Study Abroad Spotlight: Carly O’Loughlin, Summer II 2019

Carly O'LoughlinAnyone who knows me well understands that my decision to study abroad in Italy for six weeks during the summer of 2019 came straight out of left field. I’m a huge home body, so living and going to school in another country was extremely uncharacteristic of me.

Regardless, my interest was sparked by the bustle on campus that came about after my school sent out an email regarding information sessions for the upcoming abroad programs. I knew people who had gone abroad in the past, and almost all of them studied abroad in Rome at John Cabot University. The glow on their faces when they talked about their favorite memories was something I was jealous of.

So, two of my best friends and I took the bait and went to the information session. By the time we were walking out of the meeting, we were hooked.

Getting to the Eternal City

The beginning of my personal journey was rough, to say the least, with two canceled flights, a missed flight, and a delayed flight that all did their very best to keep me from arriving in Rome in good spirits. However, the feeling of butterflies in my stomach when my plane touched down at Fiumicino Airport was unmatched. There was so much to take in that day that the excitement was almost overwhelming.

I vividly remember driving down the cobblestone road in the backseat of the JCU van with widened eyes as I saw where I was going to be living for the next month and a half. Other college students stood outside of the Gianicolo Residence, already moved in and itching to go out and explore the sites of Trastevere, the neighborhood in which JCU is located. I couldn’t wait. This homebody sure was glad to be home…

Encouraging Professors and Weekend Travels

It was truly impossible for me to be grumpy going to class when my morning commute was a stroll through the sunny, cobblestone streets of Trastevere among the townspeople eager to start their day. Of course, a stop for an iced coffee from Meccanismo was purely routine by the second day of class.

The professors that I had at JCU reminded me a lot of the professors at my home college. They were patient and understanding while students took the time to adjust to living in another country. Once we got our footing, they were the first ones to encourage us to go out and inhale the Italian culture.

The professors were just as excited to be there as the students were, and I never went a single Thursday class without one of them asking, “So, what fun things does everyone have planned for the weekend?” Students’ plans for sight-seeing and traveling that were interjected from around the room were food for everyone’s hunger for adventure.

A Life-Changing Experience

In reflecting on my time abroad at JCU, it is hard to express the plethora of knowledge that I gained about myself and the world. Being immersed in another culture so far away from home is a truly life-changing experience that is optimized by having an open mind. To any potential abroad student, if there is any time in life to be open to new experiences, it is now. Even if it is far out of your comfort zone, take the leap of faith to submerge yourself in another culture, and I promise you will not regret it.

The appreciation for the world in which you live that you will develop from meeting new people and seeing new places will always be a part of you. I encourage you to take the opportunity to expand your horizons. Once you do, you will quickly see the potential it has to shape you into an even better version of yourself. There is no better community to take part in this transformative experience than John Cabot University.

Carly O'Loughlin

Carly O’Loughlin
Neuroscience major, Biology minor
Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) – Study Abroad Summer II 2019
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

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