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One of the best parts of being a Rome Start student is the opportunity to intern at an Italian company. At Loyola’s Chicago campuses, it is very uncommon for freshmen to have internships so this is a rather unique opportunity.
The head of the internship department is Professor Cristiani and she does a marvelous job at helping students who are interested in getting placed within the best company for them. I am taking part in the program this semester and I will be working in a Roman startup called Direttoo that deals with matching food producers directly to restaurants, a concept I find very interesting.
The internship program is also a fantastic way for students to merge more seamlessly into the community. People in most internship places speak some degree English, but undoubtedly, working in an Italian environment is also tremendously helpful for improving language skills
The other day I went ice skating to the Parco Della Musica with my friend Nataliya. A wonderful musical auditorium that has very interesting architecture. A winter wonderland was created outside of the auditorium.
There were lights shining all around and a very nice tree set up. The ice skating rink was in the middle of the whole thing and Christmas classics were playing through a large speaker. We got our skates and even though the ice was not very well looked after at all, we proceeded to enjoy a wonderful hour of ice skating! There were all types of people at the skating rink. There were families, couples, teenagers, and even an old man who looked a bit like Santa Claus.
Following our ice skating adventure, we went into the caffe that was located next to the rink. We ordered hot chocolate which we drank very happily and then made our way home.
During December break, the JFRC is quite empty and at the moment there are only 5 students on campus and a couple of SLAs. We are spending New Years in beautiful Rome and are all very excited about that, but before then we still have a couple of days to explore our wonderful city.
Wanting to make the most of our days here before school starts again, we decided to go to the Love exhibit near Piazza Navona. The exhibit is housed what used to be a convent: Chiostro del Bramante.
Before being admitted, we had some time to appreciate the architecture and with one semester of Art in Rome under our belts, we were able to identify the pilasters and the order of the columns which made us very proud. The Love exhibit was very interesting, it included art from many different artists in various mediums. There were sculptures, paintings, and film.
One of the best parts of the exhibit was a staircase where visitors were invited to write or draw anything about love. Afterward, we decided to eat gelato at Frigidarium, one of our favorite gelaterias and take a walk through Piazza Navona.
This weekend I traveled to Barcelona with my mom. It was a very different experience traveling with her again because I had gotten so used to traveling with friends. We had an absolutely amazing time!
We went to many different restaurants, walked around the Christmas Market in front of the Cathedral, and did some turrón shopping in one of the small artisanal shops that were in Las Ramblas. Turrón is a sweet that comes in bars and can be either chocolate, marzipan, or almond based. It is a huge Christmas tradition in Barcelona and all of Spain, as well as something that has been passed down in my family.
My favorite memory of the trip, however, was going to Plaça Catalunya. What made it so special was that my mom recalled being there when she was younger and feeding the pigeons. When we got there, I was surprised by the obscene amount of pigeons that there were and even more surprised to see how happy my mom was to see them! She bought a bag of seeds and told me that it was exactly as she remembered it. As soon as I let some food fall on the ground 30 pigeons surrounded me and my mom. They walked all over my shoes and one even decided to sit on my mom’s arm! It was a really fun experience and I am very glad I got to share it with my mother.
I traveled to Barcelona for my birthday and I was very excited because I had been planning this trip for quite some time. Barcelona is my favorite place in the world and the thought of spending my birthday there was very exciting. I flew into Barcelona on my birthday and immediately upon landing I knew it was going to be a phenomenal day. I made my way to my hotel, left my bags, and googled how to get to Montjuic, one of the 6 important hills in Barcelona. It was a two-hour walk so I set out immediately, accompanied only with my book, in order to get there while there was still light out. I walked a lot and I loved every minute of it because I got to see some of the beautiful streets of Barcelona that I had never seen before. The reason I wanted to go to Montjuic in the first place was because of the book I held in my hand: L’ Ombra del Vent (The Shadow of the Wind) I had started reading it a year ago. This book is a wonderful novel based in Barcelona and most of it takes place in Montjuic specifically. I had been saving the last few chapters for this day. When I finally got to the castle at the top of the hill, I read them as the sun was setting and was very happy.
Today was the end of the year banquet. Everybody was very excited because it is one of the last times we will all be able to share a meal with the semester students. Dressed in our very best outfits we all got on a bus which took us to the beautiful Villa Rinaldo’s located about 40 minutes away from the JFRC. It was all very beautifully decorated for the holidays and the tables were perfectly set for a delicious meal. We enjoyed a 4-course dinner complete with an antipasto, primo, secondo, and dessert.
At our table, we reminisced on all the exciting things and adventures that had made our semester unforgettable. Everyone had many stories to tell and it was amazing to see how close we had all gotten. It was very hard to believe that most of the people in that room would be gone in less than a week. For the Rome Starts it was a different experience because we still have a semester left, but for everyone else, the reality was sinking in that they would have to leave Rome extremely soon.
After dinner, one of the students made a wonderful toast in honor of the semester and acknowledgments were given to special teachers and students.
At the end of the night, music started playing and everyone began dancing. It was the perfect way to end the perfect semester.