You know the saying, you never realize what you have until it’s gone? Well such was not the case when I participated in a six-week study abroad program at Temple Rome a little over two years ago. I knew exactly what I had while I was studying Italian and making new friends as we took notes for class on the steps of the Spanish Steps or snacked on clementines in the shade of trees in Villa Borghese. I had a city that was quickly seducing me, making me question all the reasons I hadn’t come sooner.
Temple Rome provided the perfect atmosphere for me to get a true idea of what life in Rome or more generally, life in Italy was all about. It boasts the perfect combination of academics, history, art, language and cuisine as an all-in-one package deal. The students who venture to the campus, located near Piazza del Popolo’s Flaminio station, are diverse in their native backgrounds, course of study and overall interests. Luckily with the many activities offered– walking tours through neighboring cities, Viterbo, Tivoli, Titignano; Italian cooking lessons, open discussions with local Italian students about culture and politics, art exhibitions in Villa Caproni, Temple Rome’s hub; and visits to the theatre, museums and monuments– there was enough to unite us. There are also the many courses offered from Architecture to Art History and the living in the city at the Residence Hall, located not too far from the Vatican, was an experience in itself.
My most fond memory of my experience at Temple Rome was grocery shopping with my roomates and friends for pasta and veggies, each of us determined to master a specific traditional Italian dish. We asked for recipes from the local elderly women who lived near and recorded their directions as best we could. After cooking for about 20 of our friends we sat back, let the warm food settle in our bellies and enjoyed the view of Rome’s center from our balcony.
Yes, I knew exactly what I had as I was able to fully immerse myself into the Roman culture that is so rich and comforting. I thank Temple Rome and its talented, experienced and adventurous staff and professors for providing me the outlet to learn not only about Italy but to learn new things about myself. Now, almost three years since first visiting Rome, I have returned to live and experience a different side of the city more of a local than a visitor. I look back on my experiences, using a map to navigate me to my destinations compared to now how accustomed I am to getting around. The difficulty of trying to communicate in a foreign language is not as evident now but one thing that has remained the same is my absolute admiration for Rome that will not change no matter how many years or miles there are between us.