One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the adventure that is studying abroad is to appreciate the little things. The tours, the travel, and the photos that make you look Insta-famous are fantastic, but what really makes your time abroad special are the little things. One “little thing” I’ve really come to appreciate is my 25 minute walk to class, which really is spectacular. I’m going to share with you the route I take every morning to class, which still blows my mind.
My roommates in I live in a neighborhood of Rome called Prati. It’s a very nice neighborhood and there are people of all ages living around us. Prati is a huge shopping district, so on my walk to school down Via Cola di Rienzo, I pass very expensive stores like Max Mara, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and other things I can't afford. I love looking at the things in the windows, and although almost none of it is ever my style, it’s fun to absorb Italian fashion on your walk to class!
Turning off of Cola di Rienzo, the biggest thing that struck me the first few times I walked to school were the vibrant colors of the buildings of Rome. Normal apartment buildings here are painted a light orange, yellow, or even pink, making the whole street look warm and inviting on a sunny day, like flavors of fruity gelato. The balconies of the apartments are overflowing with greenery, and it all just looks like a set from a movie.
After that, I walk through these cool side streets, passing gorgeous outdoor cafes, right to the front of Piazza San Pietro (St Peter’s square) in Vatican City, which is a very famous place in Rome. Walking through this touristy area is interesting, but seeing such a beautiful basilica every day is something I should never take for granted.
Next, I cross the adjacent street and walk in front of the massive Castel San’Angelo (Castle of Saint Angelo), a massive fortress that has beginnings about 2,000 years ago, and has served as a hiding place for the Pope in times of siege. Although a lesser-known monument of Rome, it is a massive, imposing structure that has a pretty awesome history not well known to many people. Walking past here brings the sound of many street performers playing contemporary songs on their various instruments, and it’s fun to stop and listen sometimes.
I cross Ponte San’Angelo (the Bridge of Saint Angelo) which is decorated in huge white statues, and make my way to school. The middle of this bridge is where the best view is on my whole walk: if I turn to the right, I can see Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Tiber river flowing beneath my feet. It’s surreal.
My dad gave me a weird piece of advice when I left Virginia to come abroad. He told me to take change up my route to school every once and awhile. Routine is good, but one you get comfortable, start changing up the side streets you use and the normal things you see every day. This turned out to be an awesome piece of advice (thanks, Dad) because it helped me to explore as much of the neighborhood as possible and discover new shops, businesses, and parks. Now I can navigate my way around the Prati neighborhood of Rome and quite a few touristy areas, and that’s just so incredibly cool.
More importantly, I’ve learned not to take simple things like my walk to school for granted. I’m incredibly lucky to walk through such an ancient city every single morning, passing thousands of years of history. I'm lucky that I have people who recognize me and smile when I walk into their cafe. I'm lucky that I get such a ridiculously cool change of scenery for a full semester. All of the streets I walk on are older than the country I come from, and that’s insane. When you study abroad, try to remember to appreciate the little things just as much as the big events, because they add up to a lot.
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<p>I am a Cognitive Science Major (which encompasses Cognitive Psychology, Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Neuroscience), with a concentration in Cognitive Psychology. I am also a huge history nerd, and am more than excited to study abroad in a place packed with so much historical significance. I am the Assistant Music Director and Vice President of a philanthropic A Capella group called The AcHOOstics, and I have a very decent background in music! We sing at nursing homes and for fundraising events, and a portion of our proceeds go to the UVa Children's Hospital. Additionally, I volunteer in a program called Holiday Sharing, where we have been working for months in partnership with the Salvation Army to provide tons of food and toys to families in the Charlottesville area. I love to play piano, and I'm a big reader.</p>