An Afternoon in Anzio

Locals with their colorful umbrellas at Anzio Beach

Submitted by Brynna Torpey on the 2023 fall semester program in Rome, Italy…

Anzio Beach Day is a gorgeous little beach town in which we got to enjoy the clear blue water and got to see locals enjoy the sunny day. The beach trip was absolutely gorgeous being able to sit and enjoy the time pass by. We got to enjoy some amazing food and were able to experience a different area. Although a short time from Rome it’s amazing being able to see other locals enjoy their day off. To swim in Italian water for the first time was so refreshing and being able to enjoy a nice beach day with friends. (Submitted during Week 3)

The Streets of Travestere

Submitted by Brynna Torpey on the 2023 fall semester program in Rome, Italy…

The Streets of Trastevere are rich in life, culture, and color. Trastevere streets are always lively, any time of day. Whether it be getting a cappuccino with a friend or enjoying a night out with friends. I find the most joy when I’m on a walk and I can stop and appreciate the buildings, people, and the laughs in the air. As you walk the streets you become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of everything. It truly is becoming like home abroad as you continue to enjoy the small things throughout your day, such as this building. (Submitted during Week 2)

The Coins at Fontana di Trevi

Submitted by Brynna Torpey on the 2023 fall semester program in Rome, Italy…

What most don’t know is that the perfect time to see the Fontana di Trevi would be at night, specifically 12am. Although dark, there are less people and the lights still shine to show its true beauty. When no people are around you can sit and take in how this masterpiece is still so important for Italian culture. The fountain can be seen in multiple movies and pop culture references. The most important would be Three Coins in the Fountain, depending on how many coins you toss will be what comes true for you. I tossed one coin in my left hand over my right shoulder, with the hopes of returning to this beautiful city (Submitted during Week 1).

Finding New Favorite Spots

Submitted by Paige Sullivan on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Had the best day of my life visiting Switzerland

At eleven weeks into the semester, I feel fully acclimated to Rome and well-adjusted. However, my Italian speaking skills are lackluster. I took a trip to a new part of Rome to work on these skills. I went to a deli where the only language spoken was Italian, alongside a friend of mine that could help me translate. Being in this deli, I realized how much the main areas of Rome cater to tourists through their English-speaking and English menus. This experience in the deli felt so authentically Italian and inspired me to spend lots more time on Duolingo.

At the end of this week, I took a trip to Switzerland with some friends. It was a super short trip, but perhaps one of the best trips I have ever gone on! We flew into Geneva and spent the first day there hanging out at a spa on the lake which was a crazy experience. We got to heat up in a sauna and then jump into Lake Geneva to cool down! Later that evening, we got Swiss fondue, which truly changed my life. It was spectacular! We finished the evening with some Swiss chocolate, of course!

The following day, we went to Montreux, Switzerland, which was more in the mountains. We made a last-minute decision to go to Montreux, so we decided to ask the locals for recommendations on how to spend our day there. It was perhaps the best day of my life! We sat by the beautiful lake, took a cable car up a mountain, and got some more fondue. It was especially awesome because everyone we talked to was from a different country than the last, but had moved to Switzerland. We were the only Americans in sight, which was really wonderful! Overall, Switzerland’s culture felt much more laid back, and I am truly dying to make it back– despite it being one of the most expensive countries in the world. (Submitted during Week 11).

Sampling more fondue

Back in class, I took a trip to the Jewish ghetto, which was very eye-opening. The Roman ghettos originated as far back as the 1500s and were abolished in the late 1800s. During World War Two, 2000 Roman Jews were sent to camps, and only 100 survived. What was especially insane about this trip was that we saw photos of the Jews being transported using a train station that I used to travel through frequently. It is chilling to think such tragedies happened here not even a century ago. 

This week was spring break back at UD, so my friend Olivia came to visit. Olivia had just come to Rome over the summer, so this was less of a touristy visit. She wanted to be more immersed in what we do on a daily basis as study abroad students, so I brought her to some of my favorite spots, like the botanical gardens and Villa Borghese, a beautiful park that I love to read at. 

Over the weekend, we were also able to visit Brussels and Amsterdam! Both cities were beautiful. They were both very vibrant and eccentric. I knew this of Amsterdam but was surprised to find out that Brussels had the same energy. The architecture was beautiful, and it was a weekend filled with french fries as they originated in Belgium! I felt very lucky to be able to travel with a friend from home, and show her the highs and lows of budget travel as a study abroad student (Submitted during Week 12).

Making Rome feel like Home

Submitted by Paige Sullivan on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

After spring break, it was a bit difficult to get myself back into a routine, especially because the school that I am currently studying at holds midterms the week after spring break. This meant that, once again, I spent most of my week in the library! Luckily my midterms were in the form of papers and assignments more so than actual exams, so I was able to pace myself. Being abroad and living in a city as wonderful as Rome, it is definitely difficult to remain in a routine and do homework instead of exploring the beautiful city, but also important to remind yourself while you are here. 

Giving my family a tour of Rome

This weekend, I actually had two back-to-back field trips for my art history class, but I was very excited about them! On Friday, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Pompeii. I have learned about Pompeii and been fascinated by it since I was a child, so it was so awesome to be able to visit it, and for a school trip nonetheless. Upon arrival, we were told that Mt. Vesuvius could erupt at any moment, but with new technologies and transportation systems, it would never be catastrophic the way it once was. It really was fascinating to see how well the ruins were preserved and learn about such rich history.

The following day, we had a field trip to Ostia Antica, which is a village that once existed but was preserved by mud. It was a truly beautiful sight and was very cool to imagine what a quaint Roman village it once was. The most interesting part was the bathhouses– they were so cool! It was awesome to stay in Italy for the weekend and learn so much about the history of the area I am living in! (Submitted during Week 9). 

This week was definitely the best yet because my family and my best friend visited! They traveled all the way from New Jersey to come see me. It was great timing for their visit, as I am a little over halfway through being abroad, and the homesickness was getting intense. Their time was limited, so I had to show them all around Rome as efficiently as possible while also going to class and staying on top of schoolwork. I would say that I did a pretty good job at tour guiding. I knew my way around Rome with no assistance, which was a very rewarding feeling.

Introducing my best friend to Rome’s food scene

Within one short week, we were able to see Campo di Fiori market, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Vatican City, the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, and Palatine Hill. It worked out great because my family was able to visit Pompeii and Naples while I was in class. Then, we took a trip altogether to Florence over the weekend, where we saw David by Michelangelo and went to so many cool markets and shops.

The best part of their visit, however, might have been the awesome food we ate. Although I do live here, I can’t eat out constantly, or else I would go broke. Luckily, you can’t come to Rome and not indulge! That would simply be doing it wrong. I had the most delicious cacio e pepe, truffle pasta, mushroom risotto, and so much more. We also ate lots of fried and steamed artichokes, which is a very traditional Italian appetizer. I personally prefer the fried artichokes, which is a Jewish style! It was the best week ever. It was also my family’s first time in Italy, and our first time ever in Europe together. I’m so grateful to have had this time with them (Submitted during Week 10).

Breaking Away for Spring Break

Submitted by Paige Sullivan on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Seven weeks into the semester, schoolwork picked up a lot! I spent the majority of this week in the library. John Cabot University has a beautiful library. If you enter and walk up the stairs, there is a beautiful view of the courtyard from just about every seat. In art history class, I went to the Ara Pacis in Rome, which was an open-air altar created for sacrifices during the Roman Republic. In business class, we talked about reasons why businesses such as Starbucks and Ikea flourish in some countries but fail in others. 

Visiting la Sagrada Familia

After lots of homework and learning, however, it was the beginning of spring break! I was lucky enough to start out my spring break in beautiful Lisbon, Portugal, where we visited places such as Sintra and Cascais from there. Portugal was an amazing experience, the people were so kind, and the views were incredible. We learned that people living in Portugal have a higher life expectancy due to the amount of hills that they must climb to get around, which I can totally understand! Also, I learned quickly that Portuguese food in America is not at all what it is in the USA. It is much more centered around cod than I was aware of!

Overall, it was a wonderful city and just the start of spring break! (Submitted during Week 7). 

This week was the continuation of spring break, and I would describe it as the most exhausting yet unforgettable week of my life!

Enjoying a private boat tour in Barcelona

This week was spent in Spain after leaving Lisbon. We hopped on a plane, and suddenly we were in Madrid. Upon arrival, we realized how big this city really is. In Rome, everything is within walking distance, so I truly get my miles in. In Madrid, however, walking everywhere is impossible, and it is more practical if you metro everywhere. It is very cheap to get a metro pass, and it is easy to use. In Madrid, we immerse ourselves in Spanish traditions such as flamenco dancing and tapas. The flamenco show was incredible, and the costumes were beautiful. The tapas were similar to Italian aperitivo, where you pay about 8 euros for a drink and get food along with it. The difference, however, is that the food at tapas is never ending and delicious!

After Madrid, we moved along to Barcelona, where we went to La Sagrada Familia and saw many beautiful artworks by Gaudi. We also stumbled upon a food market where I got freshly squeezed juice and a delicious empanada– some of the best things I have eaten! Barcelona reminded me a lot of Miami in that it is a city with a beach. We, of course, took advantage of the beach by going on a private boat tour and ended the trip with paella along the water. I feel very lucky to have experienced so many beautiful places in only one week, and I am very excited to come back one day! (Submitted during Week 8).

