Studying abroad is, of course, an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s so much fun to live in a foreign country, and explore everything the city has to offer. Also, it’s exciting to try different food, experience a different culture, and travel all over Europe. But wait, I think I might be forgetting something… oh yeah, the “studying” part!
That seems to happen with most students who study abroad, even myself. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the reason I’m here at Temple Rome is for school! It’s very easy to get distracted while studying in Rome, let alone in any foreign city. There’s so much to see and discover- I’ve been here for almost three months and I STILL haven’t seen everything in Rome. Also, I came here with the intention of traveling to many different places across Europe. However, this became difficult to actually do, because of a few reasons: Time (I only have 15 weeks here!), money, and schoolwork.
Of course any student studying abroad wants to take advantage of where they are. But it’s VERY important to remember that the reason that you’re here is for school. I believe that Temple Rome does a great job with combining schoolwork and exploring Rome, as well as other parts of Italy and Europe. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, some of my classes meet on site once a week. That is, our class will meet at a church or a piazza instead of in a classroom. This is a great way to be physically engaged in what you’re learning about. Instead of looking at a projected image, you’re face-to-face with the actual subject. Also, some of my classes had weekend field trips, which was an amazing way to learn, especially since you have your professor with you. My two art history classes traveled to Naples and Florence, and I know of other classes that were able to travel to places as far as Belgium and London!
But as the semester is nearing an end, I have to focus less of my attention on traveling and leisure time and more attention on preparing for my finals. Truthfully, my semester in Rome has been one of my more difficult semesters. It’s true that the professors acknowledge that you’re studying abroad, and they want you to take advantage of traveling to other places and learning more about European culture. However, college is college, and there is no easy way out. Many students claim that a semester abroad is a piece of cake, but as for myself, I’ve had a lot of work this past semester.
Now don’t get me wrong- having a lot of work here has not taken away from my experience one bit. In fact, I think that it’s better that this is the case. It keeps me focused on my priorities and keeps me motivated. Many assignments and papers for my classes involve me going out and exploring Rome, so it’s not like I’m trapped in my apartment all the time. I work hard during the week, and then I am able to spend my free time on the weekends exploring Rome and Europe.
So for any future study abroad students that are reading this post – as well as parents – remember that this opportunity isn’t a vacation! Sometimes it may feel like it, especially when you’re relaxing on a sunny spring afternoon in the Borghese Gardens (like I did yesterday!). You’ll be absolutely spoiled studying abroad- the culture, the food, the experience. And you’ll find that you’ll learn so much, in school and outside the classroom.