Upon first impression, Rome shocked me. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. When we landed, I imagined it somewhat similarly to how it was, but when we entered the city area of Rome on the way to the residence, it was not how I expected. The cars were different. Much different than what I’m used to at home. It’s funny seeing tiny little cars swarming like bees instead of the big jacked up pickup trucks with their John Deere stickers on. Yes, the cars are much different than home. But the buildings and the shops and restaurants that we were passing were not what I expected. They looked so modern, so ordinary, so Philly. I felt like I could be driving through the Italian equivalent to China town. When we got to the residence, it was also not as I pictured. I feel like being prepared by others for Rome leaves images of colorful clothing lines on old, crumbling, beautiful buildings squished together on cobblestone streets. No. This is not Residence Medaglie d’Oro. The building looks like it was made around the Late 60’s or 70’s and the art inside the rooms supports that theory. When we got here we got our room keys and made our way to our rooms. I don’t really know what I was expecting for a room. I feel like I didn’t really have any ideas of what that would look like but I really like our apartment. There are two bedrooms with two beds in each and a wrap around balcony attached to one. Our bathroom is cute, not too big but not too small, and it has very calming lighting. The bathtub is the best part in my opinion. A little funny side note here…all of the bathrooms that I’ve been in in this building so far have bidets. Which are little toilet looking things that are intended to wash the bottom after using the toilet. Not so common back at home. Anyway. Our apartment is inviting and it gave me a sense of belonging after our small journey from the airport to the residence.
After a little break from the plane (it was now about 10 in Rome and 4 in the US) we decided to venture out and get food. I believe this was where I started to crumble. Walking down the streets, I felt like I hadn’t left the US. Everything seemed so similar, except for the fact that I could understand nothing. It’s funny how quickly I felt home sick. I didn’t expect it at all, but I think since everything seemed the same to me except for the language, I was disappointed and felt a little dumb.
This same feeling continued for a while..then we visited the Pantheon. I feel like that was one of those moments where everything seems to stop. It was like walking up on a dinosaur and just watching it. You can sense the age when you’re near the Pantheon. That’s when I started to understand Rome a little bit more. Rome seems to me more to be a city of mixed ages. There are many different sections and it’s a complicated place. I want to learn more about it and really understand it by the time I leave. This may or may not happen, but I’ll try. One thing that I find comforting about the city is a few smells that repeat. I smell honeysuckle almost everywhere I walk and I know that I can look up and see vines of it covering walls and fences. I think they’re part of my favorite thing about Rome right now.