For every day that passes, it gets harder and harder to think about writing a blog. Actually, this update has taken me well over a week from start to finish. How do you put a day in the life of a Roman study abroad student into a few paragraphs? Especially when every week is full of a new adventure completely unlike the ones before! I can attempt to work backwards and recap the graces of this experience, but know, that like Easter, words cannot begin to do it justice. This time around, I’m going to illustrate a day in the life (or a week in the life) of a Spring O9er at Bernardi…
Here it goes!
When the morning comes, wake up and head downstairs to the chapel or to the surprisingly noisy basement dining room for a cup of coffee, some special K and choco-flakes cereal, and the choice fruit of the day. I don’t know if it is the Bernardi dining room or the Spring 09 clan, but there seems to be a lot of laughing and storytelling in the early morning! Over breakfast, consider the time, and decide the route to school: walk the 40 minutes or find a bus on the way. Off to class! Most likely, you chose option one. You will find yourself walking past the Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Gregorian University, and finally the Angelicum. The “Ang” is our final destination, on the top of a short but steep hill. The feeling of achievement after reaching the top of the hill hasn’t faded yet- walking through the doors to the open aired courtyard is just as exciting now as it was day one back in February! Time for class. At break time, grab a quick cappuccino at the bar and use the remainder of your 15 minute break for chatting and socializing in the courtyard with classmates. If it’s Monday or Tuesday, you’ll have time to grab a panini, pasta, or pizza for lunch and rest in the Ang garden. The other days of the week are a bit more open. You’ll have time to check out another must-see destination, catch up on homework, picnic in the park, or even better, relax on the Bernardi terrace! Back home, Wednesday was hump day. Here, Wednesday is community day! The day is generally free – some of us cut vegetables for the Missionaries of Charity, some of us work in the garden and build furniture for the Little Sisters of the Lamb, and others attend the papal audience. Often, a few people will initiate a game of ultimate frisbee, football (or futbol) in Villa Borghese park. No matter the events of the week, the peak of the week is without fail, Wednesday night community night. 5:30 adoration, 6:30 mass, 7:30 discussion, 8:15 dinner. We all gather, 32 students, 6 members of the chaplaincy, and a handful of guests for a formal night of prayer, bonding, and good eats! It is our time of the week together as a full community- something truly unique to the study abroad experience!
As the week comes to a close, whether Thursday or Saturday, off you go! Tour the city or take a day trip to the coast. Find a new Italian destination or maybe even a transcontinental cheap flight! Two weeks ago, I took a glorious pilgrimage to Padua and Venice- two very different places but gorgeous in their own right! Padua was perfectly peaceful and full of devotions to St. Anthony of Padua. We woke up to the quiet rustle of people, attended mass in the Basilica of St. Anthony, meandered through the markets, and visited the famous Scrovegnie chapel with Giotto’s wall frescos. It was a refreshing oasis in it’s finest! We then took a quick train trip and a riverboat “bus” to our apartment in Venice. The city is like nothing you have ever seen before! It’s a maze of side streets and mini-bridges connecting the major ports to the tourist destinations. We quickly located the famous San Marco- it was a giant piazza with an unmistakably gorgeous basilica. Apparently the rest of the population had the same instincts we did. Venice is a widely known tourist destination. The only native Italians I saw were the polo-wearing sun tanned river taxi drivers and the gondola rowers. Last weekend, I enjoyed the less popular sights of Rome. In the lush Vatican Gardens and the huge park on the Juniculum hill, I was participating in the weekend life of a Roman. Now, I am on a nice Eurostar train to Milan, in route to the beautiful Lake Como on the border of Switzerland!!! I have been blessed!!!!
Two weeks left. I have really learned the meaning of the phrase “bitter-sweet.” I anticipate that our closing weeks in Rome will be full of tears of happiness in one eye and tears of sadness in the other…. but more on that later.
Thanks for your continual support for us in Rome! I speak for everyone when I say that we cannot wait to share the graces of our semester with our friends and families back home.
Things to note:
-We have taken an art history course from a professor who may be seen on the history channel and we have shared dinner with the papal master of ceremonies who will most likely be seen standing beside the Holy Father in all papal events. Enough said.
-It is quite possible to use an entire Papermate ball point pen. Weeks of European lecture classes has increased the mortality rate of my pens by 200% since January.
-Beware: after 3.5 months of living in a community, you will no doubt adopt quirky mannerisms, regional dialects, and unique phrases of your housemates. (The hand motion, “shootskis,” “FACT,” “Va Bene,” “Oh Milanta!”…. to name a few.)
– I love Bernardi.