Not Just a School

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Throughout the semester I have grown more and more aware of the vast differences between my life in Rome and my life in the States.  At Temple Rome, the entire dynamic of my “school life” is different than in Philadelphia. There are many reasons for this. One, many courses incorporate extensive site visits and academic excursions, of which I have already shared a bit about. I think part of the reason this is possible is due to the location at which we are studying. THERE IS SO MUCH HISTORY. Every way you turn in this city there is something with historical and/or cultural significance. The course material is primarily all focused around the culture and history of Rome and Italy, so we are experiencing an intense concentration in these topics. However, there are so many areas of interest in this city and country that we are offered a very wide array of courses from which to choose. I have to commend Temple Rome for truly taking advantage of its location by FORCING students to get out and see these amazing places about which we are learning. In just my Italian Design class alone I have seen several places which I otherwise would not have: Foro Italico (sports complex in Rome built between 1928-1938 as Mussolini’s forum), the Maxxi Museum, Renzo Piano’s Parco Della Musica (a large, multi-functional public music complex), Micol Fontana Foundation (well-known Italian designer of formalwear, made dresses for those as famous as Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy), and Milan in its entirety. I don’t know as fact, but would have to guess that no other Temple study abroad program incorporates as much travel and hands-on work as Temple Rome.

Another way life at Temple Rome differs from home is it being a much more intimate setting. We are familiar with everyone on campus, from other students to professors and librarians, security guards, GIANNI (our student-life coordinator), the Dean, and other Temple Rome workers. It is really refreshing to experience this small setting where we are always seeing familiar faces because it is such a change from home, and also is comforting in this foreign place! Along with this, our professors are from all around the world and most do not handle a classroom or their students in the same way those at Main Campus do. My Italian professor Daniela is, naturally, Italian. Her heritage has been unmistakable since day one with her sincerity and generosity already becoming obvious. She relates to her students more so than any professor I have had in the past, and you can see the result of this in the close relationships that grow between her and her students (she cried yesterday during our final class.) She even went out of her way to share her vacation spot with my friend and me. After she raved about the island in the Mediterranean, we couldn’t help but go. Daniela spoke to her connections on the island and made sure we were taken care of, and as a result, we had a once-in-a-lifetime and unforgettable trip to an authentic Italian island.

Rome is a very special place, and although at times it was very difficult to feel integrated into the city and feel like we belonged here, Temple was always striving to make that easier for us. It was always comfortable to be at school, whether for class, using the computer lab, library, or art facilities, or just bumming around and casually working on homework with friends. For me, it wasn’t a much-dreaded building where I dragged myself daily to sit through unbearable classes; it became the home that I lost when I left America and arrived in this place three and a half months ago. Now it is almost time to return to America, but I hope to be able to visit this new-home again in my future, and when I do, I will recall all the comforting memories created here in spring of 2011.

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