The Halfway Point

My midterms are this coming week and unfortunately that can only mean one thing: my study abroad semester is nearly half way over.  But to be more positive, I like to think that its only half begun.  No matter how I look at the amount of time that’s passed, the clock is ticking to be able to cross the things off my Rome bucket list that I came here to do, and the list is lengthy.

At the start of the semester when everything was new and exciting it seemed like this point would never come, but all of a sudden I opened my eyes and the calendar said the end of February.  Over the past few days I’ve really been thinking about what I’ve accomplished so far in Rome and what goals I may or may not have met and what I still hope to accomplish in the next two months that I am abroad.  Here are the things that I am happy that I accomplished during the last seven weeks:

1) Made some really good friends.  Shout out to my roommates Trevor, Daniel, Derek, Mike, and Adam for being the best roommates I’ve had in college.  And another shout out to the many others who I’ve met so far in API.  Making new friends while abroad is one of the main components of this experience, and these are the people you can turn to for help when you need it most because they are going through exactly what you are going through.  These are also the people who you get to share the unbelievable experiences of seeing new cities and cultures with and with whom you will make memories to last a lifetime.

2) I’ve seen a decent amount of Italy so far and I’m satisfied with the amount of places that I’ve been able to see and out of those places I can’t pick a favorite because each of them brought equally impressive things to the table.  I’ve strolled along the Grand Canal in Venice, gotten a taste of the Renaissance in Florence, and been surprised at how much the leaning tower leans in Pisa.  I think three cities on top of the monstrosity of Rome in seven weeks is a perfect amount given all that there is to see in Rome alone.  If I was given the option to redo these past seven weeks in terms of travel, I wouldn’t change anything.  I’m pleased with the amount of travel I’ve done and I feel that if I had done more or less I would have been either overwhelmed or bored.

3) I’ve seen many of the sites that make Rome the top tourist destination in Europe and have gotten a full introduction to the capital city of Italy, and my new home.  I’ve walked inside the Colosseum, a sort of epicenter of Ancient Rome, walked through an Ancient Roman house buried underground and recently excavated, tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain, admired the work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, paid my respects in St. Peter’s Basilica, and enjoyed one of the most breath-taking views on top of Castel St. Angelo.  But there’s still so much of Rome that I haven’t seen and so much of Rome that I never will see, as I said in my intro post last month.  Slowly but surely, however, I am carving my way through this city and trying to get the most out of it that I can before I have to say goodbye.  I have a lot planned for the rest of the semester, and tomorrow I am going to San Sebastian’s Catacombs and St. John Lateran’s Archbasilica.  If I’m lucky and it doesn’t rain I might be able to explore Circus Maximus also, which was the site of chariot races and games in Ancient Rome but is now a public park and hopefully get to the Tombs of the Popes as well.  The beauty of studying in Rome is that I can go to any museum or site that I want on the days I get out of class early, so even if I don’t make it somewhere on the weekend, its possible to go there during the week as well.  And of course in the coming month I’ll be witnessing one of the most significant papal elections in the history of the Catholic Church.

4) I mentioned rain in the last paragraph because it has been a very familiar face here over the last seven weeks.  The past week and a half hasn’t been too bad weather wise, but for a month straight it seemed like the rain was never going to let up and there were only occasional sunny days in between.  I began to think I chose London instead of Rome.

5) Tried some amazing food.  Pasta, pizza, gelato, it never gets old….yet.

What am I looking forward to as the second half of the semester approaches?

  • Explore more of Rome- that’s why I chose to study here in the first place!
  • I’m going to Prague next weekend!  This will be my first time out of Italy since I arrived in January, and also my first trip to Eastern Europe.  I can’t wait to see the city that so many study abroad students say was their absolute favorite city they visited.
  • My spring break trip is Ireland!  This will be my first trip to the emerald isles and an opportunity to explore the land of my ancestors.
  • My program has an opera night, two Tuscany day trips, Capri/Pompeii overnight trip all planned over the next two months
  • I get to go back to Venice and Florence and see Naples for the first time when my Mom comes to visit in April
  • I get to see the outcomes of one of the most important Italian elections in history that could possibly result in an entirely new government
  • I get to see (God-willing, no pun intended)  the white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel that will signal that a new pope has been elected next month.  Make sure to follow my blog for all the latest updates!
  • I get to explore more of Italy, hoping to go to the International Journalism Festival in Perugia (a couple hours from Rome) in April and also see Cinque Terre, part of the Italian Riviera, and if I can sneak in another Italian city in there that’s a plus
  • And I get to explore a little bit of Europe once my semester ends.  I’m still working out where I’ll be going but I’m trying to pick 2 countries and focus on those, but more details to come!
  • I also look forward to making more friends, and particularly making some Italian friends who are from Rome or elsewhere in Italy, this is a top priority!

If the second half of the semester is anything like the first, I know that I’ll have a strong finish in Italy.  I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far and the friends I’ve made and I hope that the momentum and good times keep moving forward.  To those who have received postcards from me so far, it is the very least I can do.  I realize how lucky I am to have this experience.  Most people will never get to see a fraction of the things I have seen in Rome let a lone the rest of the world, so I never take for granted the hand I’ve been dealt and  through sending postcards it is my way of saying thank you to the people who have made it possible for me to have this experience and to acknowledge those who have helped me along the way.  I am still in the process of mailing postcards and probably will never finish, a testament to the fact that the amount of people who have helped me get to Rome is immense.  Grazie mille everyone!

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One thought on “The Halfway Point

  1. I am so enjoying this blog….I am just very sorry I won’t be traveling with your mom to experience Italy. Best of Luck Dan…. Auntie xoxo

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