Student discovers new passions in Rome


I was flipping through my travel journal the other night when I came across a quote that really resonated with me. American author Henry Miller once said, “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.”
I am nearly three full weeks into my study abroad experience at the American University of Rome, and the truth of this statement is becoming quite clear.
When I came to Rome, I had no idea what to expect from my new city, a new school and the new people I would meet. Aside from an Alternative Break Service Trip to Mexico in February, I had never been out of the country before departing on this journey.
Coming to Rome has provided me with many new ways to look at things, just as Miller suggested. One of the first big differences I noticed between Rome and the United States is the concept of time and urgency.
In Rome, people like to stroll down the street, in no real hurry to get anywhere or do anything. As a student who needs to make sure I make it to class on time – with a 20-minute commute – this relaxed attitude can be quite frustrating.
Another adjustment I have had to make this semester is getting used to different classes and class structures. As a physician assistant major, I have had at least one science class and a lab each semester.
Here in Italy, I am taking poetry, art history, public speaking and an introduction to Italian course. While it sometimes feels odd not to be taking any science courses, it is amazing to be able to expand my worldview with classes I may have never considered taking at Gannon.
My favorite course so far is my poetry course. It is taught by a man named Daniel Connelly, who is a published poet. We have already read so many different poets in the five short classes we have had.
Another great aspect of studying abroad in Italy is that some of the courses are taught on-site. This means that rather than sitting in windowless Palumbo for an 80-minute class, I get to learn in museums and churches.
My art history of the Renaissance and Baroque class is taught on-site, and I have already gotten to visit two basilicas and an Italian villa.
It’s one thing to learn about art in a classroom and another thing entirely to see the art you’re learning about in person. I never really thought of myself as an art history enthusiast, but I have a strong feeling this class will change that.
Even when class is in the classroom, it’s different than at Gannon because the campus in Rome is so small. I’m talking one main building with about 20 small classrooms.
It’s always interesting trying to navigate your way up the one spiral staircase in the building, especially when you’re going against the flow of traffic.
Despite the American University of Rome’s little quirks, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. Having only been here for three weeks, I know that Rome has much more in store for me over the next few months.
If there is one word of advice I can offer, it is that if you are even considering the possibility of studying abroad, do it. It has already proved to be one of the best experiences of my life, and it is only just the beginning.

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