Tag Archives: reflection

I left my heart in Rome.. because that’s where it belongs.

23 May

Leaving what had become my home and my adventure for the past 4 months, I clearly needed to be sedated. I can’t really tell you much about the hours leading up to my departure mostly because I tried to black them out (theoretically and literally), but also because I find them too depressing to put into words. Saying “goodbye” to the people who had become my makeshift family, using my last bit of Italian before it would be no longer accepted, and soaking in the last bit of being the minority that was either praised or hated by the natives, it all meant that my time in Rome was quickly coming to an end. Sooner than I would have hoped for.

Now, I’ve been home for almost a month now and I have experienced a wide variety of emotions since returning. Those emotions include nostalgia, mild-depression, satisfaction, and bliss. There are many things one must prepare themselves for when coming home to America:

  • It’s fugly
  • Your clothes won’t fit
  • Food doesn’t taste half as great
  • You will actually feel safe crossing the road
  • You will feel a hell of a lot lazier due to the lack of walking EVERYWHERE
  • English isn’t THAT great
  • Friendships may/may not be the same as when you left
  • People don’t care as much about your experience as they say they do/you had hoped they would
  • NO ONE understands, unless they’ve also studied abroad
  • You WILL binge eat and most likely gain more weight than you did abroad

I found this excerpt about returning Home and I couldn’t have explained it any better:

“Home is a funny thing. All we wanderers, and expats, and wanderlusters, and adrenaline junkies, and road-trippers – we can’t help but come back broken hearted. We find ourselves back in the old places, passing time in old jobs bartending or selling cars, with one foot out the door and half an eye on the next adventure. Our hearts hurt. We get stuck in the past and can’t seem to reconcile where we’ve been with where we are. Faces and memories fly by – and you can’t get over the fact that you’ll probably never see most of them again.

But we forget to count our chips. We forget that – for better or worse – it’s all part of the deal. The adventure. The heartache. They don’t mix too well, but they sure ain’t sold separately. The true travelers venture out for experience and much more. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and open our eyes as wide as we can and stand it for as long as we can stand it, because – that’s living. Heartbreak is the nature of our business, the necessary flip side to falling in love in Paris, drinking a Stiegl at the top of a mountain in Austria, trying to get yourself up on a surfboard off the coast of Beirut, passing time getting to know people and smoking hookah on a seaside dock in Saudi Arabia.

It’s hard to leave pieces of your heart lying on the ground of city streets 3000 miles away. But it’s beautiful. We weren’t meant to come back with a fluffy conscience and a clear head. My heart aches for old memories. I miss old friends. And I always will. There’s no getting over it. But that’s what happens when you live with heart open and palms up. My heart didn’t get taken. I went with it open. It hurt then because I knew it wasn’t forever – and it hurts now because the times are behind me. But in the emptiness there is love. Parts of myself are gone. They belong to people and places far away, and that’s where they’ll stay. And if you want to have adventures, you have to be OK with that. You have to know from the start that the thing is going to change you – and then you have to let it.”


WATCH ME- Study Abroad 2013 Compilation

Thanks to all my blog followers for sharing my experiences with me and commenting! This blog wouldn’t have been as satisfying and enjoyable without all of you! I hope you get to experience everything that I have been so blessed to experience.

I want to dedicate “C’era Una Volta” to everyone I met (new friends, my Italian family, bar owners, family friends, and old friends) in Europe who turned my “Once upon a time” experience into the unbeatable and unforgettable time of my life.

Until another time,



“Me” Time: Gianicolo Hill

10 Feb


It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living in Rome for exactly one month. Time has flown by. As much as it feels like I just arrived yesterday, since I got here I’ve learned so much about myself, other people, and life in general. This is pretty much my first “real world” experience as an adult. I’m cooking every meal on my own, booking trips, and traveling across the continent. For the first time I’ve realized that I don’t have an endless supply of money, so I needed to learn how to budget. Although I’ve been living on my own at college for a couple years and have traveled to several different places around the world before coming here, all of those experiences feel like training for this whirlwind of a semester abroad.

