Italian Life
Taylor, Rome, Spring 2013
April 1, 2013

The Italian life has been treating me well this first month. It only took a few bumps in the road to settle in here in Trastevere, Rome. I traveled alone from Charlotte all the way to Rome and even made it smoothly to the door of my apartment and into the elevator, until I reached my floor. The gate outside the elevator wouldn’t budge and besides mashing random Italian buttons, I didn’t know what to do other than call SAI who then told me I had opened the inside doors too quickly and simply needed to go down a floor and come back up to mine. Even after I unloaded my three bags from the elevator, my trouble didn’t stop there. I put my strangely massive key into the lock and turned once, hearing a click, but nothing happened. At the same time, two older Italian women came upstairs, my neighbors, and I told them in broken Italian that the door wouldn’t open. Luckily, my other neighbor was on his way out and showed me that you have to turn the key twice and with quite a bit of force to get the door open. Now getting through the three gates and up the stairs, sometimes even speaking to the building owner in Italian, is a breeze.

The first week SAI took us on an excursion to Ostia Antica, the old port town of Rome, and to a local organic farm for lunch. We had a JCU professor leading the trip who told us all about the ruins of the port town and how important the town had been for receiving and sending goods. The food at the organic farm was several courses of delicious traditional food, served family style. It was a great way to meet people in the program and take some first pictures of ancient Rome.

Trastevere really has a lot to offer for us students, from inexpensive grocery stores, student discounts on meals, and easy transportation. I have already taken two trips, one to Budapest, Hungary, and one to Interlaken, Switzerland, and was able to take the tram to the train station or the tram to the bus to the train station with ease. In Budapest, taking the subway to the National Art Museum and hot springs was less of an anxiety attack and more of a convenience. Switzerland was equally beautiful; my roommates and I did a ropes course, which was up in a forest on the side of one of the many mountains offering a gorgeous view of the town of Interlaken.

Despite the coliseum, the delicious food, the museums, and the night life, Rome is also about taking back home with me everything I can from John Cabot and the many well traveled professors. It’s about pushing yourself to meet the students and people surrounding you and hear their opinions and their stories. My classes, such as Rome Modern City, meet in different areas of the city, helping me to branch out even more. Last week we visited Testaccio where the Protestant, famously non-catholic, Cemetery is located. I also joined a club called STAND, which volunteers at a local refugee shelter and also discusses many anti-genocide movements, making efforts to help in places such as Darfur.

You have to remember to take advantage of what’s around you even when it isn’t comfortable or normal for you. Rome is all about adjustments, except for all the rain; that can stop now please and thank you.

Next month I’m headed to Prague! See you soon.

– Taylor, University of South Carolina

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About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.