Originally published October 4, 2016
By Alexandra Elise Jones
While my summer consisted of countless plates of spaghetti and scoops of gelato in the ancient city of Rome, I also worked on a research project as a University of Texas at El Paso student.
I was part of the study abroad program Layers of Rome for two weeks in June. The research included the history, preservation history and present attempts to preserve the Colosseum. We also studied who is funding the preservation that is being done on the site, how it’s affecting the locals in Rome, how it’s affecting tourists, and future plans for preservation.
Besides conducting research, our project also included putting together a five-minute film about the research. We were responsible for memorizing a portion of a script we wrote, and reciting those lines in front of the camera while standing in front of the Colosseum. This part of the project was the hardest for me, and has made me accept the fact that I will never be an actress in Hollywood! Although I had memorized my lines, I had a very difficult time getting them out in front of the camera due to nerves. With countless takes, and the patience of my professor and fellow classmates, I got the job done.
The course also consisted of daily readings during our Maymester course in El Paso, visiting local museums, and doing daily journal entries about all of it.
Getting to know the city not as a tourist, but as a student was a life-changing experience. Having our lectures held in the places they were about, changed the way I took in the information that was being given to me. Being able to stand inside the places that one reads about in books or sees in documentaries made the experience humbling. Having professors who were knowledgeable in the areas that we were covering and visiting made each trip much more fulfilling.
Once class was over each day, we gathered as a group and discussed what we learned. Everyone brought something new and beneficial to the table when we had discussions.
At the end of the day we got to experience Italy as we each preferred, whether that be going out to eat more food, going to the grocery store, experiencing the Italian night life or going shopping.
Although the study abroad experience has come to a close, I will keep with me all that I learned and experienced. Each day offered new experiences and new knowledge that I will use for future reference as a student of history and museum studies.