Over the course of the past week, two of my closest friends from back home visited Rome and stayed for several days before leaving for Paris while I stayed in Rome for my internship. Considering that all of us are graduating this summer (they graduated in May while I’m graduating in August), we figured that spending some time together in Rome and exploring the city was a good way of celebrating the fact that we finished college. And, with the heat and humidity feeling quite hot in Rome, we decided to take it easy and relax for most of the week while still exploring Rome and seeing some of the more well-known attractions that Rome has to offer. While I was working at my internship the first couple of days that they were in Rome, they visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel after getting settled into their AirBnB and dealing with jetlag – which is, without a doubt, always the roughest the first day or two.
After that, we were able to see Largo di Torre Argentina (A.K.A, the place where Julius Ceasar was assassinated on March 15) and the cat sanctuary housed there before they explored the Colosseum and the Forum while I stopped and completed some work for my internship and sent it in since they needed content via pictures and videos of Rome. And once all of that was finished, all of us took quick showers before meeting up again for dinner and some late night sightseeing at the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. With the heat and humidity feeling intense this weekend, we decided to take it easy and do some shopping at Campo di Fiori (an outdoor market similar to a farmer’s market back in America; it’s open everyday and has both clothes and fresh fruit and vegetables) and visiting the gardens at Villa Borghese before doing some shopping and getting some dinner near the gardens later that evening.
Once they left for Paris, I realized how much I’ve actually learned about Italian culture and how I’ve assimilated into Italian culture (and while I haven’t fully assimilated into the culture, I know that I’m still more immersed in it than I once was when I first arrived). And because of that, I tried to help my friends out and teach them more about Rome and Italian culture so that they could hopefully have a better time and not experience culture shock or be confused on what to do while they were visiting (while also trying to make sure that I didn’t come off as a condescending know-it-all because of that). And I do have to say that I have noticed that I’m definitely more confident, less anxious, and more sure of myself here in Rome than I was back in America, which feels like a breath of fresh air and oddly enough quite relaxing and reassuring.
However, I also realized how homesick I really was, and how much I missed being back in America. Don’t get me wrong when I say that I absolutely love it here and would love to spend more time here, but I do miss my family and certain aspects of American culture – for example, being able to buy groceries for an entire week (Italians usually only buy enough groceries for a day since their grocery stores are smaller, and they usually have to walk home with all of their groceries), going to the gym (I’ve been too afraid to try to figure out how to go to a gym while in Rome, and so I’ve been trying to do some yoga in my apartment), and air conditioning (most Italians & Romans believe that air conditioning will make people sick, and so they don’t use it; electricity is also extremely expensive in Rome, so people who prefer to use air conditioning most likely won’t use it 24/7 because they want to save money).
I do think that working at LivItaly and having an Italian class and internship seminar with other students in the IES internship program has been able to help with some of that homesickness, though. Working with people from Canada, Italy, Iowa, New York, and Pennsylvania has been able to see how everyone else is dealing with stuff like that and how people have adjusted to Italian lifestyle and culture, and how they use that to work with tourists and better advertise both Italy and the tour company. And being able to talk to other people my age who are experiencing similar enough internships, classes, and life experiences helps because I know that I’m not alone in that aspect, and that I have other people to talk to and lean on if I ever need something like that. Once this program ends and I get back to America, I have a feeling that I’ll miss Rome and my time abroad, and I don’t doubt that being homesick for a little while during my time here will get in the way of me enjoying my time abroad.