Ciao! The past two weeks have been crazy busy with orientation and our first week of classes. Although my first few days abroad were jam-packed with orientation and tours, it was incredibly important for me to explore the neighborhood I’m living in and around the IES Abroad center. Getting to know the streets and the shops brought me peace of mind when I realized just how much I had forgotten back home.
The first thing to find is your local grocery stores. Here in Rome, you're going to want to find a supermarket, such as Carrefour. There you can find a large selection of daily essentials, such as bread, meat, pasta, rice, canned goods, and cleaning products. You can also look for local food markets or shops that exclusively sell produce or meats, however, these might be more expensive than at the supermarket, so always check the price before you buy. These shops are likely to only accept cash, so keep that in mind.
Next, look into what kind of shops sell medicine, makeup, and toiletries. In Italy, they are called the Farmacia and can be spotted by the green plus sign hanging out front. These shops are run by medical professionals, so if you're looking for something specific you can always ask them for help. Just recently I went in to find something to help with a sunburn and the woman at the counter knew exactly what to give me. Had I not asked for help I probably would have spent over an hour trying to find the right thing, so never be afraid to ask. Italian farmacias also have really good skin and hair care products, so I would definitely look around online to find some recommendations because you won’t find these products anywhere else in the world.
The one thing I swear by in Rome is public transportation. Although the buses might not run perfectly on time, it is still ten thousand times better than walking for hours and hours every day just to get to class and run errands. Many of my friends have been hesitant to buy the monthly transportation pass, but I can tell you it’s a must. So once you’ve picked up your pass, go ahead and find the nearest bus, train, and metro stations because you will be there at least once a day.
For everything else, ask the IES Abroad staff and the student companions. The staff at your IES Abroad center are there to help you with more than just your classes. They know that you're adjusting to living in a new place and are more than willing to give you recommendations on where to eat, where to buy extra pillows and blankets, where to find curling irons, and just about everything else.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed during your first week in a new country, so finding these places early on in your stay can be really helpful. Now get out there and start exploring!
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As an aspiring archaeologist, a bookworm, and a lover of thrifting, I couldn't be more excited to be going to Rome. Come with me to explore the city's vast history and find the best second-hand shops and cozy corners to curl up and read a good book.