Far From Fisher – Margaret Marchand
This semester, a total of 39 students are participating in the St. John Fisher College Study Abroad Program. They are in countries including England, The Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Italy, Costa Rica, and France, to name a few. Those participating come from a variety of majors, and we will hear from some throughout the spring.
Margaret Marchand, a sophomore nursing major, is currently studying in Rome, Italy, at Richmond in Rome.
Q: Why did you choose Italy?
A: I chose Italy, and Rome especially, because it has been the one city that I have wanted to visit since I was young. There is so much history surrounding this city, and it’s amazing how you can be standing in a place that’s thousands of years old! It has so much to offer and so much to keep me occupied.
Q: How many classes are you taking? Do you find them to be harder there than here?
A: I am taking three classes in Rome, but while I was in Florence (where our orientation was held), I took a 3-credit course of Elementary Italian I in two weeks. We had class five days a week, for five and half hours. In Rome, however, I am taking Elementary Italian II, Introduction to Baroque and Renaissance Art, and Religions and Cults of the Roman Empire. I wouldn’t necessarily say the classes are harder here, it’s just a different style of teaching. There is a lot more reading involved, but we go on site for a lot of our classes, which is awesome. For example, earlier in the semester, we were learning about the Sistine Chapel, and for the following class we went to Vatican City to go and see it!
Q: Have you done much sightseeing? Where?
A: I have actually done a lot of sightseeing, some on my own time and some with the class. While we were in London for our three-day layover, we saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and London Bridge. In Florence, we did a lot in two weeks. We saw Il Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore), the David by Michelangelo, and had day trips to Siena and Pisa and some art museums as well that had paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci and Caravaggio. While in Florence, we also participated in a wine tasting in the countryside. I also visited the San Lorenzo market. In my first two weeks in Rome, I saw St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta by Michelangelo, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and did a lot of shopping.
Q: How would you compare your campus now to Fisher? Are you living on or off campus?
A: The campus is completely different from Fisher. Our school consists of four classrooms in one building, and there are another two in a building down the street. It’s much smaller as well. We also have a small computer lab that has about fifteen computers for everybody. We do not have any “on-campus” housing, so all of the AIFS students are split up in apartments throughout the city. I live about two blocks away from Vatican City in Prati.
Q: What do you miss most about Fisher?
A: The thing I miss most about Fisher is how convenient it is to walk to and from class. I used to complain what a long walk it was from Park and Ride (ten minutes), and now I have to walk twenty minutes one way to get to school. I actually don’t mind the walking anymore because I love the view I see. It’s also comforting to think how many calories I’m burning to help work off all the carbs I eat! The food here is delicious and way too tempting.
Q: Would you recommend studying abroad to other students?
A: I would totally recommend studying abroad to anyone. It has been the best experience so far, and I have met so many incredible people. It doesn’t matter if you go alone like I did or with people you know, one way or the other, it will change your life. If you are debating whether you should go, stop right now and just do it. You won’t regret it.
The Coliseum in Rome.
Marchand's view of the Vatican on her way to class.