Traveling, homework, traveling, homework… It is an ongoing cycle, and I am loving it! Though, it is sad to think that we are in mid-November and we have exactly a month left of the program. Every part of this semester has been a life-changing experience, and it’s sad realizing that the friendships I’ve made, the classes I’ve strived in and the language barrier I conquered, are all coming to an end. I try my best to not think of it but it’s hard not to when you are having to juggle classes in France and registering for courses for the next semester back home.
Enough of the sad stuff, let’s talk about my crazy backpacking adventure through Italy over our fall break. We went to 8 different cities in just 10 days! Yes, I know it sounds stressful and it was, especially when it rained every single day while there. We first began in Milan, where we met people from all over the world like Belgium, Australia, and Morocco. We stayed in my first hostel and danced the night away in front of the famous, Duomo. We spent most of our time there to look for the best gelato ever! We hadn’t found it yet but we will later…
Next stop was Verona. I got to see Juliet’s balcony, but it rained every second. After, we stopped in Venice and I can now say that I survived the Venetian Flood of 2018! When we first arrived, the water was only to our ankles and we laughed the whole walk to the middle of the city. Then, it quickly stopped being funny because the water rose so fast that we were stuck in a flood that reached our bellybuttons. It almost seemed apocalyptic. Sirens started wailing, helicopters flying, the wind was so strong that the church bells rang on their own, the sky was yellow and the mayor of Venice called an evacuation alert on the whole city. Now, the way to travel throughout the islands is through gondola or water taxi. The water rose so high that the gondolas and boats were on top of the bridges. We ended up walking in high water for eight miles to get back to the train station. Definitely a memory that I will never forget.
After the craziness, we headed back to the trains and headed to Florence and saw the beautiful statue of David, and that’s it cause we didn’t realize you have to buy tickets way in advance. After, we went to visit Pompeii and Naples… didn’t see much there either because it rained like crazy again. A big highlight of the trip for me was having amazing pizza in front of Pisa and taking our corny tourist pictures! We had to!
And last but not least, we ended the trip in Rome. Because it rained so much over the break, it ended up being the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life. If you picture a mixture of bright watercolors in the sky, the sun peeking through the puffy clouds, guitar players who can play peaceful melodies in the background, and the Vatican standing tall… then you can almost say you can picture how beautiful it was. We danced in front of the Colosseum, threw a coin in Le Fontana di Trevi, and raced to the top of the Spanish Steps and good news! We found the best gelato ever in Rome! We tried some in every city we went to and by far “La Romana” won, in our opinions.
But of course, the story doesn’t stop there. We thought we were being smart and saving money by spending our last night at the Rome airport to catch our early morning flight. Turns out they close that specific airport (Ciampino) from midnight to 5 am. So we were homeless, wet and cold for a night and relied on one euro salami to keep us happy. These are the stories I will remember the most and would never change. Our friendship grew stronger and I experienced so many new adventures.
This is my last blog post and I am so appreciative to be able to share it with you all. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to everyone and the places I fell in love with but I know I will be back someday. I have grown so much through these experiences and couldn’t recommend it more to go STUDY ABROAD!! My new motto is… “Work, save, travel… repeat.”
This post was contributed by Katherine Velez, a 2018 Global Ambassador. Katherine is an International Relations and Global Studies major, minoring in French.
Don’t get left behind. Read about her study abroad experience in Aix-en-Provence, France>>