“So, which countries do you guys want to go to in the next four months?”
If someone had told me that my three random roommates from Providence College and University of Tennessee would greet me with that phrase twenty minutes after meeting them, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The moment I stepped into my apartment in Rome and met my roommates, I knew I was in for the ride of my life. After a few minutes of introduction and lots of laughs we started making a huge list of the places we wanted to go. Fortunately we all had a few places in common and before we knew it; our calendar for the semester was set!
Coming into a semester abroad, having an open mind is your key to success. And in order to make that happen you must also be flexible.
The second I met my roommates I knew that I had to be the best me I could be. This is fresh start with new people who are eager to make new friends and create lasting relationships. There is no time for shyness or fear of making new friends. Everyone is in the same boat looking for the experience of a lifetime. It’s easy to lose sight of seemingly obvious details like never walking home alone, making sure to keep your valuables hidden and that even with perfect planning things can go wrong. This adventure is not about living in fear of these things, but rather how you prepare for them and how you react when things don’t go as planned. Make sure that you are not only looking out for yourself but for your new friends. These people are now your family and support system- make sure to take care of them.
On our first trip my roommate got pick-pocketed on the metro. Instead of losing all control, my roommates and I made sure we got home as soon as possible to get the situation under control. We each got on the phone trying to cancel her credit cards as soon as possible. Once that was done, we made sure that until her new credit cards came she had money for food and travel expenses. We also assured her that she could pay us back whenever it was easiest for her. Experiencing a situation like that and observing how five strangers tackled this obstacle as team, warms my heart. It didn’t matter how well we knew each other or for how long; the only thing that mattered was that part of our family and support system was hurting and we were the only people that could make this better.
Even though our trip was planned perfectly- something went seriously wrong. It would have been easy to simply say, “Oh man, so sorry that happened to you” and simply walk away. It would have been easy to let her friends from home be the only people to help her out. But because we all had an open mind and were able to be flexible, we were able to band together and help ease the situation together.
Traveling the world with strangers is the experience of a lifetime. Not only do you make lifelong friends, but you also learn so much about yourself. I know that twenty years from now I will still be able to call my study abroad friends some of my best friends, my family, and my support system.
Shout out to a few of the best roommates a girl could ask for!
Shayna Kerry is the spring CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy. She is a Junior at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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