Rome, Italy

Lia Ward

AIFS Abroad in Rome: January Term

Major: Political Science

Minor: Finance



Hey everyone!! I can’t believe I leave so soon! It’s less than a week after Christmas. My week so far has been chaos with going through my gifts, while packing, while also trying to clean.  With every vacation when I return, I want it to be nice to come back too, as I’m sure many others feel the same way. I am such an overpacker so I’m struggling to pick out all the necessities to bring with only one suitcase. One thing mentioned in our study abroad meeting was it is helpful to have a different color suitcase so that in the airport it is easier to differentiate and spot out. My suitcase (pictured right next to my Christmas tree) is pink so I will definitely be able to spot it at the terminal! My work also got me a travel Sol De Janeiro set which is pictured at the bottom! Originally going into this experience, I was worried about going alone and not knowing anyone else in the program. Now I have talked to 2 out of my 3 assigned roommates. This has relieved many of my original stress and anxiety. They seem so nice and have some of the same interests as me! We also are all taking the same class which will be so nice when doing group projects which I know I will have according to our class syllabus. As of now, my concern is just the airport. Traveling alone can be scary but I know once I’m on the plane I will be good to go!! Thankfully my flight leaves at 7 pm so I will be able to sleep most of the flight! Anyway, off I go! Keep you updated next week!










January 5, 2024

I finally made it!! The flight was not bad at all and thankfully I was able to sleep! One thing I did not know that threw me off at first was that the sun rises at 9 am. When my flight arrived, it was 7:30 am and it was pitch black, but now I know it rises later in the day compared to home! Another thing I did not realize at all was that Rome has palm trees. I saw them all over on my ride to my apartment! We stayed at a hotel and once there I walked around for a bit. I got my first gelato, cookies, and cream, my favorite and it was amazing!! It was so much better than the states.

When we got to our apartment, it was HUGE. It had a full kitchen, living room with a statue in it, full dining room, and then large marble stairs up to our bedrooms. That wasn’t even the best part. Once upstairs our landlord showed us our rooftop area which has the best views and even a table for dinner. Our place is truly amazing.

Yesterday, we had our first class, I loved our teacher, she was so sweet and nice! However, it was a very long class compared to the classes at home. Our classes here are 3 and a half hours. But after going over the syllabus I’m so excited for the next 2 weeks. After class, we got to go to an aperitivo which is like snacks/drinks before dinner. I was able to meet a good group of girls/guys that I later went to dinner with. The dinner was so fun to talk to everyone and get to know each other!











I think personally I am becoming immersed in this culture and have noticed so many differences than I did before. This morning I was able to get to go to the Christmas mass service at the Vatican. I am not catholic, but our class was able to get tickets and I thought that would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The pope was there which was very cool as most Americans can never say they saw him. The service was amazing even though I did not know what they were saying. The church was stunning, and I still cannot get over the designs and architecture of the building here in Rome.


We took a class trip to Assisi and the Umbria region. We got to see many Basilica’s (Churches) which were stunning!! At Assisi, you are not permitted to bring your phones into the churches, but the outside is gorgeous but does not compare to the inside at all. The views from Assisi were so stunning, just overlooking a beautiful city.


After class we were able to go shopping and get lunch and then for dinner, we got to go to a cooking class. That was so interesting to see how many steps go into preparing fresh pasta. However, it took a little less time than I thought we started and finished eating within 3 hours. I thought hand-making the dough and the shapes then cooking when take longer. It was an awesome experience to be able to hand-make and then eat our pasta.


We had class again this morning which was about stereotypes. It was very informative to go back and forth on the way they all differ with opinions and Italians’ opinions on us and us on them. After class, we got an amazing vegan lunch!! Then we got gelato. Gelato here is the best, hands down does not compare at all to how it does in the US.  Overall, I love Rome. I never want to leave but I know the next 2 weeks are going to go by super-fast.


I also did an olive oil tasting as that is very important here. They have a school for olive oil called the Evoo School. All of us thought we would be trying the oil with bread… they just drank it. We took shots of olive oil. The glasses that you take them in are black because I learned olive oil should not be based on color. It was an awesome experience, and the school was so nice/modern but drinking the oil like that was awful. We have our class weekend excursion to Florence this weekend which I am so excited about! Keep you guys updated next week!







It’s my last week here abroad in Rome. I cried yesterday because I truly am having the best experience of my life! I have met so many friends and truly feel more confident in my strengths as a person. My program organized a trip to Florence which was nice that they had everything planned for us. I got to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa!! It’s so much more leaning in person than it looks in any picture. This week I truly wanted to soak up all Rome has to offer. After visiting Florence, I am so happy that Rome is my study-abroad location. I got to go inside the Pantheon, visit the Trevi Fountain, go to the Spanish Steps and more! Since I am only studying for 3 weeks this last week, we had all 3 of our assignments. In my first assignment, my quiz I only got one question wrong which I was so proud of! My next assignment was a group project that we had to present in front of the class. I do not enjoy public speaking, but it was not nearly as bad as I thought. It was nice to work as part of a group and compare all our experiences. The last assignment is our final which is the day we leave. I feel well-prepared and confident in my ability to maintain my A! My roommates and I got to go see a Roma soccer/futbol game.


It was a surreal experience. The crowds were crazy! My brother is a huge soccer fan and I just know when I tell him about it he will be so jealous. I also went shopping this last week to buy some things to take home. When the study abroad staff and previous study abroad students told all of us to bring another suitcase for things to bring home. I did not believe them. I thought to myself well I’m only going for a month as the other students are going for a whole semester, “I’ll be okay without it” I thought. Well fast forward to the end of my trip and I am at the store buying a second suitcase to take home.

My own silly mistake but at least now I have all the room to take home my souvenirs and extra clothes I bought. Now as my trip comes to an end, I am so proud of myself for taking this huge step to travel to another country all by myself. I arrived in Rome with little knowledge of the Italia culture all by myself and I am now leaving with a well-rounded knowledge of Italy 20 friends and a lifetime of memories that I could never recreate in my lifetime. My flight back home leaves the Rome airport at 5:30 AM. I am not looking forward to going home let alone being awake to leave for the airport at 2:30. Maybe I’ll just stay here… just kidding:/ If you need a sign to study abroad, DO IT!! See you guys back at UMBC in another week!











I am back home now:/ First things first the plane ride. My plane ride to Rome was easy peasy did not have much jet lag…my flight back home was another story. I have had jet lag for the past 5 days. The time difference is killing me. I wake up at 3 am here time because it would be 9 am Rome time and time to go to school. I have slowly started to make myself “stay up” meaning not going to sleep at 6 pm here and lessening my naps and so far, meaning only today it has somewhat been working. To leave 60-degree weather to return to inches of snow was also not enjoyable. I had to have my dad bring my coat to the airport because I was not prepared for the freezing temperatures.

I had an amazing trip and loved telling all my family and friends about the amazing time I had. Although the trip was so amazing, I am excited to get back into the swing of the spring semester and back to the so-called normal life.

What I am most excited about is catching up with my roommates and getting back to work. I am a nanny and I miss my little kids so much I definitely think the culture shock coming back home surprised me way more than I thought. This trip has shown me how independent I can be, and I am so happy that I was given this chance and the ability to become a more cultured and well-rounded person. I am already looking into other programs. Here are a bunch of photos from my trip abroad that I hope can capture at least half of the truly wonderful time I had!