I have always been fascinated by human history. It is incredible to think that a mere nine generations ago, America was just gaining its independence from England; 18, Columbus was sailing to the New World; and 65, gladiators were still fighting in the coliseum. As Americans, the concept of time is often lost on us, as our nation is fairly new in comparison to the longevity of other civilizations. That being said, my time in Europe has always been awe inspiring in this way. Getting to walk passed a 1,200 year old cathedral every day on my way to school is nothing short of incredible. However, of all of my travel experiences so far, nothing compares to my trip to Rome. In this week’s post, I’d like to take some time to talk about my experience in the city, my understanding of the Temple program located there, and my new appreciation for its timelessness.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, my girlfriend Jaime was studying abroad at Temple Rome. After having lived there for the whole semester, she knew the city like the back of her hand and was able to give me a real experience of what it was like to be Roman. In addition to just taking me to the most famous attractions, she also showed me the less touristy side of the city. She was even able to get me a guitar for the week and signed me up for an open mic at one of her favorite Irish Pubs. One of my happiest memories of Rome was finding gelato that was safe for me to eat. Because of my nut allergy, I rarely find an ice cream parlor in the states, much less a foreign country, where I can have anything. Together we found not only one gelateria that accommodated for allergies, but two! For future reference, the gelateries were called Giolliti and Fatamorgana. As she could attest to, we ate more gelato in that one week than an average person eats in months.
The other interesting part of my trip was the chance to see another TU abroad program. I personally chose Temple Oviedo for the language immersion, but for many students looking to go abroad, Temple Rome is another great option. Living in a foreign city without a host family is perfect for those looking for independence. Additionally, from what I saw of Temple Rome, the campus has a very similar atmosphere to the Temple I know in Philly. Although I must say that Romans are generally are not as receptive to foreigners as people from Oviedo, it is clear that Temple provides students with all the necessary resources to help them find their home while living abroad.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on what it was like to visit the coliseum and the Roman Forum (the city center of ancient Rome). Coming from the states, I have always had the impression that ancient ruins are removed from modernity, such as the pyramids being located in the desert or the Mayan ruins hidden away in the jungle. I expected the remnants of the Roman empire to similarly be removed from the modern city. However, as I got off the subway to find myself standing right in front of the coliseum, I was amazed. I had truly come to understand just how old Rome was, and for just how long people have been living and dying on the same ground on which I was standing. As we walked through the streets of the Roman Forum, I wondered just how many couples had done exactly what we were currently. No history book, documentary, or college course could ever represent the humanity of history quite like experiencing it for yourself. And although the realization of timelessness of Rome made me feel small by comparison, I felt lucky to just have experienced something so much greater than myself.