2015 Fall Caitlin Sullivan Temple Rome

Studying and Struggling

The past two weeks have been taxing and stressful, filled with multiple studio critiques and academic midterms. Not to mention a required (and admittedly marvelous) class excursion to Venice to view a staggering amount of contemporary art at the Venice Biennial. My head is still spinning from the quantity of work. However, having to take a break from studying for two Italian midterms and a test in my reading intensive art history course was honestly as daunting as it was exciting. I knew I couldn’t forget about Monday and the tests waiting for me in Rome. My Italian classmate and I studied vocabulary term flashcards, wrote a script in Italian and rehearsed for our oral exam on the train rides between trips. My art history classmates were trying to keep up with readings while on taxi rides, during meals and on the train as well. It was a trying weekend trip in that way, and in general for these past two weeks.

I have been struggling in my Italian class since the second week of fall classes. On my first quiz I received a C+. As a straight A student, that C+ did not feel so great. If anyone reading watches the show, Adventure Time, you may imagine Lemon Grab screaming, “Unacceptable!!!” I am what is described as learning disabled. I am dyslexic, specifically there is a defect with my phonetic decoding process. This makes it nearly impossible to phonetically sound out words or letters to enable reading and spelling. As you may figure this fate makes it very difficult to learn how to read and write in another language. On my second quiz I got a D. That was beyond unacceptable. I didn’t exactly know what to do to fix my problem, but I was pointed in the right direction. I was told to talk to Temple Rome’s Coordinator of Student Life, Hope Campbell Gustafson. I met with Hope and explained the stress and failure I was experiencing in my Italian class.

This initial meeting became a turning for my progress in Italian class. Hope kindly questioned me about my class and how I felt. Once I explained how uncomfortable and stressed out I was over my grades, the learning environment and my utter lack of written sound comprehension, Hope began to devise ways out of the hole I was in.  I work in the academic advising office at Tyler School of Art. We reached out to my boss back at Tyler and Director of Academic Advising, David Logan. As reliable, caring and steadfast as ever, Dave was contacting other offices at Temple and working with Hope in Rome to see what we could accomplish together. The first place we reached out to was main campus’ Disability Resource Services. I had registered with them and submitted my documentation before I came to Rome, but had not received an accommodation letter from them. Dave and a DRS Officer worked to get the ball rolling on my letter. In the meantime Hope urged me to speak with my Italian teacher and let her know of my disability. She also offered to speak with my teacher on my behalf.

I took Hope’s advice and spoke with my teacher about my problems. Fortunately, she was extremely kind. She had never taught a student with my particular set of limitations, so we both did not know exactly how to go about helping me learn and take tests more successfully. It was still rather stressful during this process, but over the following weeks we figured out some patterns and strengths. Hope and I also had a meeting over Skype with the DRS Officer and worked further to make things more official. I finally have my accommodation letter. I was recently informed I earned a 90% on my oral midterm, and I am still waiting to hear what I received on my written midterm, but I’m optimistic. Studying in Rome and studying foreign language, or another subject, can really be tough for some students but Temple Rome has an amazing staff and wants to support you. So when you feel stressed to the breaking point, or better yet before that, ask for help!

They're very necessary , just take them everywhere.
They’re very necessary–just take them everywhere.

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