Each week we travel to a different attraction in Rome. We usually go to more hidden places that people either walk by on daily basis without notice, or don’t know about. This week we went to a world-renowned attraction: the Colosseum. Pictures don’t do it justice. What I enjoy most about my Layers of Rome class is that our professor is very knowledgeable about what he preaches. Instead of showing up to the Colosseum and walking around taking pictures we learn specific facts and stories. For example, the Colosseum is a mere nickname from a colossal statue of the emperor Nero that once stood outside. The real name is the Flavian ampitheatre. The ampitheatre was built to host gladiatorial games and can seat approximately 50,000 people (much like many sports stadiums today). While touring the Colosseum the infrastructure reminded me a lot of Wrigley Field. I know this may sound really silly, but when you first walk in you enter through a gate, much like you would at Wrigley. Furthermore, you’re under the bleachers and walk around like you would if you were finding your seats. Then, once you’re inside where the gladiators fought it’s the shape of a baseball field.
Despite maybe my far-fetch comparison, what takes place at Wrigley Field pales in comparison to what took place on the turf of the Colosseum. Anyone could buy tickets to attend games; however seats closet to the performance area were reserved for the highest society and the top layer of seats were for slaves and women (side note: you pay big bucks for box seats at ball games, which are in the upper level). The Colosseum is divided into three layers: cavea (seating area), podium (imperial terrace), and arena. In Latin, arena means “sand,” which what was used to cover the surface and absorb the blood of gladiators and over 5,000 animals during the inaugural games. The inagural game lasted roughly 100 days. Animals such as bears, lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, hyenas, and bulls (to name a few) were used in the fights. Romans are responsible for the extinction of lions from North Africa and the wipe out of Tigers in East Africa. I read in an article published in the Chicago Times this summer that the animal cages were opened. But, I couldn’t figure out how to get down there. I think it might be a seasonal thing.
The spectacle begun early in the morning and ended in the evening. Many gladiators were expected to die during the games. Some games, however, were staged. This meant that gladiators pretended to die. To stop this stunt, though, after each game a man rode out with a torch and touched the heads of fallen gladiators. If they flinched then they were alive and their brains were smashed. Gladiators were slaves, prisoners, or sometimes volunteers. The arena reeked of blood, yet spectators were happily entertained all day and received great satisfaction. On some occasions, “half time” or “intermission” included public executions.
I have no clue how people could watch this kind of behavior. It sounds absolutely horrifying and sickening. People go to plays and basketball games today for entertainment, not slaughters. I just don’t understand what people back then were thinking. I go to Second City for live entertainment. What crossed their minds? I can barely watch House without covering my eyes when they cut open a body during surgery. I walked out of Lord of the Rings because it was too violent for me. I don’t get their obsession with violence.
Today only a third of the original structure remains, but it’s quite the place to visit. Parts of the colosseum were taken to build other churches and buildings in Rome. The vocabulary word we learned for this was spoglia.
While walking around the interior I couldn’t help but stop to imagine myself at one of these games in 80 AD. Maybe forgetting my glasses at home would have benefited me. But, I would have still been stifled by the odor.
My Layers of Rome class went to Tiber Island, which is very close to our apartments. Tiber Island is an island with a church and a hospital on it. Because it was raining we met at the church and our professor gave us thorough background information about the island. Inside the church he explained that if you look at the columns they aren’t all made of the same material and aren’t the same length and width. Spoglia was the vocabulary word of the day. It means the re-usage of ancient materials in a new context. So, the materials the column were made of were recycled and used in this church.
We also learned that the word Basilica means “large hall” and the church that were were at was once a “hall” where Roman Kings held meetings and their thrones were located. When the Christians took over this same area of space was turned into the alter where priests sit today. That fact blew my mind. It was an easy transition/renovation. These two stories were just brief examples of what the point of this class will be about. Our professor started class explaining that when discussing monuments, ruins, churches, etc., in Rome that it’s important to know where you are in the city and in relation to other places because parts of Rome are built off and around each other. For example, the island that we were on was dedicated to the Greek God Asculapius- the God of healing and medicine. Like I just mentioned two bridges were created in the 1st century connecting the island to land. Tiber Island was the first inhibited place in Rome. Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, trade. The Tiber River runs into the ocean and boats could easily get to it. It was a major trade route. Cattle could cross easily cross the bridges when brought down from the hills. Other cities like London have cities built around islands like Rome. Another good thing about building on an island is for defensive reasons. There are lots of trees and hills around it. And finally, the third was for isolation purposes. A hospital was put on the island to quarentine people who were sick. In fact, after a priest visited Tiber Island and impressed that it cured people he built a church and hospital on an island in London.
According to the article we received in class giving us an overview of the island, the “Tiber divides into two streams and flows round a piece of land which is called “the island” the arms of the river stretching out equally on either side, to embrace the land that lies between them. The snake that was Phoebus’ son left the Latin ship, and betook himself to this island, where he resumed his divine appearance, put an end to the citizen’s distress, and brought health to the city by his coming.”
The temple on the island was famous after Aesculapius came on a boat to cure people. The sick would drink the water and it would heal them. The temple became famous for its dream cures. “Patients slept in the temple precincts to await visitation from the god. Perhaps the patients were drugged; perhaps the visions were hallucinations; perhaps one of the priests acted the part of Aesculapius or perhaps hypnotism was used: one cannot know. The sacred snakes played their part in the cures as well and were trained to flicker their tongues over any ailing parts.” At the end of the island you can still see the image of the staff and serpent of Aesculapius carved in travertine. Thus, when you see the sword with the snake this is where is originated.
I took some visitors to Dar Poeta one night. While we were chatting about our semesters this man (who was sitting alone) next to us started casually making comments about what we were eating, and if we wanted some of his salad because it was too large for him to finish alone. At first we thought this man was a little out there. As time progressed the awkward comments turned into in a more natural conversation. He explained how he is on sabbatical and has been in Rome for 3 weeks. He told us his daughter studied in Rome last year and his wife was joining him tomorrow. Naturally we asked where and what he taught. He teaches philosophy at Lynchburg College in central Virginia. I could have guessed his field of study just by his mannerism (the way he dress, sat, and talked screamed philosophy). We talked about the economic situation in the U.S, the political system in Italy, and sites to see in Rome. Towards the end of the conversation I learned he was a father to many kids. His youngest is 17. It was at this point that I picked up his fatherly characteristics. He kind of reminded me of my dad at points. He had a very dry sense of humor and was witty. He was WAY more uptight and serious than my dad, though. Although he dropped a line my dad always says, ” I don’t mean to sound like a father… BUT…” I enjoyed talking with him. I think he found us interesting. We told him where we went to school in the states, what we were studying there and what brought us to our respective study abroad countries. He genuinely seemed interested in our field of studies and our experiences this semester. Yes, it was refreshing talking to an American. But, more importantly, I enjoyed the intellectual conversation with a well-accomplished professor who just wanted to have company while drinking wine and eating pizza.
It’s the day after Fat Tuesday. That means everyone (more or less) in my apartment and the apartment next door can’t eat chocolate. Or chicken. That’s pretty much been our diet since getting here. We went to the store after class to buy some groceries. I bought broth to make chicken-less vegetable soup. Others went to buy peanut butter. Of course the one day people need it our grocery store is sold out. I hope we don’t have cranky ladies later tonight!
Earlier today I went to mass and received ashes. It was a lot different than getting ashes in the States. The most obvious difference? They sprinkled ashes on the top of my head. That’s right. I didn’t receive a huge black ash cross across my forehead. On the way to mass I noticed that for being in the capital city of catholicism nobody had ashes on their foreheads. After mass I understood why.
There were a lot of firsts for me today at mass:
- This was the first time I wasn’t paranoid about the size of the cross on my forehead. I know it’s horrible to say but every year I always think I have the biggest ash on my head and everyone’s staring at me.
- This was my first mass where I could sit **
- This was the first time I couldn’t understand the priest. We went to an Italian-speaking service.
- This was the first time my eyes could wander and look at the beautiful statues and mosaics instead of crying babies or kids with backpacks on.
- This was my first time exchanging “peace be with you” with an Italian. They say “pace.”
** We learned in history class the other week why churches here in Rome never seem to be full. Catholics here are very superstitious. Italians spend most of their time saying “God bless you” so that they aren’t cursed instead of just going to church and praying/talking to God himself. We talked briefly about the “evil eye,” which is giving credit to someone rather than God. The reason Italians here don’t go to church is because they have this mentality of, “what have they (the church) ever done for me?” For awhile the church ran Rome. People could be arbitrarily arrested. Italians aren’t anti-religious, they’re anti-priests. There has been this historical marginality. At the end of the day they think: “the church does nothing for me, yet I’m going to give my money to the church for the priests’ living? and get nothing in return?”
Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day
Unofficial St. Patrick’s day took place in Rome, Italy this year. While I wish I could have been in Dublin with some of my friends or in Champaign I ended up having a blast in Rome. Our day of drinking started the same time it did in Champaign only it was 2 PM in Rome. We had a visit to a news studio, Alice. It’s a news station much like NBC. We had the opportunity to watch a food segment and meet Miss Italy. She was the guest on the show that day. 5 French students came along with us. They go to Leonardo da Venci but are in a different program. We didn’t interact with them too much because they speak fluent French and Italian. But, they knew some English and were told to converse with us so they could practice their English and we could practice our Italian. We didn’t speak Italian. Of course, we resorted to speaking English. It’s unbelievable how it’s a universal language. The French students were really nice. They had to interview Americans so I volunteered to be interviewed. They probably thought I had a hearing impediment though because I couldn’t hear anything. The room to begin was loud. We were in a tiny studio room. But, the reason I couldn’t hear them was because I had a horrible sinus infection and my ears hadn’t popped from the plane ride home from Paris. I couldn’t hear for a solid week. It was so frustrating. Especially in that situation.
Anyway, these French students were so interesting to talk to. We talked about how the French don’t like Americans. They laughed as soon as we made that comment. They explained how the French don’t hate Americans. They feel that Americans hate them. Hum… so it has been a mutual misunderstanding of one another for all these years? … jk. They did say that some French people think Americans are self-centered. Furthermore, they told us how they’re studying business here. They’re only here until the end of March and then go back to their normal school. Most of them know English from their stay in London for a couple months. These kids travel to schools across the world to learn languages and receive an education. It’s incredible. I wonder if this trend will ever carry over to the States? It’s much different than studying abroad for a semester. These kids studied in London for 6-7 grade. And then Germany for 8th. Some people traveled to PA! It’s a rather interesting concept if you a) have the money and b) think about how much you’d learn. I’ve noticed a drastic difference in how much information I retain traveling in Europe than I have in the classroom at home. Don’t get me wrong I’ve learned a thing or two back in the States. But in all honesty it pales in comparison to what I’ve learned over here. I learn so much just by exchanging conversation with the local deli guy, coffee owner, and little kids on the tram. On a daily basis I’m seeing history first hand that I would have otherwise read in a textbook. I think it’s very important for kids, if they have the opportunity, to study abroad at a young age. It opens your eyes and exposes you to incredible things.
Ok back to Unofficial. After chatting with the French kids and getting a tour of the studio our day of drinking began. It started with power hour at our apartments. We then went on an irish pub bar crawl. To get there though you had to roam the streets of Rome. Being the loud Americans we are we naturally called attention to ourselves while traveling in a group of 32 decked out in green with beer in our hands (you can carry open alcohol in public here) and screamingggg ILL-INI and our fight song. Yes, we did this all the way until we reached the Pantheon. There we momentarily stopped to get a group picture and then continued to our first pub. Mind you it beginning to be tourist season so there were families taking videos and pictures of us. Everyone turned their heads. But it didn’t matter. I felt uncomfortable and disrespectful but then I reminded myself a) you only live once b) you’re outside c) you’ll never see these people again d) chilllll
It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. This time last year I would have never imagined being in Rome. As I stood in line for security at the Brussel’s airport I thought about who I was and what I was doing on Valentine’s day last year. I was returning from an amazing pledge retreat with PGN and creating lifelong friends and memories. Tonight the girls in my apartment and I made a “family dinner.” We bought fun-shaped noodles, red wine, vegetables, and a chocolate cake to celebrate Valentine’s day together.
After dinner we had a sing-a-long session and laughed for hours. I really enjoy preparing dinner with these girls, sitting down and exchanging stories, relaxing, and just soaking in the moment. At home I’m alway on a schedule. I always have somewhere to be. Here, meals are a nice escape from reality and break up monotonous routines.
