Tarin: Arrival in Rome

May 21, 2010

We left from Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport at 7:40 PM and arrived in Amsterdam on time, around 10:40 AM (Amsterdam time). It was big plane! Not a Boeing 747 (I was hoping)… but pretty close! We got dinner, and I chose the chicken meal, which was surprisingly good! Free wine and beer the whole way—I resisted though. I watched Dear John (not very good) and fell asleep to Avatar. In Amsterdam, we had a small layover, and left for Rome at 2:00. Rather than peanuts, we were given some sort of Dutch sandwich. We landed at 4, got on a bus around 5, and headed into Rome.

IMG_2952We got dropped of at a taxi stand and were taken to our apartments, which are scattered around the city. I’m rooming with Sarah and living with 3 other girls. The apartment is really nice. It’s in the Aurelia neighborhood, outside of Vatican City and across the Tiber river from class.

IMG_2969The first thing I noticed about Rome when we arrived was the traffic! People here are crazy drivers! Vehicles are parked pretty much wherever there is space. Some are facing forward, others backward, some even sideways. Tons of people ride vespas, and have no fear while doing it. They weave in and out of traffic like they’re invincible. The roads are a mess, and it doesn’t help that there are random walls divided different areas. You look at a map and think you can get from point A to B, but then realize there is a wall in the way! So you go around, but the street doesn’t go where you think it would. It will take a little getting used to.

After getting settled in, my roommates and I went to get money from a bancomat (ATM) and find somewhere to eat. We wanted to find a ristorante to get a big meal, but since we weren’t familiar with the area, we stayed close and ate at a pizzeria. We ordered two round pizzas, one with cheese and onions, the other with tomatoes, sausage, and peppers. We also bought two bottles of wine (for 5 euro each).

The next morning we used public transportation (bus) to get to our orientation. Finding the bus stop was difficult, but once on it was pretty straightforward. Well, after we realized we were on the bus going the wrong direction and corrected our mistake, that is. Our apartment is walking distance from class (between 20 and 30 minutes), so I will probably do that on most days. We took a break during the orientation, and some of us went over to a cafe for a snack and coffee. The Italians have the right idea—rather than order a triple shot of something at breakfast, they drink espresso and coffee several times a day at bars and cafes. The espresso comes in a teeny cup, and the cappuccino and cafe lattes (which I got) is similar to a small size in America. And it’s cheap—usually under 1 euro! After orientation, we got lunch. I was thirstier than I realized, and took a nice big gulp of… mineral water. Not a huge fan of the bubbles. They brought out Cokes for us, and bruschetta… and french fries? I suppose they were trying to appeal to our American tastes? Then we got pizza. I definitely prefer Italian pizza to American. It just tastes fresher.

IMG_2971Sarah and I decided to try and walk back to the apartment after the orientation and lunch. We stopped near St. Peter’s at the Vatican to take a few pictures, and it was amazing to see the difference in the number of tourists and shadier people trying to scam tourists! We started walking home, trying not to look lost by looking at our maps every two seconds… but it probably would have helped to look at the map a little more than we did, because we ended up taking a 20 minute detour. We made it home in time for the people from ACCENT to show us how to work everything in our apartment, including how to restore our power after a fuse is blown (which happened this morning from a hair straightener).

It’s colder here than normal, apparently. This is nice because the zanzare (mosquitoes) aren’t out yet. We live far enough away from the Tiber that it shouldn’t be a huge problem for us, but windows in Italy don’t have screens. So, I will never leave a window open with the light on at night. I didn’t bring enough warm clothes, either. In the sun, it can definitely get hot. But once inside, and in the shade, it’s much cooler. Our apartment is a lot colder than I expected, so we might get some extra blankets to sleep with.

IMG_2991After we learned how to use our appliances, my roommates and I went to the supermarcato to get groceries. I’m really indecisive in general, so it was really hard for me to shop when I didn’t know exactly what I was shopping for or what I was looking at. Sarah and I are making spaghetti tonight. We bought fresh basil, garlic, and tomatoes, and some pre-made Italian pasta sauce, as well as pasta fresco all’uovo (fresh egg noodles). Everything is just so fresh here, and you can actually taste the difference.

IMG_2984We don’t start school until Monday, so tomorrow some of us are going to go to the Colosseum and probably the Pantheon (which is right by school). I’m excited to see this famous and ancient architecture. It’s strange to see it every day waking down the street, though. Whether it’s buildings or statues or fountains, it’s mixed right in with modern Rome.


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