Over the past two weeks I have been trying to integrate my temporary life here in Rome with my regularly scheduled life in Madison. There have been a few highs and lows.

My running route through Villa Borghese

HIGH: It is now cool enough for me to start running again– as long as I do it early in the morning. The temperatures here still hit the 90’s by mid-morning. I’ve been running through Villa Borghese and it is just beautiful. Plus the trees provide lovely shade from the heat.

LOW: My intensive Italian class meets every day for 3.5 hours. I had high hopes, but the pedagogical techniques used at the Società Dante Alighieri are a bit dated. There are many lectures on grammar and worksheets, with little emphasis on production or implicit learning. But the teachers are very friendly and I am meeting some nice people.

HIGH: A great thing about being on sabbatical here is that my mornings are email free. Because of the time difference, I wake up in the morning to find emails sent from North America the night before. But then aside from a few emails from friends and colleagues in Europe, there is no email traffic all day.  By the time folks back home wake up and start working, it is already late afternoon here and I’ve had a chance to get some work done with little distraction. But. . .

LOW: The flip side has been some very long days. I’ve been getting up early to get the kids off to school and get to work. When it is evening here and the children have gone to bed, I start my Skype meetings with colleagues back home. I’ve been feeling groggy and brain dead, and hope I’ll find a better way to be alert at night after a long day.

Running through the park before it gets too hot.

HIGH: That said: Skype has been great! I’ve really been missing my students and friends back in Madison. It has been a lot of fun to meet with students by video and connect with friends. By the end of the calls, it all feels pretty natural. Jenny and the kids have also had some skype calls with family and friends back in the US and have really enjoyed catching up with people. Once a call is rolling, we leave the room to afford Eli and Nell some privacy when they are chatting with their friends.

LOW: I have now accepted the fact that I was unrealistic about the extent to which I could put my regular responsibilities on hold during sabbatical. . . . my email inbox currently has over a thousand unanswered messages, editors want their book chapters and revised papers, colleagues are eager to move forward with grant applications, students need feedback on papers, people need letters of reference. My To Do list is now three pages long and everything on it is overdue. I have a plan to get caught up. . .we’ll see.

HIGH: We can get Green Bay Packers games here in Rome (on ESPN America). This was a big deal for Eli. It is a bit tricky because the games are played at around 2am Rome time BUT they are then recast the next day in the late afternoon and evening with no commercials! It has been so much fun because whenever there is a time out or spot where there would be a commercial break, the video has a 1sec pause and the game just continues. We’ve really been enjoying this. What we learned from the first game, however, is that we cannot log onto Facebook, look at the NYTimes on line, and we have to be careful about which emails we open so that we don’t spoil the surprise about who wins. We also had the good fortune to catch the broadcast of the Badger game against Oregon State. Seeing Madison in the background made us all miss home, and we talked a lot together about how we miss hearing the roar of the crowds from Camp Randall in our back yard and seeing the crowds decked out in Badger gear walking past our house.

View at the end of my run, from the park onto Piazza del Popolo

HIGH: We are now figuring out how to find the authentic restaurants here. The restaurants that we are enjoying most are the small trattorie—not too many tables, family owned, tacky décor, etc. We are now having really, really great meals where the person who owns the restaurant comes over and tells us what we should order and delivers free glasses of after dinner drinks and the family-produced wine is three euro a carafe. The challenge is that Romans eat late; these places tend to open at around 8pm but most tables are not occupied until 9 (people continue to arrive for dinner at 11). Last Saturday night we took the children out to a fabulous restaurant in Trastevere that they love- we were celebrating the end of their first week of school. But the children were nearly falling asleep into their pasta and the other tables in the restaurant did not start filling until we left at 10pm. Eli and Nell are really enjoying their new wildly later bedtime, but we still need to think through the best way to dine together and get enough sleep.

— Seth

One of the children's favorite restaurants-- and fantastic, it is!: Asino Cotto, Via dei Vascellari 48 - Trastevere - Roma