When deciding where to study abroad, most students choose their dream city sophomore or even freshman year. For me, I knew I wanted to study abroad the first time I went to Rome the summer of my freshman year of high school. I loved everything I saw in Rome and thought of the city as a living museum, with every corner revealing a new layer of history. I loved the Italian language, the food, and the magnificent churches. I loved art, loved Theology, and loved history. It could not have been an easier decision for me of where I wanted to study abroad. Rome, simply put, is magical. Even though I love New York City and know the city like the back of my hand (having commuted there for high school), to me, Rome is the greatest city in the world.
Rome offers study abroad students everything they could ever dream of and more. It takes years to uncover all the beauty and magic that Rome has to offer, and four months is not nearly enough time. When I studied in Rome last fall, I challenged myself to not pass up on any church I saw. I was able to see more than 50 unique churches this way, in addition to learning about the major churches in my New Testament in the Eternal City class.
As a Theology major, I also loved my other Theology class, History of the Papacy, where I was able to uncover the incredible -- and sometimes messy -- history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pope Francis.
During my first few days in Rome, I was scared as I only spoke a little bit of Italian. I was mad at myself because I am half Italian, and promised myself year after year in preparation for studying abroad that I would teach myself Italian. However, I quickly learned that at the CEA center, I would be taking Italian class every day, would be going to the markets with my Italian class, and would have to deliver several presentations in Italian. Having lived in Rome for four months, it’s important to know just enough Italian to get around (and to get the best deals at the leather markets in Florence).
Another class I was so fortunate to take was Culture of Food and Wine in Italy. This class was one of my favorites, not only because the room was incredible, but also because I was able to learn the history of the region in which the food was made. I was also able to memorize the recipes, and experience the wine pairing! My roommate and I were in the class together and were able to recreate so many of the dishes.
CEA offers so many incredible extra programs like the pizza and gelato crawl that shows students the best local spots and helps them learn Rome's geography. However, the city is incredibly easy to navigate and it’s so simple to get around Italy by train. It's also just a short flight away from basically anywhere in Europe.
Hannah Valente is the Fall 2018 Alumni Ambassador in Rome, Italy, and is currently studying at Providence College.