My first week at Temple Rome felt like my first week at Holy Cross. Move-in day abroad was a lot like my first move-in day in the United States. After I had unpacked my suitcases, I attended new student orientation, organized by Temple Rome staff. I followed the Alumni Assistants, staff who studied abroad at Temple Rome and were now graduates of the program, to the Temple University Rome campus. We walked for 25 minutes from the Residence to the school building.
I took in all the sights on my walk to campus. Before I arrived in Italy, I had only seen Rome through photographs. Now, I was walking on the same streets as the locals and experiencing the city in person. My favorite part of my first walk was the view across the bridge. I got to see Temple Rome in the evening light. What a first sight of campus!
We checked in with the staff and began orientation with a welcome meeting and a huge pizza party. I tried Italian pizza for the first time. It tastes different from the pizza I’ve tried in the United States. Food should be no problem – I like it! I’m looking forward to not only trying the Italian food at local restaurants, but also to trying new recipes from scratch in the apartment kitchen!
I got to meet other students in the program at orientation. A lot of them live in the Residence; some are only a few doors away from where I’m staying. Others are part of the homestay program and live with local families in the area. I also met some classmates who are staying in independent housing with other students. I explored the area with a few new friends and helped one of them get a monthly pass for the metro. We went shopping and got pizza together afterward.
The other students and I had fun at social events such as a “speed friending” exercise, where we chatted with each other for five minutes before moving onto the next person, and a team scavenger hunt around the area that helped us find convenient places around campus. We named our team “Primo Posto,” which is Italian for “first place.” We got to see sights such as the gorgeous Piazza del Popolo, right outside of the Flaminio metro station, the closest subway stop around campus. We found all the places on our list but did not return to campus in time to be first place. We came in third place.
Part of orientation week involved getting set up with useful tools such Italian SIM cards, textbooks, and even portable Wifi devices! I got all three. I feel much better after getting a good data plan – I can use Google Maps without worrying about my data roaming speeds! We have a lot of data and minutes every month. If we run out of euros for the plan or need to pay for the next month, we can go to Tabacchi or phone stores to refill our plans. We can use a lot of social media apps without tapping into our data, so I got to add a lot of my new friends on social media.
I learned a lot about living in the city during orientation. We listened to talks about the local culture and safety rules from Temple Rome staff and from a representative from the US embassy in Rome. We filled out a few forms for our stay. I’m glad we got help completing our applications for the Permesso di Soggiorno (“Permit of Stay,”) which is a legal document that allows us to stay in Rome. We got our forms done and made appointments to continue the process at the local post office. Glad that’s out of the way!
I am much more prepared for my life in Rome. The jetlag is gone, and I know the city a little better. Can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn during my time here!