In the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures (MCLL) department here at UTC, a lot of attention is given to the languages that are spoken regularly across the world. Spanish and French take significant amounts of attention. However, in the department, there is a degree program simply titled: Classics. You might be thinking to yourself, “Classics doesn’t seem to fit in with the others, seeing as you cannot speak ‘classic’”. A fair assessment to be sure. However, when exploring the city of Rome one can get an extremely thorough, beautiful, and eye-opening look at just how intrinsic Classics are to our modern world. While not a language degree in the traditional sense, (we still learn Latin as a requirement) through the Classics program, I gained a more significant appreciation walking my way through Rome than I would have if I did not have a basis in that major.
Walking through Rome, I noticed a great many things that I describe as culture shocks. Obviously, there were modern culture shocks about Italy today that threw me for a loop in comparing it to American culture. Along with the modern culture shocks, Rome is unique in my traveling to also exhibit significant classical cultural shocks. An example of a modern cultural shock would be the proliferation and ability to procure a cocktail known as the Aperol Spritz. I am a manager at a movie theater where we operate a bar that serves Aperol spritzes, however, this drink is rarely, if ever, ordered. Alternately, the Aperol Spritz was absolutely everywhere. It seemed like I could walk into a random Bodega and acquire the drink without a second thought. I knew of Italy’s propensity for alcohol to be not as stigmatized as it is here in the States, but the sheer number of places selling this non-sought-after drink was truly astounding to me. However, this culture shock pales in comparison to some of the classical ones I encountered while touring the city. The one that comes to mind is while standing at the grave of the dictator Julius Caesar, which is remarkably still up kept, lay Latin depictions of his achievements in office. With that being so long ago I wonder if when America hits the age that Rome currently is, will we have burial sites of our founding fathers up kept and well-marked? I did find it rather funny that people were still laying flowers at the grave of Julius Caesar to this very day.
It is difficult to write about my experience in Rome. Even now while writing this I’m struggling to find the right words to embody and exemplify the feelings I had walking through the streets of that City. I do not believe writing about Rome gives it the proper respect that that city deserves. If I could paint a picture using the words I write about Rome it would not even be worthy to be hung in their Metro station. To say I enjoyed it is an understatement. To say that the city is beautiful and historic is an understatement. After touring the city and the surrounding areas, I truly believe that Rome is absolutely worthy of study along with the French and Spanish topics in the MCLL department. So, if you’re thinking of majoring or minoring in classics, I wholeheartedly recommend going on this trip. It will change your perspective about not only your degree but also your place in history. Plus, you’ll have an Aperol Spritz right outside your doorway.
Nolan Cicci (BA Philosophy, BA Classics) spent Spring Break 2022 in Rome, Italy as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Nolan had the following to say about study abroad, “Only in Rome can sentences like, ‘Wait, so you’re telling me that where I’m currently standing is where Julius Ceasar was assassinated, and now it’s a wine bar?’ can be said with no sarcasm at all.”
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