My name is Faye and I am so excited to share my study abroad experience with you over the next couple of months!
A little bit about myself..
-I am a junior at Sacred Heart University
-My major is Communications with a concentration in Journalism
-I am in the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha where I am involved with our philanthropy which is Breast Cancer education and awareness
-I love running done and have done two half marathons
-And I'm beyond ecstatic to be studying abroad this fall at John Cabot University in Rome!
When I first began to explore the options of the study abroad programs at school, I was very torn whether or not I should go because it was trip that was defiantly out of my comfort zone. I was scared to leave my friends at school and I was also nervous to be so far away from my family. After having a meeting with the The Office of Global Affairs, I realized how much of an amazing experience this once in a life time opportunity could be. This sounds like a basic response from everyone who goes abroad, but that is because it is consistently true time and time again! Whenever someone would say to me, "This is going to be the best semester". I found it a bit cliche but it is not because there is really so much to do and look forward to once you are here.
After being accepted into the program, I started freaking out this summer about what to pack and what to expect about this program.
Something I definitely would suggest doing is speaking to previous study abroad students because hearing their input started to give me a feel on what to bring and what to except once I arrived in Rome. These previous students know exactly what to pack and had such helpful advice for me.
Something the previous students suggested to bring included..
-A camera of some sort
-Comfortable walking shoes (because there will be A LOT of walking)
-A rain jacket
-Some heavier clothes when it starts to get a little colder
-Something to wear over your shoulders to be able to tour the churches in Italy (It is a rule here!)
-Converter outlets for chargers
-To pack as lightly as possible
-And to buy the rest here
Although it would be okay to buy some familiar medicines at home, everything is here for us so they suggested for me to not over pack and buy things once I arrived in here.
Something every abroad student said that was very similar in their responses about what to expect once in Rome was that they had the most amazing experience of their life. This made me very excited and after only being here for two days, I can already start to see why. In these two days I have met my roomates who are from different countries, bonded with fellow classmates at Sacred Heart Univeristy that I otherwise would have not met, And broadened my horizons by exploring this beautiful country and discovering all new things!
So everything above is previous students advice but here is mine after exploring for two days here is mine!
When we first arrived here, I did not expect to be so jet lagged. It was very helpful to just relax the first day and make sure I got the right amount of sleep and drank enough water to keep myself hydrated in order to feel less tired and less jet lagged.
I also learned it is very important to stay organized because there is many things that always need to be kept with you at all times such as a copy of your passport, visa, and health card.
Something else I discovered was when we were walking around the first day, it seemed as through no one was around. When we were walking around at night; Italy was a different place. People were outside enjoying themselves, and there was so many cute little restaurants with lights outside! This was the first time I felt a little shocked. When we found a cute little restaurant for ourselves the people of Italy really appreciated that we were trying to speak their language. Although it seems that everyone speaks English, it is still a nice and touch to try to speak Italian in order to show them we are respectful towards their culture. ( Plus it's fun to speak a different language!) Because of how happy they are that we are trying to speak Italian, they would help us out Italian words when we would mess up. Due to this, We have already picked up a few words in these couple of days! So far, we have been having tours of the school here, doing some site seeing, and eating as much gelato as humanly possible. It is DEFIANTLY true that the food is amazing here but don't worry, you'll be walking off every carb with all the touring that is done here!
Everyone who decided to go abroad is ready to make friends, friendly, and personable so it is easy to get along with new friends. Everyone I have met so far is warm and welcoming. It almost feels like freshman year again because everyone is alone in the same boat and trying to make friends! I was so worried to go alone but the people here have taken that fear away very quickly for me.
Everything I wrote about above has been from two days of being here so I can not wait to see what the next four months will bring!
This weekend, I will be exploring Rome, and within the next week I will be starting class and blogging about what the day in the life of an Italian study abroad student includes!!!
Ciao for now!!!!!
Well, it has been four weeks since I last posted, sorry about that! A lot has been happening with school, friends, trips, etc. And since I only have exactly one month left here, I have to make the most of it! It's crazy to wrap my mind around the thought of leaving in only a month, but I am really excited to be reunited with my friends and family. In regards to what has been going on these past four weeks, the main highlights were going to Poland and Spring Break, which was so much later than I'm used to.
Ashley and I went to Kraków, Poland on March 17-20, and we booked our entire trip with the company escape2poland, and I highly recommend going here and doing it with them! We got such a great deal with that company, and it all went so smoothly. We arrived to Poland around 7 at night and the company had a driver pick us up, which was so convenient, and then dropped us off at the hotel we booked through them. It was a great location the hotel because it was only a 10 minute walk from the center of Kraków. Ashley and I met up with her friend Beth, who is studying abroad in Paris, and we just decided to go get something to eat and then come back and crash to get ready for the next day. One of the many great things about Poland is how cheap it is! One US Dollar there is over 3 Polish złoty's there, so we seriously took advantage of this.
