University of Dallas students who have studied in Italy say their time abroad has given them a new perspective on the upcoming papal election.
Participants in the Catholic university's Sophomore Rome Program study in Italy for a semester.
Claire Ballor said it was an amazing experience to live just 10 minutes away from the pope's summer home.
"I feel like I know the pope so much better than I did since I was there with him and went to Mass with him and everything like that," she said.
Angela Andrews said she sees history unfolding from a new perspective after being at the Vatican city.
"It's wonderful to visualize the places that these actions are taking place, because I can sort of imagine myself there a little bit better," she said.
Susan Hanssen, associate professor of history, said many students have been asking about what will happen now that Benedict XVI has stepped down.
"This next pope, I think, is going to be a little bit more of a surprise," she said. "We don't know where he is going to come from. He's not just John Paul II's right-hand man."
"Really what is important is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the conclave and that the Cardinals realize that they have that responsibility," Hanssen said.