Tag: study abroad

General Update + Weekend

It’s been a week since my last post about Rome – nothing too significant has happened. Last Wednesday for Arch 528 (Italian design) we visited Richard Meier’s Ara Pacis Museum which currently has an exhibit on Italian industrial design. In lecture beforehand we discussed how many everyday consumer products came about through integrating designers into production. Quite interesting.

Friday in the morning was the weekly urban history walk – we stayed fairly close to studio in the Field of Mars area and visited the Crypta Balbi Museum. Our professor / guide Linda emphasized how this area in Rome has essentially been continuously inhabited since the beginning, contrary to common belief that Rome was near deserted during the middle ages. Rome did lose political significance in the Roman Empire with Constantine making a new capital Constantinople (Istanbul), but the city itself still remained largely intact.

Saturday I did a little bit of shopping on Via del Corso before the national saldi (sale) ends. On Sunday Jamin and I went to church and met more interesting folks during coffee following the service. We talked to Peter and Carmella from Australia, a friendly older couple that work on organizing Bible fellowships. Peter asked me how big my church was at home, having heard of the large new churches we have in America. Afterwards Jamin and I went out for lunch with Sooba at his favorite Chinese restaurant. It was quite good and inexpensive too.

This week now is a bit of a transition point in the semester. The Italian language course concluded today with a final exam, and Monday was our last former drawing session. Today we had an introduction to studio and a tour of the Jewish Ghetto area (our neighborhood by studio) with a guide from the Jewish Museum of Rome, located at the synagog. This area has an incredible and dynamic history from ancient Rome up through the 20th century. We have already learned much about this area from urban history (Jan’s lectures) as well as the Italian design course. For studio we are doing four short week-long projects, focusing on this area through the four elements (earth, wind, fire, water), to be followed by a larger final project.

On Thursday and Friday we have a class trip to Perugia, followed by a three day weekend. I am going with three others up to Norway. We are flying to Oslo early Saturday morning, taking “the best train ride in Europe” to Bergen on Sunday, flying back to Oslo Monday morning, and back to Rome Monday night. It should be a fun week of traveling – I’m looking forward to seeing more of Italy outside of Rome and especially excited for Norway.

Spring in Rome

I arrived in Rome earlier today (Thursday) for a semester study abroad with about 55 other students from my class. We are staying in apartments in the middle of the city and the College of Design has studio space just across the river at Piazza delle Cinque Scole. The semester goes till the end of April, after which I plan to travel about 10 days and return home from London on May 11.

My flight schedule began in Cedar Rapids and went through Detroit and Amsterdam on the way to Rome. All my layovers were quite short, but Detroit and Amsterdam both have very nice airport facilities. I landed at Rome’s Fiumicinio Airport a little past noon today. The view coming in for the landing was like a painting, seeing rolling meadows spotted with old cottages along the sea line. The airport, at least the part I experienced, was quite unimpressive. My plane did not pull up to a gate, rather we exited far way on the tarmac and took a bus to baggage claim.

I met a couple of my classmates and we took a taxi into the city to our apartment to check in. The ride was a great first look around the city. Most of our apartments, including mine, are in a former convent, now housing study abroad student apartments as well as those for the general public. In the middle is a great courtyard. Every corner there seems to be another nook or passageway to discover. We found a stairwell up a roof top terrace, complete with kitchen and a terrific view of the surrounding city.

I look forward to spending the next four months in Rome, learning and exploring through studio and classes, as well as getting to understand the city. It is an incredible change from the normal urban arrangement in America and the term “old” takes on a whole new meaning. Almost everywhere is remnants of past centuries. The interaction between these ancient structures and and new infrastructures for a modern polis is fascinating.

I hope to post much more as I get to know the city better and report on my work in studio and other explorations. I started a new “Rome” category that will contain all these relevant posts to come. Ciao.


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