A Random Swede, Somewhere in Sweden


Sweden officially has it’s own phone number. That’s right.. the country itself. You just dial the number and, as the ad states, you will be connected with a random Swede, somewhere in Sweden. One who signed up to participate, of course. But random nonetheless. The ad suggests you then talk about anything from meatballs to feminism, maybe even some travel tips!

Dare to try?





“Travel the world through someone else’s eyes…” says the Periscope website.

Sign me up! This app connects you with other users and lets you experience different cities and events through their eyes. I popped on this morning to try it out and someone was on a ride at Magic Kingdom! It’s basically like watching a shaky iPhone home video of whatever the person you’re following is doing, but it’s real time which adds a bit of novelty.

National Geographic covered this app as well, noting their favorite ‘Scopers to follow were a safari leader in South Africa (@GerryVanDerWalt), a tour guide in Paris (@ClaireWad) and an American expat in Hong Kong (@PenguinSix).

The wanderlust lives on.

Source: Tumblr

Culinary Quito

National Geographic is coming in hot with a list of seven things to know about the cuisine of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. My dad was born in Ecuador and I have a lot of family there still today, so I was thrilled to read this but it made me hungry.

Here’s their breakdown:

  1. Drink fresh juices or batidos, more like a shake
  2. Visit an open market for roasted pork or fritada, fried pork – In my house, fritada is like edible gold. There are NEVER leftovers and I’ve learned that the hard way. You snooze, you really lose. Once, my grandmother made fritada and I wasn’t home to eat it right away. I came home to my mom whispering “I hid some in the fridge for you…” She really loves me.
  3. Try the humitas, Quito’s most common tamale
  4. Surprise your palette with bright and tangy Ecuadorian ceviche
  5. Treat yourself to dulce de higos (figs) at Centro Historico
  6. Do as the Quitenians do and eat soup for lunch
  7. Expand your horizons with cuy! That means guinea pig… As a 12 year old on a family member’s farm in Columbe, Ecuador, I played with what I understood to be the farm’s cuddly pets. Understandably, I couldn’t get myself to eat it later. 

There are options for the simple eaters, and absolutely options for the adventurous ones. Tastes like home to me!

Source: NatGeo

World Values

What matters most to people around the world? The Washington Post asked 80,000 people what was most important to them, and the results are really interesting!

I’m back in Chicago after two life-changing months in Italy and I absolutely noticed differences between American and Italian values. According to this infographic, the two countries both value life-satisfaction the most, but I’d be curious as to how this was defined in each country. Personally, I’d be satisfied with life if I could eat pasta and bread at every meal and never gain a single pound.

Take a look! And get a more detailed look at each continent here.

World Values

Source: The Washington Post

The Last Week!

This time next week, I will be in Chicago.

Correction: This time next week I will be at Bang Bang Pie in Chicago, let’s be honest. I want to land, take a shower, and have some pie in my vicinity within 48 hours. 

I can’t believe my time is almost up in Italy. It’s been an incredible experience, and I’ve met so many interesting people. I’ve had the chance to live with a beautiful family, travel with great friends, learn Italian, teach English, and eat my weight in pasta. I have zero complaints.

I’m going to make the most of my remaining days here, and who knows – maybe I’ll be back before I know it!

Here are a few photos from this weekend and last week:

Listening to great traditional music at a local restaurant. 


Say hello to the crazy monkeys I live with 🙂

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Gorgeous day for a party in the garden, complete with Princess greeter.

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Source:  my own

Roman Holiday II

The adventures continued for another 6 days. It was a long but marvelous vacation.


P1040216Thursday: We ventured to the magical island of Capri and had our breath taken away multiple times by the stunning views and long hikes up steep hills.  For dinner after our long day? Bistrot, a cute and delectable restaurant almost next to our AirBnb that we actually went to on Wednesday night as well! We made friends with our waiter (running theme) and ate like queens. Amazing experience I will never forget. Grazie, Federico. I will find you on WhatsApp someday like you requested.

