A common pattern amongst study abroad students, particularly those studying in Europe, seems to be travelling to a different city every weekend. The convenience and ease of travelling within the EU, coupled with the innumerable sights to see across the continent unquestionably leads to the appeal of planning trips for every weekend of the semester. Especially for people who do not have many opportunities to travel in this part of the world, this time in adolescence is a great opportunity to do so. Once we return to the U.S. and soon enter our senior year of college, many of us will be looking for jobs and don’t know when we will have the chance to travel for such an extended period of time again.
However, while I do understand the appeal as well as the benefits and learning experiences that come out of this city-hopping, in my personal experience of the past couple of months, my weekends staying in Rome have been some of the most significant. I personally love travelling more than anything, and while I know that I would also learn from jumping from city to city, my hope and goal in choosing to study here in Rome was not to travel all around Europe, but to really immerse myself in the Italian culture, and get to know the city as my home, not just as a visitor. Before coming here, I was a bit hesitant in deciding to study abroad in Europe, as I am originally from Europe and I knew that I wanted a very different, eye-opening experience that would significantly impact my perspective and my cultural awareness. Choosing to stay mostly in Rome and travelling around Italy has therefore been the best way for me to get what I wanted out of the semester. I wanted (and want to continue) to learn the ins and outs of the city, step off the beaten path, meet locals, and engage critically with my environment. I hoped to learn about the customs and traditions, pick up ideas and mentalities that may improve my own perspective and mindset, as well as be able to critique and understand the pros and cons of the culture.
During the busy weeks of classes and packed schedules, it’s rare to find moments that feel truly Italian, moments that exude the slow, laid back ideal many of us picture when we think of Rome. Weekends, however, have held some of my favorite memories, filled with countless moments that felt truly and iconically Italian: lazy, sun-drenched Sundays sipping cappuccini and wandering around flea markets, and hours spent in Rome’s many breathtaking museums and tranquil parks. I would not feel nearly as at home or as comfortable in this city if I didn’t have this uninhibited time to take in these moments and experiences, and would recommend to anyone studying abroad that you take all the chances you get to really get to know the place you are living: the good, the bad, and all that lies in between.