Being the youngest child in my family, I grew up watching my three siblings all study abroad when they were in college. Because of this, I knew a semester abroad was going to be a part of my college experience, too. In fact, I was so eager to go overseas, that I chose to study abroad during the spring semester of my sophomore year.
It’s unusual at Texas Christian University to go abroad before your junior year, so I knew that I was not going to know many (if any) of the other participants going abroad with me. This turned out to be a blessing. It forced me out of my comfort zone, encouraged me to be more outgoing, and made me meet new people who eventually became my best friends.
Studying in Italy
Choosing John Cabot University was not a hard decision for me. I wanted to study in a city where I would have to learn a foreign language, and I also wanted to be in a large city where travel options (planes and trains) were plentiful.
After I narrowed down my options, I decided on Italy because that was where I wanted to travel to the most, and travel I did: I visited Florence, Venice, Milan, and Lake Como, and I went on several day-trips around central Italy. Being raised Roman Catholic, another reason I chose to study abroad in Rome was that I wanted to be as close to the epicenter of my faith as possible. Considering the proximity of JCU’s campuses to Vatican City made the decision a no-brainer.
Residential Life and Classes at JCU
The experience of studying abroad is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Going into my semester abroad, my biggest fear was getting lost. The living experience at JCU, however, turned out to be so convenient! I lived in the Trastevere apartments, sharing a flat with seven other girls. It was only a short walk away from campus. Getting to know my roommates and other study abroad students was so much fun that I ended up traveling with people I had just met!
Of course, the emphasis on studying abroad should be on studying, and JCU offers a plethora of interesting classes. Browsing the options before registration, I knew I wanted to take the religion course “Popes of Rome.” That class was the best college course I have ever taken! Professor Erik Walters was not only extremely knowledgeable and engaging, but the class was challenging and the museum trips to the Vatican were incredible experiences.
I also enrolled in a course on human trafficking and contemporary slavery. Taught by an Italian expert on the matter, the course explored the complexities of human trafficking in Europe. This class applied to my International Relations minor and led me to become the president of a campus organization, the International Justice Mission, when I returned to my home university.
What studying abroad taught me
I learned that the purpose of studying abroad is so much more than school. There might never be another time in my life that I can live abroad again. Getting to spend five months of my life walking the cobblestone streets of Trastevere, catching a bite of gelato between classes, and studying on the balconies of a university in the heart of Rome are just a few of my favorite, most fulfilling memories.
Some might go into a semester abroad thinking it’s all about the travel. While that is a highlight of the experience, my favorite part of studying abroad at JCU was living in such a lively and beautiful part of Rome and diving into the Italian culture and way of life. This experience was always an adventure, from the language barriers to navigating the trains, and I am forever fond of and thankful for my time at John Cabot University in Rome.
Criminal Justice and International Relations major
Texas Christian University – Study Abroad Spring 2018
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois