France, England, & Ireland

As you may know, we’ve moved on from Seville to Paris for the last six weeks of the semester. I should probably mention that we’ve already been here for four weeks and are going home two weeks from today! I’m a terrible blogger, I know. Since so much has happened in the past few weeks, this post will mostly be a summary of everything (and mostly in pictures).

The Eiffel Tower

The Pantheon with Agathe and Nico

STJ friends meet Paris friends!

Sacre Coeur

Gardens at the Palace of Versailles

Party at Nico’s flat

We only had two weeks of classes before spring break and my friends Danielle, Alyssa, Stefany, and I all decided to go to England and Ireland.

Off to Hogwarts!

Big Ben and Parliament

Abbey Road

Ireland

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

The Guinness Brewery, Dublin

Temple Bar, Dublin

King John’s Castle, Limerick

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

Our trip was amazing albeit extremely expensive, but we all decided it was definitely worth it! One of the best parts was probably being able to communicate with everyone in English!

Night out in Paris!

***

Yesterday we took a trip to the beaches of Normandy, the American Cemetery and Memorial, and Pointe du Hoc. It was an incredibly powerful and overwhelming experience to be on the site where so many young Americans honorably lost their lives.

Omaha Beach

“Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.”

The American Cemetary

The American Cemetery

Pointe du Hoc

The service of our young men and women is one of the many reasons I am so proud to be an American.

Overall, everything has been going really well but I definitely miss home. I can’t wait to come back after I get through these final papers and exams!

Au revoir, Emily <3

Updates From Seville

So it’s been an extremely long time since I last updated, but I’m continuing to love Seville and everything it has to offer! With only a week left here though, I figured I better fill you in on all of my adventures!

So to start off, my classes have been going pretty well. I am taking Spanish, ethics, and continuing my semester-long online politics of the European Union class. Out of about 15 students in my Spanish class, I am one of three who had never taken the language before (I took French in high school). Needless to say, I was a little thrown off the first day of class when our professor spoke solely in Spanish. I have surprised myself though, with how quickly I’ve caught onto the language. It’s actually very similar to French in terms of structure and some vocabulary. There’s not much to say about my ethics class other than that it is run by a very nice old Spanish professor who speaks English, but with a very heavy and sometimes difficult to understand accent. In the class we had to choose an ethical topic to do a presentation on and my group and I chose to talk about the ethics of factory farming. Factory farming is a huge issue in the United States that most directly affects the animals, the people who eat factory farmed food, and the environment. It is one of the main reasons I am vegetarian. In the European Union, probably not surprisingly, there are strict guidelines on the production of animal products. For the most part, factory farming does not exist in Europe in the way that it does in the United States. For my online politics of the EU class I actually chose to do a blog entry on the guidelines set by the EU in terms of agricultural practices. Other than weekly blog entries for our politics of the EU class, we are required to do weekly journal entries, weekly textbook chapter assignments, and most recently we’ve been assigned a paper on EU youth and unemployment. We also took our midterm exam on Monday which I’m almost certain I did well on. While I enjoy the content of the course, I miss the classroom aspect of learning. In addition, the professor is somewhat difficult to communicate with and is very slow to grade assignments. Enough with classes though, moving on to my adventures!

The university has paid for two trips for us to go to Portugal, both of which were nice, but I definitely preferred our first trip to Monte Gordo.

Monte Gordo, Portugal

Monte Gordo, Portugal

In Monte Gordo, we had the beach on one side of the street and a small beach town on the other. Everything was close together and fun to explore. On the other hand, Tavira, the other city we visited in Portugal had a beach and a town but they were separated by at least a mile walk. In general, I just felt like the second trip wasn’t as fun as there wasn’t as much to do. But I can’t complain about a free trip to Portugal!

Tavira, Portugal

On our own, Danielle, Kim, Gina, and I took a day trip to Cadiz, Spain for “carnaval.” We took an early train down south and explored the city and the beach while observing a classic Spanish holiday, similar to Halloween, where all the children and even adults get dressed up in costumes.

Cadiz, Spain

After a long day of walking around, we sat on the beach to watch the sun set.

Cadiz, Spain

Eventually we made it back to the train station and headed back up to Seville.

Chris’s girlfriend Mia, who is also me and Danielle’s former roommate and great friend, came to visit for a week. That weekend our friend Giuseppe also came to visit from Rome, where he is in the St. John’s University semester-long program. While they were here, Chris and I showed them some of the most interesting parts of Seville which included feeding the pigeons in the Plaza de America, renting a 4-person bike to ride through the Parque Maria Luisa, rowing a boat around Plaza de España, sightseeing, and enjoying true Spanish cuisine.

