Ciao! I had a decent flight from JFK directly to Rome, although I have to say I wasn't expecting a dinner of BBQ chicken and grits. Three other women in the program were on the same flight so we were able to bond early on. Funny thing is that I was incognito but noticed one woman's "I love Latin" button on her bag and introduced myself. I mean, what were the odds she wasn't in the program, right? Arrived in Fiumicino at 9:30 and (yay!) we all got our bags. Unfortunately, due to some sort of timing snafu, we were forced to wait until 2:30 for the bus to take us to our apartments. If they had told us we'd be waiting that long, I obviously would have gotten a taxi, but no, we just kept waiting, thinking any minute now. It was annoying to have missed out on half a day in Rome, but oh well, I guess that's travel. I'm sharing an apartment with two other women and we sure got lucky. The apt is huge - we have four bedrooms (one is a double and I snagged it) each with a little balcony, two bathrooms (one with a tub!!!), a computer, tv, free wireless, a washing machine, full kitchen, and funky 70's era furniture. We're on the 4th floor, but thankfully there's an, albeit tiny, elevator. One of my roommates (Kathy), if you can believe this one, was my roommate at Tulane back in the day so it's kind of like good old times for us, but in Rome instead of New Orleans. What a small world, but I guess that's what happens when you teach Latin! We are on the main street on the side of Rome I lived in last time, Trastevere, which has a tram and is (thank you, God) at the BOTTOM of the Janiculum Hill. The American University of Rome (AUR) is at the top of the hill, in my "old neighborhood." All of which is to say, I know my way around, both by foot and by public transportation. They held a welcome reception for us in the evening at AUR with Prosecco (that's Italian champagne) and tapas and dolce (that's dessert). I tried this amazing thing that was like an orangy mousse with mini-chocolate chips formed into a sort-of Jello mold. It wasn't like anything I had ever seen or tasted before, but it was awesome! Our party favors were fans, about the size of the ones we have at school (fans on stands). They came in big boxes and they had made handles for us out of tape. We looked so ridiculous on the tram - about a dozen of us had left together and when we got on the tram, a British woman was laughing at us and she said (insert British accent here), "When we go to a party, we usually bring a bottle!" To which someone (I swear it wasn't me) replied, "We're a fan club." Aren't we Latin teachers a hilarious bunch lolol. The best part is that we had to put them together ourselves. I gave it 20 minutes...Let's just say I didn't really read the directions or use all my parts, so my fan has no front cage and it kind of just slightly rests on its stand, but it's working. After the fan debacle, Kathy and I met a few others at a place across the street called Stazione. It's Italian for train station, and the inside is decorated like one, with a big train mural and everything. Very cozy and relatively cheap. We had some vino and a pizza (those tapas weren't quite enough after the long day). The pizza wasn't terrible, but how can you call it Pizza Margarita without basil? The whole point of that pizza is that it was invented for a queen and was supposed to represent the colors of the Italian flag, so missing the green just doesn't cut it for me. We took some wine to go, went for a walk down to the river, and got back around 2 a.m. Apparently I don't get jet lag!