The Only Reason I Get Out of Bed in the Morning (I Have To)

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Ah, my arch nemesis. Mornings.

It’s 8:30am, and I’m half asleep on a bus rolling through the Italian countryside. Despite not having slept much the night before (thanks, jet-lag), my brain is screaming at me: “Open your eyes! There are beautiful mountains and sunrises and views to see! You’re going to miss it and regret it forever!”

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Okay, maybe my brain was onto something. Those mountains were stunning.

To which my eyes reply “No.” and stay shut until 10am, when we finally arrive in the beautiful medieval village of Todi and my friend shakes me awake.

The trip to Todi was the grand finale to Temple Rome’s orientation week- a day trip up to Umbria to explore Todi, followed by Titignano. It was not to be missed. Yet at 6:30am, when my alarm went off, I considered doing just that for a concerning length of time.

Look, I like to travel, but I also like to sleep. A lot. And I know- deep, deep down- that if I didn’t have something explicitly planned every day, I would do exactly that. All day. I know, I know, I’m in Rome! There’s so much to do!

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The view from the top of the “Wedding Cake” in Piazza Venezia, featuring the Colosseum and the Foro di Cesare. So much to see!

Well, that’s where the absolute genius invention of the “class excursion” comes into play. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: an excursion to somewhere that is not the room class is usually held in, that is part of the class. They can be large weekend trips, like the trip my roommate will be taking to Berlin for her art history course, or small, hour-long trips to nearby museums and monuments. And the best part of all: they’re pre-planned. So all I have to do is get myself to the designated meeting point (with my cell phone this time), and everything is good to go. It’s all the fun, sightseeing-and-picture-taking parts of travelling, without the tedious scheduling, booking, and paying parts.

So far, my favorite class for excursions has been my Rome Sketchbook class. We’ve visited local churches, the Colosseum, and the gorgeous town of Tuscania. And we get to just sit, absorb the beauty of it all, and draw.

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The view from the park in Tuscania

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My (attempted) drawing of said landscape from class

It’s one thing I do like about my classes (aside from the fact that only one is very early). They’re really integrating our surroundings to the lessons. For Sketchbook, we get to apply the techniques we’re learning to drawings of Rome- perspective in churches, contour on statues and paintings. It’s a really immersive way to learn about Roman art, as you have to pay attention to every detail if you’re drawing it.

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Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli- home of Michaelangelo’s Moses, pictured here. Also note, the reclined figure at the top- that’s a pope, in a very Etruscan pose. The Etruscans believed in eating in that position, and their meals could take hours.

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Another drawing from class, this time a close up of two of the statues from this wall- specifically our reclining pope friend up top there

In my theatre class, we aren’t just learning about Italian theatre, we’re going to plays- I’ve already seen one, and I haven’t been here three weeks! It was an amazing performance of Filumena Marturano at Teatro Quirino (right next to the Trevi Fountain, which was still packed even at 11:30 at night. Oh, Rome…)

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A quick little selfie of yours truly in the Teatro Quirino sign, after seeing Filumena Marturano. The play uses dialect from Naples, making it even harder to follow

I think it’s a really fantastic way to learn, by getting out and into my new home for the next four months. It also gives me really interesting perspectives I wouldn’t have gotten from audio tours or brochures. Being able to have class on location (I’m getting flashbacks to warm days in high school, where at least one student always asked “Can we have class outside today?”) also makes up for that fact that, well, I actually have to go to class while I’m here. This isn’t a vacation, it’s school as well.

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This is what an excursion looks like- we’re not just hanging out and taking pictures, it’s work too!

But most importantly, I like that it forces me to get out there. One of the things I wanted to accomplish while in Rome is to become more adventurous. I am a textbook introvert, and nothing sounds better to me than a quiet night in. I want to explore, but sometimes I need a little push. Or a big push. Or someone to say “We’re going out!” and to drag me out of my room and into the world. So these excursions are both making sure I’m doing something here, but also showing me really unique parts of Italy I wouldn’t have even thought to see if I had been left to my own devices- like Todi.

