By: Megan Mallonee, a rising junior at the University of North Carolina
1. You might actually need to learn some Italian.
I tried to pick up a little bit before I left for Rome, but pretty much figured I would be cool with “pizza” and “ciao.” But what I didn’t realize was that there really are a lot of Italians who don’t speak much English. It’s probably best to grab a translation book or at least write down the word for bathroom. (bagno, if you care.)
2. Walking is a literal lifestyle.
My fitbit is really proud of me! At home, I get 10,000 steps if I go to the mall or decide to walk to class (which is rare.) Here, it’s completely normal to walk 10 miles every day. I love it. Walking a city is the best way to see it, and it’s the only way I’m not gaining 1000 pounds from all the carbs.
3. Netflix doesn’t work over here.
Just a warning. No excuses to stay in and finish bingeing Arrested Development because it’s not possible! It’s a little sad the first time you type it Netflix.com in the search bar and receive an error message, but it’s definitely a blessing in disguise. The only thing better than watching tv is experiencing actual life. (Not that I’m won’t be pumped to get back to Parks and Rec in August.)
4. You can get wifi most places, but sometimes you shouldn’t.
One of the best things about the slower lifestyle of Italians is sitting down at a long dinner and having good ole downtime. There’s nothing I love more than a pizza the size of the Colosseum and conversation with good friends. Text your mom and let her know you’re having fun, and then put it away. You’re in Italy. Go Rome or Go Home, ya feel?
5. The big t-shirts and nike shorts aren’t gonna cut it.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Italians know how to dress. They’re pretty much all skinny, brown, and beautiful. While walking to an ATM in my fave XL Comfort Colors tee, I felt like an actual alien. The environment makes you want to actually wear nice things. The good news? We have class in the building we live in, so I still rock the uniform from 8-10am.
6. Pizza is God’s most precious gift from above.
7. Learning is fun.
I dropped an online Art History class freshman year because it looked like another language to me, but learning art history in Rome is awesome. There’s something about hearing the history of Roman architecture while staring at the Colosseum that just gets me. And the art. Woah. Let’s just say the pictures of David don’t do him justice.
8. Some people might try to take advantage of you.
I learned from experience when being yelled at for taking what I assumed was a gift without offering any money in return. There are plenty of people ready to take advantage of dumb Americans, so it’s important to be smart. Trust your instincts and watch your bags. But don’t assume the worst of people either, because…
9. Italians are the bomb.com.
I mean, they invented everything good in life, so duh. Some of my favorite people here are taxi drivers. They’ve pointed out their favorite spots in the city, offered advice on sharpening my Italian, and told stories about their trips to the US. And there isn’t anything better than leaving somewhere and hearing “Ciao bella,” is there?
10. Rome is gorgeous.
Not much to say on this. It’s filled with beautiful people, more history than I ever imagined, and the prettiest margarita pizzas instagram has ever seen. I am blown away by a different sight each day, and I already love this place. As my fave taxi driver told me, “I hope I never have to leave because my city is so beautiful.”