The next day we had to get up and be ready to get picked up by escape2poland to go to our tours of the concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau. This has to be one of the top things I've done throughout the duration abroad because it was such an incredibly humbling experience. I can't even explain to you in words how unbelievable it was to be there, to just see and walk through the actual camps that I have learned about so extensively in school for so many years. I think every person should go and experience this because it is unreal. So, for any of you who are planning to go abroad, you really need to consider going to Poland and visiting the concentration camps. Overall, our tour lasted about four hours. It was a hard, sad four hours, but totally eye-opening nonetheless. Once we got back to our hotel, all three of us decided to go to the main square and eat there. After dinner, we got some dessert and then headed back to crash.
On Saturday, we woke up and had a good amount of time before we had to be ready to get picked up for our salt mine tour at 4. We all wanted to go see one of Kraków's major attractions, the Wawel Castle, and then spend more time in the main square during the rest of the day. When we arrived to the Wawel Castle, it was breathtaking. It was so charming and I seriously felt like it come out of a fairytale. It was so pretty, and the weather was sunny and perfect, which made it even better. We spent a good two hours there because we loved it so much, and I couldn't stop taking my eyes off of it. I was so happy and content with just wandering around and staring at it. When we figured it was time to start moving, we headed towards the main square. The main square and their castle just look like it was pulled out of a storybook. The colors of the buildings, the small streets, and the city's square was just so enchanting. Can you tell I fell in love with Poland? Haha. Since Poland is so cheap, I bought a lot of souvenirs there. As we were walking, we found a bagel shop, THANK GOD. I missed bagels so much, and while I thought I was going to be disappointed with the bagel because nothing can compare to Jersey's, I was actually surprised! It was a quality bagel, and much better than I anticipated.
After wandering around beautiful Kraków, we went back to the hotel to wait to be picked up for the salt mine tour! When we arrived to the salt mines, we got our own personal tour guide with everyone else that was going through escape2poland, and got started right away. The tour took about 2 hours in total, but it was so cool! We went about 150 meters down, even though it goes down much further. The salt mines were beautiful, and we even witnessed a wedding ceremony there, which was so cool! They have a whole chapel in the salt mines and a big room/restaurant with bars for the reception that follows. It was really cool to see that with the rest of salt mine tour. We got back to our hotel later at night, so we just tried to find somewhere closer to get dinner because we were all exhausted at that point. I got pierogi's that night and they were delicious! I've never really had one before, and my first experience really set the bar high.
Our last day in Poland, Sunday, was a more relaxed day. Our flight wasn't until later in the day, so we had some time to kill in the morning. We wanted to see the Jewish Ghetto before going home, so that's what we did during the morning. The weather set the tone for it too because it was very gloomy and cloudy. We went to see Schindler's factory as well, which was turned into two museums. We didn't have enough time to go in the museum, but we walked around the outside and some of the inside. This just gives me another reason to come back to Poland sometime in the future. Our time in Poland was so moving, and nothing short of incredible; I'm really glad we decided to do this as one of our trips.
The weekend after Poland was the start of our week long Spring Break, and this was much needed! Ashley's family came to Rome that Thursday it started, and we met up with them at the Vatican. It was really refreshing to see some familiar faces from home. We spent the rest of the day Thursday with them, and went to dinner near our neighborhood, Trastevere, which they loved! Throughout the duration of their stay, which was until Tuesday, we visited and saw a lot of places with them. We went to the Trevi Fountain, got a tour to see the inside of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, visited all four Holy doors in Rome, and went into almost every single leather shop we passed to find the best deals. We were also really lucky because we ended up getting tickets to Easter Mass with Pope Francis at the Vatican. This was a once in a lifetime experience that we got to have, and I am so fortunate that we had the opportunity to do this. We got to the Vatican on Sunday morning at 6:45 am, and we waited on line until around 8, when we were finally let in through the barricades. We had to go through security twice, and then we were allowed to finally be let in. Not only did we get seats, but we got seats in the very first section that you can, and we got the aisle. It was absolutely perfect. The whole day went flawlessly, and I couldn't have asked for a better, more spiritual experience. At the end of Mass, Pope Francis went around in his Popemobile, and Ashley's family and I were literally 5 feet away from him. It was absolutely insane. I will never forget that day.
Ashley's family left that Tuesday, and I ended up staying in Rome the rest of the break, which I was totally fine with! I hadn't seen enough of Rome at that point as much as I wanted to, so it was really nice exploring all of Rome. Stef and I hung out Thursday and Friday, and I finally visited Eataly, which is such a cool place! Everything has been working out really well here, and I'm so happy that I did this. I've benefitted from this experience in several ways, and I intend on making the most out of the last four weeks I have left here.
