SUNY Oswego Brought Me to France

13760_799793690057922_6459331804728573772_nWould you ever think a SUNY Oswego student who lives on a dirt road who’s never had a passport, who’s never been outside of the country, or who’s never even been on a plane before would find himself sitting in a street café in downtown Paris, France?

Neither would I. But that’s what happened to me.

Last spring break, I went down to Alabama to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in house construction and thought I couldn’t beat that. But when the possibility of going to Paris arose last fall, I reconsidered that thought.

A lot of people my age have been able to venture to foreign lands and I never understood how they were able to do it. I can barely find enough gas money to drive to Syracuse when I need to.

But they somehow found a way. And so did I.

SUNY Oswego offers quarter courses, a chance to study abroad without actually studying abroad. Students enrolled in these courses study a certain topic about a specific place in the world for seven weeks. Then, they go visit that location during spring break.

10614312_799793220057969_8717143414005323638_nI happened to be in a class with the same instructor who would teach the quarter course who told me about it.

Ha, yeah right, like I could ever do that, I thought.

But I started seriously considering it. And I realized that if I was seriously considering doing it, I had to seriously get on it.

I talked to my parents about it. I went to financial aid and figured out a way to pay for it. Over winter break, I went and got my passport. I did all the mountains of paperwork and reserved my airline ticket. I took the class, called “Comparative Media,” which examined the properties of media compared between the U.S. and France. And then, I went to Paris.

I remember in third grade filling out one of those papers the first day of school that gave the teacher all about yourself. One of the questions was “Where would you like to travel to someday?” I wrote “I want to see Paris, France someday.” I’m not exactly sure why but I always wanted to go there.

And then, I was. I saw the Eiffel Tower, I saw the “Mona Lisa,” I saw the Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame and so many other things. And of course, since I was there to examine the media there, I was able to visit the French Associated Press, a cinema museum, a communist newspaper and listened to a talk with the French correspondent for National Public Radio. I was also able to walk to the office of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine that came under attack in January that captured global attention.

Then there was just being there itself. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Paris, a place I never imagined I’d ever go to, let alone at 21 years old. I was the first person in my immediate family to fly since 1983 and the first person to go to a different country at all.

11048683_798769296827028_6279308243856522881_nI understand now why people always say to see the world. It definitely changes you and makes you think differently about the U.S. and yourself. That may be the biggest reason why I wanted to go. I was able to talk to people in a different language. I was able to see what their lives were like everyday. And I was able to witness that with a great bunch of people who also took the class, people that were wonderful to spend a whole week with.

I have absolutely no regrets. It was a great way to start the beginning of the end of my time here. When I applied to SUNY Oswego and moved my things in as a freshman, I never would’ve thought I would fly across the ocean my senior year. It’s just another reminder that SUNY Oswego can surprise you.

I’m grateful and lucky that I’ve been able to see a little more of the world before I’m released to it very soon.

Clubs & Organizations: Benefits of Getting Your Foot In Early

Every year, Admitted Student Days, open houses,  and involvement fairs sweep the campus. It seems like every year, more and more clubs and organizations appear. Every year, these organizations also seek new membership. Whether it be writer positions at The Oswegonian or dancers for Del Sarte, open memberships to campus organizations can prove to be beneficial and fun ways to integrate into the school community. So, with these days fast approaching, students both current and incoming should look forward to getting their foot through the door of clubs early for some of the benefits I have laid out below:

1. Club membership helps establish bonds, early membership does too! Nothing can be better for a student looking to get to know some other students than joining a club with people who share similar interests. For instance, a club like Shaun Cassidy Fan Club, finding fellow comedians to build off of has proven important for many members. Early recognition through involvement fairs allow you to sift through the clubs you might be interested in joining.

2. Don’t discount day one facial recognition. Following the hustle and bustle of tabling and member sign-ups, many clubs have general interest meetings. For both the e-board and yourself seeing those friendly and recognizable faces can be comforting!

3. Show your determination. Nothing says you want to be involved more than signing up for updates from a clubs! Use this as an opportunity to show that you mean business when you write your name down. This puts everyone in a better mood because doing so shows that you’re willing to put in the effort.

4. Lastly, strong foundations lead to quick advancement. While this seems obvious, it is still important to point out that, if you show interest early on, you are more likely to advance in the organization. Speaking personally, I know that my sophomore year saw me through to the e-board of Shaun Cassidy Fan Club and know that this is true of other organizations as well.  Showing the immediate interest helps you, along with the previous benefits, build a support system that will further you along on your professional and  interested path.

Alternative Spring Break Iowa 2015

One of the perks of selecting the spring semester as my exchange semester was that I would be able to experience the famous, Spring Break. Growing up in Australia, I would frequently watch American teen TV shows and films which would depicted college students during Spring Break. Thus it was a concept I was familiar with and excited about. Back in Australia we have a “mid-semester break” but this is generally a week where students catch up on their studies, study for exams and rest. Prior to researching my options for Spring Break I assumed that most students went to Florida and partied similar to the film Spring Breakers. This option didn’t really appeal to me because of financial reasons, so I went on the search for alternatives which would still allow me to have fun whilst seeing more of the United States. One of my friends was taking a communications class and her teacher informed her about the alternative spring break trips. She then discussed it with me, we looked at all the different locations which were offered, and we signed up. Prior to arriving in the United States I had no intention of travelling to the MidWest as I did not think the opportunity would arise and in addition to this, it is not exactly the typical tourist destination. We were both excited about the idea of the trip but did not know what to expect.