Getting to Know Rome

Submitted by Paige Sullivan on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Spending an afternoon in Tivoli

After five weeks of living abroad in Italy, it is crazy to think how normal this lifestyle has become for me. After three weeks in a row of travel, my friends and I decided to take this weekend off to just reset and refresh. This week gave me a lot of time to reflect on what I have learned so far in my journey abroad. First and foremost I feel as though I have learned the importance of independence. Coming to a new country alone is never easy, so it is important to have a sense of security in yourself to be able to get through any tough days. Also, despite how great the people you may meet abroad are, it is important to recognize that not everyone is going to want to do the same thing as you all of the time, which is totally okay! Independence is key here, because as long as you have a sense of comfort in doing thing alone then there is nothing stopping you. 

This weekend, I spend time resting and resetting, but also exploring Rome a bit more. Though I only live 20 minutes walking distance away from Vatican City, I had not yet been so this was a great opportunity to visit. I got the chance to go to mass inside of St. Peter’s basilica, which was an extraordinary experience. Vatican City was overall amazing, and I still cannot believe that it is its own nation!

I also went to the Porta Portese market which takes place every Sunday in my  neighborhood of Trastevere. This market truly has anything you can imagine, from bags to clothes to household needs. It had hundreds of vendors and was a super cool experience! Overall, it was a very chill but good week! (Submitted during Week 5).

Today marks the end of another week in Rome! This week was another great week. I found some new great parks, as well as some great sports for treats like tiramisu and gelato Once again we did not book any overnight trips as we had some makeup days at school, but my friends and I took a day trip to Tivoli, Italy. The train was only about 45 minutes from Rome, and it was super affordable! Tivoli is known for Vila d’Este, a museum and garden. The museum had lots of wonderful art, and the garden was absolutely beautiful. Apparently the fountain is seen in the Lizzie McGuire movie, which I thought was pretty funny!

My first time having cacio e Pepe

The people in Tivoli were insanely nice and friendly. We went to a cafe as well as a delicious restaurant with a beautiful view, and the staff at both were so friendly and welcoming. As much as I love Rome, the people are not as friendly, but this is simply because it is a big city and also because that is just the culture.

This was my first time having cacio e Pepe surprisingly! Cacio e Pepe is a Roman dish centered around Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, and it was absolutely delicious! I will certainly be ordering it again.

I am so grateful to have been able to see this beautiful little town that filled my heart with so much joy (Submitted during Week 6).

Roaming Outside Rome

Submitted by Paige Sullivan on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

After three full weeks of living in Italy, I’m starting to feel like this is real life! I have started to get into a routine and it has helped me to acknowledge that I really am here for four months. I only have classes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, which is super different than what I am used to in Delaware. I have never had a semester where I don’t have class five days a week. This gives me loads of time to walk around Rome exploring, and also time to travel! This week, I focused on my studies and getting my work done during the week because I ended the week with a trip to Paris, France!

Paige’s views during her visit to Paris

It really is surreal being able to hop on a two hour plane ride and ending up in a new country with a completely different culture. We hopped right off our 6am flight and headed straight to the Louvre where we spent the day embracing the beautiful art, then followed that up with some French onion soup. One thing that I was excited to go to Italy for was the cheese, I am a huge cheese lover and have heard great things about the freshly made cheese. However, I have to say, French cheese was something like I have never experienced before. I ate more cheese this weekend than I have in my life. The pastries were also insanely good, and I found myself wondering why they tasted so different than they do in Italy. After pondering that out loud, my friend taught me of the butter line. Essentially, the butter line is in invisible line that divides Europe into the region that prefers butter and the region that prefers oil. Paris lies in the butter region, making their pastries more fluffy and flaky, while Rome is in the oil region. Such an interesting fact!

We went on to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and essentially as much as was humanly possible for the time we were there. I certainly learned the importance of time management while traveling, but it was probably some of the best 3 days of my life! (Submitted during Week 3).

The end of week 4 has come, and it sure was a crazy week. I made it back to Rome on Sunday night, and went straight back into classes Monday morning. This was my first weekend internationally traveling, and it was certainly a weird feeling being in class knowing I was in Paris 24 hours prior. Despite this, I made sure to promise myself that I would be on my A-game and get all of my homework done efficiently and effectively, since I am studying abroad not just living abroad! 

Dublin is known for its pubs, like The Temple Bar

What truly made this week so crazy however, was that come Thursday it was time to head back to the airport for a trip to Dublin, Ireland! The culture of Ireland is super different than that of Italy. Just walking down the streets, there are pubs everywhere filled with people who are singing and dancing, the happiness is almost infectious. Below is a picture of the world famous Temple Bar!