So a lot has happened over the course of these past three weeks, and I'm really excited to tell you all about it on here! I'm first going to start with my Barcelona, Spain! I absolutely loved Barcelona, and if I could go back, I totally would. It was an awesome weekend, and one that I will never forget. I went with my suitemate, Lauren, my best friend, Stef, and then her other friends from AUR, making up a group of nine people in total. We got there on Friday, and after dropping our stuff off at the place we were staying at, we went to downtown Barcelona, walking aimlessly for hours. One of the highlights of Friday night was seeing the huge market they have there. There were a bunch of different stands with all various types of fresh fruits, nuts, chocolates, fishes, etc. The atmosphere was amazing! The group and I also came across a Starbucks, and I have never been more excited to see it in my life, which is sad, but I really missed my iced coffees. So, I made sure we stopped there and I was reunited with my iced coffee that I love so much from back home. We then went out to dinner that night at a restaurant that had amazing food, but unfortunately I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to due to me not feeling well mid-dinner. I ordered paella and I sadly only took five bites because I suddenly felt awful, and I'm still not sure what had overcome me that night because the next morning I woke up feeling so much better, thank goodness!
Once everyone from the group was up and ready to go, we bought a day pass for the hop-on hop-off bus that they have, and it was definitely worth it because we got a lot done in one day. Our first touristy stop was the Cathedral of Barcelona, and that was such a pretty church! There were some tourist shops as well for us to look at and buy some souvenirs. Next stop was the beaches on the coast of Barcelona, and that was such a nice change of scenery. I've been surrounded by so much architecture, which is obviously incredible, but seeing a beach and some body of water was something I definitely needed to see. We hung around on the beach, just taking in the salty air and smooth sand, until we were ready to go on the bus again. The next place we stopped at was La Sagrada Familia, and I have to say that it was one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I loved it so much. We had to wait on line for about a 30-40 minutes, but it was so worth it. The colored glass stained windows made my jaw drop because when the sun hits it, it looks like a rainbow is just flooding into the church, leaving it looking stunning and so angelic. It's so difficult to explain its beauty in words, so make sure you look at my pictures below instead to understand just what I'm trying to explain. Our last stop was at Park Güell, and I was looking forward to seeing all the mosaics at this place. We were allowed in for free at 6:15, so we wandered around the Park and came across this huge rock platform that had a cross on it and it stood at the top of the park. People were allowed to climb up it, so we did, even though I'm scared of heights, and the city of Barcelona lied before us, giving us one of the best views of the whole city. Once 6:15 rolled around, we were allowed in and the mosaics were fascinating! I can't fathom how people created most of the things I've seen so far, not just in Barcelona, but everywhere else I have been too. It leaves you speechless. That night we ended up going to dinner and I ordered paella for a second time, actually being able to eat my dinner! Oh, and I can't forget the Sangria.. That was out of this world! Wow, I loved it so much, and I've never had it before, but my first time set the bar high for the rest of the Sangria's I will ever have in my life. On Sunday, we sadly had to leave Barcelona and come back to our home, Rome.
After Barcelona, Ashley and I went to Milan for a weekend trip. Some of you may or may not know that my dad is in the hair business industry. He is a hair product distributor and he also has his own line of hair products that he makes, solely for hair salons. One of the companies he works with though is IT&LY, and they are a major hair color line, and their factory is located in Milan. My dad's good friend, Ivano, works at IT&LY and he told me that when I came to Italy I had to come and visit him in Milan, which is one of the major reasons why Ash and I ended up going, which I'm so glad we did because it was such a cool weekend, especially since it was fashion weekend. We started off our trip with going to IT&LY and seeing their factory and meeting some of the workers there. We got to look at how hair products are created, packaged, and executed. It was a surreal experience, and I know my dad was more than a little jealous of me. After walking around the company's factories, we ended up going to downtown Milan. Milan reminded me of New York City a bit with its hustle and bustle. Ashley and I saw the main attraction of Milan, the Milan Cathedral, and then we walked around to look at all the high-end stores, such as Versace, Gucci, Prada, Fratelli Rossetti, you get the picture. Once we finished walking around Milan for a couple of hours, we went back to our hotel and went out to eat dinner with Ivano. The food in Milan, and just like everywhere else in Europe, was delicious of course. On Sunday, we had a bit of time to kill before we had to make our train that was at 2, so Ivano took us to Certosa di Pavia, which is a monastery located about 20 minutes outside of Milan and I'm so happy we went there because it was remarkable.
The week after Milan was midterm week, so a lot of studying was happening here, but we did take a day trip to Tuscany the next weekend, which was a nice break. We went wine tasting at two different wineries, Montepulciano and Montalcino, and even though it rained for almost the whole day, it didn't take away from our great experience. The first winery we went to was at Montepulciano and that was a small, fourth generation family-owned winery. The sister and her two brothers owned it, and the sister was the one who hosted us for some of the afternoon. She showed us around, and then she had us sit in their restaurant, where we got served an outstanding three course meal, while also tasting four different wines. The main dish was made by her and her sister-in-law and they made us fresh, homemade pasta with her sister-in-law's own sauce that she makes, and it was so good. The wines that they served us were delightful as well. We then went to Montalcino, where we went to winery that was a lot bigger, but just as good as the last one. There we tried three different wines, while also munching on some breadsticks. The views at the winery were especially breathtaking.
Yesterday, Tuesday, was a little different than most of my Tuesday's here because the Sacred Heart choir was here in Rome for their spring break to perform, and myself and all the other study abroad students went to go see them sing their concert in church. They were unbelievable and did such a great job! Afterwards, we went out to dinner with them and our president, Dr. Petillo, which was so fun! I loved seeing some of my best friends back at my school. I've been missing Sacred Heart, so seeing so many familiar faces was such a nice change up! So thank you to Dr. Petillo for bringing us all together and treating us to an outstanding dinner!
After an incredible past three weekends, some of my friends and I decided to take a little break this weekend and be in Rome. Even though it's great to be able to travel all around Europe, I feel it is also important to spend some time at the place you're studying abroad in. Next week, though, we will be traveling again, and this time it will be to Krakow, Poland! The crazy part of all of this is that I will be leaving here in less than two months! I'm halfway done with this semester, and I feel like it was just yesterday that I was writing my first blog about my transition to Rome and how nervous and excited I was to be here. It's been one heck of a ride, and I'm excited to see what lies ahead. Until next time though, ciao!
It's officially been 5 weeks of being in Rome, and I'm loving it more and more each day that I'm here. Time is going fast though, so my friends and I have been trying to make the most of it, while still keeping up with our schoolwork of course. Since the last time I have written my blog, I brought up how Stef and I were going to Venice for four days, which we did and it was one of the best trips I have ever been on. Words can't even explain how much fun I had and how beautiful Venice really is.
Getting to Venice, though, was a bit challenging, yet entertaining, as Stef and I thought we were going to miss our train. When I got out of class, I got my bus ticket and waited to cross the two crosswalks to get to the other side of the street. I got past the first one, but I was stuck at the second one due to the light turning green, which meant the Italians were able to continue driving like crazy people. The problem was that while I was stuck in the middle our bus came to its stop, and if I were to try crossing to get on it I would not be here right now typing this haha. So that bus left, and then Stef and I started getting a little worried as we waited for the next one to come. It was supposed to come soon, but then we checked google maps and it said 30 minutes until the next one, so we started walking fast. We tried to find cabs, but it's different in Italy because you can't haul a cab over, you have to go to the taxi signs, where they are all located and waiting. Well, as Stef and I are power walking up the street, we can't find any taxi signs. After 10 minutes of trying to figure out what to do, we see the bus we need to go on to get to the train station stop up a block ahead, and Stef and I booked it. We almost pushed people to the ground because we were running so fast. Finally, we get to the train station about 20 minutes before our train was supposed to departure, and we look up at the screen to find our platform number, which ended up saying that our train was 65 minutes late. So all of that worrying and sweating for nothing!
Besides that whole fiasco that happened, we did arrive to Venice and Stef's family picked us up. They were so welcoming and friendly, and they really treated me like one of their own! I honestly felt like I was home because of how well they took care of us. That night they took us to see more of Stef's family at one of her relatives house that was awaiting for us to arrive. Once we got there, they all started kissing us on each cheek and "Ciaos" were being yelled out left and right, it was incredible. After saying our greetings to one another, we went to eat on this long table that was set up with three plates on top of each other. That's when I knew I would not be leaving hungry. The first course was baskets of fresh bread and tons of fresh Venetian seafood that I still don't know the names of. The second course was pasta with even more mixed seafood in it, and the third course was salmon with thinly sliced potatoes on top of it. I am literally drooling right now just thinking about it. I absolutely loved it, and it was probably some of the best seafood I have ever had. By the time dessert rolled around, I could not move. My stomach hurt so bad because I just ate so much seafood, so I really could not eat as much dessert as I would have liked. They made homemade tiramisu, these zeppole donuts, and some other stuff that I wish I had more room for in my stomach.
After we all finished eating, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the house of the family we were staying with for the weekend. Stef and I immediately fell asleep once we got accommodated, and woke up nice and early for the big day ahead of us. Before we left though, we obviously had to eat breakfast, and what better way than to have homemade pancakes served to you before going to the island of Venice! I missed pancakes too, and they did such a good job with it. We then got dropped off to take the water boat to the island of Venice, and once we got there, I was in awe. It was stunning. We were lucky to go this weekend too because it was the last weekend of Carnivale, and it is a huge thing in Venice apparently. We saw all these people dressed up in these glamorous costumes, and Stef and I got ourselves a mask too. We walked around all day and went into the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Square, all these different shops, and topped off the day with a gondola ride! That was a really cool experience, and one I will never forget. After we did almost everything there is to do on the island of Venice, we headed back home on the water boat and went out to go eat, you probably guessed it, pizza! I got pizza with zucchini on it (my attempt at trying to be a little healthy here), and it was so good. The place was filled with all Italians, and I really felt like I was getting the true Italian experience during my time that weekend.
The next day we headed out to Burano and Murano, which are two other islands on the Venetian Lagoon. We stopped at Burano first, and I think that may have been my favorite place so far. This island is known for its colorful houses, and it wasn't quite as touristy either, which was a nice change up, and I just fell in love. It was quieter, more colorful, and simply breathtaking. After walking around there for a couple hours, we went to Murano, where this island is known for its homemade glass. Unfortunately, we didn't end up seeing them make the glass because we were too late, so we walked around all the different shops to look at the glass already made. All the different glasses and glass shapes were astounding, and I made sure not to knock anything over or else I would actually have no money left for the rest of my staying here. Once it started getting dark, we got on the water boat again to go back to their house and Stef's cousin made us grilled chicken with mushrooms and onions for dinner, and then we were treated with Venetian desserts that they only have during the time of Carnivale.
Sadly, we had to leave them Sunday night, and it was genuinely hard to say goodbye to them! They were so nice and it felt like being home, which is what made it even more difficult. They took such good care of us, and I couldn't thank them enough. Venice, overall, was an experience I will never forget, and I would absolutely love to go back again someday in the future. For right now though, we are in the midst of planning more trips that I am sure will be as wonderful as the others I have been on so far, such as Barcelona, Spain, where I will be leaving to go to tomorrow! I'm excited and nervous to leave Italy, just because I have become acquainted with this country and we will be flying out tomorrow. I know it will be worth it though and I can't wait to come back here and talk about that trip in more detail. Ashley and I are also visiting Milan next weekend to see my dad's good friend from work who lives there, and I am eager to go there as well. As much as I miss Sacred Heart and my family back home, my study abroad experience has been nothing short of incredible so far and I know I will be back home before I know it, so I'm going to make sure I keep soaking up every minute! Until next time, Ciao!
Well it has officially been exactly 3 weeks since I've arrived in Rome, and exactly 2 weeks since I've last written my first blog post, and boy is time flying! My arrival to this beautiful country feels like it happened yesterday, yet it also feels so long ago at the same time. I'm in awe of how well everyone, including myself, have adapted so quickly to Italy and just studying abroad in general. It is still sometimes hard, however, to wrap my mind around how I'll be here for another three months and just how truly blessed I am to be experiencing all of this.
Although it has only been 2 weeks since I've last posted on here, a lot has happened! While we took the first two weeks off from doing any traveling outside of Rome, we did go to Florence last weekend for a day trip, and I fell in love. I fell in love with both traveling and Florence itself. It is such a beautiful small city, and a nice change up from Rome. Florence is much smaller, which I liked a lot because everything was nice and close. When my friends and I first arrived we went straight to Florence's cathedral, where we looked around on the inside and also climbed the duomo and the cathedral's tower. The views were insanely incredible, but the stairs were not. I'm also terrified of heights, but I ended up conquering it! To celebrate climbing over 50 flights of stairs, we treated ourselves to some good Firenze pizza. After our stomachs were full and our energy refilled, we went to see the statue of David, and seeing that in person was something I'll never forget. He is probably one of the most famous statues and I actually got to see him with my own eyes. We looked at the rest of the art that was in the museum and that was pretty cool too. We headed out to the leather market later on, and I was overwhelmed to say the least. There was so much and it was so hard to choose! Unfortunately, we only had about 20 minutes to look around because they were closing, which made me even more flustered because I seriously wanted everything.
Before heading back to Rome, we had one last stop on our list and that was to get some gelato of course. We passed by this gelato place that had a wall with chocolate pouring over it, and I was sold. It was a good decision too because it was delicious! I can still taste it now. Finally, we ended our trip and headed back to our home, Rome. This trip to Florence was eye-opening and has brought out the travel bug in me. It was liberating and riveting; and to think this is only the first of many trips we have ahead of us is exhilarating. Speaking of trips, tomorrow my best friend, Stef, and I are heading to Venice for four days and we are staying with her family. I'm so excited to meet her family and see all that Venice has to offer. I especially can't wait to ride in one of the gondolas! I'll make sure to include all the details of that trip, and possibly any other spontaneous trips that come up, in my next blog! Until next time though, Ciao!
So one week has officially gone by, and so much has already happened! I'd just like to start off by saying thank you to all my friends and family for making this trip actually happen and for supporting me throughout the whole process. I'm so fortunate to be here and to be able to experience this because not everyone is as lucky. While I have been homesick this past week, I just keep reminding myself that this is something I will never be able to do again in my life. This experience is truly something special, and I am extremely blessed and thankful.
Now let's get into the details of my trip so far. The trip to getting here at John Cabot University was a long and tiring one, but it was worth it because it is so beautiful here. On the day of our arrival we met up with John Cabot at the Hilton hotel, which was connected to the airport we arrived at, and they were very welcoming and helpful once we got there. FYI to those in the future- lugging two huge luggages, a carry on, a backpack, and a cross body bag all the way to the Hilton is not as easy as one may think. I was exhausted, and I'm pretty sure I just packed too much, so remember that less is more because it will help you with all the traveling! Anyway, we waited in line outside of John Cabot's room to get all the documents we needed, sat down and ate and drank while meeting new people from all over the world. That day I met people from Norway, Puerto Rico, and all over the states. I was fascinated by their lifestyle and their different accents. It's incredible how many people you will meet here from all over the world.
