Sunday, July 10, 2011

Culture Shock

It's real; and this Sunday afternoon, I had my first dose of it.  After a week, I finally feel like I'm beginning to settle in and am steadily learning my away around the city (buses are still scary- more on this later).  I don't necessarily feel like a tourist as much as I did upon arriving after being stopped more than once while walking on campus and asked where the Vatican and other popular sites are.

The flea market was more than I could handle.  I know this is a pretty "normal" way for people to shop in Europe, but I can only describe it as thousands of people and complete chaos.  It's scorching hot, dirty, smelly, a breeding ground for thieves and pick-pockets, and down right uncomfortable.  We hopped the same bus assuming it would circle back to Trastevere but ended up taking us back to the terminal in the heart of the city.  This was also the first time I felt truly lost here.  (Side note- The websites and maps for the metro and train systems are god awful) Before getting on we had asked the driver if the bus stopped at Via del Corso, but he was annoyed when we decided to go home after he had helped us.  Essentially, I was finding it very difficult to communicate with the drivers at the terminal and it took us over an hour to find the correct bus home.

Sunday is also considered a holiday in Italy, and literally everything, I mean everything, is closed.  Shops, grocery stores, cafes- you name it.  It's been a frustrating day, but with that said... you should:

1.  Wander with your map and learn the city, alone
2.  Get out of your comfort zone
3.  Learn the language, try it, speak it- you will get so much more respect
4.  Don't be afraid of public trans, you'll always find your way home
5.  Go where the locals go, they're generally friendly but don't be offended by those who aren't

I still have to:

1.  The Vatican- Sistine Chapel, museum, St. Peter's
2.  Borghese Gallery, villa
3.  Go inside the Colosseum
4.  Capitoline Museum
5.  Piazza Navona
6.  Florence
7.  Amalfi coast, Pompeii
8.  Venice- maybe

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