As I write this, I’m on a bus towards Cinque Terre, a particularly beautiful cluster of Italian seaside towns. And it’s only a part of my journey so far.
Hi everyone! I’m Jessica Xi, junior of Loyola aiming for majors in International Studies and History, and minors in Leadership Studies and Chinese. Above is a picture of my classmates and I – in class! I’m a Ricci Scholar, which means I am studying abroad this semester at our John Felice Rome Campus and next semester at The Beijing Center in Beijing, China, two of Loyola’s biggest overseas campuses. (We also have a popular program in Vietnam, and you can study anywhere else you wish, too!) Why am I spending the year abroad? Well, Ricci Scholars like myself do independent comparative research between the two countries. Mine is on expatriates, while my friend (and current roommate here in Rome) Melissa is doing Korean pop and television, and another Ricci Scholar, John, is studying underground music. Mark and Jacob, the other two, are comparing relics, icons, and religion. You can do really anything!
And ‘doing anything’ doesn’t just apply to the Ricci Scholars Program, but studying abroad in general with Loyola. For example: I’ve been here for a month, and I’ve already been to three different countries, seen the Pope, eaten gelato at LEAST three times a week, and crossed up and down Italy a few times! The Rome Center, or J-Force as we call it, does not schedule classes on Fridays so that students can have longer weekends to roam around wherever they’d like. I’m currently planning a trip to Morocco. Why not?
(Two words: pear. pasta. It doesn’t seem like it would be as delicious as it was, but something about the mixing of flavors… just prime.)
It may be cliche to say, but I love everything here in Rome. From the food, to the sights, to the people and even the classes here. Yes, the classes. I could go on and on about the food and deliciousness that is food, really anywhere I go, but the classes here I think are not always talked about. Let me tell you about my two favorite classes (and food, still.)
HIST 330 – European History from 1900-1945. There’s only three people in this class, including me, but it’s absolutely fascinating because we often have classes ‘on-site,’ which means out in the city. We can see where Mussolini stood to give this and that speech, or where this and that event happened. It brings to life history even more, and I’m a person who already loves history, so nobody had to ask me twice to take this class! Other ‘on-site’ classes include Baroque Art, where students go to museums, former studios, architecturally influenced churches and locations, and so on, as well as Fiction Writing in Rome, where you can see where stories were set, told, and written. And of course the Roman Catholicism course, where students go to important churches and see how they have changed or what they did – or hold.
LITR 248 – Italian Culture: Food and Wine. Yes, Loyola offers a class where we just talk about food all day. I’m a big foodie. I was so happy I got into this class, I almost cried. As you can imagine, it’s quite competitive to get in. We talk about the culinary history and influences of different Italian regions, and taste them all too. These past two weeks were about the red and white wines of Italy, and because our professor knows we are but poor college students, she brings us wines that are a little out of our typical price range to try – and dream about buying someday. Or at least, that’s what I do! We’ve tried breads, cheese, meats, and there’s more to come. I think next week is olive oil, and the week after that coffee, but we shall see. We really do learn things though, I promise, it’s not all just eating. I recently took a trip to a few cities in the Emilie-Romagna region, for example, and now that I knew what to look for, I could see the reason that some of their foods, like piedina or a particular type of cheese, came about, and how food traditions linger on today. Plus, it’s a course in the history of Italy and modern Italy too. After all, the United States is technically older than the country of Italy! Politically.
If I could change anything about my experience so far, it would only be my Italian skill level, which I’m working hard on anyway. So, in sum: I’d change nothing!
The Rome Center is only about a half-hour’s walk to the Vatican, and from there, literally the rest of Rome. I can get to my favorite place, the Pantheon, in about an hour if I dawdle! Although I love to venture out and explore the world, every Sunday evening or Monday morning when it’s time to hurry back for classes, I’m glad to be in Rome again. After all, as they say: Rome is home. I’ll tell you more next week!