GoMio and the Freedom Traveller

This is the second post in my Rome Recap series (yes, I just invented that title now) (because deadlines), but I promise there are some about the conference coming up. If you just can’t wait and want the inside scoop (Mom) send me an email!

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Note: I received a discount from GoMio in exchange for agreeing to post about my experience with the hostel! All opinions are my own and so on and so forth. 

When I went abroad for a semester, the in-flight movie was Taken II. It was a pretty bad choice.

As a young person who loves to travel but makes minimum wage, I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the hostel scene, and fortunately I’ve never had a terrifying experience. (Although here’s a post about meeting strangers in hostels!)

So when I started looking for a place to stay on my recent trip, I found GoMio hostel booking and decided to go through them. Their website says that they’ve been around for 10 years, but I’ve never used them before.

The booking process went very smoothly, and I chose the Freedom Traveller hostel, which looked great online (and in person!). Since I was traveling alone, I didn’t want to go with anything that seemed sketchy or in a bad location. I have only one gigantic complaint about the GoMio process, however, and that is that my card was charged twice: once when I first booked, and again, randomly, a few weeks later. This ordinarily wouldn’t be a huge problem but I was traveling and needed to buy a train ticket and I got home with $3 in my checking account. The charge was withdrawn the next business day without any action on my part.

The door of the Freedom Traveller

The door of the Freedom Traveller

The actual hostel was great. It’s located a couple of minutes from Termini, which is the main train station in Rome, so it was very convenient for me to get a bus to Piazza Navona or a train to Vatican City.

I selected a four-person room and was given a room on the first floor, very close to the reception, which was a little noisy at night sometimes but the convenience and security outweighed the late-night chatting. The room had a private bathroom that was spare but adequate and cleaned each day.

The Freedom Traveller was a lovely hostel with a whole bunch of amenities, including a free Italian breakfast (a coffee and a croissant) and free wine and chips every night. Neither of these were super-fancy, but I think little things like that make traveling so much easier. There was also a kitchen and luggage lockers that you could use your own lock on that were provided for free. There was a small back garden and a common area with some chairs and tables.

Best of all? Free wi-fi allowed me to stay pretty much connected to everyone back home while I was gone.

Except for the glitch while booking, my experience with GoMio was very positive. I will definitely be checking them out for affordable and safe accommodations for my next trip. 

Church Up Close (part 1)

It’s a gray, rainy day here in New York, so what better way to spend my afternoon than sharing some pictures of bright sunny Roma with the world?

IMG_2350Just two weeks ago I was here, admiring Bernini’s handiwork and learning a whole lot about religion writing and the Catholic Church, along with my best friend Pope Francis.

IMG_2459This is the Popemobile. (Fun fact: the little cobblestones are called petrini, like Peter, to whom Jesus gave the fabulous nickname The Rock.)

I was in Rome for the Church Up Close conference, which was for journalists covering religion “in the age of Francis,” and deciding to skip the beginning of my senior year to attend was one of the best decisions of my life. I was the only student who’s ever gone, and I learned so much from the other attendees, let alone the program itself.

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The Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Our time was split between seminars at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross with guest speakers both from the media and from the Vatican, on-site visits with more lectures, and tours of various locations and offices.

IMG_2400Above is the Vatican press office briefing room, which is where I’m going to be during the next conclave. I hope.

IMG_2412One of our speakers was Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who was giving a talk on his work on interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, but is more of a public figure for being the guy who comes out on the balcony and goes “HABEMUS PAPAM!”

 IMG_2468It was pretty intense compared to other conferences that I’ve attended, with all-day sessions Monday through Saturday and then a tour and farewell lunch on Sunday, after which I was able to spend a little time in my old neighborhood, Prati. 

This is the very short version. I hope to be able to post about a few of the sessions, not all of which were on the record, as well as some of my travel experiences, including my hostel, which was my first-ever blog collaboration. Stay tuned!

(And thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who made this possible.) 

IMG_2406In the meantime, I’ll be over here trying to reach this crazy dream job:

  • Following religious media and journalists on news alerts and social media
  • Having the realization that maybe I should have taken Italian more seriously and, you know, actually eventually learn how to speak it
  • Reading the USCBB’s documents on covering the Holy See (so interesting)
  • Getting ready for the career fair next week
  • Reading everything John Allen Jr. ever wrote. 

