Three Reasons to Study Abroad in Rome

Experience, Experience, Experience: Three Reasons to Study Abroad in Rome

As a writer, I believe there are few things that are more important than experience. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Without experience, writing something meaningful or powerful is practically impossible. How can you expect to write something that changes the world if you have never left your desk and actually seen it?

Last fall, when I officially applied to study abroad at the American University of Rome, I didn’t know what to expect. I had always known that someday I wanted to visit Italy, but never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate going before I turned 21. At the time, I was both excited and terrified; despite being a junior in college, there were still many days where I felt like I was still a child. How would I handle spending four months in a country where I did not speak the language? Forget traveling Europe, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to properly communicate or feed myself!


It has been over three months since I stepped off my plane in Fiumicino Airport, bags in tow, looking for the rest of my travel abroad group. Back then I hadn’t known a single person; everyone was just a stranger from another part of the country and I, standing there with my over packed backpack and two suitcases, looked admittedly like a fish out of water. However, things quickly changed. I made friends, got settled in my apartment, and began experiencing Italy. It started small, exploring Rome with groups of fellow students and venturing out into crowded piazzas. Yet soon enough, I found myself taking trains, buses, and planes across Italy in that very same pursuit of experiencing something I could never experience any place else.

I like to believe that I have become both a different writer and a person than I was when I first arrived, hopefully having changed for the better. Over the duration of my stay I have witnessed the beautiful and the bleak, encountered the incredible and the amazing, and experienced things I never would have dreamed of when I was growing up. In turn, these things--these experiences--they have changed me. So if someone was to ask me if there are any benefits of paying to go abroad in Italy, I would in return ask them this: have you experienced watching the sun set behind the Colosseum? Have you seen it descend from the sky and witnessed it gently kissing the Mediterranean in Capri? Have you seen it bathe the city of Florence in golden light?

Because if you had, you probably wouldn’t have to ask.

2019. In collaboration with the American University of Rome.

Zachary Charles Smith
Zachary Charles Smith
Zach Smith is an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama, originally from South Elgin, Illinois. He is currently earning his Bachelor of Arts in English, with minors in Creative Writing and Interdisciplinary Linguistics. Zach is using his experiences in Rome and throughout Europe to enhance his writing and gain a greater perspective into the world around him. In his free time, he is an avid reader, adventurer, and poet.
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