Business student achieves his goal of doing study abroad during college
By Zacharias Lee
As I was gearing up for my trip abroad, I couldn’t help but question my decision at times. It was tough to consider leaving my family, friends, and established life, especially in my senior year. I also had no idea how I’d be able to overcome the cultural and language barriers, navigate a completely different country, and even do small things like finding a barbershop. Though valid, my concerns were only the nervousness I felt about embarking on a new experience. I’m glad I embraced and overcame it because I’ve been in Rome for about three months, and it’s been the journey of a lifetime.
I traveled to Europe a decade ago as part of the People-to-People Student Ambassador Program, where we visited cities across England and France during our two weeks, stopping off in Paris, London, and Versailles, to name a few. That trip planted the seed in my mind that I would want to study abroad one day. I planned my entire college experience to be able to include a study abroad, ensuring I took the right classes at the right time to make this trip possible. Italy was my top choice because I was enthralled with the history of the Roman Republic and Empire when I was younger, so I decided to go to John Cabot University in Rome.
The school has about 1,600 students and an incredibly welcoming atmosphere which made the transition easier. To meet people, I’ve joined multiple clubs and even sports. Given the smaller sizes, each class has a unique personality. At John Cabot University, I’ve continued with the RBS business core with Strategic Management and Business Ethics. I am also taking Fixed Income, for my major, and Digital Photography, for fun. My photography class has been particularly exciting for me because it’s an “on-site” course where we go out into the city and take pictures each week, which has really helped me better understand the city and its people. Speaking of the city’s culture, those concerns I mentioned before were very real early on. So much so that I remember not eating much during the first weeks because I was too nervous to test my Italian when ordering food.
One of my favorite things about Rome is the night sky, which is incredibly clear and the perfect backdrop to a stunning moon. I find myself spending hours staring up at the sky and thinking. I’ve also rediscovered my love for the city’s history. Everywhere you turn, there is a building, piazza, or fountain with historical significance. It’s fascinating to imagine the city in its golden years.
A major culture shock I’ve experienced with the city, and all of Italy, is its more relaxed lifestyle compared to the U.S. Stores close much earlier, people take their time with daily tasks, and you see people relaxing and drinking coffee at all times of the day. I’m looking forward to continuing to be immersed in the culture for the rest of my trip.
There’s a ton to do in Rome, but it is also very easy to travel around Italy and Europe. On my weekend trips, I’ve gone to the Amalfi Coast, Pisa, Milan, and Berlin. While I’m here, I also plan to visit Barcelona, Amsterdam, and the Swiss Alps. It has been quite amazing to see so many places, meet new people, and become just a little bit Roman!
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