“Five minutes until landing,” the pilot said. I couldn’t believe it. I’m in Italy! Nothing says bring in the new year better than traveling to another country. After a semester filled with papers and exams, I needed a change. I walked off the plane with a huge smile on my face. I made the decision to study abroad during the spring semester of my junior year. I told myself that senior year would be different. I found a summer job, and spent the summer working to fund my study abroad trip. Fall semester was spent preparing for my trip in January. I had so much to do. But, after the long, intense preparation, it was all worth it!
Sitting in baggage claim, I accessed my situation. It took me about 20 minutes to clear immigration, which was surprising. But, I had been waiting for my luggage over 40 minutes. On the verge of tears, I sat alone until an airport employee approached me. “Are you still waiting for your luggage?” he asked in broken English. I cleared my throat before I replied, “Yes.” He directed me towards Customer Service, and I waited another 15 minutes before he told me where my luggage was. It hadn’t arrived with me, and it wouldn’t be arriving until 5pm. It was 11:40 am. I didn’t want to wait that long so I decided to go to the hotel.
The hardest part about navigating through an Italian airport is having to decipher the signs to figure out if you are heading in the right direction. I must have asked Siri several times what certain words meant in English. I was out of my element! But, it was liberating. I didn’t know how much some years of Spanish could have helped me understand Italian a little better. After I found the bus station, I bought my ticket and got on the bus. Only an hour away from my destination.
During the bus ride, I took it all in. Italy is a beautiful country. Rome is an even better sight! It’s a great mixture between the historical aspect and modern aspect of the city. It reminded a little of NYC, my home! Getting off the bus and walking to the hotel allowed me to familiarize myself with my surroundings. The most beautiful part of Rome is its diversity. I appreciated the city a little more because of it. I did some reflecting on my walk to the hotel. My first impression of Italy wasn’t all that great. I lost my luggage and I didn’t know anything about the culture or language. I was alone. But, I didn’t let that stop me. Finally, after making it to the hotel, I checked in and went to my hotel room. It was a long day and I needed a rest.
Although I missed most my trip, I did get to walk around the city and explore for a bit before heading to Florence. I saw the Pantheon, taking a tour of a place that served an important role in the Roman Empire. Also, the Colosseum was just a few minutes away from my hotel. I enjoyed my time in Rome. But, most importantly, I enjoyed the historical beauty of the place, the history has lived on for centuries. I guess that’s why it’s called the Eternal City!