I don’t find myself having too many regrets in life so far. However, when I look back at my four years spent at JCU, I can’t help but wish I had dedicated more time to the Italian language.
Today, every time I hear someone speaking Italian, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul. It makes me happy, taking me back to my lovely Roman days. And yet, I always feel a small pang of regret, wishing I could easily strike up a conversation with them.
When I lived in Rome, I took basic Italian language courses, Italian 101 and 102. While I thoroughly enjoyed these classes and learned a lot, honestly, I did not spend much time outside of the
classroom studying, going over what we learned, or putting it into practice as much as I should have. When my language credits were completed, I moved on from Italian and took different elective classes, slowly forgetting what I had learned.
I knew how to communicate on a basic level, of course: I could get around Rome, order at a restaurant or coffee bar, ask directions, exchange pleasantries with neighbors… but what I truly desired was to fully dedicate myself to the language I was surrounded by. I longed to have deep conversations in Italian, becoming fluent. Looking back, I realize I had plenty of opportunities to delve deeper into the language, but – as university students will do – instead I focused on friends, classes, and enjoying Trastevere. I sort of stayed in my own bubble, taking the easy way out, speaking Italian only if I really had to, and using English to get around when possible.
I urge incoming students not to make my same mistakes!
Here are 5 good reasons you should learn Italian while studying at John Cabot University:
Knowing Italian will simply make your life in Rome more convenient. You will be able to converse with others, easily ask for walking or public transport directions, and complete daily tasks without thinking twice; not to mention traveling will be much easier. Not only will you feel like you can conquer Rome, but all of Italy will become more accessible. You will feel that you can navigate the country without a language barrier to stop you.
Along with convenience comes confidence. Once you see how much easier it becomes to live in Rome as a fluent Italian speaker, you will feel more confident. You will be inspired to do more things on your own, and will feel like you can call Rome “home”. Learning a different language isn’t easy, so be proud of the new skill you’ve acquired!
Embracing local culture
When you first move abroad to study, you will quickly realize that you will never be able to fully understand a culture unless you understand their language. There are some aspects to the Italian lifestyle that simply will not translate into English, but if you take the time to study Italian, you will feel like a local in no time. Immerse yourself respectfully in your host culture by learning the language – you will definitely not regret it!
Studies have shown that by learning a new language you improve your analytical skills, listening skills, multi-tasking abilities, memory, and more. Take the opportunity that studying at John Cabot is giving you, and dedicate time to mastering the Italian language. By the time you graduate you just might be bilingual (or trilingual if English is your second language!).
Knowing Italian will open up a path to future career possibilities in Italy. If you plan to stay in Italy after graduating, you will be an excellent candidate for many jobs if you are fluent in both Italian and English. Adding another language to your resume definitely can’t hurt!
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria