Orientation & the First Supper

In the middle of the night my roommate Emily arrived! It was an interesting, half-awake first conversation. Now we were just waiting for one more roommate.

It felt like in the first couple days that I was in Rome I learned more about the United States than I did about Italy. Most of the schools people said they were from I had never even heard of before, but I guess its not like anyone knew of SUNY New Paltz either…of course they’d heard of New York. For the first couple of days I was here I didn’t meet a single person from NY but I met people from Oregon, Illinois, Texas, Minnesota and…well some other states that are located in central America that I cant remember. All I know is that I thought to myself, “Wow, people live there?” (I’m terrible, I know). Point is, I was really exposed to my east coast mentality for the first time. It’s cool to think about other places even within the United States, but who knew I’d be experiencing it in Rome.

The first couple of days in Rome were governed by a long list of orientation activities including obtaining a permit to stay, a campus tour and a very quick walk around central Rome to get a gist of how to use public transportation. All the activities were surprisingly… uninformative. We all really had to learn these things by just getting out there and doing it ourselves.

This are a few photos I took on our way too fast walk through the center of Rome. Later I went back with my roommates and actually took it all in.



On the ruins of the building where Julius Caesar was murdered (“Et tu Brutus?” yeah that guy)….well now, there’s a cat sanctuary there. Being a crazy cat lover, I couldn’t have been happier. I heard someone say that there are Italians that think it’s disrespectful and are trying close the cat sanctuary. I vote that it stays…think of the kitties. (Unless of course when it closes I can take them all home).





I’m not going to go into depth about what these building are right now because at the time I took these pictures I had no idea what they were either. I’ll talk more about them when I post better photos later.

Rome is full of the types of things you would see in NYC. Some common sights around both cities are street performers, vendors selling knock off bags and iPhone cases, homeless people, graffiti and the likes. Although it wasn’t a total culture shock for me, I was still taken back. I guess I’d never really thought about what Rome was like outside of its most famous monuments (how naive of me). As we approached the Colosseum I felt a big wave of disappointment flood over me. Somethings just aren’t how you imagine them to be from the medias portrayal of them…see below:

First, understand that Gladiator is one of my most favorite movies of all time. I know that this movie is completely fictional but its the best visual representation of ancient Rome that I can recall. Not only was the Colosseum surrounded on all sides by city but it was under construction. Poo =[ I know this is the way it always was, even in ancient times. To me it almost felt disrespectful, like a flower in a garbage can (thats a dramatic metaphor but the first one that comes to mind). Don’t get me wrong, the Colosseum alone is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my entire life but taking into account the surrounding landscape…it initially didn’t live up to my expectations…thanks popular media.


One thing that did not disappoint was my first Italian meal. Wow! I did stick to my comfort zone a little bit by ordering penne alla vodka but it was better than anything I’d ever tasted in America. This was also my first time legally purchasing and drinking alcohol.
I’m going to talk about drinking a little bit because its definitely something that I spent a lot of time thinking about before coming here. Everyone is going to tell you something different about legally drinking so its better to just feel it out when you’re living it. I feel like everyone assumes that us underaged students will go crazy once we reach a country where we can legally drink (I’ve witnessed this more than once and its not all fun and games). It doesn’t have to be this way.
One of the first horror stories we had to absorb upon arrival was about a kid who died last semester after he fell off a bridge onto concrete while he was drunk. Another story, from this semester, that even reached the states is about a student that was last seen at a bar (in Campo di Fiori, where we usually go to drink) and was found dead a few days later. There have been stories about muggings and girls who were raped and it’s not just a scare tactic, here it’s real. If you study in Italy, it’s really important to remember that you’re in a country thats going through a financial crisis, there are a lot of unemployed young people here and they don’t see you as a nice American student, they see you as a target. If you study somewhere else, just be aware of the way people view Americans and take steps to not put yourself in a vulnerable situation. I always walk places with other people and I don’t get blackout drunk. Be careful. Thats my rant about that. No more serious stuff now.

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