A starting note:
I’m Lisa Weier. I’m a junior at the University of St. Thomas, double majoring in Catholic Studies and Communications and Journalism. I’m studying in Rome this spring through the Catholic Studies Rome Program. Phew. I’m glad we got that out of the way.
Check back every so often for a new blog on here this spring. It’s beginning a little late, but hey, that’s how the Romans do it. 🙂
“And then! Oh the noise. Oh the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!”
-Dr. Seuss, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Even though last Christmas is long gone, I can’t help but think of the Grinch as a bit wimpy while another vehicle’s sirens go screaming by. Italian, specifically Roman, sirens have their own special ring. It is my guess that those sirens must make even the most hardened criminals pull over immediately- anything to stop the din. This particular tone was not something I was expecting before coming, accustomed to comparatively musical American sirens. It’s just one of the things I had the wrong idea of. In fact, I had this glorified, entirely scenic, pasta-draped, gelato-smeared picture of Rome.
I had a long time to build up these notions. As a junior, I have known about Catholic Studies for about four years and have been in the program for almost three. I don’t think many days have passed in that time when I haven’t heard of or thought of Rome. If you are in Catholic Studies, you especially understand. If you have previously gone on any study abroad trip, you will also know that you repeat your date of departure to inquisitive family members, friends and acquaintances about the same number of times you have said your birthdate. Mine was 1 February, 2013. That means I’ve made it through about a month of Roman life, doing somewhat as the Romans do.
Now before you get the idea that I hate or even dislike Rome, let me introduce you a bit more. Yes, I miss fitted bed sheets, used parking lots, vanilla extract, Nebraska steak, CHEETOS and sidewalks not tilting beneath my feet as I walk. I miss knowing what many words and measurements mean without looking them up or converting them. I miss snow a little (crazy, I know) and my loved ones a lot.
However, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Rome in many ways that far outweigh my nit-picking. The students living in community with me here are talented and incredible. The Italian people themselves are, in my experience, friendly. The Italian language is beautiful, the pasta is al dente at its finest and lampone (raspberry) gelato is…can I even describe it? Yes: YUM. Better yet, I am surrounded by the history and culture from whence the Western world sprung.
I am blessedly enrolled in a class examining the art of Italy not from slides but from live viewings: Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, DaVinci, Caravaggio… the list goes on (Fun fact, when art museum security guards see the professor of that class, they have been known to bow in her presence). My other professors: a papal theologian, a man who has served as Mother Teresa’s spiritual director, a spunky Italian lady and one of St. Thomas’ awesome professors, a philosopher through and through.
I am in the origin and heart of the Roman Catholic Church and I am gaining little insights into the depth of its age and continuity, which make Michelangelo and company look very young. It has taken me many years to appreciate the beauty of Catholicism. But, since drawing near to St. Peter’s bones on the Scavi tour, I realized an image I’ve seen as black and white is becoming more and more colorful.
Rome is different, yes, but I can’t help feeling she has a lot to teach me about culture, about food and fashion, about patience and about faith. She may be quirky, not quite what I expected, and her differences may even annoy me at times, but I’m starting to believe the late Cardinal Pio Laghi is right:
“Rome is a wonderful professor.”