I’ve been in Rome for three full days. During these three days I have been on a constant travel high. I am so consumed by the history around me and the people I am meeting. Being immersed in a new culture is such an amazing feeling. The Roman culture is very different from Wisconsin, yet I still find some similarities here and there. First off, the driving and walking is crazy. Everyone does whatever they want. You want to cross the street when a car is coming? Yeah, sure go for it. A car wants to go through a red light when you’re crossing? Yep, that’s normal. It seems you just take a chance and cross the street whenever it feels right. I’ve found this to be pretty interesting over the last few days, but I haven’t gotten hit by a car yet, so I suppose I’m doing something right. Although the crazy walking and driving is new for me, a girl from a small town in Wisconsin where people walk everywhere, I am used to seeing bold walkers. On my college campus we tend to cross when cars are coming, mostly because of the myth that if we get hit by a car we get free tuition (I’m pretty sure that’s a lie though). It is nice to find similarities within these two cultures, even if it’s walking across the street when a car is coming. It reminds me that it can be easy to make a new place home.
No one is in a rush here, people enjoy life and move at whatever speed feels right. It is interesting when you walk down the street and people immediately know you are an American. Mostly because it’s really easy to spot an American on the street, plus I am a naturally fast walker so I stick out against those taking a leisurely stroll. This is a refreshing sight, because as a type A person, I am always on the move with a full schedule and place to be. I often need to remind myself that relaxation is OKAY and one doesn’t need to earn it. So, I think the general feeling of relaxing and taking life as it comes with be really good for me.
It seems that everything is within walking distance or a short drive away. Yesterday, I walked to see the Colosseum. That’s right, it took me about half an hour to walk and see a Roman icon. I was blown away by the whole thing. As a history major and someone who has been dreaming about seeing this sight for many years, I was on cloud nine. It was amazing to be standing in front of something that is almost 2,000 years old. People have been seeing the same thing I was looking at for thousands of years. Completely mind-blowing. It amazes me that I can be so close to so many amazing things. I have a constant yearning to get out and explore, even though we have had fully packed schedules and are exhausted by the time we can go exploring, but I keep reminding myself I have four months to see everything. I know over the next four months I will be walking more than I do at home, yesterday I walked 14 miles (but I wouldn’t recommend that, I might have gone a little overboard). This is such a cool aspect of the Roman culture. The fact that you can walk through a modern city and see so many historic things is pretty mind blowing. I’m excited to live in a place where you can never run out of things to do and see.
These first few days have been full of information, excitement, and introductions. I am having such an amazing time and am so thankful that I have started to experience Rome. When classes start next week my stress level might increase, but I still think I will continue to be happy as a clam and overwhelmed by this city. I hope this feeling of awe and happiness I am calling a ‘travel high’ doesn’t go away, I never want to take the sights I am seeing or the experiences I have within Rome for granted.
Melissa is a current student at St. Norbert College studying at John Cabot University in Italy, during the Spring 2016 term.