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Eric: Rome, day 1

January 20, 2011

We made it! After 14 hours of air travel and a seven hour time difference I have landed in the Eternal City, ROME! When our plane touched down it was overcast and misting with a temperature of around fifty degrees. Our group boarded the plane together and exited together completely undirected which is a good sign that there will be some lasting connections made on this trip.

Customs was really quick and easy, simply a matter of getting your visa stamped. Once we were through and got our bags, we were met by our program directors at which point general information was administered and distributed. We all were handed an envelope with our specific housing arrangements inside along with an unlimited bus pass. The majority of the students had decided to live in an apartment, but there were five of us who chose the homestay option. The students who chose the apartment option were grouped based on gender into two separate apartments. Those of us who decided on the homestay option were placed in the home of an Italian Signora alone, or with another student and an entire family.

My homestay is proving to be amazing. The family consists of three members who live in the apartment which is actually comprised of two separate apartments in a single building. Me and my fellow student were greeted by Marina, the lady of the house, who is especially kind and patient. The language barrier is definitely a factor, but she had anticipated this, and when we were walked into the lower level apartment her computer was already on the Google translate page. We were able to break the ice and she made us some espresso, which was incredible. Next we were adjourned for a half an hour so the we could go unpack and situate ourselves our new rooms. The apartment that we have is amazing! Marble floors, ten foot ceilings, and terraces attached to every room.

Marina has a dog, Irwin, and a cat which I have forgotten the name of. Once we had situated ourselves Marina offered to show us around town, and we took Irwin for a walk around the Quarto, into a public Villa, and past some of the shops and into the Super Mercado. Marina bought some bread, artichokes, and pasta (Coop Brand) which is her favorite local brand.

When we returned back to the apartment we were greeted by Marina’s husband who assisted us in connecting our computers to the house’s Wi-Fi network which was a pleasant surprise. After some small talk that was conversed in a language that was neither Italian nor English but a rough blending of the two we had some lunch. Although it was somewhat irritating to not be able to converse easily I am relishing in the challenge of applying context to a conversation in order to flesh out a meaning from words that I have never heard before. Although communicating in this way is somewhat of a guessing game, it does lead to quite a few laughs when the conversation crashes into a language barrier and we run to the computer to translate for us.

We had a Mezzo of carbora, boiled artichokes, bread, and wine. I felt bad not eating my entire portion of the pasta which was 3 times as large as the rest of the families’ portion (ha-ha I guess the secret is out about American portion sizes, and I did not know how to say “that is enough, thank you”), but at least Irwin was happy! Apparently it is not a family custom to serve leftovers, so anything that is extra is promptly given to the dog. After another Café and some more friendly banter aided by the computer we all went our separate ways.  I decided to work off my Mezzo by putting on my jogging shoes and venturing up the dirt paths that lead up to the Villa and around the grounds. The park was peppered by locals pushing themselves to the limit on the trails and I felt strangely at home.

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