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Europe

Quando A Roma Part II With Adam Bendell

Walking through Rome at dusk

Walking through Rome at dusk

The culture of Rome is one that I have never experienced before. While Romans have   adapted their lives to first world technologies and innovations, they still retain their old rooted Italian traditions. Across almost every function of life, whether that be running a business or shopping for groceries, they still abide by their ancestor’s cultural norms even though they live in a first world city. Roman culture promotes spending time with family, taking long lunches and naps in the middle of the day, and even taking time out of the day to just walk and enjoy the beauty of living. As a student, I noticed this familial, relaxed culture after only hours of being in the city. As someone that is particularly busy on campus, running from meeting to class to meeting almost daily, it was an immediate shock. But after a few weeks I started to realize how much this experience was going to change me for the better. I began walking slower, thinking about things in a much more relaxed and concise way, and not letting the little frustrating things ruin my day. It was pretty awesome to say the least, and I definitely plan on taking this relaxed, wholesome, and positive mindset back to campus with me this fall.

Second, I have never met nicer, more welcoming people that I did in Rome. Coming from NY, and even DC to an extent, I do not expect every person I meet to approach me with a smile and a warm greeting.  In Rome, that is not the case. Almost every cafe owner, every shop salesperson, and every farm-stand manager greeted me with a warm hello and a smile each day.

St. Peter's Square - Piazza San Pietro

St. Peter’s Square – Piazza San Pietro

After speaking to some friends studying abroad in Paris, they say that they are constantly treated like an “American” or tourist, and many people fail to greet them as they should or can. While I only spoke a little Italian, I was surprised to see that every person I met encouraged me to try to speak to them in Italian. They seemed to think it was “sweet,” “that an American was trying to learn their language.” That is one quality I never expected from a foreign country, but greatly appreciated.

A medley of Italian food

A medley of Italian food

Third, the food. While I can talk about the dozens of mouth-watering meals I had, for lack of space Ill keep this part short. What you need to know about the food in Rome vs. anywhere else are three characteristics: fresh, cheap, and simple. Romans pride themselves on only eating produce that was locally grown or produced and meals made with as few ingredients as possible. Because of that, if something can be made in the kitchen – it is. Additionally, because Roman’s view eating out as a daily activity, it is not pricy to get a great plate of pasta 4-5 nights a week. To sum it up, imagine every night walking to one of the 20 restaurants within a 5 minute radius of your apartment and being able to enjoy the cheapest, freshest  homemade pastas and pizzas without spending over 10 dollars/meal. And I am sure you are thinking that one would gain a ton of weight after eating pizza and pasta every night, but I beg you to reconsider your assumption for almost every other student I know lost weight in Rome. This is partly due to the fact that the food is so fresh, completely unprocessed, and you walk everywhere.

Speaking of walking, I will conclude this post with the last characteristic of my experience. I have talked about how enjoyable the culture is  and how simple, cheap, and fresh the food is, but I want to stress how “easy” it is to live in Rome. I don’t mean easy, like home-sickness or culture shock don’t exist-  I am saying that living one’s life in Rome is just, Easy. If you are looking to travel Europe, almost every major city has direct connections to Rome for pretty cheap prices. While the public transportation system can be inefficient and complicated, Rome is one of the most walkable cities I have ever been to. Perhaps it is because you are walking through ancient cobblestone streets and it is easy to get caught up  in the beauty of a daily stroll, but it seems like everything is pretty much within a 30 min walk. Compared to some of my fellow GW students in other cities that had 30-45 commutes to classes which included public transportation, my 5 minute walk to class and 15 minute walk to all major sites seemed too good to be true.

Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi

Be sure to read about my initial thoughts and a much more descriptive post about my overall experience through my first blog post, Quando A Roma.

Adam Bendell is a GWSB Junior seeking a BBA with a double concentration in International Business and Supply-Chain Management (an individualized program).  Adam is studying through a petitioned program with John Cabot University.  Students interested in attending a program that is not GW’s list of approved study abroad programs may petition that program if they have a strong and clear argument about the unique academic reasons that the petitioned program meets their individual priorities.  Please note that all petitioned programs are reviewed on an individual basis.  What may be approved for one student may not be approved for another.  

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