Studying abroad is often described as a transformative experience, but when you decide to embark on that journey alone, leaving behind the familiar comforts of home in California for the historic streets of Rome, the adventure takes on a whole new dimension. As I reflect on my decision to study abroad in the Eternal City, I can’t help but feel grateful for the incredible experiences and personal growth that have come my way.

Leaving the West Coast behind, I found myself in a city bursting with history, culture, and endless opportunities for exploration. But perhaps the most daunting aspect of my solo adventure was the prospect of meeting new people and making friends in a foreign land. Little did I know, however, that Rome would prove to be the perfect backdrop for forging meaningful connections with people from all walks of life.

One of the first things that struck me about life in Rome was the stark contrast to my Californian upbringing – the language, the food culture, and even the simple act of dining out. In California, tap water flows freely at restaurants, but in Rome, you pay for bottled water without a second thought. While initially, this seemed like an inconvenience, I soon learned to appreciate the value placed on quality and the importance of savoring every drop.

Similarly, the Italian and European lifestyle introduced me to a slower pace of living, where meals are savored, conversations are unhurried, and the simple pleasures of life are cherished. In a world that often seems to prioritize speed and efficiency, embracing this laid-back approach was a refreshing change of pace.

Traveling alone also opened my eyes to the beauty of spontaneity and self-reliance. Navigating the cobblestone streets of Rome, hopping on trains to explore neighboring cities, and immersing myself in new cultures became second nature. Each solo adventure brought with it a sense of empowerment and a newfound confidence in my ability to navigate the world independently.

And then there was the experience of taking public transportation – a far cry from the sprawling highways of California. Riding the bus or the metro became a daily ritual, offering a glimpse into the everyday lives of Romans going about their day. It was on these crowded buses and trains that I found myself striking up conversations with strangers, learning about their lives, and forging connections that transcended language barriers.

Ultimately, my time in Rome taught me invaluable lessons about the beauty of embracing the unknown, stepping out of my comfort zone, and opening myself up to new experiences and perspectives. It challenged me to reevaluate my priorities, shed preconceived notions, and embrace the richness of life in all its diversity.

My friends and I