Final remarks on the Rome experience

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The summer program ended last week with an art show exhibiting everyone’s work.

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This Tyler senior displayed some paintings she did around Rome.

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This student prepares to bring her work home.

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These two girls discuss what they should do for their last night in Rome.

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This student takes down his photographs from the exhibit before he leaves.

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Graphic design major Cassy looks through student sketchbooks left open on a table.

 

Six weeks living in Rome was a life changing experience. Making new friends, learning new things, and seeing a new culture is once in a lifetime opportunity of which I encourage everyone to take advantage. Whether going alone or with friends, whether you have traveled before or have not been outside the United States, this experience will change you and help you grow. It will be a moment you will never forget. In these last photos, I share with you some memorable moments and advice:

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Try to get up early to check out Rome when it’s less hectic. While you’re at it, grab the best cappuccino you’ll ever have.

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Visit other parts of Italy to get a better understanding of Italian culture as a whole. Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is truly beautiful.

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If you have to buy souvenirs for women, go to Florence and stop by the San Lorenzo leather market for gifts that will surely please. Don’t forget to stop by Il Duomo while you’re in town.

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And, if you are a woman-or if you just like shoes-have some custom made to your feet. Cute custom made sandals can be made in Capri, or if you want to stay local, there are shops in Rome, too.

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Enjoy and explore Rome. Fall in love with the city and, if you can, visit again.

Goodbye Gelato, Hello Steak and Potatoes

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Another amazing week, and I got to spend part of it with my parents! The weekend was well spent exploring new places and sharing my favorites. We visited St. Peter’s Square, La Sapienza University Botanical Gardens, and Trastevere on Thursday, the Vatican Museums, Temple Rome, Piazza del Popolo, the Borghese Gardens, the Spanish Steps, and Barberini on Friday, and the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill on Saturday.

Rome's Hidden Secret - The Botanical Gardens

One of Rome’s hidden secrets – the Botanical Gardens

Some old building

Some old building

48,795 steps later, I was sort of willing to sit down in the library, write a research paper on the Roman Heat Wave of 2003, and memorize a mess of dates and images for Art History. As Temple Rome classes and my first Italian journey draw to a close, here are a few things I’ll miss, as well as a few things I won’t mind leaving behind.

What I’ll miss:

- The food. Pizza, pasta, bread, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, gelato, tiramisu, salami, sausage, pastries, cappuccinos, wine, bananas imported from Peru (trust me, it makes a difference), and all things hazelnut

- The lifestyle. Italians appreciate life at their own pace. Besides, I feel super productive when I am surrounded by the one-thing-a-day mentality and doing ALL the things.

- The weather. Cool in the mornings and evenings, sunny all day, with a nice thunderstorm every once and a while.

- The restaurant staff. They all seem genuinely happy to be alive and serving you good food, even when service is included in the menu prices.

- The cafés. There’s just something about watching macho Italian men eat pastries and drink coffee from miniature tea cups.

- The walking. To school, to the store, along the Vatican wall, beside the Tiber River…

- The views. Endless, incredible views of the city.

- The classes. Course content was relevant to the area and really enhanced my study abroad experience. “Students not tourists” is the best way after all.

- The professors. Temple Rome professors are passionate about what they do, and it was neat to have one professor who was native to Rome and very Italian, and another professor visiting the area for the first time, just like us.

- My roommates! I didn’t meet Jess and April until after I arrived in Rome and realized we were sharing a teeny bedroom for three…but it worked out perfectly.

What I won’t miss:

- The awkward sidewalk encounters… because passing on the right apparently isn’t a thing.

- The Italian style. Particularly women with their uber high heels fearlessly conquering Roman cobblestone roads by foot, bike, and Vespa, and I’m like yep…look at my Converse. They have arch supports.

- The lack of personal space. Shoving my way onto the metro at Termini comes to mind…

- European Wi-Fi. I thought I was going to have to submit my blog posts by owl. That’s why Temple got Stella…yes?

My study abroad experience passed quickly – at least in comparison to the speed of the Wi-Fi at the Residence – and as you can see, I’ll soon be missing Rome like its residents miss parking spaces.

