As an introvert who had not yet traveled outside of the USA, I was initially hesitant to study abroad. On campus, I had the security of my closest friends and felt comforted by the familiar. As a great unknown, the idea of living in Rome for four months, despite its promise of adventure, was daunting. Nonetheless, after speaking to staff members from the study away office, I realized a new perspective: this was an experience that would only come once, that could potentially be the best and most transformative of my life.
And so, I took a chance.
As of today, I have lived in Rome for a month. Though only thirty days in, my adventure thus far has taken me beyond Rome to such exotic, exciting and fascinating places as Florence, Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Venice and Ravenna. I have seen Michelangelo’s paintings in the Uffizi, tasted an authentic Neapolitan pizza and gazed upon Mount Vesuvius from the same vantage point as the Pompeiians who perished almost two millennia before. I’ve sailed in a boat around the Amalfi coast where I stopped to swim in grottos, met Franciscan monks on their isle in the Venetian lagoon and toured numerous ancient basilicas.
And best of all is Rome. There, I have toured parts of the Vatican unaccessible to most thanks to my professor, who is employed there as an art conservationist. Among other sites, I have explored catacombs and seen the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. And for the foodies among you, I have been eating the best food of my life!
During this limited stay, Rome has changed who I am as a person. I am more outgoing, confident and willing to try new things. Despite once being the girl in gym class who would do anything to get out of participating and who was hesitant to raise her hand in class, starting next month I intend to enroll in boxing lessons at the nearby gym. I am also excited to report that I have an internship at a local middle school, where I teach multiple English classes per week.
Only a month ago, I arrived to Trinity’s Rome campus without a friend group, travel experience or knowledge of the Italian language. Now, I have many new close friends I never would have met otherwise, have traveled more in these past thirty days than I have in my prior twenty years and, thanks to my immersion in the culture, I have grown entirely comfortable with the Italian language.
Prior to my departure for Rome, I recall staring apprehensively at the countdown to my flight. It occurred to me that maybe I wouldn’t make friends, that the language barrier would overwhelm me or that I would become homesick. I know now that traveling outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s 4,000 miles away, might just be the best decision you’ll ever make.