Ciao, amici! My name is Anna Hudgeons and I spent a month of my summer studying abroad in Rome, Italy. Although my major is industrial engineering, I decided to vary my experiences by enrolling in an art lecture/art history course and a basic photography course while in the beautiful city of Roma. From May 27th to June 27th, I expanded my academic and cultural horizons by attending the University of Arkansas Rome Center located in the heart of one of the oldest palaces in Rome, Palazzo Taverna. One cannot visit Roma without falling in love with the city and I am no exception! Please enjoy this photographical story of the amazing experience I had in Italy. Andiamo:
1. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Italy, I was enamored by the city. There was an intangible quality in the Roma atmosphere that made me immediately feel at home in a place that was extremely different than any other I had experienced before. In fact, I firmly believe that the profound history and the immense beauty of Rome inspired me to excel in my art and photography courses.
2. Although Italy is now my favorite place in the world, I definitely would not have had the same study abroad experience without these wonderful people. I went to Rome knowing only one person and came back with a multitude of friends! We studied for classes together, tried new and sometimes unidentified foods together, and just survived in a foreign country together. I am very excited to see these guys again on the U of A campus next fall! Friends photo outside the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere courtesy of Joe Burns (who is a friend not pictured here).
3. Rome is a city full of rich culture and intriguing history. One of the great things about my study abroad was that I was able to explore Roma’s past through various site visits scattered throughout my time there. We had fantastic tour guides lead us through awe-inspiring places like the Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum. It was mind-blowing to learn all about a piece of art or history from a tour guide or a teacher and then to actually see that piece in person!
4. Beginning Photography was one of the two classes I completed while in Rome. We started off by learning about the basics of a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera such as “where is the ON switch?” From there, we were introduced to the technical and conceptual elements of photography. For instance, I learned how the composition, point of view, focus, intent, and even emotional connection of a photo can impact how both the photographer and the audience perceive the picture. Half of our classes were spent in the classroom discussing and critiquing photos while the other half were spent on planned excursions into the city to find different subjects to photograph! Picture of Anna doing photography homework by Tayler Trantham.
5. Gelato is its own category of food! As one of Europe’s delicacies, gelato has stolen my heart. As opposed to ice cream, gelato is made with mostly milk, is denser and slower to melt and is served a tad bit warmer. With this in mind, we convinced ourselves that eating gelato was actually healthier than ice cream and in turn visited numerous gelato shops in the city on a consistent basis. No shame! Photo of a gelato run courtesy of Bailey Pearson.
6. I don’t know that I could have studied art history in a better place than Italy. I got to witness firsthand historical masterpieces such as “The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo, “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli and “The Madonna with the Long Neck” by Parmigianino. Seeing hundreds of gorgeous, antique artworks made me really look forward to learning all about them in art history class! For example, comparing Michelangelo’s, Donatello’s and Bernini’s Davids became pretty fun whenever I got to see all of them in person! Pictured left is Donatello’s “David” and right is Michelangelo’s.
The student housing was in the Trastevere section of Rome, which is really an older and quainter part of the city. This location was fantastic for catching glimpses of the non-tourist part of Roma! However, one part that really surprised me about Trastevere was the amount of graffiti that graced every street corner and apartment building. Normally, I would say that graffiti is trashy and unappealing, but in Trastevere almost seemed like decoration. There were pieces of graffiti that almost seemed like artwork rather than vandalism, and it felt like the Italian population in Trastevere has blended it into their everyday culture. Although it was a stark contrast to the glittering streets of tourist Rome, I quite enjoyed the subtle beauty of Trastevere’s ornamentation. “Graffiti and I” photo captured by Joe Burns.
7. In my study abroad program, we had classes from Monday to Thursday and weekends from Friday to Sunday. One of my favorite weekends was the group trip to the beautiful city of Florence! We spent three days visiting amazing places like the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Medici Chapels. We were blessed with a fantastic tour guide who explained all the historical aspects of this amazing place! Although it was a non-stop weekend, I loved every minute of it! Florence really is the beautiful flower, Firenze. Here is a photo I took of the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s many bridges.
8. As a whole, Italians are extremely friendly people. Most Romans are content to sit back and enjoy life and good food. Many of the younger people speak English very well, and we rarely ran into any kind of language barrier. In fact, many Italians love to sit down and talk about your life, their life, and anything in between! While out exploring Trastevere, we discovered a man who, whenever he found out that we were Americans, told us all about how his grandfather met President Truman (pictured).
9. Considering Rome’s relationship and vicinity to the Vatican City, it was not surprising that there were a multitude of traditional Catholic churches in the city. Although most of us were not Catholic and none of us spoke fluent Italian, we decided to attend various Catholic services while in Italy. It was an amazing experience to get to actually participate in another culture and to appreciate another people’s passion for their religion. This photograph is of a man worshiping in Santa Maria’s Basilica in Trastevere.
10. Most people don’t take the time to see beauty in the little things in life. I know I don’t back home. During this study abroad adventure, I decided to embrace all the new and different things about Italy and to find joy in the little things in life. Whether I was trying an unpronounceable item on the menu or running through a flock a pigeons to see if they would scatter or not (caught on camera by Joe Burns), I simply enjoyed my time abroad. Although it makes me sad that this once-in-a-lifetime experience has passed, I am content with knowing that I lived life in Italy to the fullest. I cannot be more thankful that I had this amazing study abroad experience, and I am excited to apply what I have learned to my life back home! Arrivederci, Roma!