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All good things must come to an end

All good things must come to an end

The past few weeks have been a blur of last-minute sightseeing, nights out with friends, and studying for final exams (yes, we actually study here).

In calcio news…Celeste rocked this season! We made it to the final four, but didn’t make it to the championship game. However, I’ll make the bold statement that we had the BEST game of the season against Rosa in the playoffs. We tied it up at the end, and went straight into a very intense shootoff. Each team went through all of its players, because the goalies were stopping every shot with ease. I was so nervous when it was my turn to kick, but I managed to make a decent shot! A few friends came up to me afterwards and told me they had a feeling that if anyone was going to shockingly win the game out of nowhere, it would have been me. I’m generally terrible at soccer, so that would have been hilarious. Rosa’s goalie ended up making the winning goal, disappointingly, but I had fun sitting in the stands to watch the playoff game without any pressure. I never knew how intense reffing could be until I saw Byron sprinting around out there on the field with his Macklemore haircut.

On Thursday, the JFRC had its end-of-the-year banquet. It’s also known as “JFRC Prom.” We all got dressed up and took pictures before hopping on the busses to a nice restaurant where we were immediately handed prosecco and various cocktails. The party busses were fun: We jammed to hits including the Remix to Ignition and “All Star” by Smash Mouth. Classic. Sander made one last profound and nonsensical toast at the banquet, superlatives were awarded, and academic achievements were recognized. The food and wine, as usual, were wonderful. My favorite dishes were the risotto with a hint of mushroom, and, of course, the tiramisu. The party busses dropped us off at Piazza Cavour after the banquet, letting us loose on the city. Rome was our playground. I had a delicious cocktail at Bar del Fico that tasted like Jolly Ranchers, and then headed with a big group of people to a club called Shari Vari, where we danced the night away. I fended off creepy Italian men with a sexy dance move that involves vigorous elbowing, and Melanie gave the insulting bartender a dose of his own harassment. I’ve learned that the later I’m out, the more feminist I become. There are worse personas to take on, I suppose. We had a tame night compared to some other JForcers – but I’ll leave them to tell their own crazy stories.

On Friday, my acting class had our performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I can’t lie – I was so proud of myself! I get really nervous when I have to speak in public, let alone act in front of my peers and administrators, but I went out there, remembered (most of) my lines, and had so much fun playing Puck. It was such an invigorating experience, and I think it shows just a sliver of the confidence I’ve gained this semester. SLA Mitch asked me at lunch yesterday if I’ve ever acted before, because apparently it seems like it!

There were a lot of lazy afternoons this month where I passed time just lying out in the courtyard with friends, hanging out and making flower crowns out of the daisies. Earlier in the month, JFRC had a karaoke night. I sang a couple times with friends and adequately embarrassed myself. Tonight, I plan on doing the same at our usual haunt for a good night of karaoke, Scholars’ Bar. One Sunday, I went to Porta Portese (a huge market in Trastevere) and spent the morning haggling for the best prices on knick-knacks, gifts, and clothes. Gab, Mel and I started filming for our Italian project there, and it got ridiculous. Another morning, I climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica where I sat overlooking Vatican City, overcome by inspiration. “Wait” by M83 was stuck in my head as I journaled there and reflected on life. Another weekend, I took a day trip to Villa D’Este in Tivoli with a group of friends. We laughed a ton, climbed a mountain that was topped with a giant cross, and ran all the way back down. I also went to the top of the Vittorio Emmanuele monument one day, because that’s what you do on a normal afternoon in Rome. I visited the Knights of Malta keyhole and the mouth of truth, spent time eating gelato in front of the Pantheon, had the best pizza ever at Dar Poeta and discovered the pleasures of “pear pasta.” I chatted with friends over aperitivo at 8 millimetri in Trastevere. On Easter, I went to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and watched Pope Francis roll around in his Pope-mobile and give a blessing from the balcony. I’ve had a busy month.

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View from the top of St. Peter’s dome.


