When in Rome
Not all roads lead to it
Because of its central location, Rome offers many travel opportunities. It doesn't take too long to get to other places in Italy by train, and most international flights out of local airports are cheap and quick. These advantages give many students one goal: To travel as much as possible on the weekends.
This past weekend I took my first trip outside of Rome. Instead of starting out with an international trip, I chose to keep it low key. My friends and I decided on Perugia, a small city in northern Italy. We read that, for the most part, it wasn't too touristy, and it was relatively cheap, which were the two deciding factors on our venture.
There are two major universities in Perugia - one Italian university and one international university - and the town is crowded with twenty-somethings, which is reflected in the amount of dance clubs and pubs around the city's main square. The first night in town, my friends and I, guidebook in hand, walked around until we found an Irish pub that the guidebook's author insisted was an important place to visit. While there wasn't anything too special about the pub (except for the VH1 Classic channel playing in the background), the people that we met there made me question certain choices I made when deciding to study abroad.
A group of students from the Italian university sat down at the table next to my friends and me, so we started introducing ourselves. The conversation between everyone was limited, since not everyone could speak English, and I certainly couldn't speak much Italian. Still, in the few hours we sat at the table and talked about music, college and places to visit in Italy, I had more fun than any other time since I arrived here.
I only realized why that night had such an effect on me once I got back to Rome. It made me realize that Rome isn't the only city in Italy to study abroad. Of course, there are certain advantages to studying in Rome: It's the center of Italian culture, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world and has more history and character than just about any place I've ever been to. While I am certainly happy here, some people who choose to study abroad may not be. It's important to look at all options when choosing a place to study, even if it means looking outside of AU's program.
I always knew that I would study abroad in Italy, but I wasn't sure which city I wanted to study in. When I started seriously looking into going abroad, I looked no further than the AU Abroad program, which only offers two programs in Italy - one in Rome and one for art in Corciano. It didn't even occur to me to look at programs through other schools, so I signed up for the Rome semester right away. Visiting other college towns, however, makes me think that there are so many other places to study in a country than just the main cities.
So far, I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested, but I also urge people considering studying abroad to look into as many programs as possible to find the one that fits them best. As I saw over the weekend, sometimes you can learn more in a small town than a metropolitan city.