Monthly Archives: June 2013

Five things I am still not used to in Italy

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I am nearing the end of my fifth week in the Eternal City and my time here has been nothing less than amazing. I have enjoyed almost everything, from eating Chocolate croissants with my daily cappuccino to having the ability to walk to St. Peter’s square in 13 minutes. However, as much as I enjoy Rome and some of the aspects of the Italian culture, there are five things I have yet to get used to and question if I ever would even if I was here for a full semester

1. People are still wearing long pants in 80+ degree weather

Coloseum at Day

Just take note of the number of people wearing long pants..

The weather in Rome the past two weeks has been so nice, but so hot. Last week, when I walked outside, even just for a few minutes, I was sweating. Yet, a lot of Italians were still wearing long pants and I am talking heavy jeans. The even weirder part is that while I am in shorts and a light shirt sweating like crazy, the Italians are wearing long pants and aren’t even breaking a sweat. This in no way affects me, but I cannot even understand how that is comfortable for the Italians.

 2. People automatically know I am American, no matter how I try to blend in

Prior to my departure for Rome and during the first week after my arrival, the Temple Rome staff, previous Temple Rome students, and outside friends tried to give me tips on how not to appear American. I often heard do not bring any items with an American Flag (clearly), try not to wear a lot of clothing with distinct brand names, and try to speak Italian, even if it is just a greeting. Well, I heeded all of their suggestions, but I found that no matter how I dressed, what I was carrying, or even if I attempted to speak Italian, EVERYONE knew I was American.

Trastevere at night

Trastevere at night = a lot of fun!

I distinctly remember one night, I was out in Trastevere, a very fun part of Rome, with just a few other friends (not a huge group) going from bar to bar. As we walked down the street, at least three different men said, “Americani?” as we walked by. From just a glance, Italians know we are American.  At first, being easily identified as American did not bother me so much, but after being in Rome for a month and continuously getting singled out and “cat called” gets old and can lead to problems (see below).

2.5. Having to watch my back to a whole new level

So, it is a little annoying being so easily identified as American, but it becomes down right frustrating when I am treated differently because of it. On the one hand, I have been given exceptionally poor service at restaurants and eateries because they knew I was American. I know that Italians are not big on service (I learned quickly after sitting in a restaurant for 15 minutes without even receiving water), but I feel that the poor service is exacerbated by the fact that I am American. For instance, one day at a local pizza shop near campus, the worker served everyone before me and even people behind me before they served me. I have found that this happens most often at establishments where you go up and order food like pizzerias and bakeries. No one likes getting ignored and when it occurs over and over again at different establishments, it gets very frustrating. However, that is not the worst part. Being identified as an American and therefore, a presumed tourist, people have tried to rip me and my friends off like crazy. It has ranged from not getting the correct change back at the bar on multiple occasions to being charged €30 for a 5 minute taxi ride to a closed subway station after a concert. Attending Temple University main campus and living in Philadelphia for the past two years has made me pretty street smart, but living in a foreign country that speaks a different language brings on a whole new set of challenges and dangers.

3. Italians have no form of a line

I was warned about this, and I even experienced the Italian form of a line (AKA a mob) the moment I stepped off the plane in Rome, but this is one aspect I don’t think I could ever adjust to. Why, you might ask? Well, I am just too much of a logical, orderly person. I enjoy order. If I walk into an establishment, let’s just say I’m ordering gelato for the 8th time this week, I feel it is right that I get served after the person who entered before me, but before the person who entered after me. That doesn’t sound crazy, right? Well, in Rome the person who can maneuver themselves to the counter first is the person who gets served first. Therefore, if a little boy at the deli can wiggle his way to the front, he can order three sandwiches before the people who have been waiting can even order one. My best advice to someone visiting Rome, just get ready for some bumping and pushing.

 4. Unreliability of the Internet

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Both at the residence and even on campus the internet can be unreliable. Just the other day, my classmates and I were on campus trying to put the finishing touches on our Art History papers before the class and the internet was just not working. This is not so much a problem, but when I have do work whether it is school related or updating the blog, it can get tricky. When I return to the states in three weeks, I will definitely take a moment to appreciate the fast, reliable internet that I have.

 5. How much history this city holds

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The inside of the Colosseum 

Every time I pass the Colosseum, I cannot help but picture a Roman warrior walking into the amphitheater preparing for the battle he is soon to face. I also can’t help but imagine Raphael and other great artists painting their famous pieces for churches all across Rome. Every day I feel that I learn something new about the rich history of Rome and come appreciate the city even more. I do not think that even if I lived here for a lifetime, I would appreciate the history of Rome or Italy any less.