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The village of Todi in Umbria- all of the streets look like this. I couldn’t believe some people actually live here, it seems so picturesque

Our day in Umbria ended with the largest meal I have ever had in my life. It was several courses, and hours, long, filled with food I had never tried (I’m looking at you, wild boar ragu) and people I hadn’t met yet. It was a great evening, and I was glad I hadn’t let my cranky, tired self stay in bed that morning.

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So super cranky to be out of bed, being forced to see nice things and eat good food. So terrible.

Now, it’s a matter of continuing to go out. This coming week consists of two museum trips, and a weekend away from Rome, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well so far. But we’ll see…. Until next week! Ciao!

Women’s March Around the World

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While for many the subject of the recent U.S. Presidential election is a difficult subject to talk about, it has become impossible to ignore. It soon became very clear that debate in my home country would have an effect on a global scale. On January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration, a Women’s March on Washington was organized. Sections of the Women’s March official statement reads as follows:

“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country… In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

The Women’s March was not just about standing solidarity with all women, but standing together with all people from all diversities and backgrounds to fight for equality. It is undeniable that the Women’s March statement was right when it read “our presence in numbers too great to ignore.” According to University of Connecticut professor Jeremy Pressman and University of Denver professor Erin Chenoweth, more than 1 in 100 Americans participated in the historic March. The two estimate that as many as 4.6 million Americans joined the March. The March was not limited to just Washington D.C. People marched together in cities all over the U.S. including New York, Chicago, Seattle, and the home of Temple University, Philadelphia! If those numbers and widespread geographic locations are not impressive enough, you should know that people marched together all over the world, including Rome.

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Although I could not participate in the March in D.C., I was extremely grateful to be able to participate in the Women’s March in Rome. Hundreds of people gathered together at the historic Pantheon for the March. While we did not have the 1,500 bodies required by authorities to physically march the streets of Rome, they could not stop us from our stand-in at the Pantheon. The event included inspiring testimonies and speeches from multiple locals, given in both English and Italian. There were also many musical performances in both languages. At exactly one o’clock PM, we took a one minute moment of silence, as would all the other Women’s Marches around the world. Then we all sang songs together such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace”. As I sang and looked all around me, I could not help but to be moved to tears. I am in a foreign country, surrounded by hundreds of strangers of all different sizes, shapes, colors, backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and identities, some from the U.S. and many from Italy and other European countries. I cannot describe the overwhelming compassion and kindness I felt among that diverse crowd of people, all gathered together for the same reason. There was such a strong sense of love and acceptance for my fellow human beings. I met many people and even embraced some strangers with a hug. I did not expect the Women’s March to reach all the way to Italy, but I could not be more grateful that it did. I will never forget that day. However, this is only the beginning. It does not end here. We will continue to make our voices heard and we will continue to fight for the equality of all people and we not silently allow our rights to be threatened. We are all part of one race: the human race. We all stand together.

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Possibly my favorite sign from the March in Rome

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An (American) Idiot Abroad

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It’s certainly no secret that Americans aren’t viewed too highly in other countries. And with the current state of our politics, well, it isn’t so hard to understand why.

However, it has been hard to deal with how that stereotype affects me.

 

Being from New York, I have a certain attitude towards tourists, and that attitude is usually something along the lines of “Ugh, get out of the way.” Even in Philadelphia, somewhere I’m still relatively new to, the swarms of people surrounding the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall during the warmer months of the school year have been a bother, not people I want to be like. Anywhere I go, I bring that attitude towards the typical “tourist” with me. I prefer to live like a local, to look like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing.

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Me, trying my absolute hardest to fit in and not stand out at all.

But here in Rome, it’s so much harder to blend in. The sights are so beautiful, I don’t know how even someone who has lived in Rome their whole life can just walk right by. I feel like I stop every five minutes to photograph a sign, a monument, or a building. I can’t not do it.

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Italian signs and typography are so unique and beautiful, I stop every time.

I also don’t speak very fluent Italian, and the fact that it takes me several minutes to form a full sentence is a pretty big indicator I’m not from around here. Not to mention the matching American accent that always gives me away. I can hardly get past a sheepish grin and a “Ciao!” before the person I’m speaking to lights up and laughs with an “Ah…..American!” and then switches to English.

