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All Roads Lead to Rome

Samuel Josephson in Pisa, Italy


Hello, my name is Samuel Josephson and I am studying at the American University in Rome, Italy for the Spring Semester of 2022. So far, I have been in Italy for two weeks traveling the country and learning the culture here which is extremely diverse from place to place. On my third day here, I befriended a local tour guide who grew up in Sicily and now lives in Rome. It is from her I have learned much. Italy is a land of giants, from the Colosseum which is larger than life even when you are inside it to the city of Pompei which, once you're there you learn, is a full Roman city equipped with a beautiful forum. From my new friend, however, I learned about the modern cultures of Italy, which are completely different from city to city. Any place you go here, they likely will have a different dialect of Italian which can be as similar as English in New York to English in the South or as different as English is to Spanish. 

In Rome, I learned that when you go to restaurants there is almost a custom sign language used nowhere else in Italy; holding two fingers up is to ask for either a table or waiter, a 'rock and roll' symbol with a drinking motion will get you whatever wine bottle is open, and the same motion with a closed hand is to ask for water (which you need to emphasize as either bubbly or flat).

In Naples, they don't have this but what I learned they do have is truly beautiful and can only be found there: "Caffe Sospeso." Basically, when you order your coffee you can get a "caffe sospeso" which means you pay for two and they put one of your receipts in a bowl, then a person who can't afford the coffee can get one without paying.

Italy is a beautiful, diverse country and I would never have had the chance to learn about it if it was not for studying abroad. 

If you are looking to study abroad, here are some tips I wish I had when I first started out:

  1. Get your forms in early, some study abroad programs have a limit to the number of people they can accept so get your slot filled.
  2. Reach out to the Study Abroad department early and throughout your application process, this will keep you from having to cram to get information together and they can usually help to get things done.
  3. Don't stress over the forms, it will look like a lot more than it is, much of it will be the same information over and over again.
  4. Get your things together, packing is important and you don't want to leave anything behind, personally a major help to me was getting a 6 month supply of my daily prescriptions which is essential because you may not be able to get them abroad.
  5. Understand yourself, if you are anything like me, when I first got abroad I had a bit of a panic attack. The world is very different and getting used to it can take time. Have a support system in place and find your own way to cope with homesickness.

WCU and your host institution will also help you, all you need to do is reach out. Studying Abroad, so far at least, has been a great experience that I would recommend to anyone willing to get out of their comfort zone.

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