Greetings from Rome at last!
The flight over was wonderful, and I got my school work finished on the plane and was thankfully able to sleep so that way I would not be too jet lagged when I arrived.
As we were landing I could see rolling fields of green below with the deepest green trees, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
I’ve have done a bit of exploring already so I’ll jump right in to some cultural differences we’ve learned to manage so far by the help of local professors…
A picture is worth a thousand (foreign) words
Getting out of the airport was funny since we were already by ourselves without our family which was different, but on top of that all of the signs were in Italian! So I learned my first trick of the day which was to just follow the pictures on signs to understand what they are saying. This was also useful as we were figuring out how to enter our apartment building where we will be staying, where we had no clue what the street signs were but could figure it out by following other people and the pictures they showed us of how to get in.
Stare them down.
On our walk to school at Temple University in Rome we follow one main street until reaching the Tiber river and it is right across the bridge. But on our way we encounter many crosswalks, which is pretty dangerous considering Italians rarely stop to wait. So we’ve been told to stare down any drivers who come close and they will stop. And it has worked!
It’s also a small cultural quirk that Italians like to stare at anything strange, including American tourists who wear things like flip flops on the street. So if you feel uncomfortable: stare right back and they will look away.
Be prepared to eat a lot and awhile
I was prepared to sit down and enjoy the best Italian food of my life, but when you’re sitting down for a meal be prepared to sit for two or more hours. Dining is an experience here, and you are meant to enjoy meals with friends and family as an event. Honestly, it has been a nice change of pace from us Americans rushing through our meals to get to the next place.
On the first night, the apartment held “Super Big Party Boom!” (that was the four words the owner knew), where I got to know my apartment mates over 2.5 hours and 6 courses from bruschetta to a whole roasted pig to fresh gelato. It was the best Italian food I ever had, and it was made even better by having the chance to slow down and enjoy it with new friends.
When in Rome…. treat it kindly
The city is like antique that gets passed down through generations: it is the oldest city I have ever seen yet it has new additions added on and a beauty to it that comes from the care that hundreds of generations have put into it. Rome has layers of the ages with the bustling mopeds on streets where grandparents still run bakeries which is all crammed next to ruins where the ancient rulers like Caesar used to rule.
With this beautiful scenery laid out before us it’s most important to remember: we’re tourists here. No matter how comfortable we may become with the city there will still be cultural barriers. And we need to take care of the city to preserve it for the next generation and the next tourists who come here so they will be able to have the same experiences like we have, and maybe you will too.