Choosing to study at John Cabot University was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My experience in Rome impacted my future in ways I could have never imagined. It was more than an excellent education: it was the start to the rest of my life.
Not only did I truly discover my passions and interests, but I had the opportunity to live on my own and explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Most importantly, however, by being a part of JCU’s international community, I had the privilege of interacting daily with fellow “global nomads” like myself—people who had grown up between worlds and who did not have just one city to call home. These fellow Third Culture Kids became more than just peers and classmates. They became companions, friends, and confidants. One of them even became my husband.
After graduation, I moved back to Moscow to study Russian and to work at the US Embassy, and Lazar—my boyfriend at the time—moved back to Belgrade, Serbia, to start his career after studying International Affairs and Entrepreneurship. While we both continued our lives in two separate cities we call “home,” our relationship began to grow, and our interests and goals fell more and more in line with one another’s. Though separated by distance, we had one very strong underlying foundation: some of our most formative years together in Rome acted as a base for our future. The typical “college experience” drastically varies across the globe, but by having the incomparable JCU experience in common, we shared something that only we—and our fellow alumni—could understand.
During that time we did not get to see each other as often as we’d have liked, but we took advantage of the rare visits and traveled together to Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and the United States. On almost every trip, we met with former John Cabot students and alumni. The John Cabot postgrad community only continued to grow, regardless of where in the world we were. A year after our engagement in Belgrade, we got married in Tampa, Florida. If it wasn’t clear to us before, our wedding proved how strong the bond of fellow John Cabot graduates really is. Our alumni guests flew in from cities all over the globe to take part in this special event and celebrate with us.
Knowing we had a community we could count on was a huge relief. Looking around on the most important day of our lives, I saw friends hard at work, making sure everything ran smoothly—fixing flower arrangements, setting up table centerpieces, organizing seating charts, tying ribbons and bows, and most importantly, standing by our sides as we said our vows. These same friends were the ones we once drank coffee with at Caffé Settimiano, lived with in the Gianicolo and Viale di Trastevere Residences, studied with in the Lemon Tree Courtyard, and so much more over the countless hours spent together in Rome.
It was in that moment that I truly realized John Cabot University will be a part of our lives forever. Lazar and I are now living in Belgrade, but I have a feeling we will keep moving around–who knows where we will go next. In a lifestyle that is constantly changing, one thing I know for sure is that John Cabot will always be home, and these fellow graduates will always be family to us.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in The United States, Germany, The Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria