I have been here for two weeks. Two weeks, exactly. In total, and in theory, I’ll only be here 12 weeks. This type of schedule is not uncommon for me. I tend to leave the ‘States for 1 -3 months a year up to three times a year and while I enjoy this, I think a part of me yearns for some sort of home base, a base that actually feels like home.
Three weeks ago I headed towards Chicago, not to fly to Rome, but to get my Italian VISA, which I was originally told I would not need. I’ll not bother you with the many frustrating details, but in essence, most everything went wrong. By the end of my homeless week in Chicago, I realized that my VISA aspirations were unrealistic, as my contract had been changed in order to make things less “complicated” for the organization. I conceded victory to the Italian consulate and booked a flight for the next morning to Rome.
Since my arrival in Rome, most things have been a blur. I arrived on a Monday, went apartment hunting and moved into an apartment Tuesday evening. I started work Wednesday morning, went out with my new colleagues that evening after work, and by Friday evening had even managed to get a membership at the local gym. While I’m proud of myself for immersing myself in my life here so quickly, I do wonder why I put such pressure on myself. By Friday (only four days after my arrival) I was already frustrated by my lack of Italian language skills.
My adopted city of the summer, Rome
I’m employed by a large international organization for the summer located in a very central area of Rome. Although I did find a few cute one bedroom apartments within walking distance, after viewing a few apartments, I did something which shocked all of my colleagues at work. I selected the apartment at the end of the metro line.
Now let me clarify, my place of employment is only 20 minutes via the metro from home; my colleagues were shocked, but my supervisor was impressed (although at first he looked at me in such a way that I was wondering if I hadn’t moved into a dangerous neighborhood, completely unaware).
“So, you’ve never never been to Rome.”
“You didn’t want to live next to the Colloseum or in the city center?”
“I come to the city center for work every day, if I didn’t live elsewhere in the city I’d never see any other parts of Rome.”
“I’m impressed. You are very surprising for a Canadian.”
“Right… you are very surprising for an American. It’s like you’ve lived here before so you know your way around.”
“I assure you, I get lost on an almost daily basis.”
I had received my first (and hopefully not last) compliment from my supervisor, Fabio.
Not only did I move to the end of the metro, but instead of living by myself, I have a flatmate, Vivianna. It was only after moving in that I learned she teaches Italian. Score.
Viv is in her mid-thirties and I immediately got a great impression from her. We stopped at the bakery around the corner before viewing the apartment (that only assisted me in my decision to live in this neighborhood) and then sat down at what would soon be our kitchen table for my first cup of home boiled café Italiano.
Viv travels frequently, paints, and seems very laid back. The apartment is one that her grandparents bought many years ago, is sparsely decorated, but very comfortable. Within ten minutes of talking, I told her that if she’d have me, I’d love to live with her for the summer and would prefer to move in immediately, if possible.
“You are very direct, for an American.”
I’m starting to wonder what people think Americans are like. Is it good or bad that I’m not fitting their perception?
My first weekend in Rome
Saturday evening Viv was going to a photo exhibit and I was exhausted. I wanted nothing more than to go to bed early but jumped at the chance of some “roomie bonding” time when Viv invited me to come with her to what she called a photo exhibition, it ended up being soooo much more.
Viv took me to Forte Prenestino which featured the Festival di Roma di Arte Disegnata E Stampata last weekend. The old fort is now used as a live music venue and often features art events. When I went with Viv, there were over 1,000 photographers featured with their art displayed throughout the structure. Later in the evening a punk band from Northern Italy went on and played some rather enjoyable music. The lead singer, however, had drunk his weight in beer by the time they finally went on, so he had a wee bit of a problem keeping it together at times, but Vivianna said his frequent interruptions included really intelligent jokes so while he was unable to finish many of his songs, he provided the Italian speakers (so, essentially, everyone but me) with quite a comedy show. The drinks were inexpensive
and the atmosphere was great, I fully intend to check the venue on a regular basis for weekend festivities as I really enjoyed the vibe. My flatmate says they have something going on every weekend, so I’ll likely be spending a few weekends a month there.
It’s taken two weeks in Rome to finally post anything, so I apologize if it’s a bit different, but I’ll have many new posts coming on what I’m learning about Rome and Italian culture. I’m sure many adventures are to come. In the meanwhile, I’d love any suggestions for things to do or places to go both within the city, but also in Italy, in general.