Kuntz Blog - Rome Spring 2009

Jaime and Brad Kuntz are Athena's first sibling bloggers! Jaime attends Chapman University, while Brad is enrolled at the University of Southern California. They are blogging about their study abroad experiences in Rome, Italy.

Arriving in Rome

Italy Rome, Italy  |  Feb 06, 2009
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Jaime and Brad here, your newest sibling bloggers from Roma!

The packing process started a couple days before our departure back home in Whitefish, Montana.  Packing can be easy to put off and very hard to decide what is necessary to bring to a foreign country to live for three and a half months without exceeding the weight requirements per suitcase.  But we got everything done pretty early so we could have a full day and a half to spend with our family without getting too frantic about leaving. 

On January 26th we skied a few runs with our dad, showered and were on our way for the very long journey.  We flew from Montana to Seattle to London to Rome.  The longest leg to London was not too terrible because of all the on-demand, personal entertainment.  We finally arrived in Rome at about 5:30 pm on the 27th. 

We picked up our baggage and then were able to find the Leonardo Express train into the city.  It was difficult getting our luggage on board, but we managed. Once we arrived downtown we caught a cab to stay at a hotel that was near our apartment since we arrived a day early. 

When we first got into our room with two beds, we could not figure out how to shut the door, so after about 20 minutes of trying Brad finally decided to ask for help. It turned out to be broken, so we got a new room, except she upgraded us to a big king-sized bed because she probably thought our same last name implied that we were married and on our honeymoon instead of siblings studying abroad.  

We woke up early the next morning to eat a breakfast of pastries and cereal at the hotel then walk to our school, Lorenzo de' Medici (LdM), to pick up our apartment keys. Our dearest mom had printed out directions for us so we could easily find it. It was a very quick and easy walk. When we got there we met our student advisor, Barbara, who was very friendly and helpful, and then she gave us our keys.

We then backtracked and found the apartment (click for view) before we retrieved our luggage. It is right across the street from the Foro Traiano (some ancient ruins)! It's in an amazing centralized location, just two blocks from the Coliseum, a twenty minute walk from the school, and amidst several ancient ruin sites. We are also right next to an Irish Pub called Surge's, close to a small open market, and next to a street lined with pizzerias, bars, cafés, and plenty places to buy cheap, delicious wine. 

Our apartment is very nice and we two are the only ones living in it. The main entrance to the complex is situated next to a Catholic church, and up the stairs one level is our patio lined with a few neighbors who we rarely see.  

Out here on the patio, gaze upwards and one can see other residents' balconies lined with flowers and hanging laundry.  A cactus plant and mosaic step introduce our front door which leads directly into a kitchen with a stove, washing machine, sink, small refrigerator, and utensils.  A sliding glass door reveals a living room area with a couch-bed, a zip up wardrobe closet, and a small television.  So far we have watched a fair amount of MTV as most of the music is in English, and the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire!  Some metal stairs lead to an open loft where we sleep side by side in our separate twin beds below an unfortunate skylight that lets in plenty of light and pigeon chatter.

We awoke early the next morning to walk to Lorenzo de' Medici for the first day of student orientation.  There are 29 students in our program, all of whom are from the East coast except for us.  Lorenzo de' Medici is on the third floor of a large building on Via XX Settembre.  There are five classrooms all named after Roman emperors, a library with books, DVD's, newspapers and magazines to check out, and a few offices for our professors. 

Orientation began with a presentation from a representative of the United States embassy, offering advice for a safe and enjoyable experience in Rome.  Our student advisor, Barbara spoke about school hours, extra curricular activities, and housing and LdM rules.  Following were presentations by our academic coordinator, Kim, and Italian department coordinator, Davide.  He talked about the Italian Club, which offers out of class cultural activities, such as walks around the non-touristy areas of the city, Italian movie nights, Roman restaurant nights, football (soccer! Not American football) games and a trip to a National Park right outside of Rome.  The cost is only three euro and the activities will surely enhance our experience in Rome, so we signed up immediately. 

And students can make proposals for excursions not already scheduled.  Davide also discussed LdM's green policy of printing with recycled paper, not wasting energy, reusing and recycling.  Their program is doing everything they can to be environmentally friendly and give back to the planet. 

After this, students who are not signed up for the beginning language class took their placement tests and we ate an authentic Italian meal of lasagna, pastas, meatballs, and wine.  We then took a stroll around the neighborhood, visiting the stores and businesses where LdM students have discounts, and following the tour, we and our friend Luisa took our own stroll through the ruins and coliseum by our apartment and beyond. 

Luisa goes to University of Alabama, but is from Texas, and studied in Florence last semester through LdM.  So far, she says she likes Rome better than Florence mostly because it is not as touristy and americanized.  We went to a supermarket and bought some pasta, tomato sauce, basil, garlic, olive oil, and two bottles of Chianti and enjoyed a lovely dinner together with music and conversation. 

The next day of orientation was just a brief setup of LdM's wireless internet on our laptops and a getting a permit of stay.  Our jet lag caught up with us and we took an hour nap that turned into a five hour nap.  An old Whitefish friend of ours, Ben, arrived the next day with his friend Kim -- both of whom are working at a lodge in the Swiss Alps.  We and other students got together for some aglio olio peperencino and wine at our apartment before going to the Irish Pub across the street and hanging out for the night. 

It will be nice beginning the Italian language class this week so that we can get around easier.  Language is such an important aspect of culture as it structures the entire universal way of thinking of the speaker.  Our other classes include Wine and Culture: Wines of Italy, Introduction to Art Therapy, Film and Mafia, and The Italian Family so we are excited to delve in! It's been a wonderful stay in Rome thus far and certainly will only get better!

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  • Arriving in Rome

    February 06, 2009
    9 Photos | No Video