I knew studying abroad was not going to be easy at times, but all the good times I have had and the memories I have made far outweigh any challenge I faced.

Putting the “study” in study abroad

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It became very apparent that I was half way through my time in Rome when I was faced with an Introduction to Risk Management midterm last Thursday. It is so hard to believe that I am already half way done my study abroad semester in Rome and in three weeks I will be departing from something that has already become so familiar.

Before I left Philadelphia I knew I was enrolled in two courses and was traveling to Rome to study, but (in all honesty) I never thought that my classes would impact my time in Rome. I thought that I would learn a bit about art in Rome in The History of Art in Rome and fulfill a business requirement in An Introduction to Risk Management. I never imagined that BOTH of my classes would enhance my experience in Rome and bring more meaning to the culture I am immersed in.

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A view of the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Museums

Every week my art class meets on Tuesday night for a two-hour lecture and on Wednesday morning for a three-hour on-site visit somewhere in Rome. The first week of class, we met at the Pantheon and the Capitoline Museums, and just last week my class met in front of the Colosseum before we visited the basilica of San Clemente and Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.

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My professor Frank Dabell explaining the history of the Colosseum and the colossal statue of Nero that once stood beside the amphitheater

This week my class visited the beautiful Villa “la Fernesina” in the Travestevere area of Rome.

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This Villa served as a private home to Agostine Chigi, who was a rich Sienese banker and the treasurer of Pope Julius II. Chigi was so rich that he was able to hire great painters of the time, like Raphael, to paint frescoes in his private home. When we visited the villa on Wednesday morning, my professor Frank Dabell brought the villa to life by explaining not only the subjects in each piece or art, but also what the works would have meant to the people during the 1500s.

I don’t mean to sound cliché, but learning about the details of these ancient sites brings the city of Rome to life because it adds meaning to the ruins and sites of all centuries and gives me the ability to visualize how ancient Rome would have looked and felt.

The best part of my Art History course is my professor, Frank Dabell. From the moment I sat in the first Tuesday night lecture, I could tell he had a passion for art and it was very evident that he knew anything and everything about works of art in Rome and all over the world. Oh by the way, Professor Dabell is ranked as one of the “World’s Greatest Tour Guides” by Travel and Leisure Magazine  for his knowledge on art and architecture in Rome. Seriously, how cool is that??

It is probably no surprise that learning about the history of art in Rome would enhance my time here, but would you think that enrolling in an introductory risk management course would make my time in Rome more meaningful? Probably not, but Professor Michael McCloskey’s class does!

In nearly every class Professor McCloskey connects “American” risk management topics to the Italian culture. Whether it is discussing the high tax rate (nearly 50 percent) imposed on Italian businesses or the tendency of Italians not to sue over accidents, unlike our lawsuit culture in America. Professor McCloskey also invited three guest speakers to speak to our class, including a Lawyer from Texas that was featured in an episode of House Hunters International and a Temple University Alumni who works for Munich RE in Munich, Germany. My favorite guest speaker was Katie Parla a New Jersey native who runs a blog about food in Rome. Parla talked about her experiences writing a book for National Geographic, running her blog , and the difference in risk exposures and liabilities she faces between Italy and the United States.

Now I must get back to writing my 6-page art history paper on the Mausoleum of Santa Costanza… Ciao.

The beauty of living in Rome

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Beauty can be found everywhere in Rome from the ancient ruins and the architectural style of buildings to even the beautiful people. However, this past week has shown me that one of the greatest beauties or benefits of living in Rome is the ability to experience both the Italian and European culture.

This past weekend I traveled to Paris, France, and it was the most spontaneous thing I think I have ever done. It was Tuesday morning, and I was just hanging out in the Temple Rome computer lab with a few friends and we said, “Let’s just look up flights to Paris on Friday for fun.” That’s when it all happened. We decided that the prices were not too bad, we were all dying to go to Paris, we realized we would never have this opportunity again in our lives, and we booked our flight for Friday morning! Never in my life would I imagine that I would book a weekend trip to Paris (or any other trip for that matter) just three days in advance, but that is the beauty of living in Rome.

On Friday at 7:10am we took off from Rome and within two hours we touched done in arguably the most romantic city in the world.

Landing in Paris

My view of the Eiffel Tower as we landed = Perfection!

