This trip, for me, is a plethora of firsts. It was the first time I was traveling alone, more than four hours on a flight, it was the first time I was leaving the country and it was the first time I was handling everything all on my own.
Living in New Jersey and attending The University of Alabama, I am used to flying back and forth to school, but I was always able to contact someone I know if I needed help. Having family in both states was a huge advantage. Traveling to Rome, Italy, with a layover in London, was going to be a huge test for me.
Boarding the flight in Newark I was a little anxious. Finally sitting down on the plane and realizing how big it actually was made me feel a little bit better. After take off I almost didn’t realize I was on an airplane anymore. After arriving in London, I navigated the airport with the help of a couple people, and surprisingly they were all very nice. I was nervous they would know I was American and not be as helpful, but I was very wrong. A little bit of a flight delay and I was finally off to Rome!
I arrived with another girl, by car, to the hotel we were staying at for the first night. Exhausted and hungry, we both ate in almost silence and went to our rooms to shower and fall asleep for the night. We had a long day ahead of us and we both wanted to get some rest.
Waking up and preparing for the day was a little different than at home, so be warned if you haven’t traveled abroad yet. The shower was much, much different. With only a quarter of a glass door I felt like I was getting water everywhere. Then came time for the hair. If you’re a girl: do. not. bring. a. straightener. I can’t tell you how many people told me this and I just didn’t want to believe it, but it won’t work. Thankfully, mine didn’t blow up or catch fire like some of the horror stories I’ve heard, but it just didn’t work; my converter wouldn’t allow it to. I managed with the blowdryer provided by the hotel, knowing I would have to purchase one here which was not nearly as hard as I anticipated.
The first day was an orientation along with a tour. It was a lot to take in and I felt like I was never going to grasp it, but within a day or two I knew my way around. After our orientation, we were shipped off to our homestays or apartments that we would be living in for the next three weeks. I cannot stop raving about my house mother, Tina Morgese. She is the sweetest lady and she has the most amazing view. Everyone then gathered for a group dinner later, consisting of nachos, wings and french fries, which I thought was really funny, and this is where I really got to know more of the people in our J-Term group.
Finally, being all settled at my new home, I felt like I was adjusting and guess what, it was not so bad. Of course, things are different than home and there is still adjusting to do along with dealing with the language barrier, but I am loving it. It’s a strange feeling knowing you’re upwards of 4,000 miles away from home, but it doesn’t feel lonely and I can thank my new friends I’ve met along the way for that.