My time in Rome, Italy was unlike any other experience I have had in my life. Although I was only there for a month, I felt like it was the perfect amount of time to get a taste of the Italian culture. The IES Rome program helped me learn about a new culture and field of academics. The program was based around the art and history of the Christian faith, an area that I had never thoroughly studied in high school or college. However, the professor for my class made sure that everyone was able to understand the material, whether we had an extensive background in the subject or not. What was also helpful was that we were able to not only see these monuments on a PowerPoint slideshow, but also go and visit places like the Vatican, significant historical churches in the area, and other cities in Italy that were a major part of Christianity’s history. The class was truly insightful and I learned in both a hands on and classroom environment.
The cultural aspect of the program was also enjoyable. I lived in an apartment right in the city, only ten minutes away from the Vatican. I was also able to live with three other students from my college and our fifth roommate was an Italian student who worked with the IES program. It was helpful to have an Italian student with us because if we did not know where to go, needed suggestions on places to eat, or wanted to go and see some of the iconic areas of Rome, he was able to guide us or at least tell us which direction to go. I picked up some Italian phrases along the way and felt comfortable to walk around the city after a little over a week. Being able to immerse myself with the Italian culture was phenomenal and I was not as overwhelmed after I was routinely getting out of my comfort zone. The IES Rome program was a fantastic experience and it was made that much more enjoyable due to the help of the staff around us.