Before coming to Rome to study abroad, I was honestly scared to make this change in my life. Most people would agree that change is uncomfortable and scary. But if there is anything that I have learned from my experience thus far, it is that this uncomfortable change is necessary for growth.
Success & Happiness
One of the ways in which I have sensed growth and renewal within myself is through the way I perceive success and happiness. On my first day of class, my professor asked the class to share a goal that we hope to accomplish in the near future. All American students (including myself) related their goal to work. For example, some said they hoped they would become doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. But when the Italian students answered, they said they hoped to some day start their own families and become good parents. I always thought success meant financial stability but after hearing this from people my own age, I realize now that I’ve had it wrong this entire time. Success and happiness are tied to the wellbeing of our families.
As dramatic as this may sound, not having a clothes dryer in Italy has been one of the most impactful experiences in my life. In America, I was so used to throwing my clothes in the dryer and coming back 30 minutes later to wear my favorite piece of clothing. But coming here has forced me to learn two things: 1. I should really consider checking the weather app before I hang my clothes on the drying rack and 2. I need to develop better adaptability skills to ensure future growth.
The concept of love is another thing that I’ve reflected about throughout my time here. In America, we place so much emphasis on individualism to the point where it often ruins relationships. But love seems different here; Italians are very passionate about their significant other and about love itself. Instead of placing emphasis on individualism, they place emphasis on family and community. Although I may be young, being here and witnessing this behavior has shown me the type of relationship I hope to have in the future.
For the longest time, I was under the false impression that if someone truly wanted to progress in life, then attending school was the way to do it. But after an interaction with a worker at the beach, I realized that education is a privilege and not everyone has access to that gift. Although it was only a brief interaction, I could see hopelessness and despair in the worker’s eyes. It was at that moment that I had set a new goal for myself: becoming someone who will aid others in receiving an education.
Jocelyn is a Fall 2022 SAI Rome student from Baylor University