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Yes, This is Real Life

Yes, This is Real Life

Is this really happening?
Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?
Did I die and go to Heaven?
Is this real life?


This may only be my fifth day in Rome, but I have heard, and asked, those questions a countless number of times since I arrived here. Orientation has taken us all over Rome and its surrounding area, making us meet fellow students and native Italians, and exposing us to Italian culture. Yes, this is real life.

Orientation ends today (with the exception of two major events: a trip to Umbria from the 6th-8th and the closing of orientation on the 11th with the Mass of the Holy Spirit). I wanted to go over some of the best parts of orientation and what I expect to come when classes start.

Because we arrived in the afternoon of the 28th, there weren’t many activities planned for us. I was able to get together with some friends and head into the city, despite not speaking Italian. Fortunately for us, one of the people in the group had been to Rome previously and knew his way to the Vatican; there were also one or two people who could speak broken Italian. That was all we needed to get around. So, on my first night in Rome- and my first night out of the country ever– I saw the Vatican. From there we went to Piazza Navona, got a little lost (it’s better than it sounds!), and wound up getting drinks at a local pub. The jetlag eventually caught up with us and we headed home. That all occurred in a 12 hour time-span, and it only got better from there.

Over the next few days, I saw the Vatican twice, the Pantheon three times, the Trevi Fountain once, the Spanish Steps twice, the Colosseum once, the Forum once, and too many Piazzas to count. The sheer amount of history contained in this city, and in those places especially, is mind boggling. The Pantheon, for instance, is 2,000 years old and still standing. The Colosseum is in many places intact, and completely structurally sound, despite being 2,000 years old as well. The Forum isn’t in the best shape but it allows you to use your imagination to see ancient Romans (both Emperors and commoners) walking the same streets you are. Being from the other side of the world, and from a country whose life is still young, makes it difficult to comprehend the significance of what you’re seeing. Is this real life? Yes, it is. Better take it in.

The Trevi Fountain at night.

History hasn’t been the sole focus of orientation though. Many of the activities planned for us were essential to attend. We learned about safety in Rome, healthcare in Rome, and basic Italian words and phrases so we don’t get completely lost. These activities took up almost the entire day, so we could only venture into the city at night. This gave us a great opportunity to see Roman nightlife and what Romans do for relaxation after a day a work. We also avoided siesta, or the several hour break in work after lunch (usually from 1-4), which was convenient. The orientation activities themselves were important but the real fun was venturing into the city to do your own thing with a group of friends. Food, wine, Piazzas, and exploring were all on the table. My feet were incredibly sore by the time I got home every night, but it was a good kind of sore: the soreness from exploring a foreign city with friends, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells.

Thus far, the JFRC has been a great experience. Classes begin tomorrow right on campus. I’m looking forward both to the subject material (like on-site Art in Rome!) and the structure that a regular schedule provides. And although I won’t have the complete freedom I had during orientation, I’ll nonetheless be in the Eternal City, always ready for an adventure with friends or a quiet evening alone. Inoltro!

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