FOMO: the fear of missing out.
Back home in Chicago, my friends would be moving into their first apartments, turning 21 and finally getting jobs and internships in the “real world,” and I would be seeing it all on Facebook with a seven-hour time difference between us. I was concerned I would miss life events of the people I really cared about that would only happen once.
So I was surprised when the FOMO I started feeling in Rome wasn’t related to my friends back in Chicago at all — in fact, it came from the city of Rome itself.
Regardless of the fact that I had been awake for 23 hours and my only sustenance was sketchy airplane food, when the rest of the John Felice Rome Center students and I were being transported through Rome, I realized this city is something grander than any city I have visited in the United States — and that’s when my FOMO shifted. This major world destination has a lot to offer, and I suddenly became worried about how I would possibly find the time to “decently” study and still be able to see every corner of the Eternal City.
Luckily, after only one week in this insanely beautiful place, I have seen more than a few of the Roman attractions that draw visitors from all over the world: the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Roman Forum, to name a few. But as I walk around the city it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that some of Rome’s greatest gems are not immediately visible to the eyes of tourists.
Lining tiny little roads barely able to fit a Fiat, there are what seems like hundreds of tiny cafés, enotecas (wine shops) and gelaterias run by Roman families, ready to offer students — such as those here with me at the JFRC — an authentic Roman experience.
The student life team at the JFRC has done a wonderful job so far ensuring that we have this type of experience and that it is as fulfilling as possible. This past weekend we rode a bus to the Italian countryside in photographers dream region, Umbria. Here we experienced massive waterfalls, private islands and quaint farms. This excursion showed us all that Italy has to offer if we just step outside city boundaries — logic that can be applied to Europe and the rest of the globe while we are abroad (and while we are at home).
As of now, I’m still trying to figure out how to integrate myself into the Roman culture while also hitting up the most important tourist destinations. This is all happening while I’m experiencing FOMO on Chicago fun and friends. But I have come to terms with the fact that missing out on seeing parts of the world made famous by their grandeur and significance may be a slightly more frightful experience.