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Roaming the Roads: The differences in traveling while in Austin, Texas compared to Italy

by Grace Mescall

Ciao ragazzi!

Last summer I spent six weeks traveling around Italy and was able to experience some awesome adventures! Whether it was a weekend trip to Venezia or just heading out to class each morning, transportation played a huge role. I had rarely used the bus system in Austin before I had gone to Rome, so I was a little nervous at first. But after about my first week, I got the hang of it. Taking the tram and bus to class became part of my daily routine; except for the times I decided to walk home, which might have taken much longer than anticipated, but when in Rome right?

Today, I’ll be discussing the differences and similarities between public transportation in Italy vs. Austin, Texas. One of the first differences from the start is that the trams and buses are much more crowded in Italy. As you can see from the pictures, many people have to stand in order to all fit on the bus.

These two forms of transportation along with the metro are vital to the city of Rome. I don’t think I ever remember seeing a tram or bus empty when I took one. However, Austin’s bus system though used by many is a lot less crowded compared to Rome. While, taking the bus to class one day, I looked around and realized that over half the bus was empty. This would be a rare site to see while traveling in Italy.

While I now take the bus to class several times a week, I can’t help but miss the rides on tram eight, that were filled with lively conversations and the occasional dog. The culture of Italy could definitely be seen while taking the trams and bus. Compared to the buses in Austin, Rome’s transportation was like one giant party. People on the tram or bus constantly surround you and if you’re lucky enough you get a chance to sit in a seat.

If I learned anything in Italy it was this; public transportation can be an adventure! If you’ve never experienced taking the buses in Austin, I would highly suggest you try it, at least once. I believe my time in Italy is what helped me to conquer my fear of taking the buses in Austin. So whether you’re taking the 803 buses to class one morning or are considering studying abroad or just traveling to Italy, you’ll learn that public transportation is an integral part of every city.

Check out this interview with Millie Camp! Millie is a current UT student majoring in International Relations and Global studies and now also Italian. Millie discusses her transportation experiences as a student with the Rotary Youth Exchange program in Casalmaggiore, Italy and how it compared to Austin.

Click the video below to see the beautiful city of Roma as Lizzie and Paolo travel by Vespa! Ciao! Ciao!


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