April 13th, 2014

For this semester I am studying abroad in Rome Italy. I am posting on another blog, Luminosity, for my time abroad. I will try to transfer some of the posts back to this blog as well. Here is the beginning

The beginning of my journey is entirely devoid of details due to illness. I have been at a loss of words, profound or simple, to begin my story because the truth is that the beginning was a blur. Moments blending into each other like a careless hand swept across a precious pastel painting. Time lost, spaces jumped, a chaotic tumble of goodbye, luggage, security, waiting, boarding, plane rides, airports, waiting, waiting, airplanes, taxis and the list of jumbled images could continue. I have combed this mess of memory for the details, anything to lend light to how I somehow ended up in Rome, Italy when just a few short days ago I was home being pampered by my wonderful mother while horrible ill back in Santa Cruz, California.

For the lack of details, I will tell you what I can of how I ended up Rome in an amazing apartment, starting an amazing and insanely different life in a foreign country as a student. Bear with me on this minimalist and slightly incoherent account of my journey, I promise my writing won’t always be like what follows.

It began with food poisoning. The night before I was set to depart on the greatest adventure of my life. I have never had food poisoning myself, but I have helped many others who have had it because that is what happens when you have food poisoning, you are helpless. With my bags only half packed, and the journey set to start the next afternoon, this was the worst case scenario. Literally, it was my worst case scenario, well maybe one step down from my actual worst case, that being getting the worst of the food poisoning while sitting on the 11 hour flight to Frankfurt.

Utterly helpless. My saint of a mother, who I already miss dearly, saved the day a thousand times over, and when I said goodbye the next morning I wasn’t even able to properly thank her for everything because I was so out of it still. I couldn’t keep any food or water down and even managed to pass out at one point trying not to throw up. So yah, it was a great last day in America.

The time at the airport is still a strange blur of talking to all of my friends in Berkeley on the phone before I boarded, and how great it was to hear them all laughing, but how much I was going to miss them while I was gone. The plane ride was 11 hours of desperately trying to sleep since I had no energy, and no sleep the entire last day and managing to not really get any rest. I even managed to pass out on the airplane once since I hadn’t eaten any food in over 30 hours. Then Frankfurt, Germany, hello goodbye, danke bitte, board the plane in the freezing cold, almost there, almost there.

Then suddenly, we were there, waiting for luggage as I was dying in a chair, going on almost 40hrs without having eaten any food besides a few saltine crackers. In a blur of smoke we left the airport into the taxi area where I was slightly and deliriously convinced we were going to be kidnapped by an unmarked taxi cab. I then forgot how to speak English when trying to get a cab. But from then on there the taxi took us into Rome and it began to dawn on me that this was real and my first thought was, what have I gotten myself into? But then we reached the Centro Storico, or Historical Center of Rome and suddenly it was like all the post cards and travel book pictures of Rome. Then our taxi driver kicked us out on the curb, told me my bag was too heavy, and pointed us down a slightly sketchy looking alley way. My travel companion and future Rome roommate Elena and I were confused, exhausted but also excited. Dragging our exorbitantly large bags across cobblestones, which is extremely difficult to do, we found our study center where we will be taking our classes for the rest of the semester. They kindly gave us our keys and directions to our apartment. Let me just say, I had horrible images of worst case scenarios of dark, cramped, dank apartment buildings full of angry Italians and my gosh was I pleasantly proven wrong. Our apartment (aside from a few maintenance issues in the works) is amazing. We are in Prati, maybe five blocks away from the Vatican on the main street of Cola di Rienzo where there is a ton of upscale shopping.

I cannot begin to explain with what relief I crawled into my stiff ikea bed. That is, after Elena and I nearly slept walked down the street to a random supermarket to buy food in hopes of eating, which ultimately failed, only to return home with still empty bellies. I had never been so exhausted in my life. Empty of calories, no sleep, travel on travel on travel, and so much overwhelming chaos as well as amazingness was almost too much. I was blissfully happy, but deeply and thoroughly exhausted.

That is as detailed as I can manage on my travel to Rome. My arrival and adventure to get here in all of its delirious blurred glory. Only now am I starting to really regain clarity in the things I do. I can eat normally now, but am still easily exhausted and overwhelmed but so excited for what is to come. Ready to embrace this experience in all of its splendor and discover Rome as it truly is, not just as a postcard or a checklist of places to go and see. As I settle in more and experience life in Rome, I will be posting more and more of my first couple of days and everything that is to come.

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