Trip Start Aug 19, 2013
16Trip End Dec 13, 2013
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We flew into Rome smoothly on Tuesday, but upon arrival everything was a little overwhelming. We looked for a stamp from customs--talking to immigration and police officers, only to find out that we didn't need one. Then we had to figure out how to take a taxi to the apartment, as suggested by our school's staff to do that. We were already late for our check-in! Italian taxi drivers immediately spotted the 6 American girls and were putting our bags into their cars. We had to be very persistent to get our bags back so we could make an educated decision on what was safest. The taxi ride was crazy! And it was my first taxi ride ever!!!! Anyway, we arrived to the apartment, alive to my surprise, and got checked in and looked around. That night we had a short meeting with our housing supervisor and then UNPACKED
The last few days have been orientation. That next morning (Wednesday) our first "test" was to walk across town to the hotel where our orientation was. Without any guide. I thought that was a bit much personally. The 30 of us students trekked across Rome, looking like a bunch of touristy Americans. Times like that remind me of the Europe 2007 trip with the Steffens :) We sat through boring presentations (and one cool one by Rick Steeves' son Andy!) but got excellent food at the hotel. We were overwhelmed by information! That night I got pizza and gelato with my roommate (who is really nice) and a couple other girls in our neighborhood, Trastevere (tras-teh-ve-reh). Then we had a really great bonding night with the whole group back at the apartment, drinking wine and playing "heads-up" which I suggest you look up right now. It's a hilarious game! It's an app on an iphone. You put the phone on your head and it displays a word to the group who then have to act out the word--yes everyone acts it out! The person watches the actors and has to guess what the word is! I've really enjoyed the company of my fellow Bennies and Johnnies. Having the company and solidarity has made me more comfortable in my surroundings--especially since we all have so much in common (and the same college experience). I don't know if I could come over here for 4 months by myself. We have a really great group of people too! Everyone goes out of their way to make everyone included.
On Thursday we got a crash course in Italian, a meeting with Elaine (our program director), and a tour of the neighborhood we live in. The most exciting part of that day was grocery shopping! I've certainly grocery shopped before, but usually I shop for my family and have a list. It also isn't usually full-blown grocery shopping by myself. Here I was shopping for myself looking for Italian products where everything was in Italian
Friday, yesterday, we had a guided tour of the historic center of Rome. It was probably my favorite thing we've done so far! We had headsets like only the most high-class tourists and walked around learning some history and seeing some beauty! The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps oh my! Still no sight of the Colosseum yet! Later that night the whole group got some wine, played some cards, and went out on the town. It was great fun!! We met some Italians and tourists, but it's just fun to be with the big group of people and really get to know each other :)
Today I am just chilling and getting some things done, to prepare for tomorrow! A bunch of us are going to a beach near Rome--to celebrate the last chance we have before classes start on Monday, as well as this beautiful weather
So as you can see, it's been overwhelming adjusting to so much! I'm living in an apartment for the first time, with 12 girls (craziness!), I have a new roommate, I have to cook, I have to start learning Italian, I have to understand the rules and regulations with our program and process all the information we have gotten over the past couple days, I have to adjust to a new neighborhood and figure out a sense of direction, I have to build good relationships with my group members, and pretty soon I have to start learning again! I deserve a gold star for juggling all of this. But it has gotten better, so hopefully it will only increase! By the end of this I feel like I will be an independent rockstar!
Rome has been beautiful so far, as you will see by some pictures. The city doesn't smell, which other cities we've seen have. The only downside is it's really loud! My bedroom overlooks the river, which is great, except there's a very busy road next to the river which always has loud mo-peds and accelerating semis pass by. We can hardly hold a conversation in there. And it doesn't calm down at night! The worst part is it's not a constant noise. It goes from really noisy to really quiet and back again. There's also a hopping bar that plays live music every night at bedtime--they must be using my eardrum rather than a drumset, it's that loud! Our apartment itself is kind of a maze, but very spacious. Besides the TINY kitchen. The apartment is also very old, fitting in with the rest of Rome I suppose :) All things to adjust to!
There's so much this city is teaching me. I can't have expectations, I have to be prepared for anything, and I have to deal with what I have even if I don't like it. I feel like I am going through freshmen orientation in college again! Meeting new people and learning more independence.
Well, tootles for now! I'll let you know how classes go! :)