Never the Right Time to Say Goodbye

Well this is it…my last week in Rome. Right now, my emotions are incredibly mixed. On one hand, I am so excited to go home—to be back in America with my family, my boyfriend, and my friends, to be able to send texts and use Snapchat on my iPhone even if I don’t have Wifi, to be able to read labels in the grocery store and communicate easily with the people around me. But on the other hand, I am so sad for this adventure to end. My semester abroad has been the best experience of my life. I learned things about this world and about myself that I really don’t think I could have learned anywhere else. I traveled to places I had only dreamed of visiting and saw so many stunning creations of this world and of the people on it. I did things I never imagined I was capable of—good and bad—and learned from every one of them. I met some of the greatest, most fun people I have ever known and made friendships that I know will continue outside of this continent. I also got to known and came to love an incredible city: Rome. Rome drives me nuts…the traffic is absolutely insane, the metro is crowded and annoying, the people selling selfie sticks are out of control, and the streets are dirty—but, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Rome has become my home over this semester and I love everything about it, the good, the bad, and the crazy. Below is a list of the things I will miss most about living in Rome.

1. 1 Euro bottles of wine

No lie, this bottle of wine costs 1.09 at CarreFour and puts Franzia to shame (#neveragain). I’m not sure how I will afford my wine obsession when I come back to America and have to pay $12 for a cheap bottle of vino. I would be lying if I said I never considered filling an entire suitcase with bottles of red to bring back home 😉

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2. Produce Markets

I love fruits and vegetables more than I love life itself (ok, a bit of stretch…but not that far from the truth). My friends tell me if I were a superhero, I would be Produce Girl. The two produce markets that are on either side of my apartment are absolutely sensational; I can get an entire bag of fresh produce for around 3 euro. It will feel like a sin (and a fatal blow to my wallet) to buy produce from a grocery store again. Plus, I will miss the (limited) Italian conversations I had with the market’s workers as I got to know them during my daily visits.

3. The Scenery

Sometimes, I had to stop and remind myself what I was taking for granted around me in this city. During this semester, I went on runs past the Colosseum, my morning commute to work everyday gave me a stunning view of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the sunlight, and my time waiting for the night bus to take my friends and I home from a night out was spent outside the Vittoriano. These things became so normal to me—just another part of my daily life—but unfortunately, they won’t follow me back to daily life in the United States.

4. Weekend travels

I traveled almost every weekend this semester to cities like Florence, Milan, London, Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Barcelona. Back home, I do not have the privilege of hopping onto a cheap RyanAir flight to another city after class on Friday and coming back in time for my internship on Monday morning. I have come to love traveling, and not being able to do it as frequently will be something I greatly miss (although, I can’t say I will miss flying RyanAir—am I right?).

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5. THE FOOD

I have eaten some of the best food in this city—pizza, cacio e pepe, buffalo mozzarella, bruschetta, gelato, and tiramisu. My friends make fun of me because after every meal I announce: “Oh my god, that was the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life.” This statement (although dramatic) is true! Every meal I eat tastes even better than the last. Roman food gets 5 stars from me.

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6. My Italian Family

This semester, the students on my program had the opportunity to tutor a child in English and visit the house of a Roman family every week. I was placed with the kindest, most welcoming, and loving family. Going to their home every Thursday to play games with, read to, talk with, and eat dinner with them has been a huge highlight of this experience. This Thursday will be my last visit and saying goodbye will be hard. I really don’t think this goodbye is a permanent one; I will come back to Rome and seeing this incredible family will be a priority during this future visit.

7. My internship at the Vatican

Yes, my internship had me waking up at 6:45am everyday (to get in an early morning workout beforehand), but it was an incredible experience. During my typical work week, I reached thousands of people in five different languages via my daily gospel posts and thousands more through photos on Instagram, spent every Wednesday morning with Pope Francis and thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, and enjoyed the incredible view of Saint Peter’s Basilica every time I stepped out of the office. In addition, I was one of only about 20 press people permitted on the Palentine Hill during Way of the Cross, only feet away from Pope Francis and with the opportunity to take amazing photos of the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in front of the hill, the glowing cross, and of Pope Francis himself. I am so grateful for this opportunity and will never forget it.

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8. My friends

It’s amazing how close you can get with people when you are the only American college students living in a region. The program I studied with is not typical of study abroad programs; we all lived in apartment buildings with local Romans instead of in university housing with hundreds of other study abroad students from America. This setting helped us all to grow close and to build incredible friendships. I have the most incredible memories with my friends on this program and have had some of the most fun and exciting experiences of my life with them. Being in Rome and traveling in Europe is amazing, but without people just as special by my side, my experience this semester would not have been half as fantastic.

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I could continue, but I think it is best to get off the computer and get out there to experience my last few days of the things on this list and everything else Rome has to offer. Now, to sign off for the last time from Rome…

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

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Better When We’re Together

My experience in Rome and traveling through Europe has made for the best three months of my life. However, at every beautiful sight I saw, at each new place I visited, and during every incredible meal, a thought constantly remained on my mind…I wish Eric could be experiencing this with me. Eric is my boyfriend and my best friend, and all around, the best person in the world, so when he finally arrived in Rome this past Saturday (after he traveled for over 24 hours and dealt with lost luggage), I was easily the happiest girl in the Mediterranean. 🙂

By Sunday afternoon, Eric had his luggage (yay!) and our time in Rome could officially begin. Our week together was absolutely perfect, and the weather was gorgeous. We embraced the “touristy” part of the city, but I also showed him around Garbatella, the part of Rome I have come to call home. To fuel up for all of our adventures, we made sure to eat all of the Italian food and wine that our bodies could handle (and then some…).

Rome has treated me so well for the past three months, but Eric’s visit here showed me beauty in this city that I have never seen before. Like Jack Johnson sings, “it’s always better when we’re together.”

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P.S. If you are drooling over this food (like we did), the restaurants we visited (in order) were La Romana (gelateria), Marco G, Osteria dell’Anima (famous for its pear pasta), Verde Pistacchio (great vegan and vegetarian options), and Osteria Barberini (famous for truffles). They were all amazing, and I highly recommend each one!

And to clarify, I promise I do more than just eat here (hehe 😉 )

Baci, baci,

Tatum

 

Just Roamin’

Spring Break is right around the corner (hello, 5 cities in 8 days), so most of the students in my study abroad program decided to keep our traveling pretty minimal this past week and weekend. Instead, we had a great week exploring, eating, hiking, and running our way through Rome and nearby cities. Who says you need an airplane and a hostel for an adventure?

1. A.S. Roma vs. Sampdoria

Since soccer is so big in Europe, I knew I had to see a game during my semester here. On Monday night, our program took us to an A.S. Roma game at Stadium Olimpico. I have been to sporting events in the United States, but nothing like this game. The fans were singing throughout the entire game; their passion and energy filled the stadium, even though the rainy Monday night kept the seats from filling up. Unfortunately, Roma ended up losing 2 to 0, but the game was a blast. Plus, now I have a cool picture wearing my Roma soccer scarf, so I am a happy camper 🙂

Roma | The Pace

2. Fridgidarium and Piazza del Popolo

On Thursday, my friends and I ventured back to our favorite gelato place in all of Rome…Fridgidarium. It stands out from the rest of the amazing gelato shops by topping off your cone with a hard chocolate shell, and adding a cookie to your cone if you order the “Fridgidarium” flavor (basically, cake batter). All of this for only 2 euro…if this is a sin, I am happy to say, I am a repeat offender.

After spending some time in paradise (aka eating gelato), we walked over to Piazza del Popolo. This is one of my favorite piazzas in Rome because unlike other piazzas with shops and restaurants surrounding it, Piazza del Popolo, which literally means the People’s Square, is just full of people. It’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the gorgeous, sunny weather with great friends, which is exactly what we did for over an hour. It was a day beautifully spent.

Italy | The Pace

3. Friends and Food

On Friday, our entire program had a midterm exam for our core course, so my roommates and I decided to host a potluck after the exam to celebrate. We had almost 30 people over to our apartment and everyone brought something to share. The food was amazing—mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, pasta, bruschetta, veggies, fruit, beer bread, and more. It was a wonderful mix of our comfort foods from home and our Italian favorites. Fridays are monumentally better when friends and food are involved.

Italy | The Pace

4. Orvieto

Although we decided not to travel anywhere far this weekend, we couldn’t help ourselves from going on a day trip on Saturday. Orvieto, only an hour train ride away, was the perfect destination. We ate a wonderful lunch at Gallo d’Oro (probably one of my favorite meals I have had here so far) and explored the small city of Orvieto. The city is on a hill, so after taking the tram up to the city and then back down to the train station, we decided to hike up the hill ourselves. The climb was amazing, and we stopped along the way to look at the view and take advantage of some awesome photo ops.

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5. RomaFun 5k

Sunday brought all of the runners (and rain) in Rome out bright and early for a race. Even the rain couldn’t bring down the spirit of the hundreds of runners at the starting line and throughout the race…because how can you be bummed when the route takes you past the Colosseum?

