Italian Experience: Finding the beauty of studying abroad

There is a significant difference between visiting a place and living there. Taking a short trip to a different country, in my opinion, entails the romanticized version of the place we all picture in our heads. Living abroad, however, includes the cultural differences, logistics and other everyday annoyances. While living in Rome for four months, I had to take the good with the bad, and there was plenty of both.
Most of the negatives came from the place that I lived in: Prati, a rich neighborhood in northern Rome. It would take me about an hour by public transportation to get to the historical areas and my school, John Cabot University, which I sometimes didn’t go to because I couldn’t always catch a bus. The bus that went from my boyfriend’s apartment to mine became the joke of the year because it took so long to arrive, that we would have plenty time to get ice cream at the shop nearby before it came.
As far as the wonderful things go, I loved seeing different places, the sights and the food, along with a few other things I miss since being home. One small thing that I immediately missed was the espresso. When I order shots of espresso here, I receive looks of disbelief from everyone around me. Simply drinking a quick hit of caffeine is so much easier than clutching that big coffee everywhere you go. Granted, it doesn’t taste nearly as good here. I still try to search for delicious Italian espresso.
The Italian scenery is also something I miss dearly. Since my return, the lack of aesthetic pleasure in suburban America is so noticeable to me in the form of vinyl siding covering my bubble of New Jersey. There are many different kinds of beauty in the world, and I was fortunate enough to live in such a historically unique place. In my opinion, Tuscany was the most picturesque place I visited and would be my number one destination recommendation.
One significant difference I now notice after being home is the food. I’m not referring to the typical Americanized Italian food we have here, but rather the freshness of the food and what is actually in it versus what’s in ours. I pretty much found everything to be much lighter, despite the stereotype of fattening Italian food.
After going from warehouse-sized supermarkets at home to convenience store-sized markets in Italy, I wholeheartedly miss the smaller stores. I now realize how much more convenient it is to grab everything you need from a tiny place, rather than getting distracted by endless distracting aisles of consumerism.
Overall, I would highly recommend studying abroad. A lot of people don’t do it because it is such a long time to be gone, and while it is, you do eventually come home. The planning stage was the most stressful part. The trip depends on endless paperwork and deadlines, but people from the Study Abroad office were there to help with that part of the process. My biggest regret was taking some decisions too lightly and rushing through them just to make sure I got there. It is a good idea to investigate every detail about the trip before you go, and to make sure you are fortunate enough to experience all that studying abroad has to offer.
-Jennifer Campbell
Senior human resources major

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