the finale

Wow. This is it. My last blog post from Rome. It came a lot sooner than I expected, that’s for sure. I can remember hearing from everyone before I came here, “Enjoy it, because it goes by faster than you can imagine.” I remember yeah yeah yeah-ing everyone in my head, while graciously nodding. But they were right…boy, were they right.

I can remember my first day in Rome, lugging my exactly fifty pound suitcase down my road, up the apartment stairs, and plopping down at our kitchen table. My roommates and I looked at each other. We weren’t really talking, just kind of looking at each other. Half because we were sleep deprived, and half because we were in awe. We had a whole semester to look forward to.

Well, now I’m writing over three months later, and everything is a memory.

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One thing that I am very grateful for is my roommates: Kate, GG, and Kilby. I couldn’t have asked for a better three girls to share these experiences with. We all went through struggles here, and helped each other get through them. We went on amazing trips together: Ireland, France, and Germany to name a few. It’s been an amazing three months together.

There are things about Rome that I know I’ll miss. Some of them are the little things, like my walk to and from school everyday. I never expected that it would look like this:

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I’m going to miss that feeling of excitement when an Italian person understands my attempt at their language. I’m sure I’m going to say “grazie” when I get home, and it’s going to take time to adjust to the fact that everyone around me is now speaking English. I’m going to miss being able to jet off to Paris for the weekend, or having an entire city to choose our weekend activity from. Rome is magical.

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Thank you for an unforgettable three months, Rome. I can’t wait for the next time I come back.

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cam visits!!

For the past ten days, our friend Cam from Hobart came all the way to Rome to visit! It was perfect timing because I was getting a little bit homesick and it was his Thanksgiving break. He booked his trip over the summer, so Kate and I were looking forward to it for a while. We wanted him to experience Rome, but we thought that Tuscany would be a great weekend trip to take while he was here.

On Thursday, we took a train to Poggibonsi, which is right outside of the ancient Medieval village San Gimignano. We were meeting Kate’s aunt, uncle and two cousins. We spent a lot of time exploring San Gimignano, and a neighboring beautiful town called Siena. Kate and I had been to Siena on one of our field trips earlier in the semester.

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On Saturday, we took a day trip to Florence, which is one of my favorite cities in Rome. My sister studied abroad there three years ago, so I’ve been there a few times, and know my way around decently well. One of my favorite things to do while in Florence is to climb to the top of the Duomo–the view is unbelievable. It’s 414 steps to the top, and I’d be lying if I said my legs weren’t shaking towards the end.

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I have 12 days left in Rome, and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. This weekend is our last weekend in Rome, so I’ll fill you in on Monday!

do as the irish do

This weekend, my roommates and I flew to Dublin, Ireland for the weekend. This is our last big trip together, so we wanted to make it a good one. On Saturday morning, we took a bus to Drogheda in County Louth, about an hour from Dublin. Our friend James who we’re abroad with has a bunch of family there, and it was so great to meet them. He brought us around to different pubs, trying different kinds of Irish beers and ciders. We had a blast.

On Sunday, we went back to Dublin, and took a train to Howth, which is thirty minutes away. Lowth has to be one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever been to. It’s a small port town on the eastern coast of Ireland and they’re famous for their beautiful cliffs and amazing seafood. For lunch, I had delicious homemade seafood chowder with chunks of salmon and haddock as well as mussels. Yummy!!

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After we got home from Howth, it was already dark. We explored Dublin at night and loved their early Christmas spirit! Light-up wreaths lined the streets as well as christmas lights. It was so beautiful.

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When Monday came, none of us wanted to leave. Dublin was such an amazing city and I wish that we could have spent more time there. On our last day, we went to a small castle called Drimnagh, which actually now serves as a secondary school. It’s the only castle in Ireland with a working moat! Our last trip was truly an unforgettable one, and I can’t wait to go back to Ireland someday. Image 

 

happy halloween from prague

This weekend, my friend Caroline and I traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to visit our friends that are studying abroad there for the semester. The trip was somewhat last minute, so we had an eight hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany on the way there. But, thankfully, it was worth it. 

