This weekend, I decided to stay in Rome and explore, and also take a day trip to Florence!
The reason I wanted to stay this weekend was because after this week, I pretty much have back to back trips that are outside of Italy, and many people tell me that their biggest regret about their study abroad trip was that they barely explored the place that they lived in, because they were too focused on making it to all the different countries every weekend. This way, I was able to explore Rome and Florence and feel fulfilled about my study abroad trip in order to have no regrets like previous study abroad students have!
On Friday, my friend and I did not have class, so we decided to go to by the Spanish Steps and go shopping! There are many stores there that are similar to stores in the US, but it was fun to see how they put an Italian flare on these American retailers. Also, since I have arrived in Rome, I have been hearing about a farmer’s market that is set up every day in Campo de' Fiori until 2 pm. This farmers market has been going on for over 200 years so of course I wanted to check it out! Campo de' Fiori is only a five-minute walk from campus, and we went only to see many fresh fruits, fresh pastas, and many other decadent things to buy! It was nice to see this tradition that has been going on for so many years and what they had to offer.
On Saturday, my friends and I ventured off to Florence. Something that I was really happy about with this day trip to Florence was that it was the first time that my friends and I went on a trip without using a tour company to bring us there and show us around. When I came on this trip, one of my goals that I wanted to accomplish was to be able to get around on my own without it being a complete disaster. After doing many of the tour groups, it was apparent to my friends and I that we would definitely be able to do things on our own now that we had the hang of public transportation in Europe. With our Florence trip, we called up our own taxi to the train station, bought our own ticket to get onto the train, and barely asked for any help!
It is a really rewarding feeling to be able to say that you successfully traveled on your own. My only suggestion about traveling alone is to make sure you are always making the smartest and safest choices you can since you are not in a tour group that you would normally be accounted for. Besides that, the benefits of traveling alone include that you can literally do whatever you want on your own schedule. Also, if you get distracted because once you are there and you see something that catches your eye, its okay to take time to explore it because you are your own boss of your trip! Although I have loved the weekend tours we have been on, traveling alone seems like it might be the better choice because with the tour groups, you have to strictly stay to their schedule when there might be something else you want to do and see!
It is good to do those trips at first to get a sense of traveling around Europe but after you get a hang of it, definitely try and do it on your own. This way, it is rewarding and you can do what YOU want!
Florence was absolutely amazing. It had more of a suburb feel to it with its family friendly environment. The way I described the difference to my friends was that Rome is like the New York City of Italy, and Florence was like the New Jersey of Italy. Florence had many beautiful churches and parks, and they were also having a fair that day with many different dessert options and lunch and dinner options that made it seem like it was a festival! We also climbed to the top of the famous bell tower there to see the whole view of Florence. We explored the leather shops (which Florence is famous for) and I bought a very unique wallet that I love. It is something that you would never be able to buy in the US and that is what makes it so interesting! The atmosphere in Florence was so fun, that even walking around and going shopping put a smile on my face! I 100% suggest Florence as a day trip because we got everything we wanted to do done, and before we knew it, we walked in a full circle around Florence within an hour! Exploring Italy itself is so fun because every place you go within Italy has something different to offer.
My family is coming this Thursday for a week and we will be doing a day trip in Tuscany, a cooking class in Rome, and a day trip to Venice! Next, I will be writing about having my family abroad with me!
Ciao for now!
This weekend I went to Germany and it was the first time I've left Italy since I have been abroad. Finally being in a different country gave me such an appreciation for Rome. Although I loved Germany and have so many good things to say about it, I felt as though it was very commercialized. As I was walking through Munich, I realized besides the language, some gift shops, and cuisine, if someone asked me where I was I would have said New York. There was many brand named stores that are also in America and although there is some of this in Rome as well, Rome is so much more quant and cute with its unique flare of family shops and restaurants that it really makes you feel as though you went back in time and are in an old world, where as Germany felt as thought it kept up with modern times and is very similar to America. Although this is not a bad thing, it just made me really appreciate and fall more in love with Rome itself and made me want to explore it more!
So now for the things I loved about Germany and how it was so different than Italy! The first day when I arrived in Munich, I went on a bike tour around the city. It was so funny to be on this tour and I felt like the biggest tourist on this earth. This tour was actually very fun and informative about the cities history and it was a fun and different way to do a tour besides walking around.
The tour guide had us bike to many places that had a lot of history about the Holocaust. It is very interesting to hear it first hand and be in the place that these horrific events happened. Something else we did was biked through a park that was double the size of Central Park. The craziest thing about this park, was that were was naked people everywhere and they were openly drinking too! This was such a shock to me and the others on the bike ride and made me feel as though Germany is a free for all! It was such a weird thing to see but it was hysterical and interesting all at the same time. Contrary to what you might be thinking, since this tradition is normal in Germany, it is not a crazy party scene, it is just a normal part of their every day lives!
