Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ciao for now, Roma!

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It’s official- I’ve completed my semester abroad at Temple Rome! It feels so good to say that/ I worked so hard this past semester and learned so much. However, I’m experiencing a lot of mixed emotions right now.

It’s appropriate to say that my thoughts about leaving Rome are bittersweet. “Sweet,” because I’m heading back to the States soon, and I can be reunited with my friends and family (my dogs too, of course). I’m also looking forward for things to go back to normal. I’ve missed the small things, like my bed, American television, driving around in my Jeep, Mexican food and everyone speaking English!

But there’s also a lot of “bitter.” My study abroad experience will always be just a small moment in my life and I will always look back on it. Now, I’m still living this moment, and soon it will all become one big memory. My time here in Rome was such a positive experience, and I feel like a completely new person. I have a different outlook on life and culture, and I’ve learned an incredible amount, in and out of the classroom. One important thing I’ve learned is to have a little more faith in strangers. The Italian people taught me this with their kindness and patience. I also now know that I’m capable of doing anything that life throws at me. Moving yourself to an unfamiliar place for three and a half months is not an easy thing to do!

It’s unbelievable that I’m leaving Rome tomorrow night. Reflecting on the past semester, I can remember how I felt when I left New York for Rome. I specifically remember how I was feeling my first night here: scared, intimidated, and homesick. Now, I can already feel “Romesick” and I haven’t even left yet! But I will also leave with my new-found confidence and maturity.

To give my final farewell to Rome, I went to the top of the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica this past week. I walked up hundreds of stairs with my two friends to see the most amazing view of the city that changed me forever. It was a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, and I could see everything: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Tiber River, the Borghese Gardens. As I was enjoying the view, I overheard a woman say to her friend: “If you lived in this city, wouldn’t you have peace of mind?” This just made me smile, because I know that my experience proved this statement true.

I’m not heading back to America until a few weeks from now. I’ll be in Scotland for a week, and then my mom is flying over! We’ll be traveling around Scotland, Amsterdam and London for ten days, and I couldn’t be more excited. What a great way to end my time abroad.

Today and tomorrow will be spent packing up all my stuff and enjoying as much as Rome as possible. I threw my coin into the Trevi Fountain, so I have no doubt that I will be back again. Ciao, Roma!

TU Rome Student Show

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts how hard I’ve been working all semester, and this is the same for all my fellow classmates here at Temple Rome. On Thursday night, we were all able to show off our hard work at the Student Show. Every student who was enrolled in an art or architecture course displayed their work for the rest of the school to see. The show was not only held in the school gallery, but throughout the whole school. The students produced such a large amount of work, that the show went from the basement to the top floor of the building, and every inch of the walls were covered.

I was really impressed with all the work that had been created throughout the course of the semester. The photography classes, both digital and black and white film, had tons of prints covering the walls from top to bottom. There were paintings done in many different mediums, including oil and watercolor, and in many different sizes- some as small as the palm of my hand and others almost as big as the wall! The printmaking classes showed their etchings and lineoleum prints, and downstairs the sculpture students displayed their large variety of work. Upstairs I could see the work of all the Rome sketchbook students, and I could sit and flip through the pages of each student’s individual sketchbook. Also upstairs was the postcard show, where each student in certain classes had to create a painting, drawing, or print on a 5″x7″ piece of paper. This part of the show will actually be coming to the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia later this year!

This semester I was in Painting on Paper, the watercolor course, and Photography I, a black and white film class. I enjoyed each class tremendously, and was very proud of the work I had in the show. I really appreciated the amount of freedom I was given in each class to create whatever I wanted to. Also, both classes took me outside the classroom and into the beautiful city of Rome to paint and to take photographs. Now I have to find a way to bring all my hard work back to America with me!

The student show was a great way to celebrate the last day of classes and the end of the semester. It’s really starting to hit me- I’m leaving Rome a week from today. Next Saturday at this time I’ll be packing up everything I have and saying a final “ciao” to Rome. I can’t believe how fast this semester flew by. This upcoming week, I’ll be very busy studying for my two art history finals, and doing my last sight-seeing. But this is not good-bye yet, my fellow blog readers! Even though I have a lot of studying to do in the week to come, I still plan on blogging at least one more time. I would never take my last week in Rome for granted.

So much gelato, so little time.