Prague is an unbelievably beautiful city, and a city that I didn’t really know much about. One thing I knew, though, was that Prague was home to the John Lennon Wall. This is a wall that is constantly changing–what makes it so interesting. People spray paint graffiti all over it, making beautiful designs and lots of Beatles quotes. This was our first stop!

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My friend Kathleen took me to her favorite bakery, called “Bakeshop.” This little cafe was filled with the most amazing pastries, brownies, muffins, and cookies I had ever seen! They even had homemade quiche. We ate most breakfasts here during my visit, as well as some lunches. A lot of the treats were spooky themed because it was Halloween weekend.

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I’m so happy that I took this last minute trip to Prague. I was on the fence about it for a while, for expense purposes–but it was worth it. Prague is an amazing city, and I was so happy to visit Kathleen. I got to have amazing food, spend time with friends, and marvel and the beauty of the city. I even saw the oldest working astronomical clock!

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This weekend, my class is going to Ravenna to see three operas. We’re coming back Tuesday, so it’s a long trip but we’re all excited for it!

bonjour…merci!!

The first time I went to Paris, I was twelve years old and really had no idea what kind of city I was in. I was on a school trip and our days were full of walking, museums, and group dinners. I never explored the city on my own. Well, that changed this weekend. On Thursday, my roommates and I flew to Paris, France and stayed in a great hotel near Montparnasse. Our flight was at 6:30am so our first course of action upon arriving was a long nap!

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Paris is one of the most beautiful cities. We got lost a lot, but we didn’t care. We enjoyed our time strolling down the streets, stopping at little bakeries to try a pastry, and marveling at the Eiffel Tower that somehow could always be seen from where we were standing. On Friday, we met two of our friends who were also visiting at the Louvre. I couldn’t believe how small the Mona Lisa was!!

On Saturday, we all went to Laduree, which is a bakery in Paris that is famous for their macaroons. And now I know why!! I got a delicious dessert with raspberries and creme. My first (and hopefully not last) Laduree experience was a success!

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I couldn’t believe it but five days was definitely not enough time in this amazing city!! When Monday came, we didn’t want to leave. We spent our last day at Versailles, exploring the beautiful gardens. Until next time, Paris…

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now that’s a field trip

Ciao readers!! Firstly, I’d like to apologize for my post being a day late–things have been very busy here! This past weekend, my class and I took a field trip to Tuscany. We visited Siena, Monticchiello, Pienza, and Montepulciano. I had been to Siena before with my family, but our day was filled with tours so it was nice to have some free time and get so explore on our own.

One thing you should know about me–I love views. Whenever I visit a new city, my goal is to find a spot that will provide me with a great view of the city. So, when we arrived to Siena, I was on the lookout. We came across the Siena museum, which had a “panoramic view.” We bought tickets, and climbed the 150-or-so steps to the top. And believe me, it was worth it.

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After our day trip to Siena, we headed to Pienza, where we had dinner and spent the night. The next morning was an early rise, and we were off to Monticchiello, where we would begin our hike. The hike last around 3.5 and it was beautiful. We hiked through the woods, over hills, and in valleys. 

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After the hike, we had all worked up quite the appetite. Our hike ended us in the beautiful town of Montepulciano, which I had visited once before. Our meal was a five course, with bruschetta, soup, pasta, different kinds of meat, and a dessert. However, my favorite part of the meal was the steak! It had been a very long time since I’d eaten it, and it was some of the best steak I’d ever eaten.

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I couldn’t believe that this was a class trip! It reminded how lucky we all are to get to have experiences like this. This Thursday, my roommates and I are off to Paris! I’ll fill you in next Monday…

verona getaway

This past weekend, my roommate Kilby and I did something spontaneous, something that I wish I did more of. We took a train to Verona, located near Venice in Northern Italy. We stayed a night in a bed a breakfast, and spent two days exploring this beautiful city. We arrived on Friday morning, and our first stop was Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). 

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Kilby and I were in awe at how many letters were stuck to the wall, and even folded into the cracks of the bricks. We knew we had to write one. Above the wall, was Juliet’s famous balcony, and there was also a bronze statue of her, as well. We spent a long time, reading the love notes of people from all over the world. So many were in different languages, and it was beautiful reading what people had to say about their loved ones, wished for love, and advice from Juliet. 

One of the best parts about the trip, was that we found Mexican food! While the two of us absolutely love Italian food, we had been craving this. We entered a little restaurant, where they handed us Italian menus. However, the walls were decorated in Mexican designs, so we asked our waitress if they had a Mexican menu; she smiled and brought over one. Yes! We ordered our favorites: tacos and burritos and we were two very happy girls.

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Overall, this was an amazing weekend, and makes me want to do more spontaneous trips! Verona was very easy to get to, and we loved our little bed and breakfast. This weekend, my class is doing a hiking trip in Pienza. Hoping for another great weekend! Talk to you on Monday!

a family affair

On Thursday, October 3, my parents and sister arrived in Rome, renting an apartment just down the road from me in Prati. Three years ago, we were all in Rome visiting my sister who was studying abroad in Italy at the time. Being that we did all of the touristy things on our last trip here, this trip was more adventurous! On Friday, my family went to Florence by train, where we explored the Duomo and the Boboli Gardens. This trip was very special to my sister because this is where she studied three years ago. It was nice to get out of Rome for a little while; Florence has such a different feel–not to mention it was about fifteen degrees cooler!

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One of my favorite activities that we did in Florence was climbing to the top of the Duomo. It provided one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen, not to mention a great workout climbing up 414 steps! 

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Sunday was an extremely special day, and something that I will always remember. My two aunts, three uncles, parents, and sister rented a van and drove three hours south of Rome to a small town in Benevento called Apollosa. Apollosa is a town of about 2,600 people located in the mountains. What makes this town special to us, is that it is where my great-grandfather grew up. When he was seventeen, he got on a boat for America. The past couple of years, my mother has loved doing family tree projects, and was able to find out where my father’s grandfather lived. We headed to Apollosa with no plan, and no idea what to expect.

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On our way there, we got a little lost so we pulled over on the side of the road when we saw an Italian couple. The couple spoke no English, and I used what little Italian I knew to try and get across the message that we were lost, and looking for Apollosa. The couple told us to follow them, and drove us twenty minutes to the town. I couldn’t believe how friendly they were to complete strangers. They brought us to one of the only hotels in Apollosa, and to one of the only people in the town who spoke any English. We tried to explain that we came from America, and that our great-grandfather grew up in this town. My dad had his translator out on his iPhone, which actually helped. The innkeeper got in contact with a man who he said would help us.

In the meantime, being that we were the only people at the hotel, they cooked an amazing meal for us–homemade pasta, some of the best steak I have ever eaten, and potatoes. Not to mention homemade wine. After about an hour, a little Italian man, named Americo, came up to our table. Americo spoke no English, but the innkeeper helped translate. Americo’s sister married into my family, the Coletti’s. Americo’s grandfather was great friends with my dad’s grandfather and the two of them went over on the boat to America together. Americo and the innkeeper then told us to get our car, and drove us to my great-grandfather’s old home, which was in ruins.

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The house was completely in shambles, but I didn’t care. Just being there was such an amazing feeling. So many people in the town were trying to help our family, people that they didn’t even know. We walked around the old Coletti property, which overlooked the mountain of southern Italy–it was unreal. After about twenty minutes, Americo told us to get in the car, and directed us to the Apollosa cemetery. 

I had never seen a cemetery like this. Most of the graves were in the walls, with flowers all over them, not to mention pictures of each person. We met the man in charge of the cemetery and he helped us find the Coletti family grave plot. 

