Rome Course Marks Tenth Anniversary

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Photo by Jamie Leotta

“Pace students studying in Rome gather for a group shot in front of the Colosseum”

ANDREAS CHRISTOU, Senior Copy Editor

Dr. Lawrence Hundersmarck’s famed travel course, “Rome: The Eternal City,” embarked once again on a three-week journey for the tenth year in a row this past summer. Four editors of The Pace Chronicle were just some of the students, from both the New York City and Pleasantville campuses, who participated in an adventure that combined history, religion, art, architecture, culture, sightseeing, and Italian food and gelato into three action-packed weeks.

The 22 Pace students began their voyage on May 21, arriving in Rome the next day and beginning their full itinerary, which Dr. Hundersmarck had organized for them. Over the next three weeks, the itinerary included stops at the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and Ostia Antica (the remains of an ancient Roman port); as well as visits to centuries-old churches, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni Laterano, and San Clemente. They also toured famous museums like as the Borghese Art Gallery, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, and even saw Michelangelo’s world-renowned David statue, at the Galleria dell’Accademia on a day excursion to Florence.

“This trip was one of the best times of my life,” junior environmental studies major Jessica Alba said. “I got such an in-depth look at Italian culture and history, as well as world history, and I found out so much more about myself and the city, beyond what I ever expected, and I had high expectations to begin with.”

Over the past ten years, Dr. Hundersmarck has been able to evolve and perfect this course, which his students claim he has “down to a science.” He has been able to combine a series of structured educational experiences with a good deal of free time.

Whether for a free evening or an entire free day, part of the delight of this course was independently “roaming Rome” or utilizing their free days to leave the city. This year, some students arranged independent trips to places including Tuscany, Naples, and Pompeii.

“Whether it was strolling down the quaint side streets to find a little café with the best homemade pasta you’ll ever taste, seeing the fountains or the Colosseum lit up at night, or taking in the Italian culture through its nightlife, we had the freedom to enjoy most our evenings on our own,” Alba said.

 Although more than three months has passed since the course has ended, the 2014 group still fondly looks back on the trip, what they learned, and the memories and friendships they made.

“With students from both the New York City and Pleasantville campuses, of all different majors, we all had one thing in common–the love of knowledge,” senior communications major Kristin Stein said. “We were invited to open up to it, meet new and different people, and experience life in an entirely different way. And although this experience may have been intended to be solely an educational one, it became a personal journey that will forever stay with me.”

The Rome travel course, as well as the variety of other travel courses offered by Pace, allows students to learn hands-on, and experience learning in a completely different way.

“It’s one thing to be listening to a lecture about Ancient Rome in a classroom in Pleasantville; it’s another to be learning about the Ancient Romans in the center of the Roman Forum,” Alba said. “You are engaging all your senses as over 2,000 years of history, religion, art, architecture, and life are revealed right before your eyes.”

Students are encouraged to talk to their families early on, and make sure to register for this spring course (INT 197G) the moment they can in November, as it is expected to close quickly. Pace has also opened up the opportunity for students to extend their trip and explore other parts of Europe independently by arranging their travel plans with the Study Abroad Office. Some students took the opportunity this year to visit Sweden, Greece, Cyprus, and England, as well as stay longer in Italy, following the conclusion of the course.

“It has always been such a pleasure, indeed a real delight, to share with our students the wonders of the Eternal City,” said Hundersmarck, commenting on the course. “It never gets boring, and it’s always engaging; it has proved to be for many of our students one of the most positively transformative experiences of their entire time at Pace.”

Any students looking for more information, videos or pictures of the course, should contact Dr. Hundersmarck directly at [email protected].