Let me start by saying that I have not died. I did not contract an incurable European disease while studying abroad. And I did not run away with some hot Italian guy, much to mine and my father’s chagrin. The only thing I can do is attempt to explain to you how incredibly painfully slow the Internet became on our campus. IT WAS VERY PAINFUL – salt in a paper cut, pickle juice in the eye, really bad hangnail…painful. Instead of it taking just an hour or so to write and post a new blog, at minimum, it took 267 minutes just to upload the written blog complete with pictures (which was an ordeal in itself) to the site…and most of the time, it wouldn’t end up posting. Who has that much time while being in a sweet new country for a very limited amount of time to spend that blogging?! So after many failed attempts by my fellow sufferers and myself, we gave up and went out to play in our beloved city of Rome.
Which leads me to right now. Sitting in my new amazing apartment in Chicago, wrapped in a blanket (I’m still getting used to the cold). My new plan? Post all the blogs I wrote and saved as word documents over the next few weeks, spaced out so as not to overload anything. Get ready!
You might remember that studying abroad does, in fact, include studying. The semester ended fine as far as classes go; I surprised even myself with how well I did in class. I’ll tell ya, making up for the time I’d been travelling instead of studying, was a beeyotch. The last week of classes, when all of my papers and projects were due, and finals week were two of the most intense weeks – and blurred together very quickly.
Italian – fun class. Actually learned a lot more Italian than I thought I was going to. It was good, and Nadia, the professor, was sweet and awesome. She told me to keep studying Italian…probably won’t happen. It was still a good semester with her!!!
History of Classical Rome – still don’t care for history. The class was enjoyable purely because of the professor. The Great Sander Evers. The Dutch Wonder. The Knighted Learner. He really taught me a lot. I’m glad to have taken one of his classes, and despite the insane amount of trees killed in the process of making the assigned readings, I would take it again.
Sociology of Italian Fashion and Design – Loved this class. The professor was a tad harder than expected, but that’s acceptable because she’s British. Even though the class was a bit different than I expected and the material wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I learned the most from this class. It was so interesting to be able to apply these theories to everyday life.
Art in Rome – Class was extremely easy…until an exam, when it stole all my time, ability to focus, and willingness to live. It was great to have, though, because I really learned sooooo much about the city. I was able to identify architectural pieces all around the city and explain the history of the important monuments. Hard, but important class.
That about sums it up. Monday through Thursday of my life for the past semester summed up in four grammatically incorrect, but stylized semi-paragraphs for your reading pleasure. Time to go back allllllll through my fearless adventures…ready?
priorities, procrastination, & party
This was my first time visiting the Trevi Fountain. <3. True love at first sight.
One of the best parts of studying abroad is that when you don’t travel somewhere else, you’re “stuck” in Rome for a weekend. Not a bad alternative. The weekend of September 17th-19th was one of those weekends for me. Friday I spent the day walking the streets of Rome. Mike, Caitlin, Natalie, and I ended up in Trastevere (mainly because we’d never seen it during the day) to eat pizza. It was delicious, and fairly cheap. We continued to walk around and pick up random trinkets – Roma jersey, posters. Our original goal for heading downtown was to find the main ASRoma store to buy tickets to the game on Sunday. Along the way to buy the tickets we came across the Pantheon, wandered along the river, and found the cat sanctuary – that would be Caitlin’s pride and joy. We got to know the city pretty well and found the store – which is awesome and we successfully got our tickets. That evening I went to the Trevi Fountain for the first time. It was incredible. It’s one of my favorite spots in Italy – much like most of the tourists that come to Italy. It was PACKED. There was no room to move at all. It didn’t faze us, though; we headed straight down to front and center. We got out our coins and made our wishes. It is said that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome; two means you will find a new romance (perhaps with a Roman). Three coins thrown in means your romance will end in marriage. It was really fun and I fell in love with the area. The best part of the Trevi is that you hear it before you see it. I got goose bumps because I could tell we were so close. As soon as we rounded the corner, BAM! The Trevi just appeared in all of its glory. It was…awesome.
