Reflections from Italy

By: Hanna Hale

          My time in Rome was immeasurable to any experience that I have had while traveling. The food I ate, sites I saw, and adventures I endured reached far beyond expectations and I have none other than Georgian Court University and the Global Lions Program to credit for it. As it was my first time leaving the country, the amazing professors and peers ensured my safety and comfort whilst also making sure that not an ounce of fun was lost in the process. Our group of once-strangers bonded in such a deep way that, even a month after our return, the connection is not lost.

When I think back on Rome, I cannot help but recall the rainbow of vespas that lined the road and the smell of freshly made pasta that filled the air. We visited parks where every tree had ripe oranges ready for its patrons to eat and views that encapsulated the whole city. Each cafe offered an array of pastries, but nothing could compare to the thick creamy gelato that could be found in nearly every shop. My favorite part about Rome, however, was the way they pass time. Nobody in the heart of that big city ever rushes anywhere. There is a particular focus on taking your time and enjoying every sip of coffee and every passing breeze. 

While it rained nearly every day we were there, the fun never ceased to end. In our free time we rode four-person bikes around what seemed to be an infinite park and I experienced a boat ride for the first time around the park’s lake which offered a replica of Athena’s Temple. I purchased coffee from a vending machine, which in my opinion needs to be an everyday thing in America. We feasted on tiramisu nearly every night for dessert and learned that pizza does not come precut in Italy, which was culture shock to us all.

I would do this trip a hundred times over if given the chance and I aspire to study abroad whenever I am able. The Global Lions Program has opened my eyes to the adventures that lie beyond our country, and I am eager to expand my horizons.

By: Keili Sucuzhanay

                Going to Italy has always been on my bucket list, and thanks to Georgian Court University I was able to check it off. Although it was not my first time abroad, it was my first time travelling with people I had never met before. I was nervous that I would be uncomfortable or not get along with anyone, but once I met the rest of the students there, I realized there was nothing to worry about. My favorite part of visiting Rome, aside from the food, was the Fountain of Trevi. It was simply a beautiful work of art and so many people thought so as well, considering it was always very crowded. It was very interesting to visit the Vatican because I was in the place where Pope Francis lived. Unfortunately, we were not able to see him because he only came out of Wednesdays and Sundays, but nevertheless it was a beautiful experience that my mom enjoyed learning about. Although we visited many beautiful monuments and museums, I really enjoyed the parks that we visited where you were able to see the city and the beautiful views. Italy’s environment was very open and gentile. The people were very friendly and patient when we would go out to any restaurants, or just in general. I thought It was going to be difficult to communicate with the people there, but fortunately most of the Italians understood and spoke Spanish, and I was also able to learn certain phrases and words while there. The group that I was with also made the trip very enjoyable and I believe we created fun memories. Overall, going abroad to Italy was a very beautiful experience. I enjoyed the views, the food, the people, the nightlife, literally everything. I will definitely be travelling back to Italy when I get the chance to and revisit my favorite places.

By: Kayla Bibat

Culture in Italy and Traveling with an Unexpected Injury

            The 2023 spring break study abroad trip to Italy was an experience that opened my perspective even more to global differences and universal kindness. The culture within Italy from the locals to the food brought an exciting adventure that I would never forget. I would describe Rome similar to New York City in the U.S. with its urban lifestyle mixed in with historical architecture. While it is known as a hotspot tourist area just like NYC, you can feel the difference in the attitude towards foreigners and how others interact in their day to day lives. It felt more relaxed without all the hustle and bustle of the city life. Our group learned that the smallest things should be taken with care, such as a cup of coffee. There are barely cafes who served to-go style coffees as it is meant to be a small beverage to enjoy tableside and interact with others or enjoy in the peace in the streets of Rome taking in the moment for all it is worth. It felt like a city where I could appreciate the time passing and not rush to the next itinerary point.

Our group traveled as students who spoke barely any Italian, yet many were so kind to make us feel comfortable and offer to speak in English. In turn, we learned key phrases such as “grazie!” which meant “thank you!” or “posso avere questo?” which means “can I have this?” In my experience when I said the latter phrase at a small café, I was met with praise and was showed immense hospitality. Knowing small phrases such as simple greetings makes a difference of appreciation to the culture in another country. I hope to show others this type of kindness in the U.S. as I know English can be a difficult language to grasp and showing respect to others trying their hardest can really make their day.

