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 😉
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?).
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.
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.
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.
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),