Our actual meal lasted about 1 hour but with preparation, desert, and talking/singing after we were around the dinner table for a solid 3-4 hours. It felt great. I’ve realized more that ever, since being in Italy, that you need to live in the moment. Quit thinking about what you have to do in the future or dwelling upon the past. If you actually live in the moment and cheerish what you’re doing and who you’re with, you really get to know yourself and other people better. I, overall, just feel more happy. I like not being in a rush. I enjoy relaxing and digesting my meal; not scarfing it down.
Grocery store experience:
I just got back from grocery store and had a funny encounter with the deli guy. He knows us from coming there to get our lunch meat and gets a kick out of us because we have a hard time communicating and never know what anything is. Today I tried to ask the deli guy what his favorite cheese was. It all is packaged the same and in Italian so I never know what to get. He looked at me and my friend Gina and looked very confused. So I spoke shorter words and slower. Naturally the slower I said the words the louder I got. I pointed to him and then said “FAVORITE” and then pointed to the cheese. He didn’t get. Gina and I then gave him a thumbs up and pointed to the cheese. He then looked up at us and said “ahh numero uno?!” and then we smiled and he pointed to a cheese and let us try a couple. He asked if we liked sheep or cow. But he asked us it in Italian and we didn’t know what he said. So then we gave him the confused look and he made “Baaaaaaaah” and “moooooooo” noises (asking if we like goat cheese or more milky cheese). It was so funny. I started laughing so hard and he laughed with us too.
Random thoughts about Rome
I just got back from dinner. A bunch of us girls went to a cute restaurant nearby. I was about to say it was an italian restaurant but everything here is italian. I ordered chicken and salad. For the most part I have had pizza, pasta, chicken, and salad. The pizza here isn’t like the pizza at home. It is a lot more fresh and not greasy. Going out to meals here is quite the ordeal. Italians value their meals. It’s a social event for them. Dinner usually last 2-3 hours and comes in many courses. Italian servers like to take their time as well. You have to ask for the bill otherwise you’ll sit at the table forever. They don’t automatically bring it. Also, they don’t carry trays so most of the time you only get 2-3 plates at a time. I compared my waitressing experience at Buffalo Wild Wings to what waitressing here would be like. At Buffalo Wild Wings I never stopped moving. I ran all over the restaurant taking orders, refilling drinks, cleaning tables, etc. When food was ready I carried two huge trays to the table and served everyone at once. That’s not the same here. The serves aren’t in a rush. They’ll casually bring a couple plates out (because that’s all the can carry) and then wander back in the kitchen and casually bring more food out. The portion sizes are also smaller here. It makes sense because you can get multiple courses. Also, you have to pay for water. You have to pay for the bread on the table. And you don’t have to tip. Eating the bread is like tipping. So maybe that is why servers are more relaxed here. They don’t need to impress us so that we give them a good tip. I wonder how much money servers make. I know from my experience at Buffalo Wild Wings you wanted to work busy nights when games were on because you’d have people coming in and buying drinks and the place would be packed all night. As a result you’d make a lot of money in tips. Here since you don’t have to tip I wonder if a server makes good money. I had gelato for the second time tonight. The money over here is so different. First my gelato was 2.50 (euro) and there isn’t tax. In the States I would have handed the cashier 2 dollar bills and then 50 cents. But here I paid with coins. They have coins that look like quarters here that are 2 euro. The smallest bill I’ve seen here is a 5. At home people hate walking around with change in their pocket or change falls to the bottom of people’s purses or if you drop a penny some people aren’t too concerned about picking it up. Yet here change does matter. You can walk around with several 2 euro coins and they mean something. Something else that differs from the States… moving vehicles! Cars speed up when they see you here instead of slowing down. It’s so frustrating and so rude because you as the pedestrian don’t have the right away even if the walk sign is on. Oh, and the walk sign is different here. In the States the white walkman lights up when you can cross and a flashing orange hand lights up when you shouldn’t cross. Here, you have the walkman but when it’s green you can go, when it turns orange you only have a couple more seconds to cross the street, and when it’s red you shouldn’t cross. The technology here seems to lag, too. In the States for example many cross signs count down for you. So you know you only have 15 more seconds to cross the street. That isn’t the case here. At home every other person either has their blackberry or iphone out. I haven’t seen any over here. People aren’t on their cells like they are at home. I personally have enjoyed not having a cell phone because you get to live in the moment and enjoy the people around you. Its less of a distraction. And, there is something about not be reachable 24/7 that’s kind of soothing. What else is different? The other day on the tram John and Thomas stood up to give older ladies their seat and the ladies gave them a disgusted look and said, “no.” I thought this was strange because in the States its polite to offer a woman or older person your seat but here apparently it isn’t. But, yesterday we met an 11 year old boy on the tram. He was coming home from school and his backpack was on an empty seat and he moved it for me. This boy was so cute! He had the cutest dimples and dark brown eyes. We asked him if he spoke English and he smiled and said, “a little” (and motioned with his fingers that he spoke a tad). He explained how English is his favorite subject and that he plays soccer. I just wanted to hug him. He was so nice. Unlike the older teenage boys earlier on the tram who were obnoxious. They were whistling, laughing, yelling, and pushing us. I’d say since being here the biggest cultural shock has been grocery shopping. Everything is in Italian. It’s so foreign. I went to pick out yogurt and couldn’t read anything. You’d think you’d be able to tell by the pictures what kind of flavor it is and if it’s “light” but you can’t. And then when I was ordering my lunch meat the deli lady didn’t speak any English. Ordering turkey was very difficult and a bit frustrating. I also didn’t know what type of cheese to buy because there was such an assortment and I couldn’t distinguish between all the different white cheeses. Pop, though is not popular here. You can find a shelf full of pop and then an entire aisle devoted to wine. And some of the wine is cheaper than pop and juice!
