June 10, 2019 – The Most Instagrammable Park in Copenhagen (OOTD #516)

Don’t always trust Instagram travel bloggers.

I say this, knowing full well that I am a pseudo-Instagram travel blogger myself.  However, I feel the need to let you guys know that just because something looks cool in a picture, doesn’t mean it’s actually that cool in real life.

For example: Superkilen, the super trendy public park in Nørrebro, Copenhagen (or should I say København, since I used the Danish spelling of Nørrebro?) where all of the Internet travel gurus seemed to insist was a must-see location on your trip to Copenhagen.

I mean, it’s cool. It makes for a great, unique picture with all of the wavy lines. What the travel bloggers don’t tell you though, is that it’s actually quite far out from the city center, and that it’s also quite small. If you’re thinking you could get a few hours’ worth of things to do in the park, or even in the surrounding Nørrebro, you’re going to be disappointed. The park with the squiggly lines takes up a small square that you can walk the perimeter of in five minutes.

And that’s basically it. That’s the whole park.

Actually, there are a few cool sculptures and a neat artsy playground for kids. I’m sure it’s great for the people who live in the neighborhood, and it’s a good place to get pictures if you’re an Instagrammer. But if you’re a tourist, looking for a robust breadth of experiences while in Copenhagen, it’s a little lackluster.

I’m glad I got my pictures — “do it for the Gram,” as the kids say. And my AirBnB was within walking distance of the park, so it wasn’t even really that far out of the way. But if you’re located more in the city center, and you’re not dead set on getting a picture with the squiggly lines, I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path (and by “off the beaten path,” I mean “not The Little Mermaid statue and not Nyhavn“) that I absolutely would recommend, check out the University of Copenhagen Botanical Gardens. For my full post, which may or may not have devolved into a lengthy harangue about why I love plants, check it out here! 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Thrifted

Shorts: PacSun

June 9, 2019 – Go Green (OOTD #515)

Wow, have I told you how much I like plants?

I mean, I only kept a small greenhouse in my dorm room both years at Notre Dame, attended a botany class for fun my fall semester of sophomore year, and stole a spider plant from the art building because I thought I could propagate it into a new plant (spoiler alert: I did, and it’s doing fabulously).

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bugging out 🦋

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For real, plants are just such an important lifestyle choice for me. Some people like to cook, some people like to work out, some people like to read Bible verses every night before they go to bed — I like to take care of indoor plants. They’re like children or pets, but without the emotional responsibility.

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does this staircase make me look taller

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Though, if I’m honest, I do form something of a bond with my plants. I don’t name them like some of my friends do, but I become intimately familiar with their likes and dislikes. This one likes full sun. This one likes the shade. This one needs to be watered with coffee every week in order to keep its acidity levels up. Each plant is its own individual scientific experiment; over time, I’ve learned to methodically alter one independent variable at a time in order to yield the best results.

In the absence of science lab classes now that I’m a full-time humanities major, it’s the only practice of the scientific method I really have left in my daily life. It reminds me of when I was a kid and science classes were fun, before a string of lousy science teachers in high school discouraged me from continuing to pursue the practice.

If I’m ever at a point in my life where things aren’t working out and I need a drastic change, though, I would still consider one field in scientific research: botany. I would absolutely consider dropping everything I’ve studied in history and politics and international relations and completely shift gears to get my PhD in botany. Maybe some years down the road, if I’m tired and burnt out on law and ready to become one of those adults who switches careers in their middle ages, I’ll do it.

On one condition — I think I’d want to work and do research in a botanical garden, like this one in Copenhagen. I could spend hours in the greenhouses there — and Anna and I did. Honestly, I think it was one of my favorite things that I saw in all of Europe this summer, and I got to see a lot of cool stuff. There are botanical gardens everywhere; I don’t think there was anything special about this one in Copenhagen that made it different from ones in other cities. The fact that it was still one of my favorite things that I saw (and honestly, maybe my absolute favorite thing from all of Copenhagen) really goes to show how much I adore looking at plants.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Dress: Vintage (thrift — Brick Lane Market)

Jacket: Thrift (Clothes Mentor)

 

June 8, 2019 – Comrades in Copenhagen (OOTD #514)

Wait, this isn’t Rome.

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swish and flick

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Everything I’ve ever heard from Americans who go abroad to Europe is that you need to try to visit other countries while you’re there. Even if you have a “home base” of where you’re going to be spending the majority of your time (for me, Italy), you should try to take a weekend or two and visit a neighboring country. It’s just so much cheaper and easier to visit other countries when you’re on a continent with 44 countries, versus when you’re on a continent with three countries separated by pretty much all of the other continents by two giant oceans.

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hej og farvel

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And, very importantly, their infrastructure and public transportation is just so much better than what the US has. It’s cheaper and easier to go from Italy to France than it is to go from Kentucky to Indiana. You can get a bus or a cheap flight and be in a completely different culture — different language, different politics, different food — in just a few hours and for just a few hundred dollars, at most. In comparison, it takes a whole day of driving and/or flying to go from Lexington to South Bend — and they’re not even that different (Lexington has hills and is just generally a more beautiful place, but that’s beside the point).

Anyway, Copenhagen! Why did I go? Mostly, it was just the cost. My friend (and former roommate at ND), Anna, was studying abroad in London during the same dates as I was interning in Rome. We wanted a city somewhere in between the two where we could meet up and spend the weekend in an AirBnB, and, after a quick flight search on SkyScanner (not sponsored, by the way — I just really love this website for finding cheap flights), Copenhagen ended up being the best choice.

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joining a hippie commune, see ya never

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I arrived early afternoon on a Saturday. After dropping off my things in the room, Anna and I decided to just go for a stroll. Naturally, we had to see Nyhavn (the strip of colorful homes that look like Legos along the water), the Little Mermaid Statue, and Christiania (the hippie commune with a special legal status). We also saw some things that were a little off the typical tourist path — a man selling weed, St. Alban’s Church, and graffiti telling us to go home, to name a few.

Copenhagen is a beautiful place — perhaps the quaintest and cutest place I visited while in Europe the whole summer. It was perhaps a little too quaint and cute though, at least for me. I like a little grit to my cities — that’s why I love New York and Philadelphia so much, and that’s what I appreciate the most about Rome. It was also super expensive in terms of the cost of food and cost of admission to places. Our flights may have been cheap, but not much else was.

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reflect on this:

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I decided it would be a great place to retire — you know, after I’ve gotten rich and famous and I just want a quiet place to relax at the end of my life. After retirement is also probably the only time I’ll ever be able to afford to live in Copenhagen. I could definitely see myself as a little old lady biking along Nyhavn and buying my produce at farmers’ markets and chatting with the weed dealers in Christiania.

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look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?

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That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Dress: Thrift

Jacket: Thrift (Clothes Mentor)

June 6, 2019 – Get to the Ponte Already (OOTD #513)

Get it? Because ponte in Italian means “bridge,” and I’m standing next to a bridge?

I’d also considered some Tiber River-related puns, but I couldn’t think of any good enough. If you know of any, leave me a comment and let me know! I’m always happy to hear suggestions from people who are cleverer than me.

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all rivers lead to rome?

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After the insanity that was my last post that featured not one, not two, but five major tourist sites around Rome (the Colosseum, the Forum, Palatine Hill, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain), I thought it was fair for me to take a break from exploring for a while.

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get to the ponte already

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And by “some time,” I mean one day. Regardless of how exhausted I felt after my “tourist day” I had work the next morning, so I had to be up and ready to head to work at 8:30 AM. It was a short day, though, because that afternoon, my supervisor agreed to let me out a few hours early for another one of the “cultural enrichment” events with the Notre Dame study abroad students.

This time, it was a tour of the Jewish Ghetto. I actually have no relevant photos to show from that part of my day. It’s not that there weren’t some beautiful buildings that would have made excellent fashion photography backgrounds for my blog — there were — but there was never a good moment to ask someone to a get my picture.

Also, no one else was getting pictures. That’s a big one for me. I really dislike being the only person or the first person in a group to ask someone to take my picture. I’ll do it if it’s an important location, and I’ll just die without getting a shot for Instagram or Snapchat, but otherwise, I try to get a feel for what the rest of the crowd is feeling in regards to stopping for glamour shots. Not every group of people is big into photos. I always hate to be the single narcissist in a group who is.

After the tour, though, my friends and I split off from the group and walked back along the Tiber River to the Colosseo area where we all lived. That’s when I got these pictures. I’m less concerned about being the single narcissist in a group when I’m with a group of friends.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Dress: Zara (thrift)

June 5, 2019 – Tourist Day (OOTD #512)

I think every trip to a new city over a week long needs a “tourist day.”

