My name is Claire Van Beek, and I am from Green Bay, Wisconsin. I’m a junior attending a small private college in Wisconsin called St. Norbert College, where I’m currently studying business administration with an emphasis in marketing. Having spent my entire life growing up in a small town, I knew I wanted to experience something completely different. I was intrigued by the idea of living in a big city and having the opportunity to take small weekend trips.
Deciding where to study abroad
While looking at what schools my home university offered to study abroad at, John Cabot University caught my attention right away. It was similar in the sense that the class sizes were small, and it was a private college. The biggest difference was, it was in the heart of the Eternal City: Rome.
I took a variety of classes while studying abroad, but my favorite class was a sketchbook drawing class. We had the opportunity to visit different sites in Rome and learn how to draw them–or at least attempt to. My professor would also give mini informational lessons at each site!
Adjusting to life in the big city
When I first arrived in Rome and was starting to settle in, it was a big change from living in a small town, but I adapted quickly. I also went into studying abroad not knowing who any of my roommates were going to be, but we all instantly became good friends and started exploring the city and Europe together.
One of my biggest takeaways from studying abroad was learning to become independent. I felt comfortable and confident in myself when making decisions or doing something as simple as learning how to use public transportation in a foreign country.
Another takeaway was being able to adapt and understand other languages, cultures, and transitioning to a completely different way of life. You have to go into studying abroad with an open mind and realize you are the one expected to adapt to their culture.
A unique situation I found myself in after the first week of living in Rome was having to get an emergency appendectomy surgery. Even though I had only been living in Rome for a week and knew no Italian, everyone was super nice, helpful, and sympathetic! I ended up missing the first week of classes, but all of my professors were very supportive and consistent with making sure I felt prepared when I was able to return to classes.
This whole scenario taught me to really make the most of my time abroad. I realized that things don’t always go exactly as planned, so it’s important just enjoy every experience and situation!
Make the most of your time abroad – get involved!
One piece of advice I would give to future students who plan on studying abroad at JCU is to get involved with the activities held by the school and join a club or two! I believe those are some of the best ways to immerse yourself into the culture and really get to know your classmates and make long lasting friendships. I loved every second of studying abroad and would encourage anyone and everyone to study abroad at JCU!
Claire Van Beek
Business Administration Major
St. Norbert College – Study Abroad Fall 2019
Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin