I arrived into Rome late Thursday night. We were looking for a taxi and an airport guy called for a taxi for us. It ended up being a black shuttle where 4 other Americans were in. We were hesitant to get into this shuttle because it was unmarked, but they insured us it was a legal airport service and there were others in there too. Three of the Americans ended up being from the Minnesota and one actually went to St. Thomas. Crazy who you will run into across the world. Anyways, our taxi driver got a little lost and frustrated trying to get us to where we needed to go. Lucky for us we only had to pay a flat rate and so the meter was not running constantly. When we finally arrived at our place, we were late and the last ones to check in. It wasn’t bad and I just ended up unpacking and going to bed right away.
The next day was the start of orientation. We started the day with breakfast at a real Italian bakery. There I had a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino. We were then showed our school, St. John’s, and CEA. They are both about a 45 minute walk from our apartments. This will take getting use to since in Greece, it was a 5 minute walk to school. We then were treated to a nice lunch where we got to try pizza, rice balls and pasta. Orientation ended with an Italian lesson. At night, everyone caught up with everyone’s week break.
The second day of orientation consisted of two walks. The first walk we went on was a neighborhood walk where we were shown god places to eat and how to grocery shop like a real Italian. The second walk was a longer walk. We were given little headsets like true tourist in which our history professor would talk to us in. We walked all around ancient Rome. We saw the Pantheon, Parliament, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and many other famous places. At night, we all went to bed early because we had to get up super early to get a good spot to see the Pope.
The following day, Sunday, I got up at 4:30am and we left our apartment at 5:30am to walk to the Vatican. It was around a 30 minute walk where we waited in line for the gates to open at 7am and then mass to start at 10:30am. It was a long wait, but it was worth it to see the Pope. The Vatican was super cool and the mass was very unique. It is a normal Catholic mass, but I could not understand what they were saying because it was all in Latin or Italian. Communion time was very interesting. There were around 100 priests that gave out communion. They each had their own security guard with an umbrella. We had to crowd to the side to receive communion and at the Vatican there is no receiving on your hands just tongue. This was my first time receiving communion on my tongue. When mass was over, Pope Francis came around on his Popemoblie. I was in the third row next to the center aisle; therefore, I got to see the Pope twice and he was very close to me both times. It was amazing! We didn’t leave the Vatican until around 1 pm, which resulted in a very long day. I came back to the apartment and took a nap and caught up on everything. Tomorrow is my first day of classes in Rome. I have three classes and will be staying at the school the whole day because of the far walk. The day is going to be very long ranging from 8:30am to 8pm. Internet has been very slow in Rome, so we will see how often/on time my posts will actually be. Sorry!