Of course, only if you have time for one. Not every travel experience is meant to be vacation, and that’s fine. But if, on your non-vacation travel experience, you have the time to take a “vacation day,” you should go for it.

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one step at a time

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At this point, I’d been in Rome for well over two weeks, and I had yet to see most of the major tourist sites. In fact, I’d seen more of Florence’s tourist sites than I had seen of Rome’s, the actual city where I was staying.

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roaming rome

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It’s hard to go out and see a city when you’re more there to work than to simply visit. You’re there for an extended period of time, and it’s not like any of the sightseeing destinations are going anywhere, so it’s easy to just convince yourself that you can put off exploring for another day. You have work and chores and responsibilities to deal with; your purpose for being in the city is not to see the city, as is the case when you’re just a tourist.

For example, I lived within five minutes walking distance of the Colosseum, but I never had the desire to see the inside of it. That’s not because I didn’t want to see it for its own sake —  I did — but I didn’t have the time to deal with the hassle of ticketing and crowds when I had work. I was usually too tired after work to try fighting off the tourists, and the weekends were so insane with swarms of people that even with extra time on my hands, it didn’t feel worth it.

And that’s why I believe giving yourself a designated “tourist day” is so important. Sometimes, you just have to push yourself to get out and see the world, even if you don’t feel like you have the time or energy. Imagine how much I would have regretted it if I had been in Rome for two months and I never saw the Colosseum, the Forum, Palatine Hill, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain.

But don’t worry — I did see all of those things! Rome has a deal where they offer entry to all of their historical sites for free for one day a month. In anticipation of this deal, I asked for the day off of work (and yes, I was honest with my bosses about the reason I was asking off), and I made it my mission to see as much of Rome as I could in the afternoon that I had.

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At this point, I had finally established a small group of friends (my Firenze pals), and so I invited them to join me. It was probably only the first or second time in the two weeks I’d been there that I actually got to hang out with a group of people my age, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Up until that point, I’d pretty much been completely on my own — another factor that was keeping me back from going out and doing tourist things. That first one-third of my time in Rome was kind-of lonely.

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this is what dreams are made of 🎵

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My friends and I made it everywhere I was hoping to go except for the Pantheon. Spoiler alert: I never made it in the whole two months I was there. A friend told me it wasn’t super exciting, and so every time I told myself I was going to check it out after work, I ended up coming up with an excuse for why I was too tired to go, and that I’d just go tomorrow.

But eventually, I ran out of tomorrows, and the Pantheon remains for me unseen. I guess that’s one for the bucket list for the next time I visit.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: H&M

Trousers: Thrifted (Salvation Army)

June 1, 2019 – Friends in Firenze (OOTD #511)

It took me two weeks, but I finally made a small group of friends here in Italy!

You wouldn’t know it from these photos, since they’re not like…present in any of them but this selfie. I mean, I’m not so vain as to force the people I’m with to take a bunch of pictures with me just so that I can prove that I have friends. I’m only vain enough to force the people I’m with to take pictures of me so that I can prove that I’m out and enjoying my life.

To absolutely no one’s surprise at all, the friends I ended up making in Rome were also Notre Dame students. To my genuine surprise though, the people who wound up as my friends were not the study abroad students who lived so close to me near the Colosseum; they were actually the other interns who lived and worked in other places in the city. There was one girl who was a study abroad student, but otherwise, we were all doing independent internships.

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*mrs. puff voice* oh, neptune.

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I’d met them all very briefly back on campus at Notre Dame, but I hadn’t expected that we’d actually bond, given how on our own we were in the city. But maybe that’s why we did bond — because we were relatively on our own, with no means of making social connections. What, you didn’t seriously expect us to go out on our own and meet people, did you?

Rome’s a great city, and I miss it now that I’m gone, but after being there for two weeks, I was craving an opportunity to get out. Frascati, which I visited had visited earlier for a winery tour, hardly counted, as I was barely there half a day. I wanted a real day trip. Turns out, my five newfound friends wanted a day trip too.

Florence (also known in Italian as Firenze) is perhaps the closest major city to Rome, just an hour by the fast train or three hours by the slow train. We chose the slow train because we’re cheap. If you’re richer than me, though, I recommend taking the fast train — I’ve hard it’s quite nice.

