The first few days in Rome were amazing but tiring. When we arrived we had time to put our bags down and head out for our first Italian dinner and to explore. We ate at a restaurant that had amazing spicy pizza. I am someone who loves spicy foods and looks for every way possible to break a sweat while eating. They provided us with spicy oil that tasted extravagant and tasted like something that was expected of Italian food.

The Vatican, the Forums, and even walking around Rome was extraordinary for me. The Vatican was beautiful with every intricate detail from the ceiling all the way down to the floor. The journey up to the forum was a tough one, but once we finally arrived and got to see the beautiful view it all seemed worth it. While up at the top we saw some seagulls that did not seem friendly but were very comfortable with being near us. Jaden tried to feed it an orange. It caught it right into its mouth! The people in Rome seemed amazing. It was interesting to hear the locals engaged in conversations and to listen to all of the live music playing.

Finally we arrived in the place we will call home for the next 3 months. Our flight touched down around 6:00, so it was already dark outside. It took us 45 minutes to get to our island and when we pulled up in front of our hotel I was astounded. The water front was right outside of our doors and to hear the waves crashing and smell the smell of the sea got me so excited for the next 3 months. The morning was even better. Seeing all of the sights in the daytime was even more amazing. The streets, the sea, the people, the school have all been nothing less then perfect.

The reason I decided to join is because I knew it would look good on my resume depending on the job I want to obtain in the future. I was not very interested in the classes themselves, but the idea of getting more cultural experience under my belt. I previously went on a mission trip for 9 days to the Dominican Republic. I learned a lot about myself as a person and about the culture around me. If I could learn as much as I did in 9 days while in a different culture, how much could I learn in 3 months? This question was the main reason I committed to this program.

Most of my expectations were far from true. The first expectation I had was that the bathrooms would be smaller, but toilets and showers would be all the same. Boy was I wrong. You’re not supposed to flush the toilet as often as you do in the U.S., while disposing of the toilet paper in the wastebasket. The showers have less water pressure and the heat of the water runs out quickly. It is weird not being able to drink a glass of water or brush our teeth with the sink water because it is so salty. Another expectation I had would be regarding the food market. I thought the food market would be small and the same things at every stand. This is also not the case. There are many stands set up with different things at each. Shrimp are one of my favorite foods, so when I got to see how much shrimp I could get for 2 euros; I was a very happy camper. I also thought that the market would be expensive and would be hard to get to every day for meal supplies. Turns out, it is more than affordable and at a great location.

Overall my first days in Italy were everything I could have asked for and more. They were filled with lots of tiring walking, amazing site seeing, and different cultural experiences. I am excited for the next couple months I will spend here in Ortigia, as well as visiting other extraordinary places on this side of the world.