The eternal city… or what I like to call, a live action history book. Rome is essentially the biggest free history and art museum in the world. A city of romance and gladiators, cobblestone and graffiti accenting most walls, with gelato on every corner.
And to top it all off? It’s my home for the next 4 months. Let the journey begin.
Taking off to a new country by yourself is a scary thing, but the experience of studying abroad started long before I landed in Rome. By the time I got to my layover in Charlotte, North Carolina, I had run into over a dozen kids going to the same program at John Cabot University in Rome. All of us were in the same boat: alone, nervous, and excited about the next 4 months. But after a 4-hour layover and a 9-hour flight together, it felt like I already had a team behind me once we arrived in Rome.
It has only been 5 days since we arrived yet running into those faces around Rome is a comforting feeling when nothing around you is familiar.
Though my first week has been filled up with more workshops and orientation activities than sightseeing, I’ve been able to explore parts of the upbeat neighborhood of Trastevere, known for its food (it’s amazing) and night life, as well as walking through the historic center of Rome.
The moment I saw the Colosseum, I felt like I was in a living in a history book. A short walk from there takes you to the Pantheon, and taking a turn down an alley will lead you to the Trevi Fountain, all while being surrounded by buildings that are thousands of years old and ruins like the Roman Forum. I’ve seen these places through pictures and movies my entire life, but seeing it in person makes it all real. Every monument I see and pass by is a new page in the book.
Not everything about acclimating to a new place is as fun as taking pictures with the gladiators outside of the Colosseum. The first week of studying abroad requires a lot of preparation and organization. Whether it’s trying to find a phone that actually works in the country, looking for the closest supermarket, or finding your campus in a sea of cobblestone alleyways, some tasks can be stressful.
For many, the language barrier can be the hardest part. I am lucky enough to understand and speak some Italian so I’ve been able to immerse myself pretty well by talking to locals as well as older John Cabot University students who have grown up in Italy.
My biggest wish for this semester in Rome is that I can truly experience Roman life apart from just being a tourist. This week has just been the beginning and I’m hoping Rome is what dreams are made of. It’s only Day 5 of the journey, but I am so excited for what’s to come. Benvenuti a Roma!
Kassandra Ferrante is earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism at San Diego State University. She is blogging from Rome, Italy this fall.