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Time flies when you’re eating gelato, but I’m ready for steak and potatoes.

Berries and Cream <3

Berries and Cream

How Studying Abroad Can Change Your Life: A Bitter-sweet Six Weeks

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“Enjoy it. It goes by fast.” I’ve heard this so many times throughout my twenty years; about my teen ages, my time in high school, and before attending college. What does it actually mean, though? Of course, I’m naturally going to enjoy all of these things. When I was told to enjoy my study abroad experience because it would go by fast, I routinely responded, “I will!” as I boarded a plane to Rome, Italy.

Here I am, touching up my 10 page Global Sports research paper, and cramming for my Art History final. Holy crap, I’ve just spent 6 weeks in Rome. Sure, it flew by, but I’m not all that sure that I would want it any other way. While I often hear friends saying that they wish this could have been a full spring or fall semester, I found some perks in the brevity of this program:

1.) I was forced to try and adjust to Italian culture as quickly as I could. New challenges hit me like a ton of bricks when I came to Rome, and when you only have six weeks to figure them out and overcome them, you learn how to do so in an abridged manner. The quicker that I was able to overcome the language barrier and directional issues, the quicker I would be able to build my confidence—a major must-have when studying abroad. Having confidence meant being able to explore the city in depth while not being afraid to mess up, and in six weeks, I’ve found that very rewarding. To sum it up best, in six weeks, there’s no time to say “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

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You can’t waste any time when you have 6 weeks to explore all of this.

2.) Coinciding with a quick adjustment is the failure to fall into a routine. Yes, as strange as this may sound, this is indeed, a perk. When you fall into a routine, you’ve reached a dangerous level of comfort. In my experience, I become less alert, more bored, and less appreciative when falling into a routine; hence why studying abroad has been a great change of pace, and a quick one at that. In six weeks, with all that there was to do and see in Rome, I couldn’t help but to dodge a very outlined schedule. There wasn’t enough time in the day for me to even say that I was bored. All that time was devoted to being aware of my surroundings, and appreciating them. Never did I think I would have the opportunity to spend six weeks in Italy, but here I am, on top of the world.

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Quite literally…

So what exactly does that saying “Enjoy it. It goes by fast” mean? Well, to me, after being able to embark on this life-changing experience abroad, I think it’s more of a warning than a command. So for those who will soon be studying abroad, or even traveling to a destination with a foreign culture, I warn you; Enjoy it. Don’t take the opportunity to transform your life for granted. Immerse yourself into the host’s culture as if you only have one day to do so, not six weeks, or even a semester, because it all goes by too fast.

And finally, before I officially sign off from Rome, I thank my newly formed group of lifelong friends that I made during these past six weeks for putting the cherry on top of this whole experience.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my experiences as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you. Ciao from Roma!

The Chronicles of a Perspiring Pedestrian

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After several days of being a student – not a tourist! – and several nights of not quite enough sleep in that comfy top bunk, I was starting to wonder whether my brain could muster enough creativity for a blog post. As I was walking to school, I realized that Rome has a way of speaking for itself. Let me explain why.

First, I put on my sunglasses, because it was a bit bright. Then, it started raining. I watched a little girl dragging her grandfather across the street, grinning from ear to ear. I saw a Vespa pulled over to the side of the road; its driver had stopped to put on a royal blue poncho. It stopped raining. While I was waiting to cross a busy intersection, I watched a man cruise by in a golf cart. He was casually smoking a cigarette and his left arm was completely wrapped and resting in a sling.

See? No creativity necessary, just a few simple events strung together that made it totally worth my while to walk to school in a bizarre mixture of sun and rain. I stopped at school for a creamy steamy vending machine cappuccino en route to where I thought we were meeting Paolo at 10:30 for our last on-site art class.

The timeline of events is as follows:

10:20 – Arrive habitually early at the place I thought we were meeting and realize no one else was there.
10:21 – Get directions from a nearby policeman, who informed me that the Borghese Gallery was across the villa, about 2 miles away. When he saw the look on my face, he promptly decided it was only 1 mile away.
10:23 – Down my cappuccino and put my game face on.
10:24 – Embark on a fast-paced journey across the Villa Borghese, asking for directions every so often (mainly so I could catch my breath).
10:37 – Arrive at the right place, red in the face…gymnasts aren’t built for endurance events.

