Back in the States

by Ashley Iadanza

I’ve been back since Saturday and have been trying so hard to avoid writing this last blog post. Every day I’ve woken up extremely confused, looking for my roommate, to then realize I wasn’t in Rome anymore. When something humorous happens, I go to turn to certain people to tell them about it, and there not around. Not to be dramatic, but there’s definitely a piece of me missing without the 10 other people I’ve grown so fond of by my side. Whenever I wrote, I took the time to tell you about the places I’ve visited, and only briefly mentioned the people I was experiencing these places with. So if you’ll indulge me, I just want everyone to know how special each individual is. Because that’s the only way I know how to be okay with writing this last post.

Chris Munno provided us with stories I’m going to be telling for years to come. But don’t worry you guys, he’s not accident prone. They just tend to happen to him a lot lol. Amy was always the one to pull me aside and remind me how important I was, that I deserved better, and to feel beautiful. Chrissy was the most understanding roommate I’ve ever had. She was understanding and was always willing to listen. Jordan was always there to provide me with a good laugh. He was probably my favorite person on this trip (shh, don’t tell the others) because all it took was for him to walk into a room to put a smile on my face. Same goes for Sara Whitman. A bundle of energy, always squealing, but she sees the beauty in everything- and thankfully, she rubbed off on me. Mitch was amazing and was always there to hold me when I cried, and caught me when I fell from running around like a headless chicken. I had known Nick for awhile before this trip, we were even really good friends for awhile. But I had grown to love and respect him so much more after this month with him. I am thankful for getting the opportunity to work so closely with him this month, because I was always learning how to be better at production work. Watch out for him you guys, he’s going places. Sarah and Lauren, to put it simply, are my soulmates. The three of us spent so much time together and it never seemed like enough time. They deserve their own blog post but for the sake of my emotions, I just need to leave it at that. Last but not least, there’s Espo. He’s probably the person I missed the most. All I can say to him is thank you for changing my life, thank you for always being there to listen. You became like a brother to me and it’s so hard not being able to just skip down the hall to annoy you whenever I want to.

I can’t end this post without a thank you to Professor Hillebrand and Professor Morosoff. Thank you for giving me my family, and for giving me such a life altering experience. I wish there was something I could do to repay you for it all.

Well, I guess this is it. Thanks for reading our blog posts, whoever you are. I hope it wasn’t too painful. I hope you were jealous, you should be.

Now, off to have that experience called senior year.

*dab* *whip and nae nae* (off into the sunset)13606459_10209738867605728_7263022028758566648_n

Thoughts from an Airplane

By: Sara Whitman

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My family, the Hofstra Romans

I am currently on the Aer Lingus plane (an extremely large one if I may add) on my way back to New York. Back to New Jersey. Back to my family and friends. Back to reality.

How does one re-enter real life after the trip I just experienced? All I can do right now is blog and look at my photos, with a lot of crying mixed in. At our last supper, Espo said something that really stuck with me. He said that when het gets back, he will be bombarded with questions about the trip, as we all will. However, he said there is no way to put the trip we just had into words. And I completely agree.

What I just experienced was something far more than I ever thought I could ever live through. I just spent six weeks exploring through Europe, learning about new places, cultures and foods, and making memories about which many people can only dream. This was not just a study abroad trip. It was something bigger and better. It was a dream. For that and so much more, I am forever thankful.

This trip would not have been possible without the incredible person who planned it: Professor Randy Hillebrand. Randy is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. He is intelligent, daring, adventurous, dedicated and so caring. I have never, ever seen a professor so dedicated to his mission and the experience of his students. I don’t think we were just his students on this trip, however. He made me feel like family. Randy spent months and months tirelessly planning and preparing for this trip, and he did not stop working out the details until they were perfect. Another amazing thing is that he has done this trip before, multiple times. Did that stop him from wanting to take us to every single thing possible, despite how repetitive it may be for him? Not at all. Randy worked so hard so that this trip could be what it was, and I just wish there was some way I could thank him for his hard work. Randy, you are someone I will always idolize. Thank you for everything.

Randy was not the only fearless leader on the trip, however. Professor Morosoff was there making sure our communications with Shoot4Change went smoothly and that we were getting a worthwhile educational experience during our stay. We were able to work with real-life Italians to learn about real-life communications as university students, and nothing will ever be as valuable as some of the stuff we did in regards to that. We would not have had such a unique classroom experience without Professor Morosoff, and for that, I am so grateful. I also enjoyed Professor Morosoff’s presence because in a way, he was just like one of the students, trying new things and exploring new areas. It was so fun watching him brave out new territories to gain valuable life experiences, and I loved being able to relate to him on that level.

As I have mentioned multiple times, I made a family on this trip and we will always share this bond that cannot be broken. I am not sure how I am going to move on from the SCO in Rome trip. Not waking up to these beautiful faces every day is something I easily got used to, and something that will be difficult to let go.

