One more week down, and only two and a half more weeks left of my internship program. It’s flying by and it seems like hardly even yesterday that my dad and I landed here in Rome. And, up until this weekend, it felt like hardly anything has changed since then.
Over this past weekend, several friends and I took a short trip to London since we had Friday off – it was the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and it was a well-celebrated holiday in Rome, allowing most companies to close down for the day. Getting to and from London, however, was a bit stressful – I had somehow managed in booking the wrong flight there and ended up taking a flight that was 3.5 hours earlier than the rest of the group’s flight. And considering that my flight was at 6:30 in the morning on Friday, not being able to get a good night’s sleep certainly didn’t help. The flight left Rome’s Ciampino Airport (the smaller airport compared to the Fiumicino Airport closer to the sea), and although I got there with enough time to spare, they didn’t start checking people into the airport until almost 4:30 A.M. – and, somehow, I had forgotten to check into my flight online, and they had a hard rule that if you didn’t check in at least 2 hours beforehand (so I would’ve had to check in online before 4:30 A.M. if that makes any sense), then you were hit with a 55 euro in-person check-in fee for no apparent reason other than them having to print out your ticket for you. And they weren’t clear on how to go about doing so and how to get around the airport at all, which only added to the stress of checking in and getting to my flight on time.
After the stressful part of checking in and trying to navigate the airport on my own (this was embarrassingly also the first time that I’ve ever flown alone, mind you), I managed to get on my flight and leave for London – even after the flight was delayed by half an hour because they opened the gates late (thanks, RyanAir). Once I got to London, I surprisingly felt a bit out of place since I had gotten used to hearing both Italian and English being spoken most of the time while I was in Rome, so I had to get used to English being the main language being spoken most of the time. And with how nice and understanding everyone was (bless the British for being so awesome), it was a wonderful break from being looked at funny for not knowing certain cultural norms in Italy or for not being fluent in Italian and having to revert back to English to say something (while I do understand about 1/2 to a 2/3 of what’s being said in Italian at any one time, I don’t always know how to appropriately respond to something, which gets some odd stares or side-eyes from native Italians).
I’m not going to lie when I say that London is absolutely amazing – it did take some time to readjust to a non-Italian kind of lifestyle, but it felt wonderful to be in a city that seemed to combine the modern feel and liveliness of American cities with the history of Italian cities. While I was only there for two and a half days and was only able to see and do a small amount of stuff (such as hang out in Hyde Park, grab lunch on a boat pub on the Thames, take a short boat tour of the Thames, and go on the London Eye), it was nice to at least see part of another city and experience what it was like. And it was nice to be able to use a card and not have to worry about giving people exact change whenever we were paying (Italians are quite the opposite – they like cash and exact change when checking out and paying for things at most places).
Although I didn’t get to explore too much of London and what it had to offer, the small part of what I did see and experience gave me a glimpse of what it might be like to live there – they tend to act more like Americans than the rest of Europe while still also having a slightly different culture and history (which makes complete sense to anyone with half a brain). And when I say that I’ve noticed how things are different here in Italy, being in London definitely helped me realize that – I can understand more Italian than when I first arrived in Italy, and I don’t have to worry abut having to take the time to translate the sentences to English to be able to understand what a person’s saying (although I still have to do that occasionally when I’m trying to respond in Italian), and I’ve gotten used to the slower way of life and the absurd heat & humidity here in Italy. It took a little while this weekend to get used to people going at a faster pace than how people move in Italy as well as not always hearing both English and Italian being spoken (and being able to understand both for the most part) and thinking that 70 degree weather with no humidity and a light breeze was “freezing” weather.
However, once we began to make our way to the airport and head back to Rome (which was just as stressful as the way to London since we had a bit of trouble getting to the airport & actually getting on our flight since it was delayed and the airport never made an announcement about that), I found myself considering Rome a home away from home and I was looking forward to getting back to Rome (although I do have to say that I wish I had more time in London to be able to fully explore the city). And thinking that I only have two and a half more weeks left has already had me feeling like I miss Rome even though I haven’t left yet. It’ll be a bittersweet moment when I leave to head back home to the U.S. since I do miss my family and certain aspects about American culture (i.e., being able to buy groceries for the week at one store, not having to worry about not having exact change or having a card on me, air conditioning, ice cubes in drinks, and, as much as I hate to say it, not looking like an idiot for knowing English and not being fully fluent in a second language).