An Intense Social and Educational Environment Worth the Trip July 31, 2022

By (Classical Studies and Economics, Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/27/2022 to 05/15/2022 with

ICCS / Centro: Rome - The Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained confidence traveling both alone and with friends, and I am now much more comfortable and excited to travel at home and abroad. I learned that all Classics students are similar in surprising ways, and when you stick us all together in a building for 4 months, expect chaos along the way to some amazing friendships and relationships. It was worthwhile and so vastly different from a semester at Middlebury, and I would do it again a million times. I have new appreciations for art, history, and Italian culture, and I know it will help me live a more full life moving forward.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The Centro was an intense educational environment, with early mornings throughout the week dedicated to visiting ancient sites in Rome and the surrounding area. The on-site learning truly separated this program from any other educational experience I have had, bringing each lecture to life in a way that classroom learning cannot replicate. The Centro drastically improved my Roman history knowledge, especially with regard to the mid- to late-Empire. Between the library and the American Academy, students have access to all the Classics resources they could hope for, though it does take some forethought to plan a trip to the American Academy library. Overall, I was very happy with the educational experience and I am now a better ancient historian because of the Centro.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site staff were wonderful and ready to help with any student needs. The dining staff were very friendly and it was an honor to be served by them. The office staff were great and helped everything run smoothly. Franco knew the right people to get stuff done when you needed it most. The only general complaint was laundry, which was paid (many of us thought this should be included in tuition and open to unlimited operation once there), and the upstairs often ran out of drying racks during busy times. Otherwise, the administration was super helpful and made the transition easy for students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The double rooms are very tight, some smaller than the singles, and most have a bunk bed that lacks amenities for the top bunk (any sort of shelf or access to outlets). Sleep is very important when class starts at 8 most weekdays, so the bunk bed setup is not conducive to a full night's rest every time you need it. Each room has its own sink, which is a nice feature, and the bathrooms were newly renovated and had good showers. The common spaces included a lobby on the first floor, the library, and the fourth floor lounge. While these were adequate, it was often difficult or impossible to find private space within the Centro if you lived in a double. The upstairs gym was small but surprisingly useful with a bench, several small machines, and a treadmill.

* Food:

The Centro provided three meals a day during weekdays and on weekends students were responsible for finding their own food. The dinners were fantastic!! Enjoy all three courses and make an effort to become friends with the staff if you can. The breakfasts and lunches were more standard, but they were still high quality and filling. You will eat well during weekdays, and on the weekends explore Monteverde—there are many small family restaurants just blocks away, as well as grocery stores with cheap options.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We are Classics students and many of us did not speak Italian at all or very well, which prevented us from integration with much of the local culture (this is of course not the program's fault). However, in Monteverde shop owners were extremely friendly and very happy whenever we made an effort to speak Italian, even if it was choppy and very elementary. Go to Quattroventi for aperitivo and say hi to Luca for me!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Covid testing is accessible in Monteverde at local pharmacies.

* Safety:

Rome felt safe, especially the Monteverde area directly surrounding the Centro. One student got mugged which sucked, but, as Sam Lipin said, just stick together with a buddy and you won't have any problems.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I learned so much through our daily visits into Rome and our trips to Pompeii, Paestum, Sperlonga, Alba Fucens, Northern Italy, and so many other places that were full of natural beauty and a rich ancient history. I also made some very good friends, many of whom I have already visited in the US and am excited to have in my life for years to come.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Drinks were expensive, food was surprisingly not. Budget for travel; it's worth it to see other parts of Italy, but it can get expensive with trains and housing.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $90
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Order baby guiness at Mr. Brown's


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The Centro dinners
  • Traveling, both with the program and independently
  • The parks! Doria Pamphili and Villa Sciarra are great for dogwatching and frisbee
* What could be improved?
  • Rooms - doubles are too small
  • Laundry - the paid tokens are a hassle
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had been more ready to invest myself fully in the program! You're together constantly in tight quarters for 4 months, so I wish I had been ready to become close with other Centristi instead of having low expectations for making friends. At the same time, it's only 4 months; I wish I had stayed more grounded while at the Centro, and not let small problems seem bigger than life itself. I wish I could have told myself in the tough moments (we all had them) that most of my problems would not matter as soon as I left the Centro, and it was way more important to value my time with friends in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Ancient City

Course Department:
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The Ancient City course took up most of my time at the Centro, meeting three times a week including the entire day on Tuesdays. I came to this program because of the on-site experience that this course promised, and I was not disappointed. We reached destinations that blew us away with their natural beauty before we even learned about their history, from mountainous regions of the Apennines to coastal vistas; walking through ancient Roman ruins in these places felt surreal, and I learned arguably more from wrestling in 2000-year-old amphitheaters than I ever could have from a classroom lecture. The week-long trips and long Tuesday outings will stick with me for many years, as these truly made the Ancient City course into its own spectacle. With regards to the classwork and grading, the daily work consisted of readings with a periodic short quiz meant to test basic retention of lecture material. There were two major assessments during the semester: a short podcast and a 10-minute site report. The podcast and site report deadlines were staggered throughout the semester for students, and these made for more intense, work-filled weeks when your podcast or site report came due. As is evident, the Ancient City focused much more on public speaking than tests or written assessments, unlike any Classics course I had ever taken. As part of our final, we had to write a short essay, but this was still more of a creative project rather than a strictly scholarly paper. Expect to be challenged in your public speaking and communication abilities, not just your knowledge!
Credit Transfer Issues: Not allowed to transfer until I complete this, so we'll see how it goes
Course Name/Rating:

Renaissance and Baroque Art History

Course Department:
Instructor: Paul Tegmeyere
Instruction Language:
Comments: Paul closes his eyes and literally speaks the word of God during on-site lectures on Fridays, and with him you get to see some of the most famous art in Rome and beyond on select occasions. The assessments were a site report, a mid-term, and a final, which were each fairly challenging, but if you study hard before them you will get a fair grade. The course is worth taking regardless of grade because of the cultural exposure to a different side of Rome, the Catholic one, and you will emerge with a better understanding of Renaissance, Counter-Reformation, and Baroque styles, especially the evolution of church architecture and art. Be prepared for long lectures and frantic, somewhat aimless note-taking, but whilst surrounded by incredibly beautiful and influential pieces of art in churches, palaces, and the Vatican.
Credit Transfer Issues: