Reverse Culture Shock

I’ve been in America for a little over a week now, even though it feels like I’ve been back for about two months already, and I’ve noticed some things I never have before and am learning to appreciate things I took for granted without even realizing it. I am missing Italy so much it hurts and laying around my house all day catching up on movies and TV shows can only satisfy me for so long until it gets old. I’m at that point now and am more than ready to go back to Italy.

Leaving the place you’ve lived your whole life opens your eyes and teaches you things, not only about the new place but also about the place you left. You learn to appreciate the people around you, the ease with which you can get anything in America (I quickly realized we are a bit spoiled in America) and the luxuries we have that not many other places have- just to name a few.

Things I’m glad I have back:

1. Garbage disposal

2. Clothes dryer

3. Chipotle

4. Driving

5. Not getting whistled at, cat called or having creepy Italians say creepy things to me in Italian

6. The availability of so many different types of food

Things I miss about Italy:

1. Basically everything else

2. The mindset and attitude of “Il dolce far niente” (The sweetness of doing nothing)

3. The Italian food

4. Gelato

5. Not having to pay for public transportation

6. Speaking Italian

I most definitely had some culture shock upon returning to the homeland. I was surprised by quite a few things that were very different from Europe-

1. How huge the portions of food are

2. How quickly they rush you out of restaurants

3. I constantly convert everything to Euros

4. I forget that I have to tip here

5. How unhealthy America and its people are

6. How sloppy we all look compared to the always-fashionable Europeans.

Getting a taste for foreign places has definitely left me wanting more. The travel bug took a big bite and has left me with a desire to travel the world. With so many exotic places and far away lands we forget that America has so many gorgeous places of its own. Because I’m (extremely) short on money and obviously in debt to my parents (thank you!) some friends and I have decided to save up and travel more domestically this summer. The want to travel doesn’t go away just because I’m not in Rome anymore. I have to feed my need for travel and I am excited to discover what hidden treasures lay around the corner right in my own backyard.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”- Terry Pratchett

“Italy isn’t a Country. It’s an emotion.”

“Italy isn’t a country, it’s an emotion.” Only those who have been to Italy can truly understand and relate to these words. There are many people who have been here longer than my four-month semester, however, it doesn’t take long to realize that that statement holds very true.

To pinpoint exactly what emotion Italy is would be impossible; it isn’t just one, it’s thousands of years of work that have lead up to this point right now, of me sitting on my bed in my Rome apartment procrastinating studying for the two finals I have left. The emotions that Italy is giving me right now are fatigue from studying all night, nostalgia for those first few weeks in Rome when we were clueless and would get lost walking to the Trevi Fountain and contentment, such contentment, in the rare moments of silence, in this exact moment. But Italy has so many more emotions. Last night, at one of the last dinners my friends and I will have in Italy, my emotions were happy, giggly, sad that we had to leave and very very full.

Not every moment spent here is full of such emotions though. If you had asked me my emotions a few days ago I would have said frustration that the public transportation isn’t reliable, annoyance from being cat called and having creepy Italian men say things in Italian that unfortunately I can understand and an aching for America. Italy is so full of so many different emotions and it brings out a wide array in a person. If I had to describe the over all feel that I have gotten from Italy over the past four months I would explain it in a way that I have come to find is truly Italian- if the laid back mammoni (Italian for mama’s boy) married the sassy Italian women who drives too fast on her vespa and then cheated on her with a younger fun-loving 20-something who drinks too much wine during the day but still makes it home for Sunday dinner- I told you it was hard to explain. I have just skimmed the surface of Italy, so of course many more people have a greater perspective on Italy and its emotions, but from a 21-year-old living and studying in Rome, I think I hit the nail on the head.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved (almost) every moment here, but of course there are those moments when one misses her home country. I am excited to be going home, to see my family, my friends, my dog and my kitty, but I am sad to leave. I am sad to leave the place where 10 minutes late is on time, the place where the people actually stop and take the time to sit and drink wine and eat gelato and celebrate, even if it is only celebrating the four-hour lunch break that every one takes. Italians, and many Europeans, have mastered the art of “dolce far niente,” which translated means the sweetness of doing nothing. In America we work and we work and if we are lucky we have family dinners once a week or take a few days off for vacation. We have it all wrong. Having these four months go by in the blink of an eye has made me realize that Italians do life right. They enjoy the moment and drink too much wine during lunch because every moment is magical, but every moment is fleeting, and if you don’t take the time to cherish these moments, they will be gone all too quickly.

To say goodbye to the place I have called home for the past four months will not be easy. Rachel and I have already decided that we will cry on the plane home and probably in the van on the way to the airport. But I know that Tuesday night, when Rachel, Kate, Jasmine and I drink our last bottles of wine in Italy, it will not be a goodbye, rather, it will be a see you later to Italy, a place that seems like an old friend. You can never say goodbye to something that has left such an impact on your life and that has planted a seed in your soul to explore, meet new people and enjoy the dolce far niente in life. So until next time Italy. Ciao.

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after a moment or a lifetime, is certain for those who are friends. 

The Last Supper

After our long day in Florence, the family and I grabbed a very late dinner where we ordered far too much food and stuffed ourselves- I had my new favorite dish that I recently discovered- cacio e pepe, which is pecorino cheese and pepper, it sounds simple but it is fabulous. We finally called it a night and went back to the hotel to go to sleep.

The next day was the last day my family was in Rome so we took full advantage of the beautiful weather and took a nice long stroll down Via del Corso- a main street starting in Piazza Venezia and running all the way to Piazza del Popolo with great stores for shopping and eating. Once again, Nicky and dad were awesome and put up with us girls stopping in literally (yes dad, literally) every store. Renee was awesome enough to treat me to a few things and I think my arm muscles grew just from carrying all of my bags around. We did make a few stops for my dad and Nicky though; dad got an awesome new pair of shoes from Timberland and Nicky stopped in a Footlocker.

Along our travels we ran into some talented street performers dancing and even a perverted clown who made balloons and hugged Renee and me just a little too tight. One store in particular caught all of our eyes- the Perugia chocolate store. Perugia is known for their chocolate and it is where Bacio chocolate has its factory- you can even tour the factory like a real-life Italian Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We were drawn in by the seven-tiered chocolate fountain in the window and we all stocked up to get our chocolate fix- I indulged in my new chocolate obsession- white chocolate.

DSC03832

After satisfying our sweet tooth we continued on our walk, stopped in a few more stores and finally made it to Piazza del Popolo. I had never been to this Piazza but I discovered that it is definitely the prettiest I have been to in Rome. There were the usual crowds and we somehow ran into two tourists from London and got into a 20 minute conversation with them about New York, New Jersey and England. They asked us what we call sandwiches around where we live (heroes never hoagies and sometimes subs) and ranted about how expensive everything is in England- they were definitely an interesting couple.

DSC03833
Piazza del Popolo

DSC03839 DSC03843 DSC03845 DSC03851

We sat on the steps of the fountain in the Piazza in the sun while Nicky and Maddie stared at the street performers who seem to float in mid-air. As their vacation was coming to a close we all just took a moment to take in our surroundings and appreciate how lucky we are and I thought how lucky I am to have such great parents and a great family. Then, of course, it was off to lunch. I feel like most of the time here is spent just killing time between meals; our schedules definitely revolve around eating. The tiny restaurant we decided to eat at was delicious; the pizza I had, the gnocchi Nicky had and the veal my dad had were all so full of flavor and it definitely proved that the little hole-in-the-wall restaurants often have some of the best food.

DSC03857

Following our lunch we absolutely needed Gelato. So I took the fam to Giolitti, a very well-known gelateria. The gelato there is unbelievable and I always get white chocolate and Oreo or white chocolate and milk chocolate. Everyone got their favorite flavors and it got my dad’s seal of approval when he said it was “stupid” -which is dad talk for something is so good that there are no words to describe it. We waddled our stuffed selves to the hotel to take a breather before we went to my apartment so they could see where I live and then go to dinner.

When we got to my apartment my dad joked that he wanted to go back to the hotel where they have bell boys. My apartment is one of the nicer ones students live in here so I consider myself lucky, but after coming from the hotels we had been staying in, I agree with him. I gave them the tour, which takes all of two minutes, and we hung out for a while to pass the time until we were hungry enough again for dinner. Like clockwork, we were ready pretty soon. I took them to Trastevere, a very cute area in Rome with winding streets that are very easy to get lost on, restaurants, shops and cobblestone streets with wine corks in the cracks, my personal favorite characteristic of the area. For dinner we had a little bit of everything- suppli (rice balls), artichokes, bruschetta and prosciutto. My dad once again had ox tail and I once again had cacio e pepe. For dessert I took them to an unbelievable crepe place where we enjoyed a crepe with Nutella, white chocolate, caramel and bananas- and yes it is as good as it sounds and yes my mouth is currently watering. 

Feeling stuffed yet again, it was time for goodbyes as my family went back to the hotel to pack for their flight the next day and I went back to apartment to reenter the real world. It was sad to see them go but it was comforting to know that at that time I would see them in just two and a half weeks and as I am writing this now (very delayed) I only have eight more days in paradise. Time flies.

“Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”- Harvey MacKay

La Famiglia

After a wonderful stay in Sorrento, Positano and Capri the fam and I woke up to catch a train from the station in Naples to Rome, where they were staying until Sunday. We left two hours before our train and thought that would give us plenty of time to make it to the train station, which was only about an hour away. Unfortunately, there was a crazy amount of traffic and it took us a little over two hours to get to the train station and we missed our train. Flustered and running around we bought new tickets and finally got on the train with all of our luggage, which was another adventure in itself. A short train ride later we fought through people with our luggage and eventually made it off the train.

We thankfully were able to be picked up by a car sent by the hotel my family was staying in because the other car that was supposed to pick us up fell through because we missed our train and were late. We arrived at the hotel, which was beautiful and once again the staff was so attentive. It was very close to the Spanish Steps so the location was perfect. After we checked in and got settled we walked a little bit to go to dinner. We found a cute place on the corner and sat down to eat. It was here that my family discovered how annoying Rome can be sometimes- or how annoying the men selling roses on the street can be. Everywhere you turn there are men selling roses and other knick knacks and they come right up to you while you are eating and bother you to try and get you to buy something. Usually I just ignore them or say no grazie but Nicky and Maddie couldn’t help but look at the toys they were selling so we attracted a little bit of attention. My dad finally got so frustrated and yelled at him to go away. We enjoyed a meal of seafood and pastas and listened to two men play the accordion while we ate.

When we finished dinner we decided to walk over to the Spanish Steps and climb to the top. I had never been to the Steps at night but they are really pretty. The lights from the streets lit up the stairs and we were able to capture some great photos. After that we walked over to the Trevi fountain, which is my favorite place in Rome, especially at night when it is less crowded and lit up. My favorite part about the Trevi fountain is going there late at night, after we go out, around 2 or 3 a.m. when there is no one there and it is quiet and the only sound you hear is the rushing water. We took some pictures there and my family got a kick out of how many people there were and how no one here understands personal space as they all crowded around us. We decided it was time for bed after our hectic day- tomorrow we had a three hour tour of the Colosseum and ancient Rome so we went back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning we feasted on another impressive breakfast spread then hopped in a cab and headed over to the Colosseum to meet our tour group. We started outside of the Colosseum and got a crash course in ancient Roman history. Our guide was informative and presented all of the information in a way that more interesting than the way I learned about it in a class room. Next she took us into the Colosseum. I had been inside it with a class at the beginning of the semester and learned about the architecture side of it but on this tour I learned about the political, social and historical facts about the Colosseum. It was all too interesting and made me want to watch all of the movies about gladiators and ancient Rome.

DSC03508 DSC03512DSC03513

After the Colosseum we went to the Ancient Roman Forums where we learned even more information about the ancient civilization. I had been there once before with my art history class but had once again concentrated more on the architecture of it and not on the history so all of the information that our guide was feeding us was very interesting and gave context to all of the ruins we were looking at.

DSC03518 DSC03519 DSC03527 DSC03531

After walking for over three hours our feet were extremely sore so we walked to the nearest restaurant to eat. Our restaurant was in a great location and overlooked some of the Forum ruins so we admired them as we ate our pasta and chatted. We caught a cab back to the hotel after lunch and walked around to find some gelato and a macaroon shop we passed the previous day. The macaroons were amazing and full of so many interesting flavors- I have definitely become a macaroon lover during my abroad months. It was back to reality after that because I had to go to my last class that day and I would meet my family the next day for another tour of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.

I met my family the next afternoon and we headed over the Vatican to meet our tour guide, who was awesome! She gave us so many facts and hours of information. I picked her brain about art and the history of the Vatican and St. Peter’s. She was so knowledgable on the subjects and I really enjoyed her tour. I loved the way she presented the facts, with stories and context instead of just boring numbers and names. She also engaged my little siblings, which made them tolerate the four-hour tour. It was nice seeing the Vatican and everything in it, especially Raphael’s room and the Sistine Chapel. I’m a huge art and history nerd so I loved analyzing the art with her and asked about a hundred questions. She was definitely the best guide I have had on a tour.