[Mike & I in front of the Pantheon]
[shot from the front of fountain <3]
[that’s a lot of people in a little area.]
One of the best day’s I’ve ever had in my entire life was Saturday. Sean found out about a wine festival in a local down not too far away from Rome called Velletri. Saturday morning we hopped on a train for a little over an hour to get to this small town. Unfortunately, once we got there, no one knew where or how the festival worked. Turns out it didn’t start until four and we were there at about one. Everyone was hungry because it was lunchtime, so we split up into different groups to find food. Sean, Nathan and I found a little restaurant and all had lasagna. It was a very nice lunch where we got to walk through the town to see, well, most of it. We also found this cute little fruit and veggie market and got some of the best fruit ever. After the fruit finding, we just sat around and waited for the drizzling rain to clear and for the events to start. We waited just long enough because the band began the parade which led everyone to the main piazza where the booths were set up, which, for the record, we didn’t even come close to finding earlier. Somehow, everyone in our group ended up at the same location (with the exception of those who left earlier on account of the rain). There was a nice stage where people gave speeches (in Italian, so I can’t tell you what was said) and dance groups performed. The way it worked was you bought a wine glass for 5 euro along with 10 numbered tickets. You took the correct number to the correct booth and got a glass of either white or red wine. The number 10 was for whatever glass you preferred the most. It was a well-oiled machine. We tried A LOT of wine, and everyone was in good spirits and happy to be there. It was just one of the best days!
[check out the next photo album for pictures from the day - i just couldn’t decide!]
That weekend also happened to be the 140th celebration of Rome being the capital of Italy. Therefore, there were celebrations all weekend. One of which was setting the Colosseum on fire. Well not really, but they put up screens in the openings in the walls and lit them up like fire, so it looked really BA. Other than looking at it, there wasn’t much else to do that night and everyone was pretty tired at this point from our adventurous day.
[fiiiiieeeeyaaaahhhhh - really a blurry and not so good picture of the sweetness]
Sunday was the Roma game versus Bologna! I have to make note that we walked to the stadium because it is close to our campus. Along the way, somehow, by some act of the devil, Nathan lost his ticket. So we spent a while trying to figure out how to get him another ticket. It was an epic failure. We lost a good one, but still went forward to yell Italian that we didn’t understand. It was really fun to do a sporting event in Italy. The differences are so intense. For one, this game was supposed to be a blow out in favor of Rome, so it shouldn’t be that intense. There were still a lot of people there. Everyone sang the same song about the Roma team in the beginning and all had scarves they used as flags. The visitors’ section has glass surrounding it in order to protect them/separate the two teams. A very important side note: Mike & I got stadium food – it was delicious.
[a shot of some italian bros with their scarves and the stadium]
[pizza was not bad at all, and that ice cream cone - whew! deeeee-lish]
Adventures, Wine, & FORZA ROMA!!!
This would be a recording of my first bite of margarita pizza ever. (If you don’t know or need a refresher, margarita pizza was the first type of pizza ever invented in Naples.) As you can tell, it was really delicious…like really.
The weekend of September 9th-12th I headed to the Almalfi Coast. I went through a group aimed to help American students studying in Europe. It’s called EuroAdventures and I recommend it to anyone studying abroad. Check it out, at least!
Anyway, a rather quick and vague update on the weekend…GO!
Thursday night we bused down to Sorrento, where our hotel – or sweet bungalow – was. When we woke in the morning to a drizzling rain (but it didn’t dampen our spirits!) and headed out to Capri, an island just off the coast. It was a sweet island. Of course, I loved every second of the photo taking. This was the first weekend where I found out my knee is not doing as well as I had hoped – we did quite a bit of climbing/hiking to get to the center of town from the port. It was well worth the hike, but I was not prepared for my knee to be so unhappy with me. The views were amazing and we got to see the famous Capri Bell Tower. After hiking up to the centro then back down to the port (shopping in between, by the way – awesome shops. So cute - plus really expensive, but amazing, handmade shoes), we paused for lunch. I had the best Caprese sandwich ever. It’s just mozzarella, tomatoes, and some herbs, but it was delicious. After that we took a boat ride around the island, where I made good use of my waterproof camera (thank you very much, Santa). We got to see all the sweet crevices of the island, like secret and awesome red coral & the Siren Rocks, and had a boat race with another boat of students from the same group. We were going to head into the Blue Grotto, but the tide was too high so we couldn’t get into it. :( We headed back from to Sorrento to enjoy our evening!
