The Exact Moment I Fell in Love with Rome

Alexandra Mezza is a student at Notre Dame of Maryland University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Rome, Italy

I fell in love with Rome on the tram, when a guitarist sang about amore. It was the sort of love that my Italian-deficient mind thought could ease the turbid emotions in my chest and make a city like Rome truly eternal.

Me, waiting for the bus to take me to university
Me, waiting for the bus to take me to university.

The first week of any study abroad experience is a roller coaster of emotions. Within the first three days in the city of Rome I found myself bouncing between the dread of being away from my family and home for four months and the excited panic of needing to see everything I wanted to see and learning as much as I possibly could in only four months.

I was beginning to call this emotional roller coaster the Pinball Effect, mainly because my goal was to keep my emotions (metaphorically, the pinball) contained within the colorful confines of my mind (the pinball playing field) by means of slapping them hurriedly away from the gaping hole of homesickness at the bottom of my chest. With less than a week in Rome under my belt, I had a pretty bad pinball record. But, as the guitarist on the tram showed me, you don’t have to study abroad alone.

 A view of the graffiti that covered the train that took me to Ostia.
A view of the graffiti that covered the train that took me to Ostia.

Sure, I didn’t have anyone I knew going with me to Rome, I was literally taking one giant leap of faith and nerve, and after finally, finally getting to Rome, I was stumbling at the finish line. I had to make new friends, learn about a new place, speak in a new language, and I had to do it, as far as I was concerned, on my own. And in some ways, I was right. I have to take care of myself, make sure I go where I need to go both emotionally and physically during my trip. But in a lot of ways, I was wrong.

Not only because my family was waiting impatiently halfway across the world to hear about my amazing first experiences in Rome and not only because I had a great support system in Rome and wonderful roommates to go on misadventures with, but because Rome herself was not going to let me down. The guitarist on the tram reminded me that the Rome I had been studying for the past two and half years, the Empire whose language and culture I had fallen in love with, had become a city that was a beautiful blend of the past, present, and future. I couldn’t help but beam at him as he played his guitar and the tram moved through The Eternal City, taking me back to my new home.

My roommate, Anna, on our way home from a trip to the Ara Pacis.
My roommate, Anna, on our way home from a trip to the Ara Pacis.

It was going to be ok. I’ve got a bed to sleep in and the most amazing pasta I’ve ever eaten in my fridge and I’ve got a man playing the guitar and singing a song that I could almost understand. So if you’re caught in the Pinball Effect, don’t panic. You’ll be just fine.

The world awaits…discover it.


3 thoughts

  1. Music, good food, friends, and a loving family who can’t wait to hear all about it. Nothing else needed.

  2. Alex…… I hear you, I too love Rome…something about that place……
    I would visit every year if I could, my family thinks I’m crazy to keep going back, but there’s enough there for a lifetime
    Check out the Palazzo Valentini when you have time…. and if you like cats the Torre de Argentina, buy a shirt ( Gatti di Roma ) and support the work they do

    Good Luck, Mrs. Lichty

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