Why Study Abroad in Rome? Advice from a St. John’s Student

study abroad male student standing behind view of Rome

Our new “Semester in Rome” series highlights St. John’s University students and their life-changing experiences studying abroad. They explain how studying abroad has greatly affected their personal and professional growth and readied them for a successful future.

About Sullivan D. Padgett's journey: 

Sullivan D. Padgett is a determined St. John’s junior. He is in the Five-Year Baccalaureate/Master’s Dual-Degree program in Government and Politics. His focus is on American government, and has a minor in comparative politics.

Sullivan is committed to making a positive impact. He achieves this by actively involving himself in the University community as a student ambassador. Additionally, he is a member of the President’s Society—the University’s highest honor society. 

After recently completing his enriching study abroad semester in Rome, Italy, through the Ozanam Scholars Program, Sullivan is eager to share his experiences and insights. Continue reading as he shares the transformative journey that has shaped his perspective and inspired him to look forward to the exciting path ahead.

Q: What made you decide to study abroad? 

Group of male and female study abroad students smiling at a table
Credit: @Sjurome Instagram

Sullivan: I have always wanted to study abroad since hearing about my sister’s fantastic experience abroad with the Global Passport and Western Europe Semester programs as an undergraduate student at St. John’s University.

However, I was drawn to study abroad as a graduate student when I discovered the Rome campus offers a Master of Arts degree program in Government and Politics with a concentration in International Relations.

I cannot overstate how transformative and inspiring this experience has been! The setting in Rome is unparalleled because I learned from firsthand accounts of the topics we discussed in class by an Italian professor who works on Middle East policy and the refugee crisis in Rome. 

It is an unmatched opportunity for St. John’s students to live in Rome, learn from European scholars, and actively see the themes of their classes take place in their new homes.

Q: How has studying abroad in Rome helped you explore your interest in government and politics? 

Sullivan: Studying abroad has broadened my interest in government and politics. I was only concerned with American politics before I went to Rome. I became interested in global political affairs after exposure to fascinating coursework like Middle East policy and European warfare.

Sullivan: More importantly, studying abroad in Rome has encouraged me to pursue new career paths. I am now interested in becoming a foreign service officer, applying to other academic programs abroad, and pivoting my scholarly focus toward international relations.

Q: What opportunities have studying abroad provided you as a St. John’s Ozanam Scholar?

two male students smiling while serving food to public.
Credit: @Sjurome Instagram

Sullivan: As an Ozanam Scholar, studying abroad allowed me to engage in international social justice work. I was assigned to a soup kitchen for people experiencing homelessness and refugees in a mission-driven food kiosk.

I helped sign in and feed people at the former and supported business operations at the latter. I gained insight into the refugee crisis, displacement, relocation, and globalization at both sites by developing relationships with staff and people.

This knowledge informed my nascent global perspective and challenged me to consider social problems within an international context.

I also practiced my Italian language skills at both sites, allowing me to immerse myself in a new language and, to some degree, successfully execute my duties! Studying abroad is one of the best aspects of the Ozanam Scholars program.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your study abroad experience, and why?

Study abroad views in Split, Croatia
Credit: Canva Image

Sullivan: My favorite memory from studying abroad was my final trip to Croatia. Four other friends and I took a 40-minute flight from Rome to Split, Croatia, where the warm and crisp weather on the other side of the Adriatic Sea immediately greeted us!

We went to a local food market, walked through pebbly beaches, and swam in the clear water.

Afterward, we feasted on a typical Croatian meat platter and stumbled upon a music festival free to the public. The following day we traveled to the capital city, Zagreb, where we saw some historical attractions and learned about local history.

I cannot wait to return to Croatia and see more of its pristine coastline!

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

Sullivan: As cliché as it may sound, studying abroad changed me! I miss challenging myself to speak another language, living in a truly global city where everyone offers a unique perspective, and, of course, the simplicity of European living! I went abroad only concerned about domestic affairs, and now I want to study international relations. Additionally, I went abroad only looking for a career and education in the United States, and now I am exploring options throughout Europe.

Sullivan: The most significant impact on my personal growth and development was my sense of comfort. I felt comfortable living in Rome, and now I could imagine spending my life overseas. I also connected with God, who guided my journey and led me to unimaginable heights. 

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

Sullivan: I would recommend the St. John’s study abroad program to another student because it changed my life! It changed my worldview, academic interests, career path, and personal feelings. It opened my eyes and ears to phenomena I had never considered. Indeed, it brought me before a mountain I climbed—and now seek to climb higher. 

Explore the World: Study Abroad at St. John’s University!

Colosseum in Rom

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