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!


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!