Jackie explores the Italian countryside. Courtesy of Jackie Dende

By Jackie Dende

My semester studying abroad In Rome has truly been the best choice I have made throughout my academic career at Catholic University. I have been able to experience the lifestyle of Italian culture and it has truly inspired me to become a better person.

I found that the people in Italy love to remain present with one another. They love and value going to coffee shops and having good, meaningful conversations and maintaining true relationships with one another. While studying abroad, students in this program go through one to three classes a day which are three to four hours in length, four days a week. The workload is a lot to manage while abroad and traveling, but I find that every professor is passionate about each subject and strive to make the classes interesting for students.

The teaching style is different in Italy, but it truly has enabled my mind to grow in new ways. For my English class, my professor prefers to see a presentation on a topic versus a paper, which I find interesting. For my theology, philosophy, and classics class, we mostly go on site visits and learn about iconic monuments throughout the city of Rome. The professors have a deep knowledge about the city of Rome, making each site visit and class truly interesting. I will use the knowledge that these professors have shared with me for life.

Living in Rome has helped me developed my own values and truths that I want to live by in life. I found that the people in Rome love being in the moment with one another and living simple lives. Through observing the lifestyle in Italy, I have understood the true value of success, which is happiness. I always go to this coffee bar after my Italian class and see the owner with a positive attitude. He always makes an effort to brighten the customer’s day through a positive comment. I have observed that he truly gains so much joy by serving coffee and making a positive impact on others’ lives. We tend to think that these great philanthropic moments leave an indelible impact on the world. However, it is what we do every day and how we use our life to be a light to somebody else’s. I hope to use my degree to find a career that I love and will continue to make a positive impact on the world every day.

I also traveled to many parts of Italy. I went on a Tuscan wine tour with some people from Catholic University and we had an amazing time. While we were tasting, we learned which kind of wine we liked out of ten different wines and this experience was one I will remember for the rest of my life. I also traveled to Venice with my roommates and we went on a gondola ride for the first time. Venice was one of my favorite cities in Rome, because people from all over the world come just for the gondola ride and see the city, because the city is famously sinking.

Studying abroad so far has truly been an amazing experience for me so far, I know I am gaining an understanding of myself, while learning to adapt and relate to a different culture. I hope to come back to Catholic University, as a more knowledgeable and better person because the lessons I have learned thus far in Italy have truly made a positive impact on my life.

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