Go Around the World with Emme!

by Maryann Pisano on September 26, 2011

St. Thomas

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Shim, 26

After college, I was given the opportunity to play basketball in St. Thomas.  It was a great experience because I was able to meet basketball players from all over the world.  Since I am from the Virgin Islands, it was very easy for to me to adjust.  All of my family besides my immediate family already lives there.  I was playing basketball for the University of Virgin Islands, so I was at the beach to practice and train.  The beaches were so beautiful that spending time there was so blissful.  Basketball is my passion, so being able to play my favorite sport at “home” was fantastic.  I met so many different people and built great friendships with them.

Popular music includes a lot of reggae or dance hall but some Western music is becoming popular, too.  Cuisine includes organic or home-grown foods.  Natural foods are included in every meal with a lot of fruits and vegetables.  Unlike the United States, there isn’t many fast foods restaurants.

The St. Thomas natives are EXTREMELY laid back and calm. They are a lot more friendly and willing to converse with strangers than Americans. It’s a small island so a lot of people know each other to some extent, but I guarantee if you walk down the street and pass 10 people you didn’t know, 9 of them would say hello or good afternoon. A lot of the people there are spiritual as well, most are Rastafarian or practice Christianity. They are very family oriented too.  St. Thomas is not only beautiful, but a warm and friendly place to call home.

St. Thomas


Bari, Italy

Bari, Italy

Mariangela, 25

I speak fluent Italian, so my friend invited me to go with her to Bari in Jan. 2011 to be a translator.  She wanted to reconnect with her second and third cousins who still live in Italy.  We flew from Chicago to Dallas and then from Dallas to Rome.  From Dallas to Rome, the flight was about 8 1/2 hours.

When finally arriving in Italy, we had the most amazing time.  I was so happy to be my friend’s voice when speaking with her relatives. She was extremely grateful that I helped her reconnect with her family.  In Italy, the lifestyle is so much more relaxed.  All businesses close at 12 p.m., and open again at 4 p.m. and close for the night at 8:00 p.m.  In America, it seems that people live to work.  But in Italy, people work to live.  They enjoy their time and definitely have a more relaxed work ethic and allow others to be late.  Everyone trusts everyone.  They see the sweetness in doing nothing and find the beautiful things in life.  And in Aug., all businesses close down for a month-long vacation!  Some life, huh?  Italians have an extremely passionate and loving culture.

Obviously, Italian cuisine is off the chart incredible.  Popular Barese dishes include patate riso e cozze, anything with orecchiette (pasta), le cime di rape, la focaccia, le braciole, il ragu’, il calzone di cipolle, le melenzane ripiene, i panzerotti, la frittata di zucchine, fagiolini con spaghetti, involtini, la pizza di patate, la parmigiana, il timballo (pasta a forno), baccala’, la burrata, la ricotta, le cartellate, i taralli,  and zuppa di mare.  I could go on forever!  Each village has their own special dish.  As for music, popular Italian artists are Fabri Fibra, Jovanotti, Gianna Nannini, Negramaro, Vasco Rossi, Tizinao Ferro, Giorgia, Zero Assoluto, Dolcenera, Eros Ramazzotti, Anna Tatangelo, Alex Britti, and Zucchero.

Italy is an amazing country and I could go on for pages if I was going to write about every aspect of its culture.  From the people, culture, food, art and music Italy has to be one of the most enriching experiences a person could have.

Bari, Italy


Sydney, Australia

 Sydney, Australia

Andrea, 38

My husband and I went to Australia for our honeymoon for two weeks.  We flew from L.A. to Sydney which was a thirteen hour flight.  Our airplane was top-notch so flying for all those hours was very fun and enjoyable.  For the first week, we went to the opera house and went to all the Sydney attractions.  Sydney has to be the cleanest city I’ve ever been in.  The aquarium, zoo,  and restaurants were all astounding!  The cuisine was delicious, and consisted of mostly seafood.

Since we went in the beginning of December, we were lucky enough to catch Australia’s summer.  We definitely weren’t used to 110 degree weather with Christmas decorations everywhere.  We also found it bizarre that kangaroos roam the streets like squirrels do here!  The trip was definitely not cheap, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we will never forget.  Everyone there was so friendly and loved American tourists.

Sydney, Australia


Sarah (middle) and friends in London, England

London, England

Sarah, 20

I went to London my junior year of high school.  My school’s English department offered the trip and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see a new culture!  Going to London, it had to be the worst flight of my life.  It was seven hours with the worst turbulence.  However, the town of London was totally worth it!  When we were there, we got to see amazing historical sites such as Jane Austen’s house, where Anne Boleyn was beheaded, an ancient Roman bath, The Globe, and many other Shakespearean land marks.  We also saw English attractions such as Big Ben, Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace.  Unfortunately, Prince William wasn’t home.  Maybe if he met me he would’ve married me instead of Kate! :)  All in all, everything in London was so sophisticated.  In the countryside, I couldn’t believe how hilly and green everything was.

The worst part of the trip was the food.  I tried the fish and chips, which was tasty, but don’t go to London for the cuisine.  People in the small towns were friendly, but not so much in London.  They were a little snooty to American tourists, but that did not ruin the trip for me.  Nothing beat sipping tea in the middle of London with my best friends!

Sarah (far right) with friends in London



 Istanbul, Turkey

Barbara, 22

As a graduation present, my aunt surprised me with an exotic trip to Turkey!  We flew from Boston to Paris and Paris to Istanbul which was a ten hour flight.  I was fascinated by this new way of life and new culture.  The language that was spoken there is Turkish, and 99% of the country is Muslim.  Because of this, they pray five times a day for 10-15 minutes.  We were able to witness a Muslim funeral service which was wonderful.

Turkey is not as wealthy as America, but is rich in art and food.  Their diet consists of delicious Mediterranean (mostly Greek) food.

I saw so many fascinating things in Turkey.  My favorite was the museum, Kanoya, which had breathtaking artwork, and the Turkish Riviera.  However, the most astounding thing I saw was where Virgin Mary died, Moses’ cane, and King Midas’ grave.  Although the heat was a little brutal, I would love to return to Turkey!  It was an awesome place to visit and I cannot wait to return one day.


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