Heather in Rome

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Thursday, September 29

First impressions

I am here. Life is good. I made it safely to the ESM last night, went running this morning to St. Peter's Square and back, not suffering from any jet lag.
That last point is pretty nice. So far there are four Americans who have arrived. Janelle from Seattle, Chris from MA, and Monty and I. As far as I know, the rest of them are still in bed even though it's 11 am here. I managed to sleep at the beginning of my flight and that helped me adjust to Italian time. I went to bed last night at 11 pm, woke up at 8 am, ate and went for the run I mentioned. So no jet lag. Yea!!!
Let's see, first impressions from the trip. British Airways is a nice airline. Meals, little travel kits to make the flight better, complete with eyecovers and a toothbrush with paste. Good movies too, but I only saw The Interpreter because I was trying to sleep. Monty, on the other hand, couldn't sleep, watched 3 movies, and is especially tired.
Speaking of Monty, it was nice to have a travel buddy. We made it onto the express train into the heart of Rome easily. (When we were in the station at the airport I was attacked by mosquitos. It's really weird because I have about 10 bites located only near my knees and those bites have grown into large bumps. I seem to have a more than normal allergic reactions to mosquito bites.) Once we got off the train, we wandered for a long distance through the train station to get to the buses. We would leave our stuff with one person while the other ran around trying to find out where to buy the bus tickets and where we were supposed to go. I have a rolling suitcase, but Monty has the old school kind that doesn't roll straight so he had a rough time carrying it through the station. We definitely looked like tourists who overpacked, but we're going to be out here for a long time and needed a larger selection of clothing than the average visitor.
Once we made it to the bus with the help of free luggage carts (thank you God for the luggage carts) I needed Monty's muscles to get my almost 70 lb. suitcase into the bus. I would reverse into the bus, Monty would pass his pack to me and then the suitcases, and then he would climb on. We did that three times, on the bus to St. Peter's, then back on that bus after we had gotten off and realized we didn't get off at the right stop, and then onto bus 46 to the school. Once we got off the bus we had to walk 150 ft or so to the school. We landed at the airport at 5:30 pm and arrived at the school at 9 pm. I had to laugh at how silly we must have looked.
Now to the school. We are in a hotel owned by the Emmanuel Community so it's interesting. There are tourists in the rooms across from us. Not really a place I can feel comfortable walking around in my pajamas or barefoot. At least so far. The floor is tile, the bathroom is smll with a bathtub that is deep and small without a curtain so I had to sit down to use it so I wouldn't spray water everywhere. The community floor has a kitchen, cateferia style eating room, small circle of couches to hang out. It is in need of some coziness. We can see the top of the dome of St. Peter's from the balcony off the main room.
We head for Assisi on the 1st and will be there for the Feast of St. Francis. When we get back we are assigned rooms. Five people arrive today I believe. It turns out that there are 7 Americans, people from Indonesia, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark?. I don't remember anybody else.
Well, off I go to practice Italian. After trying to get around the city and people having to talk to me in English, I am determined to pick up the language. Peace all!

Tuesday, September 27

Almost there...Plus my contact info

I leave for Rome in less than 19 hours. It's so close! I should be in bed, getting a good night's rest, but there is still so much to do. Return an adaptor that I found for a cheaper price elsewhere, contact the bank so my parents can access my bank account while I'm gone, remember not to forget my hair or toothbrush and then try to find a place for them in the luggage. They may be small, but the luggage is pretty darn full.

I sewed a bag for my backpacking pack because I hear baggage handlers can really do a number on a pack, tearing straps off or tearing holes. No way am I checking my bag unprotected. Speaking of my pack, it weighs a lot. I put it on to weigh it and now my lower back hurts. I didn't use the hip belt, which takes a lot of the weight off your back. And my pack is the lighter of the two. Good thing I'm not shouldering my suitcase. It is almost 70 pounds, the max for international flight. A lot of the weight is from books. Travel books, learn to speak Italian books, a Bible and Catechism. All that paper adds up fast. I just hope I don't have to lift it very much when getting on the train and bus. Oh no, the bus. Getting the suitcase on the bus with a pack on is not going to be easy.

Anyway, here is my contact information for the year. Address: Domus Aurelia, Via Aurelia 218, 00165 Roma Italia. Phone number: 0039 06 39 36 59 52. You can call between 2-3:30 pm and 8:30-10:30 pm. Italy is 9 hours ahead of CA I think.

Alright, I've got to get off this machine. Time is awastin'.

Saturday, September 10

17 Days till Departure

I leave in 17 days for Rome. It's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Exciting because a whole new world awaits me in Rome, filled with people to meet, cultures to experience, a language to learn. Not to mention the most important thing, a vibrant Catholic community where my faith can deepen and grow in ways I can only dream of. It is sure to be a transformative year and that is exciting.

The nerve-wracking part comes with the newness of this experience. I've never been to Europe, needed to get a visa, tried to pack 10 months worth of clothing into two checked bags, been away from my family that long. It's interesting because I've never had a problem taking off in the summers for 3 months at a time and leaving the family behind. But this time it's a long time, close to 300 days. No holidays together, birthdays, a family wedding. I guess with my dad getting sick last year I've come to appreciate my family more and the fact that something could happen and they could be taken from me while I'm off cavorting around the world. So there will be sadness, but I'm sure the excitement of being in Europe will cover that soon enough.

As far as stepping into the unknown is concerned, while it can be nerve-wracking tracking all the details and paperwork, that is what I live for. To do new things, to test oneself by getting out of the comfort zone. That is where life is lived and the greatest growth gained. So I look forward to it.

On the practical note of what I'm up to, my visa application is in but there could be problem with getting a study visa when I'm supposed to get a religious activities visa. The American based consulates aren't very cooperative from what I'm hearing. I'm still raising money slowly. Financial matters always bring about stress and I'm trying somewhat unsuccessfully not to worry about it. I know God will provide. Sometimes it just takes longer than we plan on. I'm going to start packing things today, seeing how much space various items will take up. And in a few days I'll start up cleaning the garage again so there is room for the stuff I'm leaving behind. So much to do in 17 days!