Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jennifer G. - Rome, Italy - Spring 2011

Ciao fellow Elmhurst College students! I’m studying in Rome, Italy this semester through the IES study abroad program. If you are thinking about studying in Italy, GO TO ROME! There is so much to do and see in Rome, and it is easy to travel to other places in Italy or other European countries in general from Rome. And the weather in Rome is awesome, I don’t even check the weather to pick my clothes out because so far it’s been super nice out 60 degree weather (unlike the blizzard I left behind right in the knick of time). First off, I’d like to tell you that Alice is correct that you WILL have ups and downs while studying in a foreign country, especially in your first week. Expect things to be different, to go wrong, to get lost, and to make mistakes, ITS ALL OK. Just remember to breath. Chances are you will take the wrong tram or bus, it happens, everyone does it but you will be fine! Some things are very confusing when you are abroad, just observe others and don’t worry if you are picked out as an American because of it. People will help you along the way, but just be cautious. I absolutely made the best decision of my life by coming to Rome. I had an exploration day yesterday with a boy I met in my program and got to see the Jewish ghetto, Vittorio Emanuele building, and the Roman Forum. These are just a few main sites to see in Rome, but there are so many more. When you are viewing these magnificent places, you can’t help but feel that you are a part of history. I found myself feeling like a little kid in a playground exploring all of these places. It’s mind boggling how old some of the structures in Rome are and how on earth people even knew how to make the materials that these buildings were constructed with and that they have lasted for thousands of years. Also, I find myself imagining what they must have looked like when they were new. A lot of places are ruins because of war and what not, so only partial structures exist, yet they are still absolutely beautiful. The Vittorio Emanuele building (which people call the wedding cake building because it looks like a cake with tiers to it) is a must see. From atop of the building you can see all of Rome! There were places that I’d been to and it was so amazing to see all of them from atop one building. And ladies, the shopping is great! There are some things that are more expensive, but that’s also because they are higher quality items, and you can still find deals if you look for them. I was fortunate to arrive when I did because they still had huge after Christmas sales that go on all of January and into mid-February on the main shopping strip called Via del Corso. I will warn everyone that prices of things don’t always make sense though. For instance, shampoo in bottles smaller than we would buy in the states is expensive, yet Red Bull and wine can be found for under 2 Euro! So you will find some items for cheaper than in the states, and others more expensive. Grocery shopping is awesome because food products are well priced and there are usually tons of deals. Depending where you are studying your program will warn you about pickpocketing a lot. Just be cautious when you are on crowded trams or busses. I bought a side bag and when I get on a crowded tram or bus I just move it to the front of me and keep one hand on it just in case. And I keep my ATM card at the apartment and only carry as much cash on me as I think I will need for whatever I am doing. When I talked to a full year student who was pick-pocketed, she even said it was just because she wasn’t paying enough attention, so just use your brain. The restaurants are all basically fantastic no matter where you go. It’s best to go off the beaten path away from touristy restaurants and find cute little ones that have good pricing. I love my little town of Trastevere, it’s so cute and fun. There are a ton of main little piazzas where many people gather at night and hang out. I already have my own little pizza place right down my block that is delicious and inexpensive. My classes start Monday and it’s bittersweet because I am having so much fun I don’t want to study, but at the same time I am dying to learn more about Rome so that when I am viewing an ancient structure I will actually know the story behind its past.  And just a heads up, if you are a shy person practice getting out of your shell now. I personally am outgoing so I’ve already met tons of people in my program and meet up with them at night. You will not enjoy your time if you choose to keep to yourself and stay in the apartment all of the time. My roommates are fun but they spend all of their time at home and I know they are not having nearly as much fun as I am because I go out and explore and meet people. If you want to sit at home then just stay in Elmhurst, but if you want to have the time of your life be friendly and get people from your programs phone numbers and just put yourself out there! Isolating yourself from people will only make you want to go home, so don’t be judgmental upon arrival and just make nice with everyone.  Everyone is in the same boat as you, they are all in a new place and experiencing a different lifestyle than they are used to. I talk to my friends and family often but I also make sure I am not home all the time on my computer on facebook and skype so that I get the most out of this experience.


Blogger catroner said...

hello there!
My name is Rocco Catrone and I will be studying in Perugia, Itlay for the fall semester. I am extremely excited to be leaving in September! I enjoyed reading your blog, i am so happy for you, your experiences thus far sound amazing! I have a friend in Rome right now and she loves being there going to the sites, enjoying the markets and of coarse eating the food. This is extremely helpful information, not the stuff they write online or a travel channel special. this is the real deal and i look forward to reading more blogs about Rome and Italy if you should post more. I am very excited to be going to italy and look forward to visiting various cities and most of all ROME!!

ps. Where is that pizza place? I would like to try it!

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Girl!

Based on this blog, and talking to you a little on facebook it sounds like you are enjoying Italy! It seems like an amazing place...your experience will definitely be rewarding!
Right now, in my study abroad class were talking about culture shock, can you tell me a little more about your experience and how you dealt with it?

Thanks :)
Miss you, and can't wait to hear more about your Italian adventure!
And I'll keep you updated on my NZ stuff as well..after all you were a huge help in convincing me to actually go through with it! Thanks for that!
- Ariel P.

1:23 PM  

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