While study abroad is an amazing cultural and social experience, it is also really important to remember that school is what brought us here. Being abroad is as great an educational opportunity as it is cultural. I really like having my classes and my internship because I’m forced to structure my time and I feel more productive. I feel more at home because I am going to class and work, rather than having an extended vacation. It’s far less than my workload back at Temple main campus but having classes and work still encourages me to make the most of my time here.
Temple Rome offers a wide selection of classes ranging from gen-eds to major courses. Along with my internship, I’m taking two major courses and an Italian class. My professors all do a great job of making class interesting and enjoyable. In my experience, the grading and attendance policies are fair, and the workload is really manageable. They are generous with time allotted for assignments, as they understand we want time to travel and experience Rome. That being said, I’m still learning a lot in all my classes.
My international business classes are my favorites because they’re my major courses, so I’m already interested in the content. It is a unique opportunity to get to learn about international business in such a diplomatic city. Learning about these things in Europe is different than in the states because the countries are so much closer together here, so international trade and business is closer and more observable.
Another great part about classes here is the small class size. All of my classes are somewhere between 10-20 people. I like small classes because they give you the opportunity to connect with your professor and classmates. It also allows for greater discussion rather than just lecture.
My absolute favorite part about my time at Temple Rome is the excursion I went on with one of my classes. A lot of the classes at Temple Rome offer excursions and I highly recommend trying to get into at least one class with an excursion. Most classes travel somewhere within Italy and some even travel to other countries. It’s a great way to see new places and actually learn about the place you’re visiting. A lot of people travel with friends during their semester abroad but traveling with a professor and a class is a completely different experience. You get an alternative perspective on the place you are visiting, and you learn things that you either could not or would not have done on your own.
I had one excursion this semester with my European Business class. We went to Lyon, France and it was one of my favorite trips all semester. The itinerary was decided ahead of time, something my friends and I never do before travelling, so I kind of knew what to expect. We were given considerable free time around our activities, which were all really fun and interesting.
While in Lyon we had a couple of presentations regarding business and commerce in the city. We learned about the branding and history of the city, which I found intriguing. I was expecting some boring lecture but all of the presentations we had were really fun and interactive. We also got to go on a food tour around a local market and a historical tour around the city. Because of the excursion, Lyon is the city I learned most about (after Rome) during my time here. It remains one of my favorite cities I’ve visited, and I never would have thought to go there on my own. We got plenty of free time where we got to try all kinds of French food and explore the city on our own.
In addition to an educational and cultural aspect, the excursion was a great way to get to know classmates and professors. After this trip, the entire class was a lot more cooperative and open. There was no fear of speaking out in class because we had all spent a weekend together and gotten to know each other a bit. Before the trip, our class was just the professor lecturing and us taking notes. Afterwards, we were a lot more willing to answer questions and offer opinions during class. In addition to being a great experience on its own, the excursion made the class more enjoyable for the rest of the semester.
The excursion made me realize how great the opportunity to study abroad really is–I would never have had the chance to go on a trip like this back home. I got to learn and experience a new city with my classmates, which is not a typical experience at normal American universities. If you get the chance to study in Rome, I highly recommend getting yourself into a class with an excursion. Even if you don’t, the classes here are fun and interesting.