It’s so hard to believe that in one month and five days I’ll be headed back to America. The time went by a lot faster than I expected it too. I feel like I woke up one day and all of a sudden it was November. Whenever I get homesick or start comparing food or culture in Rome, I always have to remind myself that probably about a week after I get back I’ll want to come back. I would say that the biggest challenge when studying abroad is definitely dealing with the stress of actually having to do work, but not really doing anything about it because you’re in such a beautiful country. It really is a weird feeling to have; I don’t think I’ve ever been more torn about school work before. Trying to fit in seeing all of Rome this semester while dealing with the very depressing reality that I’m still a student with responsibilities is pretty difficult.
After hours of researching and studying, if I’m still feeling overwhelmed, I like to get out in the city and just explore. I really enjoy getting off at the Flaminio metro stop and walk through the arch to Piazza Del Popolo. Piazza Del Popolo is amazing because it’s not in the center of the city and it’s crowded, but not completely overwhelmed by tourists. In the center is a huge obelisk that serves as a center point for the Piazza. Via Del Corso is a highly popular street that connects the Piazza with the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel. Via Del Corso is a very touristy shopping area, but it’s still a pleasant walk that lets you see a large part of Rome.
Another thing I like about the area is that it is so close to the Villa Borghese. The entrance can be seen from the entrance of Piazza Del Popolo. These attractions, combined with the multiple bars and pizzerias make it very easy for me to spend a whole day in just that one area. Overall, the area around the Flaminio stop is a great place to spend my weekends. Though both areas are extremely popular, it does not have the chaotic feeling of walking around the Pantheon or the Colosseum.
As far as routines go, I am lucky that I get the chance to walk by the Piazza and Villa Borghese as I get off the metro and walk to class. I get the feeling that people who usually spend their time on the outskirts of Piazza Del Popolo are very business-like and work oriented. Almost all the buildings I walk by on the way to school are office buildings, and most people are wearing suits just like in any other city. It makes me feel like I’m actually living in Rome, as opposed to just staying near the touristy areas. I think the most interesting thing about Rome is that there is an exquisite combination of antique and historical monuments within a modern city. Coming from Chicago, it’s such a change to not see just office buildings everywhere, but thousand year old arches across the street from one.
One of my favorite times of the year! One of the reasons autumn is my favorite season is because it has my favorite holidays (besides Christmas). Though experiencing fall in Rome is lovely, Halloween and Thanksgiving are not the same (or non-existent) in Rome. Italians celebrate Halloween, but not to the extent of Americans. They don’t have Halloween stores popping up on every corner, and they don’t spend all their time and energy thinking up the perfect costume to show off. I felt so odd getting on the metro and walking down the street last night in my Wednesday Addams costume. The only other people around me that were dressed up were my American friends. It might be different outside of the city, but the only places that seemed to be celebrating too were the American pubs.
First appearance as Wednesday Addams.
It is actually a little odd. My Italian professor told us that Halloween just isn’t a big holiday here. At least it’s just a little lackluster in comparison to America, where we go all out on decoration, costumes and parties. There were decorations in the grocery store, but that was about it. No one mentioned Halloween or what costumes they would wear. I guess I could compare it to Americans going all out and celebrating Labor Day or something. My professor said that children don’t really trick-or-treat either, which is so sad to think about.
On the bright side, Italy celebrates All Saint’s Day, which is right after Halloween. I’m not sure that it’s recognized in America; at least I’ve never even acknowledged it. It takes place on November 1st and 2nd, and is a day to honor all the Saints. I suppose that more has to do with the church than anything else. It would be such a treat to experience a huge celebration specific to Italy, like Germany’s Oktoberfest or American Halloween. However, I haven’t heard about anything really happening this semester, but I can dream.
I also just figured out that another name for All Saint’s Day is All Hallows. So the day before that would be All Hallows Eve, which is another way to say Halloween. EVERYTHING IS STARTING TO MAKE SENSE. Seriously though, it’s so interesting how each culture celebrates a holiday and has its own variations of celebration.
I guess this is a good preparation for Thanksgiving. It was tough enough not being able to celebrate Halloween like I would in America, and I know that it’ll be even more brutal celebrating Thanksgiving. I love the food in Rome, but I don’t think pasta is going to cut it for a holiday celebration.
Despite me having a super American night in Rome, I still had a great time. Everyone recognized who I was supposed to be, which was pretty cool. Someone even said I “killed it” as Wednesday. I hope they were talking about my crafting abilities, and not her insanely dry and morbid personality. It of course ended with me going to the 24 hour bakery down the street from the Vatican. But then again, that’s how most of my nights turn out. You just can’t beat those chocolate filled donuts.
The 24 hour bakery gets a visit from me about 5 times a week.
I know I am kind of on a school kick, but midterms have just finished and I am feeling pretty good about everything to do with classes right now. I thought that taking in classes in Rome would do nothing but prevent me from spending all my time exploring Italy and Europe, but the experience of actually taking classes here has been invaluable. While they can seem like nothing but a nuisance when trying to book cheap flights to other places in Europe, the classes offered here have seriously expanded my knowledge of Italian history and culture and actually provided me a great way to explore the museums in the city! All of the pictures included in this post were taken in class, as part of the actual weekly site visits offered instead of classroom lectures.
