During spring break of 2022 I was granted the opportunity to partake in a study abroad trip backed by the Modern and Classical Language and Literatures department to Rome, Italy. As a classics major, history nerd, and over-all lover of mythology I naturally jumped at the opportunity and ended up taking the trip of a lifetime. The program itself was led by Professor Michael J. Colvin whose classes I had taken previously during my time in university and I could not have asked for someone more qualified to be our chaperone and guide. Some of the most striking and memorable places we visited were the ancient ruins of Ostia and Gabbi, the Roman Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Vatican and Borghese museums, as well as many restaurants, parks, and shops.
A typical day during my time abroad would go roughly as follows. We would arise between six and seven AM, eat breakfast, and gather in the lobby of the hotel to meet up with our guide and translator Giuseppe and head out into the day. We would then travel by underground metro or bus to our activities for the first half of the day. Usually, the day’s beginning activities included visiting a museum and several landmarks before the group would break for lunch. After eating for an hour or so we would reconvene at a preset landmark and begin to travel through the activities and landmarks which we would visit until somewhere around six or seven PM. At this point Giuseppe would bid us farewell for the day and we would have the rest of the night to ourselves to explore, eat, shop, and act like tourists.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable nights I had occurred in the middle of my trip. I, my partner who was on the trip with me, and some of our new friends in the group decided after dinner and some fantastic wine that we were in the mood to see some live music. We had been toying with the idea earlier in the day and had asked Giuseppe and our lunch waiter where the best place might be. They pointed us in the direction of a small jazz club on the outskirts of the Vatican not far from our hotel and we made our way there. Upon arriving we entered into a frighteningly small bar area which was composed of 3 small tables and the bar only, and were worried that we had gone to the wrong place as there seemed no room for live music. After speaking with the singular bartender however, we were led up a small back staircase to a second floor which we were delighted to discover was a large attic-like room with a small stage area at the far end. Covering the area between us and the stage were an assortment of lounge sofas, booths, and dining tables with chairs filled with people eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves. We were led to a sectional modular sofa near the stage, on which were arrayed an assortment of instruments including a piano, saxophone, drum set, and trumpet.
After making ourselves comfortable and ordering a few drinks, a trio of Italian men approached the stage and began to set up with various instruments. One man took the drums, another a trumpet, and the third picked up a tenor saxophone. They then launched into one of the best live performances I have ever had the privilege of seeing. They played a fully improvised jazz set lasting about an hour and a half with no breaks and my attention never drifted to anything else. I had been to live jazz performances in the past but there was something different about the way these musicians played. It had a twang to it that I had never before heard. Their performance concluded with a ten-minute drum solo which was so energetic and so moving that myself and many other patrons leaned closer and got out of our seats in full vibe of the music. Once the musicians had finished and taken their bows our group scrambled to praise them as they wove their way through the crowd, and in doing so realized that if we did not leave immediately, we were going to miss the last metro to the hotel. Once we had gathered ourselves, we exited the jazz club and made our way to the hotel for the best rest I had gotten since arriving in Italy.
River Pelton (BA Classics) spent Spring Break 2022 in Rome, Italy as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. River had the following to say about study abroad, “My time studying abroad in Rome Italy helped me contextualize what I had been learning in my classics courses and gave me a new perspective on my area of research. as a classics major and ancient history nerd I could not have asked for a better experience aside from time traveling to ancient Rome itself.”
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