Once we got our name called while sitting down, we took all of our bags and got in a van that drove us to our new home for the next four months. I remember sitting in that van with total strangers, and everyone was pretty silent. Some were sleeping, some on their phones, but I just kept looking at all the scenery surrounding me as we were driving. The architecture of these houses, the colors, the nature surrounding everything, it's absolutely breathtaking. I also remember how scared and nervous I was though. In the beginning it is definitely overwhelming, and it was hard to adjust the first couple of days. Even today I'm still adjusting! It's totally different, but in a good way. I just need to keep an open mind and these next four months will be everything I imagined and more.
Not only am I fortunate to have this experience, but I am so lucky to be sharing this with my two best friends while I'm here. My one best friend, Ashley, goes to St. Joseph's University and we are rooming together throughout the duration of this semester. My other best friend, Stef, goes to Rowan University, and although she is attending American University of Rome, she is still close to us and it's amazing that I'm able to do this with not one, but both of them! So Ashley and I are rooming together, and we have eight other roommates. The setup of our suite reminds me a lot of our dorm back at SHU, North, so that was comforting. The girls in my suite are also so nice and sweet. I love them all! There are three girls who are best friends too, they all go to Madison University, but two of them are from Chicago and the other is from Minnesota. We have another girl from Minnesota as well, one from San Antonio, and another girl from Chicago as well. Everyone gets along really well, thank goodness!
On the first night Ashley and I went to a restaurant right around the corner from our dorm with two of our other suite mates, Lauren and Daniela, and I got my first Italian meal of the semester, which was obviously pizza! The pizza is unreal here, it's so fresh and thin. The next day, Thursday, we had our first day of orientation. We had to wake up at 8am to be at a meeting at 9am, and saying Ash and I were exhausted is an understatement. The time difference was really messing us up, as we only got four hours of sleep the first night. We were like walking zombies in the morning, but the adrenaline started kicking in once we went on a tour of our campus and Trastevere. That night I met up with my friend from home, Michelle, who was studying at AUR for only two weeks and we went to this amazing pasta place where this cute old lady sits in the window and makes homemade pasta with her own hands all day long! Needless to say, the pasta was without a doubt the best pasta I have ever had in my entire life. We also got some cheese appetizer and it included a mozzarella ball stuffed with ricotta.. I'm drooling right now just thinking about it. That has been my favorite restaurant so far, but I don't think you can eat one bad meal here!
On Friday, our second day of orientation, we were taken all around Rome. We saw the Colosseum, some ruins, and different piazzas. It was incredible to see the Colosseum in person especially! I've seen hundreds of pictures of it, but seeing it with your own eyes is a different experience in itself. The next few days of the weekend ended up with us just roaming around Rome even more. Ash, our friend Theresa, and I went to see the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, and the Spanish steps, which by the way are closed off until August 4 so that was a bummer. Seeing all these landmarks though is incredible, and knowing that they are only about a 30 minutes walk away from us is even crazier. I have also never walked this much in my entirety. The amount you walk here is insane. I got a Fitbit for Christmas purposely to track my steps everyday, and I'm so glad I did because I feel so much better about myself, especially when I order meals such as pasta and pizza.
Monday we started classes and it was as good as school can get haha. The only thing better about it here is that the views from our classrooms are incredible. So this whole week has been filled with classes, starting on homework, bonding with our suite mates at night, in addition to starting to plan trips! Speaking of planning trips, we are going to tour the Vatican Saturday morning, as well as going on a day trip to Florence next Friday, which I'm so excited for. It has been an eventful week, and to think I have about 14 more weeks to go is mind blowing. I'm going to make sure I soak up as much Italian culture as I can, as well as stuffing my face with pizza, pasta, and of course gelato, which is also outstanding. So for now, I'll leave you with some of my favorite pictures so far, and I'll make sure to keep you updated soon. Ciao!
Well it’s been exactly 6 weeks since I’ve blogged last. Traveling, adventure, and just pure distraction have taken its hit on me. There is SO much that has happened since I blogged last. I would have never imagined that I could accomplish so much in these past 6 weeks and I cant wait to fill you all in! After my amazing weekend in the Amalfi Coast I spent a weekend in Greece with some of my suitemates I met here at JCU and Julie from the SHU Crew. So our crew of 5 including me hopped on a plane and landed in beautiful Santorini. We stayed in Perissa, which was a gorgeous area right on the famous black sand beaches. We spend the entire weekend exploring the amazing island, enjoying the beautiful classic white buildings in Oia , eating the most amazing Greek food, relaxing on the black sand beach and riding ATVs though the streets. Personally I thought riding the ATV was epic, especially cause I miss driving so much and it was good to be back on the roads again. It was the most amazing weekend. The food there is to die for. I never really ate Greek food before this trip and wasn’t sure what to expect. But now I’m actually obsessed and I constantly crave Tzatziki sauce and gyros on a daily basis. Greece was just stunning and I love the fact that watching the sunset is a huge event on this island. Everyone gathers around and finds a good spot to watch the sunset every single night, it like finding a seat for a concert. You got to get that good spot and enjoy the show, and once it finally sets there’s a round of applause. Honestly everywhere you turn your head on this beautiful island it’s a picture perfect view (which explains the billions of pics I took that weekend) here are just a few select photos from this incredible weekend.
