It has been a busy week for me so far and I realize that this is only the beginning of my exciting journey. To start everything off, I had to hurriedly apply to business school at the University of Georgia, finishing just before heading to the airport, and then say my final goodbyes to everyone at home. The stress of applications and packing was finally over and it was time to leave. I found myself forgetting how confining the bubble of Virginia Beach can be, a comfort and curse that would soon be broken within hours. Going from the tiny Norfolk airport to JFK is like traveling between two completely different planets. The hustle of people exponentially increased, with trailing suitcase creating a maze for me to navigate in order to reach my gate. Panicking for just a split second, I calmed down and remembered that anxiety will get me absolutely no were in the next five months. Letting go of all my trepidations, I patiently awaited to board my flight to London Heathrow.
From there, the European adventure began as my roommate from UGA and I met in London to tackle the other side of the world on our own. We had discussed this meeting ever since we found out we were going to Rome. Although we pictured it to be just like a cheesy movie that may or may not have involved some kind of beach running scene, it didn’t turn out quite like that. Even so, we were able to eventually find each other in the mix of Heathrow and even meet a fellow friend in our ISA program. Our plans have all fallen into place so far and neither of us can actually believe that this whole thing is happening. I feel like we were just leaving the North Campus library after a long night of studying for midterms and casually throwing around the thought of studying abroad. To our surprise, our flights were booked the very next month and the wild ideas were being set in stone.
With the rest of the traveling escapades having gone relatively smoothly despite a short flight delay, I finally set foot in Italy. Now that I have been here for about a week, I’m still not sure how long it will take for me to fully grasp the concept of living in Rome, perhaps when classes get into the full swing of things it all may become more real. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I saw our apartment for the first time and have settled in quite nicely to our new home. My 5 other roommates and I are constantly discovering places in our neighborhood, Monteverde, while we maneuver our way to school for the orientation meetings the past few days. Our apartment is very close to a bus stop that will drop you off directly in front of The American University of Rome, but I have found that I really enjoy the walk to campus, which is just about thirty minutes. The open market on the corner, vegetable and fruit stands, pastry shops, and clothing stores are all becoming more familiar as I pass by them everyday. It’s funny now seeing some people on a daily basis, saying “Ciao!” to the guy I buy my apples from on my way to school and “Buongiorno!” when I pass the lady that sells the best cannoli’s in Monteverde.
Rome is a huge city, the biggest that I have ever lived in, and getting lost has actually been the best way to learn my way around. The bus and tram system is something I have never had to handle, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. The past few days have been full of wandering and exploring my way through the Eternal City, a name that Rome continuously lives up to more and more with each day that passes. Yesterday our ISA group visited the Colosseum and all the pictures I had ever seen of it didn’t fully prepare me for how truly big the amphitheater is. It was absolutely beautiful and so cool to be in a place that has such an unbelievable amount of history. After gazing up at the Arch of Constantine, we went inside the Colosseum as well as the Roman Forum. Although it was a great time, I am excited to check all of the touristy attraction off of the list at the beginning of this trip and really start to settle down in Rome and live here as the locals do.
And now, I sit here this afternoon on my balcony looking down our street and reading The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, hoping that his travel writing will somehow inspire me. I’m am still trying to wrap my head around everything I am absorbing, finding that it’s almost impossible to put these sights and experiences into words. Tomorrow I am venturing over to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, it seems like there is a never-ending amount of things to see in Rome. With my mind racing and full of excitement, I can’t wait to see what else awaits me. Classes are starting in a few days and the rest of my journey here has only just begun.