Studying (in) Italy: Study abroad spotlight. Gregory Caso, summer 2017
- WTI Magazine #97 Nov 18, 2017
Before I spent a summer session at John Cabot University, I was on the fence about studying abroad. I wasn’t sure if it would be the right fit for me, or how I would assimilate to the place I was studying in. As soon as I arrived on campus, though, all of my worries were put to rest; the orientation leaders were helpful, energetic, and encouraged me to open up and explore.
Rome was the perfect place for me study over the summer. I was in an advanced creative writing fiction course, and I couldn’t have asked for a more romantic and inspiring setting than a Roman summer. Everything was within walking distance from the dorm buildings, and I wandered around at all times, from early morning to late at night. My instructor, Michael Carroll, encouraged all types of writing both in and out of the classroom. I had the opportunity to meet with him for individual conferences at various cafés and bars around Rome—something I would not have had the opportunity to do anywhere else. From his careful guidance and instruction, I honed my craft, expressed my love for my art, and found myself in Rome.
I was one of the few people during my summer session who studied abroad at John Cabot University by myself; I did not come with a group of friends or my home institution, but on my own. In a way, that was an experience in itself. This gave me the opportunity to, as both a writer and a person, find myself in one of the most romantic, bustling, and picturesque cities on the planet. I always walked around with a notebook and pen stuffed in my back pocket; this led to recording my inspiration from places like the Tiber River, Colosseum, and other ancient sites, not to mention during my trip to Tuscany organized by JCU.
Living in Rome and studying at John Cabot for five weeks opened so many doors for me. I gained more independence, traveling alone the whole time, and had the opportunity to do things like watch the sunrise over the Tiber River. Walking around random parts of Rome and its surrounding neighborhoods, I interacted with the locals, observed casual encounters, listened in on conversations, and was able to get a true and authentic feel of Italy. Not only has this impacted my writing—since I have come back from my study abroad experience I have written numerous stories, poems, and other creative works with Rome as the featured setting—but I can see a change in myself too.
This change is not just about gaining independence, but about being able to find out who you are. When alone in a foreign land, what are your options? You can shelter yourself away in the comfort of solitude, or you can go out, explore, immerse yourself, and enjoy. I did the latter, taking advantage of all that Rome had to offer. Before leaving, the idea of studying abroad for five weeks seemed so long. But before I knew it, it was gone in the blink of an eye. And I wish I could go back. No matter what, though, I have my experience at John Cabot University to thank for it all.