FIRST WEEK IN ROME
The adjustment and culture shock hasn’t been as hard as we anticipated, but we’re still currently living in a hotel and Jaime hasn’t returned to work full time so it’s been more of a mini-vacation/honeymoon. Our sleep schedule is finally starting to normalize. During our first couple of days, we were crashing in the afternoon and waking up in the middle of the night, which resulted in us staying up through the morning and then leaving to sightsee on no sleep. During the first week, we walked over 52 miles. When you come to visit Rome, make sure to come with good shoes. Many streets are cobblestone and the unevenness of the ground will wreck your lower half the first couple days.
My favorite adopted Italian custom is stopping by a bar every morning for a cappuccino e cornetto. I know what you’re thinking, stopping by a bar every morning? In Italy, bars are where you find coffee and pastries and most also serve lunch and alcohol later in the day. The next time you visit Italy and need some coffee, find a “bar” sign and you’ll find your liquid gold. Whether that’s caffeine or alcohol for you, there’s no judgment here; for us, it’s both. Cornetto means “little horn” and is the Italian version of a French croissant. My favorite cornetto is cornetto
caffe e cornetto (coffee and croissant)
cappuccini (two cappuccinos)
We’re currently staying in a neighborhood called Parioli and we’ve been told by many locals that it’s the “Beverly Hills” of Rome. They weren’t lying because we walked by a Lamborghini SUV just casually parked on the street. Like…what? It’s a beautiful neighborhood, but it’s also a 40-60 minute walk to the tourist attractions and popular neighborhoods.
Lamborghini SUV in Parioli
Because of the distance, we have spent a lot of time walking the city and in the last week, we became familiar enough to navigate to quite a few places without having to use Google Maps. We got access to the US Embassy and there’s a Navy Exchange in the compound which means…AMERICAN GROCERIES. We realize it’s a luxury most expats don’t have and we’re very thankful to have the comfort of home when we need it. It’s the little things that start making a place feel like home Even if
Meat counter at the grocery store
It’s also the little things that make you homesick. If you follow my personal Instagram, you know how much I love to cook; the kitchen is my comfort place and where I spend the majority of my time when I’m home. One of my favorite weekly tasks was grocery shopping. I loved discovering new ingredients, buying fresh produce, and restocking the fridge with new items to cook with. With Italian grocery stores, everything is in a language that is foreign to me, they don’t carry some of the items from back home (like chili powder), some items I’m completely unfamiliar with, and everything is in metric units. All these are manageable through time, but every little difference contributes to how much more difficult something I really loved has become. It’s honestly a little intimidating to grocery shop and
taglio at counter at the grocery store. Taglio means “cut”, so pizza al taglio are long slabs of pizza seen in the photo above that are cut and ordered by weight.
Although getting around Rome is less of a struggle than we expected because everyone speaks a fair amount of English, I try my hardest to converse with the Italian I know (about 1%) because it’s really important to me to attempt speaking in the country’s official language rather than assuming others speak English. This usually ends in a trap for me (created by me) because whoever I’m speaking with will continue speaking in Italian and I can’t understand 99% of the language.
Aside from the grocery shopping and the language, it’s the “normal” things we do every day that in a new country make you realize you’re not at home. If you haven’t been to Rome, let me fill you in on the adventures of crossing the street. Pedestrians truly do have the right of way here, but it doesn’t come without its own risks. Many pedestrian crosswalks don’t have crossing signals like we’re used to in the United States. This means if you want to cross, you need to step out into oncoming traffic. The advice we were given was to make eye contact with the motorist as you are crossing and they will stop. So far we have been successful, but it’s anxiety-inducing every time. If you are crossing a two-way street, it is terrifying. Along with driving and crossing the street, their parking is unlike anything we’ve experienced in the United States. Based on what we’ve seen around the city if an area looks like a car will fit, someone will make sure
Parking in Parioli
Parking in Parioli
Cars parked on the median
Cars creating their own lane of parking in the middle of the street, giving enough room on each side for cars to get in and out.
It was confirmed this past week that my visa processed through the military is not a working visa. The visa I have allows me to stay in the country however long Jaime is here, so the only way to work within my career in Rome is to find a job with a company who is willing to sponsor me. We’re not entirely sure what the next steps are or exactly what options I have for employment, but we’re taking it one day at a time and for now, focusing on finding our Italian home. Even with the struggles of moving to a new country and assimilating to a new culture, we’re surviving and
Love and miss everyone,