Preparing for a New Semester Abroad

Submitted by Zeppelin Evans on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Preparing for a new semester is always stressful: choosing classes, making schedules, getting a first look at a new workload, meeting new teachers and classmates, and so much more. A new semester abroad is even more stressful, since all the normal stressors are there, but also being in a new country and culture. This spring semester has been particularly difficult for me– I was not able to get a “perfect” schedule, I have two internships to juggle along with schoolwork, and I still want to travel and explore Rome.

Getting into classes at John Cabot can be difficult, as everyone registers at the same time and class sizes are small (though I do prefer smaller classes). When registration opened, the site kept crashing, and I was not able to begin picking classes until the next morning. At this point, many classes were already full. I was able to get two classes I was really interested in– one on ancient Roman portraiture and the other on Greek art and archaeology. More than anything, I wanted to take the class dedicated to Shakespeare. I kept checking throughout winter break and the first week of classes to see if anyone dropped it, so I could get a spot, but to no avail. I ended up dropping a number of classes before the end of the add/drop period, including Italian cinema and French. In the end, I have four classes that I will enjoy – Introduction to Literature, Introduction to Cinema, and the two art history classes. However, not knowing or having my schedule up in the air until the last minute was really stressful.

Planning for course registration at John Cabot

In addition to classes, I am continuing a remote internship that I began last year in Delaware and completing a new internship here in Italy. The former is enjoyable and takes up about seven hours of my week. The latter, however, will occupy about fifteen hours of my week. Juggling the intense workload of four John Cabot classes alongside the twenty-plus hours of internship work has been difficult to keep up with and manage. Time management has always been one of my strengths, but I have had to completely rethink how I usually organize my time and work. This has been a big change, but I believe that it will help me be more flexible in the future in museum work, which generally carries long and irregular hours.

One of the biggest reasons that students study abroad is to explore a new city and travel. Many students even go to a different city or country every weekend. Not only is this an unrealistic goal for many due to budgets, but also because of the amount of work that is expected of John Cabot students. Adding to those, having two internships makes it nearly impossible to travel that much. I have set aside time to enjoy myself and explore the city, but I was hoping to get to see Verona, Venice, Pompeii, and Sicily. Understanding that those trips may not be possible with my schedule has been difficult as well. 

While the classes at John Cabot are enjoyable and fulfilling, they can be hard to get into and throw a lot of work at students; if those students are also completing internships it can be difficult to manage time and keep up with the expectations of studying abroad. At the same time, this experience is good practice in coping with change, time management, and setting realistic goals. (Submitted January 20, 2023)