The Cities That Made Me Speechless

I sat down three times to write a blog about Prague, but for some reason, I couldn’t think of anything to say. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time there, I definitely did. And it wasn’t that the city didn’t leave an impression on me. But I felt like I didn’t have any coherent thoughts or words about my experience there.

But soon after, it was time for me to go to Rome, and I had the idea to just write a blog about both cities, that way I had more to say. Then I came home from Rome and my writers/thought block was almost worst. I didn’t understand what was happening.

See the reason I couldn’t write about Prague, and now how it’s even harder to write about Rome was I didn’t know how to write about a beauty you just have to see with your own eyes.

I couldn’t explain the magical feeling I got walking through the winding cobble-stoned streets of Prague, like I had been transported to a fairy-tale land. I couldn’t put into words the emotions that overcame me looking up at the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, the ceilings I heard about every day of my childhood (thank you Catholic school education).

It’s that feeling of being lost in history that people are chasing when they come to Europe. But it’s not kind of history that has a face and name, like when you see a Berlin square that the Nazi’s rallied in. It the 100’s of years of people that weren’t written in the history books. The merchants who all met in a small square in Prague that you, thousands of years later, are eating dinner in. It’s the streets that the first Christian’s walked on, and you have to wonder about what life they were living. The history that swallows you up, and you are just a small fraction, a blimp in the city’s eyes.

In Prague and Rome, when you see artifacts and buildings that were built in the 1700s, you are unimpressed because the 1700s? That’s new for these cities. With buildings built 2,000 years ago still standing, 300 years is modern. But then I kept thinking about how stuff in the 1700’s is older than my own country. With the U.S. not being founded until 1776, most of the stuff around me has been there before everything I’ve ever known at home was even thought of. Some of these buildings were worked on before anyone knew America even existed.

My expectations going into Prague were actually pretty low. I remember both of my sisters saying Prague was a “must-see” but I didn’t really know why. Prague’s history was (and is) confusing to me, I didn’t understand how the city was important in history, I don’t remember ever learning about it in history books. All I knew was that it was old and currently in the Czech Republic, but previously in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, under Nazi rule, AND in the Austria-Hungary Empire. I couldn’t wrap my head around an old and beautiful city that experienced that many regimes in current history. But that experience made Prague what it is, a must-see. It has pretty much every era of world history to show, from ancient to Baroque to the communist era.

As for going to Rome, I was anxious. From loving ancient history, to learning about Rome so much in school, I was worried my expectations were going to be too high. But from St. Peter’s Basilica, to the Colosseum, to the food, Rome did not disappoint.

But my favorite part of both Prague and Rome weren’t the grandiose structures of ancient times, it was the quiet beauty that just existed as part of daily life. The cobblestone streets and the beautiful trees and the random statues on every corner. It’s probably the stuff you get used to living in Prague or Rome, but when used to seeing a Walgreens (no disrespect to Walgreens, I love you) on every corner, it is a bit overwhelming.

All in all, amazing doesn’t cut it. So again, I find myself at a loss for words.

Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.


La bandiera italiana

Il Colosseo / the Colosseum
La via para il Colosseo / The street to the Colosseum

Después de que el programa había terminado, me fui para Italia; yo volé de Madrid a Roma, la capital de Italia. Roma es una ciudad muy antigua y muy histórica. Había muchas vistas, mucha historia y mucha cultura para ver; vi tres vistas muy famosas – primer el Colosseo, después la fuente de Trevi, después Las escaleras españolas. Que bonito era todo por Roma, era como Nueva York pero con más historia. Italiano es bastante como Español que pude comprenderlo un poco, pero es bastante diferente que no pude comprenderlo muchas veces (jejeje). Yo pasé dos días allí, pero es tan gigante que no tuve el tiempo para explorar todo. Estudié la lengua latina en la escuela secundaria y me emocionaba mucho visitar esta ciudad de que había oído tanto por los años. Hacía mucho calor allí. La plaza de España era muy bella y había una bandera gigante allí, otra cosa que me alegraba ver. Mis dos amores europeos en un lugar. 🙂

IL COLOSSEO La fontana di Trevi

After the program had finished, I left for Italy; I flew from Madrid to Rome, the capital of Italy. Rome is a very old and very historic city. There were many sights, a lot of history and a lot of culture to see; I saw three famous sights – first the Colosseum, then the Trevi fountain, then the Spanish steps. How beautiful was everything, it was like New York but with more history. Italian is enough like Spanish that I managed to understand a little, but it’s different enough that I do not manage many times (LOL). I spent two days there, pero it’s so huge that I did not have time to explore everything. I studied Latin in high school and it was exciting me to visit this city that I had heard so much about over the years. It was really hot there. The plaza of Spain was very beautiful and there was a huge Spanish flag there, another thing that I was excited to see. My two European loves in one place. 🙂

