April 1999 – MySpace is introduced to the internet, TLC has the #1 song for weeks and Wayne Gretzky plays his last game. Oh, and AIFS’s very own David is studying abroad in Rome.
It’s throwback Thursday so we thought we would go back into the archives, scan some photos, and reminisce about a much simpler time. A time when your apartment had one cell phone to share, and everyone still had AOL email…
Our apartment was in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. Nowadays, it is incredibly trendy and busy. Back then, it wasn’t on the radar as much. The apartment was roomy, but very noisy as the wooden shutters did little to block the noise of the tram on Viale di Trastevere.
Rome and the Vatican were preparing for the Great Jubilee in 2000 so work was going on all around town and scaffolding was up around St. Peter’s, which even covered, was impressive.
I had never been to Italy before and my first impression was that I was overwhelmed. I struggled to understand the language, the monopoly money and, to me, the over formality of dining. Like many an ex pat, whenever a twinge of homesickness came on, I would visit McDonalds for a Big Mac and fries.
Living in Italy, with the sometimes lax interpretation of “rules,” it’s easy to become complacent and stop stamping your bus ticket. That is why I still owe the city of Rome $50. Periodically, officials from the metro system would board a train or a bus and inspect to make sure everyone had tickets. That day I gambled; and that day I lost.
Gradually, I grew to love it: people watching in the piazzas, conversing with Italians and realizing I could understand, freshly squeezed Sicilian blood orange juice, visiting and ranking the gelato places around town, and commuting past the beautiful buildings and monuments on a daily basis.
My four roommates and I decided to visit Venice for the weekend. How did we arrange this? Some discussion, a little research, and finalized by the text message of the day, a “note.”
Venice appears just like it does in all the photos. It is both crowded and empty at the same time, and like nothing we had ever seen before in our lives.
What advice would he give students going abroad?
Talk to as many people as you possibly can; expose yourself to situations that take you out of your comfort zone; and try foods you think won’t like. Also, if you’re questioning whether or not to buy that pair of shoes (or sweet leather jacket), do it.