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Travel Tips and Culture Scripts

I am not an expert but…

I have lived in Rome now for almost two weeks and I have been jotting down some things at the end of each day that I think future travelers will find helpful if they decide to come to Rome. So, for this post I am going to do something a little different. I would like to share with you some travel tips for coming abroad and also some cultural shocks that I have experienced in my time in Rome. So here we go!

Travel Tips

  • Try to book your flight abroad to arrive in the morning. I left the U.S. in the evening and landed in Rome at about 9:00 am. I found it much easier to adjust to the time and limit my recovery from jet lag. When I forced myself to stay awake until it got dark outside, it made the transition much easier.
  • Bring good walking shoes. I don’t know about other students but I am not necessarily used to walking 5+ miles a day. Even though they might not be fashionable, you’ll be glad you brought some shoes with cushion and comfort when walking down the cobblestone streets of Europe.
  • Invest in a battery-operated small fan. I am originally from Michigan, so you can say I am not used to sunny and hot weather every day of the week. A small fan was probably my favorite thing I brought. Air conditioning is not super common in apartments in Rome, so a small fan can really help to cool down the room and help with sleeping.
  • Utilize public transportation. As I mentioned, walking is very common in the city, but it can be avoided at certain times. The city of Rome has metro lines and public buses that run throughout different areas. Investing in a bus/metro pass can really speed up the time it takes to get from one point to another.
  • Be prepared for unexpected costs. Whether it’s something you forgot or something you did not think of, unexpected costs can arise at any time. It is important to bring along money for these possibilities.
  • Google maps is your best friend, so have data. Purchasing an international SIM card can save a lot of headaches and worry when abroad. Although they may be a little costly, they are so worth it when you need data to find out where to go.
  • Try to assimilate into the culture. Knowing a small amount of the native language will earn you respect among the locals. They seem to really appreciate the fact that you are trying to honor their culture and language.
  • Do your research. We learned very quick when not to go to certain attractions because of the swarms of people. If visiting Rome:
    • Go to the Colosseum after 4:00 pm. It seems like visitors want to go right away in the morning, so there are less lines and people in the afternoon.
    • The Trevi Fountain is best to go in the morning for limited crowds. We had tried in the late morning, afternoon, and late afternoon and it was crazy! The morning had much less people and it was easier to enjoy the beauty of the fountain.
    • The Spanish Steps are also best in the morning. My friend and I decided to go see the steps before class one day and it was the best decision. We were able to climb them and see the beauty of the city early in the morning.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends. If you have a SIM card, it makes it much easier to stay in touch with loved ones abroad. As much as they want you to enjoy yourself, they do want to make sure you are safe and want to hear about your travels, so don’t forget to call and send pictures!

 

Culture Shocks

  • Smoking is very popular. I am not sure if it is more tolerated or just more popular, but there is definitely more smoking in Rome than what I am used to back home. It seems like more than half of the locals are smoking on a daily basis.
  • Italians usually do not wear shorts. Part of assimilating into the culture is dressing like the locals, but it is a little difficult when they do not wear shorts. It is very hot out but the locals will still wear jeans and long sleeves in the summer months. They believe shorts are only for the beach (or so I’ve been told).
  • They live a more laid back lifestyle. It is common for Italians to be late or just more carefree, but it is part of their culture. In America, I am used to running from one thing to the next but here it is common to sit and chat for a while or just relax.
  • Their outlook on alcohol is much different. In Italy, they drink wine as part of their culture, not to get drunk. I think this is a really cool part of their culture because it seems like they have less problems with problems caused by drunk individuals.
  • They have a lot of pride in their country. A few days ago was the Italian Republic Day and there was a parade celebrating the holiday. It was so cool to see how much appreciation they had for their military and how much love they had for their country.
  • Many natives speak English. This came as quite a shock (but also a relief) to know that I could get by on my home language. I think this may be because of the amount of tourists, but I have not had trouble asking questions in English when I do not know how to ask in Italian.

 

It has been so fun being immersed into this beautiful city and culture. I hope these tips and observations can be of use to future travelers as they come abroad!

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