It’s been a bit of a struggle, as I’m not used to the immediate give-away that I’m not a local. I’m also not used the feeling of shame I get when someone has to try to speak to me in English, instead of me trying Italian. It should be the other way around! I shouldn’t be going into a country expecting them to speak my language, instead of me trying theirs. It’s also hard to deal with the fact that in Italian, I can only speak like a child. I know simple sentences- I am this, I want that, I think this, etc. I can ask directions, but I can’t understand the answers. It’s frustrating to think that people could see me as stupid here, when I know that I can be smart in English. It does make me think, though, of all the people back in America who don’t speak English, but don’t have the luxury of Americans being able to understand their language. It’s making me try harder, because I don’t want to be seen as someone who’s not trying. I don’t want to contribute further to that American stereotype.

Another thing that comes up a lot for me as an American here is our politics. In the small, once Etruscan town of Tuscania, an elderly man in a bakery tried to talk to me about Trump and Obama on the day of Trump’s inauguration (No surprise here, I really couldn’t understand anything else he was saying). 

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“Hotel al Gallo” – it’s hard to seem like a local when I’m stopping all the time to photograph streets like these

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Tuscania is beautiful! Being such a small town, people here speak much less English. More chances to practice!

It sometimes feels that even in another country, it’s impossible to escape what’s going on back home. It’s not an entirely bad thing, though, as this past weekend I got to meet up with a bunch of other Americans, expats, and just general human rights advocates at the Women’s March sister march here in Rome. It was a powerful feeling, being surrounded by other people who, despite differences in race, gender, religion, and citizenship, all felt the same about human rights and equality.

I think it just goes to show that people are not that different after all, if all around the world people were holding similar marches to show support for women and women’s rights. That even in different cultures and in different languages, we all stand for the same beliefs. And that makes me feel that, language barrier aside, I’ll be able to make a place for myself here.

Mia Famiglia a Roma!

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This past Friday was an especially eventful day for me here in Italy! My day started off with  an excursion with my Roman Art History class to the beautiful town of Tivoli. Not only did I get to learn about the rich history and exciting architecture of Tivoli, I got the opportunity to visit the site where one of my favorite movies of all time was filmed: The Lizzie McGuire Movie. I would be lying if I denied that Lizzie McGuire was part of my inspiration to come to Rome and I’m pretty positive her Italian adventure was what made me fall in love with Italy at such a young age. I mean who doesn’t want to ride on the back of a moped with a handsome Italian man and become an international pop star? This may not have happened to me in Italy (yet), but I did get to walk through the jaw dropping Villa d’Este, also known as the Tivoli Gardens. You might remember Lizzie and Paolo having a romantic chat under one of the waterfalls in this garden in the film. My jaw dropped when we entered the incredible garden; I had never seen anything like it. It was HUGE. I was surrounded by greenery and astounding fountains everywhere I looked. I may not have met my Paolo there, but still, I can’t complain.

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When I got home to Rome that night, I was greeted by my brother! My brother works at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia teaching English. He decided to take his week off in between semesters to come visit me in Rome and I couldn’t wait to see him! Since he works outside of the country, I had not seen him since the summer, so a reunion was long overdue. And what better place than Rome! You should know that my brother has been to probably over 30 countries at this point in his life, but never Italy. HA! Beat him to that one. While I have only been in Rome a few weeks and am by no means an expert on the city yet, I was looking forward to showing my brother around my new home for the semester. Of course, we had to visit all of the must-see spots in Rome, so we took a trip to the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon.

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One thing my brother and I share in common: we LOVE food! We’ve already been trying plenty of delicious food here in Rome. We had all kinds of pasta, sampled plenty of meats and cheeses (there is no ham in Saudi Arabia so my brother couldn’t wait to get some good prosciutto), pizza, gelato, and a delicious dessert with rhum baba! It is basically a rum sponge cake paired with hazelnut icecream, chocolate, and whipped cream, so essentially heaven to your tastebuds.

