WE’RE HERE, WE’RE HERE! Finally after dreaming of this for so long, my first couple weeks in my new home have already come to a quick close. It has been nothing short of incredible and some how, each day has consistently been better than the last – if that’s even possible. I find myself saying “this is the best day of my life” every. single. day.
Arriving to the airport was so exciting, my flight buddy Annie and I could not wait to meet up with the 17 others in our group. The majority of the group just happened to be arriving around the same time on Sunday morning – a little bit jet lagged but smiles and hugs everywhere when we were all reunited! We had been told the cab ride to the center of Rome would be quite the rush and we had no idea what was in store for us. All of us were quickly shuffled into cabs in groups of four, being shouted at in Italian we couldn’t help but laugh as we tried to tell the driver our school’s address. First zipping through the streets of the Italian countryside, into weaving through the tiny streets of downtown Rome, we had wide eyes the entire time. Praying we made it there in one piece I couldn’t believe everything passing my windows was real. It looked like the pictures on the internet, but better if that’s possible. Colored buildings with balconies, flower boxes, adorable restaurants, vespas, – it was all real and I get to call it all home for six weeks. I felt the luckiest.
We then arrived at the ACCENT center which is where we take our classes. We were almost in tears laughing at each other trying to drag our 50lbs+ luggage across the uneven cobblestone streets and up the three flights of stairs. We all checked in and received our very own map of the area, apartment keys and finally our address of where we would be staying! There are 19 MSU students on our program, 8 boys and 11 girls. We have 4 private apartments in Rome, the boys are split 4 and 4, and the girls are split 4 and 7. I am in the larger of the girl’s apartment and have loved every minute so far! It’s a beautiful place in an adorable location with 4 bedrooms, a living room, two bathrooms and a kitchen with a little balcony. Its a funny feeling to unpack and essentially “move” into an apartment in Rome. The feeling of walking to and from class each day makes us feel like true residents. Shops become familiar, restaurant owners begin to recognize you, and you start forming favorite places. I cannot think of one thing I dislike about Rome, it’s just feels so comfortable and normal – like I’ve known it my whole life. You could walk the streets for hours and never get tired of looking up. Instead of having our faces locked into our screens, we have found we are constantly mesmerized by our surroundings and making sure we are living in the moment every second of our days.
All study abroad programs vary in the amount of credits, hours in a classroom, and the way they are taught. The 19 of us are taking four classes while we are here and working to receive 9 credits. All of us on this program are studying within the college of communication arts and sciences with a sales leadership minor so our main area of focus while studying here is Communication and Sales but this time, it’s Italian style. Only one of the classes is taught by our advisor Jen who is also our professor from Michigan State. The rest of our classes are taught by equally incredibly intelligent and special Italian individuals. Everyday I am blown away by the fact that I am receiving such a unique education from some of the most extraordinary people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We have a survival Italian to learning basic language as well as helpful tips while living here taught by Mario. Andrea who is a strategy consultant for the top management at NTV teaches our Made in Italy course. Sean is the communication director of the Vatican ( no big deal 😉 ) and he teaches our Italian Communication class. Our class times are scheduled for Monday through Thursday 9am to noon, and 2pm-5pm. Some days these times are spent inside our classroom at ACCENT and other days we are out doing experiential learning somewhere in the city. This is the way life should be lived, there is no better way to learn than to live. One day we are speaking about a place while sitting in class and the next day we are seeing it in person, taking it all in and immersing ourselves in it. It is such a special feeling to have to pinch myself for a reminder that this is real life each day. To say this experience has changed my life already would be such an understatement. I couldn’t be more thankful to be receiving this education while living in a dream.
The first two weeks were filled to the brim with incredible experiences and memories I know I will never forget. For the second half of week two our whole group took a trip into the southern part of Italy to the Libera camp, an anti-mafia organization, for some volunteer work.
Below are a few pictures of my time in Rome so far! Follow my Instagram at siennamohl for more updates.