Now that I have been in Rome for almost three months (where has the time gone?), and my time here is coming to an end, I thought I could impart some of the wisdom I have acquired during my study abroad experience. I am no expert on how to study abroad “the right way,” and I have made plenty of mistakes (I got written up for the first time in my 20 years of life), but that’s why I wrote this — in the hopes that future JFRC students can avoid these mistakes with my help.
- Never be afraid to look like a tourist. How many opportunities will you have to pose like Drake in front of the colosseum? Not many.
- Don’t go to American-ized pubs such as Scholars too much. (But also do go to American-ized pubs because you can meet fellow students from the U.S. and also receive special “college student” discounts.)
- Don’t let your homework take precedence over potential amazing experiences (sorry professors). It’ll be OK if you get a “B-” in your tier one history class, trust me.
- Don’t be the jerk that takes calcio (soccer) too seriously. No one really cares if you are Calcio King, especially if you made people cry.
- Don’t be afraid to stay on campus during the weekends. One of the most beautiful things about studying abroad is the amazing friendships you create. Movie nights and dorm gatherings can be just as fun as dancing at a discoteca if you can avoid getting written up. (Hit me up for tips.)
- Don’t forget about The Eternal City. Traveling every weekend is no doubt a blessing, but don’t forget you are living in one of the most amazing cities on Earth. Take at least a couple of weekends to explore Rome.
- Sign up for a class that spends time out of campus and in the city. You may hate yourself for signing up for a class that meets at 8:30 a.m., but on-site classes give you the opportunity to get a
mini-tour of Rome every week. It’s a hard offer to pass up.
- Don’t worry about gaining weight, because you probably will. When will you have another opportunity to eat gelato and pasta and pizza and cannoli and wine and cheese daily?
- Speak Italian, even if you have zero experience (like me). Shop workers and waiters will be appreciative if you try speaking their language and maybe even give you better service or a nice conversation (of which you understand roughly 30 percent).
- Enjoy your time in Rome and try not to think of the stresses that next semester may bring. Internships, jobs, classes and interviews can wait until you are back from one of the most enchanting places on Earth.