I am in Rome!! Two weeks ago I flew out of South Africa and touched down in Italy. Studying in two locations presents such an amazing opportunity to grow in different ways but it has been a challenge to adjust to a new culture after finally settling into another one.
View From My Room in Rome
One major struggle that I have had in the past couple of weeks is the language barrier I experience in Italy. In Cape Town everyone I met spoke English at a level where I could have a conversation with them. The signs were in English and I did not have to be conscious of how I am speaking to people. In Italy everything is in Italian (duh) and everyone speaks Italian as their first language. This makes little things like going to the grocery store, trying to get around the city, and ordering things at a restaurant more difficult.
In addition to cultural changes I also have experienced a shift in CIEE culture. While policies are the same Rome’s CIEE program is much more popular, therefore much larger. I have not even met half the people who are sharing this experience with me, this makes it feel less intimate and more like an individual experience. The Rome staff expects a lot more independence from us. We live about 40 minutes (walking) away from campus and live separately from other CIEE students. Excursions are facilitated by the staff but there is no group transportation, provided lunches, etc. In this sense the CIEE group here feels less like a family than CIEE Cape Town did and has taken some getting used to.
A personal challenge I have been having is adjusting to city life. I am not a city person and although Cape Town could be qualified as a big city there is nature surrounding it to enjoy when you need an escape and it is very accessible. Rome is big in a different way and beautiful in a different way. You can get lost walking the streets and pass ancient buildings and inspiring cathedrals but there isn’t much nature in and surrounding these streets to retreat to when I feel like releasing some stress. I feel myself having to sightly adjust how I react to stress and what I seek when stressed because I can’t find it here.
From the Best Garden/Green Space in Rome- Villa Borghese
Street Where CIEE is Located
Even with these challenges in mind my experience in Rome has been lovely so far. The food is fantastic and my roommates Sienna, Chloe, and Haley, are awesome. We have had a great time navigating this adjustment together and I look forward to experiencing Rome further!
Favorite Meal so far! A Nice Big Bowl of Carbonara
Nightly Gelato Run!
My new friends Haley, Sienna, and Chloe 🙂