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All Roads Lead to Rome

All Roads Lead to Rome

Life was meant to be a great adventure. One event leads to the next and everything happens for a reason. January 13, 2015 was the start of my greatest one yet; all my roads led me to Roma. I embarked on the journey of a lifetime having only one 50-pound suitcase, an empty stomach, and a full heart to accompany me. A long journey awaited me, but I was more than ready.

I planned on traveling from LAX to O’Hare to JFK to FCO on my own, but lucky for me, I ended up meeting friends in my program along the way! 9 other John Felice Rome Center students joined me on what would be the start to our Roman experience. After almost missing our connection in New York due to delays because of Chicago’s winter weather we were simply relieved to be on the home stretch of our journey. Without even planning it, I happened to be sitting next to one of my friends and floor mates from freshman year. Mixed emotions of anxiety and disbelief filled me with the hopes of landing safely crowding my mind.


Within three minutes of take off, the TV in front of me used as a source of entertainment broke, so I was only left with the people around me to entertain me for the 10 hour trip ahead. I didn’t know it then, but it was a blessing. We met an Italian couple who loved Chipotle, an old man who had mistaken me for his first love, and new friends that gave us their information in case of emergency. Once our bags were in our hands we ended up in a taxi with a group of Carmelite nuns heading to the city of Balduina living only a few blocks from us. From the second we turned in our boarding pass our adventure began!

Once arriving to our beautiful home of the John Felice Rome Center, orientation was already in full swing. Days were filled with plenty of Pranzo (long lunches that last for hours and are served with wine specific to each course), neighborhood tours of Monte Mario, Italian Survival Sessions, Cena in the Balduina neighborhood and day trips to appreciate not only the city, but also the places not even found on a map. The weekend had plans for every moment, but the lack of sleep was forgotten with the constant excitement and energy coming from everyone.

Fun activities such as a Centro Storico Scavenger Hunt allowed us to see what it is Rome really has to offer. This forced us to experience the Roman transportation system and gave us hands on experience of the city at night. We were split into teams and given tasks to complete at large monuments and city favorites. Regardless of teams, everyone experienced things that weren’t tasks to complete for their scavenger hunt, but those for their bucket lists. Mine led me to getting lost a number of times, but somehow always directed me to a new gelato place, finding my way to the secret Irish Pub filled with study abroad students called The Abbey, and dancing with Spaniards on the Spanish Steps until 5 in the morning singing “Ba Ba Bomba”. It was only day two and we all already knew we’d never want to leave. Roaming Rome does something to you, it changes you the second you start taking it all in.


If you thought this was fun enough, you were mistaken. It was only the beginning! The weekend was filled with a day at the Colosseum and Roman Forum followed by explorations of Villa Farnese and Villa Lante in the areas of Tuscia, Bagnaia, and Viterbo. These large attractions filled with thousands of people and small towns of less than 500 created the same automatic reaction, they took my breath away. We were given the opportunity to see places people come to Rome for, and reasons to why they really should. It was the perfect birthday weekend and best way to join the 20’s club!

Orientation has now come to an end and classes are in session. The “study” in study abroad has finally begun. It was the best first weekend of my very own Roman holiday. All my new friends in my program and I have never been happier in our lives. Within a matter of days I got a taste into the true meaning of human connection by meeting people from all over the world, saw the attractions world leaders walked on years before I was born, experienced the intimacy of small villages surrounded by the largest European villas, ate mouth watering dishes that just kept coming, was forced to speak the most beautiful language to come out of anyone’s mouth just to survive,  got a first hand experience of night life in Europe, and adapted to a culture where timing is absolutely nothing and living in the moment is all that matters. 4 Days is all it took for me to understand why my roads led me to Rome. It was not just one single reason, but all of them put together. I don’t know where this will take me next, but it’s my great adventure.


Ciao for now,

Gabriella Lunich

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