Roma 3 students
This year we are paired up with an Italian university and get to interact with Italian students. The first weekend I was here we met them. They came to our apartments and took us grocery shopping to buy the ingredients necessary to cook a traditional Italian lunch.
The goal of this co-curricular program is to have us get to know and talk with Italian students and vice versa (have them get to know our culture and practice our language). My apartment made tiramisu and carbonara. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day here and they really enjoy their food. They set the table and everything, too. We didn’t have a table cloth so we used an extra bed sheet. It did the trick.
I had a lot of fun learning how to make home made sauce and tiramisu. I can’t wait to make it for my family and friends when I get home. While cooking we exchanged stories and asked questions to the Italian students. They, likewise, asked us questions. My favorite question had to do with reality TV and if America is really like Jersey Shore and Jackass! I laughed and told her no. She was surprised! She really thought that’s what America was like! I felt embarrassed for the U.S at that very moment- ha ha. I then asked one of the students if she had ever been to America and she looked over at me and shook her head no and then said, “It’s my dream to go to America.” The look on her face the tone of her voice was so sincere and heartfelt that I got the chills. She explained how she wants to go to NY and see the Statue of Liberty. It amazed how my dream was coming true- traveling the world and she would do anything to visit America, my home. Incredible!
I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester interacting with them.
First week in Roma
I am in Rome, Italy!
We arrived on Friday around 9 AM. Surprisingly I wasn’t as tired as I had imagined because I slept for about 4.5 hours on the plane (thank you Ambien!) I lucked out because I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me on the flight, which provided me with more space and comfort. I’ve been waiting for it to hit me that I’ll be gone for 4 months. I’m not sure when it will sink in. It kind of did the other day when I went to the Vatican and tonight when I ran along the Tiber river by my apartment that this is now my new home. Before explaining what all I’ve done since arriving I’m going to start from day one - at the airport! I made some interesting observations before our departure. But before I explain, let me mention that my luggage was not overweight (but I definitely cut it close!) Ok, on with my pre-departure and airplane experience. Our flight was 2 hours late, surprisingly not due to Chicago weather, but because volcanic ashes in Sicily would have made it difficult for our pilot to see. After checking in I just wanted to get through security, to the gate, and situated. However, about 5-6 minutes after standing in the line for security a guard came over and informed us that there was no food after security. Lovely! I hadn’t had anything to eat all day so I meandered over to the food court and had a bite to eat with some kids on my program. At the time I kept thinking to myself, “I really hope we learn each other’s names soon!” It is a tad awkward acknowledging someone on your program without knowing their name. And, you don’t want to be ‘that person’ yet saying, “HI I am Maggie what’s all your names!!!?” But since getting here I’ve definitely learned people’s names very quickly (which I was proud of myself for because I’m horrible with names). Anyway, after sitting at our gate getting to know kids on my program and goofing off it was time to board! I was intimidated getting on the plane because as I showed my passport and ticket I saw 8 security guards and a drug dog over the ladies should and I had to walk right past them to get on the plane. The dog was quite cute! I’m not a dog expert but it resembled a golden. Immediately when I got on the plane the pilot and flight attendants were speaking Italian. It hit me a little that I was embarking on a foreign flight. Little things like the overhead announcements were spoken first in Italian and repeated in English. The flight attendants greeted us in Italian. It was funny eating the food the provided because all the packages were in Italian. When I woke up to bright skies and breakfast being served I saw a box with an orange on it and assumed it was orange juice. Little did I know it wasn’t orange juice, rather some other type of juice that was rather tasty. Additionally, sporadically on the flight a map appeared on the TV screens showing us where we were. This was different from other flights I’ve been on say to CA or AZ. I liked knowing where I was in the air. For example, I woke up from my nap and we were in France! Oh, and behind me was the most well behaved baby. Yes, I used baby and well behaved in the same sentence on a 9 hour flight! The baby didn’t cry once. Actually, the baby slept most of the flight and when it was up didn’t make a noise. He was so adorable! Erin, I wish I could have taken a picture (us and our creepy obsessions over babies). He had his own seat that he layed in. He wasn’t in a car seat or anything, either; just sprawled on the seat with the comfort of his parents on either side.
