Wednesday, June 20, 2012


If you haven’t seen the previous posts, we have been featuring the study abroad experiences of PT students to answer some common questions. Many people want to know if it’s possible to study abroad in the Program in Physical Therapy at Saint Louis University (yes), where you could go (almost anywhere! Saint Louis University has loads of sites to choose from), if you will be able to experience a lot of the culture (yes again), etc. Read Michael’s question & answer article to find out what it would be like to be a PT student in Rome.

Why did you choose the study abroad site that you did?
I chose to study in Rome, Italy at the John Felice Rome Center because of the fact that it was ROME.  I could not think of a better city or any other city in Europe that has more history and culture then Rome does. There is always something to do in Rome for any type of person such as the Churches filled with thousands of years of history and art, museums, amazing food and wine, calico (soccer), fun nightlife, very old structures, and my personal favorite: Gelato.  Another reason why I was interested in Rome is because it is located in the heart of Italy where there are tons of other wonderful places to visit. 

Were you excited to study abroad? Nervous? Both?
Even though I was very excited study in a city like Rome, I was also nervous at first as well.  I did not know much Italian at all and I also did not have a ton of my friends coming with me either.  So with going to a foreign city, not knowing the language and leaving my close friends back at SLU I was a little nervous.  However, none of this stopped me from having the best semester of my life. 

How did you relate to the culture at your site? What was your experience with the natives?
I found out quickly that just because I couldn’t speak Italian didn’t mean that I could not communicate with Italians.  Many Italians speak English and for those that do not you learn how to talk with your hands.  One thing that I discovered about the Italian culture is that they love to talk with their hands.  Now, I had heard about this before going over to Rome, but I did not realize how much it can be used to help you communicate - or how distracting it could be at times.  Italians are very emotional people and they express all their emotions 24/7, which was something that I had to adjust to at first but learned to appreciate.

Can you describe any monuments, buildings, museums, etc. particular to your study abroad site that had a large impact on you?
If you didn’t know already, Rome has a lot of sites to see that are all very impressive.  However, my favorite site in Rome is not as well known as the Coliseum or Pantheon.  The coolest thing I was able to do in Rome was go on the Scavi tour.  The Scavi is the catacombs (network of graves) that St. Peter’s Basilica is built on.  In Rome there are tons of ancient catacombs underground containing art and structures that are thousands of years old.  What makes the Scavi so unique was that it is where St. Peter was buried and I was actually able to see what historians believe to be his bones.  On top of that I was able to see some of the first Christian art in this underground world below St. Peter’s Basilica. 

What were your experiences with food like? Did you find something that you could never get used to? Did you find something that you loved?
Rome has a lot of sites that make it a great city to study in, but the thing that makes it even better is the food, particularly gelato.  Gelato is an Italian version of ice cream that is unreal.  What makes this delicious creation so unreal is the amount of flavor it contains and how odd the flavors can be at times.  One time I had a Raspberry and Thyme flavor, which was very good even though it sounds weird.  The good gelato places always use the freshest ingredients, causing the flavors to always change and taste fantastic.  While in Rome I went by the philosophy of, “A Gelato a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.”  And it did. 

What was taking classes in a foreign place like?
Rome is a wonderful city (if I haven’t made that clear yet), but what made my study abroad experience in that wonderful city so special was the John Felice Rome Center.  That was my home as well as 120 other students’ home for the semester.  It is an awesome place that takes you on student trips all over Europe, provides you with information about what to do in Rome and offers one of a kind classes.  One of my favorite and most unique classes was titled Art in Rome.  This is an onsite class in which one morning every week our class of 20 people would go to a place in Rome and our teacher would teach us about it.  It was great to actually see the things I was learning about and get knowledge on places like the Coliseum, Roman Forum, and the Vatican from a professor who has been in Italy for 40 years.  It really allowed me to see more of the city that I might not have been able to see on my own. 

So if you are interested in studying abroad at a place that will let you truly experience the culture of one of the greatest cities in the world I would definitely recommend studying abroad in Rome for a semester.  It will be one of the best life experiences you will ever have.

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