As surreal as it feels, this Monday marks one week since I left home to spend the next four months studying in Rome. It feels like I just got here yesterday after leaving New York behind with my dad, carting four bags between us. The two of us have spent this week experiencing Italy for the first time while I went through orientation at John Cabot University, feeling like a freshman again.
Our flight left in the afternoon, last Monday, and the trip took close to 12 hours. It was my first time leaving North America, so it was also my first flight over water. Without human life beneath us as we passed over the ocean, the night brought complete darkness. I had almost given up on seeing anything from my window seat when I realized that without the light of the world's cities and towns over the ocean, every star was beginning to come out. As tired as I was, I spent hours staring out the window, watching the sky light up.
Our flight stopped in Paris for an hour, so we had just enough time to get through customs and grab a croissant. Not completely unsurprisingly, an airport croissant in France is 10 times better than any other croissant I've ever had. The flight from France to Rome also gave us complimentary croissants, though they were kind of cold and soft. The flight was short, though, and we landed in Rome around 9 a.m. (or 3 a.m., our time). The first thing I noticed as I stepped out of the airport were the surrounding palm trees -- always a good sign when leaving an airport -- and that the sun was bright and warm. It became a little easier to be away from home.
That first day was spent exploring Rome and sitting in a hotel fighting jet lag. We walked through Trastevere and then crossed the Tiber at night, hoping to find some ruins. It turns out that ruins are scattered throughout the area, right in the middle of walkways and shops. We almost walked straight past Largo di Torre Argentina, where Caesar was stabbed, and ended up walking along the side of the Pantheon without realizing it until we had stepped directly in front of it. One of my favorite parts? Even though you're standing right in the middle of a city, the lights are not enough to blot out the stars. We could still see them scattered above the Pantheon and over the square.
The next morning was spent checking in at the school, getting my ID photo taken, and getting my new apartment keys. The apartment is on Viale di Trastevere, a main road about a 20 or 25 minute walk from each of the school's campuses. We took the scenic route through Trastevere's crisscrossing cobblestone streets, winding past churches and restaurants and little shops. By this point, it was the afternoon, so I figured I might find at least one roommate waiting, but I ended up arriving to an empty apartment. The first thing to catch my eye was the blue tile terrace that looks out on pine and palm trees and colorful homes and buildings cluttered over the hill across the street. The rest of the apartment is pretty spacious and open -- definitely enough to house seven girls, even though the seventh has not made an appearance yet. As the first in the apartment, I got first choice of the beds, so I grabbed one in the quad and started unpacking. I ended up meeting roommates as early as a few hours later to as late as the following night, until they'd finally assembled into a group of amazing and funny girls whom I can't wait to spend the next four months with.
Our orientation and exploring with my roommates and dad have brought me to various places throughout Rome, finding good food and ancient ruins, and I've still only seen pieces of it. I've had handmade pasta and seen the Roman Forum, learned how to actually say "bruschetta" and walked to the Colosseum. The city is huge, but small enough that the idea of walking never seems all that daunting. Classes start on Monday, my first being a figure drawing class and a class on writing about Rome, and even though I'm still a little jetlagged and missing home, I'm actually excited to make that 25 minute walk when the day comes.