April Zaratsian talks about her experience with the Summer Institute at John Carroll University.

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Throughout my young life, I had dreamed about escaping the boundaries of the United States to experience the food, landscapes, architecture, and people of another culture outside my own.  

I was finally granted this amazing opportunity through John Carroll’s Bishop Pilla Summer Institute Programi. I was forewarned that this experience would be life-changing and unforgettable, but never did I imagine how much I would learn, see, and experience in but a mere five-week program.  Coming into this experience, my thoughts on art were vague and bleak. However, after learning about some of the greatest artists from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and what they contributed not only to the Church, but to society, it has greatly improved my views on religion, art, and theological/societal ideas as well as broadened my outlook on the culture of a different country, the Catholic church, and the impact literature and art has made to the world.  I know that these characteristics do not appeal to most college students who are looking for a “Vacation” trip, but you’d be surprised at the things you once thought to be bland that you now find intriguing. I got to see ten different cities, entered over twenty churches and several castles, climbed to the top of some of the most breathtaking hills, lived in the cutest cottage with the mountains in my backyard, ate at over thirty different restaurants, had endless amounts of gelato, and met some of the greatest people whose memories we shared together and will never be forgotten.  If there were one thing I would recommend to not only a John Carroll student, but any student, would be to take advantage of this opportunity.  If my words haven’t convinced you, then go on the trip and experience Italy and Spain for yourself.  The only regret I have is that I wish it never ended.

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