An Unforgettable Semester in RomaRome, Fall 2011

I have been back home in Denver for just over two weeks now and enjoying time with my family while relaxing after my busy semester of exploring.  I loved my semester abroad and am so glad I chose Rome.  Although it is a big city, I feel that by half way through the semester I was so comfortable navigating through the labyrinth of narrow winding streets.  Friends and I found several favorite places for food or just for visiting and by the end of the semester we still hadn't even seen everything.  Rome doesn't quite have the small town feel I was considering when applying for study abroad, but by the end I felt it was perfect.  Most Italians we met were very friendly and helpful.  They treat their neighborhoods like close communities, similar to what I was looking for in my study abroad city but with the additional options of a large city.  My roommates and I had our regular coffee place in our neighborhood, Monteverde, and by the end they knew our order so well that when they saw us come in they started making our coffee drinks right away.  We never got bored in Rome. There was always something to do or see and a nightlife if we wanted to go out.  Rome also made it easy to explore the rest of Europe  because it is so central and has two large airports and a train station. Since being back home, I have definitely noticed differences in lifestyles.  The major change is transportation.  At home, I don't have to wait for a bus or calculate into my plans the 30 minutes to sometimes an hour of time to get somewhere.  I can just get into my car and go.  However I do miss my walks in Rome because there was always a new discovery and everything was so beautiful.  I fortunately lucked out with weather in Rome this semester too, because even up until December it was often 50-60 degrees in the day time.  Food is another change.  Although I did miss some of my favorite places in the states and the variety, the food in Italy is so good!  Nothing can beat the fresh ingredients and I never got tired of any of the food.  I would regularly have a cappuccino in the morning, pizza or a panini for lunch, and pasta for dinner with a gelato or pastry somewhere in my day.  Sometimes I would change it up with salad or Chinese or create a missed meal back in my apartment, but the Italian food was always so good!  To solve my concern of gaining “study abroad weight,” I found the amount of walking I did in Rome to be a perfect solution so that I could still enjoy all the carbs and dairy typically used in Italian food.  Another change I have noticed is in myself.  After living in an apartment in a big city like Rome, where I didn't know the language, and traveling all over Europe, I feel more confident and capable of overcoming any obstacle.  Throughout the semester, there was always some challenge in my way testing my problem solving skills or patience and by the end I feel like I can take on anything.  At the end of the semester, I even traveled to Barcelona by myself and stayed with a friend, and felt so comfortable exploring all of Barcelona by myself for the weekend. I am still trying to sort out what I want to do after college, but this semester abroad has really opened my eyes to some great opportunities and a new perspective on the world.  I definitely know I would really love to keep traveling and learning about other cultures.  The classes I took in Sociology, Italian, Photography, Art History, and Journalism and even this photo blogging opportunity have all supported my interests and have helped me get closer to knowing what I want to do with my life.  I loved living, learning, and exploring in Rome and I hope one day soon I get to return.  For now and always, I will treasure all the experiences I had and the pictures I took as I return back to Wooster, Ohio for the second semester of my junior year.  I hope anyone interested in Rome, or just study abroad in general will contact me with any questions, because it is a wonderful opportunity I think students should take advantage of for their own personal and academic benefit.
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