Hi! I’m Emily, a bachelor of design in architecture student in my third year.
I am uncomfortably full from a home cooked meal of something involving fresh ravioli, zucchini and ragu. The ingredients here are always fresh. For someone who likes to cook, Italy is a dream. We are working our way into our third week in Roma and I am finally starting to learn some Italian primarily from reading ingredient lists. The language barrier was awkward at first and I spent my first week here miming and pointing and shaking my head in shops and restaurants. Now I am more comfortable admitting that I am an american with absolutely no Italian language skills and have found most people to be patient and forgiving. Just today I was attempting to buy a loaf of bread and, after a failed exchange between the baker and myself, a very sweet woman stepped in to help me out. These exchanges are not uncommon and are bolstering my faith in humanity. Even so, I miss the basic human interactions between strangers on the street that come so naturally with a common language. Up until this trip, my first experience being immersed in another language, I always took these interactions for granted. I miss being able to talk to strangers. Even so, my time here so far has been exhilarating and the prospect of being able to explore a new part of Rome gets me out of bed every morning.
The first few days here I was so excited to see the city that I would leave the house at 8 am (jet lag) and come back only when my feet were absolutely shot around 6 or 7 in the evening. By now, we have all become accustomed to the increased amount of walking this city necessitates as well as more efficient at navigating. I have also managed to curb my enthusiasm in part due to a lovely set of blisters and the understanding that one person could never experience all of Rome even in a life time. The vastness of the city was apparent after a few days of walking but after two excellent lectures from Antonella and our continuing exploration of our sites, Rome’s vastness has begun to stretch out across time as well.
Every city is a product of the lives it enables, a continual layering of experiences, ideas, and the menial habits which fill in the gaps, but Rome’s layers are thicker than any city I have ever experienced before. The context this density of space and memory creates is fascinating. Just the way the streets function is so excellent to me: cars and people and bikes and mopeds and dogs and outdoor seating for restaurants all on top of each other in a space that averages about as wide as a one car garage. I wish I could impose the system on an American city but I know that the only reason it works so beautifully here is the culture.
So much of Rome is like this. I am glad that we have been given the opportunity to study this place through drawing as opposed to merely the lens of a camera and a tour guide. After Ozayr releases us upon a new destination, we can be found sporadically perched in any number of precarious vantage points, furiously sketching as the flood of tourists flows noisily past us. As a result, I would like to think that we are able to appreciate these places more than the selfie takers. Whether this is true or not, I intend to continue this practice after the trip. If nothing else, this trip has given me an appreciation for the value of sketching.
It can all be a bit overwhelming at times but when that happens I duck into a cafe, get another one of the best cappuccinos of my life and take a deep breath. We’re in Roma! How amazing is that!?