I first dreamed of going to Rome as a freshman in high school when I took my first Latin course. I imagined walking through the Coliseum after reading the words of Juvenal, seeing the forum where Caesar stood, and standing on the same stones where the Romans walked. By my sophomore year of college, I imagined that dream would have to wait. Then, my professor told me about the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome and I learned that I could still apply for my senior year.
As soon as I got back to my room, I looked at the program and knew that it would be an unforgettable experience. When I got my letter of acceptance, and the notice of the scholarship money that would make my enrollment possible, I was beyond thrilled. It didn’t feel real that I would get to not only visit Rome but also study Latin and ancient history for an entire semester at such a prestigious center. I don’t think it truly sank in until I zipped up my suitcase, left for the airport, and said goodbye to my father before walking through security and boarding my plane.
I expected, as much as I was able to know what to expect, an amazing and stimulating academic environment. The professors were engaging and devoted to our success and our holistic experiences, making sure that our learning environment was also suited to our needs. I put on a play with my Petronius class in Campania, stood on Monte Casino at sunset, gave a presentation in the middle of ancient Pompeii, and stood on a hilltop theater in Sicily looking at the entire island spread below me. I learned more about the physical remains and logistics of the ancient world than I ever had in a course before, and was able to do so with other students that I was quickly able to call my friends.
While it is impossible to pick a favorite aspect of the program, I cannot write a complete discussion of ICCS without mentioning all of the friends that I made. I met Classics students that I was able to share my passion for the ancient world with, make nerdy jokes with across the streets of Italy, and make friendships that have already lasted beyond the timeframe of the program. I already have plans to reunite with the friends that I met abroad, and will never forget our shared experiences in Italy. From the gelato and suppli runs to soccer games and movie nights, I cannot express how deeply my time with so many amazing people has impacted my career as a student and my appreciation for Classics. The ancient world has never seemed more alive than when I was with my fellow students, listening to lectures while looking at the structures the ancient Romans left behind for us to learn from and appreciate.