To all those avid subscribers of the Cornell in Rome Bog I apologize emphatically for the lateness of this posting. The delay between my actual arrival and this posting may seem unconscionable, however I have the most vivid recollection of my arrival in Italy and I hope my experiences will guide future students in the Rome program.
Stepping off the plane and into the Zurich Airport I felt all the joy I imagine is akin to that of the Donner party after being rescued from their four months trapped in the Sierra Nevada. Though my flight was only twelve hours, it had felt like an eternity of crying children, watered down drinks, and foul smells emanating from the restrooms conveniently located behind my seat. Walking away from my seat I saw that I hadn’t been all that unlucky. The entire cabin was a veritable war zone, covered with bits of food and trash and, in one unfortunate aisle, someone’s regurgitated lunch. Needless to say, I didn’t linger, but almost ran, into the clean, sterile beauty of the Zurich Airport. I was a little traumatized as it was my first really long distance flight (roughly the same distance to Beijing) and I had only slept for about three hours. A neck pillow and some Advil could have gone a long way to make it a more pleasant flight. I would also suggest placing yourself as far as possible from the restrooms, unless you like the constant line of people at your elbow.
The rest of my flight was relatively painless, an hour long connection saw me safely to Rome where I managed to collect all of my bags, which isn’t as easy as it might seem; very different notions of personal space and lines can make even seeing the carousel a challenge. After the casual stroll through Italian customs I found myself in the Eternal City, except not quite, there was still the promising adventure of finding my way to my apartment in the historic center with my four hours of Italian training via some tapes lovingly donated by my family.
Surprisingly, this was the easiest part of my entire trip. There was a designated stand for official taxis and, upon speaking English and gesticulating at the Google maps I had printed out before my flight, I was directed to the dispatcher who wrote me up a receipt and I was on my way. As a quick note, I would highly suggest printing a Google map with directions to your area of the city, the historic center is extremely confusing and even the most knowledgeable cab drivers can’t be expected to know all of it. With a map you don’t have to worry about any sort of miscommunication.
I was dropped off a block from the house (which is something you should expect if you’re in the historic center, owing to the large number of one way streets) and found my apartment with little trouble. As I arrived on a Sunday night I was lucky enough to have some fellow housemates already established in Rome (the palazzo is open for limited times during the day and not at all on Sunday, so you should look to time your flight accordingly) who let me in. Once there I promptly passed out, that is until my Italian class the next day.