My name is Stephanie Gomez; I am a junior at Rider University who has studied abroad two times in the same country. Italy has been a passion of mine ever since my first year of high school. I have studied the language for seven years and I feel that the only way to fully learn a language is to emerge yourself with the people and culture of that country.
Once I arrived in Italy, I discovered a completely new world with its own language and exciting culture. The language was not a struggle for me but rather getting accustomed to the slower more relaxed way of life.
Ordering a pizza for the first time in Italy was something that I will never forget. The waiter asked me if I would like a margarita, and thinking that it was a cocktail I kept insisting that I wanted a pizza. He finally said in English, “Pizza in Italian is margarita”.
The first time I went to the super market I was surprised to find that in Italy you actually have to pay for your grocery bags. What a way to encourage people to be green!
My first study abroad experience was in Florence, Italy in 2009, which taught me a great deal about life in Italy. Not only did I learn the culture and language better by living with a host family, but I also learned how to cook traditional Italian food.
Deciding to study abroad in Italy again was an impulse. My Italian class was canceled and it seemed like a sign to go back. With a new affiliated program opening up at Rider I decided to try it once again, and soon I was off to Italy again in Spring 2011.
It is hard to believe that you were ever here in this beautiful country. Rome is an open book; you walk down the street and you experience a whole history lesson right in front of you without expecting it. John Cabot University, in Rome, Italy, has offered me another opportunity for engaging with the Italian culture and people.
Being an American university, you find many foreigners as well as Americans, studying in the courtyard and speaking in different languages. I would say classes in another country are intense, but they also offer a different perspective on things that you might have overlooked while studying in America.
Trust me it only gets easier. I had no problems transitioning into the Roman way of life. Now only if I could understand the Roman dialect (much different than Italian).
Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity that each person should experience. You not only learn about the country and culture you are visiting, but you learn a lot about yourself as a person. Last year I traveled to ten out of the twenty regions Italy has to offer. My goal is to see the ten I have missed. One can only try. As the famous saying goes “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”