I hate to admit it, but I believed one of the biggest myths about studying abroad: that it would be mostly play with a little bit of work! Oh boy, was I wrong. Coming into the experience with sixteen credits (five classes), I knew I was going to have a decent amount of work ahead of me, but I believed that because I am studying abroad, the classes would be a piece of cake, so I had nothing to worry about, right?—wrong.
The realization that everyone at Temple Rome has been hit in the face with is that we are still in college. Yes, it may be a surprise to you as well, but it is true, studying abroad still means college, and with college comes seven-page papers, readings that can get a little lengthy, multiple group projects, anxiety-provoking pop quizzes, midterms and final tests. Deep down I knew all of those things still existed, but the hopeful part of me just replaced all of those aspects of study abroad with cups of gelato, trips to the twenty-four hour bakery, walks along the Tiber River, roommate dinners at cute restaurants, and weekend trips around Europe.
That daydream soon ended when I was thrown into my classes. The classes here are kind of different, and can be difficult to get used to at first. For instance, many of my instructors are Italian, and while they speak great English, they can have heavy Italian accents. At times it can be difficult to understand them, especially when they really know their facts and talk very fast, but it is something I got used to within the first week of classes. Also, using power point is not as common here as it is in the States. In practically all of my classes, I simply sit there and scribble down notes as my professors lecture to the class. While the classes might be unlike the ones I take at Temple’s Philadelphia campus, I figured that I could easily adjust to the differences and still be able to continue my never-ending, fun extracurricular activities of exploring and experiencing Italy.
Before I knew it, I had multiple chapters to read for various classes, term papers being assigned and group projects being explained to me (and it was only the second week of classes). It seemed like there was not enough time in a day to do everything that I wanted to do along with everything that I needed to do. The truth of the matter is, in order to succeed not only in my classes, but in the entire study abroad experience, a balance needed to be found. Sometimes I might have to skip the three hour dinner in order to read the fifty-something pages my history teacher assigned me, and other times I need to stay in Rome for the weekend to study for a test.
On the other hand, I do not plan on locking myself in my room studying all evening, either. I’m going to go to the fresh market and practicing the Italian words that I learned in class! I will travel to the places I am learning about in my Italian Sociology class, or my Greek and Roman Mythology class. Instead of socializing during the gaps between my classes, I go into the library to get ahead on the work that I need to do for the next day, so I can go and sing karaoke in the evening with my friends. Like I said, it is all about balance, and I am slowly but surely finding mine.