Savoring Our Last Days in Rome: A Thoughtful Walk and a Progressive Dinner

At the start of the semester, it seemed it would last forever. Today it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be making my long walk to school many more times. I walked listening to Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel. My route originates near the Cipro metro stop and I followed the wall of the Vatican City, cut through the Piazza di San Pietro, and continued through some back streets and south along the Tiber River the rest of the way to school.

It was Sunday, and I was heading to a final at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I had put on my chill playlist to calm the pre-final nerves, and a Sunday Mass had just gotten out and I was walking through what felt like humanity itself. I was walking upstream through nationalities from the six continents, each person consumed in his own conversation, and immediate and individual reality. It’s a surreal experience when you take away your sense of hearing. You then rely solely on your vision to interpret expressions, gestures, and body language. Add the particular song I was listening to and it’s an enthralling experience.

To celebrate our semester, all the students in our program got together and organized a progressive dinner. We were supposed to pool some money and go in on the entire dinner together, but its tough scrounging together some cash from 30 stingy college students looking forward to the days of free meals at home just a week away. So people ended up getting together by apartment and pooling money for each course that way. This worked fine except for me. I was the designated antipasti course, seeing as I had only two burners for a stove and no oven. I ended up throwing together a Caprese salad, one for each person with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mine went off great with everybody enjoying their small appetizers on my small deck and access to the roof in our best Sunday clothes.

             Now was the time to reflect on our semester. We had come in as strangers. I still remember the first awkward orientation meetings when we went around in circles doing the customary “Hi, my name is _____ and I’m from _____.” But we quickly got beyond that--and the rest is history. I made 30 new friendships with kids from all over the US, and we’ve cooked and ate together, went to school together, got denied into bars and kicked out of clubs together. All in all I had a growing experience that I’ll never forget. And when I go back to campus this fall, the Notre Dame campus will be dotted with friends from our semester in Rome. That’s what I’m looking forward to. 


Crystal Cascante, University of Florida

Happy Backpackers

I've been in Europe since the beginning of January and have traveled every weekend. This Easter Weekend was by far the best one. The hostel was perfect and super convenient, I made a ton of new friends, and our guides (Andy, Rhianne, and Elena) made sure we saw absolutely everything in the city. The meals included were all absolutely delicious, and Andy even brought snacks every once in a while to hold us over in between meals. We were given our Easter Mass tickets the night before and strategically planned to be in the front for mass. We followed Andy's suggestions and got to sit in the very front for Mass. The wait was worth it and so was every cent of the trip's cost. I barely spent any of my own money, just on transportation to and from the airport, gelato, and food on my last day there. I would 100% recommend this company to all of my friends!

Crystal Cascante, University of Florida ~ AIFS London, Spring 2016

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