Reflections on Study Abroad in Rome, Italy

Nicole Zeoli, Guest Blogger, Study Abroad, Rome, Italy (2007)

Today’s guest blogger is Nicole Zeoli.  She and I recently had a conversation about her time in Rome, Italy at John Cabot University.  I asked her to share her reflections, now that she has been back in the States for 3 years.  As international educators, we always wonder how study abroad impacts the lives of our students. Here is Nicole’s story:

When asked about my experience abroad, I am always thrilled.  I will take any excuse to reflect on my time in Rome, and try to convince people to go have their own life changing adventures. What better way to start off describing my experience in Rome then to quote my own travel journal:

“I am finally starting to feel the difference from living in Rome, which is a very different feeling from just visiting as a tourist. The lost Americans, with their cameras in one hand and maps in the other, are starting to become very obvious to me. It is reminding me of why I must have stuck out like a sore thumb only weeks ago.  I take it as a compliment when people now mistake me for an Italian.  After traveling with my new friends to Sicily, and Capri, it is nice to be back in Roma, and for the first time, I considered it home. The class I am taking at John Cabot University is beyond awesome. It’s all about ancient Rome and Pompeii, and we meet every time at a different ancient ruin.  It covers from 753 BC to the 5th century AD. It is surreal to be in the middle of these beautiful ancient monuments. I mean, we are talking about before Michelangelo, before the Middle ages, even before Julius Caesar!!  It’s… surreal.  I am in heaven.  I mean, who gets to go to class at the Colosseum for the day?”

I remember how nervous I was when I first decided I wanted to study abroad. I was about to be a junior in college, and I felt like my time of freedom was running out and the real world was going to come sooner rather than later. I knew that this would be a once in a lifetime experience, and luckily, I had the support of my family and the faculty at my school to pursue it. Studying abroad in Rome changed not only how I viewed the world, but how I viewed myself. Even now, as a nurse, I have a completely different outlook on our own health care system after seeing a friend experience the Italian version during our stay. I gained so many different views on life;  I had no idea how much they would impact me later.

Nicole (on right) in Cinque Terre, Italy

After college, I decided to apply to grad schools to pursue a career in nursing. I was lucky enough to get into my dream grad school in New York City. The “old me” would have thought that moving across country to a huge city would have been way out of my comfort zone. In fact, I can honestly say that the “old me” would have settled being closer to home and missed out on a life changing opportunity. But I firmly believe, because I had lived in a large city like Rome, and had so many wonderful experiences there, that it allowed me to see that there is more to this world than the comfort of my home town.

To this very day, I still believe that studying abroad was the single most important decision I have ever made in my life. That experience changed not only how I viewed the world, but how I viewed myself.  Years after studying abroad, I know that who I have become, in large part, is credited to studying and living in Rome. Going abroad was definitely a turning point in my life, and gave me so much independence and growth into my young adulthood. I still consider some of the people I met there to be some of my closest friends. I wish I could explain each and every moment of my travels there; the funny stories, the amazing views, the interesting people, but it’s one of those things where “you just had to be there.”  If you are considering study abroad, and in particular Italy, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s something that can’t be explained….only experienced.

About the Author: Nicole Zeoli grew up in a small town in Southern California. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she had 2 majors – Interpersonal Communication and Dramatic Art. She studied abroad at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy in 2007.  After a change of heart in career paths, Nicole decided to move to New York City where she is currently a graduate student at a top university. She is studying to be an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

  • Judy Zeoli Bainto

    What a wonderful experience and commitment you have for your future. Congratulations and good luck in your new adventure.

  • Jennifer

    I am thinking of going to Italy either to teach or study. Any advice? And loved your blog!

    • Hi Jennifer! Italy is one of my favorite places. That is a BIG question. What are you thinking of studying? Do you speak Italian? Are you a certified teacher and if so, what in specifically? Lots of variables here to consider. Thanks for your kind words. I sincerely appreciate them!