SBCC in Rome: Ciao, Mia Roma

Today’s post comes from SBCC student blogger Carly Schwan, who has been cataloguing her classmates’ adventures since the start of their study abroad program in February. With a series of images and a video record of the group’s best moments, Carly describes what an unforgettable experience the past three months have been.

Thank you to Carly for sharing these memories with us, and we wish her and her classmates the best as they prepare to return home.

They say time flies by when you are abroad, but it feels like I’ve spent a lifetime in Rome. I can barely remember my old routines; I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the fact I will be back home in less than a week. Every day has been filled with adventure, whether it’s exploring new sectors like that of the hauntingly beautiful Jewish quarter, or just one of my many quests to find unexpectedly elusive items such as garlic powder in an Italian grocery store (took a month and a half, so yes that was a particularly daunting journey). Even my trek to school has had its impromptu moments; trying to squeeze your way into a packed tram is an art form that only the severely late have the motivation to practice. And while being the small town, mountain-dwelling girl I am, I never expected to be so in love with this city, but, oh, how I am! The constant hustle and bustle of Rome has been unexpectedly freeing, the possibilities of my day-to-day life here have proven to be endlessly thrilling. And the mass quantities of locals and tourists alike make for a city that is oddly satisfying to be engrossed in as you easily lose yourself in the flow of the crowds.

I won’t lie, a huge motivation for this trip was founded in my adoration of Italian food. I notified all my friends and family to expect a rounder and cheekier Carly to be arriving home in May. However, I had no idea that the produce alone would be so overwhelmingly spectacular. I am fairly sure that the secret magic of authentic Italian cuisine resides within their country’s agriculture abilities. Making dinner here makes me feel like a 5-star chef, and I’m not even close to a good cook, the ingredients are just that exquisite. And with my less than spectacular cooking leading to such a delicious meal, it is hard to begin to describe what can be found in the hundreds of restaurants scattered throughout Rome. But to give you an idea, my first taste of pizza from Ai Marmi made me tear up. I legitimately became emotional because it was that delicious. So to say my infatuation with Italian food has grown since setting foot in this wonderful country might be an understatement.

However, one of the most surprising and beautiful bits about my travel abroad experience was how strongly our class bonded. Within the first week, we began planning 19-person group dinners and trips, and within this span of 3 months, we have come to know and care for each other genuinely. And while we have since come to realize traveling in a pack that large is a tiresome journey, our ability to ebb and flow within each of the more close-knit groups that have formed is a beautiful thing. I had no idea how much I would come to care for and depend on my classmates for support and comfort when the trials of living in a foreign country arose. And while it was interesting learning how to balance finding alone-time within the tightly meshed structure of our shared classes and living arrangements, we all managed to find that bit of silence in the chaos and excitement.

These past three months have been the most exhilarating and enriching of my life. I was unsure of what others meant when they said living abroad changes you, but it truly did in its subtle details. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but my travels have certainly made me much more aware of my values and culture. I had to learn how to conform to the norms of Italian culture while keeping within the boundaries of my own identity. There are times when I felt completely separated from everything around me, but in those moments it just took looking outside myself to find peace.

It is easy to forget how fleeting the days are, but Rome’s ancient and sprawling streets are an alluring reminder of the ever changing past and present. I am thankful that my time abroad pushed me to look outside of my perceived normalcy, and showed me the complexity of other cultures and ways of life.

~Carly Schwan, SBCC Rome

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