I have never been to Italy before, let alone been outside of the United States for that matter so I was extremely excited and grateful to study abroad, but of course I didn’t know what to expect. I studied in Rome through U of I’s Food and Culture Program for a whole semester, and I can honestly say it’s been the best four months of my life. I was able to travel to and see several countries, learn to be fully independent, meet so many people, and most importantly immersed myself in a totally different culture that forced me to step outside my comfort zone. In the last four months, I gained new perspectives on things I normally wouldn’t have.
After weeks of preparation and packing, and a 13 hour layover flight that seemed never ending, I was finally in Rome! Tired and cranky as expected, we got dropped off at our apartments that quickly became our homes for the next four months. Trying so hard to fight the jet lag, our program directors kept us busy right away with a welcome dinner, following a scavenger hunt around the city the next day. It was like the blind leading the blind trying to find all of the monuments and historical buildings. Keep in mind we haven’t even been in Rome for 24 hours. We got lost many, many times but it ended up helping us become aware of our surroundings early on.
Thankfully we had Sunday to ourselves to catch up on some sleep and relax (we arrived that Friday and were constantly doing things ever since). Naturally, me and my roommates slept in until 3pm and it was very much needed. Once we were up and going, our first stop was the Vatican Museum. It was absolutely beautiful, and pretty incredible to see the history and art of the past. Our tour also included the Sistine Chapel which was an experience I’ll never forget.
We started school that Monday which was like your typical first day back in the United States. We went over the syllabi for each course, met our professors, and learned the ground rules. This specific program is through U of I, so my classmates were only the U of I kids in that program too. There was a total of 36 of us. We took 5 classes which included Contemporary Italian Society, Food and Culture, Food and Media, Layers of Rome, and Italian. Every class was held on alternative days, besides for Italian which we took everyday (which came in very handy).
The rest of the week contained our classes, roamed around the city after classes, and surely but slowly unpacked our stuff. The following weekend my roommates and I took a train up to Florence for a day where we traveled around the city.
By the end of the month, we were totally accustomed and knew how to “do as the Romans do.” The transition took a little bit of getting used to, but it was fairly easy for myself. At this point I was already in complete awe of Rome and was just so excited to be there.
#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad #imagineaces