Diciassette Pensieri su Roma

1. SamSamThe moka pot, an iconic aluminum stovetop coffee maker, was invented in Italy in 1933. Mussolini had recently placed an embargo on stainless steel to boost production of aluminum, a metal in which Italy was rich. Its modern design and aluminum construction made the moka pot into a perfect symbol of Italy’s future, and it quickly became a national icon. The famous design has barely changed over the last 80 years, and the percolator remains popular and widely used throughout Italy and the world. Within a week of getting to Rome, I did the above research and bought a moka pot. I’ve learned about different kinds of coffee, how to best brew it, what happens when you pack in as much coffee as possible in a desperate attempt to get more caffeine… The smell of it has woken us up before early site visits, welcomed us home after long walks in the city, and kept us awake in the disorienting haze of final production. It brings us together in threes as we claim a glass of the current brew, then separates and rearranges us as we brew three more cups for another round. It times our lives (we need 5 minutes to perk before we leave!) saves us money (11€ for the moka pot, 1€ per espresso at a cafe), and keeps us active (“We forgot the coffee! It’s burning!”). Like the espresso that the moka pot produces, our time in Rome has been short but strong. Each moment has been more intense than its American version would have been, and the living/learning we’ve done has been strong, highly concentrated, and very Italian. Round one is almost finished, but we can’t wait to see what’s brewing in round two.

2. Megan D. MeganDLooking back now at our 5 weeks in Rome it’s crazy to think about everything we have experienced and the opportunities we were given, it has certainly been a trip I will never forget. One of my favorite things we’ve done in Rome though has been our group’s “family dinners.” You see, on our first weekend in Rome we all learned the hard way just how difficult it was to find restaurants open for dinner on Sundays, even the grocery stores were closed by noon. As a group we decided then and there that we never wanted to wander around this hungry on a Sunday ever again so we made up the tradition of “family dinner.” On Sundays one or two people would choose a meal to cook, buy all of the groceries and often cook for hours while the rest of us would piece together a collection of desks, chairs, dishes and drinks.  It was always so impressive to see what people came up with, it was certainly some of the best food I had in all of Italy. As good as the food was though the company was even better, the eating would probably last about 40 minutes but dinner was always over 2 hours. As much as we all love hanging out, during the week it was simply unrealistic for all 16 of us to be out doing the same thing at the same time. So when Sundays came around and we got to have the entire group together in the same room for a while it was definitely a special and cherished time. We even got Ozayr to join us one night! As we all are very far from home (several of us for the first time in our lives) having a community of people that doubles as a family has been a real blessing.

3.  SkylerSkylerWe are a clan of architects. Spending every day with this group of architects in Rome has been on of the best experiences of my life. I feel as though I have learned so much in so little time. We do many things as a group including great side trips around Italy, insightful class lectures, walking lectures that tie everything together, and above all – quality time becoming friends and getting to know each other. I have wandered this foreign city with people who I did not even know 5 weeks ago, and bonding over the architecture of Rome has been phenomenal. The amount of progress that each of us has made in our drawing abilities is amazing.  Each of us has shown substantial improvement, and I am happy with where I am at now. My favorite ways that contributed to my improvement was all of the little quick sketches we did over and over of the same space. We would do one, two, five, ten-minute sketches repeatedly as a group. Once when we were on top of the Castel Sant’Angelo and had an amazing view of the city, about 8 of us including our professor did a series of six-minute sketches. We did things like this earlier in the trip as well, and one can really tell how much each of us have improved in choosing what we want to convey in our sketches.  It is amazing to see each individual’s personalities come out within their drawings, and learning to see Rome in a more valuable way than just a superficial overlook by studying the real history of how it formed over time. Next, we will be heading to Istanbul to continue this opportunity of a lifetime with an incredible group of people. It will be interesting learning about the architecture of the famous Constantinople and how it has changed with our clan.

4. FrankFrankOne month ago, we were strangers. Some of us knew each other through studio, maybe we had a class together. I didn’t know anyone at all. I came into this trip not sure what the fifteen other students were like, what as a group we were capable of, and how our time together would be. Fast-forward to today, and everything is different. In just a month, we have developed strong friendships. It seems crazy to think that I at one point didn’t know so many of these people. My friends. I don’t think that there’s any one memory that can sum up our time in Rome, but I feel this one comes close. One night one of the guys decided to start making a board for Settlers of Catan out of paper. By noon the next day, we had all the pieces necessary to play cut out of paper, laminated with tape. That kind of ingenuity is the perfect mix of elements that represents who we are here. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the board, but we wanted to play Settlers of Catan. As design students, it made sense to just make a board instead. The making of the board captures the relaxed nature of our stance towards approaching problems. If this is what we do to create a game board, I’m excited to see how we tackle things in Istanbul.