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We also went out for one of my favorite Italian specialties, aperitivo. Aperitivo is like Italian happy hour. You pay one time, usually around 10 euro, and you get a drink and an unlimited buffet of delicious foods! Make sure you choose your restaurant for aperitivo wisely. Some restaurants and bars offer only small snacks like nuts and chips, while others have an entire spread that you can turn into dinner! It also gives a chance to try some new tasty cocktails.

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Having my brother visit me in Rome for the week has been great and we still have a few days left together to explore the city. Although I may no longer be in the city of brotherly love, I am feeling the brotherly love here in Rome!

 

Totally in Love with Todi

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     The moment I landed on Italian soil, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Traveling to Italy has been a dream for me since I was a little boy and that dream has finally become a reality. This first week in Italy has been full of pure joy, uncomfortable situations, absolute awe, culture shock, and beauty. Our orientation week was packed full of events including a tiramisu extravaganza, a visit from the US Embassy in Rome, a scavenger hunt and walking tour around the city, and of course free time to explore. However, my favorite part of orientation week was visiting the gorgeous town of Todi.

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     Todi is a tiny Medieval hill town in Umbria, Italy. We visited this past Saturday and had the opportunity to look inside the incredible cathedrals, wander the cobblestone streets, take in the astounding hill top view, and of course, grab a cappuccino. It is important to note that you should never order a cappuccino after lunch. Order a cappuccino at 8pm and Italians will look at you like you are crazy. Also, you should know that if you order a latte, you won’t get what you expect. Order a latte, and you will just end up with a cup of steamed milk. If you want what we consider a latte in the United States, then order a caffe latte. After some trial and error, I have finally learned how to properly order coffee in Italy.

So finally after enjoying my cappuccino in Todi and seeing the sights, we took a short bus ride to Titignano, where I discovered an even more beautiful view. We arrived at our destination in Titignano, a gorgeous castle where we would soon enjoy the meal of a lifetime. As we ate our antipasti, I was in complete awe of the view from the hilltop. It was beautifully green as far as the eye could see with a winding river coursing through the various mountains. No picture does it justice. Finally, we were ready to go inside and begin the rest of our meal.

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     As I sat down, I knew I would have to pace myself for the many courses we were about to be served. We started off with tasty cheese and meats before moving on to pasta. Next was a scrumptious rice with my personal favorite vegetable, asparagus. Then we had our main course of meats including deer, lamb, and chicken. Each one was delicious and we also had incredible wines to enjoy with our meal because it isn’t a real Italian dinner without wine! I learned to start with white wine and then move on to red. Never go from red to white or switch back and forth. After the main course, came dessert which included tiramisu and biscotti. I will admit that this tiramisu was much better than the tiramisu I made during our tiramisu extravaganza at orientation. Paired with dessert was a dessert wine which was very sweet, but perfect to dip your biscotti in. I was completely stuffed, but all of the food and wine was so amazing that it was totally worth it. If you can’t tell, I’m very passionate about food and wine so this was a perfect way to spend one of my first days in Italy. Our meal was also topped off with an enormous cake celebrating Temple University Rome’s 50th anniversary and a shot of espresso. I think I’m slowly becoming a coffee addict.

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     After our meal, I walked outside again to find that the sun was setting over the mountain tops. This unbelievable view after probably the best meal of my life took my breath away. I stared out over the horizon and took it all in as I thought to myself what an incredible semester lies ahead in Italy.

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Leaving Home (Take Two)

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My first day of college was, by all means, a complete disaster.

I was miserable being away from home. Every few hours I would lock myself in a stall in the communal bathroom of my freshman dorm to cry and play Candy Crush on my phone. I missed New York, I missed my family. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or get to know my new surroundings, I wanted to go home. When I wasn’t crying, I was trying to figure out the soonest I could get there.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. I quickly adapted to life in Philadelphia. I learned where to get food, how to use the subway, and even how to successfully order a cheesesteak without completely giving myself away as an out-of-towner. I began to like the city I once hated, and I stopped feeling like a stranger there. I am by no means like a local, but for most of the year, Philadelphia has become my home.

