Yesterday was the first day of orientation. We heard about academic policies, the staff, and other basic information about the program. We even had an Italian police officer speak to us about safety (through a translator, of course). Then they served us some amazing food, we wandered around the center for a while, and then exploration groups were dispatched one by one.
I went with a group of girls who live in an apartment near my homestay. We were going to go shopping, but when Maria and I got off the tram at the store, the other girls didn't make it before the doors closed, so we walked to her apartment. Then she and her roommates had a scare because they thought that a laptop had been stolen from the apartment (and one of the girls is still missing 300 euros). After that we finally did go shopping, but all I bought was some conditioner, so the expedition wasn't too exciting.
I was pretty tired by the time I got back to the apartment, and I took a nap, learned a few more Italian phrases, and then had dinner with my host family and roommate. Jade and I then went to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, very near our house, to meet friends to go out. We waited for a group of girls for quite a while, but in the end Caitlin, Jade and I struck off to the Campo dei Fiori area to meet a couple Italian guys who hosted Caitlin's brother-in-law several years ago. They took us to a couple of American bars, nothing too exciting, and we were out until 2 when we took a cab home. The guys were nice, and we had some interesting conversations, but the flux of drunk American students was more than a little annoying.
This morning the students who had previously studied Italian are taking a placement test. I don't have to go in until 12:30, so I'm planning to walk the whole way and see a few more sights. The awe of being in Rome keeps hitting me in waves: when I see a beautiful building or fountain, when I hear a conversation in Italian, when I witness the insane flow of traffic, when my senses are overloaded by new sights, smells, and sounds; I'm an outsider in the midst of it all. It's ripe with adventure.