Learning So Much
Elisa, Rome, Spring 2012
March 14, 2012

These past 2 months have flown by incredibly quickly. I guess it’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun! I can say without a doubt that making the decision to study abroad in Rome was by far one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my college career. I say with so much certainty that I will carry with me these stories and adventures to share with family and friends for the rest of my life.

One of the coolest things I’ve encountered in Rome so far is… snow! Living and growing up in sunny southern California my entire life, I’ve never seen or experienced this much snow. While few were disappointed by the weather, I was intrigued that I was here in Rome at one of the most beautiful times in history! I heard that Rome hasn’t seen snow in decades, so I felt very fortunate that I was a part of this experience. Seeing this city covered in snow was an experience that cannot be replicated by a photo. It was truly a beautiful and rare sight that we just so happened to be here for.

As the weather improved throughout the month, I’ve been able to arrange more plans to travel. My first departure from Rome this month was a day trip to Naples, a beautiful town a few hours south of Rome (by train). My friends and I were able to experience the most delicious pizza any of us have ever tried! We went to Di Matteo to have their world famous calzones and pizza and fell in love with the authentic taste of Neapolitan pizza. We must have had about 4 meals in a span of half a day eating the tastiest Italian cuisines that Naples offered.

I’ve also finally had the opportunity to leave the country and explore a new city in Europe: London! My trip to London was an absolute perfect experience. Everything from our departure flight to exploring the city and returning back to Rome went so perfectly and surprisingly so smoothly, which made me love this trip and the city even more. Rome and London are like night and day. Although I love Rome, it was pretty refreshing to leave Italy for a weekend and stay in a big city with Starbucks, efficient public transportation, and modern architecture! We were able to eat a lot of oriental food, go to music concerts, enjoy modern art at TATE Modern Museum, and visit the famous monuments like Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.

However, my most favorite trip this month has to have been the trip to Tuscany organized by SAI. Our weekend trip to the region of Maremma in Southern Tuscany was one of the most relaxing weekends of the year. We stayed at the resort, Residence Terme di Sorano where we ate local traditional food, enjoyed our thermal baths, massages, rode on horses through a winery, and tasted local wine and cheese. SAI also took us to visit the towns of Sovana & Pitigliano which were some of the most unique and interesting places I’ve ever been to. The quaint town of Pitligano was one of my favorite places I’ve been to in Italy, if not Europe. The best part about this entire weekend was that everything was inclusive…(in other words, free!) Everything from our mini-tours, transportation, meals, activities were all included and provided for by the program. It was nice to enjoy a planned trip instead of doing the planning and organizing myself.

A lot of people assume that I am here in Italy having the time of my life and disregarding all academic matters for the 15 weeks that I’m here. This is totally false. Many of us attend school from early morning to late afternoon every day from Monday to Thursday. We are all full-time students taking a minimum of 4 classes 4 days a week. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of academics coming into this “study abroad” experience, but I can truly say that I am learning so much more than I had anticipated. Not only is this helping me make decisions for the future, it is also making my entire experience abroad so valuable and indescribably amazing.

Elisa Choi – University of California, Los Angeles

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About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.