Getting Settled In

I arrived in Rome, Italy on Thursday August 26th and I feel as though the fact that I am studying abroad didn’t set in until several hours after I arrived. I am living the life that my past self dreamed about and that my somewhat recent past self was spending every moment preparing for.

The beautiful view from my apartment’s balcony in the Trastevere region of Rome

A few of my roommates and I went to get Italian SIM cards for our phones the day after we moved in. The SIM card was actually quite affordable. Only 30 euros to activate it and 10 euros a month for 70 gb of data and free calls to other Italian phone numbers. I’ve kept in contact with everyone back in the United States through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. We went and got them at a TIM location, one of the most popular phone companies in Italy. We took the tram to Piazza Venezia where the TIM store was and we stumbled upon this gorgeous building which we later learned is called Palazzo Venezia and has served as the Embassy of the Republic of Venice. The picture doesn’t do it justice, I’ve noticed since arriving here that everything is bigger in person than it looks in pictures. If you look at the cars at the bottom of the photo, you can kind of get an idea of the sheer size of this building.

Palazzo Venezia in Piazza Venezia

On Sunday, the RAs at the American University of Rome had planned a beach trip to Santa Marinella Beach, which is about an hour long train ride outside of Rome. Once we got off of the train, we were given very little guidance as to how to get to the beach. I quickly googled the particular beach we were at and found out that for most of the beach you are required to pay roughly 40 euros per person for a chair and umbrella (picture 1) and were not allowed to put your stuff down in the sand. One particular article I found said that there is a section of beach that is free, two of my friends and I saw no reason to spend 40 euros and were very committed to finding this free beach. With no address or any idea how to get there, we began wandering along the coast, hoping to find it. I wore dollar store flip flops, not anticipating that I would be doing much walking once we got off the train. I quickly regretted this decision and after getting two blisters, I decided to walk barefoot wherever my feet could tolerate the hot ground. After walking back and forth for what felt like at least an hour, we finally found it. It looked almost like a private beach with a beautiful ocean overlook (picture 2) but there was a small street sign with an even smaller piece of paper attached to it that said “Spiaggia Libera – Free Beach.” Calling it a beach was a bit of an exaggeration. The “beach” was completely covered in rocks (picture 3), it was hard to find a comfortable spot to sit and it was incredibly difficult getting into the water. But honestly none of that really mattered, it was absolutely beautiful. After multiple days of constantly walking in 90 degree heat, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea felt amazing.

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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