It’s been a little over a week since settling into Roman life, and I must say: I love it here. There is an energy about this city which cannot be described by a tourist. You feel a sense of laid back urgency. I think it has a lot to do with how fast the Vespas speed by yet how slow the people cross the street. That is one thing about Rome that I wish was different: the lack safety of pedestrians. The cars don’t care that you want to cross. They won’t stop for you unless you stare them down like a disappointed grandmother.
It only took me about 5 or 6 days to really adjust to the different culture and level of convenience in Italy. The only time I really experienced “culture shock,” and I’m using that term loosely, is a the grocery store. In Italy, they don’t like accepting big bills. A 50 euro bill is met with questioning eyes or an annoyed sigh. Making change, to Romans, is as exhausting as sprinting a mile, or so it seems. The best time to break a big bill is in the evening, I’ve learned, since after a full day of business they actually have enough money to give change. These are the things you learn as a “resident” of Rome, not a tourist.
Another thing with grocery stores is how expensive most everything is. Eggs are like 3 euro for 6 eggs…which is like $4. The best place to go shopping, I realized after making a few trips to the store, is the open-air market. Filled to the brim with fresh produce, meat, cheese, bread, and anything else you can imagine, this marketplace is a true example of what it’s like to live in Roma. For example, today I went to the open air market I got 6 eggs for about 1.60 euro. Obviously, a much better price. Not only that, but the people there are much kinder. The level of patience that Italians have with people learning to speak Italian is incredibly refreshing. They usually smile and correct you, kindly, and are very appreciative of any effort at all.
I’ve already begun a routine here. Every morning, I get a cappucino and pastry on my walk to school (after a lifting session, as usual). Then, after walking about 1.5 mile, I get to the Deli two blocks from school. It is extremely necessary to buy a panino before the rush, otherwise there are about 20 people in 200 square feet. Aka, too many people. Some very kind people work at the deli, and they help any American patron better their Italian language skills. I’ve gone so frequently and practiced saying my panino order so many times, I sound like a pro. The man who made my sandwich the other day even told me so! I have to admit, I was very proud of myself in that moment.
So far, I’m enjoying life here. Being able to walk only 10 minutes and be in Vatican City, then take a train for 25 minutes to see the Colosseum, all in one day, is incredible. I’m already in love with this city, and I still have 100 days to go.