My bank holiday weekend in Rome, Italy was one of my favorite times during the trip. Two of my friends (Katherine and Kelsey) joined me in the adventure, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely, despite the fact that it was the weekend before traveling to Oxford to take final exams. We found a central, family-run hotel called Hotel Emmaus which was literally a few blocks from the Vatican, so we were in a lovely part of Rome. The tree-lined street outside our window was filled with traditional Italian restaurants so the air was always fragrant with the cuisine that Roma is famous for.
During my time in Europe, I developed a love for carbonated water, and I rarely drank anything else. In Italian, carbonated water is called "acqua frizzante" which makes ordering it at a restaurant even more enjoyable as it somehow seems more elegant. I was also thrilled by the amount of motorcycles in Rome. Due to the traffic congestion, motorcycles are the choice mode of transportation, and incredibly, almost all the women that I saw were riding in either heels or tall boots.
We did a fair amount of sightseeing while in Rome, but we also took a lot of time to just rest and have some fun. We toured the Coliseum, St. Peter's Cathedral in Vatican City, threw coins into the Trevi fountain, as well as explored many of the quaint "piazzas" that fill the interior of the city. The only low point in the entire trip was that we missed the Sistine Chapel. We saved it for the last day as admission was going to be free, but we failed to notice that the closing time had changed for that day as well. It is said, however, that you will one day return to Rome if you throw coins into the Trevi fountain over your shoulder, so I will have to see Michelangelo's creations on my return to Roma.
The girls and I arrived back in Oxford just in time to work for the next few days on finals preparations. I ended up not feeling well the three days following Rome, so I spent almost two days straight in bed studying. As a result, I did not see a whole lot of Oxford, but I did make it to the Eagle and Child Pub- the famous site of J.R.R. Tolken and C.S. Lewis' meetings- as well as take a tour of Lewis' home, the nature reserve preserved in his name, and the graveyard where he is burried.
There was a group of about five of us that decided to tour Lewis' home, so together we made the pilgrimage via bus out to the part of Oxford where Lewis lived. When we arrived at the house, however, it was a bit of a shock to knock on the door of a traditional, English cottage-style house in the middle of Oxford, and be greeted by a petite, American woman with a Southern accent. This sweet woman ended up being a Christian who had self-taught herself Lewis' entire personal history, and had been hired to live in the house along with her husband and act as host for the several grad students who were given the honor to live in Lewis' home while they study and write their doctoral theses. After inviting us to come in, our tour guide insisted on us sitting down to tea before taking the tour as this was how Lewis would have entertained any guest who would have entered his home. After tea and a tour, I was amazed to find that Lewis' house was in lovely condition, thanks to the efforts of the organization that returned the house to its original decor and character after an unfortunate bout with the 1970s and shag carpet.
For the last final exam of my college career, I gave a verbal presentation on Charles Dickens' legacy as a novelist which seemed a fitting end to my time as an English literature major and then the group of us jetted back to Seattle for one final week of college life. With only a matter of days in-between returning from Europe and graduation, my time at university was over shockingly fast. In that last week, I had some wonderful last hurrahs with friends, celebrated with loved ones, and packed up for Portland. In fact, my life transition happened so quickly that I began a new job in a new city one week after my college graduation.
A few months later, I feel incredibly blessed to have a job that I love in a city filled with people that I love, but I will admit that I am still in shock. It is difficult to grasp the fact that my entire social realm in Seattle has dispersed to the far corners of the earth as my friends travel and take jobs in other states. While I know those relationships remain in tact, the realization that I can never return to that part of my life will take some adjusting to.