I’ve officially been in Rome for almost three weeks now. Nineteen days is just enough time for this adventure to stop feeling like a vacation and more like daily life. That being said, I’ve noticed quite a few differences between your average day in America and your average day in Italy:
1. Breakfast For Italians, breakfast involves stopping at a bar (AKA café), standing at the counter, and quickly drinking a cappuccino or espresso, and maybe eating some sort of pastry. I thought I was going to have to kiss big hearty American breakfasts of eggs, bacon, toast, etc. goodbye for four months until this past Saturday when my friends and I were so desperate that we Googled “places to get pancakes in Rome.” An hour later we found ourselves across town at this little place called The Bakery House, AKA heaven. We got iced coffee, pancakes, omelets, bacon, and all the works. It cost double what it would at a diner in the states, but it was worth every penny.
2. Juice I’m pretty sure Italians consume more juice than your average five year old. At every single grocery store, sandwich shop, or market, there’s always approximately thirty-four different flavors and brands of juice. My favorite thus far is blood orange juice which tastes more like grapefruit juice than orange juice but I don’t care because it is delicious and the prettiest color.
3. I Think I Saw That in My History Book? In the morning I usually take the bus to class. Taking a bus seems pretty normal right? Well, it’s not that typical when the stop you get on at has an incredible view of St. Peter’s Basilica peaking through the trees. Like… hey Francis. If I choose to walk, I have to cross the bridge over the Tiber River to get to school. Last Friday our group tour met at Piazza del Colosseo. We walked out of the metro station and BAM: there was the Colosseum. Everywhere I turn I feel like I’m walking through some sort of wall calendar that you buy at a Hallmark store.
4. Kale? Quinoa? Crossfit? Scusi? The health movement that is so prevalent in America has definitely not caught on in Italy. And to be honest, it’s kind of refreshing. While I do enjoy a good workout and green juice from Whole Foods every now and then, it’s cool to experience a group of people who are so comfortable in their own bodies and eat what makes them happy. For example, it’s very common to see fully-grown adult men in suits and women in pencil skirts and heels walking down the street eating gelato at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It is also very rare to see people running outside or to pass by any gyms. Also, CARBS. No explanation necessary there.
5. Sandy…. Water! The water situation since I’ve gotten here has been peculiar. Peculiar as in I constantly feel dehydrated even when I’m chugging it by the gallon. It’s a very strange phenomenon. But anyway, I personally think the bottled water here tastes a little funny, so I opt for drinking the water that come out of the fountains on the street. In America you couldn’t pay me enough to put my mouth up to one of those grimy things, but for some reason it seems okay here because they’re just so cool.
6. Pass the Microscope, Please Even though we might not notice it, everything you hear about American things being supersized is 100% true. Cars, coffees, televisions, portions of meals at restaurants, cups, refrigerators, closets, notebooks, etc, are significantly smaller in Italy. I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good or bad thing.
7. Vending Machines When I think of vending machines that serve coffee in America, I think dirt. However, the addition of the Italian cappuccino vending machine to my life has drastically increased my overall happiness. For 50 cents you can get any sort of espresso drink in the matter of thirty seconds. Sorcery.
8. Class Back at Fordham, I go to class, I read Buzzfeed articles, I take some notes and answer some questions, and then I leave. However in Rome, since three out of my five classes meet on site out of the classroom, there is no hiding behind my laptop. Since classes started two weeks ago, I have been completely immersed, physically and mentally, in all I have been learning.
9. Space I have had my personal bubble popped by Italians far too many times. If I can tell what you ate for lunch judging by the arugula stuck in your teeth, then please step away, sir.
10. Where’s the CVS? CVS doesn’t exist in Rome. Nor does Walgreens. Or Target. Or Walmart. That being said, it’s pretty difficult to track down things like notebooks, shampoo, pens, or any other staple items you can think of. For these things you have to go to either a tabacchi (tobacco store) or a farmacia (pharmacy). Tabacchis are usually independently owned and all a little different, but most things you buy are stacked behind the counter so you have to ask the attendant (who typically doesn’t speak English) for what you want. Taking a trip to a tabacchi has yet to be a dull moment.
11. Late Night Snacking At home, when my friends and I are hungry at 2 am, we usually find ourselves at McDonalds or iHop. However, Rome does late night eating a little differently. They have 24-hour bakeries. Yes, you heard me correctly. Bakeries that are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And conveniently, I live right down the street from one! You can’t go wrong with the giant pizza or the bombas.
12. What is this, the Age of the Dinosaurs? While I am still madly in love with Rome, Italy is definitely behind the times on a lot of things. Wifi, deodorant, and air conditioning are all at the top of the list.
Through the good and the bad, Italy has certainly treated me well these first three weeks. As I prepare for another full week of classes and adventures, I can’t even express how (hashtag) blessed I am to be here.