Please check back soon to read the blogs of our Fall 2015 Italy Study Abroad students, Julianna & Laura!
So here we meet again blog, I am so sorry for neglecting you for the past couple of weeks. I could not even begin to tell you the craziness/adventures I have had. Well, I'm going to and that is why I am here. **warning this post will be long, but I promise interesting. Just imagine Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" in the background.**
When I tell you this, you may not believe me, but I would never lie (okay maybe sometimes I lie to myself about how much money I ACTUALLY have in my bank account...). On March 25th, April 3rd, AND April 5th I saw the Pope. You think I'm kidding? Fine, here's the proof!
March 25th - General Audience / Papal Blessing
April 3rd - Good Friday Procession / Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum (cut me some slack I know it's blurry)
April 5th - Easter Mass
So now do you believe me?! If it makes you feel any better, I cannot believe it myself. Sometimes when I look at those pictures I have to pinch myself. Especially when I think about how I was able to spend Easter weekend in Rome. Like, okay, I got to see the Pope AND receive the Eucharist from the Vatican. That's something only few people in the world can say they did. It is truly a blessing, and I cannot explain to you what that feeling is, because I cannot explain it to myself. But, just know, if you are here in Rome for Easter Weekend, catholic or not, you MUST go.
And what did I do right after I saw Pope Francis? I sat in Rome for a week...and although that would not be the end of the world, I did not do that. I WENT TO GREECE. G-R-E-E-C-E. The best place on this planet (besides Rome of course & maybe New York...okay you get my point).
Myself and 9 of my girlfriends stayed in Santorini from Sunday April 5 - 12. The island was small, but we found ourselves busy each day. While the weather told us it was going to be sunny everyday, we really only had 2 days of pure sunshine. But that did not stop of us from having the time of our lives.
The way we planned staying around the island was awesome. At first we stayed south in Perissa Beach, and rode ATVs EVERYWHERE. If you ever want to piss of a Greek driver, have a line of 5 ATVs on the road and occasionally lost. But we made it to Red Rock Beach and the Lighthouse...oh wait! Did I mention that both of these places required walking to extreme heights?! and that I am afraid of heights?! But, you never want to be that one guy who sits at the bottom while everyone else has fun. So I had to get over my fear of heights...and boats...for this week.
Fira was our next stop (the city of infamous cheap gyros and lots of bars, too many to actually count actually). & Oh yes, Natalie did a boat tour...in the rain...and the boat rocked, a lot. I really thought that was the end, BUT YET AGAIN DO NOT WANT TO BE LEFT OUT. And I am happy I did it. Because on that boat tour, I climbed up a volcano and swam in Greece's hot springs and mud baths. And it was awesome. Sure I was seasick for the entire day, but it was worth it. I loved Fira, regardless of how tiny it was. I ate gyros all day and had my feet be tickled by tiny fish, like the Kardashian's did. & after my lovely, oh so unforgettable time in Fira, we traveled to Oia. Yes, Oia, like the google'd pictures of Greece. And I stayed there. Yup still pinching myself.
Oia and the place we stayed at, Oia Suites, was absolutely to die for. The buildings were breathtaking. You could just watch around and climb on them all day (hopefully you won't get yelled at by the hotel/home owners). & you stay all day because YOU HAVE to watch the sunset. Pictures do not even do the sunset justice. Any pictures I post will not do Greece justice. It was the best week of my life, and I got to do it with 9 of my girlfriends. Not many people can say they did that at the age of 20.
So after my short, yet amazing time in Greece, it was back to reality. Back to papers, tests, class, etc. But I will never forget Greece, and I will never forget the memories I have with her (him? I'm not sexist).
Here's my advice to any travelers...plan it YOURSELF. It will absolutely be worth the stress and money. Yes some things will go wrong, some you can be in control of, and some you cannot be in control of. You will disagree with people, and maybe even yourself. But, in the end, whatever will be, will be. AND! Have absolutely no regrets about it. None. I mean it. That's life!! (and now you must go listen to that song by Frank Sinatra).
Also, 21 days till I'm home.
View from Red Rock Beach
ATVing around the south of Santorini
AND IN THE MORNING, I'M MAKING WAFFLES (if you do not understand that reference you did not have a childhood)
Volcano climbing with the crew
Holy tickle! Dr. Fish Spa, Fira
I ate 3 of these in 1 day.
OIA <3 <3
Sunset at Oia
After my long, and expensive, weekend in Florence, I decided that it was best for me to stay in Rome for these past two weekends. After all, ya girl has got to start saving for GREECE!
