Valley Overseas: Adjusting to City Life

Welcome to Valley Overseas. We’ll hear from students exploring new lands full of strange customs, seemingly impenetrable language barriers, and Euro-trash. They’ll dish out the good, bad and the ugly of living in a home-stay, and the tales of discount airlines. From mixed-up vocab to drool-worthy people in fantastic fashions, let us show you the experiences of a lifetime.

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I arrived in Rome three days ago jetlagged and delirious, but unbelievably excited to finally begin my semester abroad. Over winter break, I endured endless questions from family and friends wondering if I felt ready and if I was scared of anything I’d have to face. I had honestly never even registered fear as one of my pre-Rome emotions. Now that I’m here, I’m even more confident in my choice to experience another culture for four months.

I grew up in the suburbs and then moved to Penn State when I was 18, so the biggest change for me when I arrived was being a city slicker for the first time. At home, I drive everywhere and at Penn State, anything you could need is in walking distance.

My first full day in Rome I set off with one of my roommates and a group of girls to visit the Spanish Steps, a relatively short walk from the Temple Rome campus. But, we weren’t just going to walk to the Spanish Steps. We ended up visiting the Trevi Fountain and the Coliseum all within a couple hours.  Despite being pretty close to each other on the map, the amount of walking we did between tourist destinations was a shock for me. The next day I felt like I was recovering from a marathon and I realized I’ll be ending the semester with legs of steel.

My next adventure into immersing myself into Roman culture and city life is navigating Rome’s intense and terrifying public transportation system. Thankfully, we managed to figure out the Metro system pretty quickly, but the bus system is an entirely different experience.

Roman buses do not have a sign or notification system regarding what the next stop is. It’s essentially a guessing game trying to figure out when to get off once you step on the bus. Lucky for us, we had a girl with us that pulled out an Italian phrase book and asked a passenger how many stops until our destination. After an anxiety-ridden ride worrying about getting off at the right stop, we managed to exit and board the correct connecting bus- making it back to our apartments in less than a half hour. These little victories make the adjustment easier and prepare me for the bigger obstacles I’m bound to face this semester.

Photo provided by Kellie D’Amico