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When in Rome: Sutton's Stories from Study Abroad

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Rising junior defenseman Bella Sutton is heading to Rome, Italy, to study abroad for the next few weeks and she will be sharing her experiences via blog posts on

Fourth Post (Wednesday, June 22):

Welcome back to my blog everyone! 

I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy about the school work being done for the summer, but I do miss my classmates and professors who were in Rome with me. After our closing banquet and last gelato run (in Rome, I of course will keep eating gelato until I'm back home), we went to the hotel and sat in the lobby until about 3 a.m. continuing to talk and reminisce. Now, this was great and I wouldn't  have gone back and gone to bed any earlier...But looking back it probably wasn't the smartest choice with a train to catch at 7:50 a.m. the next morning taking a classmate (Chris Tofani aka Tof) and I to Venice. When we arrived at Venice, I got out of the train station and the first thing I saw was the water, I knew I was going to enjoy my next day and a half there!

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The beautiful streets of Venezia!

Growing up with water all around me (in the land of 10,000 lakes), being close to or on the water makes me happy! My immediate smile temporarily vanished when I realized I had to carry my (probably over) 50 pound bag over five bridges to get to our hotel. Needless to say, my right arm was still sore a couple days after when we were leaving Venice so KJ don't worry, I definitely got a nice arm work out in that day!! Once we were checked in, we decided to wind (literally wind, there is no direct route in Venice) our way to St. Mark's Square. Here, we walked around and admired all the art and little kiosks Venice had to offer. Then, we decided to climb (okay, this time we took an elevator, but in our defense stairs weren't an option) up to the top of St. Mark's bell tower for a great view of the city! It was so peaceful looking over the Grand Canal and watching boats pass by, or at least it was until I nearly jumped out of my skin realizing very quickly that these bells were not just for show. They rang quite loudly for a few minutes, but everyone at the top was laughing because it had startled so many of us! As we were going down the elevator Tof said about the man running the elevator, "I wonder if he likes his job... I bet it has its ups and downs" lol! I'm not sure if I laughed harder at the joke or a minute later when he told me he stole the joke from his dad! Either way, I was happy to know that he at least could appreciate a good joke (yes, I'm referring to my cheesy jokes being good hahaha).

That night we caught ourselves walking home in a light rain, where somehow all the men in the streets who earlier had tried to force selfie sticks in our hands, magically all had handfuls of umbrellas and ponchos now! Once we made it back to the hotel, I think I immediately passed out after my very little sleep the first night! That is after I think I half slept talk my way through a phone call with my parents to let them know I had arrived safely!

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A photo of me in front of one of the many colorful streets in Burano, Venice!

The next day we went island hopping to three different islands of Venice! Our first stop, Murano, was the island known for its glass blowing, creating beautiful pieces of all kinds. We went to a factory where were able to watch two men working on making colorful drinking glasses. It was so cool to see the process behind the pretty artwork! The second island, Burano, was another ferry away. This island was known for its lace, as well as its cute, colorful, little homes and buildings squeezed up next to each other. I feel bad because my warning to Tof about him probably needing to take a few pictures for me turned into a few more than a few...He was super nice about it, and hey, I did warn him! Anyways, after exploring Burano, we visited the island of Lido. A long, skinny island where we knew there was a beach to relax at for a bit. We walked along the beach, collected some sea shells, and even found a three inch crab along the way!

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One of the many photos Tof took for me on the island of Murano in Venice!

Before getting on the ferry back to Venice, we (of course) stopped for gelato and it didn't disappoint (I don't think it ever does)! Back in St. Mark's, we decided we had to take a gondola ride because we don't know when either of us will be in Venice again. Though the gondoliers apparently don't sing anymore, we had a nice ride and we were given information about all the buildings we passed, which was interesting. Tired, and knowing we had a train to catch at 5:15 a.m. to Cinque Terre, we crashed thinking waking up would be the hardest part about the next day, boy were we wrong...Waking up wasn't awful, what was awful was hearing heavy rain on the rooftop and thunder knowing it was going to be a longer walk to the train station than it had been on the way in (I didn't think that was possible!?). We grabbed our umbrellas and I decided to wear my heavy suitcase as a backpack...and that's what marked the beginning of leg day! The bridges were one thing, but the puddles we walked through were another! Once we made it on our train we decided that if nothing else, the puddles helped clean our shoes off and we were happy to be on the train! 

