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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. 

Comments:

Danielle Maclain, Concordia University - Irvine

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This past weekend a group of my friends and I decided to go to Budapest, but wanted to go with a group because we were unsure of what we wanted to do and how to plan our trip. Booking the trip through WSA was the best idea we ever had. It was basically all planned out for us (excluding flights). It was great because there were plenty of things planned for us that were included in the package, but there was also a bit of free time for us to explore the city and do the things we were most interested in. I really enjoyed the caving and thermal baths we visited during our trip! Also the hostel that was booked for us through WSA was great and our tour guide, Bogi, was amazing! I would definitely recommend this trip to everyone and am happy to say that I will be booking more trips with WSA in the future!

Danielle Maclain, Concordia University - Irvine ~ AIFS Richmond, Spring 2015

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