Rome!! The city that I had been looking forward to visiting since finding out about my CR acceptance. Rome was the perfect closure to an amazing few weeks that felt simultaneously like a lifetime and a matter of minutes.
As it was our last city, I was trying my best to savor every moment, which often meant running around the city all day and hanging out all night, doing everything from deep conversations about our role in the group dynamic to watching weird youtube videos. Essentially, no down time and minimal sleep. However, spending almost all hours of the day with the rest of CR11 produced some of my most memorable moments of the experience. Here are a few:
- The Fresco Room
In Rome I roomed with Kynnedi, Gabby, and Lauren, in a crazy room that was on a separate floor from everyone else. Each of us had our own bed (which we were quick to turn into a megabed), the walls were glittery with crystal wall lamps, we had a Nespresso machine, and there was a real fresco on the wall that dated back to the original building. Besides the decor, just getting to room with these girls was a blast. Late night chats, photo shoots, and getting to hear Lauren’s full length rendition of Shallow are some of the highlights. It was a week of having the best sleepover ever.
2. Reuniting with Bravo
For Rome, Dr. P divided us back into the same groups we were in for Berlin, which meant I was back with Bravo, and I couldn’t have been more excited. After so much time together, we had come a long way from the first few days in Berlin. I felt so much closer to my team, and we quickly fell back into the groove of things. Being together again made me appreciate just how much each person brought to the group, and how well we could work as a team. Kevin was the superstar navigator and dad joke expert. Connor kept us on track with a calm sense of leadership and determination. Madelyn pushed us to explore and appreciate every aspect of our environment. Cooper brought the group together with her thoughtful questions and positive energy. With people like this, I looked forward to afternoon chats in Italian coffee shops just as much as seeing our assigned monuments for each day. Part of CR was putting together cohesive teams, and I think Bravo is a perfect example of this.
3. Ghost Stories
I was always excited for dinners during CR, because that was the time when everyone was able to get together and share their experiences from the day. With CR 11, you never knew what kind of conversation you were going to have that night. Often, it was a good time to ask deeper questions and really get to know each other. One night in Rome, however, we decided to do something different. I was sitting with Peter, Claire, and Griffin, and we started telling our favorite ghost stories. We shared everything from our own experiences to stories that we had heard, and the results were fascinating. Peter told his legitimately terrifying Doggy story, Dr. P shared his amazing (and true!) Goat Man story, and Claire originated the iconic Ghost Bird. It was creepy, silly, and random, but I had so much fun hearing everyone tell their different stories. As important as the deeper conversations were, it was just as important sometimes to discuss the likelihood of a ghost bird. Sometimes its those random, silly moments that are the most memorable. Plus, we were able to add something new to the CRucket List- ghost hunting on Goat Man’s Bridge.
It’s rare to be struck by how completely small you are in the universe. However, walking around Rome left me feeling tiny, not only compared to the massive structures surrounding me, but also the thousands of years worth of history and ruins that can still be viewed today. I struggled with even comprehending what two thousand years of time felt like, but almost everywhere you turn in Rome, between the modern age buildings, there were temples and ruins and aqueducts that were used by the ancient Romans. How crazy is that?!? As described by our tour guide, Rome is like a lasagna- each new generation builds on top of the ruins of the old to create layers of history that can physically be seen through excavation. For example, one church we visited had a fully functioning chapel on the ground level, and then a buried church with ancient frescos below it, and then below that a whole new level of rooms and hallways, which was used for secret, spooky cult meetings. Having only been alive for 19 years, it’s hard to think of what life was like two thousand years ago. However, the experience of getting to explore the ruins of Rome taught me so much about both the city and history itself. Time is wild y’all.
5. The Last Night
I think the best proof of how close you can become during CR is our last few hours together in Rome. During dinner each of us got up and presented awards to three people who we felt had made an especially large impact on our experience. Hearing how everyone described each other, and being so thoughtful and sincere while doing it, was truly a moving experience. Additionally, hearing Dr. P and Bea’s reflections on our journey really put into perspective how special an experience we had shared. Next we headed to Trevi Fountain, where in true CR 11 fashion we took lots of photos, sang probably a little too loud, and laughed for hours (also a surprise proposal!). Finally, we squeezed in one room and stayed together until it was time to leave for the morning flights. I think its a true testament to our friendship that even after almost a month of nonstop togetherness, we didn’t want to be apart until the cars pulled up to take us to the airport. Even then, the journey wasn’t over. For me and the rest of the Texas people, flight complications led us to spend another full day together between the Rome and Austin airport. Even being stressed and tired out of my mind, they turned an otherwise awful experience into something I weirdly valued as extra time we got to spend together.
These are just a few examples of the amazing moments that made up our time in Rome. The common thread throughout it is that they wouldn’t be the same without all of the amazing people that made up CR 11. Rome is an absolutely incredible city, and the history and culture that I experienced fully lived up to my expectations. I even said something in my first post about wanting to live in an Italian movie. I feel like I had that experience, not just because I got to explore Rome, but because of the people I got to share it with.