People warned me about the catcalling

Picture this: you just took your seat on your 11 hour flight from the United States to spend a semester in Rome, Italy away from your family and friends. What are you supposed to expect from somewhere so far with a different culture and language than where you are from? I decided it was best to not set any expectations so I wouldn’t be dissapointed. Although I was looking forward to a few different things, from the homemade pasta and delicious red wines to the picturesque views of the ancient city. After spending almost 4 months in Rome I can definitely say I’ve had mostly positive experiences with a few negative ones.

The pasta is everything you’d expect and more. The noodles are cooked perfectly and at some restaurants the dough is even being rolled and prepared right in front of you. The sauce whether it be a red or white sauce has a fresh taste different than what you get in the U.S. Aside from only pasta, the food in general tastes much fresher and healthier here. There is no need to order an expensive bottle of wine when the house bottle for 14 euros tastes excellent. On the other hand, my impression of the restaurant service would be not so positive. The restaurants are usually crowded with waiters running around and usually forgetting about the Americans sitting in the corner. I now know there is no such thing as a “short dinner” in Rome but when the food comes out it was worth the wait.

People warned me about the cat-calling and men of Italy, but I didn’t really think anything of it before I came, but they were right. My impression of the Italian man is negative from my experience here. They tend to stare and look at you up and down as you walk past and mumble something in Italian that I’m sure is not appropriate. The 35 year old male trainer at the gym I joined decided it was alright to ask me out on a date and make kissy faces at me while I was taking his class. Needless to say he was a little too touchy for my liking and I stopped taking classes taught by him.

Rome has succeeded my non-set expectations in regards to food, culture, wine, things to do, and just being an overall amazing city to live in. Although the impression I have on the men is more negative, it makes for funny stories to share with people when I get home. Rome is an unforgettable place and feels like home to me now.

2019. In collaboration with the American University of Rome.