When my parents found out I was doing an academic year abroad, they looked at me like I was crazy! However, when I got home from my adventure, they realized it was the best thing that I could have done.
The Rome Center is about 30 minutes from Centro in a nice neighborhood called Balduina. The city is very accessible, with multiple bus stops just a few minutes' walk from campus. The neighborhood itself is lovely, quiet, and has restaurants, a grocery store, a bookstore, a clothing store, and LOTS of gelato, all located within walking distance. The campus is gorgeous, with a courtyard in front and an olive grove in back. In the spring, the orange trees in the courtyard grow fruit which you can take! The classroom, dorms, gym, bookstore, library, cafeteria, and cafe are all located in one building. I stayed in a double dorm room both semesters and the room was just big enough and comfortable. The building was an old convent, so the walls are pretty thin, but if your neighbors do quiet hours, there's nothing to worry about! The campus is gorgeous, and the amenities are awesome. You get two free meals a day at the cafeteria (which is almost always delicious), and I recommend paying the 250 extra euros to get the cafe card!
Academically, I had a great experience. The classes are fairly easy and if you put in a little work, you can get great grades. I especially loved my on-site classes, which is one of the BEST things about the Rome Center! I took Dr. Nicholson's Art in Rome class and, even though it was tough, it ended up being my favorite class because I got to see ALL of Rome. The professors are all great, very knowledgable, and they make the material fun and interesting. I also did an internship, which was fantastic and really bolstered the ol' resume. By the way, no class on Fridays!
The Rome Center gave me a ton of amazing experiences. Once a semester, class is cancelled on Wednesday to go to the Papal Audience. Throughout the semester, they give out tickets to mass at Saint Peters. If you get the chance, TAKE IT! I got to go to Mass at Saint Peters with the Pope in February. JFRC really tries to get you into the city. One day in orientation, they take you to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill and give you the rest of the day to explore Rome. There's also a scavenger hunt at the beginning of every semester!
JFRC has a lot of travel options. Every semester, you take a weekend trip with the other students, staff, and your SLAs. In the fall, we went to the gorgeous region of Umbria. In the spring, we got to go to the South and stay on the Amalfi Coast. They feed you well and you get to go to a water buffalo farm! There are also study trips offered every semester. I took two: the Greece trip for fall break and the Balkans trip in the spring. These are costly, but are amazing experiences and payment plans are available. For the Greece trip, we spent 10 days exploring Greece, learning how to dance, drinking, and exploring Mykonos. In the Balkans, you tour Belgrade and Bosnia. They have so much history and are gorgeous, and I definitely recommend this trip! I also went on the Assisi pilgrimage in the fall. Father Al and Father Ted, two of the best people ever, take you to the small medieval town for a day of prayer, reflection, and great food. I'm not religious but I still loved it.
Even aside from the study trips, Rome is so easy to travel from; you can get anywhere, and there's always someone willing to go with you or at least split a cab. While I was abroad I went to Greece, Iceland, Prague, Paris, Belgrade, Bosnia, Croatia, Florence, Pompeii, and London. Traveling in Europe is SO cheap when you're over there and it's so easy.
I absolutely loved my time at the Rome Center and wouldn't trade it for anything. The academics are great, the city is gorgeous, and the staff (especially Dr. Mike Beazley) are always willing to help you out. I had a hard time with my mental health second semester and Dr. Beazley was willing to talk to me and even took me to off-campus doctor's appointment. Not to mention, the Beazley girls are adorable! If you want to study abroad, I definitely recommend the Rome Center.