Study Abroad Student Spotlight: Lessons I’ve Learned Outside of Class

It’s been almost two full months since I left the United States to study abroad at John Cabot University, and although cravings of certain foods and familiar faces are happening more and more often, I am still incredibly happy to be here. I am trying to make the most of every moment I have here, because I’m not quite ready to leave. Especially since my Rome to-do list seems to be getting larger, not smaller.

Everyone’s favorite thing to say before I left besides “have the time of your life” was “you are going to learn so much”, and I have. I’m not sure what exactly I expected to learn about myself or Italian culture, but some of these have definitely come as a surprise and even humorous.

I think this sums things up pretty well thus far:

  1. You’ll probably learn more about your home country and what people think of your country than about the country you’re visiting.vintage car in Rome, study abroad in Rome, trastevere, american students in Rome, tips for study abroad students, john cabot university
  2. Counting carbs does not exist in Italy, so eat your heart out.
  3. America doesn’t do everything perfectly, and neither does any other place.
  4. A smile (and sometimes hand gestures) go a long way with language obstacles.
  5. Phones don’t need to be out at school, meals, or during any conversation really.
  6. When you don’t have reliable transportation, or a valid bus ticket on you, anywhere within 5 miles is walking distance. Even in the pouring rain.
  7. Keeping in touch with home is hard, but doable. Do it.
  8. There is a fine line to balance between planning and spontaneity.
  9. But say yes, almost always.
  10. Independence, and being alone sometimes, is important.
  11. Europe is an entire bucket list in itself, but remember to create a passion to explore more of your own backyard.
  12. I love new foods, but don’t tell me what’s in it until after I’ve finished it. vintage car in Rome, study abroad in Rome, trastevere, american students in Rome, tips for study abroad students, john cabot university
  13. Paper maps are a good test for friendships.
  14. It is not necessarily admirable to always be busy or working. Take the time, walk slow, and ask people to tell you stories of their lives.
  15. “Less is more” applies to packing, but never to pictures. Don’t forget to look out from behind the lens too, though.
  16. Being sensitive to a different culture doesn’t mean you aren’t proud of your own.
  17. Coffee shops are my favorite no matter what city I’m in. But make your home cafe the one with the best coffee, latte art, and baristas.
  18. Write it all down wherever you can so you won’t forget it.
  19. You will not be best friends with every person you meet while abroad and that’s okay.
  20. Finally, there is no right or wrong way to spend your time abroad: spend the time how it makes you happy.

Study Abroad 1

Sydney Paige Conroy
Michigan State University
JCU Study Abroad Student Spring 2016
Psychology major, Peace and Justice Studies minor at Michigan State

Student Spotlight