Globe Trotters: A Semester Studying in Rome



By Marissa Mulligan

It all started with an idea and a pros and cons list last spring which currently has me in one of the most ancient, yet beautiful countries in the whole world. It is a little strange to think about how a small list has brought me all the way from D.C. to Rome, Italy this semester, but I promise it did. Studying abroad was always something that interested me even as a senior in high school just exploring information sessions at universities. I was always interested in this idea of getting to travel to another country while studying. I had also gone through a phase where I decided I was not interested in going abroad. I had thoughts like there was no way I was going to leave my team, there was no way I was going to be able to find classes comparable to the ones at CUA, and there is no way I am going to leave my friends in D.C. One year later I am sitting in the CUA Rome Campus library writing this, and I have overcome all of those thoughts.

It took awhile for me to decide if I should apply to study abroad, where exactly I wanted to go, and if I was willing to leave D.C. Deciding where I wanted to go was relatively easy considering I studied Italian at CUA for 4 semesters and my grandparents live in Italy. Italy also seemed to be right in the center of the other places I was interested in traveling too. The bigger problems were finding out if I was willing to commit 5 months to living in Rome. After consulting my pros and cons list and reviewing it extensively, I decided the pros really outweighed the cons and I should go. The more I thought about my decision, the more I knew my friends, my team, and D.C. would be there for me when I come back, but this opportunity and time would never come back.

So here I am, two weeks into my study abroad experience and I already have so much to share. My study abroad experience truly began with the minute I stepped on the plane at JFK airport headed to London. I had an unexpected 12 hour layover in London so I decided to make the most of it and go see the city while I was there. After a long day seeing London I was getting ready to board my second flight from London to Rome. My first day in Rome was the day of orientation which was so exciting. It was refreshing to be doing something so new, and have a whole new city to explore. I spent my whole first week trying the amazing food, meeting new people from CUA who I was not familiar with, and sightseeing. I have been so amazed by all the different aspects in Rome. If you stand in one place you can get many different aspects depending on what you choose to focus in on. In one piazza you can see something ancient or modern. It is truly like nothing I have ever experienced before. In the past two weeks I have seen the Colosseum, the Spanish steps, and the Pantheon. I am really excited for the weather to get warmer so I can explore the other side of Rome which is pretty far from where we live.

This past weekend I took a bus trip with other CUA students to Bologna which is a city in northern Italy, and is also filled with great history. This made me really excited for trips I have already planned. I am going to Greece for easter break, Bari and Madrid for Spring Break, and hope to plan other trips. My goal is to visit Morocco, Barcelona, Paris, Milan, Malta, and Venice as well while I am abroad.

My experience with the Rome Program is definitely unique because we have our very own campus in Rome. This is definitely a really positive thing because as students we have our very own place to call home. For my first month here, I am staying in the hotel with many other students until more dorms in the center open up. I don’t mind staying in the hotel most of the time just because it is just another unique part of my experience. Some downsides to studying abroad are the amount of meals you are responsible on your own. The program doesn’t provide any meals on the weekends or lunch at all. This seems really cool at the beginning but once you realize how much you are spending on food(even though it’s way better quality) it can get a little scary.

Studying abroad is very cool because they focus the classes around the idea of seeing the city. I’ve been on many ‘site visits’ where the professor takes you into the city and is your guide. The classes are set around the idea that students want to travel and see as much as they can. I have a lot of free time because of the way I made my schedule and I’m loving it so far. I have so much time to explore which I am aggressively taking advantage of. I am loving my time in Rome and I could not imagine myself back in D.C. which seems like a good sign so far. (P.s. the food in Italy is actually as amazing as everyone says it is.)

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