Okay. I understand it’s been about a week since I’ve landed in Rome and I have not shown signs of life. I get that I have parents that are kind of concerned about my well-being and whether I’ll be the subject matter in the next Taken 3 movie. Really, I do. And ‘m sorry.
But let’s think about this. The internet in the residence is unfortunately not the best (which is not surprising if you think about the fact that it houses anywhere from 80 to 100 Facebook-obsessed students), so I have not been able to check into Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Tumblr, Pinterest, Foursquare, the stock market, or any other social-networking network. Which is essentially the same thing as being dead, if you ask me. Who’s really suffering the most here?
Anyway, I’m not here to complain. I’m here to brag about my semester in Rome and get paid for it. So in lieu of a long-winded series of posts. here’s a little roundup of what’s been going on in my life so far. My name is Magali Roman, I’m a junior studying English Literature and History, and here’s how my week went down.
Arrive in Rome a day early, after a 4-hour layover at Heathrow where the internet costs 1 pound per minute, because they have British accents and can get away with it. Take shuttle to charitable fellow student’s apartment, who has graciously offered to house me for one night. Drop off bags at the residence and get first taste of pizza and gelato on the way back through the Vatican wall. Pass out at around 9pm, 3pm US time.
Get lost on the way to the residence even though I am equipped with both GoogleMaps and prior knowledge of the path from the night before. ”Whatever,” I think, as I lug my carry-on through Andrea Doria for the third time, “I’ll get there eventually”. Which I must admit is a nice change from my usual sit-in-the-curb-and-cry method every time I get lost in a new city. A single tear does roll down my cheek once I finally come across Vialle Delle Medaglie d’Oro, the street the residence is on, after an hour and a half of wandering. Dry tears with can of coke self-consciously purchased at a cafe. Meet roomates: Maggie and Sarah. Surprised and slightly relieved they do not appear to be psychotic in any way at first impression. More on this as the semester progresses.
Orientation: officially meet the Dean and Gianni, our events coordinator. Immediately feel incompetent in comparison to both in height and David Guetta knowledge respectively. Next five hours of the day spent wandering all over what may well have been all of North Rome in search of an electronics store. Finally find it in the gigantic TRONY, and return to the residence. Barely half an hour goes by before an impromptu group decides to go get some gelato, and we end up eating cones in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican at around 10pm. And in that moment, I swear we were infinite (at least, our stomach linings were).
We wake up early for a 4-hour walking tour of Rome led by students who have been here for a semester already. We pass the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Villa Borguese, the Spanish Steps, and various other signs of the existence of the Illuminati. Stand by the Trevi Fountain crying in awe, too overwhelmed to toss a coin in. Head back to school after a couple of hours for a “Cucina Italiana” demonstration by printmaking professor Mario Teleri. This is especially welcome in my case, since the only things that are within my cooking capabilities are sandwiches and flambe stuff (more on that later).
Ditch everyone for a self-guided tour of the Piazza dell’Popolo, which is the nearest cultural landmark to the school. Load up iPod with Pulp and Interpol (is that embarrassing? Whatevs), and buy some books. Almost get run over twice. The usual. Back to school at 5pm for a talk led by Gianni and Professor Ponce de Leon on cultural life in Italy, where they tell us how to get around the city, how to pretend we actually know what we’re ordering in restaurants, and tips on how to pick up girls at nightclubs. I’m glad my tuition money is being put to things that I will actually be using for a change.
Head up to school again early to finish the paperwork for my Permit to Stay, where I meet a staff member who’s also Argentine (QUE ONDA) and officially become a part-time Italian resident. Feeling slightly confident about myself, I make my way to the residence, resolute that tonight was the night where I would finally cook. Discover that not only is the stove a gas stove, but there is no lighter to be found anywhere. Attempt matches, cigarrette lighters, and even fervent praying which only results in burnt fingers and a deep dislike of anything involving time-travel. After a fruitless hour wandering the supermarket (I tend to do that a lot, don’t I?), finally muster up the courage to ask an employee where I could find a “thingie to make fire with”. She does not understand. “Fuoco,” I insist. “Incendio”. Her eyes widen in a display of fear that I haven’t seen since Italy lost at the last world cup. “Incendio?” she almost screams. “Where?!” . After reassuring her I meant a lighter and not that the entire supermarket was on fire, I am informed that altough the supermarket has everything from creme brulee torches to fifty different types of prosciutto, they do not have lighters. #Roma, I think as I move on to the corner store and manage to find a lighter. Back at home, when I manage to turn on the stove I legitimately weep tears of joy. Spend the rest of the night eating pollenta and watching The Borgias. I have never felt so proud of myself in my life.
Day trip to Todi, a medieval hill town in Umbria. I am incapable of putting my experience there into words, so I will have to make do with pictures.
After Todi, we took a detour to Titigniano, where Temple Rome treated us to a 14-course lunch that lasted 4 hours. Just your normal, everyday school field trip.
Predictions for next week:
1. I will botch up the word “fromaggio” at least three times.
2. I will single-handedly either cause our dorm kitchen to burst into flames or accidentally keep the gas on and kill everyone. #WhenInRome
3. I will gape open-mouthedly at things most normal Italians would just shrug off nonchalantly, like Caravaggio churches, or coblestones.