Haley Swedberg, junior, loves traveling and always wanted to expand her knowledge of different cultures, but had never been outside of the U.S. When she had a chance to study abroad in Italy for the fall semester, she jumped at the opportunity. Swedberg is currently in Rome until Dec. 10, studying at John Cabot University – and experiencing all that her host country has to offer.
“My study abroad experience has been absolutely incredible so far,” Swedberg said. “I could not have asked for a better opportunity. I knew being abroad for a semester would allow me to meet people from all around the world and learn in a completely unique way.”
A member of Theta Phi Alpha and a psychology major, Swedberg opted to take electives during her semester abroad. At John Cabot University, she is currently enrolled in Sociology of Modern Rome, Renaissance Rome and its Monuments, Rome Sketchbook and Italian Language 1. Her classes are “on-site,” which means the students meet each week at different locations in Rome such as monuments, churches, museums and parks.
“It has been a fascinating way for me to learn about the city and see things that I probably would not have found on my own,” Swedberg said.
Outside of coursework, Swedberg is seeing as much of Italy as possible. She recently attended a professional soccer game, witnessing the enormous pride Italians have in their teams. Along with a group of students, she also took a weekend trip to Sapri, a small beach town on Italy’s Western coast. Swedberg was able to stay with a local family who cooked for the group and showed them around town.
In Rome, the city is currently in a “Jubilee Year,” or Holy Year, making Swedberg’s experience that much more unique. She was able to see the Pope during one of his Papal ceremonies and even received his blessing. Swedberg also walked through the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, which will be closed at the end of the year until 2025.
The neighborhood Swedberg lives in has a vibrant nightlife and a vast public transportation system, but she has discovered that Italy runs on a much slower schedule than she had originally anticipated. She was surprised to learn that everyone takes a lunch break during the day that lasts for a few hours, but feels that pace could be a benefit to U.S. culture.
“People here take their time and run on their own clock. Italians never seem to be stressed or in a rush, and it has been a very refreshing change that I think Americans could learn a lot from,” Swedberg said.
Interacting with lifelong residents of Rome has given Swedberg a new perspective on both their culture and her own. She has learned a great deal about the ever-evolving nature of Rome, even though it is often referred to as the “Eternal City.”
“My international experience has definitely changed the way I look at the United States. And it has showed me just how ignorant I am to almost everything in Italy. Being in their shoes will allow me to go back home and have a new sense of composure when interacting with people from other countries,” Swedberg said.
Being abroad certainly has its challenges, but Swedberg has found that this has made her more self-sufficient and independent. She is looking forward to her final month in Italy and recommends that all Ramapo students have a study abroad experience.
“Studying abroad is a perfect opportunity for students that want a change from the 'typical' college experience. It is refreshing to get out of your same routine. This will never be as easy as it is now [in college], so take advantage of it. Being able to travel while also earning credits and meeting other students is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Swedberg said.
For more information about study abroad opportunities, students can contact the Roukema Center in ASB-123, or send an email to email@example.com.