2 – Esame? Come?

TeverEstate, a summer festival on the banks of the Tiber River and the language exchange location

Week 2 was full of fun.

One of my classmates, Tegan, was traveling around Europe with her friend, and it happened that they passed by Rome for a few days. Tuesday afternoon following class, a few of my classmates and I met her and her friend, Audrey, for lunch at a mom and pop restaurant near Piazza Navona. We ate a typical Roman pasta, carbonara, and then went to Tazza D’Oro, a famous caffe’, after lunch. There we each ordered granita caffe’. Granite are very famous all over Italy (specifically in Sicily), and are essentially fresh slushies. They can be ordered in flavors like limone, mandorle, and caffe’. Ours were made with a layer of fresh whipped cream, or panna, the coffee flavored ice chips, and then another topping of whipped cream.

Tegan and I with our granite!

Wednesday I had my first midterm exam. It was over parts of grammar that I hadn’t studied before, so I was quite nervous when I was going in. However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. Following the exam, I had lunch with one of the other ItaliaIdea students at restaurant near Sant’Andrea della Valle, very close to the hotel we used to stay in when I studied with the School of Architecture.

Post-exam lunch with Carolina

Thursday I got to eat at a pizzeria I had heard many good things about but had never gotten around to trying out. Pizzeria Baffetto, near Piazza Navona, had always had a line outside of it whenever I passed by. When we were seated, we ordered a half litre of white wine and our pizze. It didn’t live up to all the hype I’d heard about it, but it was certainly a nice lunch treat. Following lunch, we hit Via del Corso to check out i saldi, or sales. In Italy, there are approximately two times a year when major sales happen. There’s one that occurs through July/August, and one that occurs in February/March. Ironically, we all just bought underwear.

Pizzeria Baffetto, salame

Friday, one of my classmates took us to her shawarma place. Huda, born in Syria but living in Qatar, had not eaten meat since she arrived to respect her faith. However, she found a little shop that served halal meat, and so she took us to the restaurant to get shawarma for lunch. I’d never had it before, but it was a flavorful treat for us all. Since the restaurant owner noticed that she kept coming back and bringing more friends with her, he gave us complimentary dessert: Syrian baklava! After lunch, I decided to treat myself with a pedicure. At this spa, Wellness Aquarium, there a tanks filled with garra rufa fish, who feast on the dead skin cells of feet. When I put my feet in, they flocked to my legs and began munching. It tickled, and I struggled not to laugh out loud. However, when I pulled my feet out at the end of the half hour, they were baby smooth!

Lamb shawarma, compliments of Huda
Syrian baklava with Huda and Mary Claire
Garra rufa
Very ticklish!


1 – Sono Tornataaa!

The First Gelato Upon Return

So I’m finally back in Rome, and I’m ecstatic. Not only does it feel like a homecoming, but I’m more confident than I’ve ever been in my conversational Italian abilities. Before I arrived here, I had taken part in a program with VoluntarItaly where I served as an English TA for a summer camp called GREST. There I was working with elementary school kids from 8:00a to 5:00p, so it’s been great to have time to myself these days.

On the first day of class, I had to run to catch the bus. While I was running, all I could think is, “First class back in Rome and I’m already running for transport. Typical.” Once I arrived at ItaliaIdea, I was told to go into classroom 6. Unknowingly, they had placed me in the beginner classroom. I thought to myself, “Okay, I can just stick it out the first week and maybe I’ll learn something new.” We started out by learning how to introduce ourselves, and I knew that if I was going to learn anything in the class, it would probably be at the end of the six weeks. I needed to switch out. Shortly after the mid class break, I asked the teacher to be switched to the proper level. I later found out that the man who had my correct placement had been out sick the day I arrived. I later met my proper classmates, most of which come from the U.S. and one from Barcelona.

Later Monday night, we went to Rec 23, a local bar that hosts a ‘language exchange’ every Monday night. At this exchange, Italians come to the bar to meet foreigners and practice another language that they are studying, whether it be English, Spanish, etc. I had gone before when I was abroad last year, and ended up making friends with some of the students of Universita’ Roma Tre. During the summer, the language exchange moves out by the Tiber River in a sort of festival called TeverEstate. It was nice to go with classmates and see new Italian faces. During the rest of the week, I got to know my classmates better and we all had lunch together in a park near Largo Argentina after my second class. My first in-class exam will be next Tuesday over conjunctions and direct and indirect pronouns. Wish me luck!

Park View from Tuesday’s Lunch

In addition to the SLA, I’ve been working on an application for the Fulbright Fellowship Program. It has been a bit weird doing the application abroad with remote advisor meetings. It feels strange to me that I’m working on this application to go abroad while I am abroad, but I’ve been sure to balance my time so I can work on the application and have meetings but still complete my assignments and engage the city.

Another pleasant highlight of the week was meeting an old friend, Flora, to go out on Friday night. I had met her and three other Italian students at the Rec 23 Language exchange last year. The others were back home in Calabria for the summer, however. We went to a bar called Black Market in Monti, a very chic neighborhood just east of the Colosseum. Tonight (Saturday), I am meeting one of my classmates and his visiting college friend for karaoke!