Before my trip, everyone told me it’d be difficult to keep up with all the blogging I had planned on doing – I didn’t really believe them until I actually got here.
Needless to say, my first week and a half in Rome have been a whirlwind. From being homesick, to my luggage not making my connection flight, to being overwhelmed with orientation to-dos, to trying to overcome jetlag, it was non-stop negative experiences. I began to question if I’d made the right choice – surely it would have been so much easier if I had stayed in Madison. But then my roommates and I stepped out to explore the winding cobblestone streets of our neighborhood, and I instantly felt at home.
I know, it sounds insanely cheesy, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is just something about the way the simplistic, tight-knit way of life here that instantly puts you at ease. Shop owners greet you with a warm buongiorno, groups of Italian friends walk arm-in-arm as they dodge puddles and mopeds, and the Trasevere restaurants are advertised by what they sell rather than who they are (like my favorite gelateria in the neighborhood, which took me days to find out is named “Checco Er Carettiere”).
To add to the feeling of belonging, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been stopped on the street by lost Italians asking for directions. It’s a fantastic, unexpected feeling that leaves you a little tongue-tied (especially when you have an extremely limited knowledge of the language). As a rule of thumb for future Rome students who have a limited knowledge of Italian – a sympathetic no lo so goes a long way.
There are still a lot of culture shocks to get used to, such as not eating until 9 at night or having to pay extra at cafes to sit at a table, but every day it’s getting more and more natural. Instincts develop along the way (I’ve already made bets with friends that I will spend my first few weeks back in America instinctively saying grazie instead of “thank you”) and adjusting to the Roman way of life gets easier every day. It’s almost strange how quickly I’m feeling at home here. It took me months to get adjusted to being away at college, and that was only a few hours away from home. Here I am, multiple time zones away, and it took me less than 36 hours.
I’m bracing myself for a second round of homesickness to hit, but in the meantime, I’m just going to keep exploring all that Roma has to offer me and leave you with some pictures of a few of my favorite sites.