Friday, August 6, 2010


Colloseum, Piazza Navona, Pantheon

The Colloseum (left), The Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona (middle), The Pantheon (right).

Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps

Things look a little different during the day! Here is the Trevi Fountain and me (middle) and my friends standing in front of the Spanish Steps. These pictures were taken on day two.

First Night Pictures!

These pictures were taken the first night. The first picture is of all of us overlooking the Spanish Steps . The bottom two pictures are taken by the Trevi Fountain .

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Last Week (final entry)

By the end of the four week program, you’d think we’d know Rome like the back of our hands. Well, speaking for myself, this claim falls false to the reality. The reality is that Rome, and most of Italy for that matter, is full of surprises. If you go for a walk, you will most likely turn a corner and bump into a basilica from the 14th century with the most beautiful rose windows you’d ever see. If you continued on your walk, you would soon bump into a fountain. There are fountains everywhere in Rome; almost every piazza has one. If you take the touristy route (which is not a bad thing by any means), you’ll probably see Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. If you go your own way and venture through the curvy side streets, you’ll find children gathering at smaller fountains—wetting their hands and cooling their faces. I’m not the type of person who is innately good with direction. In fact, I’m the person who tends to get a little lost. In Rome, I didn’t mind getting lost at all. Needless to say, I always traveled with my friends and if we got lost we’d figure out our way together. However, the times I did get lost in Rome, ended up being so rewarding. I got to see an elderly woman shaking out a white towel from her window and laying it out on a clothesline to dry. I also got to see a woman greeting the butcher and buying bread and meats for lunch. There is a whole other world outside of the museums and main attractions.

During our final week in Italy, the program took us to Capri. Capri is a small island off the coast of Naples. I have never before been to an island, and after seeing Capri, I don’t think any other island will match up to the beauty. Capri was gorgeous! The water was clear and cool and the mountains were full of green, luscious trees and yellow and blue flowers. We all jumped onto small buses so we could explore the mountain town. I will never forget that ride up the mountain. The streets zigzagged and the bus made blind wide turns—at some points I couldn’t tell if I was left breathless from the beauty of the island or my fear of falling off of it. After the bus dropped us off, we all had a bite to eat. We had spaghetti Bolognese and the most delicious French vanilla ice cream. From the restaurant, my friends and I took a chair lift (very similar to a ski lift) to the very top of the mountain. From the summit, we could see the entire island. I got to see the small houses resting in their own little nook on the mountain side, children climbing rocks and young men preparing their boats for a day out at sea. After taking many pictures, we took the lift back down to the mountain town and took our small bus to the coast where we rented a boat. We spent a half hour or so on the boat, feeling the cool, salty breeze pushing our hair back and watching the sun light dance on the ocean waves. Soon, the boat came to a stop and the entire group stripped to their bathing suits and jumped off the boat! It was, by far, the most liberating thing I’ve ever experienced.

After we returned to Rome, the week went by pretty fast. We tried to do as much as possible but before we knew it, we were back on a bus, traveling up to Tivoli for our farewell dinner. All 140 of us, polished and dressed up, took pictures at a park full of fountains on the mountain side. Then, we went to our farewell dinner: A delicious five course meal including tiramisu from the Gods. Everyone drank wine and danced and sang songs and laughed as one big family.

I’m writing this in my room back in Queens. It’s weird being home. I miss my friends and my constantly busy life. I miss the gelaterias at every corner and I definitely miss the feeling that anything could happen. So, I’m allowing myself to get a little emotional now. I really believe I grew a lot in Italy. I learned a lot more than I expected to. Yeah, I learned a lot about Italy and its history, culture and art but I also learned a lot about living. Simply put, Italy taught me how to live. It taught me how to see the beauty in the little things and how to communicate and joke around with people despite any barrier (even as challenging as a language barrier). I had the time of my life in Italy and I made the friends of a lifetime. The memories I made will stay in my heart forever.

Anyone who is contemplating on whether to do study abroad or not, I strongly recommend taking this trip to Italy. My only advice is to make sure you follow through on your plans and actually go, don’t hesitate! In the words of a friend from the trip, Victoria G., “Let’s Live!”

Monday, July 26, 2010

This Past Week...

The past two weeks flew by so quickly. One thing that I learned here is that you NEED to cherish every minute on the Italian clock, otherwise time becomes the enemy.

This past week, we all went to Florence, Venice, Padova, Assisi, Pompei and Sorrento. Compared to the busy and loud Roman streets, these cities are calm and scenic. Florence, where the Art Renaissance was born, is a small and charming city. Walking through Florence was like stepping through a time portal and walking the streets of the 14th century. Since we arrived in Florence in the late afternoon, we had our city tour at night. The churches, especially the Duoma, look beautiful against the night sky. Many piazzas were full of live music. An Italian played Oasis’ “Wonderwall” on his acoustic and everyone stopped to have a listen. The streets seem to be full of people all the time—even during the late hours of the night. The following day was feverishly hot. However, we spent much of the afternoon at the Academia: Florence’s museum where Michelangelo’s statue of David stands. Photographs of David do not do it justice. The statue is huge and every detail, from the flowing curls of his hair to the stresses within the arm muscles, portrays the statue’s youth and strength incredibly.

Florence was hard to leave. From Florence we took a trip to the leaning tower of Pisa; which, in complete honesty, was a bit disappointing. We took pictures, watched street performers and shopped around for a bit before leaving Pisa for Venice.