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I love how unique each week in this city is…I never know quite what to expect. Although, there is always a pretty good chance that pasta and gelato will be involved 😉

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

Exploring Italy

The goal of most study abroad students is to travel to as many places as they can and squeeze in as much as possible into this one very special semester. For many of us, this semester is something we have been saving for for years. Studying abroad is such a unique time in our lives and we feel the need to take advantage of every second. This attitude leads most of the students on my program to travel outside of Rome every weekend. Lately, my weekends have been filled with trains and planes to different cities and countries, but this weekend, I focused on Italy.

There are so many things in my own backyard that I keep telling myself I have to do before this semester is over. I used this weekend to do several of those things (and catch up on some much needed sleep!).

This weekend, I had my first cappuccino in Italy…I know, I’m crazy for waiting this long. Usually, I just can’t bring myself to spend the extra money on a cappuccino when I can easily make a quick espresso in my apartment, but this weekend, I went for it at an adorable caffe called Er Baretto. It was amazing (and beautiful!)

Exploring Italy | The Pace

The next item I checked off my Italian bucket list…apertivo. Apertivo is supposed to be the course before dinner. You buy a drink and then are welcome to enjoy an unlimited buffet of various breads, pastas, rice dishes, and more. What apertivo actually is is a really cheap way to stuff your face with the best of Italian food. After only spending 9 euros and making many trips up to the buffet at Tiki Bar, I had enjoyed a delicious strawberry daiquiri, amazing food, and good times with friends. Apertivo is a total win.

Exploring Italy | The Pace

The best part of the weekend was finally accomplishing a big item on my to-do list…a wine tour through Tuscany. We started the tour in Florence and were then taken through the Chianti wine region to the Castello del Trebbio. This castle was built in 1184 by the Pazzi family, the second most important family in Italy at the time. We were taken to the room, known as the Conspiracy Room, where this family planned to assassinate the Medici family. Now, the Castello del Trebbio is owned by the Baj Macario family who actually lives there and produces incredible wine and olive oil. After touring rooms of the castle and the wine cellar, we tasted three types of wine and learned about the importance of sight, smell, and taste in a wine tasting experience.

I am definitely no closer to being a wine snob and still plan to enjoy my 1 Euro bottles of red wine (how can I resist such a steal?!), but now I have had the privilege of enjoying reserve wine made 100% from the native Tuscan grape, Sangiovese, and have knowledge about how to use my senses to tell the age and origin of wine. However, I’m still deciding whether or not to use this knowledge on the 1 Euro wine bottles…in that case, ignorance may be bliss 😉

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Thanks for a beautiful weekend, Italy. You never disappoint.

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

Week 2 Check In

I have been in Rome for two weeks…part of me feels like the time has flown, while another part thinks back to getting off the bus at my apartment for the first time as being forever ago. Obviously, I want to share the exciting things I do and see during my time in Europe, but I also want to share the smaller things that make up my daily life here. So here is a short list of things I have learned, ways I have changed, and realizations I have had during my first two weeks in Rome.

  1. Italians operate on a totally different schedule than I am used to, and I am adapting to it. The biggest changes are late dinners (breaking out the pots and pans at 7 PM instead of 5), late nights out (AKA early mornings out), and naps (lifesavers).
  2. I eat pasta. Unfortunately like a lot of girls, I used to look at pasta like it was toxic, eat it rarely, and feel a little guilty when I did. Now, I eat pasta with no shame because honestly, I need the energy. In Rome, people walk everywhere, and walking gets exhausting. Fueling up with a bowl of pasta for dinner now feels normal, not sinful.
    Pasta | The Pace

    Pasta with mussels from cooking class in Rome

    Pasta | The Pace

    Carbonara Zucchine from Cento Lab

  3. If I don’t feel exhausted at the end of the day, I probably did something wrong. Rome is a huge city, and there is so much to do, see, and experience here. Of course, there are times when my warm bed sounds more appealing than another several hours on my feet, but that’s when I remind myself about my limited time in this incredible place. This weekend, we saw the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. The Spanish Steps were amazing, and the Trinità dei Monti at the top of the steps was stunning. The Trevi Fountain is under construction so that was a bit of a let down…but I guess it’s just an excuse to make another trip back to Rome when it’s complete!
    Spanish Steps | The Pace

