Unexpected Encounters During Class

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…

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The Uffizi: Encountering the Masters

Have you ever seen the following image?

Boticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” c. 1480; Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

I’m sure you have, probably in a textbook or on the Internet or a poster in a cafe.

But what would you do if you had the chance to see this masterpiece in person?

If you’re a nerd like me, you’d rush to see it. So that’s what my friends and I did while we were in Florence one weekend (among other things).

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From the classroom to the Forum

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.

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A view of Trajan’s Market from the Forum of Trajan

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About Messina

I still remember the excitement rushing through my veins as I opened a folder labeled “Loyola University Maryland,” wondering whether my fate was sealed in a single brief letter from the office of admission.

“Congratulations!” I read, continuing to skim the letter, “I am delighted to offer you early admission to Loyola University Maryland.”

My heart rate accelerated. Body heat escaped. Vision blurred. I stood with the letter in my hands, attempting to figure out next steps.

As a high school senior, I thought, “I’ve made it!” All I needed to do now was confirm my acceptance, purchase books, and register for classes…

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Why am I learning?

I am starting to find it fascinating how different a student’s attitude towards academics can be, depending on his or her environment, which either dictates exposure to the significance of knowledge—or simply deviates from the holy grail of education.

Mostly every college student with exposure to university standards may testify to a grand distinction between what is known as K-12 or “common” education and “university” academics.

While in most contexts, “education” and “academics” may coexist as synonyms, in the setting of the topic, the objective of which is to uncover the hidden polarity of such concepts, the two nouns are light-years apart.

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