I want to firstly say that items you use to wash your body is a total scarcity in this city! After 3 weeks I finally found a body sponge I could use to thoroughly wash myself with! Every Farmacia (pharmacy), Tiudi (market) and home goods store I walked into these past three weeks had NO idea what I was talking about when i asked them for a bango spunga (bath spounge) or lavari (wash cloth). That was the highlight of my day today. Anyways…
I planned my first trip! I will be going to Florence the weekend of February 10th with the program I came here with. It comes with accommodation, transportation and breakfast everyday. The rest is up to us, and we only needed to deposit 20 euro to secure our spot on the trip (and they give it back to us the day of). Pretty sweet deal if you ask me, Im so excited! As far as planning other trips, has been a nightmare and the trip I am thinking of in particular is the big one, Spring Break. Its always been a dream of mine to go to Dublin for St. Patricks day, but these Europeans have their revenue tactics on point and cranked all the transportation methods to Dublin through the roof. For the price I would end up paying to go to Dublin for only THREE days I might as well go to Cancun for a week! Unfortunately, and more bitterly, I dont think I will be going to Dublin. However, my new girlfriends and I found a package in Barcelona for SIGNIFICANTLY less…. 13 euro round trip? Ill take it. Looks like Barcelona is in for a rude awakening this March! And I am very excited because a good friend of mine is studying in Madrid this semester and says he and his friends were planning on Barcelona too! Its a relief something worked out 🙂
This past weekend we all decided to venture off to the Spanish Steps. As if I need to go into detail, I was blown away. You know when you look back on your life and realize the moment your life changed for good? Mine was on the Spanish Steps on Friday, January 20th. The atmosphere in itself was the Rome experience everyone raves about, the shopping, the saldi’s (sales) the endless and irresistible assortments and varieties of foods, the way this entire neighborhood was dressed head to toe with festive lights and Italian traditions gave me chills down my spine. We ventured off to find the only English bookstore in all of Rome for our required books for our classes, after we came afoot of this beautiful monument. When I die, I hope these steps are the stairway into heaven…. because thats exactly where I thought I was heading. My mind was blown, I was seriously speechless. Reality has finally set in, I am in Rome, Italy, living amongst Romans… I am DOING THE DAMN THING! Im currently living in a dream right now, and it was in this moment on the Spanish Steps I self actualized and and indulged my spirit in my surroundings. As if my blessings weren’t highlighted enough, it was here where I realized my wealth in happiness.
The group I was with sat on these steps in silence, I think we all shared the same moment.
We made our way back to Testaccio, and went to a close by Trattoria, so yummy, wouldnt expect any less at this particular point! This past weekend we tried many bars and other venues we havent tried yet. It was quite the experience if I do say so. We went into many places that had drink specials and welcoming atmospheres. I am more adjusted in terms of which places we know are fun and worth it, and which people always come out with the group to these places. Testaccio has a bit of a soft spot for us visiting students, I think. We have yet to pay cover for anywhere we have gone to, I thought it was just because the men we were with were strongly outnumbered by women, but even when the boys would venture off from us they have never had to pay to get into anywhere either. DEFINITELY not mad about it!
I would like this next paragraph to be dedicated to disclaiming a lot of perceptions and stereotypes of Rome, Italy (this may not be applicable to all of Italy).
- The Roman culture does NOT appreciate it when you try to speak Italian, if you’re not fluent, you’re better off starting off with “Parla Inglese?” (do you speak English?), because the locals get VERY huffy and even walk away from you when you try. It’s yet to stop me from learning, but it’s frustrating to us all as well. They’re going to have to put up with me stumbling with the language because I am definitely trying to be fluent by the time I leave in May.
- Maybe in other towns, or cities, or locations that are particularly poor — but no one in this program or in this city has gotten ripped off. I was told when I came here that if I was carrying a purse or a wallet to keep it concealed under my clothes because people will walk right up behind you and snip it right off and run with it. WRONG. Every local here wears their purse dangling off their arm or shoulder like everyone else does in America. If the LOCALS are doing it, its evident that crime is not as aggressive as it was described to me. Our program sends out e-mails if theres a crime or violation that occurs within our program or in our neighborhoods, and not one yet about theft or being robbed. Or maybe we’re all being super precautious? Either way, its a reliever to not have to worry if someone is targeting you for your purse.
- In terms of being over charged for something, yet to happen. Our program representatives gave us a rule of thumb to abide by, look at the price before you pay one of two things will happen, they will notice you looking at the price, so they wont over charge you, or if they DO over charge you, you will know to correct their ‘error’. Now that I’ve been here for about 3 weeks I am familiar with how much things should cost, so no Roman will be getting anything extra from me!
- This is the most odd thing ever, but entering and exiting buildings are opposite here. To enter a place, you had a handle on the entrance as if you should pull it (these very handles in America actually say PULL on it, but not here) but you actually PUSH the PULL looking handle. And to exit, you also pull, as opposed to push like you do in the states. SO abstract, I know but you really notice how trained your stimuli is to do just the opposite of entering and exiting places. Those reading this blog, imagine going to dunkin donuts and you have a huge tray of coffees to go into work, you get to the door and you have to let one hand off of your heavy tray to pull a door open! NO, that would be a mess! Usually you use your backside or foot to PUSH open the door, well not here! You make your coffee run in TRIPS if you have a big order!
- You get fined for spitting….but not if you dont pick up after your dog…always watch where your walking around here F.Y.I.
Thats all I can think of for now, but I know there’s plenty!
On Sunday, was of course a defining day for America…..who’s going to the SuperBowl?! We decided to make our way to the Irish Pub, Scholars, for the games. Unlike the first time I went, it was actually MUCH less of a zoo, and more civilized than that night. It was actually silent in the bar when we walked in because all football fans were watching with dire anticipation, and suspense. When I ordered a beer, the bartender ignored me because he too was watching the game! It was funny because durring the commercial breaks the chatter and chaos would stir back up again. The second the game turned back on it’s like some one hit a mute button in the place! My roommate and I met these really nice Australian people, who were also studying abroad in Rome but their home University was at Tufts and Temple. They were so delightfully nice! We chatted with them all night, and unbeknownst to me, one of the guys actually had a girlfriend but she was SWEET as pie when she saw that her boyfriend was talking to me! Maybe its only in America where girls get so territorial over their men. She even bought me drinks! The bar was dominantly Raven and 49ers fans, so it was very awkward for our residence to walk in their split down the middle between Patriot and Giants fans. Our residence were the only people cheering when either of these two teams were doing well. It was such an eventful night, and I enjoyed myself by feeling American by drinking beer in a bar playing football! Gotta take a break from the culture SOMEtimes.
My classes are now going into their second week, but now this is my first full week of my finalized schedule. My new philosophy class has A LOT of brilliant minds in it. Everyone in my class is from places like Oxford University and other very prestigious institutions that you would THINK should intimidate me….
The only thing that differs them from me is their vocabulary. Their use of 35-letter words is nothing but a mask, because behind these sophisticated verbal proposals, is some one who has a very similair point of view as I. Apparently in these peoples home countries they havent met others who are strongly opinionated. In my last post I mentioned how this class is a lot like Professor Lajoies standard class, with a lot of participation to be counted toward your grade. This particular topic of today is to define what we believe is justice, and equality amongst a nation. When voicing my opinion and views (believe me, with a rights activating brother and a crumbling economy as we know it, I had a few things to say…) I received the nastiest stares and most back handed comments from these fellow students, and it turns out their ‘argument’ against me was the EXACT same thing I just said except with more indigenous words and different sentence format….Just because I don’t have a thesaurus encoded in my head doesn’t mean I dont know what I’m talking about!
The price of hair maintenance is ridiculously expensive, apparently. The boys down the hall from me just tried to give themselves a haircut and WHAT a disaster! Watching my talented mother over the years, I figured any help would be a huge help to them! Thankfully, their hair looks fine now thanks to my embedded talents:)
This experience is happening so quickly, I already feel like I know my neighborhood like the back of my hand, and I am well on my way to getting to know other neighborhoods and their hidden treasures. Today in Compra del Fiori I tasted the best pizza that has ever crossed my lips at a local pizzeria. It was so delicious and hit the spot after going through a 3 week excursion to find a body sponge (again, I cannot express my joy that I finally found one). Everyone is starting to plan weekend trips now so it’ll be interesting to hear their experiences. I have a few places I plan to travel while I’m here, this will work out fabulously if the travel is as cheap as I found my flight to Barcelona!
- Barcelona-Madrid, Spain
- The Italian South
- Nice, France
- The Greek Islands (certainly staying away from the main land right now)
I’m hoping I can make all of these happen, just got to shop for the right deals at the right time to perfectly plan out a trip!
There’s an information session about Internships and Job offers tomorrow, I’m going to check it out and see what they have to offer. My guess is the usual, opportunities for every major EXCEPT psychology but, WHEN IN ROME right?
Will post again soon, Ciao!