A wise friend once told me: “Expect the unexpected, but prepare for everything.” What a bewildering statement I thought–how can I possibly do both of those things at once? Well, I think I understand his advise now. After ringing in the new year, I became terribly ill. I spent the first three weeks of January in bed and on the couch, leaving only for medical reasons. I feared my opportunity to study abroad would have to be cancelled and I would be stuck in central PA off for the semester. I soon prepared for the worst… I felt awful. After I just about gave up all my Roman hopes for this spring, the unexpected happened: I recovered.
After missing orientation week and the first week of classes at Temple Rome, I just made the deadline to get my *healthy* self to Rome. I kept the study abroad office in Philadelphia updated on my health and whereabouts, and they informed Temple Rome. So when I shared my great recovery news, I was instantly receiving warm emails from the Temple Rome student coordinating staff. It was too easy. I was instructed what to do once I landed in Italy, who my roommates were (surely they assumed I was a no show) and my professors were contacted on my behalf about my absence. I had nothing to worry about besides beating the great northeast snow storm that loomed around the same time as my departing flight.
I am surely disappointed to miss the orientation events–believe me I was excited for the trip to Todi and learning how to make the beloved tiramisu. I knew coming late would make me culturally behind my classmates, who had two weeks of roaming around Italy and experiences already made. I spent my time reading books and blogs to catch up. Since food is an interest of mine, reading Elizabeth Minchilli’s book “Eating Rome” was a pleasure (I also recommend reading her blog). She shared tips on Italian food
culture, which varied from how a bar in Italy is actually a coffee shop and when you order your caffeinated beverage be sure to keep your receipt. When shopping at open markets, do not pick up the produce but point to what you want… also this not the time to bargain. Unlike in the States, Italians don’t eat their meals on the go besides for three things: pizza bianca, panino (sandwich) or gelato.
With a little research and help from roommates, my first weekend in Rome consisted of multiple walking tours around Residenza Candia and Temple Rome. I experienced the great food, fast drivers and the charm of Rome. Not to mention the fantastic gelato. I don’t care if I am wearing a winter coat and chilled, gelato is always amazing. Although I haven’t been here long, I have already seen the classic tourist spots: the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. I look forward to spending the semester here and discovering the hidden gems of the eternal city.