As Espo said, there is no way to put this last month into words. I mean, technically, that is what I did with this blog. However, my blogs are just a scratch on the surface of the incredible trip on which I just endeavored. When I go home and tell people about this trip, I hope I cry. I think that is the only way to begin to explain the incredible journey I now have in my memory. To everyone I crossed paths with on this trip: the other tourists, tour guides, waiters, merchants, and most of all, my Hofstra Romans family, thank you for all you have shared with me. I will always look back on this with a ginormous smile and a glassy eyes. Grazie e ciao.

A Summer to Remember

by: Nick Boffardi

Our final week in Rome has come to its conclusion and I still can’t comprehend what an amazing experience I had. Just a short time ago I was preparing to board a plane, unaware of what was to come. Now, it’s all over and its difficult to imagine how different my summer would have been if I didn’t take this wonderful opportunity.

From our first day together, it was clear that this trip was going to be quite different from any other I had ever taken. A daylong adventure from New York to Rome, spent almost entirely in airports and on airplanes, proved that we were going to be able to handle any curve this trip threw at us. And indeed, it created memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Our last week together was packed with activities including a trip to the Pantheon and a visit to Castel St. Angelo. Perhaps the most memorable night came at Etabli, our “Last Supper” if you will. Like all of our group dinners, we were served food, drinks and desserts, but this one came with a small twist. At the end of the meal, just before coffee was served, each member of the group gave a short speech about the trip. We thanked Randy and Prof. Morosoff for coordinating such a great trip and being such wonderful professors. We thanked each other and reflected on some of our favorite moments. After some laughs and some tears, we ended our night with gelato and stopped for pictures at some landmarks in the city; namely the Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain.

This month was one I will not soon forget. It was absolutely wonderful to with such an amazing group of people and it was a privilege to work with Shoot4Change. The SCOinRome program has infected me with the travel bug and now I can’t wait to go back to Italy!

One Big Family Trip

By: Jordan Barry

It is hard to put into words what I experienced this past month in Rome. I could go on and on talking about our amazing weekend trips, working with Shoot4Change, creating the best friends you could ever ask for, and many more. Instead of writing a 500 page novel on all of that stuff, I wanted to reflect on one moment during the trip that started it all. The moment I am talking about is our journey to Rome. Our long and tiring journey to Rome started when our flight out of JFK was delayed four hours due to terrible weather, which caused us to miss our connecting flight from Dublin to Rome. With there being no other direct flights from Dublin to Rome, we had to take another connecting flight from Dublin to Paris, and then Paris to Rome. Despite the traveling aspect being pain in the butt, we, as a group, were able to connect and become fast friends. One of my favorite memories from the trip was walking out of the Rome airport talking and joking around with everyone, as if I had known them since high school. This is one of my favorite memories because within 24 hours all nine of us who flew together became one family (Amy and Sara also became part of the family once we all met up as well). This special bond that we had is what made this trip so unbelievable. And even when we are all back at Hofstra, I know we all will continue this amazing friendship we built.

The Best Summer Ever!

by Sarah Schwartz

Four weeks ago I was on my way to the airport with my mom. On the outside I made it seem like I was beyond excited, but in reality I was overwhelmed with nerves. It was the start of a new journey. I was going to be living in a foreign country with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to expect and I was questioning whether or not I was going to have as much fun as Randy promised or if I was even going to make any new friends. I kept an open mind and as I waved my last good bye to my mom at the security gate, I knew I was in for an adventure! Now I am on the plane going back to the states and I am holding back my tears once again. As the plane took off to go to Dublin, all I had now was a birds eye view of Italy, the only thing I could think of is, “Until next time Italy.” I feel like I have been crying for the past few days because I didn’t want to leave. Saying goodbye to Randy at security, or you could say my second Dad, with the girls was the hardest part. I was leaving a country where they had the best gelato, oh and where I had one of the best summers of my life.

This past month has been more than amazing, I learned so much about a different culture and I even gained a new family along the way. We were all so unique yet shared the same passion of traveling, exploring and living life to the fullest. I feel like that interest is so important to have in life because you develop a curiousity to learn and see more of the world. I look back at the photos and everyone has this glow where you could tell they were genuinely happy in the moment. I would catch myself smiling randomly looking like a weirdo just because I was in a beautiful country, with people who made the experience ten times better. We explored from the northern to southern part of Italy and all of the little places in between. Hands down my favorite parts of the trip were the Amalfi Coast and Florence.

This trip was filled with unexpected twists and turns, but that is what made it so great. Who would have thought a study abroad trip to Italy with one layover in Ireland would turn into a trip where we ended up visiting four countries (France, Spain, Ireland, and of course Italy). This trip truly exceeded my expectations and I’m so grateful that we were able to see the amount of places we went to this past month. Not every study abroad program goes above and beyond but fortunately, Hofstra makes sure their students get to see the best. I would walk down four hallways to get to my room at St. John’s and I would feel extremely blessed each and every time because the other students would just be laying on their beds, not receiving the opportunity to explore everyday.

I just want to say thank you to our professors because without them, we would never have received this trip of a lifetime. Randy went above and beyond making sure we experienced and learned about the Italian culture and Professor Morosoff is an amazing teacher who is so passionate about public relations and made sure we are ready for the real world. I would also like to thank the organization Shoot4Change whom we were working with because we had the chance to see things the everyday public wouldn’t see regarding the earthquake that happened in L’ Aquila. Lastly, a huge thank you to my parents because without them I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad.

Until Next Time Roma

By: Chrissy Carvalho

It’s been three days since I’ve been home from Rome and at every moment it seems like I’m supposed to be heading back to the airport to take another flight to Europe. Our travels through Italy (and to Spain) were some of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. We thoroughly explored Rome, getting in the last few monuments on the last day we were there. We even saw a part of Rome a lot of people don’t when we visited the House of Storytellers, which is Shoot4Change’s home base. I will never forget the look of absolute joy on Randy’s face when we walked under an aqueduct on the way there.

Our weekend trips were probably what made our study abroad trips so different from other groups. Going through the group Bus2Alps gave us not only great guided experiences through the Amalfi Coast and Northern Italy but also allowed us to make friends with the tour guides! Our first tour guide Shields said that we were the best tour group he has ever led because we were so willing to do everything without making a fuss. I think that really sums up the 2016 Hofstra Romans well, because from our airport disaster to climbing Mt. Vesuvius there were no breakdowns or tantrums thrown, which is pretty remarkable.

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Shields & The Gang at Dinner in Capri

This journey would have been of course not possible without our two amazing instructors, Randy and Professor Morosoff. On our final day of the trip when we were about to go through security at the airport in Rome, our instructor Randy had to leave us because he has other travel plans before he heads back to America. He gave the guys all a handshake and gave the girls a hug that prompted us to burst into tears. This is the only time I cried when leaving Italy, so I think it speaks volumes that parting with Randy is what caused it.

I think this trip would have not been nearly as successful or enjoyable without Randy leading us. He has done this trip several times before which allows a certain amount of ease among the students because we aren’t (usually) led astray. Randy is also always super on top of making sure reservations for tours, restaurants, etc. are all squared away. A great example of this was when we got stuck at the Irish airport on our way to Rome, and Randy was immediately on the ball getting us new flights. He also knew of great number of things to do and places to eat that I would have never found if I was planning everything myself. I’m really grateful that we had him with us.

Professor Morosoff was an irreplaceable instructor on the trip. Whenever we were in class he kept us on the ball and made sure we gave our client, Shoot4Change, the best possible product we could. Without his leadership I don’t think we would have gotten as many documents done as we did. He also was the one in contact with our client the most, which was helpful in setting up meeting and getting information from them. I’m so happy Professor Morosoff decided to come on this trip!

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All in all, SCO in Rome was an absolute joy to be a part of. So many memories were made with my fellow Hofstra Romans and I can’t wait to see them all when we go back to Hofstra in the fall. Ciao Roma, grazie dell’ospitalità!

The 2016 Hofstra Romans

By Mitchell Weitzel

Well the time has finally come for us all to pack out bags and say “goodbye” to Italy. Throughout this jam-packed month the Hofstra Romans have been to twelve different Roman cities/towns, toured Vatican City and had a weekend in Ibiza, Spain; and I never want it to end. We climbed to the highest point of Mount Vesuvius, swam through the clearest, most refreshing waters, and tasted some of the best food the country of Italy has to offer. Oh and of course we ate as much gelato as we could possibly get outrhands on. We soaked in countless ancient ruins, explored the amazing cities and islands hidden away in the far corners of Italy, and formed a strong relationship with an amazing organization who is fighting for what I believe to be an extremely righteous cause. Helping Shoot4Change with the work they are doing for the city of L’aquila and with the countless refugees flooding into Europe has both educated me and given me the desire to want to make an impact. I hope that the continuing relationship with S4C will allow me to do that.

I want to give a special shout out to both Professor Morosoff and Professor Hillebrand for all the work they put in to making this month the best it could have possibly been and for teaching us a great deal about how to work with clients out in the real world. To this day, making the decision to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity was one of the best decisions I have made. I have become a part of a family and formed close friendships with ten people who otherwise I may have never gotten to know their names. I have formed a special bond with each and every one of my fellow 2016 Hofstra Romans and I love each and every one of them. I know that once we get back to school we all will have a new group of friends to hang out with, watch movies with, see all around campus, sing countless songs or show tunes with, and laugh at our numerous inside jokes. I cannot wait to see all these amazing people again once we get back to Hofstra.