I have arrived in Rome!!! It is so beautiful here and nothing like America. The drive to the campus was full of speeding cars barely missing hitting each other, trees that look like they belong in Africa and beautiful scenery. I am already having a blast and I am still jet lagged so I cannot wait until I am use to the time difference.
Thursday Jan 26
My mom and I decided to head to Philly on Wednesday so that way there was no way I could miss my flight on Thursday because of traffic or have to spend over 15 hours traveling. Turns out that was a good idea because while at lunch on Thursday (6 hours before my flight) we looked at the tv to see protests in the center of Philly and Air Force One was landing at the airport where I will be leaving from.I was so happy that we stayed in a hotel outside of the city and that was close to the airport so that we could get there easily if there was traffic. As we were driving back to the hotel from lunch I even saw, from a distance, Air Force One parked on the tarmac at the airport! Who would have thought that the start to my Roman adventure would begin with seeing the president (well I guess just saw his plane but still).
2 PM. Time to check out of the hotel and head to the airport. When we got to the airport parking was a mess. The garage was a confusing maze full of yellow poles that barely allowed you enough room to make a turn. Good thing I wasn't driving (sorry mom). When we finally got a spot after tons of circling and failed attempts at parking in sports with really short cars pulled up we finally found an open spot. When we got to the ticket counter there were zero people in line! I am able to get my ticket with TSA precheck in minutes. Now it is time for me to leave my mom. I cannot believe that the time has come but I am about to go to Rome. I get in line for TSA and theres 1 person in front of me. I get through in a breeze. It is also around the same time that everyone who flew in from Pittsburgh has landed so I will only have to wait a short time at the gate before I am joined by others. 3 hours and I will be boarding the plane for Rome!
The flight: I was soon joined by all my friends after they landed. I was even able to change my seat to be next to one of my friends and around the rest of the group. I even got an aisle seat! Boarding happened with no problems and we were able to take off only 40 minutes late which was great for an international flight. I spent the flight watching the Secret Life of Pets (which was a cute movie) and attempting to sleep but only ending up getting about 5 minutes for the whole flight. And then we landed in Rome! I made it and am about to have the best adventure of my life. Well, first I have to get through customs. Now, the customs line was a completely different story than TSA. The line was soooo long at 2 people in front of me! I think I was through in about a minute considering the customs agent didn't ask me a single question. Now it was time to get our luggage and hope that all of it made it. Luckily all of mine and my friends did so it was off to meeting the representatives from Duquesne.
Friday January 27
The bus ride into Rome:
We were led to 2 buses where we barely stuffed all our luggage from 57 people under the bus. It was just a short 20 minute ride to the campus. The whole ride was beautiful scenery and struggling to stay awake. Soon we were at the campus where we were greeted and told which our room assignments. Now it is time to unpack. The worst part of traveling. The rooms and nice but on the smaller side. We were given 4 hours of free time with the suggesting of taking only a 30 minute nap max or else we would not fall asleep that night. I decided to go shopping and get a couple groceries for super cheap.
After showing and relaxing it was back to the bus to head to dinner. After a 30 minute drive with some near misses of hitting other cars we arrived at the restaurant. There we sit down to one of the best meals I have had. When we walked in we had no idea how many courses we would have but it ended up being five; a small 3 bite piece of bread with cheese, a huge antipasto platter with all types of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, a pasta course, a meat course, and dessert. It also included 2 wines. It was amazing. I was served a vegetarian meal for every course which included the best eggplant parmesan I have had. At the end of the meal I was stuffed! 4 hours later we were back on the buses falling asleep on the drive home. After 33 hours awake I was finally able to go to bed and it was one of the best night sleeps I have had.
Saturday January 28
7:30 am, time to wake up for breakfast. I slept amazing which I am so grateful for. It was then 3 hours of lectures packed with information and icebreakers. Then lunch and then time to pick up our textbooks that the school rents out here in Rome. They are huge! and it looks like I will actually have a lot of work. It was the off to Mass at the North American College where after we were lead on a tour by the building. On there terrace we were able to get an amazing view of the city where we were able to see St. Peters Basillica. It was amazing. I could not believe how great a view we got. It was then off to dinner.
Dinner at Ristorante Spirito DiVino
We arrive at the restaurant after a short drive. We enter and are greater by the family who owns the restaurant. We end up sitting at the table with the director, assistant director, visiting professor from Pittsburgh and his family. It was interesting hearing the conversations they had and recommendations for things around the city. The owner of the restaurant soon greats us to the facts that the building we were sitting in was the oldest standing synagogue that was built in 9080. Its cellar dates back to 80 BCE! Each step down represents 75 years. It is 150 years older than the coliseum! The chef was amazing at cooking and she was also a nobel prize winner!
Besides the amazing history of the resturant there was also great food. We again had a 5 course meal but this time there was only one type of wine. The food was great however, I think I enjoyed the food of the first night better. After dinner we headed back to the campus where we were able to get to bed for our early day Sunday of exploring Rome.
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.