Keshav Mantha Summer 2016 Temple Rome

The Final Countdown

My flight is approaching faster than I would like it to, but it hasn’t really hit me yet. I’ve tried as hard as possible not to think about getting on my final metro and bus rides to the train station and airport, respectively, but alas the time has come. As I slowly pack my bags and finish up my last assignments, I’m trying to catch every last glimpse of this beautiful city that I can.

This past week certainly went by faster than the others. As a participant in the pilot 4-week program, a lot of course content was very experimental in the use of the city of Rome as our classroom. This very aspect, however, of going out and seeing the sights and events we were discussing, is what made it so unique and interesting. There’s no experience like discussing the sociopolitical implications of the Vatican after having actually visited the museums as a class. Needless to say, I’ve had an extremely enjoyable time in the course. While Mosaics is traditionally seen as a course which is classroom heavy and writing intensive, experiencing it here in Rome didn’t make it seem like that at all. Of course we had our weekly assignments and a final project which included a reflection paper, but that was all dwarfed by the amazing class excursions we got to go on. Notably, this past week we visited the EUR district – Benito Mussolini’s take on contemporary Roman architecture in the mid 20th century – as well as the magnificent Galleria Borghese, an art gallery with priceless, exquisite paintings and sculptures. The class had an extra depth of engagement in our professor’s use of current events as they related to the course material. We discussed the pending election extensively, as well as educational rights issues gripping America today. On my own I got to visit Sicily and Bologna with my roommate. The Sicilian cities had a rustic Italian charm to them unperturbed by pop culture, and Bologna had a medieval flare which was intriguing to say the least.

My project in the course focused on the use of science and power in the construction of Western civilization especially with respect to the Roman Empire. Working on this project and having Rome as my backdrop was an experience unlike any I’ve ever had. In fact, after giving my final presentation, it’s tough for me to think of a time when I’ve felt more comfortable, knowledgeable, and excited to present on a topic which I knew almost nothing about just 2 weeks ago. After the presentations concluded, I decided to go out for one last panino (sandwich) and pizza at the cafes right across the block from campus for a quick, cheap lunch before heading home for a well deserved break. I found myself taking more time than I usually do to get home, however, in an effort to appreciate every tree lining the blocks and every old building that appeared in my sight.

With my flight Saturday, the name of the game now is to pack as well as possible and make sure I’m all set to head back. I’m hoping to be able to have one more Aperitivo (appetizer buffet) and gelato before I have my final night’s sleep in my apartment, and I definitely plan on savoring every moment of it. My final goodnight to this beautiful city and country will certainly be bittersweet. As much as I miss home and am looking forward to going back to my family, nothing can take away from the indescribable experience I’ve had in Rome these past 4 weeks.

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