Ciao Amici! It has been an amazing, fast-paced, wonderful first week living in Rome, Italy!
I arrived on Tuesday morning, and it’s been non-stop excitement and activities since I stepped off the plane. My favorite part of orientation week was Thursday because we explored the ancient city of Ostia Antica and learned about the history of Rome! Having a love for architecture and history, this excursion was a perfect blend of my favorite things! Below, I’ve put together a list of things I have learned throughout my first week living in beautiful Roma:
1. A ton of Italians speak some English, but you should really try to speak their native tongue.
It has made such a big difference even in my first week to make the extra effort and learn phrases and vocab that are valuable in everyday life. You’ll be happier when you can understand conversations and your experience will be enriched by practicing the native language with locals!
2. Expecting hot water for your long, relaxing shower? Think again.
The buildings in Italy tend to be very, very old. That being said, and despite their architectural and aesthetic beauty, they usually don’t have super sophisticated heating systems. Short showers are key.
3. Getting around the city.
It has been a lot of fun figuring out the transportation systems around my neighborhood. Today was the first time I rode the tram and the buses to get near the Coliseum, and it was much easier and more inexpensive than I thought. Public transportation in Rome is a great, cheap way to go to the Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, and your favorite local pizzeria!
4. Don’t. Dip. Your. Bread.
This was an interesting thing I learned from one of my roommates. She had an experience at an Italian restaurant with dipping bread in olive oil and getting dirty looks from Italians there the rest of the night. At least at this restaurant, bread-dipping is not appreciated. Rule of thumb, don’t bring your Olive Garden manners to an authentic Italian restaurant. The breadsticks and alfredo sauce don’t go together here!
5. Everyone smokes.
Its highly possible one out of three people you pass on the street will be smoking. No matter the time of day. It’s not such a big thing at home San Diego so I never noticed it much before, but living here, I’ve learned to adjust to it because smoking is just a part of Italy’s leisurely social culture.
6. Pasta Amatricana is life.
On Thursday of Orientation Week, I mentioned that we went on a tour of Ostia Antica (ancient ruins), and Borgo di Tragliata, an Italian Organic Farm. Here, we had the opportunity to enjoy a full 4 course meal and the lunch was incredible and fresh. My favorite part was the Pasta Amatricana. It is comprised of thick, hollow, spaghetti-shaped pasta with fresh seasoned tomato and thinly sliced meat as a sauce. I could eat that dish for the rest of my life (maybe)! I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try something familiar, but with a twist!
7. Explore your neighborhood, and you might be surprised.
I live in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome, and have a 20-30 minute walk to the Trevi Fountain, Roman forums, Coliseum, and the Vatican City! On my way from school this week, I stumbled upon a beautiful church called San Crisogono built in the 4th century located a few minutes from my apartment. I was fascinated by all the details and rooms dedicated to different saints. I learned to not be afraid to explore my area because you never know what you might find near you!
8. Be bold and meet people!
This one has been in practice the entire week, and it has really paid off! With so many students in the same position living and studying in a foreign country, it has been so much fun making friends with people from all over the world!
9. Blend into the Italian look.
Watching and learning what the Italians wear is great because you look less like a tourist, and Italians can tell you are trying to accept their way of life! I’ve learned that blending in also reduces the risk of pick pocketing because thieves target obvious foreigners the most.
10. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
I’ve learned to try fruits and cheeses I’ve never seen, and explore places I’ve never been, and it usually ends up being fantastic! I hope to experience more of the city and nearby countries as this semester goes along! I’m so excited to start this beautiful adventure.
Layah is a current student at Point Loma Nazarene University studying at John Cabot University in Italy during the Spring 2016 term.