Motivated by a need to go somewhere I have never been, and to learn something new, I applied to go to Rome this past January. It was easily one of the best decisions of my entire life.
After completing a week of online course work, those attending the trip met at Logan Airport. Most of us didn’t know anyone outside of a few Sakai forum posts and responses, but we all bonded over our midterm, which we took in the airport, and our first flight to Switzerland. About nine hours, two flights, and a six-hour time difference later, we landed in Rome.
Over the next seven days, I got to see and experience some of the most astounding sights I ever thought I would see. It is hard to put into words the feelings I got while walking through Roman ruins, seeing the huge columns that once held up temples to the Roman gods, or standing before the still-standing Colosseum, the main hub for Roman entertainment.
It was incredible that 2,000 years of history was surrounded by modern day buildings and roads, Buildings like the Pantheon, my personal favorite, which was once a Roman temple, now turned church, were just casually sitting in the middle of houses, shopping areas, and restaurants.
Many of the girls, myself included, loved our Lizzie McGuire moments in front of the Trevi Fountain and at the Villa D’Este in Tivoli. We got to go to the Vatican and see the art collection of the Popes. We saw the famous Sistine Chapel that is so much more beautiful than any textbook picture.
Having seen it in books, and online, and then actually being inside of the chapel and seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in person was unbelievable. If you’ve ever watched the Pope give a speech and seen all the people in St. Peter’s Square, well, we were there.
Two of my favorite places that we visited were the San Sebastián Catacombs and, Herculaneum. While the catacombs weren’t covered in bones as I had expected, seeing the dug out graves and broken marble of the headstones underground was incredible. The amount of work that went into digging the system of tunnels for the graves was unbelievable.
Herculaneum, a city frozen in time by the same eruption that ended Pompeii, hit me the hardest, because only 20 percent of it is uncovered. The other 80 percent is still buried, frozen in time under the modern day version of itself. Just think of all the art, all the history, all the secrets that are buried under the ground. Though another part of why Herculaneum was one of my favorites was because we got to eat some of the best pizza on the side of Mount Vesuvius.
I learned a lot getting to study in Rome. I am unbelievably happy I got to see all the history it holds, but, besides the fact it was Rome, what made the trip amazing for me was the people I got to go with.
The 13 other students, our Teaching Assistant, our professor, and the few tour guides that helped us along made it so much better.To them I want to say thank you for making that trip an unbelievable experience. You made the hard parts better, like getting stuck in Switzerland for a night and waiting three hours for our bags, and the best parts amazing.
To anyone in my situation, I encourage you to look at a J-Term trip. It was the experience of a lifetime put into nine amazing days abroad. If you are on the fence about travelling with abroad with a bunch of strangers, I can promise you that you won’t regret it.