Reflection by Bella Varano

Some of my favorite days abroad were spent in Rome. I took the high-speed train to Rome where I stayed for three days and experienced so much! On the first day, my friends and I visited the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Altar of the Fatherland, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and much of the downtown area. I guess I was not expecting these grand monuments to be so close together; you would turn a corner and another grand historical landmark or basilica would be staring straight at you. We ended up walking over fifteen miles the first day just so excited to be there and experience the culture and art we had heard so much of. On the second day, we took a city bus bright and early to Vatican City, one of the most beautiful and ornate places I had ever seen. We saw so many landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel, hundreds of incredible Michelangelo frescos, hundreds of marble statues, beautiful gardens, and my favorite, St. Peter’s Basilica. The massive basilica took my breath away with its gorgeous detailing and history. I bought a rosary from the Vatican Museums that smells very strongly of rose petals and I learned from the shop owner that the smell of roses is a sign of God’s presence in our lives. I am fortunate to have these academic experiences abroad that have helped me discover my own culture as well as the immense impact of the Roman civilization on culture today. Through these first-hand experiences, my studies of the Italian language and culture have strengthened. While living abroad, I have learned so much about myself and my character, most importantly I have stretched my comfort zone by traveling alone and becoming comfortable in a new country. I was thankful to experience Europe for the first time through this study abroad. I found that living abroad is much different than just visiting, I have been able to really immerse myself into the culture and learn so much about the regional cultural diversity. For example, Naples and Southern Italy have a “cornicello” known as the lucky horn of Neopolitan. This red horn can be found everywhere from jewelry to restaurant centerpieces and is said to defend oneself against negative influences. While staying in Italy, I have also been surrounded by people from other European countries. During a wine tour on Mount Vesuvius, I was fortunate to have a conversation and lunch with a Belgian family. They told me of their homelife and their trips to America. I enjoyed connecting with their culture and learning more about Europe. I am very thankful for this study abroad in Italy, and hope to return to Europe again very soon!

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