Hello and goodbye to my faithful blog readers (as this marks my final blog entry).
Other than a bit of claustrophobia as I sit on this 9 hour flight home, it is hard to pin-point my exact feeling at this exact moment, having spent 4 months in Rome studying and a month traveling. My stay in London was absolutely fantastic. More than simply traveling to a new city, it was the chance to take seriously my interest in surgery and continue to develop a friendship with the family that hosted me. While London is a beautiful city and there is plenty to see for free, such as the National Gallery and the British Museum which I would both strongly recommend, the highlight for me was the “theater.” Now I’m sure those of you who know me somewhat well are already moderately confused as I’ve never been a theatrical critic; however, among the many differences between America and England, such as driving on the left side of the road, “theater” is the word used to speak of surgery and the hospital operating room. During my shadowing I got to see peripheral nerve orthopedic theaters. I won’t go into the gritty details, but I will say that I was scrubbed and readily able to see the entirety of many surgeries which were explained to me mid-procedure.
Lastly, while visiting a new city is great, it is trumped by the richness of visiting a friend. Without a doubt it was this aspect of friendship which kept me excited as I traveled from city to city in this month away from my family and my girlfriend.
Now, a few bullets of what I’ve learned this semester for students who are thinking of traveling abroad:
• If you are interested, start planning early. Without early planning my biochemistry and Catholic Studies double major would have been impossible.
• Don’t rule out the possibility of study abroad because you are in a serious relationship. This was a serious question also for me and my girlfriend, who studied abroad in Paris this entire school year. No doubt it isn’t easy, but now 10 months later, she isn’t going to be the first one I get to hug arriving in the airport!
• While there are lots of great places to see during a study abroad, don’t underestimate the value of really exploring the city where you will be staying.
• Don’t forget about distant relatives or friends that you would like to see. Even if the location wouldn’t be your first choice you might be surprised what a nice substitute a home cooked family dinner and some good conversation can be for “another museum.”
Now I am back in St Paul and am struck by the beauty of the city, its tranquility and the chance to run and bike, and that somehow my city seemed to manage without me present. Even my chemistry research has made progress while I was away! It is true that there is a lot of catching up to do, but I’m definitely not at a disadvantage having been gone a semester. After a little catch-up the only difference will be that I will be left with the memories, experiences, and education that only a semester abroad could provide. Let me close, then, by thanking the Catholic Studies Department, my Rome professors, and my fellow Bernardians, for this wonderful semester in Rome, Italy!