Winter Break Update: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium!

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And the second semester begins!

For an update about my break—I spent Christmas in Germany, visiting my host family, friends, and my boyfriend and his family. After Christmas we took a road trip throughout north-western Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, visiting my family, my boyfriend’s extended family and even another Rome Start student along the way. My favorite part? The Netherlands. I didn’t realize how close Dutch was to English and German—it’s almost like a complete mix between the two. For this reason we had no difficulties ordering our “Pommes”, which are French fries with onions, sweet and sour sauce and mayonnaise. The Dutch really enjoy fast food, but since they bike everywhere, it’s hard to tell! Belgium, however, was another world. It was the first French-speaking country I have been to, and the stereotypes are right—it seems to be a monolingual society. Asking for directions to find a famous chocolate store was a nightmare, being that neither my boyfriend nor I spoke French. Back in Germany, we went to Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Hochneukirch, Augsburg, Aachen, Köln (which is also where we spent New Year’s) and Bonn.
Although my break was surprisingly very active, being that we hadn’t originally planned to do a road trip, I was more than excited to come back to Rome. From my experience in Germany, I know that the second half of the year is always better. The language gets easier, I already know the system of how things work, not only in Rome but also at the JFRC, and it’s time to fulfill seeing all of the places I haven’t been to yet.
This week has gone by sooo fast! I got back from Germany on Saturday, which was the coliseum and roman forum day. On Sunday we went to Tivoli, a small town and UNESCO heritage site near Rome for the day. Tivoli has basically one attraction, which is Villa d’Este. Afterwards we ate at this wonderful restaurant that is underground and used to be used as baths in Roman times. The owner of the restaurant explained to us that her father kept finding more rooms, and eventually archeologists came in and were able to discover six full bathing rooms, which are now all part of the restaurant.
Classes began early Monday morning, but thankfully not too early. This semester I am continuing to fulfill my basic core requirements, which include Sociology, Theology, English, Math, Italian, and to top it off I am also taking an internship class. I have the amazing opportunity to intern at Villa Stuart, an international clinic. They mainly serve FIFA soccer players from all around Europe and even Russia, but also the average patient too, with services in everything from dermatology to surgery. I am stoked about this privilege to intern there, because I hope to work at an international clinic one day too.
On Friday, all two-hundred of us kicked off the semester with the orientation trip to Campania. We spent the first day visiting Reggia di Caserta, the second day at an organic buffalo farm (my personal favorite!), and the third day at a lemon farm, where we go to taste fresh Limoncello. We were also in Salerno, Agropoli, Sorrento and Paestum Scavi. There’s nothing like diving into a new semester JFRC-style!

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About Jessica Raboin

My name is Jessica Raboin and I am a first-year student in the Rome Start program at Loyola University Chicago. I am interested in studying Environmental Science/Pre-Med with minors in languages (as many as I can learn!). I enjoy running, learning languages, sewing and traveling with my best friend. Although I'm a U.S. citizen, I lived in Germany before I came to the Rome Start program.
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