Another week down in Rome and I can not believe how fast the time is going. This halfway point has me in a mix of emotions. I can't wait to see my family when they come to Europe, but I also don't know if I'll ever be ready to leave. This last week has brought a lot of surprises and challenges, but also a lot of really amazing moments. With that, I'd like to share some things that I wish I had known/ brought with me and some really cool "off the beaten path" places in Rome that are definitely worth exploring.
Things I wish I had packed:
1. My first bit of advice for this is that no matter how many pinterest boards you look at about packing and studying abroad, none of them will really help you all that much at all in the long run. Italy was extremely hot when I arrived, but I just had to go and buy a winter coat last week. Packing is hard because there are so many variables: The weather is unpredictable, and your travel plans may change (example- I decided to go to Norway for Thanksgiving break in which I will need heavy winter stuff that I would never need in Italy).
In general, I wish I would have packed less summer dresses, another pair of jeans/ pants that are jean-isn (I brought three), and more dress clothes for things like presentations and fancy activities that we have done as a group (I brought about 1.5 outfits).
2. Another thing I wish I had packed was more cold medicine and cough drops. I brought enough to last me through about one cold... and now I have had about three or four colds. It gets a bit hard to take care of yourself when you are living with so many people, and It's so exhausting traveling all the time and going right to school.
And for my two things I wish I had known
1. Culture shock is so real.
It is sort of an emotional roller coaster. It seems that these moments come at a weird time, but just remember that it is totally naturally. I have seen all of my friends on this trip have a moment at one point or another. Sometimes you will just be brushing your teeth in the morning and you'll get really upset because you just want to go to Target and buy all your things in one place. Or I'll be walking around looking for a lunch spot, and then I'll get upset thinking about how I wish I could have my usual lunch date with my mom at Panera. Like I said, it's totally normal to have these moments and to miss things. These difficult moments will help you appreciate the good ones even more.
2. You will get more out of this experience if you have less expectations and an open mind.
You can't plan memories before they happen. Things don't always go as planned but I think that's sort of the beauty and fun of it all. Some of my favorite memories of this trip are ones that just sort of happened. The other day we got frustrated when our tickets for the Colosseum didn't work, so we started angry walking away and stumbled on this beautiful park that overlooked the city and had the most amazing day. Just keep a smile on your face and be open to things that seem to find you.
With that, here are some pictures from this last week here in Rome. I am flying to Paris today to do some studies on luxury retail design, so i'll be getting tours of Givenchy and Hermes and I AM SO EXCITED. Be on the lookout for my macaroon and Disneyland Paris pictures, and be sure to check out all of the new photos I edited from the Biennale on my photos page!
I'm Liz Bixenman, an interior design student living in Rome for the semester. When I'm not doing schoolwork, you can find me wearing a cat shirt, reading a book, and most likely eating more carbs than I'm proud of.