Un semestre all'Università John Cabot di Roma
On Tuesday, January 10th, 2018, I arrived in Rome, Italy, at Fiumicino International Airport. Within the first month of being in Italy, I had accomplished my initial goal of traveling somewhere almost every weekend. Upon completion of orientation week at John Cabot University (JCU), I visited Firenze (Florence) on an Italo train by myself from Roma Termini. This was the first time I realized how easy traveling in Europe could be. The following weekend, I flew to Paris with Air France, checking off Versaille and Montmartre from my bucket list. In addition to learning the important do’s and don’ts surrounding the hostel lifestyle, I learned more about myself and how difficult it was to be on your own. The weekend after that, I visited Venezia (Venice) before the Venetian Carnival, and on the last weekend of my first month in Rome, I visited Berlin, Germany with an Aussie friend I had met from the Generator Hostel in Paris. It was truly great to meet someone with the same interests and we even got to experience a Berlin Hertha vs Hoffenheim football match at the Berlin Olympic Stadium. While traveling was my main goal aside from my studies, I got a preview of what my life would be like in the future.
Photos above from my weekend trips to Paris, Firenze, and Berlin
While I had been abroad numerous times prior to studying abroad, this was the first time I had felt truly on my own with all responsibilities weighing down on my shoulders and no support system in my new home away from home. The accomplishment that I am most proud of to this day was making the 5v5 Women’s Calcio (Soccer) Team. It was truly amazing to have the opportunity to play alongside other women whom also shared my passion for soccer. I was even fortunate enough to meet up with friends from New York who happened to have been studying abroad in Firenze. Nothing felt more like home than catching a Fiorentina vs Verona Match with a childhood friend that had also been playing soccer since they were five. Between playing soccer twice a week from 9-11:30pm, and traveling on the weekends to escape the reality that I would soon be graduating, you would think I wouldn’t have time for my studies. But due to traveling being my plan all along and taking the minimum amount of credits on purpose, I learned how study better and do my homework in advance knowing that my weekend trips were my rewards.
One of the major highlights of February had been the rare surprise snowfall in the Eternal City. Snow in Rome? In Florence? In the French Riviera? In all unexpected places across Europe that hadn’t seen snow at all if not in ages? It was a truly an unforgettable moment. To watch the snow descend slowly and delicately as I pulled into Roma Termini from Firenze... again, was simply magical. Having just returned from Monte Carlo, Monaco, and the French cities of Antibes, Cannes and Nice, this was an experience like no other. The last time it had snowed in Rome was in 2012, and prior to that it had been over 20 years. Pretty incredible to experience this live, and I found it crazy, that there was like only 1-2 inches of snow on the ground and yet the Mayor of Rome declared a national snow emergency and basically shut down the entire city.
During the second to last week of March, Rome was finally starting to feel like Spring. The flowers were blooming, and the temperature sat perfectly between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Since JCU’s midterms, I had traveled to Milan, Brussels, Amsterdam and returned to Firenze for my 21st birthday. While I wasn’t thrilled to be another year older, celebrating by wandering the Boboli Gardens and having dinner with my friends was really enjoyable. Following the homesick state of mind that I had going into midterms, I definitely needed this emotional revival.
The weekend following my birthday, was spring break. For my break, I headed south on a solo adventure to Greece and the Greek Islands. On Saturday March 31st, I was off to Ciampino at 4:00AM to catch a 6:00AM flight to Athens. Thank goodness for the shuttle buses from Termini. I ended up staying in Athens for three nights, before taking the Blue Star Ferry at 6AM to the greek island of Mykonos. Afterwards I headed to Naxos for my transfer to the famous sunset island of Santorini. With only a few more open weekends left to plan, I made a spontaneous decision to visit the Spanish island of Ibiza off season. Following the round trip to Ibiza for $30.00USD, the next weekend I had my student group excursion to Split, Trogir, and Krka, Croatia. Split was one of the most amazing cities I had ever been to. Definitely one of my favorite trips right up there next to Greece.
On the evening of May 5th, while most JCU students flew back to the United States, I flew to Palma de Mallorca, Spain. May 5th-12th were definitely some of the most emotional days that I had ever experienced. Mallorca was beautiful, but being on an island alone with nothing much to do was hard, especially after Vueling Airlines cancelled my flight back to Rome two days before I was supposed to leave for New York out of Fiumicino... Now, looking back on my time in Italy, I had definitely accomplished many of my traveling goals. In addition to traveling to 11 cities, I had made new friends and learned how to budget, and advocate for more female solo travelers. On Monday, May 14th, I took my MyTaxi to Fiumicino Airport since Uber is illegal.
Being back in the US, was definitely a reverse culture shock, but I was glad to be greeted with large hugs from my parents. Studying abroad really prepared me for my Senior year, and it helped me decide what I want to do after I graduate which is get an ESL certified and Teach English all over the world. I am so thankful to UD’s Institute for Global Studies, my program advisers, my recommenders, my family, my friends, my GSS sisters, and all of those who had supported me on my journey. In no way was it easy. In the end, while there were some things I’d like to change, I don’t regret anything! If any sisters ever need advice or emotional support whether traveling overseas, or studying abroad, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Original Blog Posts on UD Institute of Global Studies Study Abroad Blog: https://sites.udel.edu/globalblog/category/europe/