Leaving Greece was depressing; especially coming to back and classes are in full swing, meaning I had some papers and homework to do. But my anticipation never leaves cause I knew that in only a few days time after the weekends I would be traveling to my next destination. The opening weekend of Oktoberfest in Munich Germany. Oktoberfest is something I have always wanted to experience and to say I was excited was an understatement. The week crawled by and finally Friday arrived and it was time for an 11 hour bus ride to Munich Germany. Once arrived, we had some breakfast and did a bike tour around the city. Munich is so cool; I liked the vibes there a lot. Of course it was extremely different city compared to Rome and Santorini. They’re all so unique in there own ways. After our bike tour though the German city streets, my SHU crew and I tried our first stein of German beer and had the most delicious mac and cheese ever and of course a pretzel for diner. This was only the pregame for our big day at the festival tomorrow. Another thing that made this trip so special was that we met up with 2 of our close friends studying abroad in London from SHU, Julia and Geno. It was so awesome to see them and be in Germany to experience the weekend all together. We spend the rest of the day shopping in the city for the traditional German outfits. I personally was SO excited to get my dirndl (the famous German outfit girls wear) because not only were they super cute to wear but I was so pumped to feel more apart of the tradition (and take a ton of pics in it obvi. The morning of Oktoberfest we all put on our dirndls and headed out to the festival bright and early. Since we were there the first day we were going to get to see the mayor open the first keg to symbolize the start of the festival. We waited in a massive line to get into the tent and once we finally got in, we participated in the count down and then the mayor opened the first keg. The tent went wild and everyone was cheering. As soon as this happened hundreds of women started carrying at least what seemed to be like 20 or maybe more steins at a time… I don’t know how they do it. These beers are HUGE and they’re equivalent to drinking 4 American beers. They must work out a ton. Safe to say we all had our fare share and enjoyed the festival to the best of our abilities. It was so much fun.
The next day we took a trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Yes very different activity from the previous day, but this is also something I have always wanted to see in person. We have studied this history ever since I could remember and it was the most eerie and interesting feeling to be literally walking on the grounds where so much history took place. It was truly an eye opening experience, and something I would recommend to anybody to go see. My experiences in Germany are something I will never forget...
The next week I spend enjoying the Rome life. It’s always nice to just hang out and enjoy the place I’m living in. It truly feeling like home to me. Yes I do I miss SHU and I get serious FOMO from time to time, but I know that this is something’ Ill never get to experienced ever again and I’m just so appreciative to be here living this life. I worked my butt of at Shoprite since I was a little sophomore in High School saving up so I could travel the world and it’s been nothing but worth it so far. I’m one of those people who love to spend money on experiences rather than on items or materialistic things.
The weekend after that, my SHU crew and I took a day trip to Tuscany to explore the beautiful city and of course do a wine tour. Tuscany is so cute. We got all dressed up and then we had such a good day for wine tasting in the vineyards. We tried at least 8 different kinds of wine and eat the most delicious food of course. We toured though where they make the wine and store it. It was so cool to see the hard work and dedication that the Italians put into there wine. It truly pays off because it taste better than any wine I’ve ever had before. Then like any tourists we had our typical photo shoot in the Tuscan sun though the vineyards. Here are some pics from our Tuscany adventures.
I am super Irish & proud and have a lot of family in Ireland that I am very close with. My cousin Killian who lives in Ireland, just recently moved to Glasgow Scotland with his girlfriend Chelsea and got a job there! So of course I needed to take advantage of this and pay my cousin a visit and explore Scotland! So I traveled on my own from Rome to Edinburgh, Scotland Airport and took a bus down to Glasgow and met up with Killian and Chelsea. It was so nice to see them again even though I just recently saw them in August in Ireland, but the more the better! I love the fact I have family members all over the world and were all so close and can do fun things like this. I didn’t really know what to expect when arrived to Scotland. I truthfully didn’t know much about it other than the classic stereotypes of kilts, bagpipes and castles. Yeah pretty sad I know… but hey it’s all of the more reason to go, explore and learn a ton about this awesome place. We walked all over Glasgow and saw the famous Glasgow cathedral. I personally loved this cathedral because of its unique gothic style and green roof. That night we went to a disco and had a few pints the good ol fashion Irish way. The next day we set off for the most famous city in Scotland. Edinburgh was so cool and exactly how I pictured Scotland to be. There was traditional Scottish music everywhere being played on the streets! I even saw a good number of guys wearing kilts!! We explored the castle and city. It was a truly a beautiful city and something I wont forget. Then we went to a bar and got some burgers, drinks and watched the Irish vs. France Ruby game. (Killian’s Idea) but it was so much fun! I never actually sat down and watched a full ruby game before. It was awesome and certainly intense watching it with a die-hard Irish ruby fan. (P.S Ireland won thank God). It truly was a great weekend and something I wont ever forget. It was also great to see a familiar face and I feel so blessed to have all these Irish cousins who I love spending time with. Pics below from my Scottish Adventures….