Throughout these past 2 weeks, I have celebrated my good friend's 21st, took a cooking class, experienced an "Italian" St. Patrick's Day, and went to a wine tasting in Tuscany. So, maybe staying in Rome was not all bad, even though the work is piling on and I cannot even begin to think about it. It's just like "oh hey, you're traveling for the next 3 weekends? let me assign you research papers on research papers." But hey, I cannot complain...I'm in Italy.
In Italy, 21st birthdays are not really a thing, because the drinking age is obviously much lower. So the restaurant really did not get it, but hey we ate and drank like queens! You've never really experienced a food coma until we've been to Tony's...where it is endless wine & AMAZING food.
The cooking class I took was so much. My other girlfriends had taken it once before and suggested I do it with them the next time around. It was absolutely worth the 20 euros. We made Neapolitan style deep fried pizza, risotto with artichokes, and italian tarts filled with jam. Did I mention this was the day after I ate my weight in pasta, chicken, and prosciutto at my friend's birthday dinner? I could not complain though...everything we made was fresh and tasted fresh. It was like having a home cooked meal made by your nonna, only YOU made it! When I go back to the states, I will definitely have to try and recreate it.
Saint Patrick's Day in Italy is not exactly as popular as it is in the states. The most festive thing they can do, mostly for the tourists I'm assuming, is install green lights to shine on the Colosseum. And then of course all the "American" bars embrace it fully because they know that the study abroad students will miss the craziness entailed with this holiday. So, naturally I had to participate with my girlfriends! Needless to say, you barely saw any Italians out and study abroads united.
And last but not least, the wine tasting in Tuscany! It was an all day event, and I was in heaven. I come from a family where we used to make our own wine in my grandpa's garage, so this was kind of sentimental to me. We first went to Caparzo, which is a winery in Montalcino, Tuscany. There we took a tour of their winery, and had our wine tasting. We tried all types of red wine, and I bought almost every bottle we tried to bring home...haha! The views of the vineyards and the landscape itself were absolutely breath taking, and the sun was shining and out all day. But! That wasn't even the end. Afterwards we took a tour of Montalcino, and needless to say it was the cutest town I ever set foot on. Since they are known for their wine, there were wine shops on wine shops. I easily could have spent the entire day in that little town.
And even though I wasn't traveling to Dublin, Venice, Pisa, etc, I've realized that sometimes staying back and spending time with your friends is always needed. It makes you appreciate the little things about the country you're studying in, and how much you're going to miss it. Sometimes you need a little time at home.
In the midst of cramming and studying for midterms, I decided to give myself a break and travel to Florence with some of my girlfriends.
So far I have had pretty good luck with hostels, and this one was by far one of the best. The beds were super comfy and we were close to the city center that had the Duomo, shopping, etc. On Friday we explored the city center and enjoyed the beautiful weather. For the most part we walked around and just observed everything. We went inside the Duomo and took tons of pictures. The Duomo was absolutely stunning. The detail on the outside, with all the colors, was just insane. And it stands so big and tall that you can see the Duomo from any side of Florence. We also went and saw the famous statue of David...now that was cool. David looks like he could possibly come to life from all the detail that is carved into him. Sure, his hands were too big for his whole body, but the entire statue of David was something you could easily stare at for hours. At sunset we went to Piazza del Michelangelo where you could see the entire city. The pink and yellow sky kissed the city's buildings and edges so perfectly. Oh and afterwards, I had the BEST gnocchi ever. Man, food is great.
Saturday came and of course we were all exhausted. According to Abbey's walking calculator app-thing we had walked 26,000 steps...and that would explain why my legs hurt so bad. So Saturday we just took it easy, and walked around the leather and central markets. I mean, you could easily spend a whole day there admiring and looking at all the leather and fresh food they have. And naturally we did spend a whole day there. Abbey & Alex got BEAUTIFUL leather jackets...I could not try one on because if I did I would have been even more heartbroken and sad because I'm nearly broke. But, I was able to get my family, my boyfriend, and myself some really nice leather gifts. So I guess I can settle for that. It's not like I won't be back to Italy...maybe in a couple or 10 years but I know I'll be back. Well, while I reminisce on that, enjoy the beautiful sites of Florence.
So aside from being deathly ill the past 2 days (I'm being over dramatic but I actually haven't left my bed since then)...my roommates and I ventured off to Verona and Bologna for Valentine's Day weekend! We knew we did not want to stay in Rome for the holiday, and we had all been dying to see the letters to Juliet...so we figured, why not! Plus, Bologna was another beautiful city to see, and to knock out 2 cities in one weekend would definitely be worth it.
Well needless to say we absolutely fell in love with Verona. We stayed at a B&B that was literally down the street from Juliet's balcony, and a piazza with tons of restaurants and shops. Gianni, the B&B owner and the cutest man alive, told us that there was a festival going on in honor of Valentine's Day. WE HAD NO IDEA. & I believe that is why it made Verona so special. There was tons of music, food, and celebration. And chocolate. Omg the amount of free chocolate that was given out was incredible. And not to mention that carnivale was going on. All the kids have off from school that day to dress up and participate and see the parade. It is such a huge tradition and such an amazing thing to see this tiny city come together. The parade lasted for about 2 hours, and yet even though we had to leave that evening, the party did not stop. All the kids were so cute dressed up and all, and very willing to throw confetti at us at any chance they got.
Juliet's House was quaint and beautiful. When you first walk in the gates you see thousands of letters from people all over the world. When you walk in a little farther you see the courtyard with Juliet's statue and her balcony. We were all able to go up and take our Juliet picture, and then five minutes after we witnessed a proposal!!! I wish I caught it on camera - but it was so adorable and I will always remember it.
Bologna was a very rich city...and when I mean rich I mean that we were a 10 minute walking distance to their "5th ave" shopping area. But it was so nice to see all the different colored buildings, shops, and a famous Irish pub! And when I say famous I mean that my roommate's Italian teacher who studied there told us to go there...so it was cool to see where she hung out in college. I wasn't crazy about Bologna, because it kind of reminded me of Rome, but it was so cool to see another part of Italy that I probably would never have seen otherwise.
Until then...I'll just reminisce on my photos. xoxo Ciao!
So, as you can tell from the date of my last post from now it has been awhile.
You do not realize how much time flies when you are here. I feel like it was just yesterday when I was at orientation and starting my classes. Now I only have 3 months left with so many other places to travel to. But, luckily and thankfully I can say that I crossed one country off my bucket list - Paris, France!
Paris was absolutely beautiful. Granted it was a lot colder than I had expected, but completely worth it. & there was two added bonus' to this trip...1) my friend's cousin met up with us and showed us around (did I mention she spoke fluent French - which helped so much). 2) the train and subway system there is exactly like NY (which was kind of sentimental for me because it made me think of/miss home). If you have the chance to go to Paris, I would. There is so much you can do there in a matter of 2 - 3 full days. Let me just tell you everything I did in that Friday - Sunday period...
Palace of Versailles - it took 4 hours just to walk around and see EVERYTHING.
A Moulin Rouge show! - it was such a fun, upbeat, amazing show & it was worth all the $$
The Eiffel Tower - even if you're afraid of heights (like myself) climb it anyway - the views are to die for.
Notre Dame - I even got to go to mass here on that Sunday and it was such a beautiful experience, and the inside is crazy detail with all the stain glass and statues.
The lock bridge! It's not as awesome as it use to be because they started putting wood all over the sides so people don't put locks, but as you can see that's not stopping them!
& last but not least...the Louvre! & of course I had to take the typical touristy pic with the pyramid (it's just a plus the sunset is in the picture too)
And want to know what the most rewarding part about this trip was? We did it all by ourselves. Flights, hostels, food, and attractions. I felt like such a world traveler, and I am also so happy I was able to knock Paris off my list.
Well, until you hear from me again, I'll be spending Valentine's Day weekend in Verona, Italy and Bologna, Italy with the roomies.
So it has officially been a week since I have left my home & ventured off to the beautiful city of Roma to study at John Cabot University. I am not going to lie, sometimes I still feel jetlagged, and with classes starting this week, it is a lot harder to stay awake. Or maybe it could be from the constant walking around and exploring where I live. Can you believe that the Vatican is a 10 MINUTE walk from my dorm?
I mean look at this. It is simply breath taking.
And! I can confidently say I know how to get to the Vatican and the other John Cabot campus, the Tiber campus, without getting lost (which is a huge plus because all the streets in Rome look the same). Now if you were to ask me how to get to the grocery store, or lets say the Colosseum, eh my directions might be a little shaky.
* candid or confused ? *
But the people I have met have made the transition a lot easier. Within the first week I have encountered the most amazing people, especially the friends my roommates & I have been hanging out with. I even met one girl from Hawaii who just happened to know a girl my boyfriend knew. It just goes to show how much of a small world it is.
I promise I was actually happy in this picture.
In this picture we climbed to the top of the "Castel Sant'Angelo" and stayed until the sun set. This trip was spontaneous, but absolutely worth it.
