STEP Reflection: Italy

The Knowlton School of Architecture Rome Program focused on outlining the different strategies for the study and design of the city of Rome. Sketching was one of the most important activities the program focused. It was one of the ways we used to analyze the use, movement, and design of many famous landmarks in the city of Rome.

After completing the program, I was able to come back home with a different perspective of myself and the world. Prior to going on this trip, I did not have a lot of abroad experiences. I was scared that with my lack of traveling I was not going to enjoy this new environment. But regardless of that, I came back home filled with joy that I discovered a new part of me. A part that enjoys traveling, meeting new people and engaging in new cultures. Being part of this trip helped me view life in a fearless way that taught me that being away from home is fine, that taking risks can be fun, that making friends with is strangers is not scary, and that trying new things can create amazing memories. Italy is a country filled with adventures and surprises, a culture of its own, where everyone treats you as if you were home, and carrying that with me is an unforgettable gift. At the end of this program, I was able to understand that traveling it’s the medicine that helps us get through our fears.

Spending five weeks in Italy were the most incredible and most mesmerizing experience I’ve ever had. Literally every day I went outside my apartment even if it was only to buy gelato, it was filled with unforgettable memories. Every corner and every walk I was able to enjoy during my time in Italy are memories I will always cherish. Five weeks allowed me to be more than a traveler but to emerge with the locals and see life and culture from their perspective. It’s hard to choose an event or activity that marked my life because just landing in Rome for the first time was a memory that changes my life in a way I can’t even explain. But there are two things that changed my life forever.

I remembered it was a Wednesday morning in Rome and my group and I were meeting in St. Peter’s Piazza. Our professors and our tour guy were going to show us St. Peter’s Basilica. Being raised in a strong catholic family this was a very important event. As the group went through security and we were getting closer to the massive entrance door of St. Peter’s everything started to get more real. And as soon as I passed through those doors and immediately looked up, I felt like my body just paralyzed. I was very happy that my professors allowed the group an extra 30 minutes at the end of our tour to walk and explore this masterpiece. As I stood under the biggest dome of the world and I looked around, up, to the sides, just everywhere my eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The level of detail, the gold, the art, the architecture, the story, everything about that moment just felt unreal. As I stood there I thought about so many times where I dreamed of being in this place, where I imagine this exact moment and how I was going to react. As I approached the exit and I took that final look at St. Peter’s, the only thing I could think of is how can a human had the power to create such a powerful and massive worldwide monument as this one. Truly an experience I’ll never forget.

The second experience I had was when I visited Florence. Besides its incredible and unique beauty, I was able to meet incredible people. It was my first time staying at a hostel and having the experience of sharing a common space with more travelers I didn’t know. While I stayed there, I meet three Dominicans. As a Dominican, myself, it was so odd and shocking to find people from my homeland staying in the same place as me. I haven’t been to the Dominican Republic in around 11 years, and connecting with them was