I decided to study abroad in Rome because I wanted to be in the place my Church calls home, and I also wanted to study theology in more depth. Nonetheless, upon arriving here, I was not completely confident with the path I had chosen, and I felt guilty for abandoning the standards that the world has written out for me. But as I near the end of this study abroad experience I can look back on the last few months and realize just how much my world has expanded and how much I have matured.
I have learned that it is only when we are challenged that we undergo the process of rediscovering our values or reconstructing them thus creating a place where illumination ignites growth. But in order to get to this place one has to be willing to defy expectations in a world of conformity where being different often results in persecution. I know that when I go home I will face the criticisms of many who deem what I do and how I live to be foolish and irrelevant. But because I have had the chance of rediscovering my values and gaining a greater appreciation for the Catholic Church and my faith through this study abroad experience, I now have the courage to be completely who I am regardless of the world around me. I carry with me the following words from Scripture: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 3:16).
It saddens me that I have essentially made it to the end of the semester, which means that it is almost time to go home and translate everything I have learned here into my life back there. I have no idea how I will go about this, but I do know that it is going to be one of the hardest aspects of this entire experience. Regardless, it is time to move on, but I am bringing with me the things that I have learned.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Natalie Maria Reynoso and I am currently a junior at Wheaton College, Norton, MA where I study religion and psychology. I am a passionate Catholic and an avid reader and writer. I have always loved writing because it provides me with a way to better understand the world and my place in it.</span></p>