Our home for the week

Our home for the week

SUNY Oswego’s alternative spring break’s are organised through Habitat for Humanity, which is a non-profit organisation. I had heard of this organisation and the worthwhile work they do, so I felt comfortable and safe embarking on this trip. Our group was going to Iowa so we were volunteering with the Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity. This specific location builds between 10-12 homes a year which is an incredible movement to be part of.

Day 1

We travelled through the night in an attempt to preserve whatever sleep patterns we had prior to the trip, and arrived refreshed and ready to explore our new home for the week. We were staying in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in a United Methodist Church, this church was more like a community centre rather than a church. It had modern facilities that we were able to utilise including a basketball court, cinema, games room, three kitchens and general common areas. We spent the day unpacking, becoming familiar with our new setting, preparing for the week ahead and getting to know each other.

Community service project

Community service project

Day 2

Day 2 marked the beginning of our work week and thus our routines were established. We woke at around 7:30am, ate breakfast as a team, travelled to the site and commenced work at 8:30am. This first day we completed a project in the community. We pulled down a fence which surrounded the oldest property in the area. This was a sensational effort on our part, as initially we were predicted to complete the job in three days, we did it in one. We left the site at 3:30pm and spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the main street in Cedar Falls and visited the University of Northern Iowa. Our evening traditions emerged which consisted of watching a crazy number of The Cleveland Show episodes, whilst playing trivia board games, before bed at 11pm.

Day 3

Once we arrived on site, we were advised that we would be working in the warehouse and creating the exterior frames of a house. I was clueless about framing but fortunately we had an excellent instructor. Framing is reading a wall plan, following the measurements, doing

St Paddy's Day!

St Paddy’s Day!

some basic calculations, cutting the wood to size, fitting the wood together, and nailing the wood together. It’s quite a process. The first day it took each team all day just to complete one wall each as we were all still learning. It was actually St. Patrick’s Day, so after we had finished work for the day, we decided as a team to celebrate by getting a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake – we do not have these in Australia so I was very excited. In the early evening we attended a dinner which the church was hosting, this was great as we were able to interact with and meet some community members. Several of us decided to go for a jog in the later afternoon – it was beautiful. I really enjoyed being in the fresh air and seeing more of the town.

Day 4

Once agin we were framing, we became slightly better and each team

Framing

Framing

managed to complete either two or three frames, we saw this as a significant improvement. I discovered that I am allergic to saw dust as even with a ventilator my throat was still irritated. This was annoying but didn’t put a damper on my day as I knew I just had to endure several more days. After we had finished work for the day we went to the local sports complex which was fantastic. We worked-out individually for around half the time, before coming together and having an epic volleyball game.

Day 5

Day 5 was the last day of framing and by this point we were serious pros. At the end of the day, we had actually completed the entirety of the exterior walls of a home. We were really proud of this effort as not only had all of our construction skills improved, we were the ones responsible for these frames being completed which a family in need would eventually live in. Once we left the site we returned to the church where we had Brinner (breakfast for dinner – duh); it was incredible. We then went downtown to explore the main street more, purchased specialty popcorn and checked out the local ice-cream parlour where we devoured some tasty treats.

Photoshoot!

Photoshoot!

Day 6

Day 6 marked our last day working for Habitat and it was bittersweet. We spent the morning doing another community service project which consisted of pulling down a handicap ramp, and then spent the rest of the day assisting with cleaning up the warehouse and yard before finally doing a photoshoot as a team and saying our goodbyes to the Habitat team. We spent the afternoon packing our bags and napping before heading out for a Mexican dinner and attending a semi-professional Ice hockey game. The Ice hockey game was like nothing I had ever witnessed before. The fans were all shaking their cow bells when their team had possession, and the hosts were engaging with the audience through shouting and dancing competitions. My seat was apparently lucky as I won a coupon for a local ribs outlet.

Day 7

Chicago!

Chicago!

We hit the road at 7am, Chicago bound. We arrived in Chicago around noon and driving into the city was sensational as we were able to see the skyline and the Willis (Sears) tower very clearly. My first impression of Chicago was that the city is a smaller version of New York City. We explored Millennium Park and I was in awe the entire time. I was so excited to see the Big Bean and couldn’t wait to see what else the city offered. We passed the Chicago river which was still a hint of green from St. Patrick’s Day, and also walked down the Navy Pier. I was amazed by the pier, and Lake Michigan’s beauty. It was one of the most beautiful shades of blue I had ever seen. We had intentions of walking down the magnificent mile and shopping, however our stomach’s interfered with this plan and instead we went to Pizzeria Uno to eat the original Chicago-style deep-dish. We waited around an hour and a half for this pizza, but in my opinion, it was worth it. The pizza had a fruit pie-like base with fresh toppings. After two slices I was uncomfortably full. By this point it was around 5pm and it was time to go. We once again drove through the night and arrived back at campus at approximately 5:20am. Although it was a long day, this day was one of the best days of my life.

The group

The group

Final thoughts

We all agreed that the trip was a very worthwhile experience and I would certainly recommend it to students looking to do something different during their break. Working for Habitat put life into perspective for me, and allowed me to see how fortunate, blessed and lucky I am. I want to give back where I can, and prior to this trip I found it difficult to discover these kinds of organisations which were inline with my visions and values. Habitat provides this opportunity in a safe environment with the chance to learn useful, valuable skills. The kinds of people that you meet on these alternative trips are a special kind, I feel it takes a certain type of person to be willing to sacrifice their break in order to go and do community service. I am sure that the friendships which were formed during this trip will last in years to come.

Thankyou SUNY Oswego for providing me with this opportunity, thankyou to the incredible group I was able to experience this with, and a massive thank-you to Scott Ball for being an incredible leader and role model.

Peace Out

K

Welcome back!

Break is over, midterm grades are about to be posted, it’s still cold in Oswego State, but most importantly it’s great to come back. Sure some of us prefer to be home, but there’s nothing like being back in college since we aren’t here forever. As a sophomore, I cannot yet begin to fathom how it is like for a senior to see that their college experience is nearing an end and their career life is so near. Having to think about paying off all your student loans over time and wondering if you will have the money and time to spend on yourself sufficiently enough to satisfy your own individual needs. Things like these is what makes me think that we should all feel that much more welcome to come back to the university that makes all of what seems like the impossible become possible. Compared to those who either drop out of college or couldn’t even complete high school, having to surpass all your peers who gave up, gives us that feeling to be more ambitious with our studies in the long run.

Even though I am a sophomore, I do still miss my high school. Therefore, I can only imagine how it’s like when you graduate from a university. The ties are probably much stronger between your friends, too. So I hope you simply don’t forget about us if you are graduating this semester! Visit, remember, repeat, and attend graduate school. Have fun because for now, Oswego State University welcomes us all for the opportunity to strive for success.

My roommate is actually graduating next semester, and he certainly had memorable moments in Oswego that he doesn’t want to let go of. We make lifelong friends here and learn to manage our time for when adulthood after college hits. Good luck to everyone, I’ll miss some of the seniors I’ve gotten to know. Spend a great time outside of college, but most importantly, spend all the time you can to make good memories while you’re still here!

Thank You Oswego DBus

As some of you know, the Oswego D Bus made trips from the Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse to the SUNY Oswego campus for a low price of $10. This was really nice of them to do and I’m really thankful for their service. They helped make the commute from our homes to the campus much easier. When considering waiting 5 hours for the next Centro bus to arrive or chip in $10 for occasional D buses to arrive, I’d take the latter. We appreciate it very much. We know you didn’t have to do this so we can’t express how lucky we are to have your service working with us.

I was planning to make it just in time for the Centro bus until one of the Greyhound buses heading to Syracuse took an hour and a half to start boarding. So as I made it to Syracuse, I arrived at 1:40, just about the time the second of only 2 buses was already filled. I noticed there was a D Bus leaving alongside it as well, and was just hoping another Centro bus would arrive. After waiting an hour, I saw another D Bus arriving, and there I had to expect the next Centro bus really won’t be coming back around until 7 p.m.. Therefore, I got aboard, paid $10, and enjoyed the quick trip to campus. Once again, thank you, and if I could expect the D Bus to do this over every break, I’d feel a little better commuting by bus than depending on carpooling.

A Self Titled Life- Followed With Goodbye (Day 7)

In the past 48 hours I have been on a nine-hour plane ride, an hour and a half bus ride from JFK to port authority and a five and a half hour bus ride from New York City back to Syracuse. That is a massive amount of time for me to have written and posted this blog, but here we are. I’m procrastinating. Not because I don’t want to write it, but because I don’t want this adventure to be over. Yesterday when the airplane landed I wanted it to take right off again and have the announcement say “Just kidding. You don’t want to be here anyways. Please keep your seatbelt fastened while the fasten seatbelt sign is lit. Arrivederci, America.”

That would have been great, but that’s not what happened. I got off the plane and boarded another. We arrived in Italy last night. SURPRISE.

Just kidding. I’m back in Oswego, laying in bed writing this blog because I have one more post to make before I have to say goodbye. I’m hardcore avoiding it. Okay. I’m done procrastinating (I’m definitely not). OKAY, YES IT AM.

One of the trippiest things yesterday was walking in New York City because earlier that day I was walking around in Rome, halfway across the world. Can you even imagine not having airplanes? I’d still be canoeing my way home.

053 longer GP kayak

Me. (Not really. I just googled “person canoeing across the ocean.)

Before I left for this trip this guy I TA with asked me what I was doing for break and I almost lied to him and said I was just going home. That obviously wasn’t true but I was kind of embarrassed to be like “oh, I’m going to Rome.” *Flips hair and looks at manicure* Which is so not true because A. I don’t comb my hair and B. I’ve never had a manicure. I didn’t want to sound like a brat who international travels all the time because it’s no big deal. Well, I think it is a big deal. Now that I am home I can’t want to tell everyone that I was in Rome. Not as a bragging right, but because I feel so lucky to have seen it for myself.

I’ve never seen anything that could compare to Rome or Florence. They were so beautiful in their own ways that everything else seems so dull now. Food here will never be that good again, the scenery is cold and bleak, and hello, there is no gelato. That should be illegal. Someone call Olivia Benson.

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I called her.

I can’t find the words to describe what I took away from all this, but I’ll give it my best shot.

1. The people. I met some of the most incredible people on this trip. Some I knew a little before I got there and others I didn’t know so much as their name before we landed halfway around the world together. I became such fast friends with these people and I wouldn’t have wanted to travel to Italy and have made these memories with anyone else. They were always willing to take an adventure, or stick it out in the rain, or laugh at my corny jokes. Before we even left we already made plans for weekly dinners to catch up and relive our favorite memories. Had it not been for this trip I would have never made the friends I did, and that seems terribly lonely to me.

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I had some pretty solid roommates. :)

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Little. Blue. Boots.

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This is my favorite picture of the trip, It just is.

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Colosseum photo shoot…at night.

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The top of St. Peter’s cathedral

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We took like 40 thousand pictures that night.

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One of my favorite humans, for sure.

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Thanks for the pictures, Jess. :)

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As a group the rain never stopped us.

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This was the last day with the roommates, but a good day it was.

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The whole week lead up to the Colosseum. Totally worth it.

