SBCC in Rome: Buongiorno, Roma!

On February 5, 2018, a group of intrepid SBCC students arrived in Rome, Italy. Carly Schwan, the program’s official student blogger, joined the fun, cataloging the group’s photos and videos. Here, Carly describes the feeling of anticipation that comes with arriving in a foreign city for the first time. Join the students as they embark on their exciting semester abroad!

I’ve lived in the same house in Santa Barbara my entire life. So when I learned of an opportunity to study abroad in Rome, my heart leapt at the mere thought. To live in a totally different world and have the opportunity to sightsee across Europe was a chance I could not simply pass by. Even now, I can barely contain my desire to dance with joy as our trip begins. I counted down the minutes until we would finally start exploring Rome, a city so ancient it is difficult for me to wrap my head around its expansive history and mind-boggling architecture. I expect amazing adventures and stories to arise from future travels and numerous experiences with cultural differences.   When our trip commenced, it seemed surreal. It was almost time to leave and I didn’t feel prepared, my nervousness grew realizing the trip was actually coming to a start. But when I arrived at the gate and stumbled upon an aisle composed of my smiling classmates, there was a moment of pure relief, the wait was finally over. Luckily our group didn’t take long to warm up to each other; we shortly began gushing over the places we wanted to visit and the pasta we couldn’t wait to consume, trading information on the sights we are dying to see and our utter disbelief that we were actually at the airport. Was this finally happening? Were we actually going to Rome?

At that point it was hard for any of us to put a finger on our array of emotions. For the most part, we all shared a sensation of elation that seemed to linger somewhere in the middle of our stomach’s bundle of nerves. It didn’t truly kick in that we were indeed on our way to Rome until that final lift during taking off, the drop in our stomachs confirming the leap out of our comfort zone. It is scary leaving what you know and love, but the thrill of adventure and knowledge waiting for us across the Atlantic was far too compelling to be caught up in much other than excitement.

Upon our arrival, Marco, a lovely staff member at ACCENT, told us how smiling at strangers in Rome is not simply a pleasant courtesy, but taken as an open invitation for conversation. At hearing this, I could not help but begin to fret over my broken Italian being put to the test after moments of awkward eye contact and accidental smiling. I’ve begun to understand that my friendly Californian disposition  can be slightly unnerving to more publicly reserved Italians, but I still find myself smiling away at straight-faced strangers for a few seconds before realizing my mistake.

Now, as we reach the end of our first week in Rome, it is difficult to explain how it still feels like a dream. I doubt I will ever be able to truly capture the divine depth of Rome’s breathtaking beauty and charm, every corner is more mesmerizing than the next. Quaint garden terraces and intricately designed churches appear every few blocks, the city bursting with life and art. Early on, our Italian professor lead our group on a tour of the city that took us to off the beaten path, the adventure confirming my suspicion that, in Rome, just wandering around is hardly ever uneventful. It is hard to say if I will ever become accustomed to this remarkable feeling of admiration and awe, gazing upon the works of Bernini and the towering beauty of the Vatican as I simply walk to school. I would say I expect to fall in love with this city, but it has already taken a bit of my heart.

~Carly Schwan, SBCC Rome

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