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A skyline view of Philly from the PMA- my favorite weekend place for some peace and quiet

And so with my confidence boosted by my ability to learn Philly in two short years, I decided to go even further- to Rome.

I was not ready.

Having forgotten my initial reaction to Philadelphia, the instant homesickness was a surprise.  The shock from that was probably worse than my culture shock. What am I doing missing home? I’m in Italy! There’s no time for homesickness when there’s museums to visit, ruins to see, and gelato to eat!

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Don’t worry- homesickness aside, I am seeing those sights!

I felt incredibly out of place, and I didn’t know what I was doing here. Why had I bothered to come, if I was just going to wish for home?

I haven’t quite figured that part out yet. On some level, I know that I’m here to go to school. I am here to learn, to practice my Italian, and to fulfill a decade-long dream of coming to Rome. For right now, I just don’t know my place here. But I have time.

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Getting lost is never fun, but finding streets like these can make you feel less bad about it

I can feel myself making progress, though. I’ve figured out the subway (or metro, as it’s called here), and two (of many) bus lines. I can make my way around the areas by school and the residence, I’m learning where to go to eat, and I’m seeing the sights. The nerves that would make a trip around the block feel like a marathon are lessening, and I’m beginning to feel comfortable. I can’t wait until I feel as at home on the streets of Rome as I do in Philadelphia or New York.

For now, though, I’m just taking each day as it comes. I’m appreciating every day that the trip to school gets easier, or every time I don’t need to check my map to find a place for dinner. I’m excited to see what this semester brings me, but I know there’s no rushing it. (According to most people, it will go fast enough as it is). And maybe by next week’s post, I’ll have made more progress in integrating into Roman life! Until then, ciao amici!

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And of course, sunsets like these make the homesickness sting a little less

Saying “Ciao!” to the City of Brotherly Love

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Over the past three years, Philadelphia and Temple University have truly become my home. As I prepare to leave for Rome, I am filled with excitement, but a part of me will still miss the charms of Philadelphia. I’ll miss walking through the beautiful Magic Gardens, finding a new piece of art every time. I’ll miss going to Reading Terminal Market to get a pastrami sandwich. I’ll miss walking through the Christmas Village, shopping for trinkets and eating delicious pretzels. I’ll miss those warm summer nights gazing up at the stars from a hammock in Spruce Street Harbor Park.

I have made sure to soak up as much of Philadelphia and Temple as I could before I depart for the Eternal City on January 9th. Part of that experience included going to possibly my last tailgate at a Temple football game. It was great to be surrounded by loved ones, full of Temple pride and cheering on our Owls! There is something special about looking out at the sea of cherry and white, singing the Temple fight song together that I will always remember.

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Another part of Temple I had to experience again before I leave was performing in a Temple Theaters main stage production. As a theatre major, I usually perform in one production each semester, and this fall I was ecstatic to be a part of the cast of Hairspray! The cast of Hairspray truly became like family. Not only did we spend countless hours together in rehearsal, and have a blast singing and dancing together, but every night we got on that stage, we had the joy of telling a story about love and acceptance. Sharing that story with the audience meant the world to us and it was especially needed now.

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I have also begun to prepare for my time in Rome by starting Italian language lessons on the app Duolingo. I have no prior experience with Italian and I want to learn as much as I can during my four months there, so I decided to get a head start! While I am in Rome, I will be taking an intensive, eight credit Italian course. I hope to become as fluent as possible in Italian and cannot wait to meet and talk to native Italian speakers. I have found the app Duolingo to be extremely helpful and would recommend it to anyone looking to learn a new language!

While a lot of my personal preparation to leave for Rome has been experiencing as much fun as Temple and Philadelphia has to offer, it has not all been fun. Preparing to go abroad can be overwhelming and stressful at times. Applying for a student visa can seem like an enormous undertaking and trying to find an apartment in another country may feel impossible. It is also challenging to balance school while working endless hours each week to save money to go abroad. Plus, buying plane tickets is no easy feat for a poor college student. Although it may sometimes feel like preparing to go abroad is exhausting on top of our busy lives as students, I promise it is more than worth it. I have been abroad one other time before and it was the most incredible experience of my life. I cannot wait to have this longer, more immersive experience abroad and a little bit of preparation is a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime.

