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Tag: Colosseum

First Things First

First Things First


On August 29, the group flight departed from Chicago, headed to Rome with a quick stop in Dublin. We arrived in Rome in the early afternoon, and the first thing I noticed was the heat. It was a little above 90 degrees, but luckily I was clad in my usual t-shirt and shorts. Other people were wearing sweatshirts, which were quickly shed, and jeans. We all had at least two giant bags with us, and 21 unlucky people lost their luggage (later located and returned).

View from the 3rd floor of the residence hall at the JFRC.

Upon arriving at JFRC, we had the next five days mapped out for us for orientation. We picked up our IDs, discovered where the IC, bathrooms, Rinaldo’s, and Mensa were located, settled into our rooms, and got lost countless times as we tried to navigate the layout of the building. The worst thing to discover was that our dorms didn’t have air conditioning! The rooms themselves are cute, with bunk beds, desks, a sink, and plenty of storage. I’m on the 3rd floor, and the first thing I did when I got in there was to open the windows. The 4th floor rooms have small balconies, I’ve been told, and all floors have communal-style bathrooms. As I lived in Simpson LLC for my freshman year, this was a change for me. The first night at JFRC was difficult, simply because all of our rooms felt like a sauna. Luckily, eight days in, the weather has cooled off considerably, and now the high averages 80 degrees.

My first gelato!
Photo of the Castle of St. Angelo, taken on my first outing downtown.

Orientation consisted of a formal welcome by the Dean and other faculty members, survival Italian lessons, and sessions held by the SLA’s (like RA’s) to help us get acclimated to living in Rome. One of the first memorable activities was a scavenger hunt. The SLA’s gave each team a list of sites to visit and take pictures of with point values assigned to each, and set us loose downtown. That trip was a great leaning experience because it was the first time for me using the public bus system and being in downtown Rome. They also organized a trip to the beach in Maccarese, in which we all piled into three charter busses. That day was gorgeously sunny and windy, and the Mediterranean was quite warm. There was a buffet-style lunch, and I sat reading in a chair most of the time.

Beach day in Maccarese!

In addition, they took us to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Both sites summed up in one word: AMAZING. There really is nothing else like it. The Colosseum is huge, and you can’t really imagine it until you’re there. I could feel the history around me as I walked around the arena, imagining thousands of Romans crowding in. The Roman Forum was beautiful in its own way, and offered gorgeous views of the city.

The Roman Forum.

JFRC itself is located in the beautiful, quiet neighborhood of Balduina. It is quite different than the touristy centers of Rome, and was not what I was expecting. Despite that, I’ve come to love it. The neighborhood is constantly up and down, and when going to the grocery store or out for a drink one encounters many hills. But hey, exercise! Most of the area is residential, which offers a great opportunity to interact with the locals and to really put our Italian to the test. When I first arrived, I wondered how in the world I would ever remember how to get anywhere, with the way the streets curve and aren’t on a “standard grid” like Chicago or St. Louis. Now, having walked around, I’m beginning to get a feel for the place (although Google Maps is still my best friend). I look forward to the next three months, and I know I’ll be sad to leave when the time comes. 

Is This Real Life??

Is This Real Life??

Finally in ROME! It’s Thursday afternoon and it has been a week since I arrived in Rome. It has been a dream of mine to study abroad and now that I am here I can’t believe it! (IS THIS REAL LIFE?)

Before coming to the John Felice Center I came to Rome with my grandparents, my two sisters and my three cousins. I had just graduated high school and my grandparents took us to Rome for a few days because my Papa wanted us to see and experience where my Nana grew up. It was an amazing experience and I was very fortunate to go with them, but now I have more time to experience the Italian culture.

So far I have loved everything Italy has to offer! I love how the culture focuses on being in the moment with friends and not worry about what’s going to happen next, which is a nice and much needed change for me. JFRC organized a neighborhood dinner near the school and our table sat there for 3 hours. We enjoyed some amazing food, talked about what we’ve done thus far and where we would like to travel. If you do come here (WHICH YOU BETTER) I highly recommend attending that meal.

Also, the SLAs (Student Life Assistants) and the full-year students give the best and craziest advice. They don’t tell you where to go or what to see first, but rather want you to figure it out. I did that on Saturday with a group of friends after the tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (INCREDIBLE) and we had a great time! We didn’t plan ahead at all. We just walked down different alleys and streets and got familiar with this incredible city.

Experiencing the food, the monuments, and the Italian culture has been absolutely amazing. I love everything so far! This weekend we are going on an orientation trip to Campania, aregion in southern Italy, and then Brussels, Belgium next weekend!

Until next time…