I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it already, but back home, I have 5 roommates. We’ve been together since freshman year, and although we technically do not all live under the same roof anymore, we still call ourselves roommates. Those girls are my people; we do just about everything together, so being apart from them this semester has been a learning experience!! Two of my roommates, though, are studying abroad in the UK, so luckily, we are in just about the same time zone–which has made communication a lot easier! After our program ends, I am planning on visiting them at their respective study abroad locations, but this past weekend, one of my roommates surprised me with a last-minute trip to Rome!!
Ali, my roommate, came up to Rome for a day and a half, and at first I was worried that this wouldn’t be enough time, but I was proved wrong. Luckily, Ali has been to Rome before, so I didn’t feel pressured to “show her Rome in a day,” which, believe me, is nearly impossible and involves more walking than you could imagine. We decided to keep the sight-seeing to a minimum, and instead focused more on walking the winding, narrow roads of Rome. To be honest, though, I think that just walking around Rome counts as sight-seeing in and of itself. In Rome, the landscape can change in an instant: you can turn one corner and see beautiful vines on the side of a building, and the next corner you might see an example of Fascist architecture from the early 20th century. It’s always changing, and that’s what I love about this city!!
Having people come visit is always fun, because I want to show them all my favorite spots, and take them to fun restaurants (plus, you have an excuse for buying gelato twice a day!). What I didn’t realize, though, is how it would feel to have Ali here in Rome with me. When I picked her up from her hotel, the instant we saw each other, we ran over to each other and had the best reunion hug ever. I immediately felt such relief and a comfort I didn’t realize I was missing. Ali, being the extremely caring and involved roommate that she is, immediately looked at me and said, “Okay, start from the beginning. Tell me everything.” And so our weekend began like that. We swapped stories from each of our respective programs, and we shared all the ways in which we are growing, what we are currently learning, and all the things we are working through. That night, we ate traditional Italian pasta dishes, cacio e pepe and spaghetti carbonara, and everything felt right in the world.
I loved having Ali here in Rome because I got to share a piece of my new home with someone I love very much. Just a short day and a half made up for entire semester apart. It was good to be able to revert back into our normal girl talk, and to see all the positive ways in which Ali’s study abroad program has changed her. As I was talking to Ali, I could recognize the positive changes in myself, too. Having Ali here also made me excited to think about how we are going to take what we’ve learned abroad back home with us. When you’re abroad, you’re living in an isolated space, where the typical distractions from home are not present. But now that our time in Rome is winding down, I am starting to prepare myself for returning to life in the U.S. It will certainly be interesting, but I feel good knowing that what I’ve learned here will stick with me forever.