After a whirlwind fall break trip, I’m back in Rome. I visited some wonderful places and had a great time. Some cities were more quaint than Rome, and other cities had better metro systems than Rome, but being away from this city made me love it more. I found myself anxious to come back “home.”
Like I mentioned in a previous post, I traveled to Spain and Morocco for fall break. I went to Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Tangiers, Tetouan and Chefchaouen. Spain was beautiful, and it was nice to travel through different parts of the country and get a more complete sense of the culture. I loved the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. Madrid was bustling and gritty with a huge metro system to tackle. And Seville was beautiful and charming, with a relaxed and small-town feel. Morocco was a bit of a culture shock, and I’ve never been anywhere like it before. The pace of the country was fast, and yet, many of the people stopped midday to pray. It was enlightening to experience Morocco for a weekend. I don’t have to tell you that I saw some incredible places, and I’m sure I could have spent a lifetime in some of them, but none felt as familiar or as rewarding as Rome.
One reason for this, I’m sure, is the fact that I’m much more comfortable with Italian than I am with Spanish or Arabic. After studying Italian for two years, I feel comfortable getting around and expressing myself in elementary terms. While traveling, I realized the importance of this. It is hard to really assimilate and learn about the culture without a grasp of the native language. Even Temple students who are taking Italian for the first time here have already learned a lot and are able to communicate in Rome. I felt a bit helpless in Spain and Morocco and longed for an Italian interaction. When someone in my hostel in Madrid revealed that he was from Venice, I jumped at the chance to speak some Italian and made him have a conversation with me.
Another frustrating thing about traveling is trying to figure out foreign cities. On one hand, this task is an adventure, but it can also be a hassle. In Rome, I know the metro lines and the buses, the best place to get a pizza, and the spots to avoid running into tourists. When I’m traveling, I am a tourist. I have to ask directions often and I want to see the big sites, which means tolerating large crowds and accepting a large margin of error.
These are the inevitabilities of traveling, and they did not substantially detract from my good time. However, while I want to travel often while here, I also realized the importance of staying in Rome. I am studying here, and if I want to truly feel abroad, I have to set aside the time to explore Rome and really make it my home.