Venice, on the other hand, is a dream. Imagine a city without cars. Streets are canals and your taxi is a gondola. Venice is a bit touristier than Rome and Florence but it is so wonderfully different that tourism is the last thing on your mind. It was in Venice where my friends and I had the most delicious and expensive meal during our stay in Italy. We figured that we might as well splurge on the fresh seafood. The spaghetti and clams were worth every euro!

Our last night in Venice was very special because there was a huge festival. My friends and I bought Venetian masks and wore them that night as we watched a firework show over the main canal. It was a great way to end our excursion.

As soon as we got back to our hotel in Rome, the days began to feel longer since they were packed with trips to museums and churches. We found some spare time to go shopping near the Spanish steps where the Rome version of 5th Avenue is located. It was nice to be back in Rome. The owner of the local gelateria was definitely happy to see us and I was definitely happy to eat the coconut and nutella ice cream again.

A few days ago, we hopped on our bus again and left Rome for Pompeii and Sorrento for the day. Pompeii is a small city of ruins. We got to walk through the ancient city and see the Volcano in the background (I was secretly crossing my fingers in hope that it wouldn’t erupt despite its occasional loud noises).

Okay, Sorrento! Sorrento was definitely the highlight of my trip. I have never seen a city so beautiful. Sorrento sits on a cliff next to the ocean. The view is gorgeous, absolutely breathtaking. The bus driver took us through the city and although seeing the artsy shops and the locals walking through the streets was interesting, we were all itching to jump into that clear, cool water. As soon as the driver let us off the bus, we all headed down the mountain and took a dip in the ocean. The water was salty but so clear and almost warm from baking under the hot sun all day. We only had a couple of hours in Sorrento, my friends and I wanted to stay in the ocean in protest for more time. Reluctantly, we headed back to the bus.

Anyway, I have exactly one week until I return to New York. Would it be so horrible if I “accidentally” missed my flight and just stayed in Italy forever?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

the first few days in Roma

I am having the time of my life. It's been a week since I left NYC but it feels as if I've been in Rome for months. The pre-departure nerves I had last week now seem, to be frank, a bit stupid. In just one week I've seen most of Rome, experienced the nightlife, seen beautiful churches and architecture and made the most amazing friends.

Although I've been taking loads of pictures here, I won't be posting them for a while. My time on the computer is limited so I'll upload pictures to my blog the second I return to the states (August 1st).

Anyway, it's really hot here and we walk for hours off end everyday. Every time we return to the hotel, we jump in the shower--even if we only have 5 mintues until our next rendevous. The day tours around Rome are both scorching and exhausting but they're so worth it. Plus, the heat during the day make the cooler nights that much more enjoyable.

Last Monday, the day we arrived in Rome, we explored the streets surrounding our hotel. Our hotel, the Grand Hotel Palazzo Carpegna, is located about 20 minutes north from the city's center so we have to take either the bus or the metro to get downtown. In the evening, a group of about 20 students, including myself, took the metro to the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is beautiful, especially at night. Tourists and even locals gather around the fountain to eat gelatto, drink vino, socialize and throw coins into the fountain in exchange for wishes. It's very romantic actually. Couples hold each other close and different languages echo through the surrounding streets.

After a good hour at the Trevi, some of the group retired back to the hotel. However, me and about 8 others were still eager to venture the Roman streests so we walked to the Spanish Steps: A series of steps located in the Piazza di Spagna that is packed with tourists during the day but is full of young socializing locals by night. Within a few hours, these last 8 students became "my people": my group of friends who fearlessly explore the foreign streets and who eventually became my closest friends on the trip.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Ciao…everybody! My name is Jessie and in a two short weeks I’ll be on my way to Italy. The program is going to be incredible and I am completely prepared to have the time of my life—except for the fact that I don’t speak a word of Italian (as you might have guessed from my opening line). Regardless, I’m excited about experiencing the Italian culture, art, history, fashion and food --very, very excited about the food!

While the program is mainly taking place in Rome, it will also take me to Florence, Venice, Capri, Naples, Pompeii and Assisi. That’s four weeks of feasting on the lifestyle of Italy’s major cities. In complete honesty, it didn’t hit me that I’m going to Italy this summer until I started writing this blog. So, right now, I’m a bit overwhelmed with both excitement and nerves.

This will be the second time I’ll in Rome, however; the first time I was with my family. I remember visiting the Vatican City and also walking the streets by the Spanish Steps. I remember seeing Venice and the gondolas in action. Beautiful! Most of all, I remember visiting Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Out of tradition, I stood with my back against the fountain and tossed a coin over my right shoulder—wishing to return to Italy. Little did I know that no more than four years later, my wish would come true.

In two weeks I’ll be on the plane to Rome. I haven’t even started packing yet but I’ve been looking at my suitcase for a week now—we’ll call that progress. I did buy my plane tickets, my books and made multiple copies of my passport. I also met my roommate who seems very nice and fun. She’s also an Italian major which is a definite plus. I’m really excited about meeting her.

I’m taking two classes while I’m in Rome. I’m taking an Art History class and a Sex and Politics in Italian Cinema class. My parents were a bit hesitant with the second class, naturally, but how could you go wrong with Italian Cinema? Besides, Professor Mignone is going to be teaching a bunch of the classes and he’s brilliant and enthusiastic.

I can hardly believe I’m going to be in Italy for four weeks. I can hardly write it, let alone say it out loud! My fingers are trembling from the adrenaline rush, but the psychology major in me is telling me to embrace it.

I’ll write again soon!


Monday, June 14, 2010

First Blog!

My first blog is coming soon!