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Three Important Takeaways from Orientation Week in Rome

Three Important Takeaways from Orientation Week in Rome

While I can’t call myself an expert on all things concerning Rome after just a few days of being here, there are three thoughts I took away from orientation week that I think all students should know before studying abroad.

1. Don’t Live Through Your Screen(s):

Putting the phone and computer down is never an easy task, and the feeling of digital disconnection hits hard and fast once on the ground in Rome. Wifi at the JFRC is scarce on residential floors, and constantly checking to see if you can connect is only going to distract you from getting to know your classmates. Similarly, pulling out your phone to take pictures of incredible sights is important for memories and sharing your time here with family and friends, but when done in excess, takes away from why you’re really here. You want to remember all of the trip’s special moments through vivid experiences, and not by scrolling through your Instagram.

2. Throw All Your Expectations Out the Window, and Keep an Open Mind:

Small dorms, limited technology, and a world of unfamiliar faces can cause adverse initial reactions upon arrival for some. I caught myself making a lot of assumptions the first few days in terms of who I would be hanging out with, what I would want to do, and what I thought was important to see. I quickly realized that I had no idea what I wanted to get out of this trip, and thus stopped throwing ideas out before trying them. Taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, whether that be lunch with a new friend or skydiving in the Swiss Alps (no I’m not kidding), allows you to learn and take something away from each new adventure.

3. Learn the Language, and Attend the Orientation Events:

Knowing basic phrases and sayings in Italian is critical to making your life easier in Rome. Not taking the time to do so adds stress to navigating the city, and makes simple tasks such as grocery shopping very awkward when you need to ask any questions. Save yourself the anxiety and make sure to attend the Italian crash courses during orientation at a bare minimum. In line with that, being present at all the events Loyola has scheduled for arriving students in the first week creates an instant and important sense of community. For me personally, bonding with my peers during this time helped settle my doubts and concerns very quickly. While you may feel like you’re at summer camp for a few days, take a step back and see the value in learning more about your peers.

I thought orientation at the JFRC set me up for a successful semester abroad, and i’m excited for what’s ahead. Keep these thoughts in mind, and feel free to reach out to me personally with any questions via email:

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