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My lunch view in Manarola, Cinque Terre.

To continue leg day, once we made it to Cinque Terre (which is made up of five small, but beautiful towns on the coast), the first thing we did after checking into our hotel was an hour and a half hike between the town Monterosso and Vernazza! The views of the coast from the hike were extremely worth the climb, but I was definitely surprised my legs weren't sore the next day! We then met up with a Rome classmate and her family to eat lunch overlooking the town of Manarola, shop, relax at the beach, and later enjoyed pear stuffed pasta for dinner (this was probably my FAVORITE meal of the trip!!)!! 

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At the end of the hike there was a beautiful view of Vernazza, Cinque Terre.

The next morning we got up and took a train to Firenze (Florence). When we arrived, we went out to lunch at a really good restaurant called Vini e Vecchino near our hotel. After, we were ready to explore Florence, but unlike the day before in Cinque Terre on two feet, we explored on two wheels!! Scootering around Florence was efficient for me, as I only had one day there before flying to London, England!! Anyways, the vespas (aka scooters) were SO MUCH FUN!! I was nervous about driving it around at first, especially because I had a passenger on it with me, but I went by the motto "fake it 'til ya make it" and after our test drive our guide said he was confident in my driving!! We drove on some of the busier roads first, up to a church that had a magnificent view of Florence from the top! Then, we took winding, hilly, back roads through Tuscany which was really pretty! It was hard for me to focus on the road with the scenery around me! We finally arrived at the family owned winery part of the tour where we ate dinner overlooking the olive trees and beautiful gardens. I was so thankful that my friend Haleigh and her family took me in for the day to join them on the scooter tour!

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Posed for a photo while stopped during the Vespa tours!

Later that night, I met up with another Nittany Lion you all know, Hannah Ehresmann!!  She showed myself and my two friends from my class in Rome (Haleigh and Tof) up to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sun set over the river. This was so cool to watch and the view of the city from here was unreal! We got a nice picture in front of fake David as well!! After watching the sunset, Hannah brought us to her favorite gelato place and it did not disappoint! It was so great to see her again (I think I forgot to mention in an earlier post that I did get to see her shortly when she visited Rome!)!! 

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Hannah and I watching the sunset in Florence!

The next day (Thursday the 16th) I woke up early to catch a train back to the FCO airport in Rome so I could make my flight to London! Another day another adventure, right?! In London, I navigated the tube, checked into my hotel, and met up with my boyfriend who is studying abroad here through Notre Dame (disclaimer: I tolerate the Fighting Irish when they aren't facing the Nittany Lions ;)). Right away we decided for dinner we would make stir fry at his flat (which is what they all an apartment in London)! I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the improvement in his cooking abilities as it was a running joke previously about how he would survive next year without a meal plan. The following day I slept in late, (probably catching up on sleep from all the travel!) then when my boyfriend was back from class we walked around the streets near his flat to get lunch from a fresh food stand which they had everywhere (very different from Rome where a good meal would only come from sitting down at a restaurant...For at least an hour and a half!). Later, we ate dinner at a little cute restaurant called Andrew Edmunds (where I sported one of my purchases from earlier!). Here, I tried three new foods; the first being crab. Those who know me well, also know I'll eat just about anything... except seafood. I'm slowly trying to change that and tonight was a step in the right direction!! Sole, a type of white fish, was the next food I tried (more seafood that tasted pretty good!!). Finally, I tried lamb. My mom cringed a bit when I told her I tried that, but I thought it was all very good! 

Saturday, we went shopping with a few of his friends at a low priced European clothing store called Primark (probably a mistake on their part taking me shopping as it was hard for them to find me when they were done considering there were three floors of girls clothing)!! After shopping we walked back to his apartment. Along the way, we stopped for gelato and enjoyed the singers playing on the streets. That night we made pasta and chicken for dinner (which is funny because I have been eating amazing pasta in Italy my whole trip, but I enjoyed making it myself again!)!!  We then went with a few of his friends to the 32nd level in the Shard, which is the tallest building in Europe! The view of the river, Tower bridge, and the city in general was really pretty!! 

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The Shard in London!

After a couple of days of enjoying everything near us, the third day we were tourists for the day! Walking to the London Eye, Thames River, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and we even stumbled upon a changing of the guards! All were really fun to see, and of course, take pictures (and selfies!) in front of! That night we ate burgers topped with avocado (a personal favorite!) and stayed up late to watch game seven of the NBA Finals! I didn't care who won, but I was glad it was a close game!! On my final day in London, I woke up to explore Borough's Market, the tower bridge, and Hay's Market by the river. It was really cool seeing London for a second time and really appreciating everything it has to offer (including the well-known sites, markets, and street performers!)! 

