During my semester studying in Rome, I struggled with trying to do too much. Even if I checked off all the boxes on my extensive color coded bucket list, how would I know if I completed all the things people say “you just have to do ”, while abroad? Sometimes these thoughts would creep up on me while I was in bed relaxing after a long day. I’d tell myself, “Get out of your apartment and go walk along the river for sunset” or “Why didn’t you explore a new part of the city today”. Looking back at it now, I had a fear of not making the most of studying abroad, which caused me to put so much pressure on myself. It’s important to remember that no matter what you do, or don’t do, everyone is going to have a different study abroad experience. Personally, I focused on traveling to as many countries as I could, and when asked what my biggest regret was, I said not spending enough time in Rome. “You can’t do it all” is a phrase I constantly heard my parents say each time I’d call home.
While it’s true you can’t do it all, SAI plays such a huge part in giving you the opportunity to experience as much as you can through their Viva Experiences! Viva Experiences allowed me to participate in activities I wouldn’t have even thought of doing, as well as giving me the opportunity to meet so many other amazing people in SAI, whom I quickly became friends with. A few of the events I attended during my spring semester were Tour of The City, Pasta Making Class, Opera Night, Chocolate Making Class, Wine Pairing, and the Farewell Picnic.
The Tour of The City took place during my first week abroad as I got settled into what would be my home for the next four months. On this tour, a professional guide walked our group around the heart of Rome, taking time to stop and explain the history and importance of each attraction we passed. I’m so grateful to have been a part of this experience because I learned a vast deal of interesting facts that wouldn’t necessarily be the first to pop up in a Google search. This tour was also the number one thing that helped teach me to find my way around Rome for the remainder of the semester!
When I think about all my favorite nights in Rome, one of the first to come to mind is learning how to make pasta from scratch, through the help of a local Italian chef. Our group of girls all piled into his kitchen as we listened to him explain the pasta making process we’d soon indulge in. I quickly learned cutting strips of noodles isn’t as easy as it looks. However, I’m happy to say I was able to help make the best pasta I’ve ever eaten. After working up an appetite, we devoured our plates and exchanged stories from our time so far in Rome. I think we would all agree the night ended on a perfect note when the chef came out and explained that he had never before hosted a group who was able to finish everything they made!
No matter which Viva Experience you participate in, I can guarantee it will shape your study abroad experience. Had it not been for the many different Viva Experiences hosted by SAI, I would not have got to know and love Rome to the extent that I did. Attending these events helped me to take the pressure off myself and trust SAI to plan the experiences that would be most impactful, ones I didn’t even know were possible.
Written by: Grace, Spring 2023 Rome student, from Belmont University