I remember the best day in grade school was field trip day. No matter where we were going, I knew that it was going to be an amazing day. It was a chance to get out of the classroom and learn something new, something real. It was a real change of place.
In Rome, I feel like I’m reliving this piece of my childhood.
My professors are enthusiastic about incorporating the history of the Eternal City into our lessons, discussing and analyzing the history, art, and culture of Rome. On top of all of that, our professors like to include site visits as a part of their curriculum…
On Friday afternoons at Loyola, I usually head back to my room to unwind and relax after a long week of classes, homework, and extra-curricular activities.
Sometimes I have Evergreen meetings to attend, but I traditionally spend a large majority of my Friday afternoons in my room.
My traditional Friday routine was disrupted as soon as I landed in Italy. Instead of staying in my room, I found myself running around the Eternal City, or taking a bus to the train station for a weekend away…
This difference didn’t really hit me until this past weekend when, instead of heading home, my friends and I walked twenty minutes to the Markets of Trajan, which are a part of the Museum of the Imperial Fora. I willingly – and gladly! – trudged down Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, trekked across Piazza Venezia, skirted past Trajan’s Column, scurried up a flight of stairs, and entered the Museum – all on a “lazy” Friday afternoon.
A view of Trajan’s Market from the Forum of Trajan
Roma, the Eternal City, Caput Mundi… whatever you want to call it, that’s where I am right now.
It’s still weird to say after a month and a half, but I’m actually living in Rome. I remember receiving the email from the office of international programs last January confirming that I would be studying in Rome in spring 2017. I never thought this semester would come. But it’s finally here.
Living and studying in Rome is a bit different from a normal semester in Baltimore. Besides the obvious language change, the landmarks in this city are understandably different than what I’m accustomed to at Loyola and in Baltimore…
Some of my friends go past the Colosseum every day on their way to school. Personally, I pass a Claudian-era inscription during my walk each morning. Any time I want to take a bus somewhere, I usually go to Piazza Venezia, meaning I can see Trajan’s Column from my bus stop.
You may not know it’s a thing at Loyola… but it is. I’m proud to say it’s a full-fledged club with all the bells and whistles.
But when I started showing up to play as a first-year student, it was just a group of guys who really enjoyed playing soccer, who would stay at the FAC until it closed.
Pickup Soccer began had started the year before I came to Loyola. A few passionate guys were getting together a couple of nights a week to play soccer on the indoor court at the FAC. It was informal, but competitive and fun.
They eventually created a Facebook group to help organize times and communicate. The numbers were low, but the competition was high. The group had some key figures and it was mainly comprised of club soccer players, male and female, and former high school soccer players who were missing the game in college.
When I came to Loyola, I joined club soccer and intramural soccer before I could figure out how to do laundry. After four years of competitive soccer in high school, I had to keep up with it as much as I could. When winter came around my first year, there weren’t many outlets to play soccer, and I was still trying to meet people, make new friends, and find an outlet for my inner athlete.
Then a good friend of mine (same class year and a fellow soccer player) invited me to come to the FAC one night in January. He said there was a group of sophomore and junior guys who regularly get together to play soccer informally for a couple hours.
Even though I played in an all-men’s league in high school, I’ll admit I was nervous about going…
If they did welcome me, would I even be good enough?
Loyola, through its community of professors, students, and alumni, allows each individual to partake in a unique academic experience, one that converts theory into reality (and vice versa).
I’m studying economics and history… and I read a book last semester that helps me to articulate the complicated and compelling reality of my academic journey.
In his book Economics: The User’s Guide, Ha-Joon Chang, an American economist, academic scholar, and professor, provides two distinct perspectives through which the broad field of Economics is interpreted, studied, and practiced.
“C’mon, Grandma!” I exclaimed impatiently. “Let’s play doctor! Get the toys, Grandma!”
Grandma rushed quickly to gather the necessary materials for the night: stuffed animals that desperately needed proper medical treatment. They would be saved by a five-year-old whose fate may have as well been pre-determined, for I knew exactly how my life would look years from that very moment in the living room …
A physician, curing real people with real problems. And maybe a stuffed animal or two.