Le Scale Spagnole / The Spanish steps
La fontana di Trevi / the Trevi fountain


Os veré luego, amigos. Hasta pronto. N8
I will see y’all later, friends. Until soon. Natagnél

Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

‘Lizzie McGuire Moment’

From Venice to Rome we took a water taxi to the airport and got on our next flight. Our hotel room was nice in Venice, but extremely warm and we couldn’t figure out how to work the AC, leaving us to the fan that only blew out warm air. This made it difficult to sleep and left me with approximately two hours of sleep, making my first day in Rome exhausting. Not to mention that our taxi driver got lost and what was supposed to be a thirty minute ride, turned into an hour and a half. The driver stopped the cab multiple times to ask for directions and each time he got angrier with the people trying to help him. Many times he turned to us and asked us as well…but in Italian, so obviously we couldn’t help. Finally after an hour and a half he finds it and was kind enough to give us some money back for the time he spent asking for directions. By the time we got out of the cab we were more than ready to just chill in our Airbnb for a little bit.


Rome’s Airbnb was beautiful, but was confusing as to who the host was. It turns out that the flat we stayed in is owned by a couple, but they rented it out to this girl who was living there. We had no idea we would be rooming with someone yet again. Except, we weren’t really rooming with her because to be rooming with someone you have to have a room. We had a couch…that the two of us shared. Mind you it was an L shaped couch so we fit comfortably for the most part, but still we didn’t have a room. We booked for a room and got a couch.

Anyways, after we unpacked we went out to explore. With only two hours of sleep and not eating anything, I figured lunch would help. I was wrong, eating food only made me feel worse. So after lunch we decided to call it quits for the day and return to the flat to do some laundry. I did laundry while Jessica took a nap and while waiting for laundry I read Harry Potter. But eventually, exhaustion took over and I passed out. When I woke up I still felt sick, so we went to the grocery store to get some food and stomach remedies. Needless to say that was an early night.


Our next day in Rome was better. We met the girl living in the flat and she was lovely and ate breakfast with us. When we were done with breakfast we went down to the Colosseum and got tickets for it and the Roman Forum. The Forum was huge and beautiful; we easily spent a few hours there. After the forum we got another hop on hop off bus tour and went to the Trevi Fountain (aka the Lizzie McGuire fountain). Here I got to have my Lizzie McGuire moment and tossed a coin into the fountain, only it didn’t exactly go into the water. I’m almost positive it got stuck on one of the stone carvings.


Shortly after the Trevi Fountain and a few more stops on the bus tour we headed back for the day, where the girl we stayed with was getting ready for her dinner party. She was thoughtful and invited us to it and even gave us her room for the night so they wouldn’t bother us. However, exhaustion took over and we politely declined and passed out in her bedroom, not to mention that we don’t understand a word in Italian.

The next and last day in Rome was more chill and we spent our day in the Vatican, exploring and learning about history and art. It was a nice way to end our time in Rome and move onto to the next city. The next stop is…Naples!

Rome(ing) Around the City Again

Pardon my puns. It may be bad, but it is true. This last weekend I went on a field trip to Rome with one of my classes, “Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini.” I had gone to Rome about five weeks previous, but with my study abroad program. The first trip, we hit the highlights of the city including the Pantheon, Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. We sadly, were unable to make it to the Vatican or to the Borghese Gallery, both of which house some of the art I was most interested in seeing in Rome. Thankfully, I knew I was going back to Rome for my class! In the class, we thoroughly discuss the styles of the three artists mentioned. Michelangelo is known for his works in Florence and Rome during the High Renaissance. Arguably, he can be considered the figurehead for the Renaissance and Mannerism is developed following his style. Caravaggio and Bernini are known for their work in Rome that shaped the Baroque era of the late 1500’s to 1600’s. Personally, I prefer the expressionism of Bernini and Caravaggio for their tendencies to more exaggerated motion and figures. I suppose this is why I also happen to love the rise of Modernism in the 19th century (think revolting against previous norms in art a la Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, etc.). Regardless of the kind of art you may fancy, I believe this weekend’s art would have appealed to anyone.

My roommate, Kate, and I are in this class together, so we left for the train station in the morning together on Saturday. Our train left at 7:38 am and arrived in Rome a little after 9 am. We visited three churches in the morning to begin the day. Every place we went to had some significance for our course. The first church was San Pietro in Vincoli. Michelangelo carved a tomb for Pope Julius II that was placed here. It was never completed, but the most recognizable statue is his Moses. The second church was San Luigi dei Francesi. This church was created for the French Catholics residing in the area. Caravaggio’s first commission from the Catholic church was here in a chapel dedicated to St. Matthew. A cycle of three paintings was commissioned, one of them being the famous The Calling of St. Matthew. The last church we visited before lunch was Sant’Agostino. It had another painting by Caravaggio in it, Madonna di Loretto. 

