You know what they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s spent a significant part of their life not knowing exactly what that phrase meant. It look me quite a while, but I think I finally understand its meaning. To me, that phrase is more or less the equivalent of “When in Rome, relax and enjoy yourself.”
If you’ve spent a decent amount of time in Philadelphia, Rome isn’t what you’re used to; things don’t move at 100 miles per hour (the traffic doesn’t allow for it). The people here are much more easygoing and relaxed than back in the bustling cities of the United States. As the most Type A person I’ve ever met, I found this to be the biggest adjustment. I’m the type of person who always needs to have a plan, so one of the most important things I learned from my time in Rome is that sometimes you just have to let things happen. If you’re spending all of your time trying to make sure that absolutely everything about your trip is perfect, you’re going to miss out on what it’s actually like in Rome.
Within the span of six weeks, things are certain to go awry occasionally. But, keep in mind that your time abroad is very precious, so it’s important to not let every little thing ruin your day. Things such as the language barrier, finding time for both academics and fun, the dynamic change in culture, and navigating a foreign city can lead to a lot of frustration, stress, and situations you didn’t plan for. Don’t try to force your experience to be everything you want it to be, just let things happen naturally. Some of the most memorable events of my time abroad were things I didn’t plan to happen. The last minute Airbnb I booked in Capri turned out to be right above an amazing restaurant that served my friends and me one of the greatest meals of our lives. The unplanned days and unexpected twists and turns lead to the most excitement and opportunities to create memorable experiences with good friends in beautiful cities.
Remember: You’re in Rome. You’re already living in an amazing city, so all you need are some great friends (old and new), good food (yelp can help you out with that), and the right attitude, and you’re guaranteed to have a life changing experience (even if some things do go wrong). Hopefully you’ll take my word for it and stop to smell the roses everyone once in a while, and it won’t take an elderly Italian man chuckling at you and bellowing “Slow down and enjoy your day” while you’re running to catch a ferry in Sorrento to show you that sometimes you need to take the backseat and let life happen (…not that that happened to me or anything).