Monthly Archives: November 2016

Seeing Rome Through New Eyes

Standard

This past week, I was visited by my mom and her best friend. The morning they arrived we headed over to see the art collection in Galleria Colonna, walked through the Piazza del Campidoglio, and headed down through the warmly colored streets of Trastevere for a long and lazy lunch. In these few hours following their arrival I could feel myself seeing Rome through fresh eyes again, almost as if it was back to late August when I was seeing Rome for the first time. At each corner we turned we noticed a beautifully colored building, flowers pouring out of a windowsill, or relaxed Romans reading the paper on a sun-drenched bench. Although I do notice these expressive and evocative details when I wander Rome on my own, there was something special about experiencing the awe and appreciation of a visitor. Unlike when I first got to Rome, however, this time I felt utterly comfortable in my environment, not constantly having to pull out a map or worry I was heading in the wrong direction.

img_3743

After indulging in ricotta and spinach filled ravioli and white wine, we meandered through the maze of streets with no schedule to follow, stopping to enjoy every interesting sight we passed. We stepped into the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, a beautiful church I have passed countless times without ever actually going inside. This stop was the beginning of a wake-up call for my last month here—a reminder to take all the opportunities for cultural immersion and exploration that naturally arise from living in Rome.

Throughout the rest of the week I took full advantage of their stay, and went with them on each of their excursions to museums, monuments, meals and long walks. I was forced to think about how much of Rome I haven’t yet seen, and became almost overwhelmed by how much more there is to do before the semester ends. It also spurred in me a resolution to not take any moment in the next 6 weeks for granted, and to actually take the initiative to accomplish my goals and hopes for the semester.

It is almost as if the fact that I am staying in Rome for so long has made me less inclined to rush to do everything that is so classically emblematic of the city. However, I’ve come to realize that no matter how many touristic outings I go on in Rome, there is always always more to see and absorb. I feel so inspired and enriched by my daily life in Rome, whether it has been hearing in-depth analyses of Renaissance art work, or having fleeting interactions with locals. The more my days are filled with the overwhelming artistic and historical stimuli of the buzzing city, the more I crave to stay here longer, and the more I wish to discover the monuments and hidden wonders that make up the full Roman experience.

Soccer Games, International EU Relations, & A New President

Standard

This past week I went to my first soccer game and we got a new president. (Woah. It was kind of a lot). The soccer game (Rome versus Bologna) was a lot of fun and really cool! The game was held in the old olympic stadium; there were very cool mosaics on the ground of various olympic events. We had awesome seats and while I know next to nothing about soccer, I was sitting next to some very knowledgable friends who didn’t mind me asking a lot of questions. (Rule #1 of going to a sporting event of which you know nothing about: Go with someone who knows everything about said sport and don’t be afraid to ask them questions!) Our team (Roma obviously!) won by a 3-0 shut out and it was an incredible experience to be there with all of those fans, singing their songs and chanting with them. (Also, the Roma scarves we got resemble the Gryffindor scarves from Harry Potter so that was a definite plus.)

Then, the rest of the week was shrouded by a cloud, a weird, “I’m not too sure how to talk about this, but all Italians keep asking me about this,” sensitive, unpredictable, election cloud. Everywhere I went people mentioned the election to me, and all of my Temple Rome colleagues were excited (in a way), nervous, and overall stressed about the turnout. It’s no secret that this election cycle has been gritty, dirty, and particularly whirlwind-ish. There are people in our program who were rooting for one candidate and people who were rooting for the other; it was tense. When Wednesday emerged and we had a new president, there were mixed feelings and no one really knew what to make of the outcome.

In my political science class with professor Bordignon, we had the opportunity to go to a discussion/debate on the impacts of a Trump presidency on the US’ relations with Europe, specifically the EU. We got to hear the vice-president and one of the former vice-presidents of the EU speak. We also got to hear various ambassadors (Italian and American) of the US for Europe and vice-versa give their take on what they believe the outcome of this presidency will mean for them. There were speakers that were liasons, members of the EU parliament, and journalists from the Associated Press. It was really interesting to get the European prospective, especially since the US has had such a close relationship with the EU beforehand. While we were a bit underdressed and unprepared, we were stationed to watch in the overflow room with the refreshments and the press. So, naturally, we had our pictures taken and were interviewed by Italian news personnel and journalists. It was fun getting to give our point of view to the people who asked and who were surrounding us, and we even ended up on Italian news for a couple seconds! We also got to keep our badges which was very awesome.

20161111_095517

Overall, it was a crazy rollercoaster of a week. I spent it elated, worried, stressed, and then happy again. Lather, rinse, repeat. But my main take away was the invaluable experience of being a part of things that exist at home, but have an impact or are treated differently abroad.

It’s Okay to Feel Homesick

Standard

So, let’s talk about homesickness. I’ve been hearing from some of my colleagues in the program that these most recent couple of weeks since fall break have been slightly challenging due to a bit of homesickness, and to be honest, I was feeling it too. Over break, my mom came to visit as did many family members of other students in the program, and the thing we can all agree on is that it was hard to say goodbye. Many of us traveled to other countries with inhabitants whose native language is English or traveled to countries where citizens spoke more English — making that transition back was hard as well. And some of my friends went to the countries that were home to their family’s history and nationality. Having those experiences was great and incredible and making the adjustment back was a bit harder than the rest of us realized.

All of a sudden we were missing brunch (particularly pancakes), an actual fall, blankets and fireplaces and sports (Congrats, Cubs!), iced beverages, and all of the things/people we can find in our hometowns and cities. It wasn’t that we didn’t miss them before, it’s that we were missing them a lot more now. I can say that personally, it was weird and I didn’t like it, or better, I felt a bit guilty for it. Here I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I want to go back to Vienna and stay with my mom for a couple days, or am wondering what it would be like to come back home. I also felt the awareness of this weird stigma about homesickness, one that made it out to be something weaker people felt. But the reality is: we (as in my fellow Temple Rome students) are all bound to feel it at some point.

I think the best thing you can do is let yourself feel it and let it pass, be honest about it and talk to your friends because the odds are that you are not the only one feeling this way at least to some extent. And even your family would understand, so it may help to talk to them about it. But, it’s also nice to remind yourself of the beauty that surrounds you and the home you can find in your new environment (even if it’s not what you have at home).

As time goes on, the urge to be home will most likely pass and everything will return back to normal. This doesn’t mean you won’t miss anything, but that you’ll miss it casually as you most likely did before (except pancakes, I would sell a kidney for some IHOP right about now), but just remember that it’s a part of the natural process and it’s not worth stressing over. Everything will be fine and you’ll be back home in no time…most likely wishing you were back abroad haha!

14721721_10154682408579923_7527154727779150216_n