I love the classes here! Rome is definitely one of the best cities in the world to see art, and it’s no surprise that studying art history here is utterly amazing. I am taking an art history class here, and it is absolutely unbelievable to have a class focused on the art of Raphael while sitting on the floor of Chigi Villa or the Galleria Borghese looking directly at examples of his work. I am a history major, but I’ve largely been uninterested in art history because I frequently feel it lacks the hands-on quality of other historical disciplines. That’s just not the case here. Here, we have classes on the way Renaissance architects pulled lessons from the Colosseum while sitting in front of the actual Colosseum. It’s kind of a surreal experience, but it certainly makes these classes amazingly memorable!
I am also taking a museum class that has been much more amazing than I had thought it could be. Museum theory sounds like an incredibly boring subject, but with weekly visits to the most prestigious and well known museums in Rome, this class has been anything but boring. Not only has this class been educational in an academic sense, but it has also taken me to many museums that I would not have thought to go to on my own. Even if I accomplish nothing in the way of exploring Rome in a week, I always get at least one trip to a museum to cross off my list!
Last week and midterms was one of the most frustrating experiences I have had in Rome. It seemed like they were so much harder than midterms back home, but that’s because academics seem like much less of a priority here. Even though Rome is amazing, and Fridays off are pretty much the best thing ever, I am taking some of the most interesting classes I ever have here in subjects that I never considered before. Studying abroad has been such an amazing experience for me, both academically and personally.
Fall break is final here! Well, it’s actually halfway through now, but that’s not important. After a truly terribly midterms week, it’s time for some vacation. I’m leaving Italy for the first time this semester, and spending break in Sweden, Poland, and Belgium! How did we choose these places? Well, travel tip time! Skyscanner.com has an option where you can select your departing airport and the dates you want to travel, and the website tells you all of the cheapest flights leaving on those days, and then you just have to pick a location! Even though Sweden was just sort of randomly selected for this trip, the three days we spent in Sweden were totally amazing.
if you’re a college student looking for a cheap, beautiful trip, go to Sweden! We visited Göteborg, which is on the opposite coast of Stockholm, and the people of the two cities have a weirdly intense rivalry. The transit pass there is very inexpensive, and also includes ferry rides around the Barbour to see the beautiful little islands off the coast of the city. Plus, almost all of the museums are free for people under 25! We visited 5 museums while we were there, and all of them were awesome.
There were two exhibits going on in particular that I loved. The Göteburg city museum had a special exhibit on the Romani people that was fascinating and heartbreaking. The other, at the museum of world culture, was a special exhibit of queer Chinese artists and their works dealing with the struggle of integrating both their identities of queer and Chinese. The exhibition was incredibly moving, especially for me as a queer woman. My only major issue was there was a noticeable lack of female artists as part of the exhibit. Out of 28 artists featured, only 6 were women. The descriptions also came off a bit condescending as well. Sweden has an amazing track record when it comes to queer rights, miles ahead of China, but some of the plaques come off needlessly comparative in an exhibit that highlights the work of Chinese artists and activists. Especially since before contact with the west, China didn’t have a problem with homosexuality.
Warsaw is incredible as well. The city is beautiful, an sill manages to feel like an old European city with a full history even though most of it has newly been rebuilt after it was completely leveled in World War 2. Plus, the symbol on their city is a mermaid holding a sword. How awesome is that? The only city who’s symbol is as cool is Brussels, who has taken the statue of the peeing baby as their mascot. Image of the baby are everywhere, and there’s even a large exhibit of his outfits in the city museum!
i haven’t been in Belgium for long yet, but from what I’ve seen the city is fabulous. Though the map I found boasts “Brussels is an ugly city-and we love it!”there are beautiful examples of Gothic architecture everywhere, something you just don’t see in Rome. Fall break has been an amazing experience, and even though it feels like a vacation from our vacation, it was definitely a needed break.
After the stress of midterms, the only thing I wanted to do was to get away and relax. I had four tests to study for and due dates for research papers looming. My only solace was the knowledge that I would be on Fall Break soon. I was so excited to go backpacking through Croatia with my friend Paige. We planned on taking a ferry from Ancona to Split and then make our way through Plitvice, Zagreb, and then loop back to Trieste and Venice in order to take a train back to Rome. I wanted nothing more than to get away from the crowded and overpopulated city life.
Croatia was gorgeous…
Croatia was absolutely beautiful. I seriously had the time of my life there. But as the week wore on, I started to grow homesick. Not of Chicago, but of Rome. I think this week was very important for me in that aspect. Beforehand, I had a hard time thinking of Rome as my home. I thought of Rome as a vacation, a time to enjoy myself and just go crazy. It was just a place for me to stay for 4 months before I got back to “real life”.