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Somehow, yesterday was already the last day of classes for the Temple Rome Spring 2012 semester program. I’m not quite sure how that is possible already, but these last few months have managed to fly by and we are quickly approaching the end of our time in Rome. Yesterday was also the final student art show which had on display the artwork from the various studio classes that the students had worked on for the entire semester. It was a great show. Not only were all the works very impressive, but it was fantastic seeing how Rome inspired so much of the art. Looking at pieces was nostalgic as it brought back memories from earlier in the semester, but was paired with the knowledge that we are all leaving so soon.

There is truly an odd mixture of emotions that everyone is feeling, a mix between excitement, sadness, nostalgia and stress. There is excitement to be going home to family and friends (and especially pets) that are greatly missed, yet a sadness and nostalgia about leaving this amazing city behind, not  knowing when we might return again. For those that are not going home right away, but are instead traveling around Italy and Europe, there is excitement for the new adventure they are about to set off on, but stress about where exactly they are going to go and what their living arrangements will be. Then add on the stress of final exams and one has an interesting range of emotions flowing through them.

Regardless of where people are going after April 22nd, everyone is trying to take in as much of Rome as possible. This means taking walks just for the sake of being in the city, eating gelato every day since it is so much cheaper here and soon will not be accessible on every street corner, trying every pastry in the 24 Hour Bakery (located on the way to school, a dangerous situation!), or simply sitting next to the Coliseum at night to take in its beauty and the fact that Rome was our home for all this time. Over the next week of finals, in addition to studying of course, I will be making my last visits to my favorite places in Rome: the small outdoor markets I love to find on random side streets, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the cat sanctuary, and the quiet park outside of the Castle Saint Angelo.

I will also try to eat at some of the restaurants that are still on my list (there are a lot!). I know I will not make it to all of them, but I will take the time to enjoy the total experience of dining in Rome and the Italian food culture that has grown to be a part of Italy that I truly appreciate. I’d better get to it.

Jammin’ at Temple Rome

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For the past couple of weeks, everyone at Temple Rome has been experiencing a stressful workload. Papers, presentations, and projects galore, and now finals are slowly approaching. It’s so hard to believe that the semester is almost over- only two weeks left!

But last night, the school held an event to take everyone’s minds off the chaos of school. And thank goodness for that, because lately I’ve been so overwhelmed. For the past few weeks, students have been preparing for the Temple University Rome Jam Session, which was being promoted all over the school with creative flyers. Also, I had been hearing people practicing drums and guitar, and even ukulele; This got me even more interested in what the Jam Session would be like.

I was really impressed to see that the school brought in lighting, a projector, and a stage for the event. All the students were invited to the show, as well as faculty and professors, and even some local Italians. It was exciting to see how many people showed up; there were probably about 150 of us!

Lucky for me I had a front row seat, so I got to see everything up close. The Jam Session was hosted by Gianni, our Student Affairs Coordinator, who kept the audience laughing and upbeat the whole show. There were many short clips and videos that were projected in between acts, which were very entertaining and fun to watch. Aside from lots of singing, dancing, and instrumentals by students, there were also plenty of acts from local Romans. I got to hear some incredible vocals and even a comedy act! The Jam Session was very well organized, and at the end there were even refreshments. I thought this was a great way to integrate the students with the community that surrounds our school.

The show lasted about two and a half hours and never had a dull moment. Everyone was clapping, cheering, and laughing throughout the entire Jam Session. It was great for everyone to come together, put all of our work aside for one night, and just relax and enjoy ourselves. It made me really happy to be a part of Temple Rome, and I almost felt a little sad. I know that in only a couple of weeks, the program will be over and everyone will be traveling and heading home. I really got to know a lot of people this semester and made a ton of new friends. Temple University Rome is truly a community of people.

So now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to conquer my upcoming finals. I am, however, more than excited for the weekend. I’ll be traveling to Scotland to visit my boyfriend and relax before the mayhem of finals fully kicks in!

Stuck in the Middle

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I cannot express how happy I am that Spring has sprung in Rome. The weather is simply beautiful. The temperature has been in the 70’s everyday and the sun is almost always out. THIS is the weather I was promised in Rome and  have been appreciating every moment of it. There is, however, a minor downfall to the coming of this wonderful weather. Now that spring has sprung, so has another season: tourist season. In the past couple of weeks, Rome has simply exploded with visitors from all different places. As hard as it was in the earlier part of the semester to not seem like a tourist myself, it is even harder now.

The Vatican City is packed with visitors, especially on this Easter weekend, there are tour buses on every street, and metro cars filled to the brim with people looking over their maps and tour books. Often I will get stuck walking behind a school group or a guided tour. It is actually nice to see a different aspect of Rome, but it makes me realize what an unusual position I am in while here. To Italians, I look like a tourist, especially when I am wearing my giant backpack that I carry to and from school (which is especially awkward when I get stuck behind a school group. I really look like a tourist when that happens). The thing is I am not a tourist. I have been living here for the past 3 months and I know the city. I know the good places to eat, shop and how to use the public transportation to get where I need to go. I’ve adjusted to the culture and count Rome as my overseas home.  But, while I am not a tourist, I am not an Italian either. I do not know enough of the language to speak it fluently and sadly I will be leaving this great city in a little over 2 weeks. I am left stuck in this strange middle position that, I must say makes me feel a bit alienated; where do I as a study abroad student fit?.

The thing I have enjoyed about this situation is that it does put me in great position to help tourists in certain situations. Most of the tourists I have encountered speak at least a little English, and when they are in need of assistance figuring out how to get somewhere I have the knowledge of the city that has been my home to be able to help them. It feels good being able to lead people in the right direction, unlike when Italians ask me for directions and I usually either don’t know what they asked me or don’t know how to tell them in Italian how to get where they need to go.

When it comes down to it, the most important thing is really that I know that I am not just a tourist who is in Rome for a short time. And though I have little time left, I can take each moment as an opportunity to immerse myself even more in Italian culture so that when I leave I can say that I not only visited Italy, I lived there.

Study Abroad- Emphasis on the STUDY

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Studying abroad is, of course, an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s so much fun to live in a foreign country, and explore everything the city has to offer. Also, it’s exciting to try different food, experience a different culture, and travel all over Europe. But wait, I think I might be forgetting something… oh yeah, the “studying” part!

That seems to happen with most students who study abroad, even myself. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the reason I’m here at Temple Rome is for school! It’s very easy to get distracted while studying in Rome, let alone in any foreign city. There’s so much to see and discover- I’ve been here for almost three months and I STILL haven’t seen everything in Rome. Also, I came here with the intention of traveling to many different places across Europe. However, this became difficult to actually do, because of a few reasons: Time (I only have 15 weeks here!), money, and schoolwork.

Of course any student studying abroad wants to take advantage of where they are. But it’s VERY important to remember that the reason that you’re here is for school. I believe that Temple Rome does a great job with combining schoolwork and exploring Rome, as well as other parts of Italy and Europe. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, some of my classes meet on site once a week. That is, our class will meet at a church or a piazza instead of in a classroom. This is a great way to be physically engaged in what you’re learning about. Instead of looking at a projected image, you’re face-to-face with the actual subject. Also, some of my classes had weekend field trips, which was an amazing way to learn, especially since you have your professor with you. My two art history classes traveled to Naples and Florence, and I know of other classes that were able to travel to places as far as Belgium and London!

But as the semester is nearing an end, I have to focus less of my attention on traveling and leisure time and more attention on preparing for my finals. Truthfully, my semester in Rome has been one of my more difficult semesters. It’s true that the professors acknowledge that you’re studying abroad, and they want you to take advantage of traveling to other places and learning more about European culture. However, college is college, and there is no easy way out. Many students claim that a semester abroad is a piece of cake, but as for myself, I’ve had a lot of work this past semester.

Now don’t get me wrong- having a lot of work here has not taken away from my experience one bit. In fact, I think that it’s better that this is the case. It keeps me focused on my priorities and keeps me motivated. Many assignments and papers for my classes involve me going out and exploring Rome, so it’s not like I’m trapped in my apartment all the time. I work hard during the week, and then I am able to spend my free time on the weekends exploring Rome and Europe.

So for any future study abroad students that are reading this post – as well as parents – remember that this opportunity isn’t a vacation! Sometimes it may feel like it, especially when you’re relaxing on a sunny spring afternoon in the Borghese Gardens (like I did yesterday!). You’ll be absolutely spoiled studying abroad- the culture, the food, the experience. And you’ll find that you’ll learn so much, in school and outside the classroom.