A lot will happen during your first week here in Rome, especially if it’s barely your second time ever leaving your home country. The flight will be very long. In fact, you might get a cold because of the flight, like I did. Orientation week will be draining because there are so many things going on to better prepare you for the semester. You will have to figure out a lot of new things, like going to the local grocery store. You will meet so many different people so you will inevitably forget some people’s names. You will have a lot of first time experiences, such as trying a new type of food. You will even maybe start having some doubts as to why you chose to be away from your friends and family for a whole semester. This is all totally okay and completely normal!
In fact, something that is comforting is that everyone is feeling the same way, and the exciting part of it is learning to embrace these new challenges during your first week so that ultimately you can become more ready for the next four months. Once you’ve gotten through that, you will definitely be more comfortable when you start cementing a routine with all your classes and daily activities. So don’t worry, it just takes a little faith in yourself and in the new journey you have chosen for yourself. Something that helped me get even more settled into my new home for the next four months was going somewhere in Rome I have always wanted to see.
A lot of people have some sort of childhood dream that grows and stays with them throughout their adulthood until it is finally accomplished. For me, this dream had always been to visit the Vatican and see the Pope. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to someday study abroad in Rome and visit different historical, religious sites. So, once I got through orientation week, the weekend before classes started, I challenged myself to squeeze in this dream of mine accompanied by some SAI friends, even after being so exhausted from my first week.
When I finally stepped into St. Peter’s square, heard the Pope pray the Angelus prayer and address thousands of people, and attended mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, all the previous exhaustion and doubt dissipated. I finally felt like I was actually in Rome and that I was going to be here for the next four months living out my dream. I would definitely say this was the highlight of my first week abroad and I’m so glad I ended my first week this way.
Maybe you are a future SAI student who has a little bit of doubt about whether or not they should take the plunge of studying abroad. Hopefully, this helps you ease some of those nerves a bit and encourages you to just go out there and find your dream come true abroad. Of course, your childhood dream will probably not be the same as mine but what I’m saying is to go out there and find a piece of the city you would really like to see. Once you’ve gone there and taken a few pictures, it starts to feel more real. The nerves might come and go after that, but at least, you know you’ve tried your best that first weekend to make yourself feel more at home.
Maria is a current student at Saint Mary’s College of California studying at John Cabot University in Italy during the Fall 2016 term.