Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Classes in Rome

Studying abroad is an amazing experience that gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture and travel to places they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to go to. A large part of studying abroad that is usually overshadowed by the excitement of living in a new and foreign city is actually studying and taking classes. Four classes are offered for the summer in Rome program. This summer there were two English classes and two art history classes. Each student takes two classes for 4.5 credits each. I chose to take Italian Art Since Giotto and Roman Literature and Film, and was lucky that both of these classes fulfilled graduation requirements.
               While I had taken a few art history classes before I went to Rome, I was excited to study specifically Italian art while in Italy. Our class met once or twice a week to go over the textbook readings and to prepare for visits to churches and museums where we would see artwork we were learning about. Having such a small class size enhanced group discussion, which is something I missed during previous art history lectures that were so large. Outside of the classroom we visited all of the major art historical sites in Rome. Some of my favorites were the Bernini fountain in the center of Piazza Navona, Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Caravaggio’s at the Contarelli Chapel, and of course, the Vatican museum with the Sistine Chapel. Having the opportunity to see all of these pieces while we were learning about them was the best part of this course.

Fontana dei Quattro Fuimi by Bernini
Detail of Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Pieta by Michelangelo
The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio
The Roman Literature and Film class turned out to be more work than myself and the other students had anticipated, however, I still found the topics to be very interesting. Again, it was so helpful to be in the city that we were studying. During the four weeks of this course we read ancient texts and watched Gladiator, two versions of Spartacus, and the HBO TV series Rome. Then we would spend a few hours a week discussing the similarities and differences between literature and film. We learned which elements of the films and TV shows were historically accurate and which elements were simply added for entertainment.
               Originally an introductory Italian class was going to be offered but the course was then removed from the list. Anyone who is thinking of going on this program next summer should definitely take the Italian class if it is offered. Most students in the program, including myself, got by with little or no Italian, but knowing the language makes living there a lot easy and more confortable. 

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