Gap Year Spotlight: Colleen Mair

They say that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you’ll return to Rome – how many people can testify that this actually works?

My name is Colleen and I am a gap year student at John Cabot University from Australia. I first set foot in Rome in October 2017 when I came to visit my dad, who was temporarily working here. I stayed by the Coliseum and I immediately fell in love with the city. As I walked around, I found myself thinking, “I could live here!” However, this was simply a passing thought; I never thought I actually would.

Not long after he returned to Australia, my dad was offered a permanent position at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome. After a LONG discussion the family decided he should accept the job, and after even further discussion we decided I would join him! I guess my coin in the Trevi hadn’t been thrown in vain. I had just graduated from high-school and had not yet begun university in my home state, so I didn’t really have anything holding me back. I knew I would miss my home, family, friends and everything I was familiar with, but I wanted to jump out of my comfort zone, become more independent, and gain an amazing new life experience.

I came to Rome with no concrete plans of what I would do while living here, but I knew I wanted to try to study Italian since I would be here for at least a year. In my search for places to study, I stumbled across John Cabot University. From the minute I learned about the place and toured the campus prior to Orientation, I could tell I’d feel very welcome here.

Once Orientation began I immediately found myself surrounded by American study abroad students, Italians, and other international students. I always tend to feel a little anxious in a crowd of strangers, especially if my friends aren’t there to act as a safety net, but I didn’t let that stop me from meeting new people. As I spoke with the American students, many were fascinated by my Australian accent. I felt different than those around me, but once we all got to know each other, I felt much more comfortable and made so many new friends. The friendships I’ve created has definitely been one of the best aspects of my experience in Rome thus far.

During my first summer at JCU, I took Italian 101 and Visual Communications. This was my first time properly studying a language, and while I certainly had my challenges, it was infinitely rewarding to start understanding what was being said around me when I was out and about in the city.

Life in Rome, specifically in Trastevere, is wonderful! The sights and sounds of the flowing Tiber River, the narrow cobbled streets, and the corner cafés and coffee shops make it an amazing and atmospheric place to live. I couldn’t recommend John Cabot University more to anyone out there who might be considering it. It will be an experience that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.


Colleen Mair
Gap year student
Summer I, II and Fall 2018
Hometown: Adelaide, Australia

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