I don’t mean bring five or six pairs of headphones, but I brought three and one broke, so now I’m glad I have two. Especially since one is plugin and the other wireless.

And fifth, bring your hobbies. You might think you’ll be having fun every second and studying the rest of them, but believe me, there is plenty of downtime. Plus, everyone needs to relax some times. If you like knitting, bring your needles, but there’s a yarn shop here so you don’t need to bring that. If you like video games and you have them on your computer, bring a controller or your good gaming mouse (not the whole Xbox 360 though, goodness). If you like watercolor, bring a palette that’s halfway used but not emptied so by the time you leave, you can toss it and it won’t take up the room. Bring your GameBoy or your Kindle. I’m not talking large things, mind, and many things you can acquire here, but I wish I had brought a few more things to occupy my time.

Sixth, a VPN. Loyola’s wifi here is terribly annoying and blocks you from downloading any here, and if you want to break free of the Italian Netflix or anything like that, there are free VPNs and paid ones that do the job.


That’s all for now! I’ll make another post soon about what NOT to bring, and probably update this when I think of more things, but just let me know if you have any questions. 

8 Movies to Get You Hyped for Rome

8 Movies to Get You Hyped for Rome

I love movies. I love watching movies, thinking about movies, discussing movies – love love love movies. I’m watching a movie as I write this (it’s The Two Towers, jsyk). I was walking through Rome today, thinking about movies, so I decided to share with you all eight movies I watched before I came to Rome, each of which got me excited to arrive in all sorts of different genres. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) directed by Guy Ritchie.

This movie is endless fun. I love this movie so much. Although it is not entirely in Rome, the majority of it is – combined with jazzy ’60s aesthetic, spy movie stereotypes, and the combined chemistry of Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, and Armie Hammer. All of that plus the clever genius of the director means that every time I watch this I see something new and smile a little bit wider. Prominent Rome locations include the Tiber river, the Colosseum, and the Spanish Steps.

2. Roman Holiday (1953), dir. William Wyler

The classic Roman movie with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. How could you go wrong? The spirit of exploration fills this movie, and makes you want to wander the city streets endlessly – and you can, when you’re here! It has all you could want in a Roman movie – Italians who talk with their hands, café and food culture, and beautiful fashion. Prominent Rome locations include the Mouth of Truth, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.

3. Gladiator (2000), dir. Ridley Scott

Okay, okay. This movie is barely set in Rome. But you can’t walk five feet downtown without being hit in the face by a tourist-junk shop, and all of those stands and stores sell Colosseum and gladiator-related trinkets. Did you know there was a Colosseum here? Does Rome have a Colosseum? I had no idea. Still, Gladiator is a beautiful movie that gives you a look inside Ancient Rome, one of many you’re bound to get anyway. Prominent Rome location: Uh, the Colosseum. And they mention Ostia Antica, which you may or may not see during your time here.

4. The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003), dir. Jim Fall

Of course this movie is included in the list. It’s teen bop, 90’s kids childhoods, and good clean Disney channel fun all in one. Plus, you’ll be hearing everyone and their sister reference this movie at least three separate times, so if you haven’t seen it yet you’ll miss all of the lines! I mean, Rome is what dreams are made of… Prominent Rome locations: Trevi fountain, of course. No need to look elsewhere.

5. La Dolce Vita (1960), dir. Federico Fellini

If you’re looking for a classic Italian film, look no further. La Dolce Vita gives a lot of Americans the only perspective they have on modern Italy, and it sure is a shiny one, but so much fun. And jewels. And high society. Romance, cinematography, fame and fortune, blitz and glam and drama drama drama. But also the beauty of life, and of this eternal city. Watch this movie. It’s wonderful. Prominent Rome locations: Everywhere. The Tiber river, the Vatican, the Baths of Caracalla, and on and on.

6. To Rome with Love (2012), dir. Woody Allen

As you’ll soon learn, Rome is a city of stories. Your own mingles with mine, history with the modern day, people from around the world and even just the story of how one brick got to another place, and why. Woody Allen’s slightly-magical slightly- romantic stories in this movie mix together to highlight some different paths that can be taken, and have been taken, in Rome. It’s exactly what a movie called ‘To Rome With Love’ should be like – equal parts praise and postcard and red lipstick kisses. Prominent Rome locations: Everywhere. Italian culture. Not so much the tourist spots but the life of the city where people live and work.

7. Angels and Demons (2009), dir. Ron Howard

As a history student, I’m not Dan Brown (the original author)’s biggest fan. But, as someone who loves Rome, I can at least say his work and the subsequent movie have brought more interest and tourism. My father really likes Dan Brown, so I brought him to all the places where priests were murdered in this movie. A pleasant family outing – but we sure saw a lot! Watch this movie if the lightheartedness of the Lizzie MccGuire movie or La Dolce Vita is getting you down. It’s dark. It’s edgy. It’s fictional (but still real) Rome. Prominent Rome locations: The Vatican, Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, and more.

8. Elsa and Fred (2014), dir. Michael Redford.

Whether you choose to watch this version or the original Argentinian version, it’s like gelato on a summer day. Sweet, delightful, but a little sad towards the end when everything starts melting. This movie is not exactly set in Rome, but the main character loves La Dolce Vita, so if you love it, you’ll love this. It’s very charming, two old people falling in love and following their hearts. I relate to Fred, one of the main characters, who is described as ‘spends most of his time lying down.’ At least, in Chicago. Here, there’s so much to do and see, I barely lay down to sleep!

That’s all I have for today. Until next time!

Restaurant Recommendations Rome: Osteria dell’Anima

Restaurant Recommendations Rome: Osteria dell’Anima

My life pretty much revolves around food, so I can’t not take this opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite restaurants in the entire city of Rome, and even the country of Italy: Osteria dell’Anima.

Located literally just off of the Piazza Navona at Via Santa Maria dell’Anima, 08, Piazza Navona – 00186 Rome, you can get to it easily by exiting the Piazza on west side, and turning north. If you’ve walked past the length of the Piazza, you’ve gone too far and walked right past it! Sitting outside won’t get you a view of the Piazza, but you do get to see a lovely Roman church, Santa Maria dell’Anima, and delightful slices of Italian life as the locals avoid the tourist hub of the Piazza Navona. Although do be warned, you’re still in reach of the peddlers, and quite close to any taxis that may prowl by, so keep your things underneath the table.

Whether you are in Rome as a JFRC student like me, or only visiting, you can’t miss this restaurant. As a Loyola student, we have a discount here, which makes everything all the sweeter. Every semester, Loyola hosts a special, but optional, mass to kick off the semester in one of the many historical Jesuit churches in Rome, followed by a dinner here that most students attend, if not all, for a very reduced price. For just 20 euros, we received antipasti, two bottles of wine, primi, and dessert. Beyond worth the price.

But if you go again without the school as I do, and mention you’re a Loyola student, you still receive a discount – around 20%! Make no mistake: I love food, and I love discounts, so this is already pretty good. But the food, oh my lord, the food. Osteria dell’Anima knows what it’s about!

Their famous specialty is pear pasta. Officially, it’s listed on the menu as ‘Fiochetti di formaggio e pera su crema di carote’ – Pasta stuffed with cheese and pears, covered in a carrot sauce. Ask any JFRC student, past or present, and we will swoon at your feet at the mere thought of it. Hand over heart, I’ve dreamt about it. The absolutely divine combination of sweet and savory, smooth and textured, heavy and light, flavor and weight, pear pasta is mindblowing. It’s neither too think nor too watery, not too sweet or too salty, not too – well, you get the point. It’s pear and cheese in a delightful pasta packet with a gentle covering of white cream and carrot cream, which I only found out later. I could go on and on. Get this, when you go.

Other dishes that are tried and true verifiably delicious? Well, every other dish I’ve nibbled off people’s plates. I don’t go and not order pear pasta, but I can say that their linguine all’astice fresco, linguine with fresh lobster, had my brother’s jaw dropping and proclaimed the best meal he’d ever had in his life. The saltimbocca alla romana, sliced veal with ham in a wine sauce, and the melanzana alla parmigiana – eggplant and parimigiana – were also excellent.

For those interested, the wine selection includes wines to try from all over Italy, and the service is phenomenal as well. The staff are all highly enthusiastic about the dishes as well, and very educated on all the foods and wines they offer, and are happy to make recommendations. There is outdoor and indoor seating, but the outdoor seating doesn’t have heat lamps like many other restaurants in the city.

If you’re reading this and you’ll be in Rome ever in your life, trust me and go to this restaurant. I’ll be saying this about every other place I recommend, as I do recommend it, but I mean… I haven’t had dreams about eating from any other restaurant here yet, so it’s a very good sign. Check out the place for yourself at their website, !


Fall Break with JFRC!

Fall Break with JFRC!

For students at our Chicago campuses, Fall Break is a too-short four-day weekend made for sleeping in, taking time to explore the beautiful city, and, if you’re an out-of-state student like me, hanging out with all of the other students who live just a little too far to go home for a break.


But in Rome, it’s a full ten days of absolute freedom! Want to go to the Scottish Highlands for a week with no troubles or worries on the mind? You have that time! Want to just stay at a nearly-empty campus and relish all Rome has to offer? You can! Or you can city hop every day, crossing the borders of Europe at your choice and pleasure.

Or, you can go on a Study Trip, as we call them here at JFRC. There are typically two options, Greece and Poland, and for a set cost, all of your flights, hotels, and at least one meal a day is arranged for you. Plus, you travel with friends and can make new ones, as well as being led by faculty members that are so incredibly passionate about their countries.

Last week I went on the Greece trip, with 44 other students for a trip we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Although my trip was covered by my Ricci scholarship, I believe the cost for it all was about 1300 euros to Loyola. Like I said, that amount covers hotel, flights, and meals, but also museum admissions, a ferry to Mykonos, and bus transport to places I just wouldn’t have been able to reach if I had gone on my own. Greece has so much to offer, but is also quite costly, and if I had gone on my own I would have probably just stayed in Athens, or on just one island, when there is so much more to see. The Poland trip is about half the cost, if I recall correctly, but it is only for about half of fall break, instead of the full time. However, this year they did get to participate in a Human Rights conference and meet Lech Walesa, an incredibly important person in history, not just for Poland but for the world.

Let me tell you a little about my trip!

We started out in Athens, and then visited some incredibly important sites for Greek history and mythology, and ended up on the beautiful island of Mykonos, famous for its beaches and clubs. Our guide was Dr. Ioanna Kopsiafti, a Greek historian, food critic, journalist, world-changer, sometimes-professor at JFRC, and all-around amazing person. She is a font of knowledge and stories, the sort of person who may tell you about the time she gave Bill Clinton a private tour of the Parthenon museum because she thought his current guide just wasn’t doing it justice, or the time she just walked to Istanbul from Athens. Dr. Sander Evers, JFRC’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and resident ancient Roman historian, accompanied her, as well as JC Cisneros, one of our Student Life Assistants, and between the three of them, the whole crowd was laughing until we split every night. I’d advise people thinking about taking this trip to do it for these people at the very least.

After Athens, we saw a whole host of places that had my jaw dropping. Greece is a beautiful country, and we went to Delphi, where the ancient oracle offered kings advise, and to Sparta, Corinth, Mycenae, Delos, where allegedly Artemis and Apollo were born, and climbed up and down a magnificent mountain with well-preserved ruins from the Byzantine Empire. We also had the wonderful privilege of spending half a day in Ioanna’s hometown, Karyas, where the famous Karyatids in the Acropolis came from. We were welcomed into that village of 300 people with open arms, even though we may have been the loudest thing to happen to that place every year. We had the opportunity to swim in the Aegean with a backdrop of mountains, to taste sea urchins and baklava, to watch the sun set from a hotel that doubled as a ski resort in the winter, to run races in arenas that used to crown legendary athletes, and to gaze at the stars from the prow of a ferry taking us from the mainland to Mykonos.

(Some foods I ate, with joy.)

It was truly magical. Sander and Ioanna have been doing this for ten years now, so they were well aware of our needs to just wander and have free time, what bars or restaurants to recommend, and have all in all just crafted the ideal student trip. It’s neither stuffy nor boring, and although it’s called a Study Trip overall the feeling was that we learned more about ourselves and Greek culture than any old dates or historical things that others (who are not history majors like me) may find absolutely dull.

If you want to experience Greece, not just visit Greece, you must take this trip over Fall Break if you get the opportunity to be here for the Fall semester. I couldn’t gush about it more. If you have questions, or even just want to see more pictures, ask me. I would be more than happy to tell you about this fantastic time.