I have experienced so many different things since coming to Rome. There are times I still need to pinch myself to believe it is real. My time in Rome has been amazing and I can’t believe it is already halfway done! Just like every student, I’ve had my challenging moments of studying abroad. Some of these including missing American foods like Kraft mac and cheese and Culver’s, missing my dog and family, and juggling travel and school. Luckily, my positive experiences outweigh my few challenges and negative experiences. In this blog I will cover what I consider the “Top 10” moments of my experience, I’m not going to put these experiences in best to last order, just 10 moments that have been my favorite so far.
1. The time I went to see Pope Francis. Since the time I decided I wanted to study in Rome, I knew I would visit the Vatican, but I really wanted to get the chance to see the Pope. I mean, it’s THE Pope. I found out he comes out on Sundays, so my roommate and I went to see him. It was such an inspiring moment.
2. When I discovered Giolitti gelato. Hands down my favorite gelato place in Rome. I get gelato at least twice a week, I mean I may never have the chance to eat such delicious gelato again, so I might as well seize the moment. Giolitti’s gelato is so delicious, they have a good amount of flavors and it’s reasonably priced. It’s worth the longer walk to the Pantheon to get a cone.
3. The time I visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa alone. Going to the Leaning Tower of Pisa was a must-see item on my Italy checklist. I know you really just take a picture and leave, but I was determined to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I also knew I wanted to do some solo travelling while abroad, because I feel like so much growth comes with a solo experience. I made the Tower my solo trip and loved every second of it, I even got someone to take a corny picture of me.
4. When one of my friends from school came to visit me. My friend, Lydia, who is studying in Toledo, Spain came to visit for a weekend. It was so great to see a familiar face and I loved watching how excited she was to be in Rome. It refueled my fire for Rome and helped me fall in love with the city all over again.
5. Hiking the trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola in Cinque Terre. I visited the “Five Lands” on a weekend trip with my roommate. There was a strike, so we couldn’t take a train to Manarola and the easiest trail was closed because of bad weather. We ended up taking an expert level hike (to the top of the cliff) and even though it was grueling it gave me one of the best views I’ve seen yet. I felt so accomplished when I finished that hike.
6. Climbing to the top of the Victory Monument in Berlin, Germany. A friend who had travelled to Berlin before told me to climb to the top and even though I have a small fear of heights I decided to do it. It was terrifying, but offered an amazing view of the city. I felt I conquered my fear when looked out at the city of Berlin, even though my legs were shaking.
7. Eating pierogis in Krakow, Poland. If you haven’t realized yet, I really enjoy eating, especially in Europe where the cuisine is delicious. While visiting Krakow, I ordered pierogis and a bowl of cabbage. It was the best meal I’ve had since leaving home (sorry, Italian food).
8. Celebrating my 21st birthday at Carnival in Venice. My roommates and I went to Venice to celebrate my 21st and we were lucky that Carnival was happening at the same time. We found our way to Arsenal to see the “Ultimate Carnival Experience”, where there were men blowing fire, Russian violinists, and so much more. The best part was that there were fireworks. It was definitely an unforgettable birthday.
9. My visit to Pompeii. Pompeii was number one on my list of things to see in Italy. As a history major, I have been intrigued by the eruption of Vesuvius for a long time. I travelled to Pompeii with my art history class and learned so much information while fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting the city. It was the perfect day!
10. Sitting at the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is my favorite place in Rome. No matter how many times I see it, I still feel in awe. I love just sitting in front of the fountain and thinking or watching the joy people feel seeing it. It really is a magical place.
Melissa is a current student at St. Norbert College studying at John Cabot University in Italy, during the Spring 2016 term.