I can’t say that I’ve been homesick yet (key word: yet), but obviously I do miss home. I have a major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Of course I do miss my family, but I know they’ll always be there for me. More than anything I miss Marquette, all my friends, and those damn cheese curds! When I say Marquette I’m definitely not talking about the schoolwork. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m actually in school here, but it’s just not working. Not only is it probably the fact that I only have 3 days of school a week, I also think it’s hard to believe you’re at school when you come from the industrial city of Milwaukee, WI to the ancient city of Rome where you’re surrounded by history, adventures, amazing food, gorgeous people, and palm trees (Still trying to figure that one out!).

I LOVE SUNDAYS! Back at home I hate them because Sundays mean waking up at the break of dawn, heading to the library, and not leaving until you’re about to die of starvation or you finish your work (aka never). But here Sundays are just another exploration day, yet much more relaxing. As the weather’s getting warmer there are more people out and about since all the businesses are closed on Sundays.

All of the cafes I wanted to go to were closed, so I started my day at some random cafe near the Pantheon with un caffe e un mille-feuille, or napoleon. Yeah, don’t worry.. I took the “tinier” piece.


After walking around for a while and doing some quick grocery shopping for our “family” dinners this week, we headed back towards campus. It was beautiful out. 50 degrees, clear sky, and the sun was beating down on me. I was not about to go and sit in my apartment for the rest of the day. Instead, I decided to hike up to Gianicolo Hill. It’s right up the street from campus, but a very very uphill hike. If I wasn’t wearing a jacket and carrying my purse and groceries I probably would have been fine, but halfway up I felt like Fat Amy.

fat amy

Never the less, I made it to the top and honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. These pictures will never do the view justice. Before really soaking in the scenery I popped a squat on a bench in front of the massive Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. Half because it felt like the perfect “reflection location” and half because this fatass needed to catch her breath.




It was upon this hill that in 1849 Garibaldi defended the Roman Republic against the French forces. Aside from the breathtaking view of the city and its numerous domes and bell towers, there are many monuments atop the hill honoring Garibaldi and the fallen soldiers of the Italian Independence wars.

Independence War Memorial

Independence War Memorial



Manfredi Lighthouse

Manfredi Lighthouse

The walk was so relaxing and peaceful. It was nice to be surrounded by so much greenery and be able to breathe in the fresh scent of the cyprus trees. Instead of continuing my walk on the gravel road, I thought it would be smarter to hike along the empty dirt trail where if someone wanted to rob, kidnap or kill me, they probably could have and no one would have seen a thing (I’ve watched too many scary movies in my life). I followed the quiet path up to a flight of stone steps that lead to the tippy top of Gianicolo Hill.

Garibaldi Monument

Garibaldi Monument


The overlook was packed with people sitting on the ledge, street vendors, music, and a bar hut (keeping this in mind for the future..) The cobblestone is covered with confetti and champagne corks because of all the Carnevale (Mardi Gras) festivities. I don’t know where Tuesday’s festivities will begin, but I’d love to start at the top of the hill with a bottle of champagne to watch the fireworks (Once again, hopeless romantic). Kids were running around in costumes and face paint and I followed the winding road to a vibrant carousel with flashy lights and little kids climbing all over it. I wanted to get on SO BAD. It took so much out of me to just walk away..



Trippy trees

Trippy trees

It was such a nice day to clear my head and appreciate this home away from home. I can not thank my parents enough for this unbelievable experience. I wake up every morning and pinch myself. I’m waiting to wake up from this dream. My parents have sacrificed so much for the life they’ve given me. They could have chosen to travel the world, but instead they have made me the luckiest girl in the world. I don’t know how I can ever thank them enough. Love you so much mom and dad!

Ew. Sorry for being all sentimental. That was kinda gross. Back to reality – the festivities continue tomorrow (my friend’s 21st birthday), Tuesday (Mardi Gras), and then PRAGUE for the weekend!! HERE WE GO PEOPLE!

Never a dull moment in Roma!