GUEST ROOM | Arrivederci, Roma

As one of my professors put it, “Italy is always great love or great sadness.” This past week was one of the craziest weeks of my life. I had been studying abroad at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy through Academic Programs International (a Cornell affiliated program) since Jan. 13, yet everything was about to change. Landing in Rome from a weekend trip in Zurich, Switzerland on Feb. 23, my phone turned on to a New York Times notification that there was a COVID-19 outbreak in Northern Italy: 50,000 people in 11 towns were in quarantine with over 100 infections.

LIM | Back to Reality

“Deadline for new checklist items for Spring Programs: November 1st”

Receiving automated study abroad notifications long after they were meant to be read was somewhat funny. Beyond being an administrative inconvenience to various parties (sorry!), having a more long-drawn application process has also meant interrogating — far more extensively than productive — reasons to stay or to go. No matter the cause, a trend among many who leave for a semester abroad is to do so during junior spring, not infrequently for reasons beyond the permissiveness of academic structures or the attractiveness of programs elsewhere. I’ve heard peers speak of the need to retrieve a sense of perspective narrowed by being in the whirling stress-pool isolated in “Shithaca” (not my title, this place is … alright). Grateful as I am to come from the other side of the world in search of perspective, I wonder what it means to be at a point where I so resonate with this sentiment that I feel “reality” could be better grasped by returning.