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Probably the most touristy picture we could have taken in London!

I am now beginning my journey back home to the US (Minnesota to be specific) for the rest of my summer. This journey includes a flight back to Rome, 13 hours in the FCO airport (I'll most likely be catching up on (my guilty pleasure) the Bachelorette, facetiming Sarah Nielsen, and shopping for last minute souvenirs) , and an 10 hour direct flight back! It's definitely sad to be leaving Europe, but trust me when I say I have thousands of pictures, even more memories, a handful of new friends, and a much greater appreciation for the opportunities I have been given throughout my life because of this experience. 

Quick thanks to all those who have been reading the blog and tolerating the stories of my adventures abroad! Enjoy the rest of your summer and get pumped up for next season!! It should be a great one! 


Third Post (Tuesday, June 14):

Wow, I can't believe three weeks went by so fast!! I just finished my last day of class here in Rome today, June 11th. However, this is not the end of my journey as I will be traveling to explore Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, and London in the next nine days!! I am extremely excited about this opportunity, but I am sad to see most of my classmates travel home to the United States tomorrow as I reflect on yet another unforgettable week spent with them in Pompeii, Sorrento, and Meta (just north of Sorrento)! 

This past Monday we woke up bright and early to catch a train to Naples. Once we arrived we jumped on a train to Meta, where our hotel (Panorama Palace) was located on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. Before getting on the sardine packed train, we were warned about pickpockets being especially tricky here in Naples. Luckily no one got anything stolen, but one of our professors did catch a man attempting to steal from one of my classmates and he yelled "Oh no, stop right there, I know who you are! I've seen the movies!!" Lol I'm not sure if he knew what our professor was screaming or not but it sure scared him away!! Also, I'm pretty sure he remembered that incident because when we got on the train again to visit Pompeii our teacher recognized the same man and made sure to say "Bonjurno!!" to him, making the man immediately squeeze out of our car into a different compartment. 

Anyways, upon arriving to our hotel we soon realized why it received its name, Panorama Palace, because right out front of our hotel was a breathtaking view of Sorrento to our left and high cliffs to our right with the blue sea beneath us (the latter which we took advantage of almost right after checking in). This view was particularly beautiful at sunset. The next morning, Tuesday, we went to Pompeii to visit the ruins of the town that was extremely well preserved due to the ashes of Mount Vesuvius preceding its eruption. It was so cool to get a better idea of what an ancient Roman town would have looked like along with homes of the wealthy. In these homes we were able to see baths, frescos, and mosaics still in place!! We also saw the plaster casted bodies of a few victims of Vesuvius putting into perspective how quickly the eruption took the lives of many living there. 

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Watching the sun set over the islands of Naples in Meta was a highlight of my trip!

Wednesday, we traveled to Naples to visit the National Archeological Museum where we saw the statue of Hercules at Rest as well as the Farnese Bull and then, after indulging in delicious pizza for lunch, we went to Herculaneum! Herculaneum is a small town that was also very well preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, however, because it was closer to the mountain than Pompeii was, there is even still ancient wood that remains intact! Being right on the ancient coast, when Vesuvius erupted, the people of Herculaneum fled for the water, unfortunately, that's where they found most of the bodies when excavating. I'm curious to know if anyone did escape Vesuvius' grasp. 

Thursday, we took a bus a little further south to the ancient town of Paestum. Here we saw a giant temple of Athena, the goddess of war, as well as two temples dedicated to Hera. Walking around this Roman colony south of Naples helped to give me an idea of how large the Roman Empire truly was! After viewing the museum here in Paestum and shopping a bit, we got on our train back to Rome. I was surprised that when arriving back in Rome I felt that I was back "home" because we had only been there for a week or so before this. I guess that goes to show how a place you visit can leave an impact on you no matter how long your stay. 

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Our whole group in front of the Temple of Athena in Paestum!

The next day we visited the Mausoleum of Augustus, Augustus' alter of peace, and Hadrian's Mausoleum (which is now the St. Angelo Castle). It was cool to see all the intricate designs and work put in to make these massive structures. At the top of the Castle there was a great view! However, the view wasn't as amazing as the view from the top of St. Peter's Basilica which I visited after class. After viewing the church itself and the catacombs, a few classmates and I climbed to the top of the dome. Though there were a way too many steps, the view at the top was incredible! 