Plaza de America

Parque Maria Luisa

Plaza de España

Cathedral Sevilla

Tapas & Sangria

While Giuseppe was here we also visited the inside of the Cathedral Sevilla, and the Real Alcazar, which were things we hadn’t done before.

Seville Cathedral

The Cathedral Sevilla houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus, and is the largest gothic church in the world. It is, in addition, incredibly beautiful.

The Real Alcazar is a royal palace in Seville which was originally a Moorish fort. From the outside, the palace doesn’t seem too impressive, but once inside it seems like it goes on forever. The inside is beautiful, but the gardens outside are expansive and breathtaking. There are fountains, flowers, pools of fish, mazes through shrubbery, and peacocks to feed. We were only there for about an hour and a half, but could have stayed all day.

Real Alcazar

English Gardens of Real Alcazar

English Gardens of Real Alcazar

Now, onto probably my most interesting trip since being abroad: Morocco, Africa! Our short trip included riding camels, experiencing Moroccan cuisine, getting unmercifully nagged to buy carpets, toy camels, magic lamps, and any other souvenirs, and touring Tangier.

Camel-Riding in Tangier, Morocco

Vegetarian Curry

Moroccan Carpet & Home Shop

The View From Our Hotel Room Balcony

Where the Mediterranean Meets the Atlantic Ocean

Caves of Hercules Tanger, Morocco

The trip was very interesting and Tanger is so unlike any other city I’ve visited. I didn’t spend a lot of money, but I constantly felt like people were trying to rip us off, including our tour guide who brought us only to specific shops and apparently made commission off of anything that we bought. The constant nagging made walking through Chinatown in New York seem like a joke. The vendors in Morocco would follow us for blocks with sunglasses, bags, hats, t-shirts, and random souvenirs and even followed us to our tour van and knocked on the windows still trying persistently to sell us things as our driver was driving away. Overall, I enjoyed the trip as it was beautiful, fun, cultural, and inexpensive for everything that we saw and did, but I think we were all happy to come back to Seville.

Since this is our last weekend in Spain, we’ve decided to stay put to enjoy our last few days. I’m definitely going to miss this when we go to Paris!

Adios, Emily <3

Ciao Rome, Hola Seville

I’ve left Rome behind me and am now enjoying sunny Seville!

After a series of flight delays on Thursday, we finally made it to our “campus” at around midnight. We got settled and eventually crashed before waking up early for orientation. Following the presentation on rules and guidelines for the next five weeks, we split into groups to visit our academic service learning sites. The Spanish class that I am enrolled in allows me to go to a local high school and help teach the students there English. In Rome, the academic service learning that I partook in was at a local soup kitchen and while it was a great experience, I’m much more excited to have this opportunity at the high school.

Today, we went on a walking tour around Seville and to the historical center of the city. To be completely honest, I had relatively low expectations of Spain but fell in love with the blue skies, sunshine, and warm weather!

So how does Seville measure up against Rome? Here are some observations so far:

The weather is much nicer!
Spanish food is less vegetarian friendly.
Our location in Seville isn’t as great as our location was in Rome.
Despite our location, our rooms are good and we have private bathrooms.
The city is more drive-able than Rome.
The cars are bigger.
The helado isn’t as good as gelato.
Clothes, shoes, etc. are less expensive.
Less people speak English.
Unlike in Rome, it’s not uncommon to see people run/jog and ride bikes.
The service learning opportunity is more interesting.
The people are more laid back.

Adios, Emily <3

Colosseum & Miscellania

So we finally made it to the inside of the Colosseum on Thursday!

After we walked around inside we took a break near the Arch of Constantine and then continued on to explore the ruins.

We took the metro back from the Colosseum and when the train pulled into the station we were deliberately bumped into and distracted by gypsies while other gypsies stuck their hands in our pockets and tried to get into our bags. Fortunately we were extremely alert  and, as New Yorkers, more confrontational than perhaps a group of touristy girls from Wyoming. From start to finish, the whole ordeal lasted at most 10 seconds and the gypsies left startled and empty-handed. It was a terrifying experience, but a good reminder that you can never let your guard down.

Danielle and I had planned on going to Florence for the weekend, but with snow in the forecast we cancelled and instead went out to dinner last night with a group of about 20 people.

