Monthly Archives: January 2013

Stumbling Upon Rome

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Ciao! It’s been a week since we’ve been in Roma and if there is anything I’ve learned, it is to always seize an opportunity when it’s presented to you.

Temple Rome offers a lot of great events the first week of orientation. At first, I was tentative to go to a few, being tired from jet lag and unsure how to make my way around the city. However, on the third day of being in Rome, I decided to go to the Temple Rome Walking Tour. That decision made for one of the best days of my life.

I, Tara, am from Arizona and go to school in California so the rainy weather in Rome was quite the shock to me. With the cold weather outside and the exhaustion of traveling settling in, my roommate and I hesitated on whether or not we should go on the walking tour. Thinking the walking tour was just getting to know the area around campus (best coffee, best lunch, etc.), we decided it would probably be good for us to go. So we rolled out of bed and made our way to campus. The tour started off pretty standard, passing by the necessities around campus.

Although I had been in Rome for 48 hours, I was still in denial that I was actually in the city that was so prevalent to my studies as a Classics Major. That day I finally realized I was not only in Rome, but I am and will be living in Rome for three months!

After the standard walk, we were led into Piazza del Popolo next to campus where there was a beautiful church with two Caravaggio paintings inside. Seeing those it almost hit me that I was in Rome…but not quite yet. We climbed steps through the Villa Borghese park that were steep and quite slippery. When we arrived to the top, my breath was taken away-not by the climb but by the view. There lied a view of ALL of Rome. Every monument peaking up along the skyline. Despite being completely mesmerized, it still didn’t fully hit me. Somehow being up so high made me feel like I wasn’t in Rome yet. I was just absorbing all the beauty as a spectator but I didnt feel like a participant quite yet. I was unaware that I was looking at countless monuments I would be seeing firsthand later that day. Our tour continued on and led us down some steps. Descending the last few steps, my roommate paused and said, “Wait…did we just walk down the Spanish Steps?” We turned around and sure enough, there were the Spanish steps. But still it didn’t quite hit me-the beauty was amazing but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around being in Rome.

On our way to the next site, we lost our group. We could see the Pantheon in the distance so we figured they were heading there. However, when we saw a sign saying “Fontavi di Trevi”, we thought we`d our own thing. When I turned the corner and saw the Trevi fountain I nearly died. I think it hit my roommate and me at the same time. We could hardly contain ourselves- exclamations were spewing from us, we were jumping up and down. Of course we made our wishes and threw our coins in.

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For lunch we found our group again and I had my first Italian pizza. The shop was so crowded and no one was in line. Everyone was screaming out their orders. Whoever was loudest got their food. So I plucked up my courage and did as the Romans do- shoved my way in and yelled for my food. It was the first moment I felt a bit like a local. Then we headed to the Pantheon and saw Rafael`s tomb.The dome was filled with such serenity and history that it somehow forced you to be silent in awe.

On our way back to the bus stop, we lost our group again so we had no idea where to go. My roommate turned to me, “I’m not ready to go home- do you feel like exploring Rome today?” So we picked a random monument on her map and headed in that direction. We walked through the streets of Rome finding little shops in the back streets.
When we turned the corner to our destination, it started to hail. And yet, the Altare Della Patria was brilliant underneath the stormy sky. When we crossed the street to get there, the hail had cleared and the sun was streaming from the puffy clouds onto the monument. Call me cheesy, but the monument looked heavenly. The marble had no way to drain the water so we were standing in a pool of rain on the marble, gazing in awe at the immense building. I`m not Italian but the monument was so gorgeous that I swear I felt a little patriotic.
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In the distance we saw a bit of a building. I thought it was….no, it couldn’t be. But sure enough, it was the Colosseum! I had told my roommate the day before that I felt like it wouldn’t hit me I was in Rome until I saw the Colosseum and there it was in the distance. We couldn’t believe how easy it was to accidentally stumble upon so many monuments! As we were approaching the Colosseum, we passed by the Roman Forum. The heavenly storm cloud light was still streaming down and the cold wind was so strong. And yet, it was the most magical thing to see.

It finally hit me. As a Classics major, this was a defining moment for me. I realized everything I have been studying is real. It happened. They aren’t just stories- it’s history. I was looking out onto everything I have only heard professors lecture about. There it was, right in front of me. People spoke Latin on those steps, people wore togas next to that column. I felt so privileged to get to study the Ancient Romans in the very place the lived in! Seeing the Colosseum just confirmed my love of ancient history. The immense size of the Colosseum was so overwhelming. So over 15 miles of walking and hundreds of “WOW”s later we headed back to our apartment in awe.

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What we thought was going to be a day of walking around campus turned out to be one of the most best days I’ve ever had. In the one week I have been in Rome, I wake up everyday not knowing what amazing experiences the day has in store for me. Whether it be noticing cultural differences or stumbling upon another monument, each day is an adventure.

Roman Holiday (literally)

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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.
 
Monday: 
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.
Tuesday: 
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.
Wednesday:
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).
 
Thursday
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).
Friday
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.
Saturday
 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.
 
Sunday:
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.
ciao,
Magali