24 November 2011

Happy Turkey Day from Roma!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I'm spending my Thanksgiving not forcing more food in my belly, but rather preparing for my trip this weekend. I'm going to Krakow, Poland and Auschwitz. I think it's an appropriate way to spend my Thanksgiving abroad, being thankful for everything I do have and not worrying about what I don't.

Never fear though. I have had the requisite turkey, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and stuffing. I also had pumpkin ravioli aka THE GREATEST RAVIOLI EVER.

Last night the JFRC hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner. Everyone expected the usual Mensa/cafeteria lines but instead we had tables with gold and maroon table clothes (yay, school spirit!), candles, delicious Chianti, and even little children running all over the place (Thank you Iodice, Schwarten, and Rinaldo families for providing absolutely adorable runnong-around-children).

It was fantastic. The food was WONDERFUL (way to step it up Mensa), the atmosphere delightful, and did I mention the pumpkin ravioli? (Which you can apparently find at Caputo's and other Italian grocery stores.)

Today I'm going to do laundry for my trip this weekend, work on my philosophy papers, eat Digestives+Peanut butter+milk chocolate, and generally be thankful.

I found this really interesting: How Americans Abroad are Spending Thanksgiving (an interactive map)

Baci e Grazie,

23 November 2011

When in Roma...Volunteer!

If I've discovered anything over the past few months, it's that studying abroad gives you way more learning opportunities than just travel. Keep in mind I'm using the John Felice Rome Center as my point of reference, but I'm pretty sure any program will offer you countless opportunities...

For example, here's what I've gotten to do other than travel:

1. Volunteer at an elementary school library and help create podcasts with third graders. (AOSR Third graders "A Just Right Book!")

2. Participate in a Flashmob in front of the Pantheon (scheduled for early December!)
I just came to say hello!
3. Participate in a philosophy conference on politics and what it means to be human. I'll let you know how that goes - happening Dec. 2! You can view my abstracts here.

4. Tour two awesome gelatarias. Due by Dec. 5th. Trust me, I'll keep you updated.

5. Really get to know your professors. Sometimes they take you out for pizza (on the school). Sometimes they invite you to their hometown for a scavenger hunt and pizza (talk about language immersion). Sometimes they buy you un caffe (which raises them to saint status). Sometimes they teach you common slang and hand gestures of Roma...basically, they're awesome.

6. Tour nifty places like the ICCROM labs because your archaeology professor taught the lead restorer.

Get the picture?


21 November 2011

Music FYI

For anyone traveling outside the US you might be in for a rude awakening.

Pandora doesn't work outside the US.

Never fear! The internet will save you! (As usual).

Introducing (something many of you probably already know about...)...8tracks!!!

You can make mixes (haven't done that yet so I don't know how difficult/easy that is), listen to mixes (search by artist, mixer, tags, descriptions), and just generally enjoy music!

It's great. And for added enjoyment, go to rainymood.com and have it on in the background, especially if you're stuck inside all day studying or such.


18 November 2011

One Month

The 17th of  November 2011 marked the one-month-left mark of my studies in Roma...

Where did time go?

No, really....where the hell did it go?

When I first arrived here I made sure that I didn't spend a single weekend evening in...even if that just meant getting lost and running into the Pantheon.

But last night, I went to bed early. What gives?!

I think this happens a lot when traveling - even for shorter amounts of time....there's a sense of urgency to fit everything in, but then you exhaust yourself...and end up saying - "tomorrow" or worse, "next weekend" - them you realize you have, like, three weekends left.


And how many papers? How many final projects? How many exams? WHY DID YOU WASTE YOUR TIME?

Sorry Lenon, this time "time you enjoy wasting" was wasted.

(Though it's usually not.)

BUT! You still have three weekends, several evenings, and the desire to correct this wrong! So get out there!!!! NOW! GET OFF IWASTESOMUCHTIME AND GO FORTH!!!

I'm only yelling because I love you. And please know that I am also yelling at myself.

Now I have to go and get lost.


Gelatiamo - it's a verb (a repost from the LUC blog)

I would love to tell you that you can do Florence, Venice, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in a three-day weekend....but I really recommend you don't (although if you must Florence makes a great jumping-off point).

Yes, Florence is small - but it has a ton of amazing museums that take HOURS to go through (all though we did cram the Uffici gallery - home toThe Birth of Venus in an hour and 15 mins) and a ton of shopping. A ton.

Venice is, well, Venice. Beautiful, simply beautiful. And surrounded by some islands you might want to check out, like the one where they make Murano glass.

