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  • Writer's pictureAnnelise Richardson

Editor's Note: Final Issue of the 2021-22 Academic Year

Well, the year is drawing to a close. I've taken notice of the quiet symbols of forthcoming change scattered around campus: donation boxes by the nurse's office overflowing with unwanted possessions, suitcases re-emerging from under dorm beds, the late-night cheers of students frantically trying to soak up the rest of Roman nightlife before they return home. Students have taken to the library like never before, and it's increasingly difficult to find an open table at Rinaldo's amongst the anarchic scattering of textbooks and laptops that settle on any surface they can find.

I myself am attempting to envision the past year of my life reduced to the size of a suitcase, nonetheless with great difficulty. This suitcase would probably contain a lot of things that look like nothing much at all, like the collage of business cards that my roommate have successively taped up on our fridge from places we visited together across Europe, or the empty wine bottles we repurposed as vases for yellow daisies from the florist down Via della Balduina. In fact, it would really be more of a metaphysical suitcase, overflowing with sounds, sensations, memories, and moments accumulated over the course of a year. The morning sun on my skin while I stretch out on the lawn with a textbook in hand; the kind smile thrown at me by a mensa worker serving my lunch; the tap-tap-tap of one of my friends knocking on our dorm door to talk and laugh about everything and nothing: these are the moments that I'll miss the most when I cram my possessions into a carry-on bag and head to Fiumicino one last time, leaving behind this life that we've all shared for so long now.

One of the common themes across what we have published in Dalla Bocca Del Lupo is a recognition that we are all still learning who we want to be and how we want to accomplish this. Studying abroad is a giant leap that forces you to confront your deepest fears and anxieties, but it also brings to surface the fortitude, adaptability, and capability you possess. Through challenges we prevail; whether it be a missed flight, a stolen bag, or an hour spent waiting for a bus that never comes, facing difficulties in an unfamiliar environment is what allows us to grow the most. The education we have received this year extends far beyond Sala Musica and Professor Giacchetti's philosophy class: it manifests in a certainty about the uncertain. We know that we can handle whatever the world throws our way after moving to a foreign country. Despite the awkward encounters, the culture shock and the homesickness, we have stubbornly persisted in our pursuit of this new, unfamiliar world.

However, it must also be acknowledged that studying abroad, especially in Rome, is not an equally gratifying experience for all students. Rome is a predominantly Catholic city, and with the Vatican just a few kilometers from our front door here at the JFRC, it is inevitable that we feel the effects of this. I have spoken to a wide variety of students through my position with the newspaper, and it is commonly expressed that the environment can feel uncomfortable and even isolating for students of color, members of the LGBT+ community, and those who practice religions other than Christianity. I do not seek to speak for these students - only to acknowledge this other reality of Roman life. Yes, Rome bears the name of "The Eternal City", but this does not mean that progressive change should not be delivered.

Our purpose in creating this newspaper was to not let our voices, all of us who have undertaken the journey of adapting to this new culture, go unheard. We took on the role of amateur archivists through a shared desire to be remembered as we are now: imperfect, inexperienced, impassioned students with half-drained bank accounts and an immutable spirit for adventure. As editor, the only thing I could wish for is that we managed to make you, whoever you may be, feel understood. My hope for the future of this newspaper is that it continues to evolve into a platform where open, honest, change-seeking discourse is nurtured. I often heard the phrase "make Rome your home" throughout my year abroad. Let's seek to make Rome a home for all types of students. It's true that places shape who we are, but equally so do we shape the places we inhabit. Studying abroad today is about achieving both: allowing yourself to learn and grow from your experiences and mistakes in a new place, and bringing your perspective to a place where it previously was not. I feel that we are the generation to fully embrace the latter, and I could only ask that Dalla Bocca Del Lupo remains a vehicle for doing so.

Thank you to everyone who read our stories and supported this very important platform. I can only hope, whether your experience abroad was empowering, deflating, healing, or disrupting, that we managed to make you feel a little less alone.

This is your creator and editor-in-chief, Annelise Richardson, signing off.

In bocca al lupo, tutti.

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