Making Memories

Whoa. It’s been two weeks since my last post! I guess I’ve been so caught up with enjoying myself that I forgot about it! Since so much has happened in these past 14 days, I’ll just touch on some of my favorite moments and days.

October 2, 2014:

The first night in Rome, I met my best friend. I kid you not it was love at first sight, her name is Caroline. She has a southern kindness and funny persona that just makes you want to be around her. I’m sure everyone knows someone who is like that in their life. Well anyways, Caroline’s family came to Rome during this time and one of the nights we all decided to go out for dinner at the Hard Rock (yes, they have that here). We were all craving American food like no other and let me tell you…the next morning I woke up and was still full from that bacon burger with an onion ring on it.

October 3, 2014:

Something cool happened today. I got featured on the Alex and Ani blog page! I sent in a picture to the company of my bracelets, just telling them that I really enjoy their bangles and love their message that they share. I also gave a little detail into why I took the picture and what my bracelets mean to me. The next thing I know, I received multiple emails from the company saying they want to feature me. I proudly accepted!! I encourage you to read it!

http://www.alexandani.com/blog/positive-connections-fan-stories-33

October 6, 2014:

October 6th was a Monday. Monday’s are dreadful, except for this one. Similar to the story with Caroline, I have also become very close to Maddie, Caroline’s roommate. She is a crazy, goofy, self-confident, strong, and lovable person. She’s the kind of friend that you want to tell your whole life story to because you know she’ll listen to every word and love you for opening up to her. So going on, Maddie and I, after a weekend full of pasta eating, decided to go on a morning run. Despite us both being out of shape, we managed to run in total 4 miles to the Villa Borghese gardens. It was quiet and empty: nothing but the sound of other runners and the sight of a city just waking up. It was a phenomenal start to our morning and week.

October 7, 2014:

This Tuesday was so spontaneous and unexpected and that may be what I loved most about it. After a long day of stressing, studying, and hard classes, Caroline and I wanted to split a bottle of wine and talk on the terrace. We walked through the campo di fiori in our pajamas because we were just running out to get the wine and then coming right back. . Here was the dilemma…all the stores were closed. So as we were discussing in the square what to do, these 4 English boys started a conversation with us while they were sitting down drinking and eating. Well after explaining our problem to them, they generously bought us a glass of wine each and we joined them for a drink, in our pajamas. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be the most fun I have had. I don’t think I stopped laughing the entire time I was with them.

October 11, 2014

This was the Saturday where we took an all day tour to Tarquinia and Cerveteri. These are both ancient Etruscan tombs. I loved visiting these places because we got to see exactly what we learned about in class during the week. We also got to see the Tyrrhenian Sea and have lunch by it, which was beautiful. It was the perfect day.

October 12-18, 2014

This week is a pretty busy one. So far on Monday, I had an archaeology midterm, Tuesday (today), I had a religion test, and coming up I have to lead a discussion in mythology, on Thursday, and I have a paper due Friday for the same class. At first I was pretty stressed, but everyone is basically experiencing the same thing as me. I am lucky to have such good friends that keep me calm and focused, especially Mariah (the third roommate of Caroline and Maddie). She is almost always studying. It’s a funny story as to how Mariah and I met, my aunt was her high school math teacher and we ended up going to the same college. We met at school and towards the end of the year we became closer friends. However, it wasn’t until Rome that I would consider her a good friend of mine. When you spend almost every minute of every day together, you get to know someone pretty well. What I love about Mariah is that she always has a very calm demeanor, but she is always ready to try new things or do something fun. I admire her intelligence and her ability to smile and laugh at the little things. It makes her very easy to get along with and be around. As you can tell, I’ve made some great memories and great friends so far. I can’t wait to continue to explore Rome and all of Europe with these girls!!!

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Sights I’ve seen so far:

Pantheon

Spanish Steps

Piazza Navona

Trevi fountain

Fountain of the four rivers

The colosseum

Palatine Hill

Roman Forum

THE POPE

The Vatican

Piazza Popolo

Tiber River

Tarquinia Tombs

Cerveteri Tombs

Villa Giulia Museum

Villa Borghese Gardens

Italy National Museum

Tyrrhenian Sea

Holy Pope

It has been 7 days since my last blog and 10 days since I have arrived in Rome. I am amazed at how quickly I have become accustomed to the life here. I have successfully given directions to a tourist, ordered food in Italian, and even been told that I speak Italian well. I’d say I’m doing just fine for myself here in Italy.

After my first full weekend in Rome, all I have to say is wow. I wish weekends in the bend were this cool. On Friday we had a free tour with all the smicks, and a 15-euro dinner, which included unlimited wine…recipe for a perfect dinner and night. After our dinner we headed over to Almalu, which is a little bar in Trastevere. This place had Harry Potter shots so obviously I became obsessed immediately. My friends and I decided to try the Voldemort (he who must not be named) shot and let me tell you this…the he who must not be named shot must also, never be drank. I have never wanted to do a spit take so badly in my life. Never again. After a rather successful night out with the girls, we headed home in order to be up for our 9am tour with the school the next morning.

