Sunday marked two weeks since I landed in Rome ready to start my year abroad. Suitcase in hand (after an hour’s wait at the baggage carousel) I met my fellow Warwick students at the airport, got into a taxi and began my Italian adventure…
In most adventure stories, the protagonists run everywhere and do everything in a hurry. I wish this could have been the case for us. Unfortunately, Rome’s administration and transportation means that a lot of my memories of my first few days here will be of forms and queues. Long queues. As with any move to a foreign country, there are a lot of administrative things that needed sorting out when we arrived, such as fiscal codes, transport passes and student cards. Each of these came with a long wait and often a long journey, but by the end of week one we miraculously had it all sorted (and managed to find a flat, but that’s a story for another time!).
However, in between all the lines and paperwork, we also managed to do a bit of sightseeing. Last week we took a day off from stressing and celebrated completing our admin by visiting some sights, such as the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon (a dream!) and the Spanish Steps. We have also had plenty of opportunity to taste the delights of Roman cuisine… ie: pasta, pizza and more pasta… (I’m sure we’ll experience less obvious traditional treats in due course!).
The main thing has of course been the university. Sapienza is colossal, by which I mean it has over 100,000 students and a main campus of over 100 acres… SCARY. The lectures are all in Italian, which has been quite a shock to the system, and all two hours long with no break. Understandably this is taking some getting used to, but so far a lot of the lecturers have been pretty understanding and I’m already starting to get better at taking it all in (I hope!!!).
The university also has an association called ESN (Erasmus Student Network), which is kind of like a society run by students that organises Erasmus events. At the weekend, for example, we went on a coach to Marino wine festival, the oldest wine festival in Italy. This was an experience in itself, and not one I’m likely to forget any time soon! ESN also organise bigger trips, and we have signed up to one for Naples, Pompeii and Capri in a couple of weeks which we are very excited about.
All in all, the first two weeks in Rome has been daunting, and there is a lot I wish I’d known before I arrived. However, it has the makings of a great experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops!