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Reflecting on My Semester in Rome

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ABOVE: Statues at the Vatican Museum in Rome.

Studying abroad in Rome has been one of the most life-changing experiences. I have encountered so many different people that I would have never met if I had stayed in the States. It is such a cliché to talk about how going abroad changes your life, and before I went abroad, I always rolled my eyes at the kids who said things like that. After experiencing it for myself, I regret not listening to them more closely. I have been exposed to new cultures, both in Rome and in all of my travels throughout Europe. 

Immersing yourself in new cultures makes you take a step back and appreciate things differently. This was applicable in every country I went to, even if there were less noticeable cultural differences. In Italy, I learned to appreciate eating in an entirely new way. Instead of just inhaling my food, my roommates and I all learned to take our time and enjoy dinner. It was no longer an hour out of our day; dinner became an event that we would look forward to. We would spend hours at dinner, and it completely changed how I view eating. It became a moment to savor and enjoy. 

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Outdoor patio at dinner one night in Catania, Sicily.

I have definitely changed since being abroad, and I would definitely say it has been for the better. I have grown as a person and have done things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do before. I was able to see how independent I can truly be -- by taking a solo trip to Stockholm, Sweden, and spending the weekend walking around by myself and experiencing a new place on my own. I’ve always thought I was independent, since I went to school in Alabama without knowing a single person, but traveling to a new country on your own after being with your new roommates for a month really makes you realize how much you can truly accomplish on your own. It made me feel so confident and proud of myself, knowing I booked a trip that I have always wanted to do, even though I would be doing it on my own. 

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Photo in Old Town Stockholm. Spending the weekend in Stockholm alone was one of my favorite experiences. 

There are so many skills and ideas that I’ve acquired that I’ll be bringing back home. I have always been a talkative and personable person, but studying abroad and having to make friends and meet new people has made me even more outgoing. Being abroad, I realized that I was a different type of outgoing, because everyone there knew we only had a few months with each other -- so we wanted to make the most of it. I became close with a lot of people really quickly. I have also learned to be more open-minded, a trait that I’m definitely going to stick with once I go home. 

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I will forever be grateful for this experience and all of the memories I made along the way. 

I think studying abroad will have a great impact on my future in many different ways. I gained numerous life skills while I was in Italy, and the experience has shaped me in ways that would have never occurred if I stayed home for the semester. Studying abroad has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life for a number of reasons. I have met some great friends with whom I’ll always stay in touch, and I have found a new sense of independence within myself. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, absolutely do it -- you will not regret it. 

Megan Reid is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Rome, Italy, and is currently studying at University of Alabama.
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