I’m halfway through my semester abroad. Eight weeks down, eight weeks to go.
We had a week of crappy weather just after my parents left. The rainy, grey days paired nicely with my gloomy mood. Post-Visitor Distress Syndrome, I’ve heard it called. The transition from no parents, to parents-all-the-time, back to no parents was tough. For the first time, I felt homesick.
Now, just as my PDVS symptoms are subsiding, Rome is back to normal. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the orange trees are blossoming, and the young Italian couples are making out on bridges. Old ladies shuffle slowly over uneven cobblestones, clad in winter coats on warm days. Carabinieri loiter near their stations and smoke, crushing cigarette butts with the heels of their motorcycle boots. Mothers carry babies and wheel buckled-in groceries home in strollers. Street musicians perform in front of cafes, occasionally asking for tips but usually just accompanying the clinks and tinkles of restaurant noise. These are normal, everyday, commonplace things in Rome.
I don’t quite feel as though I have a place in this landscape yet, but I’m beginning to feel comfortable in my routines. Grocery store and market on Mondays and Thursdays, laundry on Friday mornings, and so forth. It’s not just the big things that are starting to seem ordinary, either. I’m adjusting to small things too, like the particular jiggle of the pan with the loose handle or the torrent of water that gushes from my bathroom sink and startles me every morning. Just standard, regular things.
I never want to have the same day twice in Rome. I’m at a point where I have as much of a routine as I want to have, because if it were any stricter, I would be cheating myself out of wonderful, spontaneous experiences. I’ll never have this kind of schedule (or lack of schedule) again. This is not a normal way to live, but I think I could get used to it.
The next three weeks are going to be the most expensive three weeks of my life to date. I’ll be doing the bulk of my travel for my semester abroad during spring break and its bookend weekends. In the next 24 days, I will visit Budapest, Galway, Edinburgh, Paris, Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Malta. I’ll also get to wander around the Cork, Ireland airport and sleep in London-Stansted for a night. These are not normal, everyday, commonplace things. These are exceptional trips to places that were not even remotely on my radar when I arrived for my semester abroad. And I can’t wait.
Once I get back to Rome from Malta, I’m probably not going to go anywhere else because before I know it, it will be Easter weekend and then finals weekend/the weekend when Pope John Paul II is beatified, and then it’ll be time to move out and go home. These next eight weeks are going to pass by so quickly. They already seem short since I only have class Monday through Wednesday, and once I really start traveling, I know I will feel like I am barely able to spend time in Rome.
I’m leaving the final month of the semester unscheduled because I want to have time to be here, to enjoy and explore and experience Rome. The idea of spending four weeks in Rome feels pretty normal now – many of my friends here would even consider it boring. “You have the whole continent to see. Why would you want to stay here?” Well, because there’s no chance that I’d be able to go everywhere in Europe in a month, and also because I’m living in Rome. Wow. That’s definitely not normal.