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This is the White House that’s not the White House.. oh and Jess.

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You guys made this trip so much fun. Thanks so much for that.

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Seriously, some of my favorite people who I didn’t know a week ago.

 

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Shaheib.

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The first night. I had no idea how many pictures we d the after that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The food. I thought I knew what good food was, then I went to Italy. I’m almost avoiding eating things I used to think were delicious. BUT on the upside I missed vegetables and fruit. There weren’t too many of those there so I’m excited to eat them again. Everything else on the other hand…… moving on.

 

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This makes me upset just looking at it. I want this all day, everyday.

You do not understand how big this was. I wish I could brake off a piece and share it with the world.

You do not understand how big this was. I wish I could break off a piece and share it with the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. The architecture. I will never get over the fact that there are people in Rome who have never seen the Colosseum. It’s kind of like people from Buffalo never seeing Niagara Falls, but that’s not the Colosseum. The buildings, the monuments, the art, the streets, the everything, I could have gawked at it for years. I’ve never seen anything so magnificent or so beautiful. I loved every second of it. Everything just seemed to fit, like there was a thought behind how every detail of the city sat. Every stone had a place and that place was valid. It wasn’t build for functionality, but for beauty. There is an obvious reason why people all over the world want to travel to Italy and see the architecture and paintings. All I want to do is go back and see it all again.

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Santa Maria del Fiore

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Florence

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Rome

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Also Rome

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Also, Also Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Ally. (Really, it’s just me but all of the other numbers started with ‘the’ so I didn’t want to break the chain.) Traveling to somewhere new whether it’s down the road or around the world changes your perspective. Both your perspective of the world and of yourself. This was actually the first trip I have ever been on without my Mom there to share the experience. When I was sitting on the bus last night I felt so empowered that I did that all on my own. Sure, I was there with a class but I was the only one responsible and relying on me. The night 5 or 6 of us took the subway to see the Colosseum at night, I was so excited that we did that on our own, we just navigated a foreign city by ourselves. We are capable of anything. I think the same thing about myself now, too. My Mom had sent me a message on Facebook when I was trying to figure out how to come home after the plane landed and all she said was “You can figure it out. Use your head, you’re smart.” She’s right. Not to sound conceited but I am smart. I can do whatever I set my mind too, the only thing standing in my way is me. All I know is that I have so much to learn, but I also have already learned an incredible amount of things. I’m excited to see what’s out there next for me to do.

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The doors at St. Maria Degli Amgeli E Del Martiri

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The back set of doors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and finally….

5. Professor Alessia. (This one doesn’t start with ‘the’, so sue me.) I have never been more grateful to spend time and get to know another human being as I am to have met Professor Alessia. He seriously opened my mind to a whole new world that’s out there. He was so sweet and patient and passionate about a place he loves with all his heart. He cares about his students so much that he ditched dinner with his wife one night because he said his students were more important. He stayed around with us in Florence to bargain prices down in the market so we wouldn’t get ripped off. He was always willing to show us something we wanted to see even after the rest of the group left. He was determined to help us have the most amazing trip that we could because he believes you learn by experiencing, not but reading and writing papers. This trip was amazing, but it was really amazing because he was there to make it that away. On the last night we had our huge group dinner and he made a speech that we were one of the best classes he has ever taught and he loved being our professor. The whole room applauded, even the people who were just dining in the restaurant. He deserved the applause and a thousand more after that. I didn’t want to leave Italy but before we went through security he went down the line and hugged us all individually and thanked us for coming. I thanked him too because I honestly will miss him so much and have an incredible amount to thank him for.

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SERIOUSLY.

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THIS.

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MAN.

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IS.

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THE.

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GREATEST.

 

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HUMAN.

I might not ever make it back to Italy with professor Alessia or with the my friends from the trip, but I will make it back to make different memories. I will always be able to look back and smile at all the I have done and learned while I was there. This trip was something special and something that has shaped my life in a new way. It’s shifted my perspective on the world, even if it’s just by knowing how pizza should taste. I’m so thankful to have made the most of everything that I could. I’m no going to be in college forever, but opportunities like that don’t knock on my door everyday, but I have nothing to regret. I only have this one life, and I’ll be damned if I don’t live it for everything it has to offer me.

I have no clue where my next adventure will take me. At the moment I don’t have anything on the back burner, but there will be one. I don’t doubt it. I want to get a map of the world and put a pin in every place that I have been and before I die, do my best to have a pin in every place in the world. No dream is too big. That’s what I believe.

Well, I guess this is it. Thanks to anyone who’s read my blog. One post or all of them, I appreciate you sticking with me through the magical world of the internet. That’s pretty awesome which in turn makes you awesome. I’m not in Italy anymore, but what I have done and seen will always be with me. There is more to learn out there. There is always something new to discover.

Until next time, make the most of your life in any way that makes you happy. Treat yourself, you deserve it.

Stare Strano. (Stay Weird).

Ally Costanza

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Keepin’ it peel since ’93. Until the next adventure, I gotta split.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Wish- You know what, I’m pretty content at the moment. You can have my extra wishes.

 

 

A Self Titled Life- I’m Not Ready To Say Goodnight (Day 6)

So there was this crushing weight on my shoulders all day today. One might think it was the crushing dread that today is my last day in Rome but actually I was carrying an elephant on my shoulders all day. Beautiful creatures, but damn are they heavy. Sadly, today was my last day in Rome, but not my last day ever. That is unacceptable. So it is simply my first last day.

