I’m jetting off to Rome this Sunday to start the Language and Area Studies program and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Lots of my emotions leading up to now have been a mix of excitement, nerves and outright confusion; but, I keep telling myself that I’ll never be more ready to live abroad than I am right now. Heading to a new country is definitely overwhelming, so I created a bucket list of things I want to do, see, and of course, eat while abroad to help me navigate Italy.
Visit local Italian flea markets.
Whenever I travel to a new place, I love to visit local flea markets. Flea markets reflect a place’s culture and charisma in tangible items that you can’t find anywhere else—each item has its own history and time of origin that you can’t replicate in a mainstream store. In somewhere like Rome, I hope to find unique objects and clothing that I can cherish forever. Two sites that I have my eye on are Porta Portese and the Borghetto Flaminio Market.
Visit Naples and Avellino to connect with my Italian heritage.
Being able to study in Rome is an amazing opportunity alone; but, I’m also really excited to visit the places of my Italian ancestors. My dad is an Italian American as my grandparents have genealogical roots in Avellino and Naples. I hope to spend some time in these areas over a free weekend to connect with where my family is from.
Eat dishes besides pizza and pasta.
My stomach is already growling for pizza and pasta, but I also can’t wait to try other Italian dishes that are more local to the Roman area. I’ve only done a little research, but a few dishes that I will definitely try are maritozzi, filetto di baccala and some authentic Italian porchetta. Don’t worry, I’ll take lots of pictures.
Visit Roman pilgrimage sites.
Last semester, I took a course that focused on pilgrimage sites around the world. Rome was heavily discussed and it made me so excited to visit these sites in person! Some places that are on my list are the Vatican (I’ll actually be living right across the street), Sancta Sanctorum and the Pantheon.
Stroll through Villa Borghese.
Since I’ll be spending most of my time in the city center of Rome, I already know that I’ll want to be craving some sort of natural environment. I did some research and Villa Borghese seems like a perfect spot to recharge. This park’s got it all—from stunning views to museums I can’t wait to experience the largest park in Rome!
Meet as many Italian people as I can!
One of my goals when I first planned to study abroad was to connect with local people regardless of the location that I chose. Even though it might be much easier said than done, I’m telling myself right now that interacting with local people, though uncomfortable at first, will definitely be worth it. This is going to be an interesting challenge given that I don’t speak Italian, but isn’t that just part of the experience? I’ll also be working part-time at a local art gallery space in Rome with many Italian-speaking co-workers, so this will definitely help me get out of my comfort zone!
I can’t wait to explore my new city for the next three months in less than a week! As much as I love to plan things and activities, I have a feeling that the best parts of this experience will be the unexpected moments. Follow along as I navigate this city and all it has to offer!
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Hi! My name is Mia and I'm a junior at Occidental College studying Sociology and Art History. I’m from Kailua, Hawaiʻi and love to surf, practice yoga, roller-skate and listen to music! I’m so excited to be studying abroad in Rome for the Fall 2022 semester and can’t wait to experience life in Italy. I’ve got a passion for writing about culture, art and style and can’t wait to explore these interests during my time abroad.