All of a sudden there are only 3 days left in my first year of college. As freshman year comes to a close and my time in the “la città eterna” no longer seems so eternal it seems only fitting that we, the Rome Start class, pass down some wisdom to our future predecessors of the JFRC:
Travel is the best way to learn about the world:
Absolutely nothing can prepare you for the sweet smells of Christmas markets in Vienna, or the sound of the ocean while you walk along the beach in Barcelona. More importantly, understanding cultures different than your own cannot be done unless you experience it first hand. We live in a global age, how else will you learn the ins and outs of Arabic culture if you don’t spend a week in Egypt trying it out yourself? A professor can teach you about World War II, but it doesn’t become real until you visit Dachau or Auschwitz, and what good is an Eiffel tower key chain unless you have viewed Paris from the top?
There’s always more to see:
You’re a Rome Start, you’re an international student, you speak a language that the other students don’t, and your “countries visited” list is longer than the American students coming from Chicago. That doesn’t mean you should skip that trip to Ireland because you’ve already seen the Cliffs of Moher. Wake up before noon even if it hurts, and go see that museum or art exhibit that is free on Sundays. Stand in line for the Louvre; just because you’ve seen the Mona Lisa doesn’t mean you’ve appreciated Rembrandt long enough. Every city in Europe has more to see, just look up.
Don’t live your life through a camera lens:
The Tulips in Holland are so beautiful that the camera on your iPhone simply cannot capture their perfection. The saying “if its not on insta, did it really happen?” is perhaps the worst saying to come to Europe. Yes it happened, and yes your pictures are beautiful, but do you remember what those tulips smelled like, or how the birds sounded throughout the park? Embrace all of your senses whilst travelling the world, there is so much more to life than the likes you’ll get on your Facebook pictures.
Money is such an evil necessity, but it’s not the end of the world when you accidentally order bruschetta before your pasta. There are so many things in the world that money can’t buy. One of those things is happiness. That being said, gelato brings happiness. You live in Italy, its okay to spend 3 euro on that gelato your thighs are telling you that you don’t need. Your thighs are lying, you need that gelato, you’re going to walk it off anyway on your trip to the Vatican. Go shopping, those adorable pants you saw in Morocco, yes you need them. That snow globe that lights up when you shake it, it’s the perfect souvenir. That beer stein from München, where else will you get an authentic German glass that holds a liter of beer? Money is fleeting, memories are not.
Make friends with the girls in your hall; hang out with the boys upstairs. Meet up with those Italians you sat next to at dinner, and bring pie to the nuns behind the school. Make Rome your home, make it a place you can’t wait to come back to, not only because it is simply stunning but because you have forged friendships that will last a lifetime. The Rome Start group is small, but you will find your greatest friends among their numbers, and yes, you will have to say goodbye to the upperclassmen that took you under your wing fall semester, but you have two hundred more mentors spring semester as well.
Two semesters, one chance:
Yes, you have two of them, don’t waste them. Just because you have 200 days in this city doesn’t mean you can put off visiting the Sistine Chapel until finals week of spring semester. Every day is a new day to see a new piece of art. There is nothing like the Vatican lit up at night, or a gelato run between classes, or secret bakery when you’re heading out to the airport at 5 am the next day and know you’ll need some breakfast. Take every chance you get to see the world around you.
-The Rome Start Class of 2018