And as I look back on this past week, I think that is the best advice I can constantly give myself. "BE SPONTANEOUS." I worked 50+ hours every week over the summer and squandered my money so much during the fall semester to make it here. & now that I am here, I can only keep an open mind and a spontaneous heart - with people, school, and well just about everything else. Until then, I will be brushing up on my Italian and trying to focus in school, while planning all the countries I want to visit.
Hello again from Rome! Cannot believe these last couple of days here are approaching at such a fast rate. Studyng Abroad, I know for all of us, has been an experience of a life time that none of us will forget. The amount of traveling and cultural experience we had contact with is something that many never get the chance of having. This all would not have been possible if it was not for the continuous support all of us have gotten from both our parents, the Study Abroad office at Sacred Heart and John Cabot University. From all of us studying at Rome, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all you have done for us.
Many of us right now are studying for our finals during our final days here! You will see a lot of JCU students in cafe's working on papers, study guides, group projects and other final work. The cafe atmosphere makes it relaxing and enjoyable to do work. I would definently recommend coming to PIMMS GOOD in Trastevere for those intending on traveling to Rome or studying here at JCU. This place will always be apart of my life. I am even currently here writing. When becoming a regular in places in Rome, the workers and owners look at you like family. As many of us are getting sad about leaving, so are the business owners we have all come to know. Italy concentrates on its concept of family. Leaving them will be harder then the concept of leaving Italy.
Rome is slowly, a day at a time, turning into a Christmas Wonderland. The streets are light up in all festive colors at night, which makes this already goregous environment look 1000 times more fabulous. The weather has slowly became chiller the past couple of weeks, but even with that, I do not know how I am going to survive in the colder east coast atmosphere! We have been very very spoiled with the warmer climate here! It is the little things here in Rome I am going to miss the most. Many of us HATED the cobble stone grounds when we first arrived, but everytime we traveled it was the first thing we missed. This country has become apart of us.
Rome has become a home factor. This country has opened its arms wide open with exceptance and offered us one of the most amazing experiences. We have been spoiled endlessly with the amazing foods here. I do not know what I am personally going to do with all the tradional plates here and of course the homemade pasta! Returning home for some may be one of the hardest things we will have to do. Even writing this has created a knot in my stomach just thinking about the idea of leaving. We have all grown here tramdeniously and some have completed dreams they have dreamt about for years. I never really understood how a place could change someone, but being here I can honestly say it has changed my outlook on life!
Once again, Thank you to all of you who have made this amazing experience possible for all of us!
Ciao from Rome,
These last couple of weeks here in Europe have been nothing but pure perfection. Many of us continued our travels and went to places like: Greece, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Paris. As we are coming to an end here many of us here abroad have been traveling as much as possible before heading back to the States! It is sad to think that this amazing adventure is close to being over!
As most of you will be celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, many of the students from SHU will be traveling. John Cabot gave us the day off on Thursday to do as we please to celebrate the Holiday in our own ways. Now my roomates and I were planning this huge Thanksgiving dinner, but there is one big issue. Where in the world do we find a turkey! Things like going to the super market and getting a perfect turkey for the family, just is not a thing here. How crazy is that! So it looks like a lot of homemade mashed potatoes and chicken will be served on Thanksgiving here in Italy!
PASTA PASTA PASTA! how could I forget the pasta! While traveling around the world, all me and my roommates could time about was being back in Rome with a huge dish of fresh pasta. Now many ask, is the food as good as everyone says? YES. what do you get when you come to italy? PASTA! Within all of these posts I havent really mentioned anything about food! In the area Trastevere, in which John Cabot is located, they are known for there pizza and prime italian dishes. Now in the states we think of pizza as this 8 piece circle, cut and cooked to perfection. In Italy it is very different. The best type of pizza is the square flatt bread. They cut the slices to order, which makes it fresh for every customer. They do not have pizza where you can order it ahead of time and pick it up. It simple is first come, first serve basis. I have to say, if you visit this area or come abraod here, there seasonal Pumpkin pizza is simple AMAZING!
I have no idea where the time here in Rome has went! Many say that it seems like a life time being away from home, but honestly this cobbled stone providence is truly starting to feel like home and it is so sad that it is almost done! For those students thinking about going abroad and are struggling with the concept of time away from family and friends, forget that. This is an opportunity of a life time, and time is your best friend. You tend to start wishing for more as time continues.
Within in the next coouple of weeks I will be posting my final posts! If anyone has any questions do not hesitiate to contact me !