Monthly Archives: December 2011

This is the End

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The semester is nearing an end.  I had a teacher once who said that experiences where you spend a lot of time somewhere “always get weird towards the end”.  It generally is true.  From final exams, goodbyes, packing, shipping, and last minute things to see, the end of the semester has been radically different from the beginning or middle.

This is not the end of everyone’s study abroad experience.  Some people are staying for the spring semester as well.  There was a bit of scrambling to figure out housing and winter break plans.  People who are staying for a year will be taking classes next semester with new students who are studying abroad for their first time.  Staying for a year is a great opportunity, but it isn’t for everyone.  Some students are ready to go back home.  Others have to go back to the States but wish they could stay in Italy for years.  Many students in the program go to other universities in other places such as New York, Chicago, and California.  When people part ways as the week tapers off, there will be miles and miles separating some people.  The next semester will bring a shuffle of people.  New friends and old friends combined.

The end in sight can change things.  There is pressure to see things one last time, to do things you haven’t done yet, and to spend time with people before saying goodbye.  At the same time, it’s finals week.  There are papers, final projects, and tests.  Temple Rome’s courses are not jokes.  People take their work seriously, which adds to all the things that need to be done in this last couple of weeks.  I just took my very last exam today for my High Renaissance class, and am officially done.  Now what’s left to do is check things off my list of what I want to accomplish here before leaving.  Some last minute activities include going to places I went in the early fall to see them one last time, going to museums and galleries I haven’t been to yet, and spending some more time wandering the city and taking photos.

The final student art exhibition was a highlight of last week.  Students in all sorts of different classes participated by showing drawings, sketches, photos, architectural plans, paintings, sculptures, books, and prints.  The week before that was the Jam Session, where any student could do a performance as a closing moral boosting and bonding activity.  Some students played guitar and sang, while others acted or danced.  The event also included professional Italian bands and performers.

Before coming here to Rome, we were reminded that Temple University offers counseling to any student who wants it.  We were told that should we need help readjusting to life in the States, we could seek that out.  I didn’t think that was very likely to happen when I was reading that information over the summer, but now I understand why readjusting to life in the States will be challenging.  For many students, studying abroad in Italy was their opportunity to take classes they can’t take on main campus, live with peers for the first time in college, or spend evenings in the studio or with college friends for the first times.  I’ve met many students here who commuted to Temple’s Campus in Philly from home, and they have said that this was the first time they’ve really experienced what other people experience in college.  Even for students such as myself who are used to not being able to go home on weekends when at college, I can see why attending Temple Rome could fill needs that are hard to satisfy in Philly.  The campus in Rome is in a completely different environment than North Philly.  The fall semester here had a small number of students so very close connections and friendships were made with a wide variety of people.  There is a feeling of being part of a small community here in Rome that doesn’t come so easily on Temple’s main campus.  I know I will be missing Temple Rome, but I know I want to return to Italy one day in my future.  I feel that I’m not quite finished with this location yet.

My Family in Rome!

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My parents and me at the top of St. Peter's

Over the week of Thanksgiving, my family came to Rome to visit.  I was really excited to see them, and I knew it would be nice to have my family here for Thanksgiving.  Although there was no turkey, eating an Italian feast at a long table in the middle of a crowded restaurant with no Americans turned out to be a great way to celebrate the holiday.

I’ve learned that having visitors in Rome is a great way to rediscover the city we’re living in.  Too often I’m on autopilot here and being a tour guide forces you to take advantage of Rome.  We climbed the top of St. Peter’s, which I had been meaning to do but never put aside the time to do it.  The top of the dome is the highest spot in Rome and we got to the top just as the sun was about to set.  It was amazing to walk around and point out the buildings I recognized to my parents.  I even spotted the elementary school near the residence where we live.

I was able to show my parents where I live and go to school here.  I showed them my lunch routine, and we walked around Pizza del Popolo and Via del Corso, both near the school.  We threw coins in the Trevi Fountain to ensure our collective return and marveled at the Pantheon’s oculus.  We found a hidden vintage store on Via Governo del Vecchio and we ate great food the whole week.  It was the perfect mix of touristy routes and new finds.  I used my Italian in front of my family, and the waiters and store clerks patiently waited as I stumbled through the task.

As soon as my family got here, it was time for them to leave.  Luckily, it will only be a few short days now until I see them.  I’m excited to return home, but having them here was a reminder of how quickly my time is expiring!  I have so much I still want to do before I leave, and I sense that I’ll be far from ready to depart Rome on December 11.

During this last week, in addition to studying for finals, I’ve made a compulsory checklist of things to do before I leave.  One of them, which I will accomplish, is seeing the Trevi Fountain at dawn.  I’ve heard it’s a must-see and I know if I return, it will be more of a burden than it will be now.  I’m going to pick a day this week, go to sleep painfully early, and wake to take the earliest metro to Barberini.  I’ll be sure to report back!