It is hard to believe that I leave for Rome in just a few days, but I could not be more excited! While I am going to miss Temple and the City of Brotherly Love, I feel prepared and look forward to exciting new adventures in Roma!

5 Things I Learned from My Semester Abroad

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Surprisingly, this is the hardest post I’ve had to write. It’s hard to sum up a four month, life changing experience in a certain amount of words. It was hard to figure out which angle to even discuss this from. However, I think the best way to do it is by listing and discussing the top 5 things I learned throughout this experience. I hope that they will come in handy for anyone who is planning on studying abroad and I also do have to warn that although these things sound cheesy, or obvious, or both, they’re a little harder to do when you’re actually confronted with the culture shock.

1: It will not be comfortable at first, give it time.
Yeah, you’re gonna squirm and have to wiggle your way in and out of situations (and if you’re going to Rome, then also through sidewalks because Romans don’t necessarily enjoy moving out of people’s way). But, with the more necessary Italian you learn, and the more you come to know as familiar, the more it will become comfortable, routine even. The most important thing to do is to give it time and (in most cases) forget the comfort zone.

2: Try all kinds of new things. 
I do mean all kinds. Go to an art museum that you’re not sure you would like, take a class you’re not sure you would be interested in, try food you wouldn’t otherwise try, wander if you usually plan and plan if you usually wander. I know it’s a bit cliche, but taking a semester abroad really helps you learn about yourself. However, having that full experience only truly comes if you’re willing to do things you haven’t done before in order to experience a new culture to the best of your capabilities.

3: Don’t be afraid to do the tourist attractions.
They are not lame or overrated, they are tourist-havens for a reason. Especially in Rome where things can be 2,500+ years old, it’s important to go see the tourist attractions and learn about the history of the place that you’re inhabiting, especially when it comes to the ways it shapes the contemporary climate of the country that you are temporarily living in. It’s also just plain fun and interesting. The Colosseum and Trevi Fountain are awesome, the Pantheon is beautiful, everything that people rave about that are must-sees in Rome are worth exploring.

4: Stay in Rome more often then you think you would like to.
Though I believe I stayed in Rome and in Italy more than some would while abroad, I definitely didn’t stay enough. I got so swept up with how cheap and easy it was to travel to other European cities/countries that I’ve always wanted to visit, but in the end, I did wish that I stayed in Rome and Italy just for one or two more weekends to explore some more. The weird thing about studying abroad here is that you feel like you’ve been here long enough by the end but also feel like you need an infinite amount more of time to really see everything.

5: Don’t forget to have fun! This is a once in a lifetime chance so soak it all in!
This experience was so much fun and incredible for me! I met friends that I hope will be my friends for a long time, I’ve seen things I’ve always dreamed of seeing and done things I’ve always dreamed of doing. I learned so much about myself and made some decisions about what I want for my future and what I don’t want for my future. I’ve taken classes I wouldn’t have even dreamed of taken and learned so much more because of it. I really tried to make this entire trip worth it and I hope that everyone else will try to do the same with any trip or big adventure/opportunity that they embark on.

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As Expected: The Food is Great

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No one’s surprised.

As I’m going through finals and my last week in Italy, I’ve been trying to have all of the food I know I’m going to miss. I decided to give anyone reading this some ideas for really good Italian delicacies to seek out if they ever decide to come here.

First thing’s first, suppli/arancini:
These little fried balls of rice, tomato, and mozzarella are probably the equivalent to heaven. There are many different types, but the general common idea is that it is a fried ball filled with rice. You can get some with meat in them or you can get some with spinach, etc. They are always delicious and always a good way to make your soul happy! 🙂

 

Wild Boar Pasta
Okay, hear me out. It is so good. It doesn’t taste particularly gamey, more like a type of beef and in the sauce that usually comes with this pasta, there is no other option but to get it and fall in love. It’s a nice spin on ragu so that you’re not always eating the simple tomato and ground beef bolognese/ragu sauce.

