I’m here in Rome on a tight budget, and the words “free” and “cheap” have taken on a new meaning to me this semester. I am a lot more aware of how much I am spending on things and whether I am getting/doing things I need to do versus what I want to do. Even though I feel like I’ve only been spending my money on the necessary things like school supplies, food, and transportation…I am still seeing a dramatic decline in my bank account. I guess losing about thirty cents on every euro I spend here really adds up quicker than I anticipated. Due to my scarce funds, I have found things to do that are free or pretty close to it.
My first free thing that I love doing is Bible Study with a group of new friends every Wednesday night. It’s a time for us all to get together and leave the stresses of school work behind us for a moment and come together in worship and prayer. This is an unofficial group that has only met for two weeks so far but it is turning out to be a great success. In fact, this past week we all met in Saint Peter’s Square in front of the Vatican. It was a brisk fall evening and I loved having this atmosphere of love and acceptance while listening to church bells and water fountains in the background.
Temple Rome recently hosted an event called “Round Table with Italians” where they invited a diverse mix of local Italians to come talk with us students about life in Rome. It was great to sit in and listen to the exchanges and stories between the many individuals that came out. Afterwards, everyone was treated to an informal dessert reception where we could continue to socialize and mingle with each other. I was lucky enough to start talking to one of the girls named Caterina, and she exchanged contact information with me and a few others that were talking with us. Hopefully we will be able to keep in touch and possibly get together so she can show us the city through a different perspective.
The last Sunday of each month, many of Rome’s museums are open to the public for free. However, there are some that are open every day for free, and I decided to take advantage of visiting one that I had heard about through a friend from home. It’s called the Capuchan Bone Museum and it’s in a crypt of Santa Maria della Immaculata which is located a block from the Barberini metro stop. When I got there I was amazed at what I was looking at. Bones of old monks and friars were lined up in geometrical patterns throughout a corridor of the church. It was a surreal experience to see perfectly preserved human bones, and I definitely recommend that people check it out when in Rome.
Finally, I always keep my eyes peeled for events that are happening around the area. Luckily I spotted a gallery opening flyer for world famous artist Kiki Smith. Many of the studio art majors and I decided to go and it turned out to be an amazing experience. Not only were we able to enjoy seeing her artwork in a personal setting, but we were also treated to live entertainment and free drinks. However, the cherry on top was getting to meet Kiki Smith herself! She was so nice and extremely down to earth. Although we didn’t talk long, she seemed really inspiring and motivational as she talked to us about how we are studying fine art in Rome.
So there you have it. Those are just four different experiences I have had in Rome that have put no dent in my pocket whatsoever. Well, they do say…”The best things in life are free!”