After lunch, we visited the Vatican. We went to the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and to tour St. Peter’s Basilica. This was amazing. If anyone has ever been to see this, you’d know what I mean. Regardless of your faith background, it is awe-inspiring. The letters written below the drum are about 9 feet high, the huge canopy over the alter is about 7 stories high, and the dome is the highest in Rome. Coming from a faith background, this place was significant to me as it is deemed the seat of modern Christianity. I honestly was overwhelmed with emotion. The piece playing in my head during this time was “Lacrimosa” from Mozart’s Requiem. Although, granted, this piece was written over 100 years after the completion of the basilica. I teared up twice.

Sunday, we went to the Borghese Gallery in the morning. Here, I presented with my roommate, Kate, over Sacred and Profane Love by Titian. In this gallery are amazing works by Bernini. His Apollo and Daphne, David, and Rape of Prosperina are all presented here. The sculptures invite you to walk around them fully. They are sculpted with heightened drama, emotion, and motion. They are amazing and beautiful. The details are divine and delicate. It is amazing that they were once whole blocks of marble.

We walked to three churches for the early afternoon: Santa Maria della Vittoria, San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane, and San Andrea al Quirinale. The first has Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa, the second is remarkable for the facade by Borromini, and the third was closed when we tried to visit it. The group split up for the afternoon until we met back up again at the hotel to catch our train. I ate pasta carbonara, Rome is known for this, and went to the Trevi fountain again after. The day was long, again, and I enjoyed my time. We crammed a lot of things into the two days we were in the city, but I was happy to see what I wanted from not getting to a month or so ago.

This weekend, I’m off to Paris! This is going to be one of the highlights of my semester because I am going to spend a lot of time in the Louvre and seeing art! Ah! I can’t wait. My art history nerd self is going to have a heyday. There are only 21 days left abroad (where did the time go?), but I am making the most of my time left!

Spring Break Chronicles!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on the blog. Please forgive me, I was on my spring break adventure and wanted to have one compiled post about all of the amazing and not-so-amazing experiences I’ve had while gone!

I have no idea how I am going to put all of my emotions and experiences into one blog post, but I’m about to take a stab at it.

So, for spring break, my friend Miranda and I traveled to 5 different places: Rome, Italy; Frankfurt, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; and Stockholm, Sweden.

In your head, you may be thinking that most of the places are pretty random. But let me tell you, these places are spectacular! I think that American media has done an excellent job at glamourizing big cities while downplaying and overlooking smaller cities and countries. But Europe has so many hidden jewels, and these places don’t need any approval to “shine bright like a diamond” (in the voice of Rihanna, the singer)—these places shine all by themselves and the fact that they are, indeed, hidden jewels is what makes them so incredibly amazing.

Stop 1: Rome, Italy:

The whole time in Rome I couldn’t stop singing the song from the Lizzie McGuire movie (one of childhood favorites)!

“Hey now, hey now. This is what dreams are made of!”

For those who aren’t hip to Liz, the movie was shot in Rome. And not even 24 hours after having the song stuck in my head I was walking down the Roman streets — the same ones that I only longed to watch as a little girl.

Studying abroad truly is what dreams are made of, and I am so blessed to have the opportunity!

Overall, Rome was beautiful, but the city felt very dreary and almost sad. The people weren’t the friendliest either. But during my time there, I had an encounter with a man who enhanced my time like I never thought! When we were at aIMG_0646 restaurant, an African man selling bracelets came to our table and gave us both free bracelets. When he left he said, “love and happiness” with a huge, bright smile. It made my entire time in Rome! I’m sure he had been selling bracelets and getting denied all day long. But he still decided to be generous and not force his sales on us.

What’s even better is later that day we saw him again and he gave us a High five while saying “happiness.” He then looked us straight in the eye and said, “I love you my sisters, happiness and blessings to you and your family.”It sounds a bit creepy when I type it, but I promise it wasn’t. It was authentic and from his heart.

I wish every one had as beautiful of a spirit as him — telling people they love them and meaning it! Not always trying to get over on people!

So that was my favorite Roman experience.


Stop 2: Frankfurt, Germany

It’s safe to say that I caught “The Germ” very quickly; I am in love with Frankfurt and of all the places I went it is among my favorite.

