Rome was the first place we went to during a Europe trip back in high school. I absolutely fell in love with it! When I went to college, I knew I wanted to study abroad. I chose the Rome Center because of their class selection (I got a lot of major and core requirements done), the study trips, and the location.
Kim Webb is a senior at Saint Louis University, studying history and Italian. As a sophomore, she had the BEST YEAR EVER at the John Felice Rome Center.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The Rome Center was really helpful. My university had a workshop to help us with our student visas, and they took the visas to the consulate. The Rome Center has a group flight option every semester with a shuttle that goes to and from the airport; I chose to do my own flights.
Once at the Rome Center, we had an orientation to get us acquainted with the city. Part of this orientation was helping us get our permesso di siggornio (basically sort of a green card). They took us to the post office for this process, and took us to immigration to get fingerprints.
The internship program was great, too. It organized a whole internship for me. Honestly, the only thing I had to organize was how I spent my time in the city and my individual travel.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
When people go to Europe, they really want to travel. I totally get it! Travel around Europe is super cheap when you're actually there. I think that people sometimes get a little too focused on travel and don't spend enough time in their city. You chose Rome for a reason – take the time to explore it! You'll never get bored with it.
With the Rome Center specifically, GO ON STUDY TRIPS! I went on three while I was at the Rome Center. For fall break, I went to Greece for ten days, and then I spent a week in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia for spring break. I also took a day trip to the medieval town of Assisi. These are some of my favorite memories. They're a little costly, but definitely worth it!
My more practical advice would be to buy a monthly (or, if you're crazy like me and do a year, yearly) bus or transportation pass! Between my internship, on-site classes, and wanting to go see Rome, I used my bus pass a ton. It's a much better investment than buying bus/train passes every time you go out.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
On a day where I didn't have an on-site, I would wake up and go downstairs from my dorm room to Rinaldo's, the on-campus cafe. I would sit and check my notifications on the WiFi while eating breakfast. Then, I would go to whatever class or classes I had that day. Around lunchtime, I would go to Mensa (the cafeteria) and get lunch, then go back to the library or student lounge to do homework. If the weather permits, I would also go on a walk around Balduina, the neighborhood where the Rome Center is. At dinner time, I would go with some friends to get dinner at Mensa, then relax and watch Italian Netflix in the library.
Somedays, I would have class in the city. I would get up, eat some fruit or yogurt for breakfast, then go and catch the bus to go to my on-site. Depending on the day, I wouldn't have class anymore, so I would explore Rome and get lunch at a little restaurant. Then, I would take the bus back home.
There's no class on Fridays, which made weekends perfect to travel! If I wasn't traveling, I spent the weekend catching up on homework or taking the bus to the city and just walking around.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I think my biggest worry was not being able to make friends while I was abroad. I went in knowing pretty much no one, but in the first days of orientation, I ended up meeting amazing people I still talk to. The people that I met ended up being my travel buddies, giving me a place to crash on an impromptu trip to Chicago, and an amazing support system. Even if you're shy and awkward like me, you will make friends!
What are your favorite places in Rome?
I'm a little bit of a tourist, so I love places like the Colosseum, Saint Peter's, the Parthenon, and the Trevi Fountain! Rome is also full of a ton of hidden gems.
In the city, I really love Piazza del Popolo, Piazza della Repubblica (check out Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri while you're there!).
I also love the little winding streets; those are the best places to explore. Oh, and the Jewish Quarter and Great Synagogue, and Giolitti gelato, and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (a gothic church with the elephant statue out front – thanks, Art in Rome!). In Balduina, it's definitely the Riserva Naturale di Monte Mario, which has the best view of the city!