Already missing the food.
As my ten weeks in Rome come to an end, I am so glad I decided to join a study abroad program, mostly for the chance to live like a local outside the United States for a short period of time.
Here are the things I will miss most about Rome and definitely keep in mind for daily life in the States.
Roman grocery stores are small and maze-like, often in basements and have a limited selection of each item – practically the polar opposite of massive stores like Costco and Walmart. While you can only walk through one way- and don’t dare try and go backwards- the Italian grocery store aesthetic is unparalleled. Pink-lit salami fridges, amazing produce, every kind of pesto imaginable and massive chunks of pecorino romano for $3; they are pretty much a dream. Everything is shockingly inexpensive compared to American grocery stores. It is rare to find an item over three or four dollars, and weekly grocery trips often cost me less than $30. I will deeply miss the fresh pasta section, gorgeous artichokes and perfectly sweet yogurt. But I will definitely keep with the Italian trend of using what is in season by learning more fun recipes.
On the subject of food, being able to stumble into any restaurant and get a fantastic meal is something I take for granted here. Fast food is pizza made with quality ingredients; suppli, which are fried mozzarella, rice and tomato balls; along with fresh fruit vendors scattered across piazzas and farmers markets. Simple, good ingredients are valued all across Italy, and I strongly notice the difference from the US, both in how I feel and how easy it is to venture out.
Taking a step back from the American lifestyle allowed me to notice how “stuff-driven” life is in the States. Even the nicest apartments in Rome don’t have much furniture, opting for function over style and an aesthetic that Americans would see as extreme minimalism. Cheap, accessible furniture stores don’t really exist here, like TJ Maxx and Target. Instead, gorgeous tile, stained glass, long windows and high ceilings are staples of Italian apartments, not an excess of material things.
I think some additional pieces to my successful study abroad were walking everywhere and getting more sun. Rome has basically been a Vitamin D reboot, and I’ve learned the importance of staying active even when Tacoma is rainy and horrible. I had to persevere through the first few weeks of rain, attending outdoor classes at the Roman Forum drenched and still walking to the grocery store every day. I hope to continue walking everywhere and staying active on campus during the winter.
When I return to Tacoma, I’ll immediately be getting pho from Pho Bac on Hilltop. But in the long term, I will be trying to incorporate more aspects of my amazing study abroad into my daily life.