As someone who enjoys nightlife—music, great food, new people, iridescent lights—I was incredibly excited to get to know the nightlife of a new European city. One of the primary ways that I become acquainted with the cities I travel to is via their nightlife scenes. The way that folks pass their free time, socialize and relax, for me, contextualizes the city’s overall climate and vibe. When I arrived in Rome, I quickly learned of a shortlist of venues that I was told I had to go to. I began making my rounds, hopping from place to place, and felt an overall feeling of disappointment. I was so excited to see Italian ragazzi clad in their smart European fashion, chatting over aperitivo, but instead I saw the same sweaty, frat boys in their Vineyard Vines collared shirts and heard the same music that I heard in America. I was ultimately confused—there couldn’t be this many Americans in Rome that the nightlife scene was entirely overrun by them. I then grew to learn that there existed a partition here—the venues you hear about most are probably the ones you want to go to least.
I dug into Facebook and spoke with my friends who had been in Rome longer and learned of a laundry list of more traditionally European venues and experiences that presented a different vibe, such as traditional Italian restaurants and opera houses. Many Americans still can be found at these places, but they are the Americans who are committed to traveling to Rome to see Rome, rather than going to Rome to recreate their offsite American paradise. Suddenly, my nightlife world opened up. I felt excited to participate because I knew I would hear a new song, meet a new person from Milano or Berlino and most importantly, create memories that I could not have created had I stayed in America this semester. My favorite part of going out here is that when you meet someone new, or you bump into someone on your walk to the bathroom, there is an endless amount of incentive to not just greet one another but learn about the other person’s background, culture, and what brought them to Rome. Meeting folks visiting from North Africa and practicing my French with a Francophone person or having a conversation in English with someone visiting from London, helps remind me why I’m here. These excursions help me, as cliché as it sounds, live in the moment. So, to the student looking to study abroad in Rome, or anywhere else, challenge yourself to avoid the typical scene as a study abroad student. You will find endless amounts of memories at the venue that has people who you would not have met otherwise.