This experience studying abroad in Rome so far has been extraordinary and I couldn’t ask for a better host country in Italy and for the adventures I’ve had in other areas like Ireland, Austria, France, Spain and Romania!
I don’t know if I could begin to choose one moment in particular as my most memorable, but definitely at the top of the list sits the trip with my family to the Rock of Gibraltar. After spending a wonderful 3 days touring throughout Rome with my newly-arrived and jet lagged family, we hopped on a plane to Málaga, Spain to stay with my aunt and uncle for a week. One of the cool places we got to visit was the country of Gibraltar. Gibraltar is an overseas territory and dependence of the United Kingdom located on the southern coast of Spain in Western Europe and borders the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The day we visited Gibraltar started with amazing fish and chips in the city center, then snagging a taxi for a tour which first stopped at the Pillars of Hercules. This lookout point had an amazing view of Morocco, Spain, and parts of Northern Africa and has strong ties to ancient mythological lore.
Then, we rode up to St. Michael’s Caves which is full of natural pillars formed by stalagmites and stalactites and was fitted out to be an auxiliary hospital in 1942. After the caves, we trekked up the steep inclines to the peak of Gibraltar compete with stunning views and clever monkeys. From there, we descended down the Rock to enter the Great Siege Tunnels built in 1782 to combat the French and Spanish in the 14th siege war on Gibraltar. We got to go deep into some of the man-made tunnels that make up about 30 miles in length.
Our tour ended with a trip to Europa Point which is the southern-most tip of the country and is only 16 miles away from Africa’s coast. A beautiful mosque, famous church and lighthouse are accessible from this point and it is considered to be the tip of Europe. I was blown away by the views of all the different countries and by the beauty of the area.
To wrap up our trip, we left for the city center and got to appreciate the tiny Gibraltarian streets, classic red telephone booths, unique Spanglish language and British accents! (Such a stark contrast from hearing Italian and Spanish for months!) It was an unforgettable adventure which mixed together elements of culture, nature, history, and urban life. Seeing my family again after all these months was wonderful and I love showing them a taste of my study abroad experience in Rome as well as sharing journeys around Europe! I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.
Layah is a current student at Point Loma Nazarene University studying at John Cabot University in Italy during the Spring 2016 term.