THINGS THAT YOU WILL MISS UNEXPECTEDLY WHILE STUDYING ABROAD

I can’t be sure that you will study abroad. I can’t be sure that if you do, you will miss these things. Basically, this title is largely deceiving. Maybe I lied. But it was an accident.

I’ve been in Rome for almost a month now, and while it’s a great, tumultuous, wine-drinking-with dinner sort of experience, I find myself unexpectedly missing a lot of things about home I never would have expected. Things like:

-Eating early. Dinner time here is probably around 8 if you’re being judicious, and that’s a far cry from my Dartmouth life, where if food is not in my face by ten past six bad things will start to happen. It’s even further horrifying considering that over the summer I needed to eat dinner at 4:30 in order to get to work by 5.

-Smartfood Popcorn. I think this is probably the 3rd or 4th blog post since I left home that has included Smartfood, and for that I make no apologies. It is my snack food kryptonite, and the broad-spectrum lack of anything made with chemical cheese in Italy has not helped to assuage my withdrawal symptoms.

-Free drinks. By this I mean free refills in restaurants, etc., but also the ability to go out on any given weekend (or weeknight, you party animal) and be offered essentially anything you want to drink. And it’s free. It does not escape me that someone, somewhere, is paying for it (is that my “student activities fee” on the tuition bill? Did I just buy six tequila shots for a bunch of BG brothers without realizing? Is that my Keystone someone just shotgunned and then threw aggressively to the ground, spattering me with generations worth of grime and student-activity-fee?) but it is not me whipping out my wallet and paying like 7 Euros for a cocktail (Insanity).

-Free water. While we’re on the subject of beverages, water here is not free. If you’re a cheap bitch in the United States and you’re in the Smitty’s cinema trying to figure out a way to get closer to your semi-boyfriend while greatly impeded by the fact that the movie theater seats are free-wheeling extractions from a Sanford-sized junkyard of Lincoln Continentals, the waiter will come by and ask what you want, and you’ll say, “just a pitcher of water, please.” And it will be free. And you will get cups. And water. And ice. And you will not have to pay for it. Savvy?

-Being able to get back to my room in 10 minutes maximum. Dartmouth has a small campus. I can walk, hop, skip, or crawl like a toddler back to my room in almost no time. I rarely get lost (that’s a lie, I’m lost all the time. I got lost once on the stairs in the library). Here, if I go out, it’s going to take me at least 30 minutes, likely more, to get back. If I go out at night, I have to constantly check the time in an attempt to get on the bus before midnight, because after that they stop running. If you’re out in Rome at 4 a.m, which people constantly are, since they’ve probably just finished dinner, you’re basically boned.

-Frat doggies. Rome is filled with dogs, but they are not Samson. (This is Samson).

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-Boundless hookup opportunities. My friends from home (who I guarantee do not read this blog) would laugh if they saw this, because they know that I don’t do random hookups. Apart from the hot British guy from Stanford that one time, I prefer to convert in the context of complete sobriety. But, the feeling that you could have your tongue in someone’s mouth at a moment’s notice is really one of those things you don’t miss until it’s gone, ya feel?

-Real showers. How do I shave my legs in my squat little sitting shower with hand-telephone contraption for the spraying of myself? If I turn off the water, I get cold. If I leave the water on, the water gets cold. There is no winning.

-Being able to pay with my card. All jokes and legitimate statistics that say something like 30% of Dartmouth students are in the top 5% of the country’s wealth bracket (shudder) aside, money really doesn’t exist at Dartmouth. We have ID cards that we use to get into the dining halls and to buy discretionary things. You pay for your laundry that way, and unless you’re going off campus for dinner or to sample the meager shopping options, there’s not much you need cash for on campus. The 50 euro notes you can’t avoid getting from the ATMs here but simultaneously also cannot get change for in shops without eliciting an exasperated Italian sigh and some shade eye are rendered completely unnecessary.

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