Living like the Italians

(February 17th)

This week I spent a lot of time in Rome. I took time every day to leave the green gates of Loyola and do some exploring. I went to a new museum, two new restaurants, and three new café’s. I’ve learned quite a bit since moving here last August and have absolutely fallen in love with this city, all of Italy and Italian culture.

When we arrived last summer, much of our little neighborhood of Balduina was closed due to the holiday –in Italy most Italians take a couple weeks off in late summer and leave the city due to the heat, and desire for a vacation. It gave us all a chance to fall in love with quiet little Balduina, until all the Italians came back to liven things up a bit. The stores opened and life was added to the streets of Monte Mario. Now when I walk down these streets I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Our street! Via Massimi

Our street! Via Massimi

On Thursday morning I gathered all my books and headed down the hill a ways to a little café -actually named Petit Café- to get some work done. As I drank my cappuccino and ate my chocolate cornetti, I listened to the quickly spoken Italian being conversed alongside me, and it was a nice, but brief distraction from my abundance of reading that needed to be done. I love listening to Italian and even more so, watching Italian’s speak because of their excessive use of hand gestures. To them, it’s crucial to the conversation. Something that hasn’t changed since I arrived in Rome is how beautiful the language is to me.

I had a friend ask me the other day something I learned since I moved to Rome. I was quick to respond about all the personal growth and educational experience the administration had promised me upon arrival that was now true, but realized that there were dozens of details about Rome itself that were far better to hear about than any of my personal achievements. For example, the Italians dress for the season not the weather. I find myself ripping off my heavy coat after running to catch a 990 due to the rise in my body temperature, but the Italians won’t undo one button because to them, looking good is more important than comfort. Another example is that the pace of life here is much different than what I’m used to back home. It should drive me crazy that the buses don’t run on a schedule –and sometimes it does- but you learn to just take everything as it comes. There’s no use rushing or being worried or anxious all the time. The Italians stand for an hour drinking their coffee and talking with one another. They take time out of their day to eat meals with their family, and we often do that in the States too, but I’ve found it less and less common as the years go by. This is a lesson that I was hesitant to learn at first, because it differed so much from what I’m used to, but ultimately needed to. It’s important to not rush things all the time, whether that means just giving yourself more time to do certain things I’m not sure, but what you lose in efficiency you gain in quality of life.

When I have to move back to Minnesota come May, I will miss the little things that have made Rome what it is to me. These small details are just part of the reason why I have fallen in love with this city. It’s a good reminder to appreciate the small parts of our daily life here, to make the most out of this experience –rather a blessing- living here in Roma.

View from bedroom window one morning

View from bedroom window one morning


About Anna Johnson

I am from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, a small town right outside of the Twin Cities! I am studying Business, with a focus in Marketing and maybe a minor in Italian. I chose the Rome Start program because I wanted international experience and what better way than to start my college experience here in Roma! The best part about Rome Start is having Europe at my fingertips for an entire year, and learning in the heart of the eternal city.
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