Clare Myers, Rome Correspondent
I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze.” This Jack London quote kicked off the spring Rome 2013 semester, and accurately describes its drawing to a close. For most of the students, this time could not be more bittersweet.
“It’s probably the most torn I’ve ever been in my life,” Amy Sullivan said, explaining that she is excited to see her family but adding, “I never, ever want to leave this incredible place.”
For many, the semester in Due Santi has been one of the most memorable times of their lives. The current Romers have had experiences over the past few months that they will never forget. Seeing a pope resign and seeing a pope elected rank high on that list, but those historic events were the chocolate sauce on top of the Frigidarium gelato; the semester has been filled with unforgettable moments. Romers have been camping on a mountain in Assisi and bungee jumping in Switzerland; they have hitchhiked from Budapest to Vienna and been caught in the middle of two rival sides throwing smoke bombs and flares at a Roma-Juventus game.
“I’ve learned to take the good, the bad, the unbelievable and the unfamiliar and to roll with whatever crazy and new experiences life happens to throw at me,” Kenny Waterbury said.
Traveling around Europe has been life-changing for most, but for many, it is difficult not to fall in love with Rome itself.
“I’ll really miss just roaming around the city, eating all the pastries and seeing the pope,” Alex Taylor said. Mike McDermott remarked on the wonders of being able to see not only ancient ruins and beautiful churches, but also Ironman 3 before it was released in the United States.
Others spoke of the semester in more general terms, noting the many lessons they have learned from the time abroad.
“It’s helped me to become more mature and realize who I am as an adult,” Michael Wheadon said. “It’s given me the opportunity to … make my own way in life.”
Many students in the spring are science majors, making the past few months, for them, a complete change in routine.
“This is probably one of the most enjoyable breaks from science that I’ve had in my UD career,” Crystal Purcell said. “I’m definitely going to miss it.”
But more than organic chemistry and labs await the Romers when they return to Irving. They have now become part of the Rome tradition and have lived the common experiences that every past Romer shares. What former Romer cannot fondly recall sprinting from the metro in Anagnina to the bus stop, only to find that the CoTral bus is, of course, ten minutes late? Who could forget walking into St. Peter’s for the first time and being awestruck at its magnificence? Missing trains and drinking wine, chatting with Nino at the Mensa and playing calcio outside on a gorgeously sunny day, dancing at the (only) club in Delphi with the faculty and staff and eating dinner with their families; this is the stuff the Rome semester is made of.
“It’s something the school can’t advertise,” Matt Wise said. “You just have to come experience it.” He summed it up by quoting an old phrase: “It was real, it was fun, and it was real fun.”
It’s a bittersweet farewell to an extraordinary place and an incredible few months, but the Romers will leave with a wealth of experience and memories to keep for the rest of their lives.