A Summer Abroad: Rome

A Summer Abroad: Rome

Adventures in Italy's ancient city.
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(This is part of my Summer Abroad series; you can find part one here!)

I spent two weeks in Berlin as part of my recent job with a publishing company, and the other two weeks of my month long Europe excursion could be spent however I wanted. Seeing a golden opportunity, I booked cheap flights for some Eurotrip-style traveling in four other countries. And so I flew from Germany and opened up a new kind of adventure as I landed in Rome, Italy. The change in energy was as jarring as the change in weather, from a chilly 56-degree summer in Berlin to the bright and sunny 92 degrees at Rome’s airport. And my German taxi driver said I was silly for wearing shorts.

It should come as no surprise that Rome had been on my bucket list for a long time- it is for most people. As a child, I fell in love with Italy and Italian culture through the lens of Cornelia’s Funke’s various books… and admittedly because of The Lizzie McGuire Movie. The reality of Rome is nothing like the movies, though, which is beautiful to realized Berlin is an art piece of a city, but Rome is an artifact. It is old, and worn, and layered with eras past. It is still cobbled and cluttered, designed around its history and wrapping odd secrets in its maze-like streets. Roads full of Vespas, cars, and walking traffic (often on the same road: behind an elderly woman while riding taxis through the city, on more than one occasion). And before you ask- yes, the food is just as amazing as everyone says. Nothing quite tastes like the tomatoes in Italy, and I’ve yet to find tiramisu quite as good. The same with the fountains, which was some of the purest and clearest water I've seen in my life.

Also before you ask: yes, Rome’s men are as forward and flirty as you might expect. I lost count of the number of times men stopped to watch me through windows, offer me rides, and scooted themselves onto the same table as me. “Ciao, Bella!” became a commonly overheard call in the streets I walked. A pair of sunglasses usually solved the problem, if I felt I didn’t want the attention. The people are kind, though, and the tourists unusually pleasant for such a busy city. I shared a pizza lunch and travel stories with a backpacker and talked about David Bowie's music with a cab driver. The language barrier that had been such a hang-up in Berlin faded in the streets of Rome, making life much easier and more relaxed.

One of the most incredible things I have experienced- not just in this trip, but in general, was the most I took the train to Colluseo and stepped out onto the block that overlooks the Colosseum. The real, actual Colosseum: the one from text books and all of the postcards. It always looked big, and somehow it was bigger in real life. Walking its columns and stairs just aches with history, tracing the edges where new concrete ends and the earliest bricks begin. The Roman Forum surrounds the block like the portal to another place and time, temples and political buildings mixed together over a hilly landscape of olive trees. The air is hot and the water vendors are persistent, but the walk around the area is worth every blister and potential sunburn.

My favorite corner of Rome was Piazza de Spragga, one of the richest and most beautiful areas in the city. Just a walk down the streets takes you passed the Spanish Steps and all the way to The Pantheon, with all of the beauty in between. Wonderful restaurants and hidden treasures line the walk, including the historical Caffe Greco (the world’s oldest cafe), the Gucci store, and the beautiful former home of John Keats and Percy-Byche Shelley. There are hours to spend just exploring the area, and some of my fondest memories in Europe were spent relaxing at Caffe Greco with a cup of tea or exploring the beautiful books at The Keats-Shelley Museum. I also enjoyed venturing around the busy and colorful area that surrounded Termini Station, where you could find whatever food you needed and the best gelato in the world, if I do say so myself.

After three days wandering and enjoying the magic of Rome, I had to pack up again for another flight: I was off to Paris! But I had only just realized that three days would never be enough to see the whole city. I had experienced so much culture and magic, and there was still more to find. I used this to take heart that one day, I would just have to return for more adventures in Italy.

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Jones

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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7 Things Never To Do While Visiting London

Abandon all hope, ye who use public transport during rush hour.

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As I've said before, London is an interesting place to be, however, there are a handful of things that should be avoided. Of course, mistakes will be made and lessons will be learned, but maybe if you read this, you'll know better faster.

1. Do not stand on the left.

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... of the escalator. Some people prefer to walk down to their train, and if you're in the way, it's as if you were sent from hell itself, especially during rush hour

2. Do not take the Central Line.

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Unless you're going to the Museum of London or St. Paul's. Or you're into weird smells and clinging to the pole because there is no such thing as a smooth ride. To each their own.

3. Do not attempt to get anything to eat in Leicester Square after 4:30.

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Leicester (pronounced like "Lester") Square is one of the best places to grab some grub in Central London because of the sheer amount of choices. Just plan to eat early because everyone else knows that very thing and you'll end up waiting an eternity for a table, then food.

4. Do not rely completely on an app.

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It's totally fine if you have no clue where you going or how public transport works, but once you get the hang of it, you're allowed to trust your own judgment. Maybe you don't have to get off the train then switch twice before getting there instead of riding a few stops more and switching once.

5. Do not attempt to take the Tube during Rush Hour when you have other options.

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Just take the bus if you have to to the national railways. The SWR trains are slow, but at least you're not packed in like sardines and there are usually open seats.

6. Do not forget to check for student discounts and bring your ID.

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Remember this when you go to the palaces, it could save you six pounds and make a real difference if you're going with others.

7. Do not let anything ruin your day.

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There will be a lot of things that will try to ruin your day... Like people who intentionally break some rules above, lines (Sorry, queues), poor navigation skills, etc. Still, you're in London. Savor your visit, and don't let any mistakes or people without common decency ruin your visit.

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