Why did you decide to study abroad with JCU?
I chose to spend my study abroad experience at JCU because it is affiliated and well respected with my home institution but also because JCU promotes an international community in a world famous city. My first decision was deciding which country I wanted to visit. Rome was an obvious choice due to its vast history—which is something I focus on and love to explore, but also because I love Italian food and yet did not really have any idea of Italian or Roman culture. The opportunity to study in Rome would allow me to gain not only educational value for my degree but also let me learn a lifestyle I was not all too familiar with. JCU is located in a perfect part of the city where students can immerse themselves in the new world around them. JCU itself seemed like a perfect home away from home: a smaller, yet international school that lets you learn as much outside the classroom as you do inside as your peers and professors become your friends.
Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.
Dar Poeta. Dar Poeta. Dar Poeta. It is a perfect little pizza place nestled in a forgotten alley in the middle of Trastevere and it was the best pizza we ever found. My parents came to visit and I also had friends from London come to visit and I took both parties to Dar Poeta and they all agreed it was the best meal they had in Rome. The small restaurant creates quite a crowd every night as people wait outside for a table. The choices of pizza are innumerable, each one as delicious as the next. My friends and I spent many nights at Dar Poeta eating great food and getting to know it each other. In fact, it was the place we all unanimously decided to spend our Last Supper at before we all sadly left the next morning. It’s great food, good owners, and pretty cheap. Go whenever you get the chance.
Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?
My most meaningful souvenir would have to be my wine glass from the local café, Pimms Good. This café is located perfectly in between the Tiber and Guarini campuses; it is passed on a regular basis by each student, every day. The café is quaint, with outdoor seating and ivy that grows up the walls. Inside there is a wide variety of music playing. During my first week at JCU I decided to sit at an outdoor table and read a novel with a cappuccino. Soon I saw familiar faces start to pass and they would either wave, or stop and say hello for a quick, friendly conversation. Pimms rapidly became my friends’ local hang out, as it ensured you could see their faces every day. The staff quickly started to recognize us as we ordered cappuccino after cappuccino or wine as the night progressed. At the end of my trip my two other best girlfriends and I were presented with a Pimms wine glass as a going away present. Pimms to me is the definition of Italian culture. Days are spent amongst friends; there was no rush, no worries, and never a lack of delicious treats.
Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?
I know absolutely no Italian before my time at JCU. Just a casual “ciao,” “buongiorno,” and “grazie” were found in my vocabulary. My home institution mandates that we take an Italian class so I was placed in the very lowest level of Italian. In class I quickly started to remember all my years of studying Spanish, and I soon realized how closely related the languages are as I began to stumble saying the Spanish words instead of Italian ones. But the professor created a warm environment for all of us to learn a new language together. I would go out and try to practice my new Italian outside the classroom. Ordering gelato, asking for directions, or navigating the grocery store all became a little easier. Yet, we found our American accents butchered the pretty language and most people would just prefer when we spoke English as they would like to practice there’s as well. In general, people were patient and kind when we tried our new Italian vocabulary in conversation but they would quickly switch to English as it just made situations easier for all.