“Roma Roma Roma, core de stà città, unico grande amore!”
I rocked back and forth to the singing sea of maroon and gold. As the Roma anthem rang around me, scarves were held up proudly, adorned with the she-wolf emblem of Roma. Flags waved in the distance. And in front of me, the green soccer field stretched out with figures of men dressed in corresponding maroon and gold uniforms.
From the moment my friends and I stepped off the tram and followed the crowd of people to the Stadio Olimpico, I knew that there was something special about watching the Roma soccer team play. I have never been an overwhelmingly enthusiastic sports fan, but there is something so communal about rooting for and attending a game of a team you’re somehow connected to. Walking past the pop-up tent shops that proudly displayed the jerseys of beloved Roma players and food trucks blasting upbeat music, I felt as though I was eight again, walking into the Eagles stadium with my dad and younger sister to watch a football game. This energetic environment felt a little like home.
Whether you’re in Philadelphia or in Rome, the energy of a large group of people all rooting for the same team for different, personal reasons is a moving, almost inspiring sensation. Everyone is swept up in the emotions of what is yet to come — of the collective jumps of excitement when your team scores, or the shouts of disapproval at a bad call. Honestly, watching a sports game that you’re invested in requires a certain emotional investment as well. It’s part of why everyone justifies the reasons why their team is their team – you have to justify it if you’re going to feel pain at your team’s loss or pure joy at their victory.
And getting swept up in that collective rush of emotion for the Roma team was exhilarating. But it was more than just the rush of excitement after each goal. It was the realization that Rome has become another home for me. I didn’t feel like a fraud cheering on the team because I live in Rome! I know, I know — such an acute realization to have at a soccer game, of all places. However, it was a bit of an a-ha moment for me.
After the 10-week period, it’s common for many students to feel a little overwhelmed about studying abroad and plenty homesick. So many other people I have talked to over the past week have expressed similar desires to wrap up the semester and to head back to the comforts of home. I was experiencing this wave of homesickness over this past week and sighed out loud every time I thought of making it through 5 more weeks.
Little did I know that I needed a Roman soccer game to remember why I chose to study abroad in the first place. Being a part of a community that is different from what you have known your whole life is invigorating — and being able to cheer for a team not from Philly and not feel guilty about it is also something quite noteworthy. I am so grateful to call Rome my home for another 5 weeks.