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I went into a book store today and found the Diary of a Wimpy Kids books in Italian

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Just a page of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first last day started on a walk to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It reminded me of the White House but it is so much more immaculate than the White House that the White House is irrelevant in comparison. How many times can I say White House in one sentence? WHITE HOUSE WHITE HOUSE WHITE HOUSE. There like a bazillion statues that are obviously a total artistic letdown like everywhere else in the city. Obviously.

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This building is massive.

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It seriously reminds me of a cool, detailed, enormous White House.

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This statue sits on top of the building and it’s green but the sun was right in my camera but I like the shadow effect.

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These things were built with none of the technology we have today. It’s unbelievable.

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ANOTHER picture with this great human on the top of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went to see the Roman Forum which is a collection of ancient Roman ruins. They were pretty interesting. Tip- If you go to the Forum and purchase a ticket to visit inside, you can buy a double ticket that is also a ticket to see the Colosseum which is just down the street. Most important part of the tip- this ticket gives you a skip the line pass at the Colosseum which is at least a two-hour wait. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that these structures were build and then considered ruins before the US was even an idea.

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A temple in the Roman Forum.

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An old sign/rock wall/ I’m not sure what it is but I thought it looked cool.

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Caesar’s ashes are in the Roman Forum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We revisited the Colosseum but this time it was during the daylight. Standing inside the Colosseum is breathtaking. It’s so hard to imagine people used to come there for entertainment that was something other than television. Being there gave me the feeling that this place was more than just an enormous structure. People spent their real lives in there, it’s not just a chapter in a textbook or part of some documentary your teacher makes you watch and then tells you to take notes. It was amazing to stand in something so impactful. Rome is so much more than an average city in the world. It is alive. Through the people, the architecture, and the curious humans all over the world. Rome has this funny way of being old while still influencing lives everyday. It is a city built-in the past but is still present in the future.

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I really had no idea what to expect when I first walked inside.

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I could stare at this for hours. It looks so intricate.

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The upper seating is completely eroded.

 

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Panoramic taken by Sarah

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From the bottom up.

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Katie was the first new person I met in this class and I know she reads these blogs so shout out to you for being great and having the guts to do this trip! I think that’s incredibly awesome.

After my life was changed forever, we had a free day to wonder/shop/pretend tomorrow wasn’t crushing my soul. At 7:45 pm we met Professor Alessia at Repubblica station on the subway. He took all 32 of us students and his wife to a really nice restaurant for dinner. It is a tradition. The first day of class he told us that on the last day everybody comes together to celebrate the last day and everybody gets drunk. Every time I ate something on this trip I was convinced it was the greatest thing I had ever eaten. Boy was I wrong. We had a fourteen course meal. Let me emphasize that for a dramatic flare. A. Fourteen. Course. Meal. It started with 7 appetizers which were salami, chickpeas, beans, peppers, baked zucchini, vegetables in sauce, and fresh mozzarella that was so good I will not eat mozzarella again unless it tastes like it did tonight.

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The meat basket.

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Things look a little scarce but I was eating as they were coming one at a time. 

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The BEST and most FRESH mozzarella I have ever eaten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then was the pasta courses and there were three. The first was a spicy pasta (it was delicious), the second was spaghetti with mushrooms (it was delicious), and the third was ravioli (which was, you guessed it, disgusting. Gotcha. It was delicious.) Then was the meat plate which was baked chicken. Then salad which seemed ironic after all the foot I was just offered. Then was dessert and finally drinks. The meal was four hours long but really it felt no more than twenty minutes. I was surrounded by so many wonderful people that I could have stayed for days before I even realized how long I was there for. As much as I don’t want to go home I feel like there wasn’t a better note to close this trip on then this dinner. Plus- I will never have to eat American food again because I’ll probably be full for the rest of my life. It’s a win-win for everyone.

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The place that ruined all food that is not Italian for me.

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It’s like the Michelangelo painting that I am obsessed with.

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Picture with the Roomies, Prof. Alessia and his wife after dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a really special place. I’ve learned so much here in such a short amount of time. For someone who hates history- to was fascinating. All of it. Utterly amazing.

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I’m not sure what this building is but it’s right on the subway exit and it’s one of my favorites.

Since tomorrow is technically my last day I will be posting my sentimental post tomorrow. My plane leaves here at 10 am which is 5 am US time. I don’t want to leave. It is going to be excruciating to go back to Oswego because 1. I don’t want to 2. My classes are irrelevant and 3. I don’t want to 4 I can’t get out of bed and 5. I aggressively don’t want to. We averaged 7 miles of walking each day. My feet are going to fall off on the flight. I’ve accepted it. I’ll have to crawl to class. People will look out the window’s and “say oh my god is she hurt? No.. that’s just Ally dragging herself to class on her knees. What’s that? Oh that’s the puddle of her tears.”

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Have a Vespa that matches your personality.

Well this has been a great first last day. I’ve done and seen so much. I’m trying to figure out a way to “accidentally” hide in the overhead compartments and fly back to Rome with the plane. Oh! ‘m moving to Florence! NEGATIVE ATTITUDES AREN’T INVITED, MOM.

I guess that’s all for now. We’re getting down to the wire. I’m not a fan.

Stay Weird.

Ally

Current Wish- the semester would be cancelled because no one wanted to teach anymore or aliens took over the school. Either one works for me. Your choice.

PS- I have to be awake in an hour and I should have been asleep an hour ago but right when I finished the blog and went to add the pictures the whole thing got deleted. I had to start over but I’m determined to finish it. DO IT FOR THE BLOG.

A Self Titled Life- Come Alive At Night (Day 5)

This morning we boarded two subways and a train and made our way to Florence (and the Machine). I’ll be honest, this is probably going to be one of the shortest written posts I will ever make. But don’t worry, there will be a millions and thirty-seven pictures to make up for it.

I didn’t really know too much about Florence except that it is, in fact, in Italy. I never really researched the area but I can say whatever expectations I possibly had were shattered into a million pieces. Florence was the most beautiful place I have ever set my eyes on. I feel like I was walking around inside of a postcard. There was a picture perfect bridge along the water, the streets were lined with apartments, the roads are made of cobble stones, and I loved every second of it. It was like Italy meets New York City. I swear, the Italy you see in the movies is where I walked around today. I can’t put a finger on it, but there is something about Florence (and the Machine) that made it feel like home. I was walking through the streets and I probably said twenty-five times “I want to come back here. I want to bring my parents here. I want to bring everyone I know here.”

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The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

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The buildings, colors, and architecture remind me of walking around in Prague.

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The buildings look old and modern at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just looking down one of the streets.

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This scene looks straight out of a movie. It was so beautiful. I could have stayed here for years.

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This reminds me of the bridge Augustus and Hazel sailed under when they were in Amsterdam.

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Also, that beautiful blue sky made the city look 10 times more beautiful than it already was.

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This place doesn’t look real. I mean I took these pictures but I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. And I STILL barely believe it. 

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Wow.

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Florence is a place everyone in the world deserves to see in their lifetime.

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There was an art class sitting on the lawn by the water sketching!

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Everything has it’s one personality in Italy, even the buildings.

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There are a lot of naked wrestling statues here.

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Michelle Obama, purse so heaving gettin’ Oprah dollars.

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Santa Maria del Fiore looked like it was made out of newspaper paper maché. It was amazing. I’ve never seen a building like it before.

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There are a millions little details. It probably took forever to paint each individual part.

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This building looked like it could have been in Harry Potter.

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Santa Maria del Fiore also reminded me of a German christmas ornament.

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There are so many statues. These line the top-level of the front of the Santa Maria del Fiore.

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Aunt Dar you were so right. This was amazing. (I also found the jewelry street! Although I didn’t buy anything)

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Stop, I am in love with this city.

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The bomb.com

In Florence there was a market place comparable to Chinatown in New York City. We walked around there for a few hours and I’m actually a pretty good bargainer. I made a couple of pretty good deals today which was awesome because I had a ton of fun. I can’t get over how beautiful Florence is, I feel like it doesn’t exist and I made it all up.

Between Florence and Rome I can’t really say which one I liked better because I don’t like one better than the other. They’re so different in their own ways. Florence was so natural, calm, and beautiful while Rome is historic, amazing, and fast paced. I just want to come back and see both one day.

When we got back to Rome we took a subway at around 10 pm after dinner and went to see the Colosseum at night. We’re going to visit the inside tomorrow but seeing it for the first time while it was dark outside was unbelievable. It’s massive. It baffles me that people live amongst these amazing ruins and just walk by while strolling though their daily lives. I can’t wait to see it tomorrow but I’m so stoked we saw it at night too. We walked off the subway and BOOM there it was. It’s pretty mind-boggling to see it in person. I’ve spent so many boring classes learning about it that it makes it seem real for the first time. Pictures don’t do any justice, just a heads up.

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This place is unimaginable. I can’t believe it really exists. It’s incredible.

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The front part of the Colosseum facing the street still has it original outer shell while the back has been stripped down to the inside walls.

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The Arch of Constantine. I can’t wait to see this in the sunlight.

 

 

 

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At the Colosseum..at night.

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Hey. Hi. Hello.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I accidentally thought I just deleted this entire post (I didn’t) but I almost had a heart attack and died. Really dodged a bullet there. I’m excited for tomorrow but also a little sad that’s it’s the last full day I have here in Rome. At the same time, I got to sit and talk with Professor Alessia on the train on the way back from Florence and I am so grateful to be here. That’s something I will never stop feeling.

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Just because you’re trash doesn’t mean you can’t do great things. It’s called garbage can, not garbage cannot.

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There was a flower truck parked on the corner of the hotel street this morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My goal is to take thirty pictures with this man so I can frame them all for the rest of time.

That’s all for now. Happy awkward Thursday.

Stay Weird.

Ally

Current Mood- Psyched I get to sleep in tomorrow morning. It’s like I’ve entered adulthood when I call sleeping until 8am ‘sleeping in.’ I’ll say something adult now….Briefcase.

A Self Titled Life- Fear Of The Sunshine (Day 4)

First things first- I’m not Swedish. Okay, but for real the weather was BEAUTIFUL today. There was no rain, no wind, sunshine, no raincoats, no umbrellas, no whining people, blue skies, aND THE POPE. We saw the Pope speak this morning at St. Peter’s Cathedral which, fun fact is the largest church in the world. The second largest church is London. One of the girls in our groups has a cousin here who is studying to become a priest and got us 40 tickets to see the Pope speak this morning. There were like 1000 seats and we got these sweet gold tickets with the Our Father on the back in Latin. We got there at around 8:30 and the service started at 10. He only spoke for like 15 minutes but then there were seven translations so the whole process took like forty minutes. ALSO the Pope came in on a Segway and zoomed around the crowd kissing babies, and grownups, and teenagers, and middle-aged men, and toddlers, and pre-teens, and man-babies, and grandparents, and probably just the babies.

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My camera is not the best but he’s sitting in the white and the guy standing in the black robe is the translator.

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The Pope just cruising along , being awesome on his Segway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pope seems like such a cool guy. He’s so nice and down to earth. His voice was so soothing too. I would have listened to him for hours. Frankly, I would have listened to him read his grocery list.

SO AUNT DEB WHEN YOU TOLD ME TO SAY HI TO THE POPE, I DID!!

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Speaking of which, Aunt Deb I found this light today at St. Peter’s Cathedral. I’ve been there three times and never noticed it until today.

After the Pope and I hung out for the afternoon we shopped around for a while and so many of the shops are so cheap and it’s fantastic. We’re going to Skype next Thursday because I’ll be home and he’ll be in Rome. Long distance connection is essential here people.

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The front of the ticket to see my new best friend.

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The back of the ticket/prayer when I saw my new best friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went to see the Sistine Chapel which is like a 10 minute walk away from the cathedral. I was so stoked to see it and see the finger touching creation painting. What they don’t tell you is that there is a 38 million room museum you have to suffer through until you finally make it into the chapel. It’s cool at first, oh I don’t 9 sections because it starts with an Egyptian section which has a 200,000 year old mummy on display. But then there is so many paintings from different times and all I wanted to do was see the chapel. First I was walking, then I was walking slower, then I was walking on my knees, then I was crawling, then I was pulling myself by my elbows, then I was screaming “GO ON WITHOUT ME. SAVE YOURSELVES”. But mostly, I just walked. I’m also the worst human to go to a museum with because I want to see the least amount of things in the least amount of time possible.

 

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This statue looked like it was having its face blown in by a leaf blower.

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Tell me this doesn’t look like Scooby Doo. That’s right. YOU CAN’T.

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There was a room of all ancient maps that amongst my moping was actually pretty cool.

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One of the million ceilings in the museum of death,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We ran into this girl yesterday who posed like this in a picture and it was so funny I’m going to steal it as much as I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINALLY we made it into the chapel and it was equally impressive as it was different from what I thought it would be. It was immaculate. The people look like real humans and they’re so detailed it’s incredible. Also, the fact it was painted so long ago and it looks like it was finished only yesterday. What was different was that it was simply a long, ongoing room where everyone herded into the middle in a pack. It wasn’t sectioned off like some of the Basilicas, it was like a domed longhouse. The top was individual mural stories, the sides were smaller individual murals, the back wall was one massive painting, and the bottoms had curtains painted on them like you’d see in a theater. The lovely theater.

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The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. My favorite painting (the creation// finger touching painting) is in the middle of the ceiling. Shout out to Sarah for being illegal!

The mural on the front wall shows heaven at the top, Jesus in the middle, and hell at the bottom. Michelangelo only ever signed one of his sculptures and the bishop was so upset sentenced Michelangelo to rot in hell. So he actually painted himself into the mural as a man being held up by his hair in hell. In the bottom of the picture he also painted the bishop in hell as well, naked and wrapped in a snake. Passive aggression at it’s finest.

Another fun fact- After 4 years of laying on his back and painting, when Michelangelo finished the Sistine Chapel he had gone blind because of the paint that dripped into his eyes. That’s why he used passive aggression. He turned a blind-eye towards physical violence. (Bad-um Chh)

Before we went in, Sarah asked how people sneak pictures (which honestly isn’t difficult) but you just have people surround whoever is taking the picture and then the person uses the front camera and snaps the pictures. Easy as pie! Then you move to the back of the room and out the gate and you’ve seen the Sistine Chapel! It was really an amazing place. I’d love to see it again.

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In the torture museum, there was a room dedicated to fixing/restoring the art. It reminds me of Santa’s workshop.

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In the garden outside of the Sistine Chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went to the Pantheon which is the most preserved ancient Roman architecture. It has a dome that could fit a perfect sphere in the bottom and top half. It was made in all cement and it was cast in a single day. Since it was going to be so heavy and the workers were afraid it was going to crash under the weight of all the cement they build windows and square panels to decorate but also to relieve some of the weight. Also, at the very peak is a gaping hole to add light and keep the building from crumbling. There’s no window in the hole so when it rains it just pours right in and drains away. It’s almost ironic that the building with the most natural exposure is the best preserved.

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The hole at the top of the Pantheon is called an oculus. Not like the movie Oculus where a demon lives in a mirror and takes over people’s minds.

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The outside of the Pantheon reminded me of the White House

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The columns on the outside of the Pantheon are so big but look at how beautiful that sky is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Group picture in the Pantheon

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The camera was on the floor under the oculus so that’s the circle of light at the top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Right under the oculus is a circle with a drain in the middle to collect all the rain that falls into the Pantheon.

 

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The art and decor inside the Pantheon is all the original decor from the original construction. Also- the inside columns were designed to add additional support to the structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The boards on the top were made to let natural light in and reduce the weight of the cement.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Florence (and the Machine) and I am super excited to go. We’re taking another bullet train which I think are so much fun. I can’t believe I saw the Pope today. It’s kind of mind-blowing actually. Maybe tomorrow I’ll run into Queen Latifah. Queen Latifah give me strength.

Okay, that’s all for now. This post is excruciatingly long. If you made it all the way to this point, I appreciate your time and if you didn’t, you smell. (You probably don’t) It’s 5:31 in the US. I hope everyone comes home, eats dinner and watches Parks and Recreation on Netflix. You can thank me later.

Stay Weird,

Ally

P.S- I have videos of both the Pope speaking and the translator reading what the Pope said in his speech. Unfortunately, both videos are too large to upload to this blog. I have them though if anyone is ever interested in seeing it! I also have a video of two men playing accordions while we were eating dinner.

Current hope- A real gelato stand will move to Buffalo and be waiting for me when I get back.

