This post comes to us from Mackenzie Harkenrider who is currently studying abroad in Rome, Italy. Mackenzie is studying abroad with API from Cornell University.
A typical Sunday a year ago one would find me studying in Statler library or lying in bed watching Shameless. Since January, most of my Sundays are spent traveling from other cities and/or countries back to my apartment in Trastevere – a quant, historic district in the city of Roma.
My friends back home chuckle when I explain that there is more to studying abroad than traveling – I actually study too! I am studying at John Cabot University located in Trastevere. My most interesting and therefore favorite class is called ‘Made in Italy’. Topics include Italian business practices, luxury brands and comparing Italy and US cultures. My other classes are International Business, Sports Management, Consumer Behavior and Introductory Italian. While my classes are filled with mostly study abroad students, everywhere else I am completely surrounded by Romans.
The Romans have taught me many lessons,
1. Never, EVER cut your pasta
2. If a car is coming, do not assume it will stop and let you cross the road
3. Try to speak Italian whenever you can. Others will appreciate you trying to embrace their culture (even if you mess up a few words)
Locals have unknowingly become cultural teachers to me. In Budapest, I learned that hostels are where you can meet some of the most complex and friendly people. Berlin was where I discovered that your past is not what defines you. In a city where so much evil has occurred, by accepting the past the city has been able to create a more positive reputation. Florence put my bargaining skills to the test – the first price is never the best price when it comes to buying leather goods. And I still get giddy when I think about being in Montepulciano aka the location of the pivotal scene in the Twilight Saga ‘New Moon’.
These are just a few lessons of the many I have learned after three months in Rome. With only a month left, I now understand why people say time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve walked on the beach in Barcelona, ate a pretzel bigger than my face in Munich, and climbed over 300 stairs to the top of Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. I’ve created memories and made punny jokes with new friends in cities I’ve always dreamt of visiting. Overall, choosing to study abroad has been the best investment I have ever made.