This is going to be a short blog post, really just an “in-between” one travel destination to the next, but it was my final exam in Italy (and of junior year…eek!) so I felt it deserved a little attention.

So the day was Saturday, June 10th, and I had just left Amsterdam to head back home for my Administration and Political Policy exam scheduled for…that Monday. That gave me less than 48 hours to study because, let’s be honest, I wasn’t studying in the Netherlands?! (Much to the disapprovement of my father…). So obviously I needed things to go smoothly, to get back ASAP and start this test prep. I thought the trip was going to go well, walking up to a robot-like bag drop with the contentment of modern technology. Well modern technology my ass, and bye-bye checked bag (which I was made to check because the flight was full). I landed in Italy, sans-everything, sleep-deprived, and oh-so stressed. #TravelingWithSnydz is always an adventure.

But I didn’t let it get me down, as I was going to see Sarah (AKA Mom) and get a final sushi dinner with her. Plus, 6 months living in Europe means I’m a little more easy-going and flexible, and a lot less high maintenance. DID YOU HEART THAT MOM!? IT’S POSSIBLE!!! Hell has officially frozen over.

Okay back to the important part (the sushi, obviously, what were you thinking?).

So Italy isn’t exactly a place known for their sushi, and yah the quality is less than stellar, but it’s All-You-Can-Eat for under 20 EURO and honestly that’s how God intended it. Plus look how cute it looks???


Sunday was pretty uneventful, just reviewing the (many) slides from my class (and in Italian), but the real fun started around 4 am when I realized it was going to be a near all-nighter to get this information down. Note to self: don’t attempt to learn a semester’s worth of information in 36 hours and in another language. You will end with neither your dignity nor your sanity.


I think this picture sums up my sentiments well enough.


The Italian schooling system is already very strange in general, but the exams are the weirdest part. To remind y’all of the process (or to teach any newcomers to this blog…what’s up y’all, thanks for being fans!!!), we don’t have tests in Italy. There are no quizzes, projects, homework assignments, nothing; you merely have assigned reading and a final exam. That final exam is general oral, really just a one-on-one conversation between you and your professor to whatever question he or she may decide to ask you. Could you study practically everything but they ask you the one question you don’t know? Yes. Could you study practically nothing but they ask you the one question you do know? Also yes.

Seems like a flawed system, don’t you think?

Your final grade is out of 30, with arbitrary conversions back to American grades depending on your university. This exam was a little different, as many political science courses at the university are written. Mine had four questions, three of which I needed to answer (one of which I could toss away and thank God that was the case). Each would be graded out of 30 and the final grade would be an average of the three. I finished it with a 27, which translates to a B+ at Notre Dame. For a really difficult political science course in another language in another country, I’ll gladly take that.

And with the final grading of an exam (and a little sleep-deprived insanity), I AM A SENIOR!!! Peace out Italian schooling system.

*this was my happy dance*

To celebrate and to say Goodbye, Sarah and I went out for one final dinner together, as she was going back to the States and I was about to leave for southern Italy. And boy, did we treat ourselves! Passing through one last gorgeous Bologna sunset, a few markets, fresh Italian seafood, and an incredible bottle of wine, it was a good Last Supper.

We decided to go to one of our favorite bars there, an pub called “English Empire”, to see a jazz performance by some people Sarah knew. It was a bittersweet final night, but she sure had a fun Mom’s Night Out (and a sad morning of saying goodbye…I literally wouldn’t let go of her).


But luckily an exciting Tuesday was waiting for me, as Ashley and I got to start the first leg of our nine-day trip to southern Italy! We had a lot scheduled in a short period of time (seventeen trains, if we’re counting), but we were both so excited for the awesome journey ahead (and all of the food, of course).

Stay tuned to hear all about it!


Until next post…




– Alex