    View from the top of the Spanish Steps

    IMG_9456_Fotor Spanish Steps | The Pace

    Spanish Steps | The Pace

    Trinità dei Monti

    Spanish Steps | The Pace IMG_9469_Fotor

  4. Two of my favorite things in the entire world—produce and wine—are some of the cheapest things you can buy in Rome. I walk away from the open-air produce market with a bag of fresh, delicious produce for just a couple euro. And wine here is cheaper than water (can I get an “amen”?)
  5. I am the world’s worst bargainer. We visited the Porta Portese Flea Market, a giant flea market open every Sunday in Rome, and I spotted an AS Roma scarf that I wanted. Long story short…could have gotten that thing for about 20% less if I had even a little bit of skill in bargaining.
  6. It is incredibly thrilling to successfully communicate in a foreign language. I never imagined being so excited just to tell someone where I am from and what I am doing in Rome. Learning a foreign language and trying to use it is challenging, humbling, and rewarding all at the same time.

In short, from the big sightseeing moments to the time I spend with my roommates in our apartment, I am having the time of my life in Rome right now. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this semester will bring.

xo,

Tatum

Not Just a Tourist

My internship at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Communication starts in just under two weeks, and I am so excited. Today, the other interns and I did a trial run on the metro to our offices to make sure we weren’t totally lost on the first day. As we walked toward the Vatican, we were stopped a dozen times by men and women trying to sell us umbrellas and ‘fast passes’ into all the Vatican has to offer. I guess my blonde hair and my friends’ bright raincoats and American brand backpacks are dead giveaways of our origin. Today, as I stood staring in awe at St. Peter’s Basilica, taking pictures, and brainstorming Instagram captions (can’t help myself, sorry…), I did feel like a tourist. But this stunning view isn’t just something I will see once and only remember from the pictures—this is my commute to work every day. So I think that qualifies me as something a little more than just a tourist 🙂

Speaking of being a tourist, I have been in Rome for a week now, which means, it’s time to start planning trips!! I have ideas of places I want to travel to, but there is so much to see and too little time (and moola) to do it all. What cities would you recommend I visit during my semester in Europe? Help a girl narrow this continent down to a few amazing destinations (if that is even possible!)

The Vatican | The Pace

My morning commute

The Vatican | The Pace

View from right outside our office

The Vatican | The Pace

Vatican interns!! (can you tell we are excited?)

 

Baci baci (kisses, kisses!),

Tatum

 

Welcome to Rome!

Ciao! Well, I am finally here…in Rome! Despite Winter Storm Juno’s threats of delaying my flight, I made it to Italy all in one piece, without any lost luggage, and on time! These first several days have been filled with so much that I can hardly believe it hasn’t even been a week yet! I’ve had my first tastes of real Italian food, got my first glimpse of the Coliseum (after spending an hour and a half getting totally lost), and had about five freak outs over how cheap, fresh, and delicious fruits and vegetables are from the open-air produce markets that are found on what seems like every corner. These experiences have been made even better with the company of the other students on this program. It’s only been a few days, but already I feel close to my new friends on this trip.

My apartment is located in Garbatella, which is south of the center of Rome and about a twenty-minute walk away. My five roommates and I (along with everyone else on the program) live among local Italian people, which really helps us in our goal to immerse ourselves as much as we can into the new culture around us.

I thought the “Ah! I’m actually living in Rome” moment would happen when I was eating my first plate of pasta or taking my first steps on the cobblestones of the city, but the moment happened when I didn’t even expect it. On Friday, a group of us were on the hunt for gelato when we ‘stumbled’ upon the Basilica di San Paolo. We walked inside, hoping to catch a quick glimpse of it, but we had no idea what we were in for. The basilica was breath taking and stunning. As I walked around, finding more and more to look at around every corner, I finally felt it…I am in Rome—A place of history, culture, and beauty. I am so excited about where the rest of the journey will take me.

Check out some photos from my first several days in Rome and follow me on Instagram for even more!

 

Italian Pasta | The Pace

First meal in Rome!!

Coliseum | The Pace

The Coliseum

The Roommates | The Pace

My lovely roommates on our first night out in Rome!

Gelato | The Pace

The first of many cups of gelato…Nutella flavored 🙂

Basilica di San Paolo | The Pace

Basilica di San Paolo (these photos do not do this justice!)

Basilica di San Paolo | The Pace

Basilica di San Paolo (the photos do not do this justice!)

Basilica di San Paolo | The Pace

Basilica di San Paolo (the photos do not do this justice!)

Basilica di San Paolo | The Pace

Basilica di San Paolo (the photos do not do this justice!)

 Until next time! xo,

Tatum