 

 

Cacio e Pepe
So simple, yet so good. This pasta is only pecorino cheese and black pepper, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. It is definitely one of my favorite types of pasta that I have ever tasted. (I also much prefer this over carbonara, although carbonara is still pretty good.)

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Zucchini Flowers (Fiori di Zucca)
Okay, I guess I just really like fried things. But I also have a really good relationship with zucchini and these fried zucchini flowers just make it that much better. The Jewish Ghetto is known for them, but anywhere you get them will probably be delicious. Sometimes they’re filled with cheese and I almost have a deliciousness-induced heart attack.

Gelato
Yes, it’s different than ice cream. Yes, it’s delicious. I know I didn’t need to tell you, but it would’ve been criminally remiss to not include it.

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Panino
I know that there’s not much that seems different about having a sandwich, but there’s a lot actually. (Also: one sandwich is a “panino,” multiple are “panini,” and none of them are pressed–that’s something different.) Most of the difference comes from the fresh ingredients one can find for their sandwich. Besides, obviously, having more options in terms of prosciutto and cold cuts, there’s also more options in terms of cheese, pesto, eggplant, etc., that one may not find in a deli in the States.

Pizza
Italian pizza is as good as you would expect it to be. Considering that pizza is an Italian invention, I think it’s safe to say that this pizza is the best pizza I’ve ever had. There are so many different types and they’re all so good. I’ve tried so many kinds and can’t tell you of a single kind not to get.

Pesto
Just anything with pesto. I do mean anything: panini, pizza, pasta, anything. Authentic pesto is so incredible. It’s also interesting to see how every place has pesto that’s slightly different, but still delicious all the same.

The food has honestly been one of my favorite parts of studying abroad and I’m really happy that I got to share this with people studying abroad in the future. Happy eating!

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Temple Rome’s 50th Anniversary

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There have been a lot of events surrounding Temple Rome because next May will be Temple University Rome’s 50th anniversary. I was lucky enough to sit in and help with interviews for a video/documentary that will be shown at the big event here (in Rome) in May on the anniversary. I met a lot of interesting people related to Temple Rome while helping. I got to talk to current teachers who teach subjects I’m not taking and hear how they are finding Temple Rome. I also got to hear from teachers who went to Temple themselves about how much they love the program. In addition to former Temple students that are now teachers here at Temple Rome, I got to speak to former Temple Rome students from years ago that have since moved on but were called in to reflect on their experiences as a student here. One of them was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, who now lives in Rome. She is Italian-American and talked about her experience living here for the first time. (Obviously, she loved it so much that she moved here).

Also, my aunt went to Temple Rome in 1994, which is awesome. It was interesting to talk to her and hear that she had some of the same problems or reactions I had when I first came here. We commiserated about things such as the amount of dog fecal matter on the sidewalks, the confidence needed when crossing the street, and more! It’s also cool that we got to study in the same exact building in a foreign country, and that we had some of the same experiences. She liked walking around the piazzas, just like I do.

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Then I got to give my interview, which was really cool! I’m excited to see the final video. I was a little nervous to provide one of the few voices of current students in the Temple Rome program, but I was honest about how much I love what Temple does here. Especially the student-life personnel who are always there to answer any questions from something big and important like: “I lost my passport, what do I do?” or “I lost my phone, what do I do?” to something fun and trivial like “Where should we go eat if we want to have really good carbonara?”

 

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My aunt in Temple Rome in 1994

I love that Temple Rome has this legacy that comes with its history of being here in Rome for 50 years. I think that it gives the program a certain seal of approval in terms of its constant success. And its longevity fosters the idea that it’s trustworthy in terms of providing you with an awesome experience (although that also comes with someone actively seeking out the experience as well). Hearing how much has changed and how much hasn’t changed in terms of Rome and Temple’s program, I realized how lucky I am to be here (not that I don’t feel that every time I wake up and walk past the Vatican walls, etc.), but specifically how lucky I am to be a part of Temple’s program, especially as a Temple student.