Danielle took the amazing picture of the Pantheon above!

For 15€ at Miscellania we got salad/bruschetta, bread, pasta, pizza, unlimited red and white wine, and ice cream and strawberry wine for dessert. Talk about a good deal!

We were planning on going out afterwards, but since there are no plows or shovels in Rome and everyone’s feet were soaked and freezing, we ended up coming home instead. Even without doing anything after dinner, we had an awesome night.

Ciao, Emily <3

Tidbits of Rome

I haven’t posted in a few days, but that’s mostly because we haven’t done anything extremely interesting and I haven’t taken many pictures.

On Wednesday morning, we attended a Papal Audience with Pope Benedict XVI in the Paul VI Audience Hall. It wasn’t as much a religious ceremony like I had expected, but more of an informal while still very respectful event.

After we got back to campus on Wednesday, we found out the results for the photo scavenger hunt and while we didn’t win the contest overall, we did win “best photo” and free gelato thanks to this picture from the Pantheon:

Other than that, we’ve pretty much just been studying and enjoying Rome.

We went to Ottimo last night for dessert and by default ordered the incredible chocolate lava cakes:

Today we had plans to go with the school to Tivoli, but when we made it downstairs this morning we were greeted with the news that because of the snow (yes, snow) the trip was cancelled.

Instead our advisor, Domenico, took us all out to breakfast. I’d say that was worth waking up early for.

I’ve started posting my videos on my YouTube channel if you’re interested in watching! Most of them are just random bits and pieces of our days here, nothing too serious.

Ciao, Emily <3

Rome Photo Scavenger Hunt

The faculty here at the St. John’s University Rome campus created a photo scavenger hunt throughout the city for the undergraduate students. First prize wins dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, and second prize wins gelato from the gelateria across the street from campus. Here is what our group (The Photobombers) came up with:

CREATIVE:

1. Roman Fashion

2. Native Roman

3. Tourist

4. Roman Animal

PERSONAL:

5. Favorite thing to do in Rome

6. Favorite Food

7. Favorite mode of transportation

8. Favorite place in Rome

MOVIE TRIVIA:

9. How Princess Ann and Joe Bradley get around Rome during their holiday

10. The first church that Robert Landon thinks is where the Illuminati will make their move

11. Where Maximus must battle with a tiger

12. What Sylvia wears on her head while walking around at night with Marcello

ROME TRIVIA:

13. Building that used to serve as the Pope’s fortified fortress when Rome was under attack

14. Fountain that features statues that personify the 4 major rivers of the world

15. Famous staircase in Rome that was modeled after the steps leading up to the Sacre-Coeur basilica in Paris

16. Fountain statue that depicts Moses with horns on his head 

IMPORTANT PEOPLE:

17. Barista

18. Daniele De Rossi

19. Carabinieri

20. Una Suora

There was a VIP question which asked for a picture of the keyhole through which you can see St. Peter’s basilica, but we were unable to get that one. We sent Giuseppe and Chris to go find it which simply proves that you can’t rely on boys for anything. Joking aside, we had fun participating in the scavenger hunt and ended up learning a lot more about Rome than if we had just done the usual sightseeing. We find out the results on Wednesday, so fingers crossed until then!

Ciao, Emily <3

Roaming Rome

Does Rome ever have bad weather? Nine times out of ten this is the perfection that I wake up to in the morning:

To take advantage of the weather yesterday, Chris and I went for a walk to explore the city.

We followed the river south until we came to Tiber Island.

After exploring the island for a few minutes, we headed to the east side of the river where we stumbled upon Largo di Torre Argentina, which hosts four Republican Roman temples, and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre.

We then followed Via di Torre Argentina to the Pantheon:

After we got back from what ended up being a five mile walk, we finished up some homework before heading to dinner with Giuseppe at Grotto Azzurra, a restaurant near campus. I ordered gnocchi al pesto which was probably one of my favorite meals since being in Rome. We finished our dinner with espresso and complimentary Limoncello.

Before we went back to campus, we decided we wanted dessert so we stopped at another restaurant, Ottimo, for molten chocolate lava cakes and moscato.

Exploring and eating are two of my favorite pastimes in Rome, so yesterday was definitely an enjoyable day.

This morning I woke up and started my day with a 3 mile run in the gorgeous sunshine. The rest of my day will probably consist of studying for the upcoming quiz we have in Moral Theology of the Marketplace this afternoon…

Ciao, Emily <3