Claire Ballor, Rome Correspondent
Since the overwhelming majority of the University of Dallas student population participates in the Rome program, it is easy for students to enter their Rome semester with a presumed understanding of how their experience will be. Before ever setting foot in the Eternal City, each generation of UD students has heard countless stories and seen countless photos of what supposedly awaits it across the water.
The Rome class of fall 2012, however, has realized that nothing can really prepare you for what awaits in Italy. No riveting stories from classes past, no descriptions of the pristine hillside campus, no insight into the beautifully unique Italian culture can prepare future students for what they will find in Rome. Within 24 hours of arriving at the Rome campus, even though very jet-lagged and sleep deprived, we knew that what we were about to start was something far greater than we had ever expected. The moment we set foot into the city, we were immersed in a beautiful new world that somehow boasts the attributes of the modern day while also carefully cradling its ancient past. This world, we realized, we would soon be calling our home as well as our classroom.
We found ourselves at the Vatican in Saint Peter’s Basilica for our first trip as a class. Left to experience the church on our own, we stood overwhelmed at what lay before us. What we found was an epicenter for not only Catholicism, but also architecture, history and art. Our trip to Saint Peter’s did not require a lecture or class in order for us to learn what we needed to. We stood in silence and each learned a different lesson and gained a different understanding than our classmates. Alex Cerza, a sophomore studio art major attending the Rome program, considered his time at Saint Peter’s to be the highlight of his time in Rome thus far.
“The only way to describe it is, ‘overwhelming,’” Cerza said. “The architecture is amazing, the art is unbelievable, and the whole experience is just incredible. Being an art major in this city is a very unique opportunity. I couldn’t think of a better place to be.”
Each student left the Vatican with a different lesson learned and a clearer insight into the purpose and mission of the Rome program. We brought with us to Rome the surprisingly small understanding of the world that we had previously acquired and suddenly it has been broadened, challenged and stretched in ways we never would have expected. I think it is safe to say that the fall 2012 class is ready and eager for the challenges that this semester will present as well as the opportunity for growth that it will provide.
On behalf of this Rome class, we thank the university for this incredible opportunity and we look forward to continuing the tradition of the UD Rome program.