The Catholic University of America

Aaron Smith - CUA Rome

Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. The school's location within Rome is amazing. Much like Catholic, it is located right on the metro, but is removed from the hustle and bustle of the tourist portion of the city.
  2. One of my five classes was actually held inside of a classroom. The remainder either took place on site, out in the city, or in a cafe.
  3. Rome is in a very good location for traveling within Europe. Italy itself boasts a multitude of locations to travel within the country, but is also centrally located within Europe to travel in either Western or Eastern Europe.
  4. Dr. Dawson (the Program Director) is absolutely great at what he does and will stop at nothing to make you feel at home. He not only plans trips for the students that are included within the program fee, but also helps you make the most of Rome with trips within the city, tours of the Vatican, and Audiences with the Pope.
  5. The food is absolutely amazing. I can honestly say in the four months I was there, I never had something that I didn't like. The food is extremely fresh and is nothing like you will ever have here in the United States. From the pasta to the gelato, it is all great!


What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

  • Not listing in the packing essentials are the favorite foods from home. I absolutely love Reese's and Diet Coke, neither of which Rome had. Look and see if your potential locations has your favorite comforts of home. It helps cure homesickness!
  • Freak weather anomalies happen! When I signed up to go to Rome, I pictured sunny weather, shorts, and a T-shirt for my entire four month trip. I arrived in Rome though and for the first time in 25 years it snowed two weekends in a row. It probably won't happen for another 25 years, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Bring a good winter jacket!
  • A cheap, SMALL, and reliable umbrella is one of the most useful assets wherever you go abroad. Get one that can collapse and can fit into your bookbag.
  • Wear layers when you travel. It is easier on your back when traveling and it is cheaper with the travel restrictions that some airlines have.
  • Traveling is extremely cheap, as long as you book in advance. The second weekend in Rome a group of students and I booked all of our trips for the semester. This was extremely effective both in ensuring that we made the most of our time, but also in that we were able to do it within our price range!


A Funny Story or Situation

Towards the end of my stay in Rome, my dad came to visit me in Rome. We went to Cinque Terre for the weekend which is a sequence of five cities nestled in the mountains that are connected by hiking trails. We made it a few weekends before the tourist rush, so we were able to mingle among the residents of the city and really see each individual city for what it was worth. We were walking in the third city when we saw an old woman walking her pet rabbit on a leash! We stopped her and asked her if we could take a picture and she posed with the rabbit for us. It had my dad and I laughing for the rest of the day!


An Embarrassing Situation

I am almost positive that Italians are cold-blooded. As an American, once the thermometer hits a balmy 65 degrees, my shorts and sandals make their way out of my closet. Italians, on the other hand, insist on wearing jackets, sweaters, and pants until the end of May. The weather spiked in mid-March, which is when I made the transition to spring/summer clothes. Needless to say, my walk to school that first day, I was gawked at by 80% of Italians as I walked by. I encourage you to adapt to the culture, but also make yourself feel comfortable as well!


The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

Dr. Abela

He was the professor that came over to Rome from Catholic. He taught both the Business Ethics class, as well as the International Marketing class. Not only were all of the classes interesting, but they were all geared toward Europe or Italy which was extremely helpful in immersing ourselves in the culture around us.



I lived in a home stay, which I would suggest to anyone studying abroad. Italiaidea (the service which matches you with a host family) does an extremely good job at making sure you and your host family have similar interests. The woman I lived with was extremely helpful in making me feel at home, but also extremely useful in booking trips, finding places within Rome, and answering any question that I had! She also made me soup when I was sick, which is always a plus!


Student Profile:

Major: Politics

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

ProgramCUA in Rome

Term Abroad: Spring 2012

Contact Aaron