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I really enjoyed the view from the top of the Vatican! It was worth all the stairs we climbed to get up!!

Finally, for our last day of class we took a bus to Hadrian's Villa about 45 minutes outside of Rome. Here, we met an archeologist who toured us around and showed us a recent excavation site! Next, we went to Palestrina to see a temple of Fortuna Primigenia and yet another incredible view!! That night we had our closing banquet at an authentic (by authentic I mean family owned with Grandma Nana who came out and gave us all hugs when we were done) Italian restaurant that was the best food by far! Our now tight knit group talked about the trip, our jokes, and how we are going to hang out once we are all back in State College! After this I conned a few of them to get Frigidarium Gelato for the last time. It was a really great way to end the trip! This group will always hold a special spot in my heart; they made this trip, walking 13 miles each day, and a lot of museums more interesting and much brighter!!

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A photo of the Nymphatorium at Hadrians Villa!


Haleigh (one of my good friends I made on the trip) and I at the top of the Temple of Fortuna.

I hope everyone has enjoyed my blog in relation to studying abroad! I would love for you to check back next week to hear where my journey takes me! 

Ciao Roma!


Second Post (Tuesday, June 7):


I'm glad you decided to check back in on my adventures abroad! As I mentioned in my last post, I was headed to the Vatican and then after that, the beach, on my past free day. We attended a mass at the Vatican in the morning and despite not understanding the Italian and Latin languages spoken, when everyone turned to their neighbor's, shook hands, and maybe gave them a hug, a light bulb went off and we all turned to each other and said "PEACE" acting as if we knew what was going on the whole time. It was a really cool experience being there, receiving communion, and attending mass in St. Peter's Square. After the outdoor mass, we were a bit concerned because we were barricaded into St. Peter's Square. However, we soon realized that the Pope was going to come through the crowd!!!


At the beautiful St. Peter's Square!

Soon enough he came whizzing by on a car-like automobile with an open top, standing, smiling, and waving to all throughout the square as we stood on plastic chairs to see who could get the best video. Once we returned back to our hotel after this, we rounded up the rest of our group and hopped a train to a small city about an hour south of Rome called Sperlonga.  <


The Pope wheeling through and blessing the crowd!


The cute little town of Sperlonga :)

After a questionable cab ride later we arrived at the beach where we swam in the Mediterranean. They said it'd be pretty cold, but after swimming in the Minnesota lakes in mid-May prior to this trip, it wasn't bad at all, actually it was quite refreshing! We then watched the sunset and had dinner on the beach. For dessert I took a break from gelato (mainly from Frigidarium) and I had the BEST tiramisu for dessert. This was just last week, but oddly enough it feels like it was both yesterday and a month ago at the same time! Class keeps us pretty busy during the days with different city tours each day, my classmates are awesome and this city is amazing! 


The BEST gelato ever! - Frigidarium


My tiramisu from Sperlonga, which I want to go back for!!

This week during class we visited the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the Arch of Titus, the Roman Forum, the Capitoline Hill, the Palestine Hill, and the Pantheon to name a few! It's crazy to me how much history is here and how well preserved some of these sites are after all these years. I am definitely learning a lot!


The Roman Forum!

After class each day we have time to explore Rome! This week we went to a restaurant with karaoke, which was a LOT of fun! My teammates (and I'm sure most of you know if you've seen the pregame video) I enjoy singing/dancing in the locker room before games. Well, luckily, or unluckily for those in the restaurant, one of my classmates here in Rome shares the love of the song Fergalicious and the restaurant had that available for karaoke. So, needless to say we crushed it.

Another night we went to a Jazz club to hear live music. The musicians were so so good! If only I had played clarinet for longer than a year I maybe could've joined them! ;) Some of the group also spent one afternoon shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo to look for gifts for friends, family, and ourselves! Side note: The few guys that came along soon regretted their decision after realizing this wasn't an area of souvenir shops, but instead clothing, leather purse, and shoe shops...We may have forgotten to mention that...Whoops!

