Well, I survived my first day of doing as the Romans do- except I kind of skipped that whole fitting in part more than I intended.
Once we arrived at the airport in Rome, shuttles took each group of roommates in the program to their respective apartments. After unpacking a bit, I decided to go running while most of my roommates slept.
Getting lost is always part of the plan for running- whether it’s in my thoughts or exploring my surroundings aimlessly. However, in attempt to avoid the busy cobblestone streets that afternoon, I ran down many random alleys and onto isolated streets to find less chaos.
Normally, I run towards familiar landmarks and find my way back to my starting point. Yesterday this was not the case. Somehow I was always going farther from where I should be.
As I mentioned, I have yet to fit in. I could see and hear the bewilderment of the Romans as I passed them. People don’t really run here, and if they do it’s not on busy sidewalks and streets. It was like all residents were thinking, “Why is this American girl running and why is it happening here?”
After being lost for over an hour, I saw their point.
Our apartment is on Via Baccina and is near the Colosseum. That’s about all the information I had seeing as it was our first day there. I asked for directions from about 7 different people. The police meant well, but the directions in Italian didn’t quite translate. Speaking of, my improper pronunciation of our street name didn’t help.
Eventually, I found a map through a tourist kiosk. Don’t worry the irony of being finding my way around by getting lost running was not lost on them.
I realized storeowners must speak English to communicate with tourists, and started going to them for directions. They were the most helpful by far. One wonderful woman working at a bakery came outside with me to show me which direction to go. I plan on going back to the bakery to thank her and buy everything.
After two hours of being lost, I couldn’t have been happier to see Via Baccina and sprinted up the stairs to my apartment, so happy to be back. Three out of my four roommates were sleeping (clearly missed me), so I detailed my troubles to my roommate Emily.
Although stressful, this experience allowed me to see more parts of Rome than any other student sees on their first day, practice releasing my ego by asking for help, and develop a determination to learn the Italian language. In the US, someone would never walk into a store speaking Italian, and expect to be understood. So why should I expect Italian policeman to speak English? I hope learning Italian will allow me to become more integrated and confident in the Roman culture; or at the least, help me in my future running endeavors.
This morning, I decided to opt out of another running adventure for sunrise yoga in our living room. I haven’t gotten lost since, so clearly I’m making progress.