5. JackJackWandering, getting lost, falling in love with city. One of my greatest memories from our time in Rome comes from just the other night when me and “Dem Boyz” (a name given to ourselves for a fantastic kebab shop we discovered) decided to go roam the city. Most of the time we go out with a destination, and we come back, but this time, we deployed the Venice technique, which was just following random streets until we get lost. We ended up seeing a lot of the neighborhood that we live in, Trastevere, and at one point we went around a corner and ended up with a stunning view over St Peters and the rest of the city. We spent 5 hours just walking the streets, going down all the alleys that we had never thought to walk. It was amazing, getting to experience the entirety of Rome in one night, as we walked from our residence on the south end, all the way up to the historic north end, near Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. The best part of the night was, it was drama free. We were only accountable for ourselves that night. Most nights, whenever we do anything, it becomes a big group effort and sometimes we get frustrated with each other. That night though, nobody argued about which street to take, we simply enjoyed just following the winding, streets. We saw the city like we have never seen it before in the last 5 weeks. It was so amazing to break off from the group like that. Although I am sad to be leaving Rome, I know the next 11 weeks in Istanbul will be an even more amazing experience. I just hope “Dem Boyz” will get the chance to explore like we did in Rome.

6. NataliaNataliaI think a time that really sums up my experience in Rome is actually a leisurely walk that I took with Frank, just the second day of our time here. We were in the mood to explore and it was a perfect day. We had originally planned to find a garden we pointed out on our map, but what we actually stumbled upon was much, much better. We left the apartment and climbed up some stairs behind the main road of Trastevere. We continued walking for another 15 minutes with really no sense of orientation as there were houses all around us.  We thought we were just enjoying the neighborhood and all the orange trees and tiny cars- until we hit a view point. We walked closer to see the entire city unfold in front of us. From where we stood we could see all the big monuments of Rome, along with the beautiful mountainous landscape behind it.We sat there for quite a while, amazed that for some, this is just what you find on a nice evening walk. Finding something you really didn’t expect is my favorite part of Rome. Because the city is so filled with ancient ruins, impressive churches, and beautiful views, you’re guaranteed a surprise anywhere you walk

7. JessJessSomething that was especially meaningful to me was our Valentine’s Day dinner we had in Venice. Originally we were all looking to go to a nice dinner as a group. However, after calling numerous of the nice restaurants they were all full for the night. So only a couple of us ended up going out to dinner at a nice local restaurant near our hostel away from all the commotion of Carnivale. Finding the place was a mission in itself, as everything in Venice seemed to be. It was down a street not on the map and would have gone unnoticed if you weren’t looking for it. Once we got there we were glad the whole group had not come because we would have filled the entire restaurant. The place was very quaint and cute- unlike most of the places we had been. When we sat down, the menu did not have a lick of English on it. Together the five of us were able to decipher one item: spaghetti with a sauce of some sort. We had to have the waitress interpret each menu item for us and we giggled over what our guesses had been before.This restaurant was so memorable because it was so authentic. It wasn’t like all the other places, which were by tourist sites and had English translations on the menu. This place was filled with local Italians and was run by local Italians. The walls were covered with a collaboration of random pieces of art that had been donated by famous artists who had eaten at the restaurant.  The food was delicious and the dessert was the best thing I’ve eaten the whole trip: almond ice cream cake. I would love to go to more places like this, and it was a great get away from all of the tourist filled destinations.

