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From Carlisle to Rome: A Journey Along the Road Less Traveled

Jordan McCord '10

by Jordan McCord '10 

I remember the peculiar look my parents gave me when, as a junior in high school, I mentioned this little college that I wanted to visit in the middle of South Central Pennsylvania. Luckily I managed to convince them to at least go check it out. A large part of their dismay came from the prescribed path to Carlisle from my house in Ohio—a six-hour drive across the Pennsylvania Turnpike, full of treacherous curves and trucks zooming by in the left lane. Why did I want to inconvenience myself like this when I could go to the beloved Ohio State like the majority of my family and high school classmates?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life then, but I knew that I wanted to write, learn a foreign language and be intellectually challenged. I knew that I wanted to go to a liberal-arts school, and I wanted to go somewhere where there was strong support for study abroad. I didn’t want to sit in a large lecture hall, passively taking notes. My interests in writing and language were begging to be cultivated and directed toward something, and I sensed that a place like Dickinson could help.

My parents came around as we toured the campus. I was sold, even on that rainy day, and I was particularly intrigued by the signpost with all the different arrows that pointed to places like Cameroon, Spain, England, Israel, Russia—all the places one could study abroad. It indicated that Italy was about 4,000 miles away, and that is where I eventually chose to study abroad and where I now live. My instincts were right—that this little community in Carlisle would be the place to help me build the skill set and grow the courage to live and work halfway across the world.

Thanks to a broad base of knowledge and the opportunity to develop my communication skills, I worked as an English teacher for adults and children for more than a year when I first got to Italy. I’ve had lots of fun using my creativity to come up with workshops, games or other unusual methods to help Italians grasp the English language.

In addition to doing that, I’ve mixed my love for language and literature by translating literary texts from Italian into English, a passion project which I plan to continue. I have also had the opportunity to write for Italian publications like Romeing and Puntarella Rossa, producing articles about the expat life here in Rome.

After getting comfortable with the language, I found a job at a startup called Soprano Villas that rents villas throughout Italy. I manage the company blog and create content to engage travelers who want to discover the best secrets of Italy. I also work as a liaison between English-speaking tourists and locals at the Rome-based office.

My experience here has been a lot like my time at Dickinson—where one class built upon another, now one experience complements and feeds another, or something I’ve learned in one situation becomes unexpectedly handy in another. They say that all roads lead to Rome, but several years ago, when I first visited Dickinson, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d make my way to this timeless place. I give the signpost on campus credit for pointing me in the right direction.

Jordan McCord ’10 earned a degree in English and moved to Italy to pursue her passions for language, literature and writing. She currently works as a content editor for a startup company and is also working on a collection of short stories set in foreign places. She lives in the medieval neighborhood of Trastevere where she works, writes fiction and eats lots of pasta.

Read more from the fall 2017 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published November 3, 2017