I just got back from doing more paperwork. I start classes on Monday, and only just now did I get registered. It is a strange strange process over here. The deadline to apply to the school is three weeks after classes start. I was hoping that people would be a little more helpful and understanding, but that's about as far from the truth as possible. Also, in order to be a legal citizen here, everybody has to apply for a permit of stay. Applying for the permit is just another convoluted, disorganized process, which neither surprises nor disturbs me at this point. What does disturb me is that they require me to provide all the same documentation that I provided to get my Visa, such as a notarized bank statement proving that I have adequate means to support myself. Now if I needed to show this to get my Visa, shouldn't my Visa be enough to show that I've already provided this info? Well, the answer is no. Why? Nobody knows. Literally, nobody knows. If you asked them, they wouldn't have a reason. But I guess you have to take the good with the bad here.
In the past couple days I've been able to meet more people. I met with Father Avram this past week and he showed me around his university, and gave me a free meal (always appreciated). I've also found that my Italian is good enough that I can meet some actual Italians, as long as they're patient enough to not talk 100 mph.
I'm still looking for an apartment, and it is a difficult process. I've been in contact with a lot of people, but actually closing an apartment is hard. Oh well. I'm starting to make a groove in Berken's loveseat.
I'm just now starting to get to see some of the sights. I was able to track down a couple of Caravaggios, who by the way is the greatest painter ever, which was very cool. I saw the Santa Maria Maggiore, where St. Jerome and several popes are buried. As well as the place where St. Ignatius of Loyola held his first mass. I wish I could post some pictures, but I can't find my camera, so hopefully that'll turn up. The other day, I met up with a friend of mine's parents (Kelly, for the Musketeers in the crowd), and hitched a ride on their tourbus for the day. We were able to see the Domine Quo Vadis Church (Lord, where are you going?), which is supposedly the spot where Peter saw an apparition of Christ as he was fleeing from Emperor Nero in Rome. He saw Christ walking back towards Rome and asked him, "Domine, quo vadis?" and Christ said, "I am going to be crucified a second time." Peter took it as a sign, and walked back to Rome to be crucified. It was a very quaint, but serene church. We also saw some catacombs along the Appian Way. I guess there are about 17 km of underground tunnels, which is roughly 8 miles. Pretty crazy. When a Spanish explorer first discovered the tunnels, he didn't emerge for three days because he couldn't find his way out. There is just so much to see here it's unbelievable. And I haven't even been to the Vatican yet.
The Roman experience is a strange one, because there are so many different cultures that coexist here, plus tourists who seem to comprise half of the population. Walking down the street, you will hear Italian, German, English and lots of Chinese. It's kind of disappointing, because if I wanted, I would never have to use Italian. I'm still trying to find a way to fit in without succumbing to the dreaded pink popped collar or the sweater tied around the neck, but it's not too easy. Everyone has an attitude here. Nobody wears shorts; nobody runs because its too disgraceful; everybody wears tight jeans and absurdly huge sunglasses that swallow your face; nobody smiles. In fact, if you bring up sopranos with an Italian, they'll scowl and think you're an obnoxiously robust American, but the stereotype didn't arise from nowhere.
Even though I'm halfway around the world, I'm still remembering you all in my prayers, as I hope you're doing with me. Feel free to leave comments about life in the States. I'd love to hear all about it.