Several graduate and undergraduate students had the chance to immerse themselves in the rich culture of Rome, Italy during the 2019 J-Term. This special, two-week, immersive course combined two separate classes, Exhibition Management and Writing in Rome. The students explored neighborhoods, churches, Pompeii ruins, the catacombs, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and more during their time in Italy. Featured below are a few student testimonials, including a short documentary filmed by student Loryn Eagleson with an original composition by her classmate, Thomas Mcilroy.
Junior, Cinema Art and Science major with Post-Production concentration
“Everyone who has ever traveled abroad has claimed that doing so was life-changing. I am sure that the cliches speak for themselves. Until I went, I didn’t believe them either. But after returning, I feel more confident, experienced, and just plain happier. It wasn’t traveling specifically to Rome that made the difference, but it was having the opportunity and the independence to be alone that far from home. Sure, the pasta was amazing and the sights were breathtaking, but it was fighting to figure out the language/culture that forced me to be a tougher individual. For all that and more, I wouldn’t change my time there for anything.”
Junior, International Arts Management major with Fashion Business minor
“On the second day of our trip, I went to Argentina Square, although it had nothing related to Argentina and I didn’t know why it was named that. The square has the remains of four ancient Roman temples, which dated back to 3rd century BC. Now, it is a cat shelter, a no-kill shelter, because in Italy there is a no-kill law for homeless cats. I saw an old man holding a cat in his arm and another cat in his hood. I was curious at first because the cats looked familiar with him. ‘He might be a resident here,’ I thought. I asked him whether I could take a picture of him; however, he couldn’t understand English, so I pointed my camera and acted as if I were taking a picture. He had no expression on his face, and I was little worried I would make him angry. Then, he slightly nodded, with still no facial expression. I quickly took a picture and went away. I did a sketch on him when I was back in the hotel. I thought our story was over; we were just strangers and met one time.
On the second [to] last day of my trip, I went to the square again. To my surprise, I met the old man again! He was surrounded by cats, and he called the cats’ names genially. I was so excited. I showed him my photo and my sketch. He smiled and said something in Italian, and I assumed it was appreciation. I was happy because he was happy. I asked him with a gesture to hold my sketch, and I took a picture of him. I wanted his signature, but unfortunately, I didn’t have a pen. I expressed my need, and he pointed to the other side of the square. I thought he wanted me to go to the store, but I didn’t know where it was. Then he led me to the other side. He didn’t take me to the store, but we went directly downstairs to the shelter. He was the cats’ father! He and his wife took care of these cats, which explained why the cats were so close to him. His wife knew English and worked as an interpreter. He wrote down his name stroke by stroke and taught me the pronunciation. He also led me into the employee room to show me how they feed the kittens. I loved this interesting experience and feel lucky that I bravely asked at first, otherwise, I won’t have this amazing story.”