Greetings from Rome, Gauchos! Today marks the end of my fifth week studying abroad in the Eternal City. From weaving between Vespas, missing buses and saving my fellow comrades injured in pub crawl action, however, I have all but lost track of the time.

Before I crumble and fall like an Empire amidst the maddening streets and am forever immortalized as a marble figure being mugged by an armed centurion, I must share with you the three secret Keys of Roman Survival. Take heed: Listen well and remember all that is mentioned for your future adventure abroad in Eternal Rome.

Your first secret Key to Roman Survival lies hidden in the bus stops: Don’t trust them. The discord of Italian transit is not designed for the international student’s peace of mind. It is merely to supply jobs for efficient drivers born fearless of pedestrians. Bus drivers skip stops, close doors in your face and frequently never arrive. Many students have lost composure, patience and their very lives while faithfully waiting for the 160 bus the H line or the mystical bus line that runs between Termini and Paradise (Termini is Rome’s Central Station, where you can purchase Dante’s Purgatorio: the only universally accepted Eternal bus ticket).

Narrowly dodging a most pitiful death by anticipation, I then present to you your second Key to Roman Survival: Get lost once. It may occur by accident, but know now the event is imminent. Accept this fate with two pizza-greasy hands stretched straight out, and dive into the Roman unknown that is still actively being excavated by trained archaeologists. Maps are only good for tourniquets while hugging the ancient walls along Via San Pancrazio. Your house keys are great makeshift brass knuckles on Via Delle Fornaci when the streetlamps flicker, and all wise Romans are safe indoors. These are not the family-friendly lanes of Isla Vista, like Sabado Tarde or DP, Gauchos. A warning: Do not hail a taxi; you will immediately fail this unspoken municipal initiation rite of passage. What would the legendary Roman urban planners think?

After thanking Aesculapius, the god of healing, for nationally available, affordable healthcare, you are then ready for the third and final secret Key of Roman Survival. You no longer take the buses – or at least you no longer waste your time smoking at the bus stop, covered in tears – nor do you request police escorts to your home each day after school. Once all of your stitches are removed, get involved in Rome’s community. Do it, if you like to breathe sweet Mediterranean air. Preside over a conversational English class, babysit, hand out pub crawl flyers (don’t) or intern at a local news agency. I myself am attempting theater through Rome Theater English, a wonderful community organization that gathers actors/actresses and playwrights of all calibers to speak English and put on a play. It is my first time acting, and I received the role of Jem Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Seize the opportunity! Do as the Romans do! Be as the Romans are! Be all you can be… abroad!

It is your duty, Gauchos, to learn how to survive in Rome, and Jupiter-willing, to live long enough to pass on these Keys to another.

P.S. McDonald’s is not the American Embassy. You don’t need to go there for safety; only for a bathroom, if necessary. You won’t find them anywhere else.