Adjusting to Live Abroad: Contemporary Italian Society Class at JCU
Madeleine, Fall 2023, Rome
December 4, 2023

I want to highlight a very interesting and informative class that I am taking this semester at John Cabot University. This class is Contemporary Italian Society and it is a sociology class. This class has helped me adjust to life in Rome by learning about Italian culture and society. The class started by introducing the history of Italy as a country. This provided a background on the
divisions within the country and the different traditions of each region. We moved through history to modern day Italian society and what that includes.

One of the most interesting and informative parts of the class was the section on young adults and teenagers in Italian society. This really helped me understand the differences in the cultures of the United States and Italy. These countries view young adults and teenagers very differently so it was a bit of a culture shock when I first arrived in Rome. However, after learning about why there are differences and the expected behavior in Italy, it was much easier for me to go about my daily life. It allowed me to also understand my Italian classmates and their lives a bit more. One of the major differences that stuck out to me was the presence and importance of family. For example, most young adults still live with their families and it is uncommon for them to move out or move away when they turn 18. This was a little shocking to me because I was used to the culture of moving away for college in the United States.

Another major thing in this class that we learned about was the presence of religion and, more specifically, the Catholic Church. This part of the class really helped me understand how present Catholicism is in Italy and Rome. Some of the traditionally Catholic celebrations are seen as a community event, no matter what your religion is. A more obvious part of religion in Italy is the beautiful churches that are present throughout the entire country. The Contemporary Italian Society class looked into the reason they were built and why specific churches focus on a patron saint of a town. It helped me understand the reason that these structures were important community buildings and the role religion plays in daily life.

The major project that I have in this class is a fieldwork observation, where I observe a neighborhood in Rome for about an hour. This allowed me to take a moment to slow down, sit, and observe the daily lives of these people. I observed the Jewish Quarter or Roman Ghetto for my project. I sat at one of the traditional kosher restaurants and started taking my notes. Taking a moment to just be a part of the neighborhood and be present in the moment was very relaxing. This project allowed me to understand the interconnectedness and the lifestyles of the people who live in the Jewish Quarter. Overall this class has really helped me to adjust to life in Rome
and I strongly recommend it to anyone thinking of studying at John Cabot University.

Written by: Madeleine, Fall 2023 Rome student from Washington State University

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