This past Sunday marked a full month here in Rome. A full month!! The time here has flown by, but at the same time, it seems like everything has settled into itself slowly, if that makes sense. My patterns and routines are set: I wake up for class every day (hitting the snooze button 3 to 5 times, given the day…), grab a croissant and banana on my way to school, stare in awe at the Tiber River as I cross the bridge that leads to campus, attend my classes, and then once I’m finished for the day, either walk or take the metro home. This may seem like repetitive schedule, but it couldn’t be further from that. Yes, there is a basic structure to each of my days, but no two days are the same. There are detours to make, people to meet, and encounters to have. There is a structure, but the exact content is not set.
A lot has happened in a month. I have made some goofy mistakes, like walking for an hour and a half to find a store that was only 5 minutes from my original starting point. I have met some amazing people and have heard their stories, like the immigrant-turned-club-promoter named Tony, who danced with us on the bus as we tried to find our way home and reminded me and my friends that “together, we are all the same.” I have become friends with locals, like Andrea, who works at Oldbridge, a gelato shop near the Vatican. I have started a conversation exchange with high school students at Mamiani School, through a program Temple Rome runs. Slowly but surely, my Italian is picking up, and I am becoming better at communicating my thoughts, words, and basic needs to people around me (thank goodness). Like I said, things are settling into themselves slowly.
I think the biggest thing I am learning is how to embrace this adventure that is right in front of me. At home, I am certainly extroverted, but it is also very easy for me to revert into a shell if I want to. When I am abroad, clinging to this shell can feel all the more tempting, as I come up with a thousand excuses for why I should just keep to myself. But this week, at a panel hosted by the Temple Rome Student Affairs Coordinators, we heard from some Temple Rome graduates who are still living in Rome. They reminded us that our time here is special, because for the most part, we will never see most of these people again. What they meant by this was that there is freedom in knowing that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. There is freedom in knowing that we can mess up, embarrass ourselves, and even fail, because our adventures will stay here in Rome, like tiny secrets only we have to know. We are free to take risks without fear of judgement, and as a perfectionist and over-analyzer, that is concept very foreign to me. But I am learning to embrace this concept and live it. Fully and authentically.
My journey home is my favorite part of the day because it feels like my stillest moment. There is something about sunset here in Rome. It happens around 5:30 PM, when most people are going home from work, but it doesn’t feel anything like a typical American rush hour. Everything slows down, and the sun sets just right. Maybe it’s the way the buildings frame the sun, as if they are positioned so that the sun isn’t beating down on you, but rather guiding you. There is a peace yet rush of energy that you can feel, and no matter what has happened that day, things feel right. We are winding down in the way we should, grateful for another day here. Yesterday on my walk home I couldn’t help but pause to think about this opportunity I’ve been given. It’s only been a month, and we still have two and a half more ahead of us, but I know it will fly by. Therefore, I want to treasure things now before time starts moving too fast. Grazie, Roma, for being home this past month. Can’t wait for more.