operation orientation.

The theme of this afternoon? we did it.

After 18 hours of traveling, nearly 30 miles walked in the city, 2 and a half days of non-stop tours, introductions, and handouts: we survived orientation.

I’m not exaggerating in the least here, folks. The days were long. But I’m not complaining either, because every day brought us to a new part of Rome and confirmed why we are putting ourselves through this initial misery:

Rome is the most beautiful city in the whole world.

day one:

Leave from MSP airport in the afternoon

day two (lack of overnight sleep may qualify as a continuation of day one):

Amsterdam, to Rome, to our new apartment. We unpacked in the early afternoon, napped in the sun, made introductions, and quietly submerged into feelings of confusion and foreignness.

day three:

Refreshed, we mapped our way to the ACCENT center and, with paper maps, made it there by 9am. A raw lecture probably titled “don’t get yourself killed here”, was sandwiched between a croissant/expresso breakfast and pizza lunch. In Rome, everyone gets there own pizza. And that’s when I knew I was in the right place.

Lunch was followed by a walking tour of Rome, and we saw it all! From beautiful piazzas such as Navona and Campo de Fiori, to romantic hang outs like the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain. Of course we saw the main attractions too: the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Roman Forum. And so many more! Then went home and fell asleep. Partly because we didn’t have wifi, but mostly because we were burned out.

side note:Ā A pedometer would later report we walked 12 miles on this day.

side note: jet lag is real.

day four: we were up early again in the rainy weather, excitedly trekking to our 9am tour of St. Peters Basilica. It was given by my new professor, Sean Lovett, who is head of communications for the Vatican. Yes, the whole thing. Great guy with an interesting story to tell, and I will so be looking forward to my class with him. More on the Vatican later.


Post-tour, our school treated us to a traditional 3-course Italian lunch. It started with a oil, cheese, and pepper linguini pasta, followed by melt-in-your-mouth eggplant lasagna, and a creamy vanilla flan with chocolate sauce for dessert.

I don’t really have any words for that.

The rest of the day we took a “crash-course” in “survival Italian” from Mario, the Italian professor. Let’s just say I likely did not survive the crash – I’ve got a lot of work to do.

day five:

Today was already day five! We started the morning with a tour of Castel Sant’Angelo. Let me give you a crash course in that: It’s a fortress the Emperor Hadrian originally began nearly 2000 years ago. Hadrian did some pretty cool stuff in his days – he built the north wall of Rome, rebuilt the Pantheon, even had the same birthday as my grandpa Frankie (January 24th)! But like all emperor’s he had some secrets, like his 16-year-old male lover, Antonio. Who then drown himself to “give the remaining years in his life to Hadrian”. Yikes. Anyways, the Pope also fled to this scary building in the dark days AND housed prisoners there. Cool.

The tour really sketched me out, but if you’re in to art history and feeling a little creepy-crawly, definitely do this. If dungeons aren’t your thing, walk past all museum signs, skip the audio tour, and climb to the top. The view is absolutely worth it.


Rome is unreal. After the official end of the tour, a few new friends and I headed down to Via del Corso to window shop in the likes of Prada, Versace, and Fendi. I settled on a 9 euro grey sweatshirt from H&M because I didn’t bring one and I am cold when I sleep. I also grabbed a cute winter hat at Brandy Melville & my first gelato.


So orientation is over. Tomorrow, I will visit the market in Tresevere and my best friend, Alleigh. Then school starts on Monday. As always, I’ll keep you posted!

Ciao, for now!

3 thoughts on “operation orientation.

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