Traveling from Dayton, Ohio, to study abroad through the First-Year Experience in Rome alongside eighteen rising sophomores was an adventure of a lifetime. My expectations of the studying abroad was that I would be completely immersed into Italy’s culture with fellow Catholic University students by my side. Before even applying to the program, I was highly encouraged to travel to Italy by my fellow classmates who had done the same, and after hearing stories of their adventures, I knew I was ready to pursue my own. As my first trip to Europe, I had plans to use the three-week, three-credit course to turn the Eternal City into my classroom. The Rome Center is conveniently located in the Trastevere neighborhood and is just a brief walk to a variety of restaurants and historic landmarks.
Stefania Lucamante, professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, led all of the students with her expertise and knowledge of Rome through the course ITAL 201: Mapping Italy, Mapping Rome: A Journey into Italian Culture and Society. She opened the course stating, “I hope my students become more open-minded, self-aware, and mature through this journey in Italian history, art, and society.” She went on to share that she wished our group could return to Washington, DC, to seam together our experiences in Italy, and I whole-heartedly believe we will.
A huge highlight of my experience studying in Rome included attending a Papal Audience. Waking up at 6 a.m. to stand in St. Peter’s Square was worth every moment to be less than five feet away from Pope Francis with my fellow classmates. St. Peter’s Square was packed with an ocean of humans in the standing-room-only area, with seats being incredibly limited. After waiting in line for nearly an hour and going through a security check-point, we proceeded to the front of the audience for the best view. The Papal Audience included prayers, blessings, and a homily by Pope Francis. Then, the Pope rode around in a carriage and did a tour of the piazza and Via della Conciliazione at 10:30am. He shook hands, exchanged smiles, and kissed a lot of babies. The excitement was like no other as Pope Francis stopped close enough to share a smile.
Another educational component of our program was the assignment of a piece of artwork to each student at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice and Uffizi in Florence. My favorite painting that I researched and presented to my classmates was the Veronese Assunzione by Paolo Caliari. Learning about such a world-renowned master colorist and then seeing the work in person was a very profound and moving experience. Through the Rome Center Program, I was provided the opportunity to make historical connections to artistic masterpieces all around me–a chance I wouldn’t have been afforded without Catholic.
My friends will all tell you that I am a true foodie, so exploring and trying new dishes across Italy was such a delight! Every day exploring meant new foods, too, like Fritto Misto, Tagliolini allo Scoglio, and plenty of gelato! My absolute favorite dish that I had almost everyday was Tagliolini allo Scoglio, which translates to shellfish pasta. It was comprised of a homemade pasta, a light red or buttery sauce, and an assortment of mussels, shrimp, lobster, calamari, and clams. You can find it at nearly every restaurant, however the most authentic versions were tucked on side streets, away from the tourists attractions. Deciding on which restaurant of hundreds of options every day was made easier through recommendations by our professor, locals, and even from friends and family back home who had previously traveled to Italy. The cuisine in Italy added to the wonderful atmosphere, with plates to share with new friends and memories to carry home with me.
Personally, I will always be grateful for my time studying abroad in Rome. This program reinforced my love for traveling and my interest in working internationally after graduation. Thanks to my first official experience abroad, I hope to study abroad again next summer in Shanghai, where I intend to delve deeper into the world of international business and intern alongside a top public relations or marketing company.
Emma is from Dayton, Ohio, and studies Marketing in the Busch School of Business and Economics. You can catch her as the Digital Marketing Co-Chair of Program Board, President of Spanish Club, member of the Busch School of Business and Economics Admissions Team, Business Women’s Council, Marketing Society, and interning with The Catholic University of America Social Media and Marketing Department while balancing three on -campus jobs as an Event Planner/Student Services Staff for the Kane Fitness Center, filming lectures for the Busch School of Business and Economics, and serving as a Teacher Assistant for MGT 118. When she’s not on the go from one side of campus to the next, Emma enjoys discovering new restaurants across DC, volunteering at various charities, and going on runs around the nation’s capital.