DSC03554 DSC03565 DSC03566 DSC03567 DSC03569 DSC03575 DSC03576 10175951_10152465552572975_4098554716441356362_n

Four hours later and much more informed, we ended our tour at St. Peter’s and got on line to climb to the top of the dome. Renee, Maddie and myself decided to take the elevator to the first level and meet my dad and Nicky who were climbing all of the steps. We arrived at the first stop and looked down into the beautiful Basilica below. There was a mass going on and we could hear the choir singing, which added to the beauty of being suspended above such a masterpiece. Being inside the dome was a very cool experience and we were able to get a closer look at the intricate details and designs and really marveled at how massive and intense the dome actually is up close.

DSC03583 DSC03584 DSC03588

We continued on our way up about 300 stairs, in addition to about the 200 other steps my dad and Nicky already climbed. It was hot, small and tiring. I am very claustrophobic and the higher we climbed the smaller and smaller the hallways got and the smaller the steps got until eventually we were almost turned sideways and were tip toeing up the steps. The walls and the steps were slanted because of the shape of the dome, which also made climbing difficult. Eventually the steps were so small and the hallway was so curved that there was a rope provided for us to hold onto as we climbed. After a few minor panics and a lot of sweating we finally arrived at the top and the fresh air on my face felt amazing. We pushed our way to the edge and pressed ourselves up against the fence to get the most breathtaking view in all of Rome.

DSC03606 DSC03610

Made it to the top!
Made it to the top!

We took a lot of photos and then made the trek back down more tiny steps.

Little Maddy going back downstairs
Little Maddy going back downstairs

We climbed the first level of steps and then Renee, Maddy and myself took the elevator the rest of way down. We stepped off of the elevator and into the Basilica where we walked around and admired it. My dad was especially impressed with the massive structure that is so ornately decorated and constructed and he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around how people did something so miraculous so long ago.

DSC03633 DSC03639 DSC03645 DSC03648

DSC03635

After our long day of touring we hopped in a cab and went off to a restaurant that my uncle went to when he was in Rome and had highly recommended it to us . It was a very cute restaurant and was decorated with sports, fishing and hunting memorabilia. It was run by several bad-ass looking, burly Italian men who suggested dishes like ox tail and cow intestines- I decided on some salad and pasta but my dad and Renee got the aforementioned dishes and couldn’t stop raving about how tasty they were. We stuffed ourselves silly and were then presented with some cookies and dessert wine. After trying to bite into a cookie one of the men came over and showed me that the proper way to do it was to dip the cookie into the dessert wine, which was absolutely delicious. Then we headed back to the hotel to hang out and get to bed because the next morning we were off to Florence- but first I had a paper to write because contrary to what my family may think, sometimes I actually have school work.

“Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”- Brad Henry

Rainbows and Waterfalls in Tivoli

This past weekend I was supposed to go to Florence and take a day trip to Cinque Terre. However, the company that organized it canceled it last minute and my friends and I were, honestly, relieved. It was expensive and it was going to get even more expensive when we got there. Also, it was nice to not have to be rushing around and traveling for one weekend, so we took it as a blessing in disguise and made other plans. My sister studied abroad in Rome when she was in college and when I came to Rome she said that if I ever had the chance to go to Tivoli I should take it. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that Tivoli is where Lizzie McGuire goes in her movie when she is riding around on Paolo’s Vespa and we immediately decided we must go. So Rachel and Jenny, another sorority sister studying in Rome, and I spur-of-the-moment bought train tickets to Tivoli, which is about 90 minutes away.

Immediately we were talking about how we were basically Lizzie McGuire and were living out our 10-year-old selves’ fantasy. All that was missing was a cute Italian boy and a Vespa- I would have settled for just a ride around on a Vespa, no cute boy needed. When we arrived in Tivoli we walked through the quaint town and passed shops, restaurants and an elementary school, which gave the town a very authentic feeling. We then strolled to Villa d’Este, the famous villa with gorgeous gardens, fountains and waterfalls, where the scene from the movie was filmed. We walked through the villa and saw beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings and even saw the secret entrance the Cardinal had to his secret garden. We hurried through the villa and made our way down to the breathtaking landscapes and views. The fountains and flowers were gorgeous and so elaborate. Whenever I visit historical sights such as this I always wonder how people built and constructed them without modern technology or tools; it truly is perplexing and a testimony to mann’s talent and intelligence. Honestly, I never imagined that a few fountains and some properly-placed daffodils would be so magnificent, but upon arriving at the villa, I realized that it was more than that. There were fountains that looked like masterpieces, so intricately constructed with their statues and flowing water. Purple lilacs and lavender- my two personal favorites- climbed the walls of the villa and filled the air with such a sweet and tranquil scent that I found myself stopping for just an extra second to take a deep breathe and process the beauty that surrounded me.

