The first week in Rome has been absolutely incredible. Our apartment is way nicer and larger than I ever expected and the location is incredible. The most incredible thing is walking out of the apartment and seeing the Tiber river and all of these gorgeous buildings all around me. I could not have asked for a more amazing city to visit. On Friday, my friend and I walked out of our apartment to grab some lunch and we walked up to a procession towards the Vatican where the remains of Saint Pio da Pietralcina and Saint Leopoldo Mandic. This was a once in a lifetime experience as this year has been proclaimed as the “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy” by Pope Francis. For those who don't know, the Jubilee is a Catholic holy year that happens every 25 or 50 years; however, every now and then the Pope is able to call for a special jubilee and Pope Francis called for this one and specifically requested these saints to be brought to Rome for veneration. As I was raised Catholic, this experience is especially meaningful and I can’t imagine a better time to be studying abroad in Rome. It’s not every day that you walk out of your apartment for lunch and see the remains of two very important saints being carried to the Vatican for veneration.
IES Abroad took us on an amazing tour of Rome on Saturday. We were able to see many of the big attractions near where we were living: the Trevi fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, the Tiber River, the Pantheon, and various other historical sites around Rome. The Pantheon and the Trevi fountain were two of the most breathtaking sites that we visited. The greatest part of all of this is that we still haven't seen probably 80% of Rome, maybe even more, and everything we see is incredible. Just about 5 minutes from my apartment is the Italian Supreme Court and it is the most architecturally magnificent building that I have ever seen.
In terms of the trip to Rome, I actually never experienced jet lag. I was able to sleep on the plane a little bit and got into Europe Monday morning. Then I was able to just stay up until we went to bed and felt great the next day. My roommates were the same way and I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't experience much jet lag. I also haven't had too much of an issue with culture shock. Honestly, the most shocking thing is seeing all of the beautiful buildings and constantly having amazing and affordable food every single day. Beyond that, it has been fairly easy to adjust to the Roman culture and way of life. Most people are also able to speak at least a little bit of English, enough for me, a non-Italian speaker, to get by. As a plus, two of my roommates are able to speak Italian pretty well which is very helpful when going to stores and markets.
Overall, this first week in Rome has already been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have been able to explore a new city and finding my way around a city I don't know has been a truly eye opening experience. I wouldn't say that the adjustment has been too difficult, however, I believe that as I get into the start of classes and start roaming around on my own more I will face new challenges that can only be helpful in learning about myself.
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<p>My name is Josh Marrs and I am a junior from Rice University in Houston, Texas! I'm majoring in Sociology with a major interest in social inequality. My passions are playing tennis, basketball, ping pong, and any other sport I can get my hands on. Visiting Rome has been one of the biggest dreams of my life thus far and I will be fulfilling that dream by studying in Rome during the Spring of 2016. This will be my first time experiencing another country and I can't wait to share my experiences and reflections.</p>