Insights into the first few days of interning with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the United Nations in Rome, Italy. Copied with permission for Kerstin Alander’s personal blog.
Yesterday was my first official day at the FAO headquarters.
I still can’t believe it.
I woke up very early and the mother of the house dropped me off at a coffeehouse so I could buy a bus pass. She explained everything to me very well and I had no problem getting a ticket! I took the bus for a bit and then got on the metro! The only other subway system I have been on was in New York and this was a lot different. The main difference was that in New York they had announcements for the stops and scrolling bulletins on the stops. Here you have to watch because there are few announcements and no bulletins. The subways themselves are also heavily marked with graffiti.
It was almost pretty in a sense.
Look what you see as soon as you walk out of the station! It’s the UN flag!!!!
Since I left the house so early I got to the headquarters a little over half an hour before I was supposed to arrive! You know what that means? I finally got to do some sightseeing. Although I was in a three piece suit so I wasn’t super comfortable, haha. I walked around the Circo Massimo, which in English is Circus of Maxentius. In ancient Rome it was a circus, most well-known for its chariot races. Now people use it to walk their dogs and jog, but more of it has been excavated over the past few years.
Finally it came time for me to start my first day! I was all butterflies as I went through security and gave them my passport. One of the HR reps met me at the gates and gave me a tour of the building. This place is a maze! It used to be several separate buildings, but over the years they have connected them. That means one minute you are in building B, than you turn a corner and are in building F! Everyone who works here is incredibly nice. For those of you who don’t know UN staff is very diverse, with only so many staff members allowed from each donating nation. Fun fact, because the US doesn’t donate that much to the FAO there are very few permanent staff members from the USA. Crazy huh? The scientist who I am directly under is extremely nice, and so is the other member of the GLEWS I met today. They had me join them at lunch in the cafeteria on the 8th floor. Let me just tell you- THE VIEW! It’s amazing. The FAO is open to visitors so if you are in Rome, come to the FAO to get some pictures. You can see the Coliseum, Vatican City, and Circo Massimo to name just a few.
It’s super cool. One of these days I want to come at night when it is all light up. So then I started on the way to Termini Station. That’s when I made my first mistake. Rome is a very crazily built city with everything on top of itself and the streets are not labeled as well as in the US. So I quickly got lost. It wasn’t too terrible; I got to see some really cool normal buildings. People were also very friendly, and if you just said Termini they would point in the direction. The issue was roads that slowly split and I either didn’t realize my street was now a different one or I couldn’t find the street name. I eventually got to Termini after a several hour zigzag path. I did get to see the The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore during my adventure as the clueless tourist though!