That first, perfect day in the Eternal City


Remember that time in Rome?

If you’ve been a student at the University of Dallas long enough, you know that the probability of a Rome story making its way into any conversation is high. This is the first story in a series in which students will share their favorite funny, memorable and even embarrassing stories from their Rome semesters.

 Emma Polefko, Contributing Writer

Some people are born knowing that they will attend the University of Dallas, and others are lucky enough to stumble upon it. Either way, one of the first things about the university that grabs your attention is the study-abroad program in Rome. You spend your entire freshman year wanting to get there. Then one morning you’re getting on a big jet plane and flying across the pond, excited to begin a four-month journey unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

You pull up to the Due Santi campus, your new home. You’re in Rome. Then, in the blink of an eye, you’re watching your last Roman sunset and laughing the night away with people who have become like family. It’s a well-known story to many alumni as well as to the past Romers in Irving. Every story told between Romers, no matter their class or semester, is familiar because they have all experienced similar things, though with different people at different times. Rome is the Eternal City. The Rome semester is timeless.

The Rome scavenger hunt was a great way to get to know the city and your classmates, not to mention a great excuse to take some unique photos with total strangers. –Photo courtesy of Emma Polefko
The Rome scavenger hunt was a great way to get to know the city and your classmates, not to mention a great excuse to take some unique photos with total strangers.
–Photo courtesy of Emma Polefko

On my class’ first Wednesday in Rome, everyone met at San Giovanni to begin the city-wide group scavenger hunt. If you were able to take pictures of 20 sites, your team got free Metro tickets (otherwise known as gold). A total of 25 got your team Cap Bar coupons, and if you were lucky enough to be on the team that visited the most sites, the RAs cooked you dinner at the forno!

We were all in our groups waiting anxiously until the time came and we were off. Our group silently tiptoed up to a pigeon; stalked a nun and a priest; asked a couple of random Americans to stage a fight; and wandered around the streets of Rome. My favorite challenge was going up to a random couple who didn’t speak English and communicating to them that we needed them to kiss so we could take a picture. That was one of the cutest pictures ever.

Then we had to make it back to San Gionvanni, so we took little back roads that were so authentically Italian we couldn’t help but smile. We made it to the Colosseum (which was about a mile or so away from the Basilica) with just 10 minutes until the deadline, so we started speedwalking/sprinting back until we finally just passed the camera off to one member of our group so that he could run and make it on time.

After the scavenger hunt, our whole class went up to Lake Albano and had Italian “fast food” (which was basically a sit-down American dinner). It was seriously one of the best, most memorable dinners of the entire semester. The food just kept coming, and it was all so delicious.

After dinner, we went night swimming in Lake Albano! We’d been in Rome for almost a week at that point, and that night, surrounded by the villa lights under the Italian night sky, we were all reminded of how lucky we were to be there. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

The food and wine were perfect. The weather was perfect. The company and conversation were perfect. In that moment, life seriously couldn’t get any better.

Everyone should experience a meal like that at least once. Even stateside, cook Italian food, open a bottle of Italian wine (if you’re 21), invite friends over and enjoy life, good food and good company for a couple of hours. If everyone had a dinner like that once a month, there would be world peace. It might also be a good cure for Rome-sickness.





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