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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Do as the Romans don’t

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AN UPDATE FROM ABROAD —

After being in Rome for less than a week, I will readily admit that I don’t know much about the Italian culture, let alone the particulars of what Romans do on a daily basis.

But after spending only one day exploring the city and the culture, what has become blatantly obvious to me are the things that they don’t do; the little daily routines that we Americans do without a second thought.

So, what do we do? We plan our schedules days in advance, and we expect others to do the same. We rely on efficiency, and get frustrated when things do not go perfectly according to our carefully laid plans. For the most part, we follow the laws that our government has established; or at the very least, we aren’t surprised when we are punished if caught. Even in big cities, like New York, we expect everything from subways and traffic lights to businesses to operate according to some schedule or some contract.

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The Romans do not. For example:

1. They park in the middle of the street. I passed by the pictured car on my way to the IES center for orientation, and when I returned about nine hours later, it was still there, untouched and unticketed. No worries.

2. Busses don’t operate according to any schedule. Whatsoever. Although the posted wait time is 10 minutes, busses just show up when they do – sometimes back-to-back, and sometimes thirty minutes apart.

3. There are no lines. Even when doing something typically considered “regulated” – such as, you know, casually proving their citizenship to the Italian consulate when entering the country – they just wander until they get to the front.

4. If a meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., all that can be known for certain is that it should happen at some point in the morning. We got lost on our way to a scheduled event one day, and I was characteristically stressed out that we were not following “the plan.” When we arrived, about 25 minutes late, everyone was still talking outside, laughing, completely unaware of the passing time.

It’s not that Italy doesn’t have laws or clocks; it’s just that the people don’t seem to worry too much about them. What they do worry about, instead, is incredibly refreshing: the little indulgences of life that create so much more happiness than any perfectly planned schedule ever can. Instead of worrying about making time for everything in one day, they worry about actually enjoying themselves throughout the day – why rush to get somewhere if you are perfectly happy where you already are, with people whose company you appreciate?

Apparently, people get wiser with age – and I hear Rome is pretty old. And, even though I’ve only been here for such a short time, being free from set plans and expectations is already incredibly relaxing and refreshing. I know I’m still a newbie at this Rome thing, but I think that while I’m here, I’ll follow the example of the people who have been thriving for thousands of years: just do as the Romans don’t.

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