What made the trip fulfilling the most was the care I received when I accidentally sprained my ankle the third night of the trip. Our tour guide, Giada, showed warmth and helpfulness in attending to my injury as well as guided me to my own pace to enjoy the rest of the trip. My professors and especially the students who I traveled with made my experience smoother and had me exponentially recover from the care given. I would not have had the best mindset if it was not for their open concern, reassurance, and general empathy towards me. While getting injured did alter my extent of activities, it made me realize that people from all different walks of life can come together to make everyone feel included and loved. The group I traveled with will always hold a contented place in my heart for my first trip in Europe. I encourage to be open to new culture and new relationships when studying abroad as it opens the horizons of adventure.

By: Jasmin Shaheed

My experience abroad is something that I will never forget. Being able to experience Italy in all its glory was very eye-catching. First, going into this trip, I did not know what to expect. The language barrier, different city, and new people were what I was once afraid of. But, overall, I learned so much about Italy’s history, culture, language, and overall how beautiful the country really is. 

The buildings were all very distinctive and unique. But especially the art and architecture were what really had me stop and stare. Every piece of art seen in the museums and galleries told us stories about what the artist was trying to show to the viewers. The statues were all contrasting and showed us what true beauty was. You can see how hard the artist worked to make every piece of art beautiful and the story it told. I learned so much about the art that I can now take it home with me and teach others about the true meaning of the piece and what art really means. 

Being able to see the Colosseum with my own eyes was definitely an experience that I will always remember. Looking into the amphitheater and hearing about the history of what the Romans and gladiators used to do in the past was so interesting. Looking at the fountain of Trevi was also very beautiful; hearing about the luck you can receive if you throw a coin was also something very interesting to learn about. The history lived all throughout this city.

I loved every minute of the trip. Rome was such a beautiful city inside and outside. Georgian Court University is to thank for being able to expand my eyes to new visions. Without this institution, I would not have been able to explore a new place with my lion family, learn new information that I would have never known, and bring me out of my comfort zone. It meant so much to me that I was able to explore new places, learn new cultures and history, and made a bond with a great group of people that I will never forget.

By: Angelina Cretella

Going on this trip made me stop and smell the roses. I am very task-driven at home, so going on this trip almost forced me to relax and enjoy being there in the moment. Since I take 18 credits every semester and work 30-40 hours a week, I usually do not have much time or wiggle room to just take a step back and relax. In Italy, I was truly able to just enjoy myself in the moment without focusing on everything I had to do back at home whether for classes or for work. Being in Italy allowed me to let loose and have fun while enjoying the city’s beauty

In Italy, I loved looking at all the artwork. We saw so many beautiful works in countless places, from churches to museums and everything else. All the statues seemed so realistic and I would look at these pieces in disbelief; looking at them made me think there was absolutely no way these statues were all made of marble. They looked so smooth and realistic that I could not fathom that these statues were all in fact made of marble. The paintings too were so intensely detailed that I could not imagine how someone could create something both so beautiful and so realistic. I was genuinely in awe of all the beautiful art I saw in Rome. 

I also loved all the food in Italy. Everything was so fresh, real, and authentic; I enjoyed every meal I had when I was in Rome. One of the little things I enjoyed in Rome was the espresso shots I would have in the middle of the day. It was the perfect pick-me-up before we all went out for the night. The best meal I had was probably an octopus salad at a local restaurant near one of the activities we had done that day. It was so simple but the flavors were absolutely excellent. 

Overall, my experience in Italy allowed me to see a new culture and new perspectives. I created new memories that will last a lifetime, and the trip as a whole meant so much to me. I could not be more grateful for this experience.

By: Casey Korman

Italy has always been on my list of dream destinations for as long as I can remember. From gazing at the extraordinary churches and artworks, to feasting on freshly made pasta and tiramisu, the time I spent in Rome will forever be engraved into my memory. Though it wasn’t my first time abroad, it was my first time in Europe, a location I have always had my sights set on. My experience wouldn’t have been the same without our incredible guide Giada, the thoughtful professors, and the outstanding peers I had the pleasure of becoming closer with. 