I’ll keep it short, but everything from the museums, to the people, to the beautiful river, to the hostel, to the fact that the city has a Chipotle (YUM) was absolutely amazing. Frankfurt also has a Communication Museum—which is so monumental for me because I’m a Communications Major. We also went to a play at the English Theatre! Much of the time I was a little home sick though, primarily because it reminded me so much of the States.

Obviously I didn’t have the chance to see every part of Germany or Frankfurt—but from what I have seen and experienced I would suggest it to anyone looking for a good place to travel. I would especially recommend it as a study abroad location because it has a very “at home” feel.


Stop 3: Prague, Czech Republic

This place is magical. If you ever wanted to star in a Disney princess film, just go to Prague and you’ll easily feel like you crossed that off of your bucket list. It’s filled with stunning castles. I felt like I was either in the movie Tangled, Shrek, or Cinderella (the one with the singer Brandy in it).

Not much to say outside of this—the pictures, I believe, speak for themselves!



Stop 4: Budapest, Hungary

I thought Hungary would fulfill my travel appetite. But after getting a taste of some of Hungary, I’m not so hungry anymore…

A lot of people I study with here in Malta LOVE Budapest— although it was nice, it wasn’t among my favorites….not even slightly. That could be because we were there much longer than the other places we visited, though.

But even with my slight disdain for Budapest, the bridges and scenery had moments of beauty. I also went to a contemporary dance show which made me feel like a local. Also, the Holocaust Museum was absolutely AMAZING. Here’s a fast fact: After World War 2 and the holocaust, most Hungarians were very poor, which is where Hungarian ingredients and signature dishes come from. Hungarian food is typically made with simple, inexpensive ingredients like hand-made bread and paprika because at the time that was all they were able to find and afford. Another fast fact, many of the buildings in Budapest still have bullet holes in them from the war.


Stop 5, Last Stop: Stockholm, Sweden

The very first observation I made when I got here is that in formal settings, people say hey instead of hello. It’s so interesting and I never really noticed how much I say “hello” instead of “hey” until I got to Stockholm.

Anyway, the city was stunning, and Stockholm is one of my favorites, right next to Frankfurt. It is the capitol of the Scandinavian countries and it is basically a bunch of islands connected by public transportation. I did not get many pictures there because we didn’t stay very long, but here they are. Their country’s animal is the Moose. I fell in complete love with the cute little moose souvenirs!

The ONLY negative I have is that it’s cold. But we live in the Midwest, we’re used to that right?

Sorry I don’t have many photos of the Stock.

Final thoughts and pieces of advice:

I’ve learned that when I’m traveling I don’t prefer to do sight-seeing, tourist activities. I prefer to explore the places no one goes to and discover hidden jewels of the city. I like to be either doing something, or learning something. I enjoy mountain hikes and museums…stuff like that. Even the Rome is…well, Rome… I enjoyed little ol Frankfurt more and I think it’s because we did more exploration and went to museums… We did things that stimulated our minds, rather than just looking at statues, monuments and cathedrals. Not saying that those things aren’t beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to spend my whole time doing that.

That’s me though. I say all of this to say that it is important to know your travel style so that you can plan your trips accordingly with things you like and want to do.

When I decided to study abroad, the only places that seemed appealing were the really popular, really common, really touristy places like Rome, Barcelona or Paris. But now I’m realizing that a person’s lack of knowledge, respect, admiration or media attention for a country or person does not stop its beauty from permeating, and it does not stop it from being a great place to visit or study abroad at!

The biggest piece of advice I have for people studying abroad is to NIKE…Just do it. Do it! Every place will have a unique experience to offer you with plenty of things to learn, so just go for it and you’re sure to learn something. Don’t look at the smaller cons like the weather (whether its warm or cold) or the population size— your experience will ultimately completely outweigh any of those tiny little factors!

Additionally, just because a place is common or well-known doesn’t mean you will enjoy it more. In fact, you might even enjoy it less because of the utopian idea you’ve developed of it; the media’s hype over major cities could cause you to set a fantasy standard that wouldn’t be met if you visited the place. Ultimately, larger cities like Paris and Rome thrive off of tourism—which is great! – but if you’re looking to go to a place where you can feel at home, welcomed, and truly like a local, then looking into less-talked-about-places should definitely be an option.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to want to visit larger and well-known cities… I’m just saying that you shouldn’t cross out other options just because you’ve never heard of it. My travel buddy and I both wrongly assumed that Frankfurt would be boring solely because nobody talked it up like they did other parts of Germany. But it ended up being one of our favorite places! Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t choose London or Paris. Malta, in all of its tininess, is the PERFECT place for me, and I wouldn’t have chosen any other place to study abroad! I had fun during spring break, but I’m glad to be back in cozy little Malta.