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day, or a more amazing experience to share with my family. It was great seeing my father together with his three siblings. That doesn’t happen often because my aunts and uncles live all over the country. It made me think of their sister, Faith, who passed away around ten years ago. Having her there would have made the experience even better. This just made me think, this is what family is all about. My family leaves tomorrow, and their trip here is something that I’ll always remember. 

weekend in roma

This was one of the first weekends where my roommates and I stayed in Rome. The past couple of weeks have been busy with travel, so it was so nice to have a relaxing weekend in Rome! On Friday, my class at the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci went on a tour of the Vatican. I had been to the Vatican years ago, but still was so anxious to get inside. We pass the Vatican on our walk home every day, and every time we do it makes me think of how lucky I am to be studying in a place as beautiful as Roma.

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Sunday was a very special day…my first AS Roma game! At 8:45pm, AS Roma took on Bologna FC. My roommates and I bought our maroon and yellow scarfs and we were ready to go. I could not believe the difference between sporting events in America and sporting events here. The energy of the fans made for an unforgettable experience. To the left of us was the group of die-hard Roma fans. Tons of maroon and yellow flags were being waved throughout the entire game.

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The most rowdy fans I have experienced are at hockey or football games, but even those were nothing compared to this. There were flares being set off, chants being sung, and while I didn’t know any of the words, or these traditions for that matter, I still loved every minute of it. One of my goals while studying here is to accept the Roman culture, and AS Roma is definitely a big part of that. The 5-0 win wasn’t bad either!!

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This coming week, my family is coming to Roma! My parents arrive tomorrow and my sister comes on Thursday. We have a great week planned, so I can’t wait to share on Monday!

the land of beer & pretzels

Guten Tag readers! Wow. What a weekend! On Thursday night, my roommates and I packed our bags and set off on a twelve-hour bus ride to Munich, Germany from the Termini Station in Rome (through Bus2Alps!) It was an overnight bus ride, filled with college students like ourselves, anxiously waiting to reach Germany, and to stretch out their legs. A twelve-hour bus ride is rough, just as rough as it sounds, but the excitement leading up to Oktoberfest somewhat lessened the blow. 

We arrived at Jaeger’s Hostel in Munich at 8am, and soon met up with our friends from HWS. There were nineteen of us total! It was an amazing get-together and we were all able to see our friends that are studying abroad in other cities in Europe, such as Prague, Copenhagen, and Budapest! Saturday was the first day of Oktoberfest, so it was the most exciting! All of us were at the grounds by 7:30am, 4.5 hours before they even start serving beer, but it’s necessary in order to get a table! 

Oktoberfest consists of fourteen tents, as well as food stands, and carnival rides. Our group chose the Lowenbrau tent, one of the larger tents that’s filled with mostly Europeans, especially Germans! The tent was decorated in yellow and red, with chandeliers and a band in the center of the room on an elevated stage. 

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Along with the mugs of beer, there were so many different kinds of pretzels! Salted soft, sugar, cinnamon, cheese, bacon & cheese: amazing. Our table ordered all different kinds, and filled up our stomachs for our long day ahead. 

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At noon, the mayor of Munich tapped the giant keg, and the celebrations began! Everyone rushed to get a free mug of beer from the keg, as women servers carried eleven mugs of beer at once! We were in awe. As the day went on, the celebration got bigger. Every now and then, someone would get on top of their table, chug their mug of beer, and the crowd would go crazy. But, if you were unable to finish (which happened a few times), the crowd would boo until they sat down. 

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By about 5:00, everyone was wiped. We had been up for twelve hours at that point! My roommates and I went back to our hostel, took a quick nap, and went downstairs where a bunch of other kids were still drinking and celebrating. I would definitely recommend a hostel to future students visiting Oktoberfest! It was a great way to meet other American kids studying abroad. 

This weekend was an unforgettable weekend; Saturday was one of my favorite days abroad. Celebrating with friends that we haven’t seen in months at one of the biggest celebrations in the world! Cheers to an amazing time at Oktoberfest, talk to you all on Monday!