Starting a New Chapter: Living la Dolce Vita!

Andrew Masciarelli headshot
Andrew Masciarelli
September 10, 2023
A viewpoint overlooking Rome in Villa Borghese

No questions asked, this week has been a whirlwind of new emotions, travel woes, introductions to new friends, and new sights to see. In the end, it would be unfair to say that I haven’t been totally swept off of my feet by the city of living history. Coming to terms with the idea that a week of my time here has already passed is bittersweet; that said, I know it has been spent well and that the stage is set for the semester to be the brightest, most beautiful yet. While I feel incredibly prepared to set foot in the classroom tomorrow and begin my studies of economics, politics, and Italian culture, had I not adapted to some of the more unexpected challenges of learning to live in a new country, I would not have that sentiment. As such, I have decided that this post should serve as a bit of a journal entry for anyone who may be preparing to begin a journey similar to mine in Rome, and I will aim to provide a few tips, offering advice that can ease the sharp transition!

Tip #1: Be prepared to take things at a different pace!

Let’s face it: in America, we often tend to be sucked into a lifestyle of hustling and bustling to clear our plate of the many responsibilities we take on, and this tends to manifest itself in countless facets of our lives. One of my favorite ways this appears in the Italian way of life is through the dining experience. On a busy day at Occidental College, I would always run to the campus café to grab an iced latte to go so that I could stay on the move. Since arriving in Rome, I have learned that it is quite commonplace to actually set aside some time to go to a nearby café and enjoy a break from the pressures of the workday. Furthermore, there is no rush to finish your meal at a restaurant. It is an opportunity to spend quality time with peers, and servers will typically not bring the check immediately after you finish your meal. 

This is only one example of a way in which the Roman lifestyle can feel like a complete 180. All in all, it can be daunting, and admittedly unfamiliar, to go from the high octane workflow to one that gives more credit to the process and experience along the way, allowing for a more fulfilling end result in every region of the day-to-day happenings. This way of going about your day is key to living “la dolce vita,” or the sweet life!

Tip #2: Try to immerse yourself in your surroundings!

Finally stepping out of Fiumicino airport, I was met with a place completely unfamiliar to me. The architecture is unlike anywhere I had ever been before. Unquestionably breathtaking, I was in awe. Of course, I was also anxious. It is completely natural to be scared of a new experience, and it is okay for feelings of excitement and homesickness to conflict. What matters most however, is not which emotion takes prominence but rather how you respond. This is a pivotal time, and there is a whole world to see! Even if intimidating, you must be willing to try new things. In doing so, you can find a new hobby, discover a walking trail or route that provides solace, or even strike up a conversation with a local who can give you insight into the best gelato places. Take it from me, these are just a few instances of the wonders that Roma holds so long as you are willing to explore beyond your comfort zone. Whatever door opens, I encourage you to embrace the opportunity to experiment, as you may discover more than you ever imagined or thought possible.

Wrapping Up: What’s yet to come.

Though these two epiphanies highlight merely a fragment of the lessons I have learned this week, it is no question that the next thirteen weeks will contain many memories much like those I have made in this miraculous week. There is bound to be another night with my awesome housemates during which we play guitar and sing from our balcony, just as there are bound to be evenings when I take a wrong turn on my way home only to end up in the next hidden oasis. Whether I can anticipate what each day will bring or not, I am thrilled to continue this journey as I live la dolce vita! Stay tuned for upcoming posts about the best gelato spots and stories from new adventures.

Till then, ciao!

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Andrew Masciarelli

Hey there! My name is Andrew Masciarelli, and I am a rising junior from Occidental College studying economics and politics. Outside of my studies, I love to cook, and I am also spending as much time as I can teaching myself how to play the guitar!

2023 Fall
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