Despite its relatively short geographic distance from Rome, Florence feels worlds about from Rome. As I understand from the very little bit of Italian culture and history that I know, Northern Italy and Southern Italy are economically, culturally, and politically separate entities, almost to the point of being separate countries in effect. They’re united by the Italian language, and not much else. Northern Italy is much more like its European neighbors, while Southern Italy is its own separate world.

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duomo? fo-sho

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What’s the point of me mentioning this? Rome and Florence are both considered Central Italy; the North/South divide shouldn’t play into the dynamic between the cities. But it does. At least, to my unknowledgeable and uncultured opinion, it does.

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i’m out of bridge-related puns, sorry

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Florence felt different from Rome. It felt richer and cleaner and quieter and more stereotypically European. Rome is insane — hot, dirty, ancient, and quite possibly falling to pieces. At times, I’ve felt that it’s almost more like Kathmandu, Nepal than other European cities that I’ve visited, such as Munich. Florence seemed to be more put-together. For one, the sidewalks weren’t constantly trying to kill me, like they were in Rome.

I wish I could have stayed in Florence for longer than I did. I feel like there was so much more to explore than I got a chance to see. Sometimes, at the end of a trip, I feel like I’ve exhausted the things to do in a city; Florence was quite the opposite. It’s a place I’d like to go back to one day, if I have the opportunity. One day was not enough.

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made some friends in firenze

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That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: ASOS

Skirt: Zara

May 30, 2019 – Vineyards and Vino (OOTD #510)

I never expected to see the day when Notre Dame would pay for me to taste wine.

While in Rome for my internship, another Notre Dame study abroad program was going on. I actually lived really close to the Notre Dame building — like within a five minute walking distance — but I didn’t interact with the other ND kids much. They had their classes, and I had my work, so there wasn’t necessarily a lot of opportunity for us to overlap.

On some afternoons though, the ND study abroad program would have extracurricular, “cultural enrichment” activities, which interns like me were invited to participate in for free.

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take me home, country roads

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Most of the time, these were short classes, such as a crash course Italian lesson or a brief lecture on Italian politics, but sometimes, they’d be actual field trips. One day, we visited the Jewish ghetto, and another, we visited Cinecittà Studios. And one day, probably the most exciting of our field trips, we visited a winery in Frascati.

Up until I went to Italy, I wasn’t a huge wine person. In fact, I wasn’t a huge drinking person in general (and I’m still not). With the exception of the time that I attended a New Year’s Eve party at my host family’s home in France , I’d never really had more than one drink at a time. Rome changed that.

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For one, every night at dinner, I was offered wine, whether I wanted it or not. To be honest, most of the time, I did not  — but I took it more often than I wanted because it seemed that everyone around me, especially the Italians, were drinking. It seemed rude not to. I was there for a cultural experience, and drinking is inextricably woven into the Italian culture.

And over time, I found that I liked it. Does anyone really like alcohol the first time they try it? I’m inclined to say no. It’s not really the taste you’re after; it’s the effect.

Though at the wine tasting in Frascati, I have to say, I found myself going after the taste more than I ever had bothered to before. I can’t describe it to you; I don’t know enough about wine to discuss flavors. One tasted like “red” and the other tasted like “white.” They tasted a lot better than any of the other reds or whites I’d ever had before, however — not that I have much to compare them to. An authentic Italian winery’s own homemade wine isn’t really on the same level as something out of a box at a dorm party. Maybe that’s why I’d never liked wine before; I had never had good wine.

But when in Rome, do as the Romans do, as they say. And the Romans like to drink.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: FreePeople

Skirt: Express (thrifted)

May 27, 2019 – Meander (OOTD #509)

Wandering around Rome without a plan for what to do or where to go is a great idea, in theory.

Rome is full of cool sites — the Colosseum, the Vatican, Palatino, the Spanish Steps — which are easily accessible and easily visible from within the city itself. That’s what, if you ask me, is the best part about Rome: its main attractions are right there in the city, and they’re not too far from each other. You could, with a lot of stamina, take an entire day and simply walk from site to site.

Here’s the worst part about Rome — if you’re not in the cool section where all the ancient ruins and tourist attractions are, it’s not a very pretty city. If you’re in one of the less attractive neighborhoods, you can walk for quite some time without seeing anything other than trash, uneven pavement, and stray cats.