8. PeterPeterTwo plastic triangles and one broken T-square were my constant companions for five days. I left them and my desk only briefly to eat, sleep, and celebrate my inconveniently timed 21st birthday with a visit to Tivoli gardens and Hadrian’s Villa. The deadline for our final drawing project did not loom for weeks, nor did it slowly creep up. It slapped us in the face with only five days left, ripping us from our previous concerns and romps around Rome, confining us to small rooms and patches of floor. Graphite slowly settled on every surface of the apartment, bottoms of socks turned black, procrastination ran rampant. To reach the kitchen one had to leap over and between the drawings of others, avoiding the bits and pieces of Rome strewn across the floor. I almost crushed the pantheon trying to reach the bathroom. Fourteen blissful hours of sleep followed thirty three straight hours of drafting, shading, presenting and reviewing. The quality and quantity of work produced by our class in the last week, though fueled by gallons of Red Bull and Espresso, is both breathtaking and spectacular. Well worth the strained necks and aching backs. Now on to Istanbul. Perhaps this time I’ll invest in an unbroken T-square, or better yet, simply plan ahead and prepare for deadlines.

9. Megan A.MeganARome was an experience that changed my life. But it wasn’t just the city itself that made the difference to me, but it was the cities capacity to captivate people from across the world for thousands of years. We had a lecture from Paulo that really put the pieces together for me about what Rome is and how we should read the city. Paulo talked about Rome being the place of more than just the ancient world and the great people, but it was the collection of places all molded together and built into the fabric of the city. Rome has influences from Alexandria in Egypt, from troy in Greece, from what was Constantinople, from China and Africa and from Latin America. It was the collaboration of worlds, ideas thoughts all in a singular city that was growing in constantly and pursuing the arts, the sciences and culture. I’m hoping some of this is ringing a bell. To me, Rome has a strong connection to the United States in the sense that both places are a collaboration of people and places and ideas all looking towards furthering itself into a dream of what it could be. We use the terms melting pot and American Dream to describe our past and pursuit of a better tomorrow but in Rome I found that there was no words to describe this pursuit; it was just something they did and have been doing since antiquity. The point I’m trying to get at is that Rome, in all its wonder and its glory, is not that far from home. Rome was easy to connect to because I could relate to the city in some way. To strive to learn, to understand culture and to try for a better tomorrow is really what we are all trying to do. And Rome is the place that really started it all.

10. JordanJordaMy time in Rome has been an amazing experience. After five weeks of collaboration our project came together and was set on the floor of Accent. It was so large that it climbed up the wall in multiple areas. The next day we were basked in the company of Paulo. For our final day we received a walking lecture of the city. This lecture brought the city together and made the connection to Istanbul. This as a primer we prepare to make our way to Turkey. All that is left is to do final packing and cleaning of the apartment.  If I were to look back I would say one of the most amazing thing that I experienced was seeing the Pantheon. Under the cover of night the Pantheon is an unbelievable place. Trying to think about how the columns were made is near impossible. Walking in and seeing the underside of the dome is a profound experience that cannot be explained. Looking up at the oculus is disorienting and mesmerizing. The sheer breadth of the underside of the coffers is unbelievable. In all, my time here in Rome has been an experience I will never forget. Tomorrow we are off to Turkey!

11. LucyLucyOn the weekend that my classmates went on the optional trip to Venice, I stayed back, giving me an extra weekend to wander and enjoy Rome. Professor Ozayr sent out a list of recommendations to check out including Renzo Piano’s Music Hall, Zaha Hadid’s Maxi and the Appian Way. Last on the list was Villa Doria Pamphilj Park. As a park enthusiast and new lover of Umbrella pines, I decided to explore the park. The Villa Doria Pamphilj was purchased in the 17th century by the noble Panfilo Pamphilj family and was divided between three areas, forest, gardens and farm. The three areas are still very apparent today. When I arrived, I was led in by two charming green parrots and immediately fell in love. The park was full of life, runners, bikers, children and dogs. Everyone inside the gates of the Villa Pamphilj sent off vibes of happiness and contentment, like there was no where else they needed to be. The park brought my heart rate down as I peacefully strolled through the beautiful nature. I was such a fan of the park that after that day, I went back three more times to take a breath.

12. DougIMG_5600Despite the fact that we’ve been in Rome for more than a month now, the city has never eased to surprise me and my fondness towards it only grows stronger and deeper with each discovery I make.  If you would ask what makes the most memorable experience of this city, I’ve got a few in mind. One that I’d like to share today is the omnipresent layers of the city that are so accessible yet not readily to be seen by the rushing passersby. May it be traces of connections to history, or the physical layers of the built world resulting from the idea of palimpsest and the evolution of the city as a whole, to unveil them, you need to have a keen set of eyes for nuances and hints and two strong legs that are ready to bring you around the city for adventures. One of my favorite ways to explore Rome’s hidden layers is to simply pick a starting point and then get lost.  With an open mind and no clear agendas attached, you are promised an unforgettable journey that will ingrain memories made on your way—A sudden sharp turn into a private courtyard or a lift to a secluded roof top garden can yank you out of the noisy street scenes of the touristy Rome into another parallel universe that makes you appreciate the beauty of the city from an entirely different vista.The one moth we’ve spent here is pitifully too short yet probably the most rewarding and mind-opening month I’ve spent in a long time. Even though, we’re biding farewell to the city and set sail to our next adventure, it’s by no means the end of anything. I’m already looking froward to my return to Rome.

13. JennyJennyIf I could pick one moment in particular that was the most meaningful to me it would have to be the time I got stuck on the train. I was unaware that trains stop for maybe 30 seconds if you are not on a highspeed train. Long story short, Jess was being pokey (as usual, its all her fault) and I was simply just the last one in line to get off the train, the door shut in my face, locked itself, and I watched as through the window the rest of the class laughed. As I returned to my seat, I got laughed at by some of the locals. The main problem was that I had no euros (I was expecting to go to an ATM as soon as I got off of the train) and I don’t speak Italian. On the train, Ozayr called and said that I would need to go into town, get a train ticket and turn around, simple enough. However the next station looked far less picturesque than the stop for Orvieto. I have never felt so out of place in my life. I walked around town for a bit and then got on the next train. On the train, I got yelled at in Italian (and again, I don’t speak Italian so it I didn’t even know what I was getting yelled at for) because I had my ticket voucher, not my actual ticket, and I got fined 35 Euros and laughed at again. I just decided to stand the rest of the train ride by the door so I didn’t miss another stop. I got to Orvieto, my phone didn’t work, which at that point seemed just about right considering the series of events. I wandered for an hour, found an ATM and Wifi, ate a hamburger, and finally was able to get a call to Ozayr. Despite the situation, I’ve never been more happy wandering. Orvieto and and the people in it are beautiful and peaceful. I realized that I am more independent than I give myself credit for. I am probably prouder of myself than I should have been. People get lost all the time but I don’t. I think I learned a lot about myself. The rest of the day was perfect. The views from Orvieto are spectacular and I have never been in a city so relaxed. The food was great and be company of my classmates was even better.  Some tips if you ever get in a similar situation: Always have Euros with you, make sure you turn in your voucher for your actual train ticket, be ready to get off the train as soon as it stops, don’t wait for Jess, and enjoy being lost in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

14. YunIMG_7143Before, I wrote about the ‘Old-fashioned Rome?’ After that posting day weather was so nice for a few days that made me think again about the Rome. The question I had about the residential architecture, when I look back to where I lived back in Korea and the States, it’s all same. It is just the different style of building, not even different style, just different looking façade. And most of those external differences are from each culture, and different regulations. I wandered many other ordinary places, took the bus, got lost sometimes. The thing I felt from those experiences is everywhere I go, it is just the same world that people live. I went to Pontificial Lateran University to check out their library, it was so hard to get in since I needed to wait someone scan their ID card, and right after I got in, I kicked out from the staffs. I felt bad about it since I felt I treated as a criminal or something but later then, I compared it with the Rapson library and realized there might have some difficulties for random people to get into the Rapson’s some palces. (But I doubt they kick out people who come there just for visiting, I miss rapson!) That was just how people live. Also the apartment, I felt weird about the very old elevator and I regard it as a starting point for the old-fashioned Rome, but other than that, there’s living room, kitchen, bathrooms, although we shared, personal rooms, it was just same house that we used to lived. Maybe I just took some time to be used to the new environment. Now I almost feel like home in here, but it’s time to move. The total art city Rome combines very broad range of cultures in very long period, not only that pursuing their own style, and put a lot of effort to preserve their valuable historical architecture by the great ancestors. Maybe this attitude to architecture is a great reason that they are keep producing the masterpiece. Now I can say that I love Rome as a city of Roman citizen’s living space more a tour city.