I guess I’ll call it Study Abroad Inception. I went to Rome for a semester instead of staying at school in America, and then traveled to Croatia during my time off in Rome. It seemed kind of like a vacation within a vacation. My traveling made me realize that I missed Rome. A lot. I missed my bed and my cozy apartment. I missed a shower that I could call my own. I missed the 24 hour bakery (more than I’m willing to admit). I missed the relaxed nature of living in Rome.
…but I still missed lovely Roma
There is a comfort to returning to a place you’ve settled down in, wherever that may be. Studying at Temple Rome is not just a sightseeing vacation. I have homework, a routine, and the opportunity to go at my own pace. It is so much different than just being a traveler, trying to cram so much adventure in such a short amount of time. Being away for just a week made me realize that Rome has truly become my home, and traveling out of my comfort zone has let me appreciate my time in Rome even more. Just like living in Rome makes me miss Chicago, traveling to Croatia made me miss the comfort of Rome.
Don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with every place I traveled. My whole Fall Break exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait until my next adventure. I had such a great time, but I missed the little things about Rome that I might have taken advantage of before. I am so amazed that I can call Rome my second home. For anyone who plans to travel or study abroad at any point in their life: Appreciate every second of your time there. Don’t waste any time. My time in Rome is fleeting, but hopefully the memories I make will last forever.
In the United States, at any typical university, a fall break is given to students right after midterms. This fall break is usually spent by taking a few days off of classes and heading home to relax with family. Here for students at Temple Rome, fall break is spent by taking week long trips across Europe to all of the places you’ve only dreamed of seeing in your lifetime. I was lucky enough to have family come visit me for 2 weeks, arriving a week before fall break and staying for the duration of my break. First off, seeing my mom after a month and a half was much needed, it gave me that little piece of home that i had been searching for here in Italy. Also, my mom and three cousins had planned a trip to Paris, Florence, and Siena during my break and I was more than ready to be done with midterms and off to see more of the world! While I still had school, I got to spend time with my family in between classes showing them parts of Rome and enjoying delicious and relaxing meals with them. Then finally, the Friday night after my tests were finished, I headed to their hotel and after enjoying a meal at a German restaurant across the street, I headed to bed to prepare for our early flight to Paris. Paris is a place I had dreamed of going since I was a little girl, always fantasizing about what it would be like and hoping it would be like what I saw in the movies. I must say I truly fell in love with Paris. My top 4 highlights of my days spent there were:
1. The Eiffel Tower
Not only was the Eiffel tower the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, but it sparkled every hour! It was truly breathtaking and exceeded my expectations of what Paris would look like at night. It was almost as if the city had its own sun, the way it illuminated everything. It took me a long time to truly believe that I was standing in front of it (and eventually right underneath it!)
2. Notre Dame
This cathedral was MASSIVE and taking in the little details of the building was eye-opening and incredible. I had always heard stories of the gargoyles that topped it, but seeing them for myself was something I’ll never forget. When we went inside Notre Dame, there was a mass that was beginning and that only added to the beauty of the place.
3. Putting a lock on the Pont Des-Artes Bridge
When my parents came to Paris in 2011, they put a lock on the famous Pont Des-Artes bridge and said whoever in our family came to Paris after them had to also put a lock on the bridge. My mother and I never thought our chance would come so soon! We had a fun time writing on our lock and picking our special spot on the bridge. Hopefully I’ll get to return to see my lock soon!
4. Shakespeare and Company
The place where some of my favorite writers frequented during what I consider the golden age of Paris, during the lost generation. Knowing that I was walking inside walls that Ernest Hemingway also walked through, and wrote about, gave me an even greater picture of what Paris was like for writers and artists during that time. It also had me wishing I could take a time machine back to the early 20th century to experience Paris. Kinda sounds like a recent movie doesn’t it? (cough cough MIDNIGHT IN PARIS). Of course, I had to buy a Hemingway book A Moveable Feast at the quaint little shop, which featured the writer on the cover standing in front of the store itself. (too cool!)
After our amazing trip to Paris, i reluctantly boarded to plane to Florence, where we would be renting an apartment for the rest of our trip. We spent our days in Florence strolling the streets by the water and looking at the gems on the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge. We also ate delicious meals at adorable Italian restaurants and even enjoy some fun drinks at the new Hard Rock in the main area of Florence. We watched an Italian band perform on our last night and enjoyed bonding time as a family. Florence was full of artists and musicians roaming the streets and performing and selling their work to everyone. We really enjoyed our time in Florence and were very sad to have to say goodbye.
During our stay in Florence we took a day trip to the town of Siena. Siena was only a short train ride away and it was well worth it! It was a gorgeous medieval looking place that offered delicious Tuscan wines and authentic Italian meals. There were also many local shops that we had fun exploring. The Piazza Del Campo was beautiful and it was a nice little quiet escape from the busy places we had been visiting throughout the break.
Now that my family is back in the United States and I’m back in school, it’s time to finish my last half of the semester. I can’t believe so much time has gone by and we have less than 50 days left!