As a child, you are faced with a very common question: What do you want to be when you grow up? As a little girl, my answer was always the same, “I want to be a famous singer.” I would say, and I would fantasize about performing in front of millions of people all over the world. But as I entered high school, and the question became more of a reality, I found myself unable to answer the question. Do I want to be a teacher? Maybe I want to study business? I wasn’t sure. When my senior year of high school rolled around, I found myself not only unable to answer the question, but now unsure of where I wanted to apply to college.
I applied to 8 colleges in the United States. Some near me in New Jersey, a few close enough in New York City, and some further away (which in retrospect were not very far at all considering where I ended up). I got into the majority of the schools I applied to and was filled with excitement each time I received an acceptance letter. It wasn’t until I visited the college campuses that I realized I did not want to be at any of those universities at all. I couldn’t envision myself living the typical American college life. So what now? When the time came to make a decision, I was unhappy with each school I had once dreamed of going to, so I decided to attend a community college at home.
After my first year of college, I was fortunate enough to have a friend let me tag along on his family vacation to Italy. I had never left the country before, so when he proposed the idea that I join him, there was nothing stopping me. I stayed in Italy for a month. My friend, a former JCU student, showed me around the area and made me fall completely head over heels in love with Rome. We did all the things tourists usually do; we visited the Vatican, the Coliseum, and the Pantheon as well as a few other sites.
Fortunately for me though, my family friends are not what you would consider tourists. They lived in Rome for a few years, so they really showed me what it was like to live here. They brought me to all the local restaurants and cafes, introduced me to their friends who still lived here and showed me the typical Roman ways.
When it came time to go back home, I cried from the minute we left for the airport until we touched down in New York City. Spending a month in Rome showed me exactly where I needed to be. It showed me that although I had felt a little lost for the past few years, my life was guiding me in the direction I needed to go all along. Not going away to college after high school was the best choice I could have made, because it lead me to begin my travels at a young age, which is everything I have ever wanted.
After my summer in Italy, I decided that I would somehow find my way back. My desire to return was strong and I was completely determined to get back to Rome. And now here I am, 5 months later, living la bella vita.
JCU Class of 2016
New Jersey, USA