Now, Paolo, having realized our tickets wouldn’t allow us to enter until 11 anyways, showed up maybe 20 minutes later. Soon enough we were looking at paintings and sculptures of Caravaggio, Bernini, and the like. Just another day in Rome. I’ve been here for 35 days total, and I’m happy to report that I have checked almost everything off of my list (except for a few things I saved to do with my parents, who are due to arrive very soon!). This week I checked off Sant’Ignazio, Ponte Fabricio, Tiber Island, Fontana delle Tartarughe, the Jewish ghetto and Synagogue, and last but not least, the Vatican Museums. I also returned to Tony’s in Trastevere for another fantastic meal and watched World Cup soccer on the big screen in Piazza Venezia.

Sant'Ignazio, the church of illusions

Sant’Ignazio, the church of illusions

Tiber Island as seen from Pone Fabricio, Rome's oldest walking bridge

Tiber Island as seen from Pone Fabricio, Rome’s oldest walking bridge

Fontana delle Tartarughe, one of my favorites!

Fontana delle Tartarughe, one of my favorites!

I had some pretty tasty kosher gelato when I visited the Jewish ghetto, but pistachio was my favorite this week.

Looks like mud mask, tastes like heaven

Looks like mud mask, tastes like heaven

And this week’s parkers did not disappoint! Just see for yourself.

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This car is a winner in every category. Blocking the crosswalk, perpendicular to the road, and note that the front tires are on the sidewalk while the back tire is completely lifted off the road by a circular slab of concrete. Well done.

This week's runner up was not far behind for being not far in front of his fellow rebel parkers.

This week’s runner-up was not far behind…and also not far in front of those other excellent parkers.

Rome is my classroom

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“Meet in St. Peter’s Square, by the obelisk.” This was my most recent instruction taken from my Art History in Rome course syllabus. Being directed to certain class meeting locations throughout Rome was yet another foreign aspect that I had to add to my study abroad experience. Being confined to a classroom, and learning from power points in large groups are entirely shattered concepts here in Rome. This adjustment, however, was not one that frustrated me; I got used to this one rather quickly.

I chose to take Art History in Rome simply because it fulfilled my Art General Education requirement. Honestly, my expectations for this class were not that great. I thought, “Sure, it’ll be cool to study art that I will be seeing on my everyday adventures through the city.” It only took one class to realize how false my expectations had been.

When my alarm woke me up for my first on-site class, it was not so that I could drag myself to a lecture; it was so I could learn about the Colosseum…in front of the Colosseum. There are not many things more beneficial than taking a class that is instructed in front of the object being studied. Now, naturally, I failed to really pay attention to my professor during the first few site visits. Can you blame me, though? I’ve never taken a class which had been instructed in this manner, and more importantly, I had never seen the Colosseum in my life before. The class got more in depth and interesting as the weeks went on, too!

Other meeting sites have included Piazza Venezia, a square which is considered to be the best in Rome, Piazza della Cancelleria, Piazza del Campidoglio, and Piazza Navona. In these locations, I adjusted, and learned how to become focused amidst all of the chaos and beauty around me. You would be amazed what you can learn during these three hours on-site. I can create a chronological list of every building within Piazza Venezia, tell you the respective architect, and give you a few insights as to what these buildings were inspired by. Never did I think that I would enjoy doing such a thing, and never did I imagine how beneficial it could be.

Prof, Carloni explaining that this door is still the original wooden door in santa Sabina, a church built in the fifth century

Prof. Carloni explains here that this door is still the original wooden door in Santa Sabina, a church built in the fifth century

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We also take really cool trips to places such as Hadrian’s Villa

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And Villa d’Este

What I’ve been able to take away from this model of class instruction will stay with me through the remainder of my undergraduate studies, and further, force me to question my own city – the one in the States. There have been numerous times that I’ve walked through center city Philadelphia and passed a completely foreign building. No idea why it’s there, what its purpose is, or how long it has been standing there. So technically, then, referring back to previous posts, does that not define me as a tourist with-in my own country? My own city? I’ve learned more about Rome in five weeks than I have about Philadelphia in two years, and I’ve also learned how much that needs to change. When your classroom is, quite literally, an entire city, and moreover, a city as historical and exquisite as Rome, you gain lessons far from anything that you can learn in a classroom setting.