This past Saturday, June 4th, we had our second free day! We were planning on, and actually made it to Cinque Terre, which if you Google will see just how beautiful it is. Anyways, we got there and the weather was not 75 and sunny like we have been experiencing in Rome for the past week and they told us that if we tried to take the train to the first of the five cities we wanted to visit, we may get stuck there for the night due to the rain. So, we decided we better be safe, make it to class, and instead go to the Leaning Tower of Pisa!! 


Leaning tower of Pisa!


I found out that Pisa has more to offer than the leaning tower, and it took my breath away!

Traveling doesn't always work out the way you planned, but I was happy our group just rolled with it and had a great day eating pizza in Pisa!! 

Finally, on Sunday June 5th, we took a short train ride to Ostia, one of the major Roman Ports where the entire city of ruins is well preserved! Despite being made fun of for my Minnesotan accent on the way there, having to repeat the words dragon, about, boat, and one Coach Dawes and Ben (our equipment manager) love to tease me about, bag, the train ride was fairly quick!


Thought of my little friend Sophie (who skates with me after games) because there were many cats hanging around Campus Martius

In Ostia, we explored the ancient ruins of the old and extremely important port city and in doing so, turned the ruins into our own jungle gym! We climbed up the stairs and to the roof of every building they allowed us, into every little crevice we could squeeze into, and probably went a little past that in order to get a better feel for the ruins as well as (obviously) some really great photos (one of which as we were stepping across a small ditch a boy in my class ripped his pants!! Let me tell you after hearing about my accent on the way there I did not hold back my laughter when, after being in the sun for a while after the fact, he said, "oh, this breeze is nice" LOL) !! 


My jungle gym for the day: Ancient Ostia

Next week I will talk about our class trip to Sorrento and Pompeii! I hope everyone had a great weekend!! 


First Post (Tuesday, May 31):

I left May 24th in the afternoon, my mom dropped me off at the MSP airport in Minnesota and I was off!! ... Or I thought I was... The flight delay provided me with some time to work on my presentation I had to give later on in the week, however, I was worried I wasn't going to have enough time to catch my next flight out of Boston to Rome. By the time I landed and got off the plane I had 25 minutes to get to my gate. Let me just start by apologizing to anyone if they happened to see me sprinting (or running as fast as I could run with a backpack on) not only through the airport, but to another terminal where I had to go through another security line (special thanks to everyone for letting me jump the line, much appreciated)!! As I was running through the airport I couldn't help but thinking a few things, first, am I going to make this connection!? And what happens if I don't? Next, I was thinking I for sure can do this, this is what KJ (our strength coach) prepared me for. Thirdly, I was thinking, hopefully these new bright coral tennis shoes make me look fast haha. Luckily, I made the flight and made it to Rome, and so my journey begins!

I arrived on the 25th, but most of my class arrived the following day so on the 26th some of us ventured out to the Trevi Fountain! Surprised we didn't get lost and/or hit by a car because the drivers are crazy! You just cross the street whenever and cars swerve around you...If you don't cross you may lose the group! We then had our opening class "banquet" dinner at a small Italian restaurant.

The following day we visited the Baths of Diocletian, which I performed my 10-15 minute speech on and went into the Basilica of Santa Maria which was very cool! We saw the Imperial forums, Trajan's market, and Trajan's column, all for class! Later that night we went to the Vatican museum and even got to enter the Sistine chapel, which was beautiful.

Saturday May 28th, we spent most of our day at the Capitoline Hill museum and exploring underground, excavated temples!

Sunday we have our first day off and I think we will be headed to the Vatican and then the beach for some swimming and relaxing on the beach! Loving my experiences thus far in the Eternal City! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer adventures!! Check back next week for another blog post from Roma! We Are!!!



A great view of the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Hill museum

11967767.jpgTrying to be like Lizzie McGuire at the Trevi Fountain

11967768.jpgAt this point you can tell I like panoramic shots. This one shows a great view of the city and puts into perspective the number of churches here!

Introduction Post:

Well I can inform you it's been an eventful first few days of traveling overseas, navigating Rome, and meeting my classmates for the next three weeks! Before I get in to all of that, I suppose I should introduce myself.

Hi everyone, my name is Bella Sutton and I am a defenseman on the Penn State women's ice hockey team, #11. I just finished my sophomore year at PSU less than a month ago. I can't believe I'm already considered a junior!?! Anyways, these next few weeks I will be studying ancient Roman history by traveling around Italy. I will be sharing with you some of my experiences, what I've seen, done, and knowing me, some bad jokes or puns will be included so bear with me remembering I always encourage a good courtesy laugh :)

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