Attending John Cabot University impacted my life in so many different ways. While I was there, I found my interests and passions, completed my degree, got to call Rome “home,” and made some incredible friends. Some of these friendships have very interesting backstories that I can only attribute to JCU’s extremely diverse and international community.
When I was in tenth grade, I attended an international high school in Moscow, Russia. Our sports teams and extracurricular clubs would often travel to various schools throughout the region for events, tournaments, and festivals. I was in choir and went on our school’s trip to Budapest for one of these festivals. I stayed with a host family, and met international students from the schools in Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, and Belgrade. It was a great weekend enjoying the festival, the city, and making new friends. I spent most of my time with some students in particular from Belgrade and had a lot of fun with them; however, we all said goodbye after three days and went back to our home cities and schools.
Fast forward to two years later. It was my first day on campus at John Cabot. I was excited and nervous while moving into my apartment in the Gianicolo Residence, meeting my roommates, and attending Orientation meetings. While I was definitely a bit overwhelmed with all of the new faces and information, I remember already feeling at home just knowing that there were so many international students like me starting out at John Cabot.
I remember going to the Aula Magna to take a math placement exam. As I was leaving the test I walked past a crowd of fellow freshmen and saw a face I recognized. I did a double take, turned around, and made eye contact with her. She stared at me and said, “I know you….” I replied, “I know you.” After about thirty seconds of trying to figure out how we knew each other, it suddenly came to us. Bianka and I had met at our choir festival in Budapest in tenth grade. Shocked by this “small world” coincidence, we both got so excited and wanted to tell everyone how crazy it was that we both ended up in Rome at John Cabot.
Bianka quickly became one of my close friends during my time at JCU. We took classes together, ate lunch in the Tiber cafeteria, sang old choir songs as we strolled through the streets of Trastevere, and spent countless hours discussing everything at Café Settimiano. After graduation, we tried to stay in touch and catch each other up on the happenings of our lives even after we had both left Rome.
While my husband and I were planning our wedding and deciding that we would live in Belgrade after getting married, I reached out to Bianka to see what she had been up to lately and where in the world she was living. I was excited to discover that she now studies Fashion Brand Management… in Belgrade! After four years, Bianka and I have found ourselves living in the same city yet again. It has been a joy to reconnect and spend time together in Belgrade, exploring what the city has to offer, chatting over weekly coffees, and reminiscing about some of our lifelong memories spent in Rome. It’s true what they say: the world is small, and if you attend John Cabot, you just might notice the world getting a lot smaller.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria