Reflecting on the past four months, I’m finding it surreal to believe this whirlwind journey is coming to an end.
In some ways, it feels like I’ve been in Rome forever. Everything from the walk I take to my favorite bookstore to the smell of fresh cornetti feels so familiar to me. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing my friends here every day, sitting in a certain chair in Italian class, buying lunch from my favorite deli on the walk to school. It’s strange to think that these are all habits that I’ve adopted over the course of only a few months here. The city of Rome, once an overwhelming mystery to me, now feels like my own, filled with memories of daily adventures exploring such a historic and lively city. I anticipate bus delays, have no fear when stepping boldly into the intersection for cars to stop, and know when and where to find the best farmers markets in the city. Speaking Italian with strangers is no longer daunting. Eating pizza, pasta, and panini for the majority of my meals feels like the norm.
On the other hand, I can’t believe how quickly it all flew by, and my last week in Rome was packed with things that I’d been meaning to do all semester—split a meat board the length of three tables from Ciocco e Bacco, visit the ruins at Palazzo Valentini, try traditional Napoletana pizza, sip cappuccinos by the water in Piazza Cavour, pick up last minute souvenirs for family and friends. There are certain restaurants I’ve walked by all semester, intending on one day going in, that I now realize I’ll never get to try.
At the farewell pizza party, my déjà vu was so striking that I could hardly believe it had been four months since the welcome pizza party on our first night here, jet lagged, nervous, and mesmerized by the city. My last morning coffee at the cafe I visited most mornings was particularly bittersweet. The owners gave me hugs and a double espresso shot for the price of a single, and although we said goodbye with “ci vediamo,” we didn’t really know when or if we would in fact see each other again. Saying goodbye to the Italian university students who’ve worked in my Italian class as tutors all semester was also emotional. None of us were ready to think about when we would next see our new friends.
However, despite the semester’s passing in the blink of an eye, I’m leaving Rome with full confidence that I made the most out of my four months here. I’ve explored the city, made new friends (both American and Italian), and immersed myself in Italian culture. I’ll treasure the memories I’ve made here, along with the Temple Rome merchandise I won from filling out a feedback form and the cookbook I bought myself as a souvenir. I look forward to the day that I return to Rome to show others around and rediscover the winding streets I’ve fallen in love with this semester.