Ciao! This past summer I spent the most amazing 5 weeks of my life abroad in Rome.
During my childhood, I aspired to travel alone during college to gain a deeper understanding of both myself and the world. I was blessed to be able to do that this past summer, and I am so thankful for the memories I made and the people I met. The first week I was in Rome I was able to meet around 40 people that were in the same study abroad program I was in. I quickly created friendships with these people and spent the rest of the summer with them. I chose to study abroad with the CIS program in Rome because I knew there was so much to explore and learn within the city. I visited the Pope, the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Colleseum, various basilicas, the Jewish Ghetto, and many other places.
While abroad, I studied an Introduction to Italian Language and Culture course which allowed me to gain knowledge and understanding of Italian culture. One of the main takeaways from this experience is how beautiful and broad the world is. There are so many unique and interesting people worldwide with many different stories and experiences to share. My roommates and I made it a goal to make at least one friend on every train ride we went on. The stories I shared and heard on these rides are something I will never forget.
After we spent our first weekend in Rome, we quickly started deciding where we wanted to spend our other weekends. After much consideration, we booked a flight to Barcelona for the following weekend. While in Barcelona, we went dancing, ate Tapas, and toured the Sagrada Familia which is the largest Roman Catholic church in the world. We met many different people from Russia, Britain, Denmark, and Croatia which was memorable.
The following weekend we were able to travel to Tuscany and spend time in Florence and Siena. While in Tuscany, we had a wine tasting in a wonderful vineyard, and we learned to make spaghetti noodles from scratch. We also indulged in our first true Italian five-course meal. Siena is a Middle Ages city that is most known for its horse races which take place over the summer. We were able to get a tour of every single district in Siena and learn about what makes them different from each other. If you are ever lucky enough to go to Florence and Siena, my advice would be to wear comfortable shoes.
During the week, my roommates and I tried to do daily excursions to places around the city. We traveled to Sperlonga, Santa Severa, Anzio, Bracciano, and Castel Gandolfo. The last weekend I spent abroad I wanted to travel alone and reflect on my time in Europe. I took a 3-hour train ride to Umbria which is known as the “green heart” of Italy because of its beautiful landscape and vineyards. I was able to stay with family friends who own a vineyard in Umbria. They took me under their wing for the weekend, taking me to eat amazing pasta, explore Perugia, and see the Italian countryside.
I learned so much this summer. I gained independence, explored a completely different culture than my own, learned about different religions, and created lifelong friends. I would study abroad every single summer if I was able to and highly encourage other students to take advantage of this opportunity. Although every single encounter or glance on the sidewalk wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I would not exchange this experience for anything.
Ashleigh Godley (BS Psychology and Criminal Justice) spent the Summer 2023 semester studying abroad in Rome, Italy through CIS Abroad. Ashleigh had the following to say about studying abroad, “This experience will stretch you out of your comfort zone, but will allow you to find interest in the things you never would imagine.”
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