I am back in the glorious lands of Italy and specifically bouncing around the Eternal City! Eeeeeee! I’ve been grinning randomly on public transport thinking about the fact I’m here. This is my first time living in one of THE cities of the world. For most of my life I have lived less than an hour’s train ride to London and while London was amazing and fun, it’s kinda felt like home so I was desensitized to a degree. I imagine it is like living next door to a cool celebrity but then meeting your favourite. Rome, I am starstruck for you.
Whilst I have been blessed with a pretty easy ride while I have been here, my first evening was very different. My flight landed at 17:30, with my suitcase being the first on the conveyor belt- result! I took this as a good sign and confidently sauntered out of the airport, ignoring all the signs that might’ve told me where to go. I knew I was getting a bus to either Ciampino or Termini and then a train from there. I opted for a bus to Termini, knowing it is THE train station in Rome. During this time, I attempted to notify my family of my safe landing, only to be faced with the dreaded two words of the 21st Century: no service. At this point, my heart fell through my body onto the rocky Roman roads. Having been faced with these terrible two words for 3 weeks before my Christmas departure, I knew turning my phone off and on anyway would be useless. Nevertheless, as all desperate millennial adults have done before me, I tried the method I knew wouldn’t work. This gave me quite the dilemma. Not only was I unable to contact my family, but also the hosts of the Air BnB where I was planning to spend the next few nights. I had strategically chose my Air BnB to be close to the school that I was visiting the next day, then Saturday would come around and I would check-out to stay in an area strategic to my search for a flat. Unfortunately, that meant when I finally arrived at my station stop, there were no brilliant white taxis waiting to take me to my accommodation. Bear in mind it was about 9pm at this point and I had no map or idea which direction to go. I checked the bus stop- no map. I asked the bus driver and he had no clue where the road I was talking about. I glanced at the people sitting at the bus stop and since they looked at me as though I was a mosquito carrying the zika virus; I wasn’t inclined to ask them. I wandered back into the station, desperate for something but it was unmanned. I stood outside the station for a minute to take stock. I could either continue asking people or start walking and there was a 50% chance I would go in the wrong direction. I decided on the former and approach a using his phone. Using my best Italian, I asked if he knew where I had to go, and of course he had no idea where I was talking about either. Thankfully, he said that he would check on his phone. We found the place and he told me which bus to get and how many stops it was. Thank goodness. So, I drag myself back over to the bus stop and the number that I want doesn’t stop there. Just my luck. I was screaming internally when the hat man came up to me and asked if I wanted him to accompany me on foot. Don’t worry, I am not writing this from the grave nor am I a cat who has 9 lives. At that point, I felt like this was my last option. Thankfully, Daniele (hat man) was a lovely man who took my suitcase and walked with me, making me feel safe despite the scary Italian roads. Wherever you are Daniele, I thank you so much. So, I arrived at my accommodation at 9:30pm and the last time I ate properly, was a McDonald’s at 11:45am, but I was too exhausted, physically and mentally, to even care about sourcing a proper meal and made do with some malteasers and water.
Thankfully my travels the next day to my potential school went a lot better and I gave myself plenty of time. Minor disasters aside, the interview, which turned out to be more a discussion, went reasonably well and I am excited to get started. It will definitely be a challenge because I’ll be working with secondary aged children. What I am most interested by is the identities of the children. According to the staff, lots of the children are sons and daughters of diplomats. They have lived in a variety of different places depending on where their parents have been posted. Citizenship is one of the topics that my year abroad supervisor is most interested in, so I am looking forward to some exciting discussions about European/ international citizenship. Particularly in light of the current EU will we, won’t we. I for one don’t identify strongly with being European because my national identity is much stronger and we generally consider Europeans to be from the Continent. All exciting things to come.
Once I realised my discussion was going okay and they were going to let me volunteer, my stress turned to accommodation. Until I have a meeting with HR coordinator, she recommended a website to me before remembering that the Spanish teacher needed a roommate. In my head, I couldn’t believe that I could get everything sorted in the space of two hours. I was expecting my flat search to be stressful combination of getting lost and not liking any of the places I saw. So, I was not expecting much from this flat. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. The room isn’t big but it’s a double with a very comfortable bed. I got on well with my prospective flatmate and she has cats! The fluffiest, friendliest, fabulous cats I have ever met. All for 350 euros. Sold. By the end of my first full day I had a job (volunteering) and a room in a flat. Yay!
I am writing this with one of the fluffballs sitting on my stomach in front of my laptop, bumping me for attention. Tomorrow is the challenge of buying a bus pass, SIM card and joining a gym. Wish me luck!!
And a happy pancake day to you all for tomorrow! May your days be filled with the tastiest pancakes and the most glorious toppings!