This post comes to us from Christopher Moore. Christopher is currently studying Art History in Rome, Italy. He is studying abroad with API from Emmanuel College.
It’s the final week. I’m in my apartment in Rome and looking out the window at the courtyard of my apartment building with its palm trees and plants. Amidst the onset of cold weather, it’s an oasis of greenery. And yet, strangely, I’ve never seen anyone out there. Perhaps it’s because Romans already have enough greenery in their lives. If you were to look out from the balcony of my apartment, you would see a multitude of plants adorning the balconies of neighboring apartments – every single one. During the first week, in an attempt to culturally assimilate, me and one of my roommates bought plants to decorate the apartment. His thrived, but mine? Out of sheer neglect, my poor cactus didn’t end up doing so well. Rest in peace, my Roman cactus.
I’ll miss Rome. I’ll miss the walk to school, to the campuses of John Cabot University in Trastevere. And I’ll especially miss the walks to my on-site art history classes. Rarely is one able to see the monuments of a culture’s legacy up close and for such an extended period of time. Indeed, I may never have discovered the wonders of Rome’s historic past if I had only been there for a short amount of time. Being in Rome, I was always reminded of the copious sites and monuments testifying to this past. In fact, to such a degree, that I commonly found myself overwhelmed by the opportunities. But just as the biologist may have to engage in field work, so too does the aspiring art historian. Francesco Borromini’s churches and their curved facades, the endless palazzos, and the always memorable fountains, embody my image of Rome.
In the coming months and years, I think I’ll realize studying abroad has been nothing short of a thrilling experience. But right now, the hardest thing is knowing that I’m almost done with it. In recent days, I have started to become acutely aware that the experience is being consigned to that of memory. There’s going to be no more fresh memories, for it will all be over. No more shall I feel the doubt and the fear that accompanies studying abroad, but neither will I sense the scope of possibilities at hand. Leaving is bittersweet.
While I reflect on my experience, I think I have barely begun to understand the significance of these past few months. Studying abroad was, for a very long time, a dream of mine. Given the years spent in anticipation of finally being able to go abroad, the expectations could not have been higher. When I began this experience, I seriously thought I would change as a person, so have I? Honestly, I don’t know. What I’m looking forward to in the future is being able to gain a better understanding of my study abroad experience. Perhaps I had the naïve idea that studying abroad would instantly illuminate to me the qualities of this fabled change I sought.
But I realize, while I look at my suitcases I haven’t yet started to pack, that studying abroad doesn’t end in Rome. Although ancient ruins and Baroque churches won’t be a common sight in my life anymore, the experience will probably follow me throughout the rest of my life. As cliche as it may sound, I’ll have left Rome, but Rome won’t have left me.