Don't Wish for Less Problems, Wish for More Skills.

- Jim Rohn

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Will I Ever Get Home?

For those safely enjoying the comforts of home, I envy your position. I am continually checking news reports, blog posts, and video-casts for the current condition of the volcano in Iceland that I will not even try to spell.

My roommates originally planned on going to Dublin for the weekend, but they were faced with a cancelled flight because of the unsafe flying conditions. Some of the other people in my group were able to make it to their weekend travel location, but are not able to make it back to Brussels.

Now, reports are saying that if the volcano erupts another time, most airplanes will be grounded for at least three weeks. That means that my mom and dad will not be able to meet up with me in Europe, not to mention my inability to leave this continent to get back home.

It has been really funny seeing all of the Facebook statuses blaming a volcano eruption for terrible weekends. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would blame a volcano for anything.

If the volcano is to erupt, my roommates and I have a few options: take a train far enough away from Iceland to fly the other way around the world, stay in Europe, go to Africa, board a cargo ship, or ride mules into the middle-east to fly on some huge military airplane. All of which will lead to some great blog posts.

Hopefully I can blame the volcano for my expired visa, oops...

Sunday, April 11, 2010


When I think back on all of my easters, I remember the same thing, sun, bright colors, church, but most importantly family. Off the top of my head the most memorable Easters I have celebrated are going to Clemson with my Dad in high school, and listening to the peep sermon at Harbert Covenant Church with most of my extended family.

This past Easter I had no elaborate plans to find my family, but rather an elaborate plan to celebrate Easter in one of the most unique, Christian locations, the Vatican City. It was a lucky break that I was able to do all that I did. I owe my trip to Rome to the experiences of hanging out with some of my Clemson friends, all of which are brothers in my fraternity. It is funny that the first Easter I can recall where I wasn't with family, I hung with Brothers of a different sort.

So I made my arrangements and flew to Rome early in the morning on Friday. The airport was unusually packed for five in the morning, but Easter has got to be the busiest travel weekend for Europeans. We landed in Rome just a little before 8:30 in the morning. I then had to take a shuttle to the main train station in Rome. Afterwards, without any information on how to find my hostel, I started looking for my hostel. Shortly after an hour and a half of sifting the streets of Rome, I finally found my hostel. There was no sign or billboard that had the hostel's name on it. They had a simple name tag on the door bell for all visitors to easily walk right past. I checked in and was not able to put my stuff in my room because they were still cleaning.

I was a bit cranky but I took the opportunity to check out some of the main sight before I met up with my friends. The city is very spread out, but most of the touristy stuff is central in a district called Old Rome. I included the Colisseum, piazza Venezia, the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine, and so much more. It was an interesting experience. I felt like I was reliving a memory from my trip to Ephesus in Turkey. Everything was so old and most of it was falling apart, but that gave it this memorable condition of a past society that I will never be able to experience.

Back to Rome ... I spent about four or five hours walking around looking at monuments, then decided I deserved a much needed nap. I walked back to my hostel (this time I was able to find it, thank you), and found out it would be another ten minutes until my room would be ready (this story has an interesting twist to it later on). I sat there patiently and finally the room was ready. I barely made my bed before I past out. I woke up to the unsettling ring of my phone. It was from my friend Gwen Fraker, who studies in Rome.

I met up with Gwen at her apartment. She and I had a great time catching up while walking around her part of town. We then decided to check out some of the other free sights like the Spanish steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and a few other places. It was great to see all of the sights, but it was much better seeing an old face that reminded me of home. She had great stories about the city and all that she has done while studying abroad. Along the way we grabbed a gelato, which was delicious, and eventually met up a few other friends from Clemson, Chris, Matt, and Shane.

At this time, we were all ready for some food. Gwen and company took us to a restaurant called Pepy's for something Italians call an apertivo (similar to Spanish Tapas). We had to purchase a drink and then we got an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was the best meal I had while in Rome.

After dinner, we split directions with Matt and Shane. Chris, Gwen, and I decided to drink some wine in front of the Trevi Fountain. This is one of those things that I probably will never forget. The Trevi Fountain at night with some wine can make anyone happy. We sat and joked about funny stories from the past, as well as hassle some of the local merchants for fun. After a while, I have an unsettling feeling of a hand on my shoulder, I turn around to see who it was...And wouldn't you know it? It was Michelle, another Deltasig from Clemson! Finally, some of the abroad Deltasigs reunited. It was so great that it happened on Easter, a weekend I spend with family. This was a different kind of family.

I had to wake up very early the next day because Gwen was kind enough to find tickets to Easter mass for us. We were able to sit down not further than one hundred and fifty feet away from the altar. The service was held outside in the piazza, which was both amazing and dreadful. It was amazing because there was such a large crowd, but it was dreadful because God decided to cry all day. I was literally soaked to my bones. The service was very interesting. First off, this was my first mass ever in my life. I guess I chose the right spot for a first. Secondly, the service was in multiple languages. Most of it was in Italian, but scriptures were read in different languages.

I walked back to my hostel to find a warm bed to lay down in, as well as some dry clothes (I literally had to dry my clothes with the hostel's hairdryer before leaving). I woke up in the late afternoon and walked over to Gwen's apartment just as some of the other guys were coming back from touring the city. We sat around for a while and even skyped with some other Deltasigs before going out to Pepy's again. Unfortunately, we came too late for the apertivo deal. We settled for lasagna. At the end of the meal, everyone was very out of it. There wasn't a lot of conversation until the table next to us started to get a bit more rowdy. There was this family from the Midwest (we couldn't decide if they were Illini or what). Anyways, this family needed a television show (Mind you this was Easter night). All of them was drunk except for the fifteen year old son, but I assure you he contributed a lot to the equation. They were all yelling and cursing to the point where people downstairs had to come up to see who's party it was. It was an interesting sight.

The following day, I spent my time touring the inside of the Colisseum, as well as the inside of St. Peter's Basilica. Both of which were enormous and picturesque. St. Peter's was by far the most amazing sight I saw while in Rome. And luckily it was free (Perfect for a college student). I went through the sanctuary, down into the crypt, and I even made it to the top of the cupola. It was a long day with too much detail to include in anyway except photos.

I said my goodbyes with my fraternity brothers and went to bed. I woke up early for the fourth day in a row because of commitments. The city was not good to me as far as sleeping goes, but it sure showed me one of the greatest times in my study abroad time.