Galway Getaway

One of the reasons that I chose to study abroad in Italy is because of my heritage, as my mom is 100% Italian. However, my dad is almost completely Irish, so I felt it was only fair to visit Ireland too. Seeing my best friends who are studying abroad in Galway having a blast via social media may have been a bigger factor in my decision though…

The fun that I saw from afar certainly translated to my trip. The second I got off of my bus, my friends welcomed me by taking me to a pub (it was 3:00 in the afternoon might I add). Little did I know it but this was a glimpse of what my trip would consist of, as we spent 75% of our time in pubs. I am definitely not complaining though, I am now a huge fan of hard cider and “Baby Guiness” shots.

I learned that people are not just spending time in pubs for the alcohol, but because of the amazing live music that so many have to offer. From traditional Irish folk music to covers of modern songs, the performers brought a special ambience to each bar.

“Special” is certainly a word I’d use to describe Ireland. Everyone is so friendly, even my cashier at the drug store gave me such a sincere “have a great day!” I hope I inherited more Irish genes than Italian ones in terms of kindness, as the people I encounter daily in Florence aren’t necessarily the friendliness. I can’t wait until I can return to beautiful Ireland, but for now I’ll keep the other homeland company 🙂


Best of Barcelona

I was apprehensive about leaving Italy for the first time since I’ve been here, but Barcelona did not disappoint. My trip can pretty much be summed into two words: sights and snacks.

In terms of sights, I went to amazing tourist attractions. I’ve never been to Barcelona before, but luckily one of my friends with whom I was traveling had been a few years ago with her family, so she knew all the important spots to visit.

Our first spot was the Sagrada Familia. This 172 meter Catholic basilica was nothing short of breathtaking. I learned that construction began at the end of the 19th century, yet it is still under construction today! The church’s outside sculptures portray biblical scenes, and the inside is equally as stunning, with stained glass windows lighting up every corner of the church.

Another sight that we went to was the Carmel Bunkers. This spot is at the top of a hill that allowed us to see a stunning view of the entire city. We went at sunset and took photos, but pictures cannot do the jaw-dropping sight justice. I highly recommend going if you’re visiting this city, but do not recommend wearing boots during the hike 🙂

Now, the most important part, food! Although I’m very grateful to be eating authentic Italian food everyday, I have to admit that I was eager to eat anything that wasn’t pizza, pasta, or a panini.

When we first arrived in the city, we stopped at La Boqueria, a food market that sold anything from fresh-squeezed juice to fried octopus. When it came time for dinner, most restaurants didn’t open until 9:00 PM! One of the nights we went to a small tapas restaurant, and actually ran into a group of other Holy Cross students who were studying abroad in Rome! Such a small world.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend with beautiful views and delicious food!



Italy is constantly exceeding my expectations.

Last week my class took a day-trip to a small city in Tuscany called Lucca, and we went inside one of the churches there.  I was captivated by its beauty, so much so that I sent a photo to my family and said that it was “the most beautiful church I have ever been in”. Little did I know that a week later during my trip to Rome, I’d be standing in the most famous church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica, that put the church in Lucca to shame.

A similar thing has been happening to me with the food here. When I was in Rome, I bought a cannoli from a small bakery by the Trevi Fountain. After pretty much inhaling the dessert, I posted on my Instagram that that was “the best thing I had ever eaten”. Not even three hours later that title was rivaled with the Cacio e Pepe pasta that I ate for dinner.

On my first day in Florence, I could not stop taking pictures of every cool building, view, car, etc. that I saw.  My camera roll is now filled with pictures that always manage to “one-up” the previous one, so I think I just need to accept the truth: there is no “best” thing in Italy. If you try to search for the best of something here, there is always going to be something else that compares. I need to accept that for all the cities, food, museums, etc in this country, one is not better than the other. Rather, they all exist together to make this country the unique place that it is.

Week 1: Falling in love with Florence

This week I finally arrived in Florence! It has been a whirlwind the past few days, but I have loved every moment!

I moved in with my host mom the first day that I arrived, and she has really made it easy to adjust to being 4,000 miles from home. She is even more kind than she was in our emails from the months leading up.  It has definitely been a challenge to converse with her solely in Italian, but I already feel myself learning and understanding the language better.

When I’m not at home, I am attending class for my pre-university class, which is in a building in the center Florence. After the first day of class, I finally got to explore the city. Just when I had thought that my neighborhood in the outskirts of Florence was pretty, the heart of the city took my breath away. Seeing the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the “Duomo” as it is referred to here, in person every day is magical, as it was something I only ever saw in my school textbooks. I also got to visit the Palazzo Vecchio Museum with my class, where we viewed breathtaking art and got to see a stunning view of the city.

Last, but not least, the food. From the night that I got here and tried my host mom’s homemade gnocchi, I knew that the food here was on a different tier. It truly puts any Italian-American meal to shame- even Kimball’s famous chicken parm.


There is so much about Florence that I have fallen in love with so far, and I am so excited to continue to explore the city and wherever else my study abroad experience takes me!

The Weeks Leading Up

As I’m writing this blog entry, I’m in a coffee shop in my small hometown in Massachusetts. I’d much rather be writing this from a caffé in Italy, but alas, I won’t be studying abroad in Florence for another week and a half. 

Sipping Italian coffee and being in a city that doesn’t have such cold winters are among a few of the things that excite me to be in Italy, but I am also a bit nervous- five months is a long time! I’m going to miss those closest to me, and it’s difficult to comprehend being in different time zones from them. 

I’m sure once I’m there I won’t want to leave, but in the meantime, I’ve been keeping myself busy so that I don’t ruminate too much. For the past month, I’ve been working as a hostess at a local Italian restaurant. Aside from giving me a taste of Italian food (literally and figuratively), working has been a nice way to save up money for expenses abroad. 

I’ve also been brushing up on my Italian, as all of my classes will be taught in Italian, and I will be living with a woman who does not speak English. To go about this, I’ve been using the app called DuoLingo, which gives me daily practice questions. 

I know that the thing I should be focusing on the most before I leave is packing. This is a bit difficult because I can only bring so many items in my suitcase, and I’m not sure which clothes in my wardrobe are most appropriate for European fashion. The latter has been my biggest roadblock in packing, and has even led to rather excessive online shopping. I know that’s a trivial issue though, and my mom reminded me, “you’re there to see Italy, not for Italy to see you”. 

These upcoming days leading to my departure have certainly been chaotic and stressful, but I know once I arrive in such a beautiful country that I’ve always wanted to go to,  most of my worries will cease. 

My next entry will be from Florence- I hope you stick around to read it!