By Sierra Dodd, Foster Undergraduate who is participating on an exchange with Audencia University in Nantes, France.
Ever since reading “Eat, Pray, Love” I have wanted to go to Rome (and yes, I’m fully aware of how cliché that is). I also could easily live off of pasta and cheese. In fact, I frequently do. Fortunately for me, I was able to make this dream a reality in early November while I was studying abroad in France.
I’d heard from many a traveler that one of the best advantages of studying abroad in Europe is that it’s very affordable to travel to other countries in the area. True to this advice, I found a round trip flight from Paris to Rome for only 55 €. What a steal! I was thrilled – more money to go toward the gelato budget, then. Well, it turns out that there’s a reason why these flights are so cheap – and no, it’s not just that RyanAir is ridiculously stingy on luggage size. The supposed ‘Parisian’ airport I was flying out of turned out to be at least 1 hour and 45 minutes away from the city itself. Unfortunately I didn’t discover this fact until after I had purchased non-refundable train tickets that left an hour and a half after my flight landed. Such is life. I think I still saved money in the end, since the train ticket was only 10 €.
Apart from the initial rocky start, the trip was fantastic. We visited the Amalfi Coast (near Pompeii) and got amazing views of the ocean and incredibly warm weather. The city we stayed in was known for its perfumed lemon groves and appeared to have the largest resident cat population in the world. After a few days in the Amalfi Coast we went to check out Rome. True to my lifelong dream, we ate pasta and pizza for every meal (including breakfast). It really is as delicious as they say! I can also proudly boast that I have walked around an entire country, since it turns out that there is only one major entrance to the Vatican City and I have horrible navigation instincts. The people we met were incredibly kind and patiently endured our painful attempts at Italian. After being in France for so long (and having studied French) it felt weird to not be
able to communicate even slightly in the local language, even though I know they’re accustomed to receiving tourists. All in all it was a great trip and I’d have to say that all the hype about Italy is well deserved!