DSC03055 DSC03059

DSC03093DSC03103 DSC03085 DSC03105 DSC03109

Finally, we came to the fountain that was made famous by Lizzie McGuire and it was so fun to see something we loved as kids up close and personal. We all pictured Lizzie and Paolo running around and it took us right back to our childhoods. We vowed to watch the movie again later so we could all point and yell that we have been there. We then made our way over to the biggest and most popular fountain and waterfall in the villa. It had large falls and running water over its rocks and flowers. In front of it were still ponds surrounded by yellow tulips. The weather was perfect that day and the sun reflected its rays off of the water creating the most beautiful rainbow in the falling water. After having a photo shoot and putting some flowers in our hair we went back to the adorable town for some dinner.

The fountain made famous by Lizzie!
The fountain made famous by Lizzie!DSC03117

DSC03157 DSC03155 DSC03150

Rigatoni is my favorite type of pasta and surprisingly not easy to find in a restaurant here, so when I saw that a restaurant we passed offered it, I knew that’s where we had to eat. The food wound up being amazing and by far the best pasta I have had in Italy. We all started with some bruschetta, I had a mixed plate with mushroom, vegetable and tomato bruschetta, and followed it with my all-time favorite food, suppli (rice balls for all of you Italian-Americans). Then came the main course. Rigatoni pasta cooked to al-dente perfection with sauce so fresh and light you knew it had just been made from the ripest tomatoes. So completely stuffed, we finally rolled ourselves out of the restaurant to make it back to the train station, but not without stopping for a Nutella crepe first.

The day had been amazing and we could not wait to get home and go to sleep- Jenny and I were going to Cinque Terre in the morning and had to be at the train station by 6:30 a.m.. However, as perfect as our day was in this majestic place, it did not end so well. Our train back to Rome was delayed for 60 minutes because of problems on the tracks and then it was altogether cancelled. Thinking we were stranded in Tivoli for the night we asked the workers at the station other ways to get home. They told us another train was going to come in 90 minutes and that would take us to the train station in Rome. After waiting 90 minutes and playing multiple rounds of “Heads Up!” on my phone (by far the most fun game you can buy, I highly recommend it) the train finally came and we hopped on. After waiting another 20 minutes on that train we asked again when it would be leaving only to find out that this train wasn’t moving, despite what the first worker had told us, and the real train we needed to get on was coming in five minutes. Finally, after almost two hours of waiting, the train arrived and we made it back to our apartments in one piece. Despite how the day ended, I didn’t let it ruin an amazing day in Lizzie McGuire’s shoes.

 

“This is what dreams are made of.”- Lizzie McGuire

Things I already miss from home and other ramblings about my first few weeks in Rome

I have officially been in Roma for a little over two weeks and am starting to finally get the hang of things. In these two short weeks I have learned a lot-

1) The 710 or 871 bus never comes but the 44, the 75 and just about every other bus I never need comes every five minutes.

2) You have to request stops on the tram or you will end up riding around on it for a while.

3) Italian men- at least all of the ones I have met- are just as creepy as people say they are.

4) The driving here is crazier than anything I have ever seen and I have never heard so many car horns or sirens.

5) Many Italians assume Americans don’t speak Italian, but for those of us who do (me), I understand what you are saying and even though sometimes it is funny- sometimes it is creepy/mean.

Despite completely being in love with the language, art, food, wine and culture of Italy there are a few things from home that I never thought I would miss so much.

1) Garbage disposals

2) Clothes dryers

3) I wouldn’t even really miss dryers if we had a washing machine that didn’t leave our clothes soaking wet resulting in a three-day drying time. Hence, I miss my washing machine.

4) Chipotle- I can’t wait to go to Paris to eat it

5) Veggie burgers

6) Reliable public transportation

Don’t get me wrong, yes I have complaints but I love much more than I hate.

Things I have fallen in love with-

1) art, architecture and anything of the sort.

