Emily Wenke: My Study Abroad Semester in Rome

Girl in blue shirt and white long shirt standing in the middle of a street in Italy

In our “Semester in Rome” series, students in the St. John’s University study abroad program share their life-changing experiences, focusing on how the program has impacted their personal growth and paved the way for a bright and promising future.

About Emily Wenke's journey: 

Emily is a St. John’s sophomore working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Childhood Education at The School of Education. She currently studies on the University’s Rome, Italy, campus and is passionate about child education, social justice, and learning about other cultures. She teaches children in an Italian elementary school and hopes to grow into a well-rounded educator. 

Q: What inspired you to join St. John’s study abroad program? 

When I learned about the Discover Italy Education Program at St. John’s, I knew I wanted to attend. Being able to meet both my personal goals of traveling and learning about new cultures and advancing my professional skills via student teaching in another country was not something I could pass up.

Q: How has studying abroad helped you explore your interests and passions? 

Before studying abroad, I was intimidated by the thought of teaching students with whom I do not speak the same language; however, after gaining the experience firsthand, I feel more confident. I had never considered going into Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) as it seemed daunting, with English being my only fluent language. Now, I would consider it.

Q: Can you share more about your role as an elementary school teacher in Italy? 

4 females taking a selfie photo near the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy

At first, teaching in an elementary school in Rome was very intimidating, but I am so grateful for the opportunity. I have learned so much about teaching and working with English as a Second Language students, time management, lesson planning in teams, and the importance of communication in the workplace. I am more prepared for my student teaching semester and can better interact with students and teachers when completing my fieldwork on the campus of St. John’s Queens, NY.

Additionally, I can take what I have learned about the Italian education system and implement it into my teaching style and philosophy. This experience is invaluable and will benefit me professionally for years to come.

Q: What is your favorite non-classroom experience(s) so far while abroad? 

A personal goal I had for studying abroad was to be able to visit as many countries and cities as possible so that I could experience their cultures and learn more about the world. Exploring Italy, Europe, and beyond has changed my perspective on life by showing me what I can do for the world and what the world can do for me.

I have always wanted to travel, so being able to do it in such an affordable and adventurous way has been the best part of my study abroad experience.

Q: How do you believe studying abroad has impacted your personal growth and development? 

Even as an independent person, I still experienced anxiety and hesitation when planning trips alone. After going on my first solo trip to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea, I learned a lot, but most importantly, I realized I could thrive independently. I have gained a new perspective on responsibility, as well as more confidence, and have experienced freedom in a way I never had before.

Q: Why would you recommend the St. John’s study abroad program to another student?

Living in another country and experiencing other ways of life changes how you view the world and what part you play in it. There is no better time than when you are young to travel because you get to grow and make mistakes while widening your perspectives.

If you were on the fence, take the chance and do it; you only live once!

Explore the world with St. John’s University.

Johnnies in Rome pose for a photo with St. John's banner

Imagine immersing yourself in a new and exciting culture, learning a new language, and gaining valuable experience while earning college credits. You can do just that with St. John’s University’s global program! This program is an extraordinary opportunity for you to broaden your horizons and explore the world meaningfully. Participating in this program allows you to experience a completely different way of life, meet new people, and gain a deeper appreciation of cultural diversity.

Learn more about the St. John's study abroad program