It’s the big question freshmen ask here at the University of Dallas: “Should I go to Rome in the fall or spring?”
While most are debating which Rome class to join, some students are asking whether they should go to Rome at all. I was a member of that group my freshman year.
I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the debate was a difficult one.
So many people see the Rome semester as a vital component of UD’s Core curriculum, and some even come to UD because of the Rome program. But sometimes, it simply doesn’t work out.
For those who are unable to go to Rome for one reason or another, I want to reassure you that you can still get the full “UD experience.”
That’s not to say that studying abroad doesn’t have its obvious advantages. Senior Mary Bond described the moment when everything seemed to click.
“I was sitting on a mountain in Greece, and someone was giving a talk, and suddenly everything we had been learning just flowed together,” Bond said.
“You’re learning Lit Trad, theology, philosophy, Art and Arch. … and history. You’re learning about the same time period but from a different perspective … from that different school of thought.”
Everyone seems to come back from Rome having formed close-knit relationships. Who wouldn’t, after spending a semester communally suffering through sleepless nights the day before exams or paper due-dates because you just returned from some poorly-planned, last-minute trip to a random country?
I remember when my classmates came back from their fall semester in Rome. Students had this bond that I felt I didn’t share, and people constantly recounted the great and not-so-great experiences from Rome.
But, if you’re like me, and you weren’t able to go to Rome, don’t feel as though your education has suffered.
Yes, physically being in the places where everything you’ve been studying took place helps you achieve that “aha” moment, but it’s not essential for you to get to that point.
“I think [the Rome semester] made me more receptive, sooner, to the education here,” senior Clare Basil said. “I think I still would have been formed in the same way by the education here, it just might have taken more time to be open and aware of the education.”
The Core classes are designed to flow from one to the other, even if you don’t take them in the “right order.” They also seem to tie right into the courses you take for your major, which was a surprise to me as a biology major.
I’ll never forget the spring semester of my sophomore year when I was taking Philosophy of the Human Person, a course taken in Rome by those who attend, and Physiology, a biology course. In philosophy, we were reading Thomas Nagel’s “Mind and Cosmos,” in which Nagel highlights the phenomenon that consciousness is. I was able to relate the philosophical component of consciousness to the physiological components of the brain — a connection I wouldn’t have made had I gone to Rome and not taken those two classes at the same time.
If it’s not that you feel you’ll be lacking academically by not going to Rome, but that you’ll miss out of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I can’t comfort you there. The Rome program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You won’t, however, miss out on forming incredible friendships.
In the same way that appreciating the connections within the Core curriculum might take a little longer if you don’t go to Rome, forming those strong relationships with your classmates might also take more time. But the wait is worth it.
I appreciate the fact that not going to Rome has allowed me to form friendships with both the Fromers and Spromers. I’ve noticed that many friend groups are formed around which Rome class people were in, so in this way, I feel as though I am at an advantage. I was able to grow close to both sides of my class.
So, yes, I do sometimes regret not being able to participate in the Spromer vs. Fromer rivalry, but who says the competition has to be limited to two competitors?
Let’s spice up the competition and throw the Nomers into the mix.