15. CharlieCharlieThis past month has been a great experience, my favorite time was taking a weekend trip to Florence. The train ride there was full of laughter and criticism trying to learn how to play the card game euchre with Peter, Jordan, and Lucy. As we explored the city, turning the corner into Piazza del Duomo my jaw dropped at the site of Cathedral of Santa Maria. Walking inside and viewing the epic height of the dome and the intricate paintings on the ceilings boggled my mind. As we walked to the top of the dome the curved steps and claustrophobic spaces before arriving at the top to a stunning view of Florence was a treat to say the least. In my opinion it is by far the most amazing stunning church I have ever seen. Another great highlight of Florence was the food! The large food market had a small restaurant with the most delicious meat sandwich with spicy sauce, pesto, and tripe meat. I had no idea what it was… but it was amazing! Ozayr had recommended a restaurant that was a bit spendy, but worth every cent, so we went. And let me say, it was truly worth it! I had a florentine steak, one of the best meals I have ever had in my life.  The weather was rainy and chilly while we were there, but Florence is one of those cities where the beauty leaks through even if it is cold and wet. As we wandered aimlessly through the city, a few of us found ourselves on top of Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence. We sat up there drawing the magnificent view for close to an hour. In that time the sun peaked out for a short few beautiful breathtaking minutes, beaming rays of light onto the city and the mountains in the distance. Florence is a beautiful, clean, quiet city full of magnificent art and memories that I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

16. MadisonMadisonUnbelievably so, our time in Rome has come to an end. Time Flies!  My experience in Rome has left me with not only great memories but also the thirst for more.  More opportunities to: leave my comfort zone, discover new things about myself as well as my surroundings, immerse myself into differing cultures, open myself up to the idea of diversity and change, and most importantly discover the deep rooted connections of my new learned knowledge to my existing knowledge of the world we live in and how we play a role in it. By allowing myself this opportunity to achieve all these things, in such a short time, I already feel myself growing intellectually.   As amazingly breathtaking the architecture and infrastructure is here in Rome, I would say my most prized aspect of Rome is learning its everyday life and personality.  Walking the streets, talking with the locals, learning the language by means of experience (getting food is always a learning experience), understanding the customs, norms, and motives of the city, navigating via public transportation (or foot), and all around dissolving into my surroundings.  The concept that although we all look so similar yet lead such different lives is so unbelievably interesting to me I continue to find myself striving to understand more.   Another aspect of our stay in Rome that rather pleasantly surprised me was our study abroad groups’ collaborative success.  As a collective group I was pleasantly surprised to find that although we have many personality types and backgrounds, we grew relationships that  resemble a nuclear family.  Not only have we been able to learn from and teach each other in skill-sets such as drawing and  communicating ideas, but we have also learned new perspectives from each other which has allowed us all to grow both individually and as a group.  At the end of the day, we are all here for each other, in any time of need, or even just to talk which is something I highly value as we are all so far away from our families and our comfort zones, it is nice to have others as your backing and to be able to be the same foundation for others.   If I were to give any leaving advice to those who may take this experience in years to come, I would say allow yourself to be completely vulnerable to the city and the experience, it is in this vulnerability that one will find the most fulfillment as there will be no reservations and expectations to hold you back from gaining understanding and experience.  Be open minded and loose yourself in the experience, become a part of Rome and a part of your–soon to be family–group abroad.  Be eager to learn and eager to love, and Rome shall provide you with everlasting memories and lessons.   Sad to leave, but excited for yet another new beginning!

17. Ozayr

Paolo said yesterday that “Rome is beautiful because it is an infinite city.”  Above are 16 reflections on our time Italy – and the students are right; there are far too many incredible, inspiring, challenging, engaging moments to pick out perhaps just one (as I asked them to do).  What’s meaningful for me – if I had to choose one thing – is the opportunity to see this city through new sets of eyes; to make new discoveries, gain new understandings, too see beautiful work, to re-discover a new Rome…  We leave tomorrow (bright and early) and so last night, I walked through Rome, revisiting OUR steps over the past 5 weeks, into the Piazza del Popolo, past the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, San Carlo, San Pietro, the Quirinale, the Castel San’t Angelo.  It’s become a bit of habit, I suppose, but I like to acknowledge another set of steps and so I walked a familiar path to San Giovanni Bastista dei Fiorentini and Santa Maria Maggiore, San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane and San Andrea alle Quirinal, to visit with two people who inspire so much of our time here in Rome.  A la proxima Roma.Ozayr


  1. kathybochert

    Thank you for these stories. They mean so much to those of us living vicariously thru your posts back home : )

  2. Pingback: Highlights | University of Minnesota Rome -Istanbul Study Abroad Spring 2015

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