Saturday wine tasting in Tuscany

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One of the first things that come to mind when thinking about Italy is wine. Many amazing wines are made in Italy, so it is no surprise many Temple students wanted to take a trip to Tuscany for a wine tasting. Conveniently, a tour group called Bus2Alps had a wine tasting day trip scheduled last Saturday. Over 60 Temple students went on the trip.

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The first stop is Montepulciano, a medieval town famous for its wine and food.

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An anthropology major takes a break from walking to enjoy some tiramisu.

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Wine connoisseurs consider the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano some of the best wine from Italy.

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Students are excited to enter the wine cellar where some of the famous Vino Nobile is made.

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There are three types of wine made here- the Rosso, Nobile di Montepulciano, and the Riserva. These three types stay in large oak barrels for a time period of six months to 2.5 years.

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After wine tasting in Montepulciano, students take an hour ride to arrive at Montalcino, home to the famous Brunello wine.

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Fox student Abby relaxes and takes in the Tuscan hillside view.

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Not only is Brunello wine one of the most famous wines in all of Italy, but it is also one of the most expensive.

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After the vineyard tour, students taste the Montalcino wine while enjoying the scenery.

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An eventful day of wine tasting in Tuscany ends just before the rain.

Forza Italia!

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This week, I have found it extremely easy to immerse myself in Italian culture. Why? Well, because I love sports! When I was accepted to the Rome summer program early in the spring semester of 2014, the first thing I did was mark a date on my calendar—June 14, 2014. Why this specific date, you might ask? This was Italy’s first game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and it was against a team who posed a large threat—England.

Living in the United States as a die hard soccer fan is a tough life. Few Americans appreciate the game as much as I do. I guess you could say that fans like myself are an endangered species. This is not the case in most of Europe, and more specifically, in Italy, however. Knowing this fact before arriving to Rome, it was safe to assume that I was excited to be a part of this cultural aspect of Rome. When Saturday rolled around, I took my opportunity to immerse myself into something which was so foreign to me due to its lesser significance in the United States, but so familiar at the same time due to my passion for the game.

Some friends and I walked to Piazza Venezia around 11:30 for the midnight kick off. I had expected a crowd, but turning a corner and meeting a wall of thousands of anxious Italians gave me the chills. This was real. My heart was pounding, and the smile on my face was from ear to ear. I was in my element, and more importantly, effortlessly and completely immersed in Italian culture for the first time since my arrival. There were no language barriers; the language was just soccer (or calico as it translates); one that I’ve come to adopt in my many years of playing. Simply put, yell at the referee and go crazy when your team scores. There was no staring at the Americans, but rather staring at a giant projector screen. I was not lost somewhere in the city, but rather lost somewhere in a game. When Italy scored first, I thought Mount Vesuvius had come back to life. The Piazza erupted; flags waved vigorously, flares lit the sky a florescent red, and the decibel level pierced my ears with sounds of glory – pure passion.

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Someone threw this flag in the air, so we decided to pick it up and take some pictures with it.

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But this wasn’t my only experience this week. When we stopped at a lake to grab some lunch during an Art History field trip last Friday, I had another very unique experience involving sport and culture. A few Italians were sitting at a nearby sand volleyball court with a ball. Upon approaching them and gesturing whether or not my friends and I could play, we quickly formed teams; Italy versus America. The experience was unique because again a language barrier ceased to exist, similar to when watching the World Cup. (That’s two times in one week, possibly a record to be held throughout my remaining three weeks studying here). When we finished beating up on the Italians, who, by the way, should just stick to soccer, I realized how valuable of an experience I had just gained. Using sports to immerse myself in this foreign culture has been my most useful form of communication, appreciation, and adaptation. Sports have a universal, globalized, language, and when used in the correct manner, they can truly add to and aid in the absorption of a different culture from your own.

I'm too short for this game, but I was still better than any of the Italians

I’m too short for this game, but I was still better than any of the Italians