As someone who is chronically indecisive, I never could have imagined I would willingly sign up for a semester abroad. While studying abroad is very enticing, it requires a multitude of decisions on a daily basis which, as I mentioned, is not my strong suit. However, my love for travel and my yearning to immerse myself in a culture entirely different from my own ultimately eclipsed my struggle with indecision. And I have to say, I am so glad it did. After nearly a year of contemplating whether I should study abroad, I finally submitted my application to SAI’s program at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. Upon my acceptance into the program, I worried I had acted too rashly and feared I was in way over my head. Despite my anxieties about going abroad, I remained cautiously optimistic as my departure date crept closer. I even began to feel excited in the weeks leading up to my arrival. Now that I have arrived in Rome and have been living here for almost a month, I am grateful to say I made the right decision.
While anyone can imagine what their life will look like in another country, there is nothing quite like experiencing it live and in person. Actually coming to Rome and physically being here has taught me far beyond what any amount of research could have prepared me for. There is something very special and unique about living in a true Roman apartment amongst the local people and experiencing the day according to their cultures and traditions. For example, living atop a lively piazza has exposed me to the joys of daily farmer’s markets offering fresh fruits and vegetables, the sounds of children playing soccer in the late afternoon, and the sights of locals gathering together to chat and enjoy each other’s company. While these are just typical activities of the Italian people, these occurrences feel quite meaningful, and they are vastly different from the interactions I would experience back at home, in Boston.
Beyond just learning the different ways of Roman life, living in Italy provides a lot of new opportunities for me, locationally, as well. Rome has a rich history and is home to beautiful architecture, ancient art and ruins, and amazing restaurants. It is truly mind-blowing that I am a mere 20-minute walk from beautiful attractions such as the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. I could easily spend the entire semester uncovering more layers of Rome and exploring different parts of the city. However, Rome’s centralized location, in addition to the easy accessibility of the train system, affords me the opportunity to explore Italy and take trips to other charming cities like Florence, Milan, and Venice, to name a few. This desirable location allows me not only to appreciate the antiquities of Rome but also provides me the chance to go outside my comfort zone and explore new areas with their own distinct cultures. I look forward to potentially even venturing to other European countries; an opportunity that I certainly would lack had I decided not to study abroad.
While I have only been in Rome for a brief period, I have already learned many invaluable lessons. Not only have I fallen in love with a new culture, but I have expanded my perceptions of the world and the people around me. I have met many Italians, of course, but I have also come across people with a variety of other nationalities as well. I have proven to myself that I am capable of doing things that scare me, and I have been faced with challenges that are assuredly stepping stones towards my own personal growth. With the majority of the semester ahead of me, I am excited for what is to come. Lastly, I must address those like me who are unsure if they should go abroad: the experiences you will obtain are unlike any other that you could acquire at home. I have never met anyone who has regretted going abroad, but I can definitely say I have met people who wish they took advantage of their time in college and participated in an abroad experience. In light of this, my best advice is to just take the leap and study abroad.
Bailey is a Spring 2022 Rome student from Emmanuel College.