While in Ireland, we toured the Guinness Storehouse, James Distillery, Dublin Castle, St. Partick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, and also did a coastal tour and went to a village called Howth with some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen! Overall, it was a very large change from the Italian culture that we are used to, and it was absolutely awesome! I am Irish and my last name is Sullivan, so seeing Sullivan’s pubs everywhere and feeling really immersed on my own culture was great. I was so sad to leave, but will definitely make it back to Ireland one day! (Submitted during Week 4),

The Real Hustle and Bustle of Rome

Submitted by Paige Sullivan on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Today marks the end of my fourth full day in Rome! It has been such a crazy experience thus far. I live in the Trastevere neighborhood, which is across the river from the real hustle and bustle of Rome where the monuments are located. Trastevere is made up of thin cobblestone streets which are shared by pedestrians and cars. That was the first huge culture shock to me, how wary you need to be of cars and motorcycles when walking around. There are numerous restaurants and bars within a super short distance of my apartment, it is almost never ending. Second, the drinking water comes from wells on the side of the road. You would think that the water is dirty, but it is actually clean mineral water that tastes great! Getting over the language barrier has been a bit difficult, but us Americans are lucky that many Italians speak English. On the bright side, I have learned many Italian words so far, and am hoping that by the end of my stay in Rome I will be able to speak a bit of Italian. So far I have just spent my time exploring my neighborhood and different parts of Rome, and today I actually went to the Colosseum which was awesome. Next week, I’m hoping to make my way to the rest of the monuments alongside the start of classes (Submitted during Week 1).

Posing at the Trevi Fountain in Rome

It has now been two weeks of living in Italy and I am loving every moment of it! I will admit, it was a bit harder adjusting than I have originally thought. The first two weeks felt slightly like I was just on vacation, so starting week 3 I am dedicating my time to establishing a routine and really being a resident of Italy and not just a tourist. Before coming abroad, UD provided us with modules to teach us about culture shock, warning of the honeymoon phase that develops into a phase of frustration and adjustment. I believe that all my friends and I kind of just brushed this aside thinking it would not really affect us, but that is definitely not the case. I spent the first two weeks experiencing these things, but that is okay! My advice to anyone planning on studying abroad that is worried about this would be to just live in the moment and take it day by day. Also, make sure to save up so that you can do everything that you want to do and live to the fullest!

This week we started classes, and I can already tell it will be amazing taking international business based classes in a foreign country, I am already learning so much about how Italian businesses as well as other European businesses function! This will be super helpful for me in my future endeavors in this field.

I was lucky enough to take a trip to Florence and Tuscany this weekend, and it was wonderful! We were able to learn of the history of wine and the process of making it, as well as see some beautiful sights of the Italian countryside. It was also super interesting to experience another city in Italy, I thought Rome and Florence would be way more similar than they were! Overall, I am feeling super blessed to have this experience. Stay tuned, as I will be traveling out of the country in the coming weeks! (Submitted during Week 2).

Acclimating to Life in Costa Rica

Submitted by Erin Lay on the 2023 spring semester program in Costa Rica…

Breakfast, including gallo pinto, a fried egg, ham, shortbread, a fruit bowl, and orange juice

As a picky eater, I normally have a hard time finding foods I like to eat. I have been a picky eater my whole life, whether it’s the flavor or the texture. I was very worried to come to Costa Rica for this reason. I had so much anxiety the night before leaving for Costa Rica about whether or not I was going to eat enough. I decided the best way for me to overcome this was to try everything. Since I’ve been here, I’ve tried almost 100 new foods and drinks. My favorite meal I’ve eaten so far, is the  chicken burrito that we had the very first night. We had a fruit juice, that my group determined was tamarind juice and a pineapple carrot cake for desert. Each morning, the cafeteria serves gallo pinto, also known as, rice and beans. I have never liked beans before, but I fell in love with gallo pinto. So far, I haven’t found too many foods that I didn’t like. I hope to continue to try even more. (Submitted on January 9, 2023)

In all of my education, I never took a Spanish class. I’m realizing now that it would have been more beneficial for me to take Spanish than Latin in high school. Costa Rica has been amazing and luckily most people know English, but there are a few times my friend has had to help translate. I found out after arriving in Costa Rica that my camera doesn’t take SD cards over 2gb. This became a problem when I had only brought 128gb SD cards with me. My friend and I left the research station we were staying at to try and find one at a local store. I was so lucky my friend went with me because I did not understand any Spanish. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find one, but I had one in my camera already. I just had to limit the amount of pictures I took. (Submitted during Week 2)

Every morning since we arrived at Palo Verde Biological Station, I have woken up early to see the sunrise. There is a dock that leads to a large marsh here. There are so many birds that hang around the dock. The sunrise is so beautiful and makes waking up at 5:30am worth it. At night, we can see so many stars. I like to go lay on the dock and look at them. There is less light pollution here than in Delaware so we can even see some planets. The dock here has easily become my favorite place so far. There is always new things to see and enjoy. (Submitted on January 21, 2023)

Enjoying the sunrise