Hello old friend:
Hi everyone, its been a while huh? This past semester I was definitely slacking on blogging but I had a lot of things to do to get ready for my semester abroad.
I’ve been in Rome for over a month now. Wow writing that just absolutely blew my mind- I cant believe that its already been a month in my new home. It really feels like I just got here a few days ago.
With that being said, I’ve honestly been going non-stop. Between traveling, adjusting to the city, school, and sightseeing there is very little down time.
My first few days here were absolutely crazy. I landed in Rome around 10 am and waited in the airport for a few hours for other students to arrive to go to the hotel. By the time we got there I was absolutely dead. I didn’t sleep on either of the planes and even almost threw up on the second one… I think me and Lufthansa don’t get along since I throw up every time I go to Germany with them??
A lot of people have been curious about the cultural differences so I’ll discuss some of the things I found to be shocking to me during my first few weeks:
First up- Cafés:
I learned this one just hours after I got off the plane!
When we arrived at the hotel some Stonehill friends and I went to go get lunch at a little cafe near our hotel. We automatically were so lost and had no idea what to do when we walked in. We learned quickly that meals in Italy are very different than in the United States. People don’t really get things to go and you usually pay for things at a cafe before you order which is so backwards from how we do it in the states. There are so many cafes on every corner where you can get a panino and café (sandwich and coffee). They usually have a variety of sandwiches and other things like croissants and a variety of coffees. These places are great once you figure out the system. I really enjoy just ordering a coffee in a cafe and sitting there to do homework or to journal. It is something very relaxing and so different from that fast paced culture of the US where theres little time in the middle of the day to take an hour for yourself. I have even found places that do iced coffees and croissants to go when I have class!
Next up: The Language Barrier:
The thing that really hit me was the language barrier. I have never taken Italian but I assumed that it was similar to Spanish and latin which I have studied since 6th grade. Literally everyone I talked to was like “oh its basically Spanish” and “everyone in Rome speaks English” HAHA FALSE!
It certainly has some similarities but not as much as I once thought. When we walked into the cafe the first day in Rome, the owner did not speak english and asked us something in Italian which I somehow was able to understand and respond to. It was at that moment that I realized that the Italians in Trastevere, a primarily residential part of Rome, did not really speak English. This became more apparently clear throughout the first week or two during certain interactions in places like the grocery store or even in our apartment building.
I still don’t know a lot of Italian and I honestly get very nervous when people speak to me in it. I do know how to ask for a bus ticket and I can respond to some questions. I know most Italians are annoyed with me when I speak English and don’t understand them. However, that just intimidates me more and makes me not even want to try to speak in Italian to them because they’ll probably just yell at me. The amount of Italians that have tried to talk to me and then proceeded to yell at me when they realized I had no idea what they were saying is probably double digits by now.
Third: Danger in Rome
Now people have been asking me this question often so I’ll address it now- is Rome dangerous?!
Now I have two parts to this answer:
Part 1: No. I say this because I have never genuinely feared for my safety in Rome. I walk around by myself all the time during the day and when I say walk, I mean WALK. I average around 6-8 miles a day. I feel fine taking the public transportation alone during the day and no one usually bothers me.
Part 2: Yes. You shouldn’t walk by yourself at night and you should always watch your bags. BUT, even the locals we’ve talked to say that although there’s pickpocketers and robberies, there is really not much violent crime here.
I think people have severely hyped up and exaggerated the danger of this city- so much so that some study abroad students will pass it up for other cities because they’re so scared. All around Europe and even places in the US you’re gonna possibly get pickpocketed and robbed- but this has never stopped me from doing anything in Rome. I think that students need to just be careful, smart about their surroundings, and smart about how they carry their possessions.
A lot of stories I have heard about pickpocketing have occurred late at night in crowded places like bars or the trains. I’ve also heard about girls and guys getting robbed (this actually happened last week). My friend’s apartment even got broken into.
Although these stories sound scary- this happens in the US too!! I think it is just scarier because we are in a foreign country. What I have noticed though is that a lot of people will not help you, unlike the US. It is very much the culture to turn away and mind your own business in certain situations. Yes this is definitely a culture thing, however it is scary because it is so different in the US, where people will jump into action to help you.
Overall, many of the rumors you’ve heard are either severely exaggerated or just not true. People in Italy don’t all know English. Violent criminals are not running wild in the streets of Rome. I have already fallen in love with this city and I hate the bad reputation it has with people in the US.
Stay tuned for my next post- I will be talking all about my first trip if the semester: Venice, Italy!
Here are a few pictures from my trip so far. They’ll be explained in future posts!