YORO (You’re Only in Rome Once)

It is incredibly hard to believe that I have already been here for an entire month. They always say that time flies when you are having fun, but I think it is escalated to a whole new level when you are having the time of your life.

Since last time, I had the opportunity to go to Naples for a day and also Florence for a weekend. Granted we were stuck with quite a significant amount of rain in Naples, but it did not rain hard enough to cover up the beauty of the city. We had the chance to climb what is known as the Egg Castle which provided an amazing view of the house-covered shoreline on one side, and the mountainous shoreline on the other. Before we went to Naples, we heard from countless people in Rome that the Neapolitan pizza was out of this world and a must have. All of the hype did not really mean anything to me but my skepticism disappeared with the first bite of my Margherita Pizza. The hype is 100% percent justified and I am now an advocate for the pizza just like anyone else who has had the chance to indulge in it.

Panorama view from atop the Egg Castle in Naples.

Panorama view from atop the Egg Castle in Naples.

Neapolitan margherita pizza. Yum!

Neapolitan margherita pizza. Yum!

Naples

Naples

The rain seems to follow us wherever we go, considering it rained on our first day in Florence as well. Of course it only rained when we were getting our tour of the city, but when we finished, so did the rain and beautiful weather followed for the remainder of the weekend. After being in Florence for a weekend, I totally understand why so many people choose it as their destination to study abroad. There is no doubt that it is quite different than Rome, but it is extremely beautiful and the people there are very friendly. Somebody in our program actually compared Florence to the Midwest (where I am from) and Rome to the East Coast while we were there. I thought it was a pretty intriguing comparison and somewhat accurate, when it comes to the pace of life anyway, and it may be a good indicator as to why I enjoyed my time there so much!

The view of Florence atop the Bell Tower!

The view of Florence atop the Bell Tower!

Always amongst good company.

Always amongst good company.

The beautiful Tuscan hills.

The beautiful Tuscan hills.

As much as I enjoyed Florence and Naples, there is no place like Rome. Even though the first month flew by, I established so many close relationships with people here so quickly that I feel like I have known them so much longer than just this single month. I think that study abroad students become so close with one another because we all have a similar mindset and outlook on things so it is very easy to relate to each other. Furthermore, I think we all tend to instill quite a significant amount of trust in each other. We are all in an unfamiliar place and most of us came completely alone so we may not realize it, but we all rely on each other for a lot. I think this is one facet of the entire study abroad experience that people who do not study abroad really miss out on. Having the opportunity to create these close-knit bonds with people not only helps create lifelong friendships, but it also instills a profound ability to uniquely connect with people which can be utilized the rest of our lives.

I have learned a lot in Rome the past month but perhaps the most significant thing I have learned was taught to me by Rome itself. Rome has taught me to fully embrace my time here and more than anything, be courageous.

First, Rome has taught me to have the courage to make mistakes. Obviously making mistakes is embarrassing so we tend to try and avoid making them altogether. One thing I have learned though is that without making mistakes, we cannot grow. We learn from making mistakes, apply what we learned in future situations, and ultimately grow in the end as individuals. I do not go out and consciously make mistakes but I have been able to get into the mentality of thriving on common, everyday mistakes (which is quite common with the language barrier) and just making adjustments for the next similar situation.

Lastly, it has taught me to have the courage to step out of my comfort zone. Being here, in and of itself, is way out of my comfort zone but I have also done so many things that I would never imagine doing back home. For example, I was somehow persuaded into trying out for our school musical so I went and gave it a try on a whim, and a few days later I was given a role! Some people back home probably think I have gone off of the deep end but I think life is all about trying new things, challenging ourselves, and having fun in the process. After all, I am in Rome and you are only in Rome once, so why not?!

I’ve been blessed to meet such great people.

I’ve been blessed to meet such great people.

Zachary Dagneau is a student at University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and an official API Student Blogger. Zachary is studying abroad with API in Rome, Italy.

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