The best of both: 2018 fall Rome reflection

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Gabriel Michalak, Alex Kagan, Josephine Pecha, and Catherine Thornton ride the ferry to the Greek island of Hydra. Photo by Patrick Goodman.

The fall Rome class of 2018 has safely returned to Irving. Despite having the comforts of home, some Fromers can no longer enjoy the towering umbrella pines, walks through the vineyard to feast upon its grapes at one’s whim or explore a quiet, winding cobblestone street as they once did in Rome.

The sad truth that their wonderful Rome semester has now passed also stings those upperclassmen who have been to Rome. In fact, the Romers’ return to Irving is often thought of as bleak and disappointing.

Romers are caught in a whirlwind of reminiscence when they are asked “How was Rome?” When a Romer asks, “How was Rome?” what they really mean to say is, “Remind me of something from my semester so that I can reminisce with you,” according to Claire Archer, a 2018 Fromer.

This thoughtful and beautiful inquiry allows every Romer a chance to relive their adventures abroad through conversation.

The Rome experience is challenging to articulate. Despite all its glory, it was often, well, difficult.

So, how did the 2018 Fromers respond to the challenge of the Rome semester?

Some, according to 2018 Fromer Ann Urbanski, developed spiritually to deal with the distance from their family and loved ones.

“[Many had an] awakening religious experience in Rome,” Urbanski said.

“You can feel your growth because you’re coming back to where you used to be a certain person, and you are a different person because of your experience in Rome,” Archer added.

“[My classmates] always tried to live the good life,” said John Cavanna. “Learning about it, growing in it and reading about it. And we just never stopped, and we were always pushing forward.”

It is unsurprising that Dr. Peter Hatlie, Dean and Director of the Rome Program, christened the 2018 Fromers as, “unquenchable,” in his infamous end-of-term speech.

“2018 Fromers were still charitable, cheery and had smiles on their faces despite all the chaos of last semester,” said Regina Lang.

The serious task all Fromers were given following the Rome semester was to continue being “unquenchable.”

Just because it is simpler to “take it easy” in Irving, as the everyday structure is more free than days at Due Santi, don’t expect to see any 2018 Fromers acting like they realize that.

Dr. Scott Crider, the Literary Traditions III professor at Due Santi, gave some important advice to the 2018 Fromers.

He urged them to take full advantage of cities like Dallas and, yes, even Irving. I think his advice encourages all students to reconsider the commonly spoken sentiment, “Irving is nothing compared to Rome.”

Yes, our home of Irving is, indeed, nothing like Rome. However, this also means that Rome is nothing like Irving.

Hiding behind the fact that Irving cannot rival Rome in its historical significance, artistic beauty or tradition causes us to miss out on adventures that are just waiting to be found, no matter where we may reside.

“The Art Village woods are really nice to stroll through, the little bits and pieces of hills we have on campus … the rocky Mall … they are kind of peaceful,” reflected Rachel Gernhardt.

The Art Village woods are not Rome’s famed Borghese gardens, our hills are not the seven hills of Rome and the Mall is not St. Peter’s Square, but I think Rachel’s attitude toward our quirky campus is valuable.

So come on, meet the 2018 Fromers, and never stop asking them, “How was Rome?”

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