The semester has ended and I’m back in the good ol’ US of A where milk is cold, the sky is enormous, and signs are in English (several things that immediately struck me upon my return). As I sit in my basement writing this, I can’t help but ask myself, “Was it all a dream?” Already my life in St. Paul, Minnesota has regained a sense of normalcy, and in a lot of ways it seems as if nothing has changed. But this is when I must always stop myself. Because it wasn’t a dream, and my entire being screams this truth. My experience in Rome is not merely something that I will look back on as a fond memory and think, “That was a great trip.” No; it’s an experience that will remain a part of me and my fellow Spring ’11 Bernardians.
If you’re planning on going on this program, you have probably already heard – or if you haven’t, you will hear – that this semester abroad through the Catholic Studies Rome program will change you and change your life. When I first heard this, I didn’t believe it. Or I suppose a better way of explaining myself is to say that I was very skeptical of such a bold statement. But I can’t doubt it any longer; the statement is true. This semester really does change you, transform you. At the core of it all, my experience in Rome has taught me what it means to be Catholic; what it means to be human; what it means to love; what it means to live deeply and profoundly.
So much has happened in these past four months, and I’m still in disbelief that I had such a remarkable and life-changing opportunity. I received so many blessings and graces during my time in the Eternal City and I’m excited to unpack them – although, as a fellow Spring ’11 Bernardian has told me, it’ll probably take years or even a lifetime to see how God worked in our lives in these past four months. I am so grateful to have been a part of the Catholic Studies in Rome semester, Spring 2011. Thank you to all those who made it possible; but most of all, I’m grateful to God our Father and His plan to direct my life’s journey through Rome and Europe for a short time.
In the next several months I know I will be asked the inevitable question: “How was Rome?” So know that if it takes me a while to produce an answer or if I can’t seem to stop stuttering, it’s because I’m thinking about all of this and more. Was it life changing? Yes. Was it amazing? Yes. But how can you possibly put this into words?
God bless you all!