It’s hard for me to describe in words what it has been like to live in Rome for two months. So many thoughts, emotions, and reactions have occurred that it’s really hard to sum up an experience like this into a couple of words. But I will venture to try my best to explain what it’s been like living here through three takeaways thus far.
My first takeaway is: change is real, imminent and unavoidable, but it is nothing to fear. I’ve always liked change, but that doesn’t mean I understand it. Before coming here, I was so excited for the all the changes that would occur: new language, new culture, new people, new classes. But I didn’t think much about the accompanying struggles that would come with that change. Italian wouldn’t just click after studying it for the first time just five months before I came here? I wouldn’t understand most of what I was hearing? Other impending changes loomed in my mind too: after this semester I would go back home, work during the summer, and then go back to school for my final semester of college. Then what? In a year, I will be graduated, hopefully with a job, out in this world. And I am here, in a foreign country, just starting to find my groove. Having to adapt to these new changes is helping prepare me for life, though, because life is ultimately a continuum of change.
My second takeaway is: learn how to think, and know what you believe. One of my classes, Contemporary Issues in the Roman Catholic Church, involves a lot of philosophical and theological thinking and discussion. Used to taking business classes, I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting and important I found this class to be. Knowing what you believe and why you believe along with being able to explain that coherently to someone is extremely important, and it’s something I now want to invest more time in.
My third takeaway is: try to meet locals. Who you meet really shapes your study abroad experience. Something that I wanted to be a part of my experience was meeting Rome’s locals. That was a little bit daunting at first since I did not know anyone before I came here and also because I could barely speak any Italian. But little by little, week by week, I found opportunities to encounter the people of Rome. My first memorable experience was volunteering at the Missionaries of Charity. The sisters there have a shelter for women, and so I asked if I could help volunteer. They gladly accepted, and soon enough, I was hearing Italian, speaking with people in Italian (though luckily the sisters speak English too!), and building relationships with people there. It’s been a rewarding experience that I cherish. I also encountered Italians at a church. They approached me, (talked to me in Italian!), and welcomed me into their community. It was a joyful surprise, and I’m excited to get involved in their community faith events.
I could write a novel on all the lessons I’ve been learning, but three will have to do for now. Thanks for reading!