By Hannah Laub
Okay, I hate to start off this way, because most people are probably reading this in Peirce. But I’m supposed to talk about my experience studying abroad in Rome, and the first thing I need to say is that the food is absolutely amazing. Readers are probably rolling their eyes at this; Rome is known for its cuisine, and my words are no surprise.
However, I came here expecting good food, but that expectation did not mean anything, simply because I did not know what good food was until I came here. I could sufficiently convey my study abroad experience by writing the words “pizza, pasta and gelato” over and over again until I filled up enough space, and I would feel satisfied. However, the reason the food is so good is probably a little more interesting to explain. The food here is fresh and natural in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Every couple of days, my roommates and I will venture off to one of the many fresh food markets around Trastevere, our neighborhood in Rome. At these markets, we get a few staples that will last us a couple of meals; we pick up some fruit, bread, cheese and vegetables.
We never get more than we can carry in one canvas bag, and we generally alternate between indoor and outdoor markets. I have never had much of an interest in cooking, but it was impossible for me to sustain that apathy when I started tasting the just-picked peaches and the finely-crafted cheese. With the help of Marcella Hackbardt, one of Kenyon’s favorite photography professors, and my housemates, I’m finally learning how to cook on my own. Perhaps only my mom will understand what a feat this is.But enough about the food. As a girl who grew up around mountains and farmland, I never thought much of cities. How can gray buildings be beautiful? But Rome is different. Small alleyways and tall, colorful buildings are all around, and the Tiber River reflects dazzling lights during the nighttime.Ivy grows on walls, and delicious smells from bakeries and pizzerias waft into the streets around every corner. Sometimes it seems just as ideal and romantic as it does in the movies.
My experience so far, however, has not been perfect. It is hard to leave family at home and friends at Kenyon, and to say goodbye to some wonderful people until senior year. It is definitely hard adjusting to the stares and catcalls that are more common in Italy and trying to accept that behavior as a cultural difference. I have just moved to a foreign country for the first time, and I have obviously encountered difficulties that I haven’t mentioned here. I’m sure there are many more ahead. But for now, I am in Rome, and it is beautiful, and I am grateful for this opportunity.
I apologize if this article is boring, but honestly I could be eating gelato, and I’d rather not spend another minute editing this on my computer.