After the park, we biked to a beer garden where there was many various traditional German foods we could pick from, and German music was playing. This really put my friends and I in the mood for Oktoberfest the next day!
Oktoberfest was such a cool thing to do. Basically, it's the biggest festival where thousands of people around the world come together to drink, eat, and enjoy! It was so fun to dress up in the traditional German outfits (for girls it is called a dirndl and for the boys it's called a lederhosen) and be a part of this tradition that has been going on for over 200 years. We went on the first day that Oktoberfest began so they had a ceremonial opening of the kegs which the mayor was in charge of. After that, music played, they brought out the beers, and the festival began! Everyone was so happy and having so much fun it is something that you have to be a part of.
The last day, we went to Dachau. This is a concentration camp very close to Munich. I suggest that everyone does this because even though I have learned about the Holocaust my whole life, actually being on the camp site where this event happened is a complete different experience. Seeing the pictures does not do justice what it feels like to see this horrific place in person. This part of the trip made me really appreciate the fortunate position that I am in which is to be able abroad, and made me very emotional and as though everyone has to actually go here to feel the same and learn from this experience.
While abroad, I think it is very important to travel to different countries because you can then compare, contrast, and figure out what you like the best! It is so amazing to see the differences between the countries and I think it's a vital part of this trip to be able to have a full cultural experience of Europe!
Next week I'll be writing about some of my next adventures!
Ciao for now!
This week I want to talk about some various cultural differences I have noticed during my last three weeks here. I want to talk about this in order to help some upcoming abroad students be prepared for culture shock! First, it is not a joke when people say you walk everywhere in Rome. I walk more now that I am in Rome then I ever have in my entire life! It is actually a good difference in my opinion because it really opens your eyes to see how much we drive in the States when we could be walking instead. We could be saving so much gas this way while saving our environment at the same time! Speaking of being environmentally friendly, something else that Rome has to offer (which I personally love) is that they have very strict recycling rules. If you do not recycle and separate your trash in Rome, you will be fined. This is a great tactic to ensure people are recycling and saving our world! Another environmentally friendly thing they do here is that at a grocery store, if you do not bring your own recycling bag, they charge you extra. This ensures you’ll never use their bags again and start recycling as well. Also, something else that is great about Rome is that there is water fountains everywhere so water bottles are not used as much as they are in the States here. Everyone brings around a refillable water bottle with them to refill at these fountains! There is one downside to this aspect of Rome. Since there is free water all around the city, when you are out to eat, water costs money. This aspect was a huge shock to me because I only drink water at home because it is good for you and because it is free. I used to only have to pay for my meals when I was out but now that water is not free here, I have to put this amount of money into account when buying a meal here. Although it is only about 1.50 EUR, it can add up quickly so you have to be really careful about this aspect.
One of the great things about the restaurants in Rome, (besides the food of course) is that you do not have to tip. This makes the bill less expensive to slit with others. Also, if you are at a café, if you stand and eat, it is half the price as if you sit and eat, which is very helpful if you are on the go. The only compliant I have about the restaurants is the service. It is true that the service here is much slower, but you just have to be patient at resultants. Who cares anyways, you are in Rome what’s the rush! Dinner is an all night activity so if you go to dinner and sit at a table for hours, it is nothing like the States, it is totally acceptable here! The night life is what is fun about Rome anyways, considering all the shops and stores are pretty much closed between 1-4 because that is when everyone naps here. The one thing that is not slow about Rome is the cars. They go down the smallest streets so quickly you can’t even believe it is even allowed! At first I would always scream when the cars came flying down the little roads, but now, I’m used to it. Another thing that shocked me was that public bathrooms in Rome are not free. They are about 50 cents to use! I am not a fan of this difference because it is irritating to have to pay to go to the bathroom, but I honestly feel as thought it keeps public bathrooms such as one in a train station cleaner than they are in the States. Speaking of bathrooms some of the bathrooms here are co-ed and that was strange to get used to as well!
The last difference that really struck me over these last few weeks is that the Romans know their history, and they are very proud of it. Unlike Americans, Romans know every single aspect of their history and are ready to tell you anything you would like to know upon request. I find this to be very welcoming and inviting and I wish all Americans were as proud as the Romans are of their history because it gives off a great feeling of nationalization off to us foreigners!
Lastly, this weekend I travelled to the Amalfi Coast with the tour group named Bus2Alps and it was absolutely amazing. On the first day, we took a boat ride around Capri, took a ski lift up the top of the mountain to oversee the view, and ate their world famous seafood. On the second day, we went to the beach town named Positano where we rented a boat for two hours and swam in the perfectly clear blue water all day long. It was such an amazing place to see and it was my favorite thing I have done here so far.
This weekend, I will be leaving Rome and going to Germany for Oktoberfest so I will be talking about my time in a different country..
Ciao for now!