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.