I’m going to start this week’s post with some advice for students studying abroad—Don’t wait! Six weeks may seem like a long time when you’re thinking about how long you’ll be away from your family and the city you call home, but it flies by like it’s nothing. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll just do something later because you think you’ll have time; I was guilty of that. Now, in my last few days in Rome, I wish I had done everything sooner! It’s easy to let yourself get carried away with coursework and traveling Europe, but make sure you make time to appreciate the wonderful and historic city you’re living in. With three days left in the program, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even gone inside the Colosseum yet. But a free morning before class and a bus ticket would soon change that!
Almost everyone has seen the Colosseum depicted in movies or television shows, but seeing it in person is breathtaking. It’s hardly a trip to Rome if you don’t visit this iconic landmark. If you want to decrease the wait time of your visit, go to the Roman Forum first. The same ticket can be used at the Forum and the Colosseum, and there’s hardly ever a line to buy tickets at the Roman Forum. The tickets are valid for two days, just in case you don’t have time to see both attractions in one day. It’s hard to describe how it feels being inside a structure that’s almost 2,000 years old. The grand amphitheater of the Roman Empire still stands tall and proud in the city, even though it’s endured years and years of pillaging and exposure to the elements. I can’t even begin to imagine what the Colosseum would have looked like when the Roman Empire was in its prime. The floor of the Colosseum has long since vanished, so when you enter, you can see the bottom level where the animals and gladiators were kept until they were brought out to the crowd. You can get a tour of the bottom layer for an additional ticket. I was a bit short on time because I had my History of Art in Rome final later in the day, so I didn’t go down into the bottom. The tops layers are pretty amazing within themselves. And just outside the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine. There’s no fee to visit, so check it out while you’re at the Colosseum! The arch was built by Emperor Constantine to celebrate a military victory. It’s the largest surviving arch of the series of Roman triumphal archways.
There’s so much to see and do in Rome, so make sure you have a plan to visit all the main attractions and other places you want to see. Believe me, time really flies, and there won’t always be a “later” to push things off until. I did most of my visiting to the main attractions during the beginning and end of the program; I would recommend spreading them out so you always have something to look forward to and you aren’t scrambling to decide which monuments you want to see if you end up running short on days. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, and you want to make sure you don’t miss out on anything!