Every day I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have this study abroad experience. Living in Rome is amazing, the culture and sights are fantastic and the food is beyond delicious. Each day feels like an adventure, I am always trying to explore new places and of course eat as many different things as my stomach and wallet can allow. The other afternoon a friend and I wandered into the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, which is known for their pastries and fried artichokes. I tried and loved both. No matter how odd or unfamiliar a food is to you, you’ll never know how great it is until you try it. You’re in the eternal city, they have been doing things right in Rome for a very long time.
As for the Romans, they love when you try their local specialties. When I was in the Jewish ghetto, I spotted a beautiful fruit filled loaf of bread in a bakery window. Walking in, I saw a man taking a bite of this baked good and my eyes lit up. He knew I was after the same thing as him. Kindly, he smiled and explained what the bread was. This color loaf is called pizza ebraica and is a sweet dough holding together dried fruits and nuts. So good.
It is moments like these that I am glad I can somewhat easily communicate with local residents without knowing much Italian. Everyone living in Rome has a common bond, a love for the city and all the perks it offers. Italians love to share their joys, they want you to authentically revel in Rome’s offerings. Whether it’s food, art, museums, piazzas, etc. they want you to experience their versions of the city. Strike up conversations, ask them questions and recommendations, listen to their insights. They’ll always have a lot to say once they get started. If the thought of speaking to Italians in the beginning of your trip is intimidating (yes, they do typically speak very fast and loud), ask Temple Rome’s student coordinators and professors for recommendations. They have a plethora of knowledge about Rome.
As much as I am loving this experience, I (and other students) need to remember that study abroad does include the word study in it… With so many experiences waiting to be had, it can be challenging to focus on school work. Midterms are looming around the corner, and school is back to being a higher priority. My best recommendation for interested students doing study abroad: pick classes that are about Italian culture and get you out of the classroom. Many of my courses attend museums and spend a lot of time touring, so school work doesn’t feel like work. Just be sure to check your syllabi; I have missed a few assignment deadlines due to my lax attitude on homework. Remember this is still a balancing act, just like every other semester. There is time to focus on studies and then a time to get out and try the recommendations the Romans bestow upon us.