[view from the center of the town]
[group of the gals after jumping off into the water]
[one of the many, many, many photos I took at this Sorrento sunset - raw photo. jus’ sayin’.]
Saturday the girls I went with and I opted out of the group trip to Positano, and headed to Naples for the best pizza in the world. Both would have obviously been wonderful choices. The weather had cleared up quite nicely and it was gawgeous out. When we arrived to Naples we walked around the city a bit. It is, in fact, a very dirty city, but it’s not much worse than NYC. The stores were incredibly clean, which I didn’t expect. We walked out to the port, where we discovered a large number of stray dogs. The pigeons were also trained to attack people, or so it seemed. The day leant itself to wonderful pictures, and the fact that Naples was so diverse and had such cool architecture only helped. We made it all the way around the coast, quite a bit, to the Castel dell’Ovo, or Egg Castle, the oldest castle in Naples. We accidently found like 6 weddings at the Castle. It was a tad awkward, but amazing to see their wedding styles. After walking so much it was definitely time for some pizza. We headed back into the center of town to try to find Pizzeria da Michelle, supposedly one of the two places that invented pizza. We got a bit lost, but somehow found the place. The crowd was incredible in front of the shop and we were very cranky and hungry so we went across the street to Pizzeria Trianon, which also claims to have the best pizza in the world. And I would totally believe it. It was so good. And our waiter was very entertaining. In fact, at the end of the meal, my beauty, wit, and charm, got us free pizzas. The waiter came up to me and said, “Bella, pay for only the drinks, okay? Ciao, amore.” So basically, best trip in the world – great weather, fun times, and free best pizza in the world.
[I really love taking pictures of boats.]
[there’s a sweet indoor/outdoor mall thing on Via Toledo. The architecture is BA and the floor is dedicated to the zodiac. This is me…being a Leo.]
[Napoli pizza…so good.]
That night we spent out in Sorrento. It was a very quaint evening. We did a bit of shopping where we came across the best lemoncello shop in the biz. They make all their own stuff there and the owners were there. It was epic and awesome. They also loved us. J We ate dinner in the main piazza of the town, where I ate gnocci, which, per usual, was delicious.
[gnocci…all for you, Salemi]
The next morning we woke up and stopped by our favorite bakery in the town on our way to the train station. I had the absolutely best cronetto alla crema ever…for the second time during the weekend. That Sunday was spent exploring Pompeii. It was really cool. It was incredible how well preserved the ruins were. We had a lot of fun running around figuring out the layout of the city and how people lived. The creepiest and most lasting images were those of the people who died in the eruption. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day weather-wise with really cool sites and interesting history.
[so many pictures of Pompeii - it was hard to decide which to put up, so here is the forum]
[the photo doesn’t do it justice, but we stood here for a very long time]
After that we pretty much just went back to Sorrento and hung out until it was time to go back to Roma! Great first trip without the university!
Sea, Pizza, & Volcanic Remains
So I’ve been asked many times where I am living by many different people. Here is my official address for any of those who wish to send me a postcard or some love or something…or if you just want to google image the building. Anyway, here ya go, loves!
Loyola University -
John Felice Rome Center
Via Massimi, 114-A
00136 Rome, Italy
Love to you all, <3 KPing
Video courtesy of Chandler. Well done, sir.
Caitlin walking into the McDonald’s, followed by a pan over to the Pantheon.
Sean’s Birthday Pictures!
Top 10 choices from a very fun evening. :)
Dates: September 3rd - 8th
Let’s just say, life’s been busy.
Orientation never ends here, apparently, so in the afternoon of Friday the 3rd we went to the Colosseum. It was epic. I basically became a BA gladiator…really, it just made me really want to watch Gladiator. It’s creepy to think about how many people have been in that building before me, and creepier to think about how many people have lost their lives there. But creepily awesome. Not to mention how incredible the stadium is.
(Inside the Colosseum!!!)
(Russ & I are super tough. Straight up BA)
(My Main Crew: [left] Lizzy, Sean, Chandler, Mike, Caitlin, Nathan, Me, & Russell)
After the Colosseum, we headed over to the Roman Forum. Really, it’s just a lot of very sexy rubble. I’ve discovered a big difference between Rome & the States is our preservation of history. In the States, we mainly demolish and rebuild something new and improved. Not a bad thing, it’s just we don’t have a lot of old architecture to show for our short, but awesome history. Rome, on the other hand, has used the same structures for different uses for YEARS. You can even tell where they remodeled a building to fit a new use. Or where the buildings were buried and then uncovered under different buildings, but still preserved enough to see the history. Pretty cool stuff.
(i.e. sexy rubble.)
In contrast to the rich history of Rome & sticking out drastically from the rest city is the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, who was the first king of the unified Italy. It really upsets Italians because it’s so different from everything else in the city. It’s given the nickname “The Typewriter” and the more common “The Wedding Cake.” It’s huge and bright white and gaudy and I love it. It gives you a great view of the city and makes for good photography.
(Close up of the Wedding Cake)
(I spy with my little eye…..one of the great views from the Wedding Cake)
Our day would not have been complete without random wanderings around the city, finding cool places and people and getting a feel for the Roman lifestyle - the street performers, the shops, the graffiti, the allies, the characteristics that make any city what it is. However, our wandering would not have been complete without stumbling upon (duh da da duh duh duuuuuuuhhh) the Pantheon. That’s right. We ran into it. 100% on accident. And boy have I come to love stumbling upon epic things. The most ironic part of finding the Pantheon was that we also found our first McDonald’s…right across the piazza.
(The Pantheon! What a fabulous find!)
(Chandler & Caitlin were very excited to find the McDonald’s)
(Piazza Navonna <3)
(For all of my WC English friends…Fahrenheit 451 Bookstore)
The best part of wandering around and getting lost in the city is how much you discover. I had the most fun finding gems in the nooks of the bustling city - the cultural differences, the art, the food. So much to be discovered and enjoyed and yet there’s so little time.
In the midst of the week we learned of a park which had a beautiful lookout over the city. It was a very wonderful night filled with gorgeous views and the best of friends. During the night I couldn’t help but stop and stare at the scenery. I was actually in Rome. I don’t know why it took me so long to understand that, but I finally got the “I am in Rome RIGHT NOW” moment. Whether it was the landscape or the bonds made within the group that evening, that night was perfect. It was one of those nights I will never forget and will definitely define the rest of my adventure abroad.
(This photo doesn’t do the night justice, but I had to give you something!)
Our memorable night was followed by a memorable day. It was the birthday of the crew’s nice big southern gentleman, Sean. He was turning 21 IN ROME!!! To celebrate, we went with a big group (all arranged by the university) to the Mass of the Holy Spirit at St. Ignacio. Very intricate and beautiful works in and outside of the church. At the end of the mass we went to dinner at Sabatino’s (where, according to a framed newspaper clipping, Bill Clinton has eaten!). It was nice to be dressed up nicely and be with such a lovely group of people. But, of course, the fun couldn’t possibly end there! After stopping to get delicious gelato, we meandered to one of my favorite bars in the city, Abbey Theater. Abbey is a bar aimed at American students, which is normally a dangerous place to go for fear of pickpocketers & the possibility of being drugged or any other number of bad things, but Abbey is a pretty save place. I love it because it is my doorway to American sports - mainly football. Not to mention, it’s pretty cheap and still pretty good food and in a cool area of town. It’s near Piazza Navonna, which is a really sweet area to people watch. Even though it’s become pretty tourist-ridden, it still has a sweet Italian flair.
*Check out my next photo bunch for my favs from Sean’s birthday night!
Dreams, Discovery, & Keep Searching <3
"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land."