One of the most exciting, frustrating and impactful events I did this week was going to Easter Mass at the Vatican. The day started out early with catching the bus to get to Vatican square. We left around 7 for doors to open at 9. When we got there the line luckily wasn't too bad. However, once they started to let people in, that is when it got rough. For attending a holy event, there was some violence happening. We were all being shoved from behind as though nocking someone down would help them get a better seat. There was even one dad using his teenage son as a ramming block to move us out of the way. It was definitely an experience and that was all before even getting through security. Once we got there it was amazing. We ended up getting seat in the front row of the second section. We had an amazing view. We were also hoping that the pope would drive around and we would be able to see him. We sit there for a couple hours waiting for mass to start. It was well worth it for the amazing seats. Once mass starts it was really interesting hearing it in Italian. About halfway through though, it started to cool down. All the sudden we felt the first rain drops. Then a couple more. Before we knew it, it started to pour. Some people ran for cover, some opened up umbrellas like I did and others grab the chairs they were sitting in and held them over their heads to block the rain. It was the funniest thing seeing people stand in front of the Vatican with chairs over their head. It was also funny because the whole time we had been in Rome, it had not rained during the day yet. It had when we travelled out of Rome but never in Rome. I guess the weather decided Easter would be the perfect day to change that. The rain soon ended and we were able to concentrate once more on the mass going on rather than trying to stay somewhat dry. Before I knew it the mass was over.
Attending mass was definitely something I am glad I did. Before coming, I figured that it was something I was going to skip as I am not Catholic. However, as we got closure and the signups were posted, I realized that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to say I saw the pope on Easter at mass at the Vatican. I am definitely happy that I did. I will never regret that decision and I will always look back at the selfie I got with the pope as a reminder of what I experienced. While I didn't always know what was going on, being there and taking it all in was amazing. It taught me that I should never pass up an opportunity to do something just because I am afraid I am going to stand out for being a different religion. Sometimes, you just have to forget about the differences and take in the moment.
This week, we visited the Rome Siciliy American Cemetery. We were suppose to be paying respect to the solider that we researched this semester with our Italian partners. However, while this was suppose to be an opportunity for respect, closure, and meaning, this was not the complete case this semester. There were three Italian students in my group and non of them came. Not only that but many of the other Italian students were taking the trip as a joke. While this trip was not something we necessarily wanted to do in the beginning, the more we worked on it the more involved we got. It was suppose to be a meaningful trip both to pay respect to the soldiers but also a way to get to know Italians. While I was not pleased with the way that the Italian students took the trip or the fact that non of my partners came, was also kinda a rough way to end the partnership with my Italian partner. This was suppose to be putting a close to our project and our partnership and now, I will never get to say goodbye to her. This trip really opened up to me how school is different in Italy vs America. I also have to understand that while the partners may not have come it doesn't mean that they didn't think what we were doing was important.. It just wasn't their top priority. However, being able to talk with the other Italian students was a way to make sure that I will always remember the time that I spent with the Italian students.
One of my favorite things happened after this trip to the cemetery. After the trip, we had buses going to different places in the city. One was taking people to class, another to campus, and another taking the Italian students. I was suppose to be on the one going to campus however, my fiends and I wanted to go into the city. We ended up asking if we could go on the bus that was going to take kids to class. Ends up they had space so we hoped in and waited to see where we would end up. The first stop; gelato. Turns out where they were dropped off was one block from the gelato place we wanted to try. Not only that but, there was also a bunch of street art around and we looked at it while eating our gelato. It was amazing. It was a great snack and a great way to hang out with some friends. After that we went back into the city doing some shopping and just hanging out. It was a great way to spend the day. Great food and good company. Sometimes speaking up and asking a question will have a greater impact than just staying quiet. It allowed me to go out and do something that I otherwise might have passed on. It was a great way to end the day.
This weekend was our southern excursion. It was honestly my favorite trip that I had been on. One of the reasons why this trip was my favorite was because the whole school was traveling with us. While when we went on our northern excursion, we all didn't really know each other that great, this trip was a completely different. By this time we were all friends and new each other. It was great being able to travel with all of them not just our 4 or 5 closest friends when we travel on the weekend. My absolute favorite thing from this trip though was going to the beach in Paestum before dinner. After getting back from tours, we had some free time before our group dinner. Rather than studying for our quiz on Monday like we should have, we decided instead to head to the beach. I did make the foolish decision to bring my study materials with me thinking that I would actually use them. We timed it just right and ended up there around sunset. Originally I was going to put just my feet in but once we all got there and started playing around that idea went out the window. Before I knew it my pants were rolled up and we were all in the water having a good time. Some people even went all the way under in their clothes. We walked back into our hotel a dripping sandy mess but, it was well worth it. I learned that as much as school is important, I cannot pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity to stay back and study.
However, while this was my favorite part of the trip, there was one part that I did not like. The last stop on our trip was at Pompeii. While Pompeii is a place that many people know, I felt as though the tour I went on was not amazing. It felt as though it was rushed and that because of it we weren't able to get the full impact of the tour. Pompeii was a place where you are traveling through history. You are seeing a town frozen in time because of a catastrophe. One of the other things that I felt wasn't the best use of time was we sat on a curb reading an except Pliny the Younger wrote about his dad Pliny the Elder. We at 20 across on a step reading it aloud. While it was an interesting read, I couldn't hear anything 5 people or more away from me were saying and it seemed as though it was something we could do on our own time. I wish our tour guide had used the time more to teach about the history of the place rather than having us read an excerpt we could have read on the bus. While this may have seemed like poor planning to me, I am learning that not everything will always run smoothly and that sometimes, that is what you will remember.
I'm Sabrina Kirsch a sophmore physical therapy student at Duquesne University. I will be spending the spring semester of 2017 in Rome, Italy where I will eat my way through all the gelato and pasta they offer. My goal is to see everything possible and visit as many countries as possible.