After we stepped off the plane and before even grabbing our luggage, we sprinted to the airport Starbucks. Now you are probably asking yourself “of all foods the French are known for like baguettes, macaroons, and cheese why are four American students running to the Starbucks?” Well you see, we have been deprived of a large cup of coffee (which is much different than an Italian cappuccino) since we took off from Philadelphia in late May. Also, we awoke for our flight at 3:15am, so we were really in need of a pick-me-up.

We arrived at our hotel, dropped off the luggage, and off we went exploring Paris! Our first stop was a local bakery.

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What American tourist can walk through the streets of Paris without eating a baguette? Not us.

During our weekend in Paris we visited Place des Vosges (the oldest square in Paris), Notre Dame, the Louve, the Eiffel tower, and a few other places. As much as I would love to detail every second of my time in Paris because I absolutely fell in love with the city, I feel it right to highlight just two parts: putting our lock on the lock bridge and ascending the Eiffel Tower at dusk.

Our Lock

In Paris, there is a theory that if a couple writes their name on a lock and attaches it to one of the many lock bridges then throws the key into the river, it is a symbol of their undying love.

Lock Bridge

Since none of us four girls are at the point that we want to confess our undying love to a significant other, we decided to make our own lock and attach to the Pont des Arts Bridge to commemorate our time together in Paris and Rome.

Lock Bridge

My favorite part about our lock is the bridge that it is locked to, the Pont des Arts Bridge. This bridge was featured in the final episode of Sex and the City when Mr. Big (Chris Noth) comes to Paris to rescue Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker). In the scene on the bridge, Big tells Carrie that she is THE one.

The Pont des Arts Bridge was also recently featured in John Mayer’s “Something like Olivia” music video.

Lock Bridge

Just me waiting for my Mr. Big (aka Mr. Mayer!!)

The Eiffel Tower

On the top of my list of things to do while in Paris was going to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and it was incredible! The 360 views of the city were unparalleled to anything that I had ever seen before and I would say it is a “must do” for anyone visiting Paris.

Eiffel Tower

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My weekend in Paris was amazing! When I was on the plane heading back to Rome I have to admit I was a little sad, but I think that was because I knew I had my Risk Management midterm in four days.

Not all who wonder are lost

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It was Monday, our first day of classes, my friends had just finished their Italian class and we had all enjoyed a slice of Italian pizza, and then the question came up, “Well, what should we do?” We had not seen a lot of the city and our list of sights to see was immense, but how do we even decide where to begin? The answer, we had no clue where to even begin. We strolled (because that is what Italians do, they don’t walk) over to The Trevi Fountain, but from there we just explored.

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Here is how our exploring went:

“Oh, this street looks really pretty. Let’s go this way!”

*Walk a block*

“A lot of people look like they are walking up this hill. Let’s go this way!”

*Walk a few blocks*

“There looks like there are a lot shops on this street. We should go this way!”

*Walk a block*

“Does anyone know where we are…?”

…No one has clue.

We soon walked into a park that had a cinema, a playground for little kids, and a beautiful landscape. We strolled a little further and came across a bike rental booth and the four of us figured, “Why the heck not?”

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We rented a four person bike for an hour and off we went. At first, peddling and steering the bike was entertaining enough, but once we got it down we were free to explore. We peddled past fountains and people picnicking in the park and then we came across this…

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It was at this moment that we all said, “Oh my gosh, we are in the Borghese Gardens!!!” We had visiting the gardens on our Italian Bucket List, but stumbling on to this breathtaking view, was breathtaking in itself.

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Yes, that is The Vatican on the horizon! Discovering the Borghese Gardens by accident was just my first experience with exploring Rome by wondering. There is something to be said about getting lost (with a group of people or course, Hi Mom and Dad!) and exploring off the beaten path. Here’s another example!

It was Tuesday night, and a group of us decided to try the Ice Bar located in Rome. The bar was a very different experience! At -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), the entire bar from the walls to the sitting areas were coated in ice and our drinks were even served in cups made of ice.

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However, we could only last so long in this ice box, before we were on the brink of freezing. We left the bar and started walking towards a main street and when we turned the corner there was the Coliseum lite up against the dark night sky!!

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This was the first time any of us had seen the Coliseum and we did not even have to battle large tourist crowds to get a clear sight. After we had a mini photo shoot, we headed back to the residence and called it a night. The next day, I added visiting all the major ruins and monuments at night when they are glowing in the night sky and the crowds are minimal to my Italian Bucket List.

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