A Self Titled Life- Straight Through the Ceiling (Day 3)

I’m sitting down to write this blog and my body is so tired and sore I might live out my last days in Rome. We didn’t do a lot today but we did a lot in the places we went. We started back at St. Peter’s Basilica which we visited the courtyard yesterday, but this time we went inside the Basilica. I could have spent twenty-five years in there and never seen everything I wanted to. There are statues and paintings and more sculptures and so many people and man buns and bow ties and it was incredible. I thought the Basilica of St. John Lateran was amazing (and it was) but it kind of feels like these places blow one another out of the water. I the bottom of the Basilica are the tombs of a several of the past pope’s that you can walk through and look at. It’s insane to me that a marble statue can look like it’s covered in cloth but it’s just the marble itself. I can’t get over it. It always makes me think of Spongebob when he makes that extraordinary sculpture in Squidward’s art class with just one click of the tools.

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A panoramic of the outside of the Basilica. Shout out to Sarah for taking the picture.

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Some of the many millions statues inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The inside of the Basilica.

 

 

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I will proudly photobomb your selfies because no one can stop me.

 

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The back of all the statues lining the top of the Basilica 1. are enormous and 2. have no backs to them!

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It really looks like this is covered in cloth.

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Even the actual paintings are beautiful.

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The Bronze Canopy created by Bernini sits in the front of the Basilica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That little teeny weenie point on the top of the dome is what we climbed. I WILL NOT HAVE ANOTHER PICTURE WITH THAT RAINCOAT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just a perspective on how enormous and detailed these sculptures are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got to climb up to the top of the Basilica and look over all of Rome. The color scheme of the city is oranges, whites, and yellows. The buildings look brand new from way up high which is so odd because they’re anything but new. To get to the top of the dome first you climb about two hundred stairs and look over the inside of the Basilica from the top of the dome. It’s covered by a fence but it really shows you just how massive the whole place is. Also, that every inch is covered in something beautiful. Then you walk back outside on the roof and climb about 300+ more stairs to the top of the dome. The stairs are narrow and slippery and get worse as you climb higher and higher. At one point right before you reach the top, the stairs are coiled so tightly around this small cylinder that if you reach your arms out by your sides you would touch both walls. It was a little claustrophobic but everyone made it out and enjoyed the fresh air and the fresh layer of sweat.

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Another panoramic taken by Sarah but this was from the top of the dome looking out over the city.

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It’s casual. Just looking over Rome.

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Still casual.

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It’s really hard not to take a thousand pictures of everything you do.

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Climbing the steps to the top of the dome. Most of the lines were single file.

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Oh yes, these are my roommates on this fine adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kind of a blurry picture, but this is one of the corridors of stairs we climbed up and down from the top of the dome.

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This dude behind me in line was rocking a man bun. I think he was french and I named him Phillipe and we’re going to get married and live happily ever after. Just me, him, and his man bun.

 

 

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So Phillipe is sitting on the stairs behind me and Sarah took a casual picture of me so I could have a picture of him. She’s a sniping animal.

 

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From the bottom of the Basilica looking into the base of the dome. We stood along that ledge and looked down when we climbed up.

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View of St. Peter’s courtyard from the top of the Basilica.

After that we went to one of the Roman catacombs. I watched this movie on Valentine’s Day about these people who break into the  forbidden sections of the Paris catacombs and end up being chased down by demons and they have to crawl through the depths of hell to get out. I was psyched for the catacombs and I was hoping to see the stacks of bones and the graves and candles but it wasn’t actually like that. There weren’t any bones but there were old pots and relics preserved throughout the years. Most of the tombs are open now because the remains have been removed. It was still eerie feeling to be in there but not nearly as scary as I was hoping it would be. I also wasn’t mauled to death by any demons which was nice. There are family burial rooms that we got to look inside which were also pretty cool.

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We were first in line for the catacombs. No big deal.

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The entrance to the catacomb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the groups broke off at that point and we went in our little group out to dinner and to see the Trevi Fountain (like in the Lizzie McGuire movie. We also had gelato because it is a necessity. Unfortunately, it’s under construction so the fountain wasn’t running but I did still throw a coin over my shoulder which means one day I will come back to Rome.

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Dinner picture, man.

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The Trevi fountain is getting a face life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been another really fantastic day in Italy! It only rained slightly until the early afternoon and then get this, the sun came out. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful and sunny and I cannot wait. I won’t have to wear a rain coat and  I can switch my shoes, it’s a glorious feeling! Also- Tomorrow something mind-blowing is going to happen but I’m not going to say what it is until tomorrow’s blog. But I promise- it’s drop dead phenomenal. A chance of a lifetime.

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Rome has so many different trees it’s like the tree capital of the world. (Don’t quote me on that because I absolutely made it up.)

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ATTENTION FAMILY. I FOUND A YELLOW PUNCH BUG. I WIN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mom- these were the sewage covers in the Basilica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all those concerned (Uncle Kevin)- I didn’t have a lot of corny/dad jokes in this post. I’ll make up for it now!

Q. What do you call a deer with no eyes?

A. No eye deer.

 

Q. So what do you call a deer with no eyes AND no legs?

A. Still no eye deer.

 

Today I tried to take a picture of some fog. I mist.

 

What do you call it when a crazy cow gets loose? Udder destruction.

 

OKAY, I’M DONE. I hope that holds you over until tomorrow. Let me know when you cancel my ticket.

UNTIL TOMORROW- Stay Weird.

Ally

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This is Professor Alessia and he is the sweetest, more genuine and wonderful man I have ever met. I am so happy he is guiding us on this adventure because frankly, there is no one else in the world I would rather be here with.

 

Current complaint- I think my feet are going to fall off. But on the plus side I’d totally invest in pirate wooden legs to make up for it.