Life in Rome as a Student
To describe life in Rome as a student or really as anyone is to try to define the infinite. The great thing about Rome is that it is indefinable. Rome can be love, stress, busy, peaceful, noisy, quite, quaint, urban, beautiful, dirty, etc. etc. It's almost impossible. Rome is a one of a kind city, way of living. To me, it's its own culture.
As a student from an Italian-American family coming to Rome to study and live on my own has been hard. Even though I am accustomed to the Italian culture, I still find difficulties. There are traditions to follow and rules to know. Like saying buongiorno and buonasera when you enter a shop or come home to your landlady. Or the fact that one is laughed at when you have cappuccino or caffe latte in the afternoon or evening. And of course there is no such thing as having eggs in the morning. I couldn't list all the rules they have here for eating! But they do love to eat good food.
Rome especially has been a great experience for me. One thing I wont forget is the public transportation. No one told me you had to hang on for dear life or that in practice (not in theory) you had to pay for riding. And what's up with the cute bus drivers?
I have met the most interesting people here in Rome, just from living in one place but having different roommates that come and go. It has been the best part of my stay here. I couldn't tell you how many Americans and people from different countries come here to taste the Roman-way-of-life. However, there aren't really any Romans left here and if they are, they tend to be stuck up and cold. The hardest thing for me here has been to make Italian friends. Romans, like I said, are hard to get to know. But once you're accepted in, you're in for good, and all the blessings come pouring in.
Of course being a student, means you have a student budget, so that means the following 10 things have to occur while traveling or in Italy:
- You must sleep on a cold, and most likely dirty, floor at an airport to save money on sleeping quarters and ensure that you make your 6am flight. (A good place to do this is London's Stansted airport, where almost 1000 people show up each night with sleeping bags and air mattresses).
- Fly Ryan-air for about 20 U.S. dollars to a neighboring country.
- You must pack enough clothes for two seasons in a ridiculously small suitcase and live with just that. You must also wash your clothes and hang dry them (because in Italy there is no such thing as dryers) so that you end up wearing crispy clothes.
- Get something stolen because Traveling in Europe without someone at least trying to rob you is practically unheard of.
- Be on a tight budget. It spices up life, because if you're never broke you'll never get to eat at weird travel bars that give you a free dinner with the purchase of a drink or buy groceries and have wonderful picnics instead of dining out. Also if you're staying in Rome, eat pizza every night and everyday. It's cheap and it's good!
- Learn to love hot tea or coffee. You haven't truly experienced Italy if you don't go home without an addiction to hot steamy drinks.
- Get yourself into at least one situation where you look like the stupid American. For example, have a picture taken of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Take pictures of a Communist rally or strike or anything foreign to you like fruit markets, churches, small cars (what's with that Smart car?).
- ( Please do not follow this oneâ€¦) start smoking. I know this is a bad habit but apparently everyone smokes here in Italy, even 90 year-old ladies. You actually feel awkward that you don't smoke and everyone else around you does.
- Cross the street without thinking about it too much. I always find it interesting how Romans cross the street, without a care in the world and with a certainty that the cars will stop for them.
- Most importantly: mmerse yourself in the culture. Go out, meet people, go to church, visit museums, take a walk in Villa Pamphilli, eat the food, and so on. Do as the Romans do!
By Ambra Talarico