Saint Mary’s had a FULL day planned for us. Along with seeing the colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, we got to learn about everything. We received so much information that related back to what we learned in class the previous week. Although the tours were long and we spent more that 6 hours on our feet and walked over 9 miles, it was an amazing experience. My mind still cannot fathom how the artifacts and architecture have lasted all this time, and how exactly these places were built without modern day technology. If I wasn’t so intent on becoming a nurse, a career in ancient roman history would definitely be something I am interested in.

On the walk back from the colosseum, my friends and I noticed a growing crowd in front of a Jesuit church near our hotel. We sarcastically joked about seeing the pope come out of the church doors. Well, that joke became a reality when one of the guards mentioned that the pope would be arriving soon. I was immediately overcome with excitement. In less than an hour, the unimaginable became real. I never thought that I would see the pope or even be as close to him as I was. When he arrived, I was in shock. My body was shaking and being the emotional girl I am, I started to cry tears of joy. It is an indescribable feeling to be in the presence of the man who runs the Catholic community, and is worldly known. What an experience.

The next day, Sunday, a few girls and I decided to go to mass at the Vatican because the pope was having a mass for grandparents. So not only did I see the pope once, but I was able to sit through a mass given by his holy self. Although, I couldn’t understand the mass because it was in Latin, the structure was the same. It’s quite a beautiful gift from God that I was able to have two encounters with the pope in one weekend.

My journey here is only beginning and I have already seen and experienced so much. I have made great friends, who feel like extra sisters to me, and I feel at home here. I love what this trip has encouraged me to do so far and that is to step out of my own comfort zone.

Life here is great and I am doing well.

I wish you all the best back in the states.

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Sights I’ve seen so far:

Pantheon

Spanish Steps

Piazza Navona

Trevi fountain

Fountain of the four rivers

The colosseum

Palatine Hill

Roman Forum

THE POPE

The Vatican

Piazza Popolo

Tiber River

I’m in Rome!!

Let me first start by saying that I cannot begin to express the amount of joy and love that my heart has for my new home. I will try to describe to you how beautiful and amazing this city is, but I know my descriptions will not do it justice: Rome is incredible.

I left the United States eager and somewhat afraid. Saying goodbye to my family was hard to do, but being with about eight other familiar faces on the plane somehow made everything better. The plane took off and nine hours later I arrived in Rome. We were then met by a lady from school who showed us to our taxis. I’m pretty sure my taxi was the size of a smart car. Extremely tiny fiats are a thing here. It’s weird. The reason they’re so small is because the cobblestone roads that lead to hotels and shops are all on these miniature pathways that can fit only the smallest car. At times while in the taxi I could’ve sworn we weren’t going to fit between the buildings. After about a 30-minute drive, we arrived at the Albergo del Sole al biscione. I am living at the oldest hotel in Rome; its grounds are built on the same place where Julius Caesar was killed!

After getting settled in my room that, by the way, is extremely quaint and very homey feeling, we went to dinner at a little restaurant, which is right next to the hotel. We eat our dinners as a group here which is nice, it reminds me of family dinners back home. After dinner, a large group of us went to a pub called Scholar’s where we sang karaoke and stayed out too late…that made class the next day very difficult, but I survived. We received a tour on Monday of the location of our class building and cafe where we can use our meal tickets. Everything is so close to us! Except even though we are close, I still managed to end up lost with two other girls on our walk back from class. The coolest part about getting lost was that we ended up at the Pantheon. There is so much to see here and it’s amazing that I get to see something new every single day.

As much as I would love to describe every detail to you, I will keep this short. My hotel is in the heart of Rome, my school is building is a short walk away as well as the library and cafe. We are located right next to the campo di fiori which has tons of restaurants and a little market with everything you could ever dream of. The location is great, the hotel is great, school is a bit tough so far, but the food and wine help with that. I am so happy to be here, I am beyond excited to be traveling, and I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me!

Well it’s off to class for me.

Ciao for now!!!

Sights seen so far:

Pantheon

Spanish Steps

Piazza Navona

Trevi fountain

Fountain of the four rivers

Next Chapter

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As I sit here in my room just 5 days before I depart for my semester abroad, I can’t help but still feel like my trip is surreal; I cannot believe that all the meetings, hard work, and time waited have led to this well anticipated week. I am feeling both anxious and nervous as I pack the rest of my belongings and do my last minute errands. I never thought this day would actually come! I could not be more excited or feel any more blessed. Thanks to my parents, sisters, family, and friends my dream of visiting a country with so much beautiful history, art, and culture (let’s not forget amazing food) is finally coming true.

My emotions this week have gotten the best of me as I have said my goodbyes and see you laters. It’s a gift to have many people in your life that make it so difficult to say goodbye, even if it is only for 3 months. While most of my farewells have been sentimental there seems to be a common theme… “don’t get taken.” Okay, Seriously? That is the worst thought you can put into my head before I am about to leave the country, especially because I don’t have Liam Neeson to come rescue me. Despite that, I am thrilled to be leaving. Saint Mary’s has provided us with great accommodations right in the heart of Rome. It is going to be quite an adjustment to be living in a hotel, in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, and nothing familiar besides my fellow belles.

While I will miss my family, I know that the other 30-something smicks will become my family over these next three months—and that I couldn’t be happier about. Thirty amazing women in a remarkable country together…who knows what we will accomplish.

I am sincerely blessed to be taking this journey. I hope that those of you that read this will continue to follow my posts as I encounter the next chapter in my life.

God Bless.