Doin’ as the Romans Do…

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Five weeks into our Temple Rome study abroad adventure and I think everyone would agree we are all really beginning to feel at home here in the Eternal City.  Some of us know more of the Italian language then others, but each of us is now able to get by in holding a basic conversation, asking for or giving directions, ordering food and drinks or simply communicating in general.  Mastering the bus routes in Rome is a work in progress, but we’ve all taken the Metro enough times to know how to get ourselves from one place to the next, and I’d say we all have a pretty good idea of the layout of this city and an idea of where everything is, relatively speaking.

Celebrating several of our friend's birthdays at the Hard Rock cafe in Rome.

It happens several times a day that I’ll be walking somewhere or will have stopped to look at something and I take a step back to remind myself, Wow, I am in Rome! Not that I don’t love my life in my hometown Allentown, Pa. and in Philadelphia where I live year-round for school and work, but this is Rome.  There’s simply no comparison.  I was told before coming here that I might miss home.  I was told that I might go through periods of homesickness.  Sorry Mom and Dad, I’m simply too busy seeing and learning new things, traveling all over the place and having the time of my life to really miss y’all.  I feel fortunate, though, that I am able to share this study abroad experience with my younger sister Jaclyn.

Jaclyn was (really) smart to look up to her big sister and decide to attend Temple University as well.  We are two of the luckiest girls in the world, not only to have the chance to study abroad, but also to be able to do it together.  We’ve fully been taking advantage of all the wonderful opportunities presented to us since we’ve arrived.  And it is as if this trip just keeps getting better.  Five weeks seems to have been long enough for the two of us to discover some of our favorite things about being in Rome, and though each day is a new and completely different day, there are some things that have become rather habitual (we prefer to use tradition).

These two capuccinos ranked pretty high on the "deliciousness" scale.

Take coffe, for instance.  Coffee is more of an art in Rome than just a quick drive through Dunkin’ on the way to work like we do in the States.  I’ll admit in my weakness that I have had cravings for my 24 oz. cup of Wawa every so often, and so there are few days in the week where Jaclyn and I don’t stop at a cafe (called a “Bar” in Rome) to grab a cappuccino to start the day.  We love always trying new places, and while we sit and sip our little cups of art, we spend a few minutes ranking our morning fix on a scale of “deliciousness” from one day to the next.

Grocery shopping has never been so much fun as it is in Rome.  On top of all the local markets in our neighborhood, there is a grocery store just a short tram ride away from our apartment.  We spend great lengths of time in the grocery store, walking up and down every isle, looking at each item, trying to decipher what it might be (since it’s all in Italian), then debating whether or not we think we can figure out how to make it and finally deciding to purchase the item and seeing how it goes!  We’ve made several incredible (and rather experimental) meals in the last weeks.

We can't get enough of all the fresh produce!

Sunday nights we like to head to either Scholars or the Abbey Theater to catch NFL football games.  We can’t help it, we’re Americans.  And Monday nights somehow turned into game night at the local pub just down the street from our apartment.  After a day of classes, we finish up our work, throw something together for dinner, have our friends come meet us at our apartment, and head down the street to a place called Killmoon Irish Pub for a round of our favorite Grimbergen beers and endless rounds of Bananagrams, a game much like scrabble, that Jaclyn and I brought from home.  We certainly opt for trying out new places whenever possible, but game night is something we love, and we’ll probably continue all the way through the semester.

Scholar's on Sunday's for Eagles football!

Italians generally eat dinner around 10 p.m., and they don’t typically go out until around 11:30 p.m. or even midnight.  Jaclyn hummed and hawed one night when I told her we were all planning on going to a club for a night of dancing, saying something about how she didn’t like to dance.  “You don’t even know what you’re talking about,” I told her, rather easily convincing her to come along.  4:00 in the morning and Jaclyn’s dancing in circles around all of us sitting on a curb rubbing our swollen feet while waiting to catch the night bus, saying that she wasn’t finished dancing yet!  The nightlife in Rome can be a ton of fun, but it is certainly exhausting.  I get the feeling Jaclyn might want to go dancing again soon.

At Musei Capitolini (The Capitoline Museums) for class.

I genuinely enjoy going to class.  Even to me that statement seems ludacris, but really, class in Rome is so much fun!  Four times a week I have an hour of Italian.  My Italian professor is the greatest, and the best part about the class is that we learn more of the language every day that we can then go out and practice with Italians!  In my other two classes we meet once a week for lecture, and once a week for a site visit.  So far, I have been to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the National Museum of Rome, the Hendrik Christian Anderson Museum, the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, the Baths of Dioclecian, the Ara Pacis, the Mosoleum of Agustus, the Pantheon, and most recently the Capitoline Museums.  These are all places that I maybe would have gone to, but never would I have gotten such an in-depth and informative visit that we get from our professors, without having to pay a great deal of money to do it on my own.

Sunday Funday is a tradition we practice even at home.  There’s nothing better then waking up on a beautiful Sunday morning, rounding up your friends, and heading out for a great day.  Here in Rome, we like to page through guide books or take tips from other Italians to just go out and visit some place new!  This past weekend we hoped on a bus to the town of Tivoli to see Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa).  We really enjoyed seeing the town of Tivoli and we were blown away by the history and beauty of Emperor Hadrian’s lavish villa, even in its ruins.

Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa) in Tivoli for some weekend fun!

Time seems to be flying by and the days blend together, as if these past five weeks have been one super long really great day.  Jaclyn and I sat outside on our terrace last night, watching the sun set behind the Vatican, talking about how thankful we are to have had such an amazing time the past month, and even more thankful that we still have two and a half months left.  When in Rome… there’s nothing like just doin’ as the Romans do.

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