Everyone from the program is finally here! To start we had a nice Italian dinner at a local restaurant where we ate plates of ham and cheese, white pizza, pasta, and drank wine. I’m sure my mates would agree when I say: “The jet lag is real”. It has been a rough week trying to adjust to the new schedule, waking up early for classes, and walking for hours under the sun to see all the landmarks. And let me tell you that Rome is hot! On the other hand, I’ve been able to experience the most majestic sight seeing, and I wouldn’t rather be any other place right now.
When I was looking for the best abroad experience, I took in consideration three things. First, that it was offered during the summer because I couldn’t spend another summer at Drexel. Second, that it was short because I wanted some time to travel to other places and be able to go home for a while. Finally, that it was a hands-on learning experience because I didn’t want to spend most of my time inside the classroom. Summer in Rome was the perfect option, and it was related to my major in a certain way, so a perfect win. I’m currently taking two classes, Preserving/Restaging the Past, and Pop Culture in Italy: Ancient/Present. Both classes focus on the art, culture, and history of Rome throughout the years with mostly a focus on an interactive experience that entails going on excursions during and outside of class time to see all the artworks, masterpieces, landmarks, and historic locations in Rome. I believe the best way to learn is by living it, and this program does well on that aspect.
Initially we were going to take the classes in conference rooms, but since the residence where we are staying is under renovation, this wasn’t possible. Therefore, we are taking our classes in the living room of our professors’ apartments. The downside is that it can be a little crowded, uncomfortable, and hard to take notes. However, we are barely in the “classroom”, so it’s not that big of a deal. It makes the environment a little more intimate with my classmates. It also makes me feel like I’m living “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”, which was the ultimate dream in middle school.
In just a week, we have visited most of the popular landmarks in Rome. The first day had a short orientation along with a tour of the neighborhood, where we familiarized with the best restaurants, gelaterias, and supermarkets in the area. We figured out where the bus, metro and taxi stations are, so we know our way back if we want to explore on our own or if we get lost (this has happened to me a few times this week). The second day we visited Castel Sant’Angelo, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, walked across the Tiber Bridge, and ended our walk with a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica. The third day we visited the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Lastly, on the fourth day, we walked around the Trastevere region, which like I mentioned in my previous post, is an up and coming area.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again; Rome is a gorgeous city and everyplace I go makes me fall in love with it more and more. All the places I’ve been are beautiful, but the Colosseum impressed me the most. It amazes me how well constructed all the buildings are, and how they have lasted for so long. Even without all the technology we have today, they managed to be smarter and develop techniques that allowed them to build massive structures. This city doesn’t cease to amaze me.
P.S. I asked a friend for a picture of the Pope’s blessing, and I added it on the slideshow.