My biggest advice for how to make the most of Rome is to plan in advance! Although I had done loads of research when I got to Rome I got distracted and time started to fly by. So in my last month I had made a bucket list. I compiled everything that I still had yet to do abroad: all the museums, all the archeological sites, all the local tours, the sporting events, and the restaurants to name a few. What I realized is that I was going to have a very ambitious month ahead of me but I was committed to doing it. The only thing I regret is not coming with a preplanned “bucket list to Rome” with a goal of crossing at least a few things off every week.
So here is my advice
- Plan in advance! Come into Rome with some set ideas and plans so right when you step off the flight you can start making the most of your experiences. But also make sure you give yourself leeway. Study abroad comes with all sorts of surprises, don’t be upset when plans go awry, embrace the change and learn go with the flow.
- Actually spend some weekends in Rome. Study abroad is so exciting because of the endless possibilities to go to other European countries for extremely low prices (thanks Ryan Air!) but make sure you give yourself some time to explore Rome. The weeks can get busy, school can be overwhelming and weekend travels can make you extremely tired. That being said, give yourself a few weekends in Rome. Study abroad is not a race to see the most countries, especially if that means not fully experiencing the one you are living in.
- Immerse yourself in the culture. If your study abroad school offers Italian: take it! Learning a new language can be daunting and it can be even more daunting to speak it but there really is no better way to learn a country and its culture. Also although many Italians can speak English well at least try to communicate in Italian to your best ability. It will not only be appreciated but it will make you more comfortable. My favorite activity to feel like an Italian: going to the local markets (trust me, the produce is insane and after amazing pasta meals you might want some vegetables)
- Walk everywhere. Rome is a very accessible and very walkable city and when you skip the taxis and the bus you will stumble on some hidden gems like one of my favorite places to watch the sunset: Gianicolo terrace, or my favorite park to stroll in on a sunny day: Borghese.
- My last piece of advice is its okay to be a tourist. Don’t stray away from sites, activities or museums because the are doted as tourist attractions- they are tourist attractions for a reason! Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, roam around the Roman Forum, do a tour of the city, get lost in the museums, and take in every piece of culture that makes Rome the Eternal City. My tip here is to get the Roma Pass for a weekend you stay in Rome. With the Roma Pass you get free public transportation for the duration and access to so many museums and archaeological sites at a discounted rate. It is totally worth it and is so helpful to see a lot of sites on a budget because we all know study abroad tends to burn holes in peoples pockets.
I know studying abroad can be daunting but it truly is an experience like none other. So research and plan but allow yourself to get completely lost in the magic at the same time. Don’t wait until it is too late to start exploring Rome, you will regret it when the time starts ticking to return home. And finally, when you think you have seen it all, I can assure you there is always more to do.