Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ella in Rome

Hi everyone!
I’m Ella Porter, a junior HDFS major with a concentration in Child, Youth, and Family Development and a minor in Classical Studies. This summer, I spent four weeks in Italy studying abroad as part of the UNCG in Rome program. During the time I was in Italy, I got to visit many historically and culturally important sites in both Rome and Naples while learning about the architecture, culture, history, and impact of the people and places in Rome, from ancient times to the modern-day. It was kind of unbelievable for me, being in Rome and in Italy every day, walking all around the city and having so much time to explore it, especially since traveling to Italy, in general, has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember!
Visiting St. Peter's Square on my first day in Rome
This is my dragon, Aurora! I named her after the Roman goddess of dawn.

Rome is such a fascinating city because almost everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by the modern city, and all of the businesses, restaurants, shops, traffic, graffiti and so on that entails, but you’re simultaneously surrounded by all of the thousands of years of history that exists in Rome by way of ancient ruins, monuments, and sites. It can make your head spin a little, seeing a grouping of ancient temples right in the middle of a city square. In Naples, it seemed to me that the ancient sites were further away from the city and not quite as intertwined with it as they were in Rome. However, both cities were home to some amazing sites and museums!
 In the Colosseum

While I genuinely enjoyed every place I was able to visit during my time in Italy, the highlights for me were probably visiting the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum, Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius. The Colosseum is such an integral symbol of Rome. It’s amazing how much history it contains, and I will never forget the wonder I felt standing inside it and looking into the arena. The Vatican Museum is so huge that I wasn’t able to view all of the art and exhibits, even though I was there for hours. I absolutely love art, so much that at one point I seriously considered majoring in art history, so I was incredibly excited to visit the Vatican Museum, and I was not disappointed. It was so cool getting to see famous artworks like Raphael’s School of Athens fresco and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, and I was also happily surprised to find works by van Gogh, Matisse, and Edvard Munch in the museum as well. Pompeii was a surprise for me because it was such a larger site than I was anticipating. I was also surprised at how much of the ancient city was still intact – you could still see roads, walls from houses, and the ruins of buildings and temples, so you could really get a sense of what it was like living in Pompeii in ancient times. Of course, you can’t really talk about Pompeii without also talking about Mount Vesuvius. I knew I wanted to be able to make it all the way to the top of the hiking trail on Mount Vesuvius, but I also knew it was going to be very difficult for me, as I am most definitely not a hiker and the trail was pretty steep. Getting to the top was quite the struggle for me, and honestly was probably the hardest thing I had to do during my time in Italy, but I am so proud of myself for pushing through and getting to the top anyway. The view was absolutely incredible and worth the hike.
Pompeii's Forum

On top of Mount Vesuvius!

At the beginning of my study abroad experience, I was pretty nervous. I wasn’t sure if studying abroad was the right thing for me. I had never traveled by myself or even really been out of the country before this trip. Plus, I didn’t know how I would deal with culture shock or the language barrier. It helped that my trip was faculty-led because I didn’t have to figure everything out on my own, but even so, there were moments that were confusing and hard for me, and I had to step out of my comfort zone. However, the experience of studying abroad really allowed me to grow as a person, become more independent and confident, have the trip of a lifetime, and make a long-held dream come true! I’m so glad I studied abroad this summer.