|Spencer Mooney '18|
I spent the Spring 2017 semester in Rome, Italy and came back to the States with many fresh perspectives. I took classes in history, art history, Italian, and contemporary politics. All of my classes were interesting, but my experiences outside the classroom were what really distinguished this time for me. Not everything you learn in college comes from or should come from the classroom, and this is especially true when studying abroad. As a history student, coming to understand Italians’ particular relationship with public history was very informative. The physical remnants of their nation’s fascist past, for instance, are very visible in Rome today, in stark contrast to many other European nations’ as well as the United States’ attitude towards the darker periods of their histories. The city of Rome itself is especially interesting because it is simultaneously a major metropolitan area, a giant archeological site, seat of Italy’s government, nucleus of world Catholicism, and major tourist destination all wrapped into one. My course of study was flexible enough to allow me to travel extensively within Italy and France, as well as, briefly, to the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, and Poland. While abroad I got to experience much that would have been impossible in Ithaca, meaning things as banal as new culinary techniques but also seeing anti-Russian political rallies in Warsaw, skiing across national borders in the Alps, and meeting with members of the Italian Parliament to discuss immigration policy. Spending time away from the States helps put our most mundane cultural practices in perspective as well as gives us a better appreciation of new ones, and I highly recommend it.