As my 3rd week comes to a close, it’s tough not to reflect on the time I’ve spent in Rome up to this point. Since my program is only 4 weeks, a lot of work and experiences are condensed into a short amount of time, and considering this is the first year of implementation, many aspects are experimental. However, with proper planning and determination, any time of adjustment can be made easier.
My class, Honors Mosaics II, typically meets in the classroom for a few hours once a week (Wednesday) for in-class discussions on our texts. We generally read one book or major text per week and write notes and discussion posts about them. Furthermore, on Tuesday and Thursday, the whole class goes to a unique site in Rome which pertains to the text for that week. For instance, we visited The Vatican this past week in anticipation of reading Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, which we then discussed in class this past Wednesday. In this way, not only do we get to delve deep into the locations and texts, but we also get to explore every major part of Rome as a class, with all entrance fees and transportation passes included in the course fee. As a result, I get ample time on the weekends to travel outside of Rome to other Italian cities. Having visited Florence, Pisa, Milan, and Venice with my parents when they visited this past weekend, I certainly packed in a lot into a short amount of time. Nonetheless, the experience of touring all over the northern half of the country was amazing, and I even got to incorporate my travels in my class discussions!
As with any new place, there is a certain level of adjustment one needs to make to attain comfort. In Rome (and Italy in general), it is common for many stores and residences to not have A/C, so I find myself having to increasingly get by with fans. I did anticipate this, however, and prepared by living at home with no A/C the month before I flew in. What I had not anticipated as much, however, was how much I would have to plan for water. Since water isn’t free here, and in fact can be quite expensive at a restaurant or cafe, I find myself carrying a full water bottle with me everywhere I go. Thankfully, Temple Rome has a great water fountain in the building, and there are public fountains with clean water located all over the city. Surprisingly enough, the language adjustment – which many think to be the biggest one – was one I didn’t have much trouble with, partially because of my background in Spanish. While I don’t speak Italian well at all, Google Translate has helped in my endeavors to learn. In a pinch, I can use it to look up a phrase or ask a question, and as such I’ve quickly learned the most essential phrases (ex. where is, how much, how long). It even gives me the option to save the Italian language offline for translations when I don’t have service! Of course, Google Maps has helped me tremendously as well, as it provides all necessary transit directions in every Italian city, and can also be saved offline.
As I approach my final week, there’s a strange bittersweet feeling slowly creeping into me. I’m definitely at a point where I miss being home in my familiar surroundings, but at the same time the reality that I’ll have to leave the wondrous adventure that is Rome is certainly disappointing. Fortunately, it’s nothing a good cup of gelato can’t solve! Our class this week will have visited the mysterious Catacombs of Callixtus, as well as the beautiful Museum of Villa Borghese. I’ll also be flying to Sicily this weekend with my roommate as well as visiting Bologna, so I still have some adventure ahead of me!