Pisa, and specifically the Leaning Tower of, you can do in a day. Easy.

As I said, we did this in a weekend (of the JFRC three-day variety). We left EARLY Friday morning and were at our hostel in Florence by 11am. We dropped off our stuff and started walking. And walking. Because really that's all you do when exploring an Italian city. And oh, was the walk beautiful. We were heading towards il Duomo (the Cathedral)...it was more than a little breathtaking when it just kinda popped up.

It's getting a much needed bath.

Then we wandered to the leather market where I, of course, bought a leather journal. And a wool poncho. Because it was a very cold weekend. I have to admit, I was about to forsake Roma and Spoletto (my future homes) for Florence. Then I realized how small it was. And that it felt like there were more American students than Italians. Nevertheless, I shall return here and devote at least an entire three day weekend to it. When I'm rich - because even some of the churches cost money to visit.

Next day, up early, on a long train and we get to Venice just about at noon. Our train left at about 5:30PM to return to Florence (it's expensive to stay in Venice). After a really delicious sit-down lunch (OMG, REAL FOOD), we started heading towards Piazza di San Marco and the Rialto.

Found them finally:

Sunset view from the Rialto

Crazy beautiful. And crowded.

Downside? We walked a lot and fast (and got distracted a lot along the way) and even in the off-season

there were still mostly tourists. I felt like if I punched the wall it would crumble and Epcot would appear. Loved it! But I would like to be able to give it a three day weekend as well; hopefully I'd be able to find something that felt more authentic.

[Speaking of authentic - gelato is now a verb form, gelatare, as in "to get real, authentic, delicous, Italian gelato." For example:

One member of group: "I'm hungry"

Everyone else in group: "Gelatiamo!" (translation - "Let's gelato!")]

Next day, up early to go to Uffici - but we only had just over an hour because we had a train to Pisa. The walk from the Pisa station to the Leaning Tower of was rather long. But Pisa is a very beautiful Tuscan town so that was okay.

Giving it some love.

And we had a blast at the Leaning Tower of.

So in conclusion:

It was an amazing weekend! Never doubt that! But we were exhausted, I had shin splints and the anxiety of knowing we had barely scraped the surface of these places was a bit unsettling.

And of course, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Did I mention we rode in a gondola?

I'm on a gondola. Not to be confused with a boat. Gondolas > boats.

12 November 2011

Friend Map

According to Facebook, this is where my friends are/are from. Kind of nifty. 

It's a little misleading since I should be coming from the big-red-spot area as well.

09 November 2011

L'autunno a Roma

“December Prelude in Roma”

Birds are still chirping, dogs are still barking, and the breeze is still blowing – but there is an amber glow cast over everything as if Midas was dusting the world with gold. He pays close attention to the trees, taking his time. And so, when the air rushes through the leaves they make a sound so exquisite – a sound like you must have heard when you were being born – the rush of air into and around your ears must be the same as the sound of the air whipping past and around and through the dry and newly gilded leaves of tall tall trees and squat bushes.

And how like childhood when you were dancing in a dirt-devil of leaves through the graves of relatives and fellow parishioners – as you now walk through them in a gait befitting your age but inside you are seven again and surrounded by Skees and Merediths and Smiths who must be laughing at you from their graves and your grandfather too as he is lowered into his final resting place.

The crunch of the gilded leaves beneath your boots is so satisfying. Autumn is finally here and you are in a city three thousand miles from the graves of your family members and yet you are still there. You walk down a street over basalt cobblestones with motorinos and Fiats and Peugeots revving by and yet you are in the same town in which you first felt the air whoosh by your ears as you were born.

Do the monuments love this time as much as you? Do the ruins still buried or only just peeking out of the ground appreciate this golden carpet like you do? Surely ancient Roma understands that this golden beauty is just a prelude to the only time of the year when, standing under the branches of trees you can look up and see stars. 

(By Mari Thompson, published in "Ciao Roma," the lit magazine of the JFRC)


07 November 2011

It's a small world after all (a re-post from the LUC blog)

We all know the (in)famous song. In fact, it's probably stuck in your head right now.

But alas, 'tis true. It's a small world after all. I mean yes, the 7th Billion person was born a few days ago and yes there are well over 200 countries and yes it is a whole planet we're talking about - but take the following situation.

Clayton (girl I met on Santorini who is studying in Athens): Where are you from?

Me: Lousiville, KY - you?

Clayton: Napierville! You didn't by chance go to Sacred Heart did you?

Me: Um. Yes.

Clayton: My field hockey team played your field hockey team.

Me: Oh, cool.

Clayton and Friends sit on a volcanic rock.


The connections you make while traveling are just amazing to me. Simply amazing. This is one example, but I can't tell you how many times I hear someone tell a story and then just have to shake my head and say - oh, the tiny world of travel.

Clayton was a pretty amazing girl, as were her friends. I have met so many amazing people while traveling - some I've friended on Facebook, some I plan on seeing again, and some I'll probably never see again - except when we both just happen to be traveling in the same country, in the same city, and happen to sit down at the same restaurant or in front of the same church.

Because in the amazing world of travel stuff like that just happens. All the time.

06 November 2011

Genoa Floods

It's been cloudy here and it stormed last night but other than threatening clouds we've had very little rain...

Not so in Genoa.

Six people have died in Genoa alone, with a total of ten in the region.

On Friday, a third of the total average rainfall fell in only six hours.

Genoa is located in northern Italy.

Here's a short article with more information as well as political fallout.

Caribbean Paradise in Downtown Roma (a re-post from mydailycupoftea)

This is for the tea blog I write for, but I wanted to share it with you here because the story with it is funny (and typical).

Category: Fruit Infusion

It took A LOT for me to bring you this tea review.

Since finding tea in Roma is so spotty, I did some Google research before going out. I thought I had found a place. I knew the street it was supposed to be on, the name, as well as the general way to get there. I found the street (finally). I never found the Bar though. In fact, I accidentally ended up where I started (I knew this because I was suddenly next to the vintage store I had discovered earlier that morning and where I had purchased a pair of shoes – i.e. where I had started). 

I decided to do further research and return later. I was supposed to be at Il Gesù, a very famous church in Roma, for a tour at 4PM, so I headed there with my friend. When we got there I really had to go to the bathroom – so I walked down a random alley heading towards a bar and what should be on the side of the door but the words “TEA ROOM.” I got really excited.

Especially when I entered and they actually had a tea selection! Whittington Superior Teas. They in fact had a selection of 40 teas. You can see all the flavors here.

I chose number 27 – Caribbean Paradise. Then I ran to the bathroom.

Upon returning for my tea, I did commit a Roman faux pas – I asked for it “al via” – for the street. I had to get back for the tour. Normally this is a no-no – you either sit or stand at the bar. So I received it in a clear plastic cup – two in fact, one inside of the other for insulation purposes I assume since I still had to hold it at the top so as not to burn my hands.

It was well worth the €2. As you can see from the picture it is supposed to taste of coconut, mango, and some other tropical fruit – it did! Especially the coconut. You could really smell it (awesome smell, very aromatic) but the taste was more of the mango. It was a very lively tea – I think it would have been extremely delicious if it were cold. As it was, it was only a delicious fruit infusion, or tisane (no true tea in it). The next time I’m up near Piazza di Popolo or the Spanish Steps I think I’ll stop in and try another. I’m thinking number 32 or number 7.

By the way. We were at the wrong Il Gesù. Completely wrong end of Via del Corso. They’re offering another tour in December for those who missed it though. 

See the post in its original setting here: http://mydailycupoftea.com/caribbean-paradise-in-downtown-roma!

05 November 2011


First off, here's all the pics...

These are from the JFRC party as well as hanging out with Gli Italiani on Saturday night. Awesome. I was a flapper. 

So here in Italy they don't really celebrate Halloween like we do. In fact, it's only been in the last 30-40 years that it has been celebrated at all. And they definitely don't trick or treat - it'd be really difficult with the apartment style living. 

Clearly the JFRC chooses not to emulate Italians when it comes to this. 


03 November 2011

It never leaves you...

Unfortunately, I'm not talking about Roma this time. I'm referring to that ever constant monster hovering over your shoulder. Sacred Heart girls, you know what I mean...IB.

On Wednesdays I volunteer at the AOSR (American Overseas School Roma) in the library. One day, while walking down the hall I noticed this:

Then in the library I heard a student mention "that Campbell" guy - to which I responded "the journey of the hero?" just under my breath. Another student said, almost simultaneously, "the journey of the hero." They were discussing Song of Solomon.



Attack of the Cute!!!

So sometimes I like to mix things up. You know, instead of doing Italian homework I like to meander around Facebook. Where I find things that keep me occupied all morning...

I introduce you to... ATTACK OF THE CUTE!

Happy Halloween!

OMG, You're so boooring!

Chubby cheeks.

How terribly fascinating.

I'd say that's enough for today.