Today marks my month-aversary since I arrived in Rome. But seeing as this is my first post, I think it would be best to contribute my first experience to arriving in Rome, and how so much has changed since then. After an exhausting 13 hour flight, the airline losing my luggage, and me sweating in jean pants on a hot summer day, I had finally made it to Rome. I was more than ready to relax and take a nap in the apartment I would be staying in for the next three months. My shuttle driver took me on a fantastic tour of the city, which kept me in a better spirit. However, I was less than amused at the size of my apartment – it consisted of three rooms: a bathroom, the bedroom area, and a living room/kitchen/dining area. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be living in luxury, but it seemed a bit small to be sharing with two other roommates. To be honest, I already wanted to go home.
After taking a nap and meeting one of my roommates, we took the metro and went to an orientation held at the University. After meeting some amazing people, and eating even more amazing pizza, a group of us too the long way back to our apartment building. As I was walking back, I fell in love with the unique building structures, the multiple boutiques, and of course the gelato. My apartment was less than a ten minute walk to the Vatican. How absurd was it to complain about the size of my apartment when I was in such an amazing city? I came to realize that that was my first bit of culture shock when coming to Italy. I think as Americans (though I can’t speak for everyone), we put more value on obtaining things that we can show off to people, like big houses and fancy cars. The impression I have of Italians so far is that they don’t need what they can’t really use. My apartment has all the essentials, and honestly there shouldn’t really be that much to complain about. I have the opportunity to travel, shop and eat to my heart’s desire, as well as talking about and seeing all the magnificent pieces of art and museums that normally I would only get to see in a textbook. It is such a small price to pay in order to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Now, a month later, I am more than accustomed to my apartment and to Rome. I’ve made great friends, mastered the Metro, and even had conversations with Romans (albeit in broken Italian). There are some things that will still take a while to get used to though, like the breathtaking view of the Italian countryside, or the fact that Italians always greet each other with a hug and a kiss on each cheek (I am far too awkward to pull that off). It is completely thrilling to wake up knowing that each day is an adventure and enchanting in its own way. There are plenty of times that I miss my family dearly and wish they were here with me, but I can tell that this experience is already shaping me into an open-minded person that I always hoped to be. And now, to be totally cheesy, I’ll end this post with a quote I recently read that resonates with the traveler in me:
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine