Ciao da Italia! Hello from Italy!
I just got back from going to mass at the North American College where I got to see my uncle, Fr. Joe Kuharski, who has been studying in Rome for 5 years. Seeing him was a refreshing taste of home after two weeks of traveling, and it also helped me put into perspective my first few days in Rome. Never in my life have I had a more tiring week, but I’ve had so many amazing experiences that I don’t know where to begin. I know that I am blessed to be in this beautiful, historic, and sacred city.
Surviving in Rome is a lot more difficult than I previously thought. If anyone ever tells you, “You don’t need to learn Italian because everyone speaks English,” they are WRONG. This week, I have had many instances in which I had absolutely no way of communicating with people, and it is a feeling that I am certainly not used to. Yesterday, I went to a pasta bar where none of the servers spoke English. I thought that I was ordering vegetable lasagna, but as I was eating it I noticed that it had a strange pink meat in it and a weird flavor. Soon, I put the pieces together that the taste was actually crab meat. It was not good. Another thing about the language is that even if you think you know an Italian phrase, they will never understand you if you can’t pronounce it correctly. My friend was trying to show off her Italian skills at a Gelataria, but the server had no idea what she was saying. She just looked at her with this horrified expression.
Rome is gigantic, and I have to walk everywhere. It is a 40 minute walk to get to class everyday, and I have been doing walking tours all week. Plus, my poor feet are not used to the abusive cobblestones! Before I came here, I thought that I would have no problem finding my way and remembering directions. After all, that is why we have Google Maps! Again, I was wrong. Rome is organized much differently than anywhere in America. There are often no street signs, and sometimes the streets curve and change names randomly. Plus, all the buildings are at least four stories tall, so there is no chance of seeing anything besides the street you are on. The only way to stay on track is to remember certain landmarks like the Tiber River, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland also known as “the wedding cake” because it’s big, white, and multi-tiered). I hope that I can get the hang of it soon.
I am staying with over 30 other St. Thomas student who are involved in Catholic Studies. From the rooftop balcony of our dorm building, Bernardi, we can see a gorgeous view of Rome.
This was welcome week for the Catholic Studies in Rome Program, and it was very busy with orientation, tours, community events, getting lost, and walking walking walking. It’s hard to look back and think of this week as just one week; it feels like a life time. Very soon, I will write more about the experiences that I had this week including our Papal audience and Scavi Tour of St. Peter’s.
Ciao until then! Thank you for reading!