It’s been a little while, readers! After a week full of midterm exams and presentations, and then a week off for fall break, I’m back to a normal pace in Rome. By normal, I mean... I’m writing this from my bed and procrastinating. Nevertheless, I’m hoping that the pace of the latter half of this semester will be kind to my sleep schedule and homework motivation.
That said, I’ve become very aware that my time here is more than halfway over.
But I’ll go more into that much later.
Last week, I traveled to Ireland and Scotland with too-brief visits in Dublin, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. It was my first trip outside of Italy this semester, and my first time in both countries. Despite being coincidentally surrounded by Italian tourists, the spaces were so different from Italy, presented within three key differences: food, language, and weather. From the start of our trip, my travel friend and I decided to embrace and soak in the therapeutic feelings of a chilly, rainy fall (we’re both from the midwest), eat all the hearty non-pizza/pasta food we possibly could, and feel relaxed not having to process foreign languages while conversing. Deciphering English in other accents was another experience, however.
In each space, our American-ness definitely still showed, but less obviously than in Italy. Nobody could tell where we were from until our accents came out, but there was hardly a divide in treatment. Sometimes in Italy, we get treated or considered differently for being American, but it didn’t feel that way on our trip this week.
Dublin was cute and friendly, in fact we were surprised by how friendly everybody was (even in their Halloween costumes). At night, the city center transforms into what I can only describe as a dream furnished in colorful lights reflecting from its river. We wandered everywhere, and were lucky to stumble upon picturesque sights everywhere we turned. On the first night, we walked three kilometers into city center after eating burgers for the first time in a while – we took a random turn and suddenly, the Dublin Castle was in front of us. Our only full day in Dublin was spent at the Guinness Storehouse, Writer’s Museum, and filled with more wandering. The Writer’s Museum was an unexpected transportation into a completely different world, guarded by two older, sassy Irish men. In this world, we had a chance to listen to a recording by James Joyce and marvel over pieces of literary history.
We only spent a few hours in Edinburgh, but loved the cozy and appropriate-for-Halloween nature of the city. I took a leap and tasted haggis, and surprisingly, I loved it. We found the cafe wherein JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and simply admired everything about where we were, vowing to return at some point in the future to see and experience more of the city. In Glasgow, we both unexpectedly fell in love with our surroundings. There’s something even more magical about this place than any other that we had visited, maybe caused by the generous hospitality and comfort that we found. Again, we were surrounded by such kind people and warm feelings; more cold air and delicious food. Maybe a factor in our shared love for Glasgow was partly from our shared love of the occasional breakfast consisting of more than a coffee and small pastry.
Returning to Rome for the last few days of break was nice, despite feeling different from Ireland and the UK immediately upon landing. While I’m excited to go back to Scotland at some point in the future, I’m also excited about the last month or so that I have here in Rome. Walking from my metro stop to my apartment gave me the familiar sense of coming home, which feels poetic in description, but is my normal for now. For this feeling, I’m grateful.
I’m also really grateful for the slightly cooler, rainier days ahead of me here. Maybe I secretly brought the fall weather with me as a souvenir from my trip…