Sunday, May 31, 2009

Un Fine Settimana Perfetto

A perfect weekend...

Friday: As I mentioned yesterday, I went to Tivoli with my art history class. On Friday night, pretty much the entire Temple Rome summer program did the Spanish Steps pub crawl. It's definitely a tourist-y thing to do, but it was fun to do once and in a large group of friends. For those who may not know, you pay 20 euro to travel to 3 different bars and a night club and drink for free and then later for cheap, a t-shirt, and pizza. It was also a fun way to meet other people traveling in Rome.

Friends before the pub crawl

Saturday: We have been dying to get to the beach since we got here since it's SO hot in Rome, so yesterday we took the Metro and then a local train to Ostia. It was about a one hour trip and only cost 2 euro to get there and back. We went to the very last stop Columbo, and headed to a beach called Venezia. We paid 10 euro to enter the beach and rent chairs, and relaxed for 4 glorious hours. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. It was a perfect beach day, and a great way to unwind. While we were at the beach, there was an air show, so planes were flying very low over the ocean and doing all kinds of tricks, including blowing out smoke in the shape and colors of the Italian flag! Very cool.

Ladies laying out on the beach

Crazy Italian flag colored smoke

Saturday night, my roommates and I made pasta and had bread, and relaxed and unwinded. We also booked a trip to Paris for the weekend of June 11-June 14. Very exciting!

Sunday: Today was Pentecost and we went to a special mass at the Pantheon. At the very end, thousands of rose petals were dropped from the dome of the Pantheon. I actually wrote a guest blog post for another travel blogger about this experience, so instead of writing about it here, I'll post the link when she posts my blog.

Rose petals falling on the procession

Me and my rose petals

The 2009 Giro d'Italia (bike race) took place in Rome today, so we watched a bit of that. We wanted to catch a glimpse of Lance Armstrong, but he wasn't starting until 4:30 p.m. and we watched the race around 2:00 p.m.

Later, we wandered around the Spanish Steps and ate gelato. So far my favorite gelato flavors are mint chocolate chip, nutella, limone and banana.

A great weekend in Roma! How was your weekend?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Week Of Classes

I made it through the first week of classes!

My classes are awesome. As I mentioned before, I am taking Art History and Rome Sketchbook (a beginner art course).

Art History:

My art history professor Paolo is amazing. He is a carefree Italian man who is apparently in his 50's, but looks like he is 30. He loves beauty, and often speaks of the body as being the most beautiful thing in the world. He cracks us all up with his adorable Italian accent and his funny sayings. Unlike the other section of this class, we don't have any lectures...we will be going on site every class period (lucky us; unlucky for the other section!)

He is very relaxed, and wants us to absorb everything in person, rather than sitting in a classroom trying to memorize things. Yesterday, we sat on a hill, and he read us part of a book about Hadrian's Villa for 15 minutes. It was so unconventional and not at all what I'm used to at Temple University Main.

On Wednesday,
we went to the Colosseum area and talked about the architecture of the buildings and the difference between the renaissance period and the classical period.


On Friday, we went to Tivoli, a beautiful hill town just 30 minutes outside of Rome. First, we went to Hadrian's Villa, which was awesome. Then, we headed to Villa D'este, an amazing villa with over 200 fountains.

Hadrian's Villa

Making our way up the massive hills at Villa D'este

Gorgeous fountain

Paolo and the lovely ladies in our class

Rome Sketchbook:

I can't draw to save my life, but I thought it would be fun to learn and take this class. My professor Anita is an ex-patriot, meaning she lived in the United States, and now permanently lives in Italy.

During the first class on Tuesday, we went to Pizza del Popolo and did blind contour sketches (meaning we couldn't look at the paper or remove the pencil from the paper until we were finished) and then regular contour sketches.

On Thursday, we went to Villa Borghese and did ink sketches by the beautiful pond. I'm still not good at art, but I'll share my first two pieces of work. I definitely am no expert, but I'm enjoying taking this class. It's very relaxing.

Contour drawing

Ink sketch

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beautiful Beaches

Last night, my roommates and I booked our weekend trip to the beautiful Amalfi Coast for next weekend.

We booked through Bus2Alps, a travel tour Web site. Basically, we will get on a bus in Roma and travel to Positano, Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii for the weekend. It's such a great deal as it includes the tour, transportation and hostels all for 199 euro.

This is the part of studying abroad that I am most excited about. Ever since I heard about the Amalfi Coast, I have wanted to visit. It just looks incredibly beautiful.





Has anyone ever been to any of these beautiful places? If so, any suggestions on what we should do there?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Italian Culture vs. American Culture

There are so many differences between Italian and American culture. Last night, I went to a presentation on campus about culture and social life in Rome. While it was quite humorous, I definitely learned a few things I didn't know before, some good and some not so good...

-Italians love to stare...One of Temple's staff members Gianni explained to us that if an Italian stares at us, and we feel uncomfortable to just stare back. He says that Italians are very curious people.

-There is no such thing as personal space in Italy. I learned how very true this one is today when I took the metro to the Colosseum for class. Gianni mentioned that Italians don't have a privacy bubble like us Americans do. They stand very close to each other and don't mind if they are touching someone else. The Champions League Final took place today, so fans from all over Madrid and Britain came to Roma for the match. The metro was SO crowded...I would argue it was more crowded than the Broad Street line on the day of the Phillies championship parade. We were crammed in with literally no breathing room.

-Bella Figura literally translates to mean beautiful figure, but it means being a beautiful person with a good appearance (not just physically). Gianni explained that Italians don't get drunk in public or eat while they walk because they are trying to keep the perfect appearance.

-Italians don't stop at stop signs! You need to be VERY careful crossing the street at all times.

-It's considered extremely weird here to get any kind of food or drink to-go. Italians like to relax and enjoy their food and drink and then move. It's also weird to get certain types of coffee after 11:00 a.m. here.

-Gianni gave a word of advice to the guys in the room about trying to pick up Italian girls. He said that Italian girls are VERY skeptical of American guys because they are used to Italian guys being very forward with them. He mentioned its best to take it slow and hang out with the girl a few times in a group before going on an actual date. He also said that it's wise for guys to say they are from California or New York City because Italian girls have grown up watching movies and TV shows that take place in those locations.

-This is a serious tip. As I'm sure many of us have heard, Italian men are stereotypically quite forward. Rape doesn't hold up very well in court here. There is an unspoken rule that if you enter an Italian man's apartment, you are giving up the right to say no. In one court case, the court ruled that if a woman is wearing tight jeans, she obviously couldn't have been raped because she would have had to help the man take the pants off. It's really sad, and I think this is one area that the United States might be excelling in.

-Everything is MUCH slower here. It's great. Dinners last three hours, waiters don't bother you to leave. In class, my professors ask if we want to stop for espresso's on the way to our next site visit. It's great. I love the stress-free life.

-My favorite cultural difference: siesta time! At home, I love to take naps and I guess that could be considered lazy, but here, everything shuts down from noon til three and everyone takes a rest. I love it!

Are there any major cultural differences I may have missed that you noticed when traveling in Europe?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Everything Is More Fun In Rome

...even simple things, like grocery shopping!

Yesterday, my roommates and I headed down the block to the open air market (mercato trionfale) to check out some of the local vendors. It was so amazing! My one roommate Erica described it as "Reading Terminal Market [in Philadelphia] on crack." I have to say, she is right.

This market was incredible. It was humongous and the prices were great. We bought a ton of fruit for under 2 euros. We bought fresh bread and pasta. The market also sold all kinds of poultry, fish, beef, cheeses and wine. We bought 3 bottles of wine for 6 euros! You can't beat that.

Bread and pastries


After, we bought a few things at the market we headed up the block to our local grocery store. It was such an adventure looking at all the different brands, and comparing it to what the item would be in America. It cracks me up that the only cream cheese we saw in all of Rome so far is Philadelphia Cream Cheese. So funny!

The roommates and I made a delicious dinner with all our new food from the market. We made pasta with tomato sauce, salad, bread and oil. Delicious!


Later that night, Andrea Bocelli was performing a benefit concert for the earthquake last month at the Coliseum, so we headed over there to see if we could hear anything. We got there too late, but we had a great time hanging out at the bars in the area. The Coliseum at night is just breathtaking.


Today was the first day of classes...more on that later!

Todi and Titignano

As part of orientation, on Sunday, we took a day trip to Todi, a medieval hill town in Umbria in central Italy. It was about an hour and a half bus ride through the beautiful countryside. My pictures don't even do the beautiful landscape justice!


We arrived in Todi and had to walk up a very steep hill. It was worth it when we got to the top though, because the view was breathtaking! We wandered around the small town and saw a gothic cathedral and looked around the shops.

At the top of the hill in Todi


After Todi, we got back on the bus and traveled to Titignano to have a 12 course feast at an old manor. We were truly in the country...I had taken a nap on the bus and when I woke up, we were traveling on a dirt road!

The feast included food like lamb, proscuitto, pasta with wild boar meat, chicken, risoto, and lots of wine! I'm a very picky eater, but I'm proud to say that I tried lamb for the first time.

It was great to see the contrast between the bustling city of Rome and the quiet Italian countryside. I think I prefer the city right now, but I can imagine how the countryside could be a relaxing retreat for city dwellers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Il Nostro Piccolo Apartamento

Our little so cute!

It's very different from anything in America, but that's what studying abroad is all about. There is no air conditioning, so we have all of our windows open to get some fresh air.

Now..the tour!

Tiny kitchen

Living room...don't ask why we have an awkward cot and not a couch..

Bathroom....we have a bidet...also strange to me

Sweet doors to our bedroom


Bedroom and roomie reading

Balcony that wraps around the apartment part 1

Balcony that wraps around the apartment part 2

Tomorrow night, we plan to head to the open air market to buy pasta, sauce, veggies, wine and spices and cook dinner in our apartment to eat on our balcony!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

When In Rome...

Another great day in Roma!

Today, I woke up and headed to school for a bit of an orientation. I felt much more comfortable navigating the city and the culture after the presentation. One really funny thing that Gianni, one of the Temple Rome guys said regarding safety in Rome was, "In Roma.....we don't....umm, kill people? You know, we don't shoot people like in Philadelphia. We just have pickpockets." Everyone in the room cracked up. Sad, but true statement about Philly!

After that, we broke into smaller groups and took a walking tour of Rome. It wasn't really a historical tour like I thought it would be; It was more of a practical tour teaching us how to get around, how to find things, and how to speak Italian in some of those places. It was really helpful.

Pretty flowers

After that we headed to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). So beautiful! It was just like I've seen in pictures and movies. We didn't throw a coin in the fountain yet to ensure a return to Roma. We are planning to do it at night when the fountain is all lit up and sparkling.


We were tired and sweaty after the afternoon, so we headed back to our Residence to rest for a bit. It is SO hot during the day in Rome! At night, it's the perfect temperature, though!

We knew we wanted to go to a cute restaurant for dinner, but we weren't sure where to go, so we asked the security guard at our building. It was really the first time that I attempted a full conversation in Italian, and it went really well! It felt awesome to be able to actually communicate in another language. Thanks to his suggestion, we headed to La Rustichella. I misread the menu and thought I was ordering a large Coke, but actually ordered a large LITER of Coke...oops. Luckily, the table shared.

The very large Coke

We all ordered some gelato, and I got some delicious lemon sorbet. It tasted just like Polish Water Ice which is my absolutely favorite snack to eat down the shore.

After dinner, we wandered over towards Vatican City. My mind was absolutely blown by how beautiful the Vatican is. I can't wait to go there during the day, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the Pope.

In front of the Vatican

Tomorrow, we are going to the medieval hilltown of Todi to walk around and have a traditional 4 hour and 12 course meal...lots and lots of food.

More to come on Todi, and some photos of my awesome Italian apartment!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Benvenuto a Roma!

I'm here!

I made it safely, thankfully. Oddly enough, the flight was actually sort of fun. This was my first time on a long flight (the longest flight I've ever been on has been to Florida) so I was a bit nervous, but everything went fine. There was a bit of turbulence, but nothing too bad.

At the Philadelphia airport

Luckily, I flew with my friend Erica so I wasn't alone. We had our own personal TV screens in front of us, so I watched Marley and Me, Bride Wars, and an episode of How I Met Your Mother. I only slept for a little bit. I was so amazed that it was dark the first half of the flight, and then became sunny, even though it was very late at home.

We got our bags with no problem and headed to Temple's apartment building. I am living in an apartment with my three friends Erica, Reilly and Melissa. We really lucked out in getting a quad (more on that tomorrow, I will post pictures of the apartment!)

I took a little nap, and then went to an Internet cafe to make sure my mom knew I got to Rome safely. Since then, I've been able to get the Internet working in my apartment, so I'm good to go.

Around 6, we walked to the school for a pizza party. The school is about a 30 minute walk away, but it was a pretty nice walk. I met some of the other people on the trip and enjoyed some Italian pizza. We walked over to the Spanish Steps and people watched for about an hour and a half. I could sit there all day!

After that we walked to the Piazza del Popolo which was amazing.

Piazza del Poploo at sunset

Later, we wandered around Roma and went to a restaurant called Starbess near our apartment and had some vino like true Italians!

I'm a bit thrown off by the time difference. I'm not too tired, I just never have any idea what time it is or when I should be eating or when I should be sleeping. Hopefully, my body will adjust soon.

Tomorrow, we continue orientation with a walking tour of Rome, so I will update with more pictures after that!

I am definitely loving Rome so far. Can't wait to see more!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leaving Today!

I can't believe it is May 21st and I am leaving for Rome today!

I am so nervous to leave, but I'm also really excited.

I know that I'm going to miss my family and friends so much, but I hope that I'll be having so much fun, I won't dwell on that too much.

My flight takes off at 6:00 p.m. tonight, and I should be in Rome by 8:30 a.m. their time!

The next time I post will be from Roma!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Oh yeah.

I completely forgot that the reason I'm going to Rome in the first place is to study abroad! I guess that means I will be taking classes.

Just kidding. I am actually really excited for my two classes.

The first is Art History. The class meets in the classroom once a week and on site once a week, meaning we will be learning about art, and then going to see it in person! I'm not a HUGE art fan as of now, but I think it will be so cool to get to actually see the things we are studying.

The second class I'm taking is called Rome Sketchbook. In this class, we will be drawing and painting. I am NOT an artistic person at all, which is why I'm so looking forward to this class. My Mom (love you Mom!) thinks I'm absolutely crazy for taking this class because she knows my art skills, but I think I'm going to come home an artist. And, if not? It's going to be a good experience.

I only have class on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, so I'll have long weekends to travel!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Do You Pack For Six Weeks?!?!

Packing for six weeks has proven to be quite difficult.

I thought it would be easier than packing for a one week trip, because normally when I pack for a short trip, I have to plan out outfits and shoes, etc.

I thought this would be simpler.

Nope. Not simpler.

I'm bringing one large suitcase and a carry-on duffel bag.

I haven't put all of my clothes in the suitcase yet, but they are laid out neatly, ready to be put in.

We were told not to bring a lot of white clothes because they will turn grey there. This is bad for me because I wear white all the time!

So far, I've packed a ton of sundresses (cough14cough) because I figure they are lightweight and comfortable to wear. I've brought a few pairs of shorts and plenty of tops. I have a few cardigans for when its chilly and to visit different religious places that have a dress code. I haven't figured out how many pairs of shoes I'm bringing, but I'm working on that.

A lot of people suggested buying toiletries in Rome, but I decided just to bring mine for the sake of having it already when I get there. I hope that my toiletries don't weigh my suitcase down too much!

I still need to pack my carry-on and other things. It's a bit stressful, but hopefully I'll be able to get it all done!

Does anyone have any packing suggestions?

Monday, May 18, 2009


Welcome! My name is Jessica Lawlor and I am a senior public relations student at Temple University. I'm studying abroad this summer at Temple University's Rome campus for six weeks. After Rome, I'm going to Greece for 10 days with my friends Reilly, Melissa and Erica.

I've traveled quite a bit to the Caribbean Islands, but never to Europe. I can't wait to immerse myself in the culture.

I've been taking Italian for a year now, so I'm comfortable with the basics, but I'm really nervous to engage in conversation with locals. I'm definitely not confident with full conversations yet, but I'm excited to try my best and hopefully become a better Italian speaker. I'd love to become fluent.

Traveling abroad for 6 weeks is definitely going to be a new experience for me. I've always been very close to my family and get homesick pretty easily. You're reading the blog of the girl who could only go to school in New York for one semester before she had to transfer to Temple University to be close to her family! It will be a challenge for me to be away from my home and family, but I know that I need to learn to become more independent, and this is the first step to getting there!

I leave for Rome in 3 days! I hope you will follow me on my European adventure. I'll be updating this blog often, so you can always check back at this link. If you're more tech savvy, please subscribe to my blog by clicking the orange button on the left hand side. I'll also be twittering away while I'm abroad, so if you are on Twitter, be sure to follow me! I'd love to hear from you, so if you ever have any advice or suggestions, please leave me a comment by clicking on the comment button at the end of each post.