Ciao from Roma! I’m Mackenzie Krott, a junior at Temple University spending my fall semester in the beautiful Eternal City. Two weeks have quickly flown by since I landed in Rome, and I am slowly starting to get adjusted to this wonderful new city and culture. Since this is my first time out of the country, I came into this experience open-minded, eager, and excited to dive into the Roman lifestyle. Myself, along with the other Temple Rome students have been so lucky to be a part of a program that offers us so many opportunities. As written about in previous posts, the Temple Rome staff has done a great job in getting us accustomed to life in Rome and beyond. Things like the day trip to medieval town of Todi followed by a 12-course meal at the estate of Titignano, The University of Rome tour, culture discussions, and a cooking demonstration have really helped to ease our transitions.
As the title of my post suggests, the most important thing I’ve learned here so far is to truly live like a Roman. I received some great advice from the study abroad staff at the orientation that was held over the summer at Temple, and that advice was to simply watch how the people around you are acting and then try to do the same. I’ve been trying to do that over the past two weeks, and although I’ve had a few tricky and/or embarrassing moments, it’s really been helping. I’m hoping that this imitation of the people around me will start turning into natural, unforced actions that will lead me to live and act like a true Roman. Another thing that I have realized here is that a little bit of Italian and A LOT of manners go a very long way with the people of Rome. Whether it be in a market, bus, or museum, if you show that you are willing to try and speak Italian, most people will respond very positively to you.
My best example of this comes from my first experience walking into a tiny grocery store, on my first day in Rome. Myself and some of my roommates ventured down the street near the residence to a little corner grocery store, just three hours after arriving in Rome. Besides the shuttle ride from the airport, this was my absolute first interaction with Italians. We needed a few cleaning supplies and food to get us through the day, which sounds so simple. We found ourselves standing around, not knowing which products were what, not knowing what kind of meat we should order, and clearly not understanding what any of the local Romans were saying around us. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I stumbled through enough words to order some prosciutto, mozzarella, and bread, said “grazie” and “ciao” way too many times, then quickly exited. Not only was I embarrassed, but I felt like I was so rude not being able to communicate. The two men working were very nice, and didn’t seem offended, but I knew that I needed to improve. The following day I went back the store alone and had quite a different experiment. The two men greeted me and one said in broken English, “Hi! You came back! Did you like the prosciutto?” I almost fell over! They were happy that I came back! I proceeded to apologize for my poor Italian and explained to them that I just arrived and am excited to learn the language. The same man replied, “You don’t apologize, this is my job and I love it. You tried your best!” And then went on to suggest his favorite prosciutto for me to try. I left feeling so relieved and happy knowing that they weren’t offended by my broken Italian and am determined to go back into that store on my last day in Rome and tell them in Italian how happy they made me feel that day and that I appreciated their kindness so much.
So for now, I will continue getting adjusted to life in Rome, and will hopefully have more positive experiences to share in the future! Ciao for now!