Study Abroad Rome: Then and Now

14 Jan

Fortunately, history does repeat itself, albeit with some changes.


Later today, our daughter Benita will depart for a semester at Loyola’s Rome Center. Her bags are almost packed, carefully staying under the 50 pound weight limit to avoid a ridiculous $150 fee for a few ounces over. Her backpack is filled with all the technology used today to communicate and record life’s events…computer, tablet, smartphone, digital camera, etc. And she has already set up a blog, Romeisalwaysagoodthing to document her experience. While I don’t have the exact numbers, I think about 200 students from about a dozen universities will make up the group. She’s not going over with any of her good friends but is sure to return with many.

Later today, we will hug goodbye (and yes, I’ll cry) at the Lufthansa counter hours before her actual departure, then I’ll check flight tracker when I awake tomorrow. During her time in Rome, or wherever she travels, we can communicate for free using various downloadable applications. While her study abroad adventure is yet to be written, it is sure to be incredible as she visits new cities and countries with her new friends.

In 1970, I left for a similar adventure. If my memory serves me correctly, we numbered over 200 students from about 90 schools across the country. Most of us left in August and returned the following May – one entire academic year! Back then, Loyola offered one of the few study abroad programs, unlike today where nearly every college and university has an affiliation. 

While I can’t remember, I imagine I brought two suitcases with no regard to weight limits. What I do remember is that all the parents waived goodbye to us from the window at the gate as we pulled away. Although there were tensions and targets in the world, US airports were not among them…no security, no TSA.

I always loved photography and wanted to document my adventure, so I purchased a Minolta SRT101 while in Rome (which Benita still uses for B/W photography). The only live communication most students had with their families came through very short and expensive collect calls we made home from the hall pay phone. We actually wrote and received  letters and even received care packages filled with homemade goodies.

Mostly college juniors, we left the US with a few suitcases and returned one year later with lifelong memories and lifelong friends. A salute to my fellow campers!

While some 40 years separate Benita’s adventure and mine, some constants remain. There is nothing quite like having the opportunity to experience living like a local in a foreign country. Absorbing the culture, speaking a different language, learning and practicing new traditions, experiencing new tastes and smells, seeing sites thousands of years old, learning about history and life by living it, and creating lasting memories and friendships are just some of the amazing opportunities afforded to study abroad students – then and still now.

Perhaps Mark Twain said it best:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

To Benita and all those on this adventure, Buon Voyage!



10 Responses to “Study Abroad Rome: Then and Now”

  1. Yvonne Wilson January 14, 2014 at 12:17 PM #

    What a lucky young lady! Hoping she has a wonderful, safe adventure! Tell her to throw a coin in the fountain for me!


  2. Patricia Hughes January 14, 2014 at 12:23 PM #

    Have a great time Benita and be brave Judy and Len. You’ll miss her but time flies. It won’t be long before she’s home again with a suitcase full of great experiences. A presto Judy!


  3. Deb January 14, 2014 at 12:56 PM #

    Viaggiare in modo sicuro Benita e avere una meravigliosa esperienza alla scoperta dei segreti d’Italia!


  4. Charles January 14, 2014 at 1:40 PM #

    Aloha Judy,

    Mahalo Nui Loa (Thank you very much) for sharing this exciting and rewarding adventure Benita is about to undertake. I have espoused to all young men & women that traveling wherever will open one’s eyes to life’s opportunities and empower them to rise to unthinkable levels. “Learn by doing” has been my motto since December, 1966.
    While my first sojourn to Paris, France was for only two weeks, I lived as a student with my best friend Paul Manow in a 4th floor walkup studio apartment on Rue du Saint Honore’ in the fashion district of Paris, right down the street from President Charles De Gaulle’s resident. There were only two gendarmes posted out front back then.

    I discovered rubber moving sidewalks at Orly Airport and automatic entrance and exit doors that open into the walls and did not swing out which I thought to be much safer! This technology was not available in America yet. I learned about the French crane that built skyscrapers, now in America and that no building in Paris was taller than the Eifel Tower.
    Every day we walked through the narrow streets and purchased our meat, incredible cheese and milk and kept it outside on the window ledge. Coke came in liter bottles.
    I discovered that if one made an effort to speak French, the French people opened their hearts to you.

    I just returned from San Francisco on Sunday after a 5 day holiday, “The City” is more beautiful than ever and growing. My luggage was 50.2 pounds but a smile goes a long way. We now pay an extra $29.00 to pass through security without a hassle keeping ones shoes and belt on and not removing anything in ones pockets!

    Yes, the world is less safe today but my hope for Benita is that she and her generation will secure it for prosperity. I so look forward to reading her Blog as she discovers new and beautiful people, places and the world at large.

    May you and Leonard’s love and wisdom provide her with the strength and courage to succeed and it will.

    Somehow I feel a bit younger today for remembering…

    Charles back on island


  5. Deidre January 15, 2014 at 9:40 AM #

    So cool to have our daughters experience something we did and compare the differences and similarities. I’m sure you will vicariously enjoy all Benita’s explorations and developing friendships, Judy.


    • blogginginitaly January 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM #

      Absolutely, and of course, it gives me a great excuse to visit Roma!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: