Saying “Hi” to My Neighbor Pope Francis

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It’s been a crazy week full of meeting people (both Italians and my American colleagues), walking all over a new city, eating great food, and becoming acquainted with…well, everything. At first, it was the odd things that stuck out to me (Italians apparently take their dogs everywhere from weddings to supermarkets and casual mass gatherings in the Vatican City.); but now that I’ve had time to introduce myself to the city, I’ve been able to really take in this change. I’m constantly hit with that feeling of “oh my goodness…I can’t believe that I’m in Italy right now,” and while I have yet to see the end of those realizations, I’m starting to feel comfortable here. This week was all about getting acquainted with Italian culture: how they shop, get around, eat (and what they eat), as well as noticing what parts of other cultures they seem to have adopted. For instance, you can find french fries in many food places, there’s a McDonald’s and a Burger King down the street, and almost every Tabacchi store (a convenience store of sorts) seems to have some trinket involving an American TV show or movie.

On Saturday, Temple Rome took a trip to the beautiful town of Todi in the Umbria region of Italy. A real “city upon a hill,” I was astounded by Todi, the breathtaking beauty of it and the idea of looking below you and seeing the world. The ride was two hours of rushing past the city of Rome and reaching the stretching farmland. The city itself seemed to be as untouched by time as you could expect to find, with alleyways, arches, and cobblestone sprinkled across hills upon hills. It not only reminded us of the Italy that you find on Google Images, but it also reminded us of the beauty that can exist outside of Rome, how much of Italy there is to see and how 15 weeks is plenty of time, but almost not enough to experience it all.

From there, we went to Titignano to have a seven course meal in an ancient castle. The castle, built by a member of the Montemarte family in 937 A.D., is known as a vacation spot, wedding venue, etc. In fact, there was a wedding about to take place as we were leaving. With a large dining hall and an incredible view of the landscape below, we dined on two different kinds of pasta, three different kinds of meat, cold cuts, tiramisu, and more.

To top it all off, my week ended with witnessing the Canonization of Mother Teresa at the Vatican. Me and two of my friends stood in a crowd of people as Pope Francis officially declared Mother Teresa a patron saint. It was a piece of history that we never thought we would have the opportunity to experience, let alone be a part of. There were so many people from around the world standing around us and we were able to witness something incredibly important together.14231787_10209060449422012_3119729298408355701_o

The entire week, from orientation to the dinner and the canonization, was full of experiences that solidified it for me: Yes, I can believe I am in Rome. It’s different; it’s confusing and embarrassing sometimes (especially considering the language barrier), but it’s always new and never not entertaining.

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