2) pizza pizza pizza (I was and always will be addicted to pizza, especially authentic Italian pizza- I am going to Naples this weekend and am overcome with excitement to eat quite possibly the best pizza in the world).

3) Gelato

4) The Trevi Fountain

5) St. Peter’s Basilica

6) The language

7) Karaoke at Scholars every Tuesday

8) The Colosseum

9) Wine (although I was in love with this before I came to Italy, my affection has only  grown deeper)

10) Getting lost in an unknown place has never been more enjoyable.

Baci,

Alexa.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”- Marcel Proust

Sono arrivata a Roma!

The irony of the situation about to be described is comical- at least that’s how I took it because if I didn’t laugh I was definitely going to cry.

I love snow. For my entire winter break all I wished for was snow, snow and more snow. And we did get our fair share so I was quite pleased. However, mother nature decided to mess with me and throw one last epic snow storm at the NY/NJ area on the day I was supposed to leave for Rome. After the longest day of checking the weather and checking every flight’s status my family and I decided to leave for the airport in hopes that the plane would still fly.

Living only 45 minutes from JFK airport, we left at four p.m. and needed to arrive by 7:30 p.m.- three and a half hours to go 45 minutes. Good thing we left early because it took us every minute of those three and a half hours. However, we thankfully got there by 7:30. Having supposed to be flying with a sorority sister of mine, Rachel, my nerves were calm all day knowing that we would be traveling together and figuring things out as we went along. However, she arrived at the airport before I did and they threw her onto an earlier flight, leaving me alone and officially freaking out. The only good thing about this three and a half hour car ride was that my dad was able to book me transportation and a hotel in Rome in case I missed the university-provided services, proving to me that dad’s are actually heroes.

After a short bite to eat and a hard goodbye to my parents, I was off through security and eventually 18c aboard the 10:05 p.m. Alitalia flight.

I was lucky enough to be seated next to a very friendly Italian living in New York but going home for the month to see his family. We chatted while we waited for the flight to leave-which ended up being delayed two hours later- and he told me about his home town of Perugia and all of the beauty that I needed to see while in Italy. The flight was fairly pleasant with a little turbulence during take off. Then it was all free in-flight movies and food for the next seven hours.

Once in Rome and after more long lines and struggles with two large suitcases, a carry on and a book bag I was driven to AUR by the very convenient car service my dad booked (I will be forever grateful to him for this- among other things). I arrived at AUR and waited some more for transportation from the school to my apartment where I was rooming with another one of my sorority sisters, Kate. At this point I had been traveling a little over 24 hours and was thankful to see a familiar face and to finally sit back and relax for a moment.

I began to get settled, unpack and explore the very cute Italian apartment and eventually meet my other four roommates I was randomly assigned to live with. The apartment is adorable with many large windows with porches, a large common living area, three two-person bedrooms and a small kitchen. My friends have nick-named it The Palace because it is one of the nicer apartments provided to AUR students.

Right away my sorority sisters and my friends from the University of Maryland and I went exploring, finding a very cute restaurant where I enjoyed my first of many delicious pizzas in Italy. Of course the next obvious step was to go to the food store and buy wine, limoncello and some groceries.

For the next few days before classes started we learned how to navigate the trams and buses around the city, find the closest equivalent to our laundry detergent we could (hint: always look for the dancing teddy bear), attend orientation activities at AUR, drink more wine and eat a lot more pizza and pasta.

I am almost positive that we are still in the “Oh my God I am in Rome” phase and am waiting for the culture shock to slowly sink in when I realize that I will have to go four months without Chipotle- more about that later!

For now, baci,

Alexa.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”– my personal favorite

P.S. please excuse the mess in the pictures- six women live in this apartment.

La cucina
La cucina

Soggiorno
Soggiorno

Camera da letto
Camera da letto

Arrivederci America!

I’ve always kept a blog but now I guess it’s time to do the obligatory college student goes abroad to Rome for a semester and writes about the food she eats, the wine she drinks, the men she meets and the culture shock she endures when she realizes that no one in Europe wears Uggs and she sticks out like a sore thumb. Well I didn’t even pack my Uggs so here’s to four months of discovery- discovery of food, friends, wine, the world and its inhabitants and myself.

Baci,

Alexa.

“One of the advantages of travelling the world is that you get to know the world broadly. And one of the advantages of staying in one place is that you get to know the world deeply.”- Alan Moore.