Study Abroad Student Spotlight: Malory Gavin-Forliti, Spring 2016

 Malory Gavin-Forliti, study abroad experiences, studying abroad in Rome, american students in ItalyThe scariest moment of my life (and study abroad experience) was leaving my parents at the airport in Minneapolis the day I departed for five months in Rome. I was studying abroad by myself and it was my first time traveling alone. Luckily, the moment I landed at Fiumicino, I met a girl who was also studying abroad at JCU on the way to baggage claim. That girl ended up being my roommate and the person I spent the rest of my time with while abroad.

The main reason I decided to study abroad by myself was to get out of my comfort zone and learn new things about myself. The first two weeks were tougher than I thought they’d be. I definitely experienced culture shock. Everything was so different than it was the US. I didn’t really know what to expect. The language barrier was the hardest thing about my study abroad experience. I learned a few phrases before leaving, but I hadn’t realized how much I would really have to know.

After the first three weeks, I finally got into a routine and learned the ropes around Rome. I developed relationships with all of my roommates and friends from classes, which made my time abroad much more meaningful. I was fortunate enough to travel to eight different countries and meet amazing people. I was even able to visit my relatives from Italy who live in Soriano, whom I had never previously met. It was a special experience that I am grateful I was able to do. Communicating involved a lot of simple words and hand motions… but there was amazing food and I was in great company! Malory Gavin-Forliti, study abroad experiences, studying abroad in Rome, american students in Italy, italian countryside

Getting around Italy forced me to learn the train and public transportation systems very quickly. I fell in love with the beauty and food that Europe has to offer. My favorite thing about traveling was taking the trains through Tuscany; it was nice to get away from the big buildings of the city and see the countryside. Every time I traveled out of Italy, I got more and more excited to get back to my (temporary) home. Rome is full of colors, life, and breathtaking buildings and sculptures. Words cannot do it justice; it is impossible to even try.

My family also came to visit me during my last three weeks abroad. I was starting to get homesick, so it was such a relief and so comforting to finally have them there. My brother Marco studied abroad at John Cabot 5 years ago and minored in Italian. It was fun sharing both of our favorite spots in Rome with our parents.

Returning back to the US was another culture shock that I wasn’t expecting to have. After 5 months away, it was bittersweet, but I felt more than ready to come back. Confrontation with the familiar felt weird. I changed so much, but home stayed the same. I was used to traveling most weekends and living out of my suitcase. I wasn’t used to driving and going to stores like Target or malls with endless products to choose from. It was quite overwhelming.

 Malory Gavin-Forliti, study abroad experiences, studying abroad in Rome, american students in Italy, Italian coastLooking back, I miss so much about my study abroad experience. I miss the friends that I met, most of whom I still stay in touch with via social media. I miss the gelato from San Crispino. I miss the food and the coffee. I miss the winding cobblestone streets. I could go on and on…

I wouldn’t change a thing about my study abroad experience. I grew up so much and I couldn’t be more proud of what I accomplished during my time abroad. I became more independent and gained a lot of confidence. I enhanced my foreign language skills. I can’t wait to come back and visit! I still talk to all of my roommates and we reminisce about our time studying abroad; it’s fun to share pictures and stories. I am so thankful for this experience. I miss everything about it.

I would definitely suggest that other students study abroad for a semester or a year at John Cabot. And as a tip, learned from experience: spend some time learning the language! Finally, choose some on-site classes like art or art history – there is nothing like standing in the middle of what you are studying and experiencing it firsthand. Immerse yourself in the city!

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