The Talented Ms. Perez: Study Abroad Student Veronica Perez

Veronica Perez is a study abroad student from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, where she is a biology major. Born and raised in Guam, Veronica plans on pursuing a career in medicine. A recent winner of the JCU Talent Show for her dance performance, Veronica is also part of the Hawaii Club at Notre Dame where she choreographs the annual Luau celebration.

What led you to choose Rome as your semester abroad destination?
I knew that I wanted to come to Rome for my semester abroad since the beginning. Before I came to Rome, I started taking Italian in my freshman year. After that first semester, I fell in love with the language. And now I’m in Italian 202, so I’m really trying to keep up with it. I enjoy hearing people around me speaking in Italian.

What has your John Cabot experience been like?
I have found a community-based kind of atmosphere here. I’ve made friends with people in each of my classes, so when I performed at the JCU Talent Show,  I felt the support not only from my Notre Dame friends but from my JCU peers as well.

At JCU, in addition to Italian 202, I’m taking PH/RL224 Living the Good Life: Religious and Philosophical Ethics; RL225 Mystics, Saints, and Sinners: Studies in Medieval Catholic Culture;  AH190 Cities, Towns, and Villas: Rome, Ostia and Pompeii, and AS110 Rome Sketchbook. Most of my courses have been at least partly on-site courses and have really enriched my semester here. Through them, I’ve gone on tours in Rome that most people don’t get to do or have to plan very well ahead of time. For example, I will get to go to the excavations below St. Peter’s! My favorite place so far has been Pompeii, which I went to with my art history class. Learning about these places and actually walking through where it all happened has helped with my learning and integration of the material for each class.

Veronica Perez

Veronica Perez

What are your plans for the future?
I’ve always been interested in science and math, but mostly in science. I would even watch videos of surgeries in my free time. This past summer I shadowed at a surgery center in Guam and got to witness different surgeries and medical procedures. During my summer fellowship, I got to shadow a hand-surgeon in Guam, and that was the one that definitely fascinated me the most. I have already started studying for the MCAT, and am planning to start applying to med schools next fall so that I can go directly after I finish my undergrad degree.

You recently won the JCU Talent Show with a dance exhibition. What is the story behind your learning to dance?
I did two Hawaiian hula dances and one French Polynesian Tahitian dance. I started dancing in high school, when I joined the Polynesian Dancing club, where they taught me the basic techniques. My mom, who is from the island of Saipan, north of Guam, was a dance major in college so she helped me prepare for performances and shared all the tricks she had learned growing up and practicing cultural dancing. In college, I continued to dance after I joined Notre Dame’s Hawaii club. For the past two years, I’ve choreographed the annual Luau, and I’ll be doing it again this year.

What is your favorite word, food, and monument in Rome?
My favorite word is “accipicchia” which translates to, “darn it.” I learned it by watching “Finding Dory” in Italian. Instead, my favorite food is pasta all’amatriciana, a Roman dish. As for the monument, I think I’m going to have to go with the Coliseum because it’s classic. Even though I pass by it two times a day, and don’t always stop and stare at it, I’m still so amazed when I look up and see it right there.

What advice would you give to incoming study abroad students?
Go out and immerse yourself in the culture. There are so many levels of culture here that you won’t get to experience if you don’t get yourself out there. I know that the main reason we’re here is to study abroad, so definitely focus on your studies, but at the same time go out and explore the culture of Rome and Italy.