Checking in– 1 month in Rome so far!

Allison Derrick headshot
Allison Derrick
February 29, 2024
Table of lunch at a restaurant in Tivoli

Ciao e buon pomeriggio! I have been in Rome for exactly one month and it’s been even more incredible than I was hoping. I’ll do a first month recap here, and later make separate entries for my weekend trips, food recommendations, and other details.  

The flight to Rome went as well as I could have hoped, at least until my checked suitcase was lost during my connecting flight. After a few days of tracking it down, though, I picked it up from the airport and was finally able to get settled into my apartment. We did two jam-packed days of IES Abroad orientation, which included everything from Rome cultural information to safety advice to a walking tour. I really lucked out with my roommate situation—in addition to rooming with my best friend from school, Ella, I got matched with four others who we get along with so well, and it was nice to have a little group right off the bat. Our apartment is in a quiet residential neighborhood just 15 minutes from the Vatican, so we have been exploring the places near us and getting to know our area. 

Apart from the local Rome sightseeing, I’ve traveled a bit already. We’ve taken a day trip to Tivoli, an overnight trip combining Siena and Florence, and a long weekend trip to Interlaken, Switzerland. I am trying to strike a balance between enjoying, experiencing, and staying in Rome, while taking advantage of the location and exploring other parts of Italy and Europe too. 

Classes have been great so far. I only have class Monday–Thursday, and am really enjoying the content of the classes. Many of them have Rome field studies almost every week, which is a really fun feature of the IES Abroad Rome program. In one of my classes, my professor schedules one each Tuesday and it is a much more interactive way to learn than sitting in a lecture. I’m adjusting to the class times still, but class here seems to be much more focused on the actual material in class and less on busywork and excessive exams. Italian class has been really helpful too. I’ve been able to pick up on and understand some random words when people pass by me in the street, so I am excited to get more familiar with it. 

It is so exciting how new everything is. I found out that I suddenly love cappuccinos, adding black pepper to almost any meal, artichokes, arugula on pizza, Hugo spritzes, and taking trains everywhere. There are already many elements of life here that I really love. First of all, the food is amazing. It’s affordable and high quality, and it has been so much fun exploring the different places and finding Roman specialties. Some of our favorite discoveries so far have been Roman artichoke, cacio e pepe, little risotto balls called suppli, the Hugo spritz, and of course the gelato! It’s hard to resist that when it’s a three minute walk from our apartment in any direction. Good food is very easy to come by here, whether it’s a sit-down meal at a family restaurant or a quick pass through a takeaway pizza slice shop on the walk home from school. If I think about it, I don’t think I can come up with a single example of food in Rome not being amazing. In the next few weeks I’m planning to add another blog to highlight my favorite foods in Rome and where to find them. 

Another aspect I am really enjoying is the pace. The lifestyle here is essentially the opposite of that in America; here, people walk without hurry, they enjoy long dinners that stretch over several hours, and they never seem shy away from ordering a perfect dessert to end the night. It seems to me that the priorities are much more about being in the present moment, rather than rushing to the next activity. It’s refreshing, and even when I’m not running late I keep realizing I’m walking about three times as fast as the person next to me. I always catch myself and slow down to match their pace. A typical Italian day, we’ve learned, would consist of a coffee and pastry in the morning, a small lunch of pizza or pasta around 2 p.m., some sort of snack or aperitivo around 6-7 p.m., then dinner and dessert around 8 p.m. I finally feel as though I’m slowing down, taking it in, and hardly worrying about how much time I have to get to the next place. It’s certainly been an adjustment, but my aunt who grew up near here encouraged us to fully embrace the Italian lifestyle and “do as the Romans do”. From hanging our laundry all over the apartment to navigating the produce markets in the piazzas, there are lots of everyday things that we are doing differently. So far, it has been such a wonderful experience. 

There is so much to learn and I cannot wait to find out more. A dopo! 

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Allison Derrick

Hi, I'm Allison! I’m from Maine and a big fan of iced chai lattes, taking pictures with my 2011 digital camera, some good throwback music, and falling asleep on the beach. I'm in search of finding the very best pasta and gelato in Italy, so join me!

2024 Spring
Home University:
Lafayette College
Environmental Studies
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