This summer, 2018, students who were SPC early college, dual enrollment, early admission and/or collegiate high school studied in Italy! The high school students were asked to highlight their experience by focusing on what they learned and the Italian culture!
High School student Alyssa Rhame shares her experience:
“It wasn’t my first time flying internationally, but I still got nervous. Planes make me anxious and as I knew, I was flying over the ocean, my anxiety heightened. However, everything was fine and there was no reason to be scared. After the flight, we immediately went to St. Peter’s Square to see and hear the Pope’s sermon. The square was extremely beautiful and enlightening. Unfortunately, I did not understand Pope Francis but I could tell his words were affecting the other people at the square. The sermon and St. Peter’s square made me feel small, but I still felt that I was part of something bigger. Although I am not a religious person, I would recommend attending one of Pope Francis’ sermons to anyone.
Later, we went to the hotel, everyone was extremely nice, and the room was great. I took a nap and then went to dinner. At the restaurant, we were given an appetizer, pre-pasta dish, pasta, and dessert. It was a lot of food and it was all fantastic (although I had to get used to the hard pasta, because in the U.S. we cook it all the way)! After dinner, we went to explore and the view was beautiful. Personally, I think Italy is more beautiful at nighttime.
Day 2 & 3
I was excited when I woke up to go to the Coliseum and learn about the emperors of Rome. As we were walking around the Coliseum it amazed me how the Romans were able to create such an amazing piece of architecture. The tour guide explained the material and history of the Coliseum. After the Coliseum, we went and explored places the emperors lived. It was weird knowing I was stepping and walking the same floor and steps Augustus did all those years ago. I loved all the stories the tour guide told us about Augustus and the reasons why he didn’t want an extravagant house and how he wanted to be apart of the people instead of looking down on them. Learning about the Emperor Nero is always fun because his life is, honestly, a soap opera in real life. Furthermore, we also visited the place where Julius Caesar and St. Lawrence died. Although Julius Caesar died in a different location, it was heartwarming to see all of the gifts given to him. St. Lawrence’s death was heart breaking and I felt bad that he died over his beliefs, but he was not the only one. At least he died believing in his faith until the very end.
Then, we went to the Basilica di San Pietro and that was extremely beautiful. I believe this was the first church we went into during the trip. On day three, we climbed St. Peter’s Basilica’s dome and it was a workout! The view was worth the 500+ steps we did, and we went to the Castle of St. Angelo after that. On a final note, this was also the first time I tried Gelato!
Day: 4 & 5
On day four, we had some free time, I tried potato pizza, and as someone who absolutely hates pizza, I thought it was good. After lunch, we went to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It was short but it was nice learning about what goes into helping get rid of world hunger. World hunger is the cause of many problems and if we were to solve that, many people would not suffer. I did not take any pictures because I did not want to disrespect any of the workers or take a picture of something I was not supposed to. However, we did go to the top of the building and had a great view of the Coliseum and Castle of St. Angelo. We went back out in the evening to explore and we rode a carousel.
Day: 6 & 7
Day six we went to the Vatican Museum. There was architecture and art everywhere. Personally, I like paintings more than sculptures, but they were all so beautiful and the fact most of them were just decoration pieces amazes me. My favorite part of the Vatican was the St. Chapel. I wish we were allowed to take pictures, but it was amazing and that would be my top recommendation for anyone visiting Italy. Moreover, Dr. Stark showed me that there was a depiction of the devil in the St. Chapel and it was surprising that Michael Angelo would get away with that. On that note, Michael Angelo was so petty!
On day seven, we went to the Jewish Ghetto and learned about their culture in Italy and the horrible conditions they lived in before the holocaust. The Synagogue was extremely beautiful and there was wedding reception happening while we were going into the Synagogue. Then, at night we went to celebrate St. Peter’s birthday. There were so many people there waiting to see the fireworks. It was awesome seeing the fireworks going with the classical music they were playing.
Day: 8, 9, & 10
Day eight was centered around mythology and the different churches that were around the area. The Pantheon was extremely big and went beyond my expectation. It would have been nice to see the original statues that were in the Pantheon, but the Catholic statues were still great to see. The reason why is because I am huge fan of mythology, particularly Norse mythology, but Greek mythology is definitely a close second. All the churches were exceptional and my favorite item in all of the churches was a statue of Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by candles. Additionally, we saw the Trevi Fountain, which was amazing. I feel as if I am saying awesome, amazing, and beautiful too much, but all of those characteristics describe these places and items! On day nine, we went to Florence. I love the architecture there as well, although it is meant to be a replica of the Roman architecture I think they did a great job. We saw the statue of David, which of course, was amazing! It wasn’t my favorite piece of architecture though, I love the Percius statues the most because, again, I love mythology. My favorite piece of art was the painting of the sacrifice of Isaac. It is one of my favorite stories in the Bible and I love the message of the story as well. Overall, I love Florence more than Rome and would love to visit again. Day 9 we went inside St. Peter’s Basilica and it is definitely my favorite church we visited and we went to church made of bones.
Day ten we flew back to the United States and said goodbye to Italy. This was a great trip and I wouldn’t exchange it for the world!”-Alyssa Rhame, High School SPC student, June 2018