Study Abroad, Honors Program & Other Student Experiences

Arcadia Students Make the World Their Classroom

Study Abroad, Honors Program & Other Student Experiences

“Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.”~ Melba Colgrove

5:57 pm · No Comments · Amanda Ekstein '13, First Year Study Abroad Experience

If it weren’t for the fact that my throat is killing me, I would be currently giggling hysterically. I’d be skipping up and down my hallway, twirling and laughing until I couldn’t breathe.

Since my throat is on fire, I’m doing all that and more inside my imagination. I’m in Rome, and I finally, finally feel joyous.

To recap:  I’m Amanda, and I’m a three-year degree International Business and Culture major.  I attended London Fall FYSAE 2010 and I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in June and July of 2011. Now,  I’m in Rome, Italy.  I’ve been in Europe for just over six hours now.

I’m in one of the BEST apartments I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in, student dorm or no. I’m living in smack-dab center Rome, in a neighborhood that I’m told is the equivalent to Notting Hill area of London.  There’s minimal graffiti, a pleasant atmosphere, and fantastic views.

My apartment is on the third floor, and there’s a fantastic old elevator that helps us get there. The apartment itself is extravagant in terms of space. Five of the Arcadia students, including myself, will be spending the next 4.5 months here. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a library, a dining area, a great room, and two balconies on opposite sides, each affording a great view of the neighborhood.  I may never want to leave this place!

I’m so happy with the living arrangements, it nearly wipes away the misadventures I’ve encountered so far.

To start,  I woke up with a terrible pain in my throat the morning of my flight, shorting me of necessary sleep and making me feel lousy. It’s the first time I’ve had anything worse than allergies since 2007. After loading up on lozenges, I made it to the airport with a bit of time to spare.

Except, I had forgotten my euro in my car, which my mother had driven away with after dropping me off. After narrowly getting my cash, there were no more issues on my end.

On Newark Airport’s end though, things were just getting started. I had a flight from Newark to D.C., with an hour layover before my connection to Rome.  We were kept on the tarmac for 45 minutes. Needless to say, I freaked out a little bit. Thankfully, my seatmate, a Canadian on his way for a month work trip to Ghana was pleasant company and kept me distracted.  I landed in D.C. and ran as if I actually did well at physical activity and sprinting and made it to my gate (in a separate terminal, at the far end, go me!) with 8 minutes to spare.

Since there was really no way for me to walk off the excess energy, I was pretty wired the entire flight, dozing off in the last third. When I landed, it was 2AM stateside, but 8AM in Italy. I admit to being more than a bit out of it.

Thankfully, Arcadia sent a wonderful welcome team of three, and as I was the first participant to arrive, I got to chat with them one on one for a bit–and a bit was all I could manage, since my voice went to Minnie Mouse pitch before stopping altogether.

I waited in the concourse with them until the others we were waiting for arrived, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my voice was somewhat coming back as long as I didn’t push too hard.  The handful of students on the bus all started chatting about future plans and other such concerns.  I was nearly the last one left on the bus as we finally arrived at my apartment, where we met Antonella, a lovely Italian who taught us what different gestures meant while we waited for our keys.

We took a small tour of the Aventino area, heading down to Viale Aventino and up to the elementary school near the top of the hill. Then we had a quick snack in a pizzaria, and then returned to the apartment.

We had a group meeting at 5:30 according to the schedule, so I took a quick nap (not the best move–I was sleepy and cranky upon waking) and went to dinner at 7:30 at Li Rioni, a ristorante a few blocks away from the Colosseum, which is beautiful at night. Dinner consisted of 5 different appetizers, an entree, and two desserts, so we are all currently completely full.

As I putter around my new home of the next few months,  I can’t help but smile.  I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I hope that it’ll be even better than today.

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