Moving on, when the wheels of the plane touched the ground I couldn’t believe that I had just hit new territory. I was in another country other than the U.S for the first time ever. I’ve dreamed about going abroad since I was a little girl. It always fascinated me that the life I lived in Elmhurst, IL, the people I was surrounded by, and the places within the States I’ve traveled weren’t the only people in this world. Someone else in some other country is living and doing something completely different. And now I’m here. I’m living a different life and it’s surreal. Getting off the plane we were greeted by a couple of our program coordinators. They took us outside to our coach buses and put our luggage on the bus for us. We were quite the scene, all 32 of us, at the airport lugging around suitcases. We kind of looked ridiculous because all the girls has two enormous suitcases and were stumbling all over the place trying not to fall over from the weight of our bags exceeding our body weight. We definitely screamed American students. Driving to our neighborhood and finally getting to our apartment was exciting. I live with 6 girls in an enormous apartment. It could be an ad for IKEA. We have 3 balconies that overlook our neighborhood and each Sunday there is a market right outside. We went to it on Sunday and they had the cutest things - clothes, boots, antiques, etc. My mom would have been in heaven!
Moving into our apartment was fun. There was a vendor outside our apartment that we bought bright colored lacy bras from for 2 euro and hung them over our beds to serve as wall decorations.
We were provided cute green bed linens that we thought was a sheet for our bed only it had an awkward cut out so we assumed it wasn’t a sheet but rather a fitted sheet. The opening wasn’t big enough to slide onto our beds so naturally we blamed IKEA for being cheap and not making sheets proportionate to our bed size. So, we were determined to figure out how to get this “sheet” on our beds. We proceeded to lift up our mattress and fold it in half and slide on the “sheet” but that didn’t work and the sheet slowly started to tear because it still didn’t fit the mattress. Later that night we asked other people how they got it on their beds and they laughed at us when they heard our story because the sheet was suppose to go over our duvet cover. Yes, it was as simple as that! Later that night we went as a group to a lounge/cafe by our school called 79. It’s a cute place that you can order coffee, food, do homework and chat. They gave us appetizers and cocktails and afterwards we explored a piazza. Music played in the streets and we just walked down small side streets and saw beautiful buildings and darling boutiques. I just kept looking up at the buildings and my surroundings in amazement and with a smile on my face. I couldn’t believe I was standing in Italy. It’s very hard coming up with words for how I felt and how happy and blessed I felt. There were many laughs that night and I was hopeful that there’d be many more.
The next day there were many more laughs indeed. We went to a cute restaurant for lunch and then were broken up in teams for a scavenger hunt around Rome. It was a blast. We had 13 pictures and the name of the destination and had to ask people how to get there and once we got there we had to take a picture of all us in front of it. It was scary walking up to Italians and asking where to go. None of us knew any Italian but it was a good way to start learning. We saw a lot of the city on this scavenger hunt but what’s so different here than Chicago is every street looks the same and there are tonssssss of side roads. I get so confused where I am. My team would have won the competition but we got lost coming home and arrived late, thus disqualified. It was a bummer but at the same time I didn’t care because I got to get to know people in my group and explore Rome!