 

 

Weekly Wishes #3

Oh my lord. What a few months!

I am not even looking back, because I just have so much to process and today, for the first time in a while, I am not overwhelmed with a whole load of stuff to do/organize/think about.

 

The Nectar Collective

So, without further ado, here’s what I’m working on this week:

1. Keeping up on school. It’s been crazy catching up, I have my first exam and a few big essays coming up, and the Boyfriend will be here this weekend so I need to be proactive.

2. Posting on here, especially about my trip to Rome (O.M.G.).

3. Clean my room, which is very cluttered, and the bathroom, which sadly is my chore this week.

4. Create my senior year New York City bucket list.

5. Clear out my email inbox and reply to everyone that I’m supposed to reply to.

Stay tuned, my three loyal followers.

(PS: here’s a bonus pope pic!)

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The Miracles of Technology

Today, my friends, has been a day of being impressed by machines.

I am a giant fan of my Mac (even though it’s the old white Macbook) and also I need a constant IV of media and a creativity outlet, so I was horrified last weekend when the ol’ Mac started fritzing. First it was (what I now know) are called “kernel panics,” when your computer feels a sudden urge to shut down pretty often, and then my mouse and keyboard stopped working for long periods of time, and the whole shebang was a real wrench in my weekend.

Then yesterday I had to back it up, which is one of those adulty things that everyone knows you should do but nobody actually does, like changing the oil every 3,000 miles or eating a healthy breakfast every day.

This brings me to technology miracle #1: a USB stick can hold three years of documents. All of my writing, all of the random bits of rambling that weren’t even good enough to make it on the blog (I know, right?), all those essays about things no one remembers like European politics, all of my photos. IT’S SERIOUSLY AMAZEBALLS.

Miracle #2 is that the laptop shop was able to fix it. They gave me a new “logic board” and hard drive for freeeee. Even the Apple store could not fix it. Side note, even though everyone who works at the Apple store is unfailingly friendly and chipper (#branding), don’t you think it’s a little pretentious to call them “geniuses?”

This is how my last interaction went:

Me: I think my charger needs replaced. It is sparking and melting and there is a horrible burning smell when it is plugged in.

Genius: Oh my god. I’ll give you a new one right away.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is fantastic customer service, but I would not have described it as “genius” level.

Miracle 2.5: with a new charger, new hard drive and new logic board I pretty much have a new computer now, so maybe it will last for two or three more years till I’m a functional adult with an income!

Now I have finished my long work days (10-4 the rest of the week yeeeeaaaah) and I am in that vegetative state where you come home and flop on the bed, paralyzed by heat and unable to do anything substantiative for an hour or so.

A different sort of coffee pot, as my photos are now all jumbled and unsearchable. Ah well!

A different sort of coffee pot, as my photos are now all jumbled and unsearchable. Ah well!

I’m making a nice espresso on the stove to perk me up, and I must confess, I’m not entirely sure how an espresso pot works. The water goes backward! 

Technological miracle #3: the Moka pot. God bless whoever invented that thing.

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What’re you up to this Tuesday?

Weekly Wishes #2

And it’s even been two weeks since my last weekly wishes!

The Nectar Collective
So here’s what I’m working on this week:
  • Cleaning, packing, and enjoying the family tomorrow.
  • Moving on Wednesday.
  • Unpacking and making my room somewhere I absolutely love to be.
  • Catching up with everyone that I’ve missed over the summer!

Have a wonderful week, all y’all. I’m looking forward to life settling down a little!

Where I’m Writing

Life has been busy lately, my friends.

I recently finished my internship, which was so great. I can’t say enough about the NYPA intern program.

diary of an intern

I wrote a lot of classic small-towny news stories, which I loved, like these:

 

In the meantime, I’ve been blogging. My posts lately have been a little travel-focused, like the keys to a great road trip, the ultimate cross-country train trip, and the thirty bajillion times I’ve gotten lost.

I would love to travel back to this bakery.

I would love to travel back to this bakery.

I guest posted for some bloggers I love:

  • Packing for college (BEN, READ THIS). Ironically, I’m currently in the middle of packing, again, so I can move, again. UGH. Kriselle is one of the cutest and most upbeat bloggers I know, so I encourage you to read all of her other posts as well!
  • An awesome (and easy) baked strawberry shortcake recipe. I made this all the time for the Boyfriend and I this summer! Katie is super sweet and funny and we have a lot in common, which is always nice to find.
  • My career center career comes to fruition in this post on what you should avoid in a resume, for Megan the Artistic Brunette. Her blog is very clean and adorable, and I love her inspiring posts–especially the travel ones.
I went on some picnics, too. Picnics are the best.

I went on some picnics, too. Picnics are the best.

The Prospect is a great college-admissions website where I’ve been a college writer for about six months now. College and high school students, go check it out.

The Torch, our school newspaper, is near and dear to my heart and I’m so excited to get back to making it great this fall. (Here’s something I wrote last fall about a student who is doing great artistic and Vincentian things!)

Since I’ve been a little light on content here lately, I encourage you to go ahead and check out some of my other writing!

(Also, follow me on Twitter if you don’t already. I’ve been posting all kinds of great articles on there.)

The Keys To The Road Trip Of Your Dreams

 Tips for the ultimate

I’ve taken a lot of road trips over the years, from the cross-country journeys with my family to traveling all over Pennsylvania to see the Boyfriend in band events to our recent foray from New York City to the Poconos to Buffalo. Road trips can be stressful, especially when the point is to get somewhere else, but they can also be a lot of fun. Without further ado, these are my top three pieces of advice as you plan a road trip. 

1. Bring snacks.

Let me illustrate this with a story.

Once upon a time (okay, last Christmas) the Boyfriend let the battery in the car die twice because packing his dorm room took forever because he wasn’t ready at all and because he didn’t take my packing advice and because he needed to be social and talk to all of his friends—and if you know him, you know he is friends with literally everyone, including every hairstylist at SuperCuts, the 8-year-old my sister babysits, and the guys behind the counter at Dunkin.

I was really upset by this, because I place a high value on planning and organization and I do NOT “just wing it” unless I specifically have pre-planned to wing it. But the real reason I got so upset? 

Hanger. 

And you know why he didn’t handle it well?

Hanxiety. We are one heck of a pair, let me tell you.

Hours later, when we finally got the car jumped, he took me to Waffle House and everything magically improved.

Snacks are essential on road trips, for when you can’t find anywhere to eat, or you need to stay awake, or hanger/hanxiety is kicking in. My personal favorites are Chex Mix and gummy worms, which I don’t normally eat, so they’re kind of my road trip treat.

2. Pre-map your route.

Unless the purpose of the road trip is to get lost, map out everything before you leave, whether that’s on a paper map or on your phone or GPS.

I have trouble reading maps backward, so I always like to save directions for both ways.

Especially when I’m driving alone, I like to have the directions all set in my head beforehand. And, even when you don’t expect it, like in my hometown just 90 minutes from Manhattan, you might not have a signal.

3. Give yourself plenty of time, and enjoy the journey.

No one is going to have fun if you’re trying to “make time” to your destination. I have been on too many road trips with the Boyfriend’s family to adapt this style of travel.

Instead, take your time. Leave early. Enjoy the open road. Take that extra-long detour around Scranton, because really, it’s a lot more beautiful and you’re not missing anything.

 Also, there’s so much to stop and see.

The United States is stuffed full of things to stop and see, both in terms of natural beauty and roadside attractions. 

I, for one, get a kick out of random sights no one has ever heard of, like the Molly Brown House, Grey Towers (spoiler, I used to work there), or the largest food festival in the USA. Make time to stop in random places and enjoy that kind of thing.

Also, a few weeks ago we pulled into a town (which was pretty cute) completely on a whim and stopped at a random diner and, my friends, it was the holy grail of diners. You just might get lucky, or at least you’ll have a good story.

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Useful travel links:

Weekly Wishes #1

Guys, I had a whole book review I wanted to post and…it just isn’t happening. So I gave myself permission to write a list instead. #selflove.

 

The Nectar Collective
So here are my wishes for this week:
  • To finish my internship strong tomorrow. I CANNOT BELIEVE it’s over and my heart is breaking a little bit. I love EA, the Advertiser, NYPA, my coworkers, and most of all the Boyfriend and now I have to say goodbye.
  • To get efficiently packed and moved back into my parents’ house. And then to efficiently pack and move to Queens. Gah.
  • To write–including a blog post for Wednesday and a piece for The Prospect for Sunday–and be fulfilled, not stressed. (Note to self: also update Career Peer blog.)
  • To continue to organize the Torch so we can have a fantastically strong year next year.