When I went out for a walk on the morning of May 27, however, I didn’t know this. I didn’t think I needed a game plan or direction for walking Rome; I just thought I could start walking and I would run into the Trevi Fountain. I of course, was wrong. I didn’t see the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon or the Roman Forum. In fact, I basically walked in the opposite direction of all of those things.

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oh no, i’m ruined

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Here’s what I did find: a man on a motorcycle who honked at me as he went by. Muddy pavement. A homeless person yelling at an umbrella. Strips of the road where the sidewalk just…inexplicably decided to not exist anymore. And the Baths of Caracalla, which, admittedly, were cool to see from a distance, though not worth the entrance fee to get in.

So yeah, my Spidey Sense didn’t exactly lead me in the right direction. Sometimes your spontaneous, anyway-the-wind-blows type adventure goes well, and sometimes all it leads you to is a homeless man with an umbrella. You win some, and you lose some.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Pitaya

Jeans: Hollister

 

May 26, 2019 – Days In (OOTD #508)

Even in the Eternal City, you can have a day where you just feel like going nowhere.

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greetings from the 1930s

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Or maybe you don’t even feel like going nowhere — maybe you do feel like going out, but you can’t muster the motivation to haul yourself out of the house. Maybe the day began by feeling like going nowhere, but by late afternoon, you realized you’d made a mistake. But by then, it was late afternoon, and it wasn’t going to be worth the effort to go anywhere.

Besides, you’re in Rome by yourself. You have no friends to go anywhere with, not yet at least. The best tourist sites have admission fees and huge lines, even on a rainy day like this.

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*dean martin plays in the distance*

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So instead, you content yourself with taking the time to do your hair and makeup as if you’re going out and as if you’re going to have your picture taken in fun locations with your friends. The problem, then, is that after you’ve taken all this time to look nice, you feel like you have to at least take some pictures to document all that hard work you did. To compensate for having a useless day, you should at least go out and scout for some good photography locations.

Oh, and did I mention you still have a partially twisted ankle from tripping on the steps to the metro earlier in the week? 

So instead of venturing off somewhere fun for pictures, you’re stuck in the garden of the place where you’re staying. To be fair — it’s a beautiful garden with a gorgeous view of the Colosseum, and you’d been meaning to get some pictures there at some point anyway. But it doesn’t really satisfy your urge to get out and do something, because ultimately, you didn’t really get outside of the garden gates, and you didn’t really do anything but get some photos.

Also, while you’re outside, you end up slipping in the wet grass and twisting your ankle again, which really sucks.

But that sort of thing has never happened to me, of course. I always start my day with a clear purpose, and I don’t waste whole days sitting around my room doing my hair and makeup when no one’s going to see me. That’s just silly.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Dress: Thrifted

Blouse: Forever21

May 24, 2019 – Climate Strikes and Religious Sites (OOTD #507)

One doesn’t often go on strike with their boss.

There’s something ironic about marching alongside your supervisor in a packed Roman street, the sound of Italian teenagers’ chants overwhelming your senses and making an already-unusual situation even more surreal. I hadn’t been in this city a week yet and somehow, I’d already traded my quiet office space for the pulsating streets. As cries like “change the system and not the climate,” and “don’t rob us of our future” swelled through the crowd. I couldn’t help but feel the corners of my mouth tug upwards in bemusement – it was my fifth day on the job, and, in a quintessentially Italian experience, I was already on strike.

And here I half-expected I was going to be stuffing envelopes all day.

May 24 began for me in front of Santa Susanna in Rome, with a morning prayer with members of the the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Though I’m not Catholic, my internship was with a Catholic organization, and so a lot of meetings and events began with prayer. “Thoughts and prayers” as a phrase has been mocked for its overuse in the mainstream media to indicate a lack of willingness to do anything about an issue, but I actually found that the GCCM’s prayers offered some meaningful insights and reflections about the impact that climate change has had upon the planet. And more importantly, they weren’t just there to pray — they were there to protest.

Around the globe, it was estimated that 1664 climate change protests took place in 125 countries. The time of the marches coincided with the (then) upcoming elections in Europe, as well as the fourth anniversary of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’s second encyclical (look at all of these things I’m learning in Catholic school!). Several thousand gathered in the Piazza de Republica to march to Piazza de Venezia. I was one of them.

Some of my favorite messages on the signs included: “More ass, less gass” (though I don’t think my boss, Sr. Sheila, was as much a fan of that one), “Change the system and not the climate,” “I am away from school to teach you a lesson,” and “Don’t rob us of our future,” to name a few.

 

It was so inspiring to see so many young people— most of them the same age as me—come together to advocate energetically for the care of our planet. Often, I think, the youth get a bad reputation— we’re rebellious, we’re selfish, we’re too idealistic.

This march, with so many teenagers and young adults walking peacefully along side elder climate change advocates, demonstrated that if we seem rebellious, it’s because we’re passionate about this issue. If we seem selfish, it’s because climate change will affect our gen- eration and each one that follows—and we want our children to know we did everything we could to give them a healthy planet to grow up in. If we seem ideal- istic, it’s because we are. We truly believe that a drastic but coordinated effort by our governments and fellow citizens can help prevent catastrophic climate change.

For me, as a student of history and peace studies, what I appreciated most was that the march was non-violent, from start to finish. The-students were assertive, but peaceful, and that is the kind of action I hope to see more of in the world.

I walked alongside Sr. Sheila and her friend, Sr. Cecilia, in what must have been a very odd grouping of people: an American nun, a Filipina nun, and an Chinese-American student. Sr. Cecilia and I carried a sign that read “Laudato Si” in remembrance the encyclical, in which Pope Francis offered the Church’s promise to care the environment and for the integrity of creation.

Sr. Cecilia was a cool nun. I haven’t met many nuns in my life to compare her to, but I’d have to say that she’s probably the coolest nun alive. Not only was she there at a protest, a little old Filipina lady in a crowd full of Italian teenagers, but she would yell at them if they looked at us funny  (which they did, because like I said, we looked rather out of place).

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i don’t know what to do with my hands

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And she took invited me to lunch the Basilica Santa Sabina, her convent, after we inevitably got tired of walking slowly in a huge crowd for what felt like forever (a theme that I’ve found across the marches I’ve attended — they’re boring and slow most of the time). Between the walking during the march and the walking tour of the as the Aventine Hill Rose Garden on the way to Sr. Cecilia’s convent, I really got my steps in that day.

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stop and smell the roses

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That fifth day of work with Srs. Sheila and Cecilia captured fairly accurately my experience at the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission in Rome. During my internship, what I learned to expect was only this: the unexpected. One day I’d be dutifully making my way down a list of 100+ countries to compile research on their most pressing social and environmental issues; the next, I’d be shaking hands with the UK Ambassador to the Holy See and introducing myself.

But that was simply the culture of the office. Though the uncertainty was, at once, exhilarating and daunting, it quickly became part of just a normal day. Trying to tackle a massive issue like refugees fleeing the war in South Sudan when we were just a team of a few people in a small office in Rome could feel like an insurmountable challenge. Yet even though coordinating volunteer activities when we were not physically there in the community to see the impact of their actions could feel trying, it was also enlightening.  In a field like diplomacy or international aid, it doesn’t matter that a challenge feels insurmountable: it must be treated as if it is not.

More so than any language barrier or social norm, this was the cultural value that stunned me the most about this Italian office: their tenacity and optimism despite the misfortunes they worked in. It stunned me, but it also stuck with me.

So while the American in me chuckled internally at the irony of attending a strike with my boss, the developing Italian in me understood that this too was important work – the kind of work that could not be accomplished from a desk chair. Sometimes, you must go out into the streets to try to make a change, even if you are unsure if anything will ever come of your actions. With my broad interest in law and social justice, this internship gave me some insight on what it takes for change towards social justice to actually occur.

Sometimes it takes stuffing envelopes, because those envelopes contain information that may inspire a brother or sister to not just hear “the cry of the earth” or “the cry of the poor” – but to actually tend to it. Sometimes it takes protesting in the streets among a swarm of passionate and hopeful teenagers, because their nonviolent demonstration must speak louder than politicians’ special interests. Sometimes it takes hammering away at the computer keyboard on a 40+ page document that summarizes the shortcomings of over a hundred governments, because we have to acknowledge what is broken in order to fix it.

But if I’ve learned anything at the JPIC, it’s that just as important as whatit takes is whom. Who is needed to tend to the cries of the earth and the poor, to organize the nonviolent demonstration, to fix what is broken?

Anyone. Anyone at all: from the teenager in a gas mask marching next to you, to your beaming boss behind you, to you, a small but idealistic intern who somehow wound up on strike on her fifth day of work.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Dress: Thrifted (it’s good for the environment!)