The GoGlobal Blog

Settling in, Culture Shock, and Roma 101

Settling in, Culture Shock, and Roma 101

Hi there! Thanks for reading my blog! I wanted to give you a brief introduction about myself as I start the year in Rome.

I’m a junior political science major from the western suburbs of Chicago and I want to go to law school after undergrad studies (maybe I’ll wind up at Loyola!). Back on the Lakeshore campus I was involved with student government and between my freshman and sophomore year I co-authored a book with a friend regarding the cost of education at Loyola.

I decided to go to Rome for several reasons, primarily because both my parents went to the JFRC when they were in college. Many of my aunts and uncles have also been to the JFRC and they highly recommended it. Prior to coming here I had never been outside the contiguous 48 States and the JFRC offered a great opportunity to expand my horizons. I decided to go abroad for the year because… well, why not? It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Enough about me. I’m sure you’re curious about my first impressions of Europe and Rome!

I arrived in Europe/Rome yesterday, the 28th of August. I flew on the group flight with about 70-80 other JFRC students. The flight offered a chance to meet some of the other students I’ll be studying with for the semester. It also made the flights easier because I wasn’t going it alone and it helped me to realize that there are a lot of other students who are in the exact same boat I am.

We first flew from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, where we had a three and a half hour layover. We couldn’t leave the airport, of course, but we got to experience a small taste (pun intended) of German culture when we found an airport bar and drank some German beer. I enjoyed myself and met some new people whom I didn’t sit by on my flight.

Our flight from Frankfurt to Rome, at about 2 hours long, was much shorter than our transatlantic flight. I found it difficult to sleep on the first flight but eventually my fatigue caught up with me and I slept for the entire second flight. My brief nap paid off later in the day by staving off the jet lag, though I certainly still experienced it (and still am experiencing it!). To get from the airport back to campus the JFRC provided coach buses for us. I fell asleep on the bus as well but it was a nice service that the JFRC provided.

Immediately upon arriving on campus we ate lunch. The food was classic Italian with pasta (red and white), cheese, and fruit for dessert. After lunch we had to take care of some paper work and after that the SLA’s (Student Life Assistants) provided walking tours of the neighborhood so we could get our bearings. After that, though, we were pretty much on our own for the rest of the night. And that’s where the real fun began.

I got together with a group of about ten people. We left campus at 8:30 and walked down to the Vatican which is about a 45 minute walk. From there we walked to the nearby Castel S’Angelo, an old fortress built to protect the Pope. Lastly, we walked over to Piazza Navona and explored the neighborhood surrounding it.

The culture shock isn’t bad- yet. Of course I’m a tad homesick; it’s hard not to be when you’ve never left your home country. It’s difficult to cross the language barrier, but it’s not impossible. And the jetlag is still weighing on me, but I know that’s fleeting. Despite this, Rome is a great place to stay and the JFRC staff go out of their way to make you feel at home. It feels like they’ve thought of everything and every answer to your questions: how does the bus system work? How does tipping in restaurants work? What is siesta? What’s the alcohol policy on campus? What are the best ways to travel and the best places to visit? How do you get to downtown Rome? To all these questions and more the staff has more than adequate answers.

So thus far, the adjustment isn’t difficult. In a sense, it’s like freshman year again: you have to branch out, make friends, and explore a city you don’t know. There’s a learning curve with everything, just like there is when you’re a freshman, but there’s also a reward to be had: great friends, a great city, a great culture, and a once in a lifetime experience.

I’m excited to keep exploring Rome and writing about it here. Check back later for more about my experiences!

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