This week, ACCENT Community College Scholarship recipient Tatum Kula describes her first few weeks in Rome, the friendships she has forged, and the unforgettable adventures she and her classmates have embarked on.
To say that we are already having fun on this journey would be a complete understatement. Within the first four days, I felt as if I had known most of the people on the program my entire life. I was, and continue to be, genuinely shocked every time I process how little time we have actually known each other. From the moment we all gathered in the gate in Los Angeles International Airport, smiles were immediately exchanged from laughing at each other’s ridiculous stories when trying to check bags, go through security, find the gate, etc. From that moment on, I knew the next three months were going to be full of even more laughter. The flights were long and the jet lag was real, but we were all eager to start exploring as soon as we landed. After our orientation the next morning, we had time to do all the roaming we wanted. As tired as we were, each and every alleyway and street we walked on continued to blow our minds, keeping us lively (and the cappuccinos helped of course). Before arriving, I was mentally preparing for the culture shock. Oddly enough, it didn’t hit me until a few days in. It may have been the fact that I had been sleeping only three hours a night and was still processing that we were finally in Italy, but when it finally hit, it hit pretty hard.
As I adjusted to the city, I started to easily distinguish the Americans from the Italians. No matter how hard we tried to fit in, I could easily differentiate them by simply watching them walk down the street and reading their body language. This has been one of the harder adjustments thus far. I must say, the Italians whispering, pointing and staring is hard to ignore, making us feel more out of place than we already do. Having to adjust to a new culture has been challenging, but most of us can agree that it is also one of the most exciting experiences a person can have. This has already opened up so many opportunities to expand our minds, social skills, fashion, and overall perspectives on life. I knew this trip was going to be absolutely amazing, but within the first week, the people I met and the adventures I stumbled upon were more electrifying than I ever imagined they would be.
We have all created bonds with friends that will last a lifetime. This is a great feeling given the fact we are so far away from our families, yet we have been blessed with people who make us feel right at home. I am not sure if this is how other students abroad have felt as well, but I sure am thankful for this particular group of nineteen students. Many of us have already been on one, if not two, trips outside of Rome. Of course, all we want to do is explore and continue to discover new gelato and pizza places, but school is just as important and a main priority. We are beyond grateful for our teachers as well, with their approachable personalities. After having only had two weeks of classes so far we have already created a great relationship with them. As we embark on this exciting trip, every day keeps bringing new experiences and life lessons.
~Tatum Kula, Santa Barbara City College
Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Open enrollment programs with ACCENT allow students of all educational and financial backgrounds to study abroad. Find a program that works best for you at: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.