Since I haven’t been to Rome in a really long time, this is going to be a bit hard for me to remember everything, so I’ll do my very best to be as detailed as I can and not leave anything out. So here it goes…
My flight was arriving in Rome two nights before I was able to get my official apartment and room assignment. So I had to research on my own on where I was going to live the first two nights. Eventually, I was able to find something available at that time in my price range, $15 a night. I booked two nights at a random hostel in Rome and was super excited to use my first day to explore the city on my own before I had to start school with ACCENT (this is the name of my study abroad program).
ACCENT made a Facebook group for everyone involved in the program that year. It was made so we can meet and communicate with other people in the program before everything started. Because of this, I was able to find out that one of the students in the program was arriving on the same day as me and so we coordinated to meet up the night we both arrived in Rome so we can hang out the next day, get to know each other, and explore the city since we were arriving early.
When I finally landed in Rome, I was feeling pretty jetlagged from a really long flight and finally met up with the other student that I had been communicating with for the first time.
As I looked around the airport in Rome, everything looked very similar to all the other airports I’ve been too but the only thing different was that all the signs were in a different language – Italian, duh! I’m in Italy! Woohoo! The reason why I chose to study in Rome was because it was the only program available when I applied and I thought it was the perfect place to practice the language I learned for 4 years in high school, but as soon as I tried to blurt out anything in Italian, I remembered that I had completely forgotten everything I learned because I haven’t practiced the language for many years. The only thing I can still remember is the simple greeting phrases and knowing how to say, “where is the restroom?”
Like people always say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Anyway, the other student and I took our very first cab ride in Rome together. Wow! I couldn’t believe I was in Rome. Someone pinch me! Is this even real life? Yes, it was! This was my very first time in Rome so everything was about to be super new and exciting. We mentioned to our cab driver that we only knew the name of our hostel and the foreign address we found online.
And here’s a tip, go do a bunch of research about where the place you are staying in is located, what it looks like from the outside, what buildings are next to and which buildings are its neighbors, because I didn’t and I should have because as soon as you arrive things can get pretty confusing to find, especially in a foreign country that you’ve never been too before that’s not well lit and pretty dark. From my own experience, some places can seem pretty dodgy and on my solo travel, it took me quite a while to find the place I would be sleeping in. So do lots of research because if you don’t have a phone or if no one around you is familiar with the destination you’re wanting to go to, then get a real map and good luck. I’m serious, a simple paper map will be your best friend. It was for me.
After a while, it wasn’t so bad though, the cab driver helped us out a bit, along with a few other strange men that were hanging around outside smoking. I mean they weren’t going to leave us girls stranded in the creepily dark alley by ourselves where we still have yet to find our hostel. And yes, this city is filled with lots and lots of cigarette smokers! This was probably my least favorite thing about Europe, smoking, but it is what it is.
Anyway, the dark alley we were in was very narrow and there were many decent cars bunched up together chaotically. As I looked at all the cars bunched up, I couldn’t figure out how people were able to to get to their own cars and drive out of it if they needed to go to work or anywhere for that matter.
After a while, we finally found our hostel and dragged the two suitcases we each had on both of our hands, along with each of us carrying a backpack, and we carried all of those things while walking over many littered cigarette butts on the bumpy cobblestone floor, went in the building, and squeezed our big suitcases in the small elevator that couldn’t even fit us in it. So we walked up the stairs while our big suitcases enjoyed the ride on the tiny elevator. Even though we wanted the elevator ride, our suitcases weren’t going to climb up the stairs themselves.
As soon as we arrived at our hostel, we both waited to check in and they gave both us a key to each of our assigned rooms. We both stayed in different rooms since we signed up to stay at the hostel at different times. But anyway, I opened the door to my room and noticed that there were three to four sets of bunk beds in this one room. When you stay at a hostel, be prepared to stay in a room with lots of strangers, the rooms are similar to a dormitory and you share a bathroom with everyone, but you get what you pay for and you can meet some pretty cool people too.
Well, obviously, I’m tired so I went to sleep.
My first day in Rome, and my first time at a hostel – CHECK!