Rome. Go there. Now. Past Review

By (Political Science and Government., University of Florida) for

John Cabot University - Study Abroad in Rome, Italy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely. There is no down side to cultural immersion. Yes, there will be things that you don't like. But you become a better person for having been exposed to them. Life is a collection of experiences, good and bad. A semester abroad gives you an abbreviated opportunity to have the life of someone else. You get to live in their country, attend their school, eat their food, interact with their neighbors and countrymen, develop their habits and vices, learn their customs, and become a part of their culture. Even if it turns out to be an absolutely miserable country, where the food is bad, the customs are stupid, and the people are ugly and smelly and mean, you are still a better person for having lived through it. And on its darkest day, Italy remains an unrivaled archetypal paradise.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I went to John Cabot to work on the Italian Studies minor I was completing at my home university. That said, I picked four upper-level Italian language and literature classes. It turned out that the workload was pretty steep. One of my professors was the Italian department head, and she said that even native speakers rarely take more than two of these classes in a semester, and that she'd never approved someone to take 4. However, those taking less aggressive schedule should have no trouble. The educational system there was a hybrid between the very bureaucratic American system and the ridiculously disorganized Italian system. It's a touch annoying, but the school is so small that resolving issues was relatively easy. In many ways, it was considerable easier that the extremely regimented American system, despite some of John Cabot's operational issues.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I did not directly enroll to John Cabot. I went through an organization called Study Abroad Italy (SAI). The three women who manage the Rome office were absolutely fantastic. They were very friendly and helpful, and the overwhelming majority of my issues were completely resolved within 36 hours. They also took us on several out-of-Rome excursions and they were all brilliantly executed. The overall fit-and-finish of the SAI Rome program was exemplary. It was one of the few instances in my life where I have had absolutely no grievances worth mentioning about the program's administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The company that SAI contracted out the housing to was less than thrilling. The apartments met all of our needs, but they were slow to address problems (broken showers, blown light bulbs, bad Internet, etc.). However, I am under the impression that SAI is now using another housing service, so it should not be an issue for future students.

* Food:

Rome is awesome. There is no end to the good food. Plus, it's Italy. On a bad day, they can still top anything most of the rest of Europe could churn out. Good pasta can be found ANYWHERE. Really cheap food can be found at a place called Carlo Menta, but the dining experience leaves much to be desired (but again, you'd be there for the price, not the standoffish, vaguely hostile atmosphere). One of the best pizza places is an establishment called Dar Poeta. It is magnificent.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Sagras are great. And, as previously mentioned, SAI is fantastic at organizing trips. John Cabot isn't bad either, but it's one of those areas where the stereotypes seem to hold true. When organized by Americans, everything is perhaps a bit too regimented, but everything happens on time, and activities blend together almost seamlessly. When organized by Italians, anything goes. Occasionally, they could be having a good day and everything goes down without a hitch. However, things usually started out t least a half-hour late, and everything is a little disorganized and crazy. You miss out on whatever thing the trip was supposed to show you, but it's amusing seeing how Italians manage to function when nothing ever goes according to plan. One tip: SAI does one big trip per semester (that is built into the program fee). It is not always the same trip, but if they go to Maremma (a region in southern Tuscany and northern Lazio) during your time abroad, you would be an absolute fool to miss it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The city is pretty safe. I found myself walking home alone from all parts of town at odd hours, and I was never especially concerned for my safety. Frankly, this ancient, dirty, busy city felt safer at night than the wealthy, well-to-do suburb where I grew up.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The location.
  • The school.
  • The food.
* What could be improved?
  • The price.
  • The full-time students (they could be less elitist).