Hello faithful readers, family, friends, and strangers on the Internet. I have been in Rome for about a week and I’m here today to throw everything I’ve learned at you in an attempt to help you survive here. This format will likely make no sense, please roll with it. In no chronological or particular order, I present to you: A Very Practical Roman Blog Post: All of the Things You Didn't Know That You Wanted to Know Until Now.
SIM Card/Cell Phone: IES Abroad made this incredibly easy by bringing vendors to the center during orientation. I ended up individually purchasing my SIM card from Vodafone for a reasonable price. Simple either way.
Speaking Italian: Even if you haven't studied it, people really appreciate it if you give Italian a shot! Try to at least learn survival phrases.
Can I Drink Water From Those Fountains on the Sidewalk? Yes.
Air Conditioning Status: Fairly nonexistent (it's expensive). Would recommend wearing light clothing, possibly a fan (IES Abroad can provide for your bedrooms), and closing shutters in your apartment when you are not there.
Public Transportation: Pass for the metro and bus looks the same & costs the same. For the metro, a pass is good for one ride. For the bus, a pass is good for certain amount of time. Relatively easy system, buses may sometimes be a bit late.
IES Abroad Center:
The IES Abroad Center is a lovely place, centrally located along the Tiber and across from Castel Sant’Angelo. When I have class, I walk from my apartment and rack up the steps. Who needs a gym when you can walk 27,000 steps in a day- a real event that actually happened to me and to my body (more on this later). Upon arriving at the center, one is greeted by a lovely and familiar security guard, who checks your IES Abroad identification card (which has a very flattering photo of you on it). Pro tip (that I did not follow): that picture that you submit to IES Abroad will be immortalized in your ID card. Don’t be like me and have your friend take a picture of you when you’ve been in the library for 8 hours. Once given the all clear on the ID, you head upstairs. On the first floor that is IES Abroad territory, you will find the auditorium, the library/student lounge, many offices of the amazing IES Abroad staff, and more. The next floor up is more important because of the vending machines…and the classrooms. No matter how many times the coffee vending machine eats my money, makes me spill a tiny cappuccino everywhere, or otherwise interrupts my day, I love it dearly and will never stop feeding it my euro coins.
I have been grocery shopping twice now, each time more enthralling than the last. My first Italian grocery store was called “Pam” – a fact that caused much confusion when my mom saw the charge on the credit card bill. Purchases at Pam: Nutella B-Ready (a delicious wafer and Nutella combination); interesting roll-on deodorant; bug spray.
Second Italian grocery store: named Simply, slightly larger than Pam, more produce, etc. I dragged my roommate, Hannah, to help with the complicated produce system (see picture). You must wear gloves when touching produce. Each produce item is assigned a number. You must input this number into a digital scale and weigh the bagged produce items. The digital scale then prints a little price sticker for you to slap on the bag. Our other purchases include, but were not limited to: 3 bags of pasta (under 1 euro each), prosciutto, carrots, bananas, tortellini, mozzarella, green tea, and granola. Hannah is also an incredible baker and purchased items like flour and yeast in order to make bread. Bring your own bag to the grocery store- I have been using my backpack for ease of carrying and avoidance of incurring plastic bag fees.
Every ISC (Italian Student Companion) here is so amazing. I have no idea how IES Abroad found these intelligent, incredibly kind, responsible, and fun individuals. I live with Gabriella, one of the ISCs. Sometimes the ISCs organize outings; sometimes they are planned by IES Abroad. For instance, after a long day of orientation, the ISCs brought us to a little place called “Il Lunch” where we all had an aperitivo together. It was a nice experience that gave everyone the opportunity to simultaneously mingle and to eat some delicious finger foods.
On Friday of orientation week, all of IES Abroad went on a gorgeous day trip to Lago di Martignano. It was such a nice chance to relax and spend some time outside the city. As previously mentioned, one of the days during orientation, I walked 27,00 steps when we had a scavenger hunt in our Italian class. We went to see Piazza Navona and Campo dei Fiori. Later that same day, there was a walking tour of Rome. We went all over and saw things like the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain- both much bigger and more impressive than I had ever been led to believe. It was an amazing day for me and for my calf muscles.
In conclusion, everything is better than I ever thought it would be, even if it does take a bit of time to get accustomed to the little differences- plug converters, garbage sorting, non-refrigerated eggs, beautiful architecture and art everywhere you go, endless amounts of delicious carbs, and the kindest and friendliest people out there. All a part of the beauty of Rome.
Ciao for now!