I look back at august 26th, 2012 and I see the seven of us. We were all excited and just so pumped for a year in Rome and to then go on to continue in Chicago.
What an amazing year this has been. I feel really bad actually, because I cannot possibly describe to you the degree of how incredible it has been, how much I love this city and this country and its people, and how much I have learned. This program has turned my life around for the best, I’ve met so many people (Americans, Italians and other Europeans) and I love them all so much. We’ve grown together in this amazing experience. We’ve seen and lived through things so beautiful and so amazing, we probably never thought we would.
Fall semester was great but, man was Spring semester awesome! It was the perfect way to wrap up my freshman year. I’m going to miss this. I already do and I’m staying here for the summer! I can’t believe it. Wow…
I fast-forward eight months and I see the seven of us. We are all excited and pumped for our year in Chicago and whatever the future will hold.
And finally, as tears start to roll down my cheeks: Here’s to one of the most incredible places on Earth. A place that has taught me so much about life, myself, travelling, other people, acceptance, maturity, and tolerance. A place that has never failed to surprise me. A place that is filled with beauty from the tiny, hidden alley to the glorious Colosseum or the Vatican. A place that has given me so much for nearly a year now. A place I can call ‘home’. Here’s to the end of the best freshman year of university anyone could ever ask for and to spending my summer here to conclude my year abroad. Amor~Roma spelled backwards.
Shoutout to Dr. Susana Cavallo, Cynthia Bomben, Dr. Michael Beazley, Anna Carlson and Carla Mollica, thank you all for making our year!
On April 12th I had the opportunity, along with other students of Loyola, to go to visit the headquarters of the World Food Programme in Rome. The World Food Programme is a UN organization dedicated to reducing hunger in the world. We were incredibly fortunate, as we also had the chance to meet the Wold Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
Cousin explained the goals of the association and what the World Food Programme had accomplished in recent years. She also explained that recently the program has been primarily focused on bringing support to Syria, as well as Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. My personal impression of Cousin was that she is a woman determined to improve the situation of malnutrition in the world. She has truly inspired me and convinced me to fight every day to work towards my goals.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity, along with other students of Loyola, to visit the Mosque of Rome and it was a fascinating experience.
The mosque, designed by architect Paolo Portuguese, began being built in 1984, but the project was only finished in the mid-90′s. The building has a modern design, which differs from the classic shape of traditional mosques in the Middle East. The tour guide who welcomed us was of Moroccan origin and explained to us that the mosque also houses the Islamic Center of Rome. When we stepped inside, after a brief explanation, the tour guide showed us how Muslims pray and what the Arabic words in the prayers mean.
This was an incredibly enriching experience for students and we’re fortunate that the Loyola staff organizes this trip regularly each year!
As our time as Rome Starters dwindles down and the countdown for summer begins we plan on getting our final travels done, discovering more of Rome, revisiting our favorite spots in Rome and preparing for final exams.
Tonight we are having our final dinner as Rome Starters before the end of the semester. Susana Cavallo, the Dean of Faculty in the John Felice Rome Center, is taking us all out along with a few SLA’s to Ristorante Cervinia for a last hurrah and a chance to catch up and talk about the future and whatnot.
The JFRC Talent Show and the Banquet are also coming up in the following weeks and we are both excited and sad: excited because these events are a ton of fun but sad because it means it’s the end of a great year abroad. But hey, Dr. Seuss had a point when he said not to cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened, right?
As of now I’m just overwhelmed with emotions. Carson McCuller said it right when she said that “we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
It’s crazy to think that last August we came together in Rome for the first time. It feels like so much and so little time at the same time.
I’d love to say that I became an expert at getting around Rome within the first month or two after arriving here. Some students do, but most do not. This tends to happen because you go out in big groups and in the course of getting from point A to point B you’re talking and a bit distracted – often you don’t really realize where you’re going until you’re actually there! Don’t get discouraged though! All you have to do is pay more attention, or even better, venture out on your own and let your restless feet wander around the streets and vicoli (alley ways) of Roma. This way you force yourself to discover the hidden places and corners that house the best meals, the best gelato and the cutest little shops. Also, guiding yourself with monuments is a much better choice than trying to guide yourself by street names or alley names. Once you take in your surroundings and put all your monuments in perspective, you will be able to go just about anywhere.
Doing this, and to be quite honest with a little help from good ol’ Google Maps on my phone when I got too lost, I am now able to get around by myself, and even more so, SHOW people around! Whether it’s the new students in the Spring semester or friends or family visiting you from everywhere around the world, you will be able to show them around! It’s such a great feeling to be able to show them places they would not normally see if they only saw all the typical touristy sites.
I had a few friends from Germany come to Rome recently for a long weekend. It was such a great feeling to be able to show them around my adopted city: explaining the historical background of an ancient Roman site or showing them a hidden restaurant that you discovered.
Being here for nearly a year has been amazing but I feel like it’s still not enough time. Rome is not called the Eternal City for nothing, after all. But hey, you get pretty close to getting a gooood taste of it
*For more info and pictures on life in Rome, in the JFRC and about the Rome Start program, like our page on Facebook!
This was the first real Spring Break for me and I had a decision to make: Bosnia-Serbia study trip, Greece-Turkey study trip, or my own trip?! The study trips sounded amazing and, after looking at my friends’ pictures and listening to their stories, I know they were AMAZING!! They visited soooo many incredibly beautiful places, ate great food and had a great time with students and faculty members.
I actually ended up going to Budapest, Amsterdam and Brussels with a friend and it was also a great experience. They are all unbelievable cities, full of gorgeous architecture, delicious food, great museums and lots of fun!! I haven’t been on a study trip, but by word of mouth and pictures I know they are awesome experiences. Going it solo and doing your own trip, however, is just as enriching. You are responsible for everything! You make your own plans, book your own things and decide when and where to go. You can adjust and readjust your adventures as you please! At the same time, all this planning can be a bit stressful, so I see why study trips are an attractive option. Regardless, I had an amazing time over Spring Break and I got to see things I never thought I would see! I feel so blessed and thankful for all that I have been able to do, see and experience this year. I cannot wait to see what adventures are waiting for me in Chicago!
So I was looking through my pictures of the past 6 months in Europe and thinking about the next 5 months I have ahead of me (I am sticking around for the Summer Session I and the Inter-session) and it just made me stop and think about how blessed I am to have seen SO many beautiful sights and people and how many more are out there, waiting for me to discover them. I am so thankful I am having more than just a semester here in Rome, because had I not been given this opportunity of the Rome Start program, I never would have seen the beauties and the secrets this city, especially, holds! I think coming here for my freshman year has made this experience all the more special.
So, come here to get inspired to travel, see the world, discover new things and places, really get to know your surroundings, marvel at the beauties that lay in our world right at your fingertips.
Check out some of the pictures students from JFORCE and I have taken over our time here.