Looking back on our Italian journey during Spring Break, I can confidently say that there was never a dull moment. Beginning every morning with cappuccinos and pastries, we spent our days exploring the city, its timeless history, and indulging in Rome’s simple pleasures of double-scooped gelato. At night, we often all got dinner together and rented scooters to ride along the cobblestone roads. Italy was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be: towns filled with rows of complex architecture and colorful homes, fountains at every corner, and pieces of art embedded within every part of the city. The Fountain of Trevi was one of my favorite gorgeous landmarks immersed in the center of a city. The atmosphere throughout Italy was very pleasant and laid-back, reminding everyone to pause and enjoy the moment. I learned that getting food or drink “to-go” is an American thing, and that Starbucks doesn’t stand a chance against Italian coffee. Believe me when I say the food in Italy was life-changing, no one does pasta better than Italians. I am desperately missing eating pasta and tiramisu every day.

One moment that stands out to me was when Giada took us to one of her favorite spots, a park with a view of the city. It was a beautiful day, and the park was very spacious and clean, with an older man sitting on a bench playing guitar instrumentals of old rock songs. Standing there in that moment I felt more grounded than I’ve ever felt; the feeling of content and peace was indescribable. I remember taking mental pictures and telling myself I will never forget this special moment. In addition to this, my favorite day as a group in Rome was when we all raced each other through a massive park on a four-person bike, then rowed boats together, and visited the Borghese Gallery. The joy I felt that day reminded me that this is how we should be living our lives every day – enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Despite there being no true way to fully capture what we all experienced on this trip, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I will always remember our attempts to speak Italian everywhere we went (even if our pronunciation was terrible), as well as all of the laughs, close bonds, and memories we shared over those very special 10 days. This eye-opening trip to Italy will be one I will cherish forever, and I have GCU to thank for that.

By: Matthew Moro

My overall goal in Rome was to get lost in a new world. Before this trip I had never stepped foot outside the U.S. I always told myself I would never, and I mean NEVER leave U.S. soil. I can say I was so wrong for feeling like that. I was nervous to travel abroad but felt I chose a right time, and the right people. Traveling abroad with other GCU students and faculty made the trip easy, fun and comforting. It is difficult to find the right words to describe my time abroad in Rome. It was such a rewarding, fulfilling and joyful experience.  The architecture immediate caught my attention as soon as we stepped out of the train station. To see so many Roman buildings, statues, and piece of art still present and standing hundreds of years later blows my mind. I was able to see the miraculous creations and landmarks before they cease to exist. Many of the historic pieces and places are falling apart and although restorations are being attempted it is difficult to preserve so many things. The dood and atmosphere were another great highlight. I enjoy different cuisines and trying new things. Though I am familiar with pizza and pasta, the authentic Italian flavors are much different and indescribable.

 The freshness and fresh taste of many foods like, pasta, cheeses meats, vegetables and even drinks blew me away. Food was almost never packaged in grocery stores and each meal was served with a smile and pride. I could not have a favorite pasta because they were all so good. From tomato sauces to pepper and cheese sauces there was so much to take in about each meal. The landmarks, meals and atmosphere are what led to my biggest take away of the trip.

The biggest takeaway from the Italian culture was living in the moment. No matter the time or the place the Italian culture was about living in the moment. There was no drive-thru’s or eating in the car. Most businesses had lunch around 1pm and would close or you would see the owners sitting with homemade meals. Coffee shops aka “bars” didn’t have Togo coffee cups, you got served and could sit or stand at the counter until you were finished. Being in a rush was not a thing in Italy. The natives were patient, sat down and took their time with whatever they were doing. These experiences taught me that you don’t need to be in a rush to be punctual. Its ok to take your time in the morning and sit down to drink your coffee, its ok to make time to sit and eat, its ok to take time and pause for a second and take care of yourself. Coming back to U.S. I have not eaten in my car, I rather go inside and sit and enjoy my meal, I give myself time to be able to slow down and think. I give myself enough time to arrive on time while still being able to enjoy that cup of coffee in the morning. As I wished for so much, I was able to get lost in the culture, beauty and excitement of Rome, Italy. It was the best experience of my life thus far. Thanks to my time in Rome, I will take back the culture, the coffee, and do as the Italians and live in the moment.

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