I have now been in Rome for 14 days and there is only one thing to say about it: ciao bella. Every winding road that I go through or crevice that I get lost in leads me into a new adventure, whether with new friends, people I’ve gotten closer with, or just strangers that I pass by. Even mundane tasks have a sort of joie de vive to them, and I feel myself slowly relaxing much like the Italians around me.
Of course many of my expectations were distorted, but I think just being grateful for all the beauty around me was enough to push me through some of my preconceived disappointments.
There were definitely some cultural disparities that I had to push myself out of from media, articles, etc– *cough Lizzie McGuire Movie cough*. And although I didn’t find a twin who was Italian pop star (yet) I am excited about the fact that I get a whole semester to explore and learn.
Even in this short time of being here I have adapted to Roman life around me. How did I do so you may ask? Easy. I have been observing the locals here and been open to trying new experiences. Now I am unabashed by my right to walk in front of cars with confidence while being calm, cool, and collected the whole time through. When stores are closed for their siesta I do as Gianni suggests, get a cappuccino and take one of my own. And YES, I do drink coffee here! I know it is a surprise to me as well, but do not fret because I saturate the warm liquid with sugar. Just a word of wisdom; latte means milk in Italian.
Some tips that I would have for other study abroad students, and this applies for anyone traveling with a group, take advantage of the activities that the school provides. So far during this trip I have wandered through Todi, Titinagno, La Sapienza (the oldest college in Rome, translates to “the knowledge”), gotten a tour throughout Rome, and walked around the historic city of Rome (20 kilos). This is how you get to meet the students who are experiencing almost the same sense of wonder and enchantment that a new city has to offer. Think of it almost like freshmen year again, everyone is dumped into a new arena and instead of fending for oneself isn’t it better to create alliances and collaborate with those around you? One of my favorite mottos is that you get as much as you put into something and this applies so much to studying abroad.
Don’t be afraid to walk around by yourself and get lost because chances are that is when you find the best local café or just stumble onto the Pantheon. Be open to meeting people and if someone isn’t too fond of you treat yourself with a gelato and go on a walk. I guarantee that your awe and amazement will dissipate any negative thoughts.