After an awesome weekend it was time to crack down on school work. Midterms were among us and would be coming up in the next week. I spent the whole week preparing for them and made study guides. Then that weekend Julie, Matt and I hopped on a 12-hour bus ride with all our study material and luggage and took off for Interlaken Switzerland. Switzerland is one of the top destinations on my list and I couldn’t be more pumped for this. But at the same time I am also a little nervous because I decided to go skydiving when I get there… when people ask you what’s something you want to put on your bucket list 80% of the time people are basic and write “skydiving” and I am certainly one of them. I literally have it written down from my 8th grade bucket list and my senior year bucket list we made at school. Honestly I never thought I would actually do it, it just seemed like a cool thing to do and an appropriate thing to say on my bucket list. Well here I was, with no hesitation signed up to skydive in Switzerland. If someone told me I would be doing this before I went to go study abroad I wouldn’t have believed them. But I saw the opportunity and I had to go for it. If I ever skydive, why shouldn’t it be over the Swiss Alps? Once arrived in Switzerland It was literally stunned from its beauty. The mountains are breathtaking and the lakes were the most beautiful blue color I've ever seen. I was truly obsessed. After exploring a bit and going to see some waterfalls, Julie and I went to a traditional chocolate making class. Safe to say it was delicious. Then the next day bright and early it was time to go jump out of a plane. I wasn't that nervous, it kind of came in waves of being really excited to a little nervous. I was feeling pretty good, and even boarding the plane I seemed to have my nerves in tact. We were literally right over the Swiss Alps. It was unreal. It also was SO cold, but my brain was a little preoccupied to even notice. My instructor who was jumping with me made me feel really comfortable so I knew that I'd be okay. But once the plane door opened, and the first girl just literally fell from the plane my heart dropped. But there was no time to hesitate or even to process whats about to happen. My instructor and I sat on the edge of the plane and I specifically remember my feet dangling… and BAM we just fell out of a moving plane. Just like that. So casual. Except for me screaming on the way down like a crazy person. It was the most unreal feeling, and truly can’t describe how it feels. We free fell for approx 45 seconds. Free falling though the sky was by far the coolest feeling ever. I wish I could experience this feeling on a daily basis. Then he pulled the parachute and I could not have been more satisfied, excited and overall just so happy. I felt a moment of just pure awe. Its indescribable. As soon as we landed I asked if I could go again, and if he said yes I would have. Skydiving is 100% something I recommend. If you’re not into that so much than I would just go to Interlaken anyways cause it was one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, and certainly a place ill never forget. pics below :
On the back from Switzerland, we stopped off at Lake Como In Italy. We saw the famous Lake Como Cathedral, walked around a bit and had a meal. It was a nice rest stop thats for sure. The lake is really pretty and the town was really cute. Pics below ...
After the most intense weekend, it was time for midterms. I really cracked down this week and I’m pretty sure I did really good on all my exams. Still waiting for some results… But after a stressful week of studying, Julie and Gabby from the SHU crew and I decided it was a good weekend to go explore a little more of Italy. From Rome we took a train to Pisa Italy, to go see the famous leaning tower of Pisa. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in Pisa, we only stayed a couple hours. Within those couple of hours we took a ton of the classic Pisa tower pictures. (Which are actually harder to take than expected!) My favorite thing was just watching people of all ages try and attempt to take these pictures. It’s truly a sight to see. I must have taken 50 pics of people just trying to take the picture. Then we headed over to beautiful Florence and were in awe at how pretty the Duomo is! I was in Florence with my family last summer and it was fun to kind of relive it all over again but this time on my own. I was pleasantly surprised that I remembered how to get around pretty well. Then after diner it was time to depart and we headed over to Venice. Once we got to Venice it was pitch black out and finding our Air BB wasn’t the easiest task ever. We got really lost and its so hard to navigate though Venice, especially in the dark . I also was here with my family last summer, but at night it was like I was in a whole new place. We finally found our place and crashed at like 2am. We woke up at 9am and headed out for our day in Venice. Once it was bright and the sun was out, I recognized a little more and we were able to get to the water taxis to go explore. We saw the famous square and cathedral and then had a fun gondola ride on the main canal. We closed the night off with some shopping, diner, and watching the sunset. Our train back to Rome was at midnight and we got back to Rome at 6am. I pretty much I slept most of that Sunday. Traveling is so tiring, but its so worth it. I love these cities and I was so glad I was able to go see them again with my two homies Julie and Gabby. Pics below…
Sorry for the HUGE post. There certainly was a lot to catch up on. It’s hard to believe were already at the halfway point in the semester. Time is flying by so fast and I cant even process it… still so much more in store for the rest of the semester. Ill be sure to write again soon and fill you all in asap.