Friday: Impromptu trip back to Rome. I’m pretty certain both me and Julia said at one point “let’s go home early.” Home = Rome. On the way, we stopped in Naples for pastiera at Gambrinus and pizza at Da Michele.IMG_6572

Saturday: EVI ARRIVES! I was so lucky to be joined on this trip by two beyond lovely people. It was such a nice dose of home life. Evi and I got lunch and had our worlds rocked by Old Bridge gelato. “This is really doing something to me.” – Evi, on Old Bridge gelato. We headed to Dar Poeta for pizza with Julia on her last night, and somehow afterwards Evi and I end up back at the Irish pub. (I know the way.)

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 presetSunday: Buona Pasqua! To celebrate? Dolce Maniera. By this point you’d have to pay me to stay away. We took a nice walk around Rome to see all of the sights but mostly to get gelato from Giolitti (round 3 at this point). In comparing the two, Evi and I both slightly preferred Old Bridge but let me tell you… the fico caramellato flavor from Giolitti is now, hands down, a crucial element in my hypothetical “last meal.”

Monday: The goal of this day was to see some stuff on our way to the aventine keyhole, eat lunch in Testaccio and hit up Old Bridge gelato on the way back. Mission. Accomplished.

Tuesday: Evi flies back to Chicago, I fly back to Reggio, and the memories from this amazing trip settle in to last forever.

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P1040088 Thank you Julia, my honey, and Evi, I still think his name is Krad, for making this holiday even better than I could have imagined.

Current day: I passed my exam from Italian level A2 and moved up with a few of my friends to B1. The course is difficult but I appreciate the challenge and am learning so much. Tutoring is going well, the kids are making me laugh every day, and I can’t believe I only have two weeks left here.

Source: my own

Roman Holiday

Two days after my last post, I left for a 12 day trip to Rome and the Gulf of Naples. Now, I’m back in Villa San Giovanni, back to my routine and trying to squeeze the most out of the next two weeks before I return to Chicago. Because I only packed a backpack for 12 days (ouch) I couldn’t blog real-time. So, hopefully the following notes and pictures will suffice as a retelling of my lovely Italian holiday. And yes I am literally wearing the same thing in most photos. I packed in one backpack for 12 days, remember?

Here’s a bit about the first half of the trip!IMG_6345

Friday: Panic in Fiumicino. How am I supposed to meet up with my pre-arranged, Italian-speaking cab driver in this gigantic airport? Fumble my way through Italian phone/text conversations, that’s how! JULIA ARRIVES!!

Saturday: Paradise. The Taste of Testaccio tour was one of the most magnificent things I’ve ever done. Julia and I ate our way through one of Rome’s coolest neighborhoods, guided by an even cooler lady who taught us so many things about Roman food, Italian customs, etc.

Processed with VSCOcam with se1 presetSunday: First stop: Dolce Maniera. One cornetto, one ciambella… 60 cents. “We’re definitely coming back to this place.” Next, Giolitti’s famous gelato knocks our socks off. “We’re also
definitely coming back to this place!” Night ends at an Irish pub in the middle of Rome filled with hilarious people? “…. We’ll probably have to come back to this place, too.”

Monday: Returned to Giolitti (told ya so), saw the remaining sights in Rome and ate pizza at Brillo Parlante which ended with a free dessert from our waiter – “For my honeys.” – and an invitation to continue drinking at a nearby bar after his shift. Purtroppo, we declined.Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Tuesday: Dolce Maniera (we keep our promises) to buy breakfast treats and colomba di pasqua to take to Castellammare with us. We took a lonnng train ride to Naples and then another long Circumvesuviana ride to Castellammare di Stabia, our home base for the next few days. We had dinner in this night. Wine on wine on wine on cheese… Things got silly.


Wednesday: Pompeii! Julia and I both remember learning about Pompeii in middle school and being horrified by the events. This day, I was fascinated with the rowdy group of English boys running around practically wrestling while standing up. Their teacher was getting really tired of reminding them, “You’re in an ANCIENT civilization. Act like it!!”


To be continued…

Source: my own