This trip was not my first experience in Italy. I visited with my family in 2017. Since I had been before, the initial culture shock many feel during their first time abroad was not as strong for me. However, this allowed me to soak in the culture, art, and architecture much more than the first time I visited. Out of the many places we visited, the locations that stood out to me the most involved archaeology and architecture. On the 6th day of our journey in Rome we visited Gabii, an old abandoned city currently being excavated. I have always been fascinated with archaeology and ancient cities. Seeing an active archaeological dig site was an inspiring and surreal experience. Being able to explore not only where the citizens of Gabii once lived, but also where archaeologists are currently working was so unique and exciting.
Another location that inspired and will continue to stick with me was St. Peter’s basilica. The massive columns and large scale architecture was breathtaking. St. Peter’s is capped with a huge dome, which visitors can climb up to if they are brave enough to trek the more than 500 stairs to the top (many of which are an enclosed spiral staircase less than an arm’s length wide.) Those who suffer with claustrophobia need not attempt. The inside of the basilica was immaculate. Each inch of the building had an amount of detail that is unseen in modern architecture.
Another thing that stood out to me in Rome was the first museum we visited. The Galleria Borghese is an art museum inside what used to be the villa for Cardinal Scipione Borghese to house his impressive art collection. Specifically, I enjoyed seeing the works by the artist Caravaggio. Boy With a Basket of Fruit is a beautiful baroque painting by Caravaggio that was a highlight of the visit. Inside were a number of other exquisite sculptures and works of art. In the United States, hearing a work of art is from the 1800s is shocking, however, this museum alone was built in the 1600s. The architecture and art we saw in Rome were so old, it was hard to fully comprehend.
If I were to speak to a potential study abroad student, there are some things I think they would benefit from knowing. One is that you don’t get free refills of soda in Italy. But, on a more serious note, don’t over pack, bring comfy shoes, be open to new things, and only sleep when you have to. You can rest when you get home! It will be an experience you will never forget.
I decided to participate in this study abroad program because I simply love Italy- its history, food, art, and architecture. As a senior here at University of Tennessee Chattanooga, I knew I should take advantage of this opportunity to study abroad since it was affordable and well planned. It is an experience that I would encourage and recommend to any and all students who have the opportunity to do so.
Robbie Lopez (BS Interior Architecture) spent Spring Break 2022 in Rome, Italy as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Robbie had the following to say about study abroad, “Studying abroad in Rome ignited my passion for exploring new cultures. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience new art, food, people, and architecture. I would heavily encourage studying abroad to anyone considering it.”
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