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Buffala pizza from Dar Poeta

Last week, I went to a place called Bar Canova for aperitivo. It sits right on Piazza del Popolo, and it’s the place Federico Fellini (director of La Dolce Vita) frequented when he was in Rome. I also attended the Great Italian Opera, which left me absolutely stunned. I’ve never heard anything like it! Afterwards, Bri and I romped around the city. We found the spot where you can get the closest to St. Ignatius’ body and talked about how much he inspires us with his revelry-turned-sainthood. We had a heart-to-heart next to the cat sanctuary, then symbolically stuffed all of our problems into a wine bottle and threw them away. Not too long after that, I lost my iPhone – I think someone grabbed it out of my purse as I walked through a crowded pub to go to the bathroom. As much as it sucked to lose such a valuable item, I think this was in some ways a blessing. Since then, I’ve been able to really open my eyes to what’s around me. I’m not preoccupied with finding WiFi, looking at directions, or taking pictures. I experience Rome as it’s happening in the moment. For my friend Kenzie’s birthday, we visited a place where they serve liquor in chocolate glasses. Another time, I went to San Calisto with Bri, Regan, Ali, Melanie, and Gabrielle. Some of us bought a Peroni and walked around the streets of Trastevere sipping on beer – I’m going to miss that so much! We went to Fries, as American study abroad students do, and then went to Baccanale. And then we went to Vibe, a club under Villa Borghese. The music was too rave-y for me, but the dancing was fun as usual.

On the tenth of April, I took a day trip to Capri with Melanie and Gabrielle for Melanie’s birthday. We took a boat tour around the island and went into the Blue Grotto. Needless to say, it was incredible! The water was bluer than I knew was possible. To get into the grotto, we had to switch into a rowboat. We got a student discount because they thought we were in high school – perks of looking young, I guess. The rowboat guy had to swing us in with a rope, and we laid flat in the boat to avoid hitting our heads on the tiny entrance to the cave. He and the other rowboaters sang an ethereal Italian song as we rowed around in the darkness, the water faintly glowing blue from the reflection of the sun outside. Later, we sat on rocks on the beach and ate our sack lunches overlooking the water. As one must when in Capri, we indulged in some Limoncello and melted Kinder eggs. We then took a cable car up to the top of the island, grabbed some gelato, and wandered through tiny winding paths through white houses that looked like they belonged in Southern Greece. We finally found our way to a park with a spectacular view, parked ourselves on a bench, and relished in how thrilled and thankful we were to be there.

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Rowing in the glowing Blue Grotto.

Last night, Melanie and I went out for celebratory “We’re done with finals” gelato at Frigidarium (or, as she calls it, FrigidariDAMN). We then went to a wine bar called Cul de Sac, where we posted up for nearly four hours, talking, drinking delicious wine, and discovering the joys of pate while watching people scurry about in the pouring rain. It was much deserved after having slaved away at studying the previous few nights. When we got back to JFRC, we joined a crew headed our for cocktails and nachos atFoodoo, where we had more deep discussions – including the very profound recapping of our favorite Disney Channel Original movies from childhood.

I’ve been waking up in a panic for the past few days, because I can’t believe my time at JFRC is coming to an end. I never thought the end would come, and here it is. There were times throughout this semester when I wanted nothing more than to hop on the first plane back to the United States. Homesickness made me hate Rome for a few weeks. There’s trash and dog crap everywhere, the bus can take over an hour to even show up, and seeing the same 250 people every single day can get on your nerves. The carbs were getting to my waistline and I never seemed to have the time or energy to go to the gym. My clothes didn’t fit and I felt like I didn’t fit in. Nutella started making me sick. I didn’t realize it then, but what I was experiencing was culture shock. But now that I’ve reached the end of the semester, I’m so grateful I didn’t go home. I’ve found a new home here. I’ve made friends who will last a lifetime, I’ve had the best gelato ever made, and I’ve seen all that I came to see in this corner of the world. I stumbled across confidence when I had just given up on finding it. The JFRC feels like a secret club because I can’t possibly explain the journey I’ve gone through physically, emotionally and spiritually. I opened myself up to God and came to better understand Catholicism. I hit some terribly low points here; but I also bought a symbolic “I-survived-Baccanale-this-time” tank top.  The culture shock meeting I went to last week put the fear of God into me: SLA Chandni was explaining to us how we can experience intense Romesickness and a painful adjustment period when we return home to the States. Other peoples’ lives have moved on while we were away, and sometimes I might feel lonely when I find myself in groups of people who don’t know what I’ve experienced here. They won’t know that Secret Bakery is bae, and they won’t know the joys of almost getting run over by a Vespa or Fiat every time you cross the street. Keeping in touch with my Rome amici will help immensely – we’ve already planned aperitivo nights, pick-up calcio games, and frequent JFRC reunions. I’m so thankful for the SLAs who have looked out for me this semester, for the professors who showed us the world in the context of Rome (shout-out to my homie Professor John Nicholson – you rock that beanie!), and for the friends who’ve been there for me through it all. You inspired me endlessly, shaped the best memories, and helped me fall madly in love with Rome. I can’t wait to see what our next Great Adventures will be.

Never ciao – just see you later! …Or “Arrividerch.”

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