Pros and cons to the JFRC Past Review

By (BUSINESS, MANAGEMENT, MARKETING, AND RELATED SUPPORT SERVICES., Loyola University Chicago) - abroad from 08/29/2012 to 12/14/2012 with

Loyola University Chicago: Rome - John Felice Rome Center

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Overall, this is a good, well-run program and my semester at the JFRC was a positive experience, but it wasn't exactly the experience I was after. I am a Spanish/French minor and have done summer study abroad programs in Spain and France, including home stay and classes taught in those languages, so this program seemed really sheltered to me. However, it was so practical it was certainly worthwhile (besides ITAL 102, all the classes I took were Core or Business requirements). Some were great, life-changing classes that would not have been the same in Chicago, and for me, this was one of the best parts of my experience. The other was traveling on weekends and during breaks. I just didn't get the immersion in the language that has made my other study abroad experiences so exceptional.

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 would say the workload I had was overall lighter than what I normally have in Chicago, but that's not to say my classes were a lot easier. I had one class that was easy, two that were medium, and two the were pretty difficult. The professors generally were high quality and really cared about their students, even more than most in Chicago. The IC is beautiful and has a good selection of books relevant to most papers assigned in classes. LUC can also send books from its libraries but it takes awhile.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Some of the rooms are really just too tiny for two people, but the furniture is decent. The bathrooms are down the hall, which I thought would be bothersome, but they were nice and cleaned daily so this wasn't a problem at all. Plus, each room has a sink. The biggest inconvenience was that only some rooms had internet. It would have been really nice to have for working on homework in the room because the IC (library) wasn't always quiet enough. Also, the dorm part of campus has no air conditioning so the rooms were pretty uncomfortable during late August/beginning of September.

* Food:

The food got really old really fast. I liked the cooked vegetables until I realized how salty they were. Salads were decent. Any good fruit was usually taken within the first 10-20 minutes of the meal time. The food from Rinaldo's was better, but it was not worth the extra cost and was obviously impractical to eat there all the time. This was really disappointing because one of the best things about Italy is the food!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

For me, this is the worst thing about this program. You're around American students speaking English all the time on a very secluded campus. The unreliability of Rome's public buses and lack of a Metro stop within walking distance were frustrating and often deterred me from going to downtown Rome. I did really like the quiet neighborhood the campus was in, though. It's pleasant and there are some great restaurants and shops to visit. There are opportunities to meet locals by tutoring English but I wasn't sure I would be able to make the time commitment so I did not do this. Ideally there would have been an option for students with some background in Italian language to do a home stay in the neighborhood (beyond walking distance would be too cumbersome).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There was a doctor on-site multiple times a week. I was one of the lucky few who never even got a cold so I can't really comment much more than that, but I never heard any complaints about the healthcare we had access to.

* Safety:

Rome is probably safer than Chicago. The biggest problems are petty crime and just being ripped off in general. Keep an eye on your stuff at all times and always make sure you are given the correct amount of change when purchasing something (know what bills you gave them, some are the same color; e.g.., you might pay with a 20 and they may use some trickery to try to make it look like you only gave them a 5).

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

It just depends on what you do on the weekends. The more you plan to travel the more money you will need. If you stay in Rome, the more you go out the more money you will need. I eventually got really sick of the cafeteria and started buying a lot at the grocery store (it's also pretty enjoyable to try the foods that Italians keep in their homes!) I also purchased a monthly bus pass for September, October, and November (35 Euro each). I would suggest doing the same. It takes about 12 round-trip bus rides per month to break even. For anyone who has lived in Chicago during summer (i.e., sans U-pass) this does not seem like too bad of a deal!

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't try not validating your bus ticket and playing dumb. That only makes Americans look stupid/dishonest and you can get fined much more than the cost of the monthly pass.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? ITAL 101 (FREN 271, SPAN 3xx)
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Take at least Italian 101 before you go. It's not that you won't be able to get around if you don't, but you'll miss out on things you don't even know you're missing out on. It's just helpful in general and Italians are much more receptive to those who know/have an interest in learning the language!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Everything runs pretty smoothly.
* What could be improved?
  • Cultural immersion aspect.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how secluded the campus was. It definitely seemed like a bubble. There were a lot of cliques but in general the students were nicer and much, much better than students I met in other Italy programs.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!