What was the scariest part about thinking of studying abroad? What were you worried about before you left?
It’s scary any time you go to a new place, but this was my first time leaving the country. Not only was I concerned about getting lost, but I was worried about not knowing the language or anything about the city I was going to. Also, Rome was the furthest I had ever gone from home, so it was scary to think that my friends and family would not be able to get to me if I needed them. Basically, I was scared of this totally new experience because I had no idea what to expect from a place with different laws and cultural characteristics, but as the departure date came closer, that fear turned to excitement.
What was the best part about studying abroad?
The best part about studying abroad was being able to consume so much of a culture in a rather short period of time. Though it was exhausting, it was great to be guided toward the most interesting sights where we learned about the historical and cultural significance while having the freedom to see other parts of the city or country on our own time. We saw all of the must-see attractions and more. More importantly, by eating out and exploring the city every day, we learned a lot about the culture in Italy today. I think we were all surprised by how different this culture is from ours and living in a country is the only way to pick up on the little things that make us so different. Also, Rome is unique because the modern city blends into an extensive and important history that is preserved and embedded throughout the city.
What would you say to someone who wasn’t sure about studying abroad?
Study abroad is not just shopping, eating and seeing sights. It is immersing yourself into a culture and learning about other people in a unique way. You should be flexible and open to new experiences if you plan to travel to another country, but if you’re not, then perhaps studying abroad can teach you to be adaptable. I think there is value in studying abroad for everyone, and at the end of the day, it’s what you make of it. Class time was only a small portion of our time in Rome, but as a group, we decided to go on weekend trips to see different parts of Italy, go to our favorite restaurant to experience Campo de’ Fiori at night and hunt for cool souvenirs. Everyone will have a different study abroad experience and everyone takes something different away from it, but as long as you don’t stay in the dorm every night, I’m sure you will have an amazing time.
How do you think studying abroad changed you?
By studying abroad, I learned to be more adventurous when it comes to food. Before going to Rome, I was a very picky eater, but in Italy, I decided to try all types of different food because this is the time to be adventurous. After coming home, I continued the habit of not turning down new types of food, although the food in Italy simply tastes better. Additionally, I learned to appreciate the little things that make New York home. Everything from differences at restaurants to the different natural landscapes make a difference.
What was your favorite meal?
All of the food I ate was amazing! If I had to choose, I would probably say the best meal I had was penne with meat sauce and pecorino cheese from our favorite restaurant on our street. It was amazing! I also have a new love for buffalo mozzarella and Caprese salad. Also, I had the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. Additionally, we ate gelato most days, but I think the best gelato of the trip was in Sorrento.