As the title suggests, my study abroad experience was like a lasagna. Before I jump into the layers of my study abroad experience, here’s a brief explanation as to why a lasagna was my choice of metaphor. During the site visits for my art history class, my professor would repeatedly say “Rome is a lasagna.” The reason for this is because the city of Rome is built up one building on top of another. In addition, under many Christian churches we see on ground level today lie older pagan remains. Furthermore, people also describe Rome as a lasagna consisting of layers of culture, history, cuisine, and so on. Without further ado, here are the seven layers of my study abroad lasagna.
The first layer – making new friends: The first thing I had to do on this trip was to make new friends. It would’ve been hard if I were on main campus, but since we were all in the same boat, everyone was all the more willing to reach out to people. As relationships formed naturally, it was easy to find friends and travel buddies.
The second layer – adjusting to the environment: Going with the flow was such a big thing in Rome. If the metro doesn’t work, take the bus, or go on a walk! If cars don’t stop when you try to cross the street, imitate what the locals do and use eye contact to tell the drivers to stop. With observation and an open mind, I started to live like a local in no time.
The third layer – being a knowledgeable tourist: Thanks to Art History in Rome, I was able to point out certain artworks in the Vatican museum and even some other galleries outside of Rome. I learned so much about the different styles and cultural influences of Roman art, and I’ve never felt smarter than I did while walking around and knowing exactly what I was looking at.
The fourth layer – immersing myself in the city: During this whole trip, I wasn’t able to watch Game of Thrones or The Bachelorette. Instead, I spent lots of time walking around the city of Rome. Sometimes I would make plans and walk to Trastevere with friends, and other times I just walked around with no specific purpose. During many of these walks, I stumbled upon music performances that made my day.
The fifth layer – gaining from my internship: My internship experience at L’Osservatario was certainly helpful. I learned and gained experience about doing research and writing professionally. I also got to experience what it is like to work in an office environment and communicate with my colleagues. It made me think more about applying to and working for international organizations in the near future.
The sixth layer – having a retreat from a brutal semester: Spring semester was harsh, with lots of classes, never-ending assignments, and exams. On the other hand, in Rome, I was able to take a course, learn about the city, do an internship, and have a good time. Every day was a good day in Rome.
The seventh layer – restoring motivation to learn and explore: As mentioned in my first blog post, I was worn out from school and was disappointed in myself for not wanting to study anymore. However, in Rome, I was learning something new every single day. I was having fun learning about the art history in Rome, going to site visits, and seeing works with my own eyes. I was reading into world news and writing articles with interest for my internship. I felt like I was ready to absorb more information, and to feel more powerful with whatever I learned.
I am now at the airport thinking about the past six weeks and how much my time in Rome has brought me. Studying abroad was truly an amazing experience, and it wouldn’t have been complete with any of the “layers” missing.