What Are the Academics Really Like?

Jackie Jones
February 14, 2020

Before I left for my trip, I had no idea what the academic course load was going to be like in Rome. Whenever I asked fellow students what their study abroad experience was like, they were often caught up in telling me about their travels and experiences rather than classes. This post is a tell-all of what you should expect academic-wise when you study abroad, specifically in the Rome Language and Area Studies program.

Bluntly stated, the coursework at my home college is rigorous and time-consuming, with classmates often choosing to do homework over going on a spontaneous day trip or even going out to dinner. I don’t know if my school is just filled with a lot of type A’s, or the coursework for their major is just that rigorous, but academics take over a lot of students’ lives. That’s one reason why I was so excited to study in a place like Rome. In many European cities, people focus on enjoying and indulging in day-to-day life, rather than participating in the never-ending rat-race. This aspect of European culture is hands down my favorite thing about living in Europe. Based on this aspect of culture alone, I wasn’t expecting a crazy workload while studying here, and coming abroad was a much-needed break.

This semester, I’m taking Rome as A Living Museum, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Intensive Italian for Beginners.

I’m a Psychology major, so taking those two psych classes to count towards my major. Choosing classes that count for credit at your home university is an important thing to think about when choosing classes for abroad. These classes are extremely interesting and are taught by a professor who is very knowledgeable and engaging. The cross-cultural class is unique because we get to learn how culture affects the science of psychology, and analyze how living in a different culture while abroad affects us individually as well.

Rome as a Living Museum is a class so unique, engaging, and valuable to me that I’d be shocked if no one wanted to take it. Essentially, we learn about a site in class on Monday, and then on Thursday we actually go visit the site together as a class and learn about it in person. This class is basically a free tour of Rome where we can soak up endless information about the amazing historical sites. Our first field study was to the Roman Forum and the church of Santa Maria. I think when you are living in a city, you forget how valuable it is to be a tourist in it and really take in what it has to offer rather than just traveling somewhere else every weekend. This class makes me dive deeper into the history of Rome than I normally would, which I am very grateful for.

I would recommend the intensive Italian course to anyone who already is familiar with a romance language and really wants to learn and be immersed in Italian. I know I’m desperate to learn Italian, which makes this class one of my favorites to go to every day. This class counts for two class credits, and you learn two semesters of Italian in one. While this sounds daunting, this class is totally manageable and the professor is amazing. This class moves at a speed similar to my home college without the suffocating homework load. In just two hours every day, I leave class enlightened and excited to learn more.

The learning style is different here, as you are graded off of a few major assignments rather than many small ones. For my classes, my only homework is some reading to prepare for the next classes lecture or a few Italian exercises in a workbook. It’s important to take thorough notes in class in order to properly study for the midterm and final, but the lack of for-grade homework frees up your afternoons for aperitovos and enjoying the city. I am so grateful for this because I can really enjoy Rome to its fullest. The learning style here doesn’t at all take away from how much I’m learning, rather I’m finding that I’m more focused and eager to learn in class and not burnt out from the material. All I can say is…America needs to re-evaluate.

Jackie Jones

<p>My name is Jackie Jones and I'm a sophomore at Claremont Mckenna College in Claremont, CA from San Diego, CA. I enjoy traveling, photography, fashion, music and playing volleyball for my school. On the weekends, you can find me playing Spikeball, beach volleyball, or on a deep-dive of music videos on Youtube.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
San Diego, CA
Media/Media Studies
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