Work Hard/Play Hard

Approaching the halfway point of my stay in Rome, I've started to branch out from the somewhat incestuous social life of the UC EAP Rome program.

Last weekend, I spent a few nights in Trastevere, mingling with strangers at ground zero for young Italian culture. Friday night began like most others around here: ten or so fellow students met up for drinks and friendly conversation. In Trastevere, things work a little differently, however. No one stays in the bars, and conversations are held in the street, allowing for much greater permeability across groups.

Before long I had met Lorenzo, a guy "from where Ferrari's are made!!!" and his Milanese amici. They had just been traveling around visiting friends, and were only in town for a few days. We had a good chat for a while, and when I looked over my shoulder to check on my American friends, they were gone (or so I thought). Feeling abandoned, I decided to stick with my new pals, and we left in search of a new locale. Being Italian men, Lorenzo and his entourage made a point to find some women, and before long, we were chatting up a group of girls in a bar (an Italian bar, the kind for food, not drinks). A good amount of time went by, and I looked over my shoulder to check on my posse. Abandoned again. I stuck tight chatting with the Sicilian girl of the moment until my American friends found me on their search for late night eats.

Saturday night was a UC friend's birthday, and we surprised her in her apartment for cake and singing. The "cake" turned out to be a panettone iced with Nutella. This particularly amused Roberto, the Sicilian romantic interest of a friend in attendance. Roberto and I bonded over the singing of British tunes, particularly "Satisfaction," and "All You Need Is Love." This led to an invite for lunch the next day at his apartment in northern Trastevere. Roberto left town
the following Monday, but not before treating us to a recipe from sua mamma.

He made us pasta with oil, zucchini and speck. I'm not entirely sure if we have speck in the States, but it is essentially just a type of prosciutto that is very popular over here. The meal was delicious, and a great time was had speaking Italian and discovering our remarkably similar tastes in music. After swapping recommendations, I now know the music of the "Italian Bob Dylan," the "Italian Tom Waits," and several great post rock bands. We parted ways, and the weekend was officially over.

School was particularly difficult this week as I had another test in art history, an oral midterm in Italian and I began work on an interesting project for my Culture and Identity class. My classmates and I were divided into five groups of five members each. Every group got their own neighborhood, and we have to report our findings with regard to the elements that make our neighborhood unique. I'm looking particularly at the gastronomy of the run-down area known as Piazza Vittorio. Commonly referred to as "Chinatown," this an inappropriate title given the relative lack of Chinese in the area. Immigrants from other Asian countries are far more visible here, most notably India and the southeast.

This weekend got off to a wild start with a toga party at Via Candia (the closest thing we have to dorms; about a third of the program lives here), but there's certainly going to be a lot of studying as well. In addition to an art history midterm on Tuesday, I have a written midterm in Italian on Thursday. I should also get my neighborhood report and studying done for the following week as Zac is coming to visit on the 15th for a full 7 days. Then it's off to Morocco!



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