Mind the Gap.

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London and Paris are so much different from Rome. I was just there for my spring break, and although i had a great time I am very happy to be in my favorite city. The city is overly crowded with people that do actually care if you accidentally bump into them and don’t apologize, and taxis that absolutely will not stop for you. In Rome I’m used to not apologizing for pushing through to get into the metro but in London getting on to the tube isn’t rushed and people don’t push. In Rome I’m used to stepping out into the street and having cars immediately stop for me, but if you do this in London you will likely be run over. I found a nice quote by Ernest Hemingway that could describe my experience this semester perfectly. “Traffic lights in London are imperative, in Paris – they’re suggestive, in Rome – they’re decorative.” I’m not too fond of big cities like this though. New York was too much for me, Tokyo was too much, and London is feeling similarly. I love seeing everything here though and having tea and eating fish and chips. It was nice to be able to get chipotle again and hearing English everywhere is actually very startling but also comforting since I can now have full conversations and make small talk with locals again.

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In London I felt strangely comfortable and I think it was mostly because of now being able to hear  English everywhere I went. I wasn’t being stared at while being here, however I was heavily reliant on the people around me to get me to where I needed to go. I was reliant on my best friend and roommate for navigation and for plans mostly because my phone was unreliable but also because when I travel I have things I want to see but I like to follow the plans of others. When I travel I don’t like to be fixated on a plan because I know that plans change and to just be in an environment, eat the food, observe the culture and talk to the people is enough for me to have a good experience. We saw everything though and I am so happy that we got to experience this place, however, I don’t think I would go back. I saw what I needed to see and it’s not necessarily a place that calls to me.  We saw everything while here.  We saw Big Ben, Westminster abbey, parliament, the London eye, the millennium bridge, kings cross station and platform 9 3/4, buckingham palace, the crown jewels, rode in a double decker bus, took the tube and ate in some cool pubs. Everything you’re supposed to do when in London.

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We did the Harry Potter experience and it really brought back my childhood and tears to my eyes. Although I enjoyed spring break and seeing everything I did sort of miss Rome, and am happy to be back. Rome is my city and I think no matter where I travel I will always want to come back here. After London, we then went to Paris and we were very nervous, a little untrusting, and completely alone. We were heavily reliant on each other and were not reliant on any one around us because we were nervous to interact with the people. In this location I actually felt purposely ignored and occasionally stared at because we were American. I felt ignored because they don’t really show much interest in Americans. Again, i’m not sure if this is a place I would go back to.

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In Paris, we saw everything as well. We ate crepes and croques, we saw the eiffel tower, the louvre, versailles, notre dame, sacre coure, and saint chapelle. I even found a flow artist at the eiffel tower and got to hula hoop! (Yes there is a video coming soon). It was a really cool experience but now that i’m back in Rome, it’s very refreshing. It was nice to be back on the metro and hear “Prossima Fermata Basilica San Paola.” I’m pretty sure I shed a few tears. What i’ve noticed now, being back here, is that others don’t stare at me as much as they used to. I tend to blend more with the Italians unless I open my mouth and start to speak English. Even at the bus stop though I spoke to a woman and she was shocked to discover I was actually American because of the way I pronounced my Italian. It was exciting to hear but definitely prior to the past month we were stared at a lot. Everyone knows you’re American here because we smile a lot and show more skin. I’ve also recently found out that in the spring the Italians don’t usually wear sandals, and I now know why!! Let’s just say I really need to get to a shoe store so I can hold off on the sandals until the summer months.

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I find myself less reliant on getting myself places and am able to navigate myself but I am always asking everyone else for their input to make sure that i’m not incorrect. Occasionally I ask Italians for directions, but I am shocked when sometimes they ask me! I think it’s safe to say that I have a lot more independence now after studying abroad than I did before and I feel that I am less reliant on the others around me.

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