Alright, I've decided to go ahead and attempt a synopsis of my first week on a day-by-day basis. Below begins my first official day in Rome!
Reliving 16 July
Well, my first day away from home was one long day. Good day, hard day, but it thoroughly burned both ends of my match. This morning, I left my family at 8:30 a.m. at Detroit Metro and boarded a United flight into Newark, NJ. All the seminarians from the States who will be at Early Orientation (about 50 of us in a class of 65-ish I think) connected in Newark and then flew altogether from there into Rome. I happened to get into Newark just before noon. Since the Rome connection was scheduled to fly out at 5:20 p.m., I had all day to celebrate a long layover.
I will say this, flying into Newark was the first time I've ever seen the Statue of Liberty, so that was pretty cool, even if only from a distance. And it looks like what I think is the still-under-construction Freedom Tower on New York's skyline is already the tallest building in the city.
In my plethora of free hours I managed to walk up and down the airport several times. Luckily, my mom packed me an awesome lunch (as moms always do), so I sat down in their cafeteria after an hour to chow down on not one but two homemade egg mcmuffins, a peeled orange, a sliced apple, dried cranberries, baby carrots, two zip-lock baggies of honey roasted peanuts, and two types of Meijer cookies. It definitely took some bite off of leaving my family.
Afterwards, I found a random departure gate and spent a few hours finishing my thank-you cards from my going away party. As it turns out, there is no available outgoing postal box accessible to flyers at Newark airport (or at least in my meandering up and down I never found it. The security person I talked to said that there wasn't one), thus all my thank-you's did not find their way to their respective homes. So if you are annoyed with me that you were biffed a "Hey thanks, man": duly note the unfortunate accidentalness of your feelings and accept my apology, as your card is in Italy at the moment.
The Rome flight was about 40 minutes behind schedule, so we touched off at about 6 p.m. It was my first time in a 400-passenger Boeing 767. Big plane! But for an 8-hour flight the seats were pretty comfortable and it seemed to go quite smoothly. I slept on and off (I mean who really sleeps sitting up anyway) for about 4 or 5 hours, and when we touched down it was 8 a.m. Monday morning. That's 2 a.m. on the east coast. We were picked up by the College right there at the airport and took a bus straight back to the House. For those who have never had jet lag, it's kinda like that feeling you have after you pull an all-nighter. A second wind, a little wiry, a little loopy, you're not sure how you have energy but you do. But then if you sit down for too long, dude it's all over.
So they kept us busy all day to fight against the lag. They also weren't kidding, we really are a stone's throw from St. Peter's basilica! Right after lunch (which, by the way, Italian cuisine really is excellent. It was also my first taste of real Italian gelato. Bingo.) we walked into St. Peter's Square to take in the heartbeat of the Church. It was an awesome sight to behold.
Alright, at this point I am definitely noticing several things. First, the city is beautiful and I could take pictures for days of all the incredible history and architecture. A very close second, it is HOT here. The sun is pretty intense and I've been sweating whenever I'm in the open air. July and August are the hottest months of the year in Rome (great time to arrive, right). Many Italians close up shop during the entire month of August and get out of the cities to vacation in the mountains or at the various lakes or seashore. What a good idea.
After stopping by the "electronics store" (too bad for us lazy Americans. No big box Walmarts anywhere in sight, every store is specialized) to pick up a fan, a clock, and some plug converters, we made our way back the College to get settled in. I shipped 200 lbs of clothing and textbooks to Rome two weeks ago, so I have three big boxes sitting in my room waiting to be opened and organized. I've been up for about 36 hours and am beat. It's time for bed!