Living away from home for the first time

Megan Chick
The Core Rome
Winter 2016


The day that I was accepted into ACU back in 2013, I researched overseas trips that I could partake in during my degree. I knew from the beginning that in my third year of university, I would apply for the UNCC300 trip to Rome. And I am so, so grateful that I was given this opportunity. Having never travelled nor lived away from home, I had no clue what to expect. Knowing that I was going in winter, where the average temperature was 8 degrees and there was only 6 hours of sun a day, I was very out of my comfort zone. I shared my excitement with everyone I met, and got bucket loads of tips.

I was informed numerous times of how cold I would be, how common pick-pocketing is, how the different food and water would make me sick and, mostly, how strange it would be in a completely unfamiliar environment. Hoping I would be able to avoid such changes, I packed various thermal clothing, two boxes of Gastro-stop and a money belt. Of-course, I over-packed and didn’t use or need any of these.

I arrived in Rome and shared my room with three other girls. I had never shared my bedroom or lived with anyone other than family, so it was a big change for me. At home I often sleep in, however every morning I awoke at approximately 5:30am so that I could shower and prepare myself for the day. Although the food in the Rome centre was beautiful, I quickly mourned for the freedom to cook my own meals. Breakfast everyday was an assortment of pastries, as well as a few different types of fruit and yoghurt. Lunch was a light meal, and dinner consisted of a pasta dish, generally followed by a meat dish. I have always been a pasta enthusiast, and for the first few days I was in heaven. I quickly learnt, however, that pasta everyday was not good for the body or mind and I quickly grew sick of the repetition. This ended in several attempts to find a McDonalds. Unfortunately, the street signs in Rome are rather misleading, as we learned ‘5 minutes’ to a McDonalds usually meant a 40 minute walk. After 3 long failed attempts, we managed to bump into a very, very crowded McDonalds near the Trevi Fountain. I will admit, I enjoyed my meal perhaps more than the actual fountain.

Whilst preparing for my trip, I attempted to learn a few phrases in Italian, as I was nervous for the language barrier. Of course, I forgot everything once I arrived. This wasn’t a problem, however, as I was surprised by the amount of English speakers in Rome. There were a few confusing moments; for example trying to find jelly in a supermarket.

Now that I have returned from my trip, I find home life rather strange. Nobody really tells you that the travel bug is an actual disease; within my week back in Australia I have already begun planning my next trip. This trip allowed me to not only explore life out of Australia, but it gave me a new wave of independence. There isn’t a way that I can explain how grateful I am that I was able to go to Rome, which I then used as an opportunity to explore Europe for an extra 9 days afterwards. It has definitely opened my eyes to many, many more opportunities of travelling and I can’t wait to continue exploring the world.