A Summer Abroad: Rome

A Summer Abroad: Rome

Adventures in Italy's ancient city.

(This is part of my Summer Abroad series; you can find part one here!)

I spent two weeks in Berlin as part of my recent job with a publishing company, and the other two weeks of my month long Europe excursion could be spent however I wanted. Seeing a golden opportunity, I booked cheap flights for some Eurotrip-style traveling in four other countries. And so I flew from Germany and opened up a new kind of adventure as I landed in Rome, Italy. The change in energy was as jarring as the change in weather, from a chilly 56-degree summer in Berlin to the bright and sunny 92 degrees at Rome’s airport. And my German taxi driver said I was silly for wearing shorts.

It should come as no surprise that Rome had been on my bucket list for a long time- it is for most people. As a child, I fell in love with Italy and Italian culture through the lens of Cornelia’s Funke’s various books… and admittedly because of The Lizzie McGuire Movie. The reality of Rome is nothing like the movies, though, which is beautiful to realized Berlin is an art piece of a city, but Rome is an artifact. It is old, and worn, and layered with eras past. It is still cobbled and cluttered, designed around its history and wrapping odd secrets in its maze-like streets. Roads full of Vespas, cars, and walking traffic (often on the same road: behind an elderly woman while riding taxis through the city, on more than one occasion). And before you ask- yes, the food is just as amazing as everyone says. Nothing quite tastes like the tomatoes in Italy, and I’ve yet to find tiramisu quite as good. The same with the fountains, which was some of the purest and clearest water I've seen in my life.

Also before you ask: yes, Rome’s men are as forward and flirty as you might expect. I lost count of the number of times men stopped to watch me through windows, offer me rides, and scooted themselves onto the same table as me. “Ciao, Bella!” became a commonly overheard call in the streets I walked. A pair of sunglasses usually solved the problem, if I felt I didn’t want the attention. The people are kind, though, and the tourists unusually pleasant for such a busy city. I shared a pizza lunch and travel stories with a backpacker and talked about David Bowie's music with a cab driver. The language barrier that had been such a hang-up in Berlin faded in the streets of Rome, making life much easier and more relaxed.

One of the most incredible things I have experienced- not just in this trip, but in general, was the most I took the train to Colluseo and stepped out onto the block that overlooks the Colosseum. The real, actual Colosseum: the one from text books and all of the postcards. It always looked big, and somehow it was bigger in real life. Walking its columns and stairs just aches with history, tracing the edges where new concrete ends and the earliest bricks begin. The Roman Forum surrounds the block like the portal to another place and time, temples and political buildings mixed together over a hilly landscape of olive trees. The air is hot and the water vendors are persistent, but the walk around the area is worth every blister and potential sunburn.

My favorite corner of Rome was Piazza de Spragga, one of the richest and most beautiful areas in the city. Just a walk down the streets takes you passed the Spanish Steps and all the way to The Pantheon, with all of the beauty in between. Wonderful restaurants and hidden treasures line the walk, including the historical Caffe Greco (the world’s oldest cafe), the Gucci store, and the beautiful former home of John Keats and Percy-Byche Shelley. There are hours to spend just exploring the area, and some of my fondest memories in Europe were spent relaxing at Caffe Greco with a cup of tea or exploring the beautiful books at The Keats-Shelley Museum. I also enjoyed venturing around the busy and colorful area that surrounded Termini Station, where you could find whatever food you needed and the best gelato in the world, if I do say so myself.

After three days wandering and enjoying the magic of Rome, I had to pack up again for another flight: I was off to Paris! But I had only just realized that three days would never be enough to see the whole city. I had experienced so much culture and magic, and there was still more to find. I used this to take heart that one day, I would just have to return for more adventures in Italy.

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Jones

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4 Reasons Everyone Should Study Abroad

I promise you wont regret it.

Advising has begun and most of us are planning out our schedules for next semester and this summer. Study abroad interest meeting information has been posted all over campus and if you have even thought about possibly studying abroad this summer I have one thing to tell you. DO IT. Last summer I studied abroad in Greece and it was easily one of the best decisions I have made since I have been in college and this is why you should too:

1. I met some of my greatest friends

I signed up to study abroad only knowing one other person going and ended up with new best friends by the end of our trip.

2. I visited places that I have always dream of visiting... and I got class credit for it

Being able to go to Greece and get full credit for a class while traveling and having fun was the BEST!

Being able to go to Greece and get

full credit for a class while traveling and having fun was the BEST!

3. I ate A LOT of good food

Trying new deserts was my favorite part.

I will never forget the people I met, the places I visited, and the history I learned about. It was truly an amazing experience and I was so blessed to have the opportunity to go.

If you are considering Studying abroad or have heard about it LOOK INTO IT!!!!!! I promise you won’t regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Kylee Rossiter

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Breakfast on the Streets of Rome

Memories of Visiting Italy

Sometimes you don’t realize how great something is until after it has happened.

This was true of my trip to Italy many years ago.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the trip.

I probably had more fun on that trip than on any trip my family took during that time.

But at only eight years old I didn’t realize how few American kids got to visit Italy.

So, the real beauty of the trip really didn’t hit me until several years afterward.

Probably the most interesting moment came on my family’s first day in Rome.

We ate breakfast at an outdoor café.

I sat in my chair, drinking orange juice with bits of pulp in it, and looked at the streets around me.

There was something unusual about these streets.

By that time, I’d seen probably over a dozen streets in various European countries.

Something about Rome’s street view caught my attention, showed that this place was different from any other place I’d visited.

There were the windows, long and vertical instead of wide and horizontal.

There were the stone walls, so stained by age that they didn’t seem to be any single color.

Of course, there were the hundreds of Italians and tourists eating under giant umbrellas in other cafes.

All of these things seemed to shout out, “We are Rome! And we are not like anywhere else!”

I saw many other things during my trip.

I stood near the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain.

I rode a boat to Capri.

I stood with about eight zillion other people in the Vatican and listened to Pope John Paul II give an address.

But somehow, that moment during the first day in Rome captures everything that was unique about the vacation for me.

Sitting in that café, I saw that Italy was unique and beautiful and not like anything else I had seen.

Today, when the streets of various places in France, England and other countries blur in my mind, I still remember Italy’s streets very clearly.

Cover Image Credit: PxHere.com

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