Understanding Rome

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The first week of classes here in Rome has come to a close, and although it has been a tiring week full of reading assignments, meeting new people, and getting adjusted to my class schedule, it feels great to start getting into a routine. Orientation was a good opportunity to get to know this new environment without the constraints of homework and classes, but it did leave me painfully aware of my tourist status as I wandered through unknown streets and struggled with the few words of Italian I had picked up before arriving. After my first week of Italian classes and slightly improved awareness of the city’s geography, I now feel I at least have the basics for living here down.

I’ve been appreciating the more authentic experience of living here knowing I have months in Rome ahead of me, rather than being on a vacation here and trying to fit every activity and sight into a week’s time. I’ve enjoyed quiet mornings on my balcony drinking tea and eating breakfast, reading on the steps of a fountain in a sunny piazza, and exploring small side streets on long walks, accidentally bumping into crowded monuments on the way.

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Along with settling into daily life, starting classes has filled me with new inspiration and excitement for learning more about Rome. Each of my classes, though all in different subject areas, are focused on getting to know Rome and Italian culture. Through each course I am gaining a distinct perspective through which to immerse myself in this place.

Through Rome Sketchbook, I will discover new areas of the city through my own artistic lens, noticing the small details and atmospheres of the places through drawing.

In Classical Mythology, I will learn about a part of Roman history that has informed much of its culture, values, and artwork. I will be able to recognize the stories I see in paintings and architecture in the city, and understand beliefs that still show in traces of Italian culture today.

Taking Italian will help me practically in navigating the city and talking to locals, and will perhaps be the most significant vehicle for immersing myself (not just in being able to speak to others, but in understanding the foundation of communication and connection in such a socially centered culture).

In High Renaissance Art in Italy, I will get to learn about what (in my opinion) rules the city: history and art. Through on site visits I will be able to absorb the works I study in a way I could never do in my classes in the U.S.

I look forward to gaining a deep and thorough understanding of the city, through my classes as well as my own exploration; however, I already know that there is enough to see and learn in Rome to keep me coming back long after the semester ends.

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