I cannot express how happy I am that Spring has sprung in Rome. The weather is simply beautiful. The temperature has been in the 70’s everyday and the sun is almost always out. THIS is the weather I was promised in Rome and have been appreciating every moment of it. There is, however, a minor downfall to the coming of this wonderful weather. Now that spring has sprung, so has another season: tourist season. In the past couple of weeks, Rome has simply exploded with visitors from all different places. As hard as it was in the earlier part of the semester to not seem like a tourist myself, it is even harder now.
The Vatican City is packed with visitors, especially on this Easter weekend, there are tour buses on every street, and metro cars filled to the brim with people looking over their maps and tour books. Often I will get stuck walking behind a school group or a guided tour. It is actually nice to see a different aspect of Rome, but it makes me realize what an unusual position I am in while here. To Italians, I look like a tourist, especially when I am wearing my giant backpack that I carry to and from school (which is especially awkward when I get stuck behind a school group. I really look like a tourist when that happens). The thing is I am not a tourist. I have been living here for the past 3 months and I know the city. I know the good places to eat, shop and how to use the public transportation to get where I need to go. I’ve adjusted to the culture and count Rome as my overseas home. But, while I am not a tourist, I am not an Italian either. I do not know enough of the language to speak it fluently and sadly I will be leaving this great city in a little over 2 weeks. I am left stuck in this strange middle position that, I must say makes me feel a bit alienated; where do I as a study abroad student fit?.
The thing I have enjoyed about this situation is that it does put me in great position to help tourists in certain situations. Most of the tourists I have encountered speak at least a little English, and when they are in need of assistance figuring out how to get somewhere I have the knowledge of the city that has been my home to be able to help them. It feels good being able to lead people in the right direction, unlike when Italians ask me for directions and I usually either don’t know what they asked me or don’t know how to tell them in Italian how to get where they need to go.
When it comes down to it, the most important thing is really that I know that I am not just a tourist who is in Rome for a short time. And though I have little time left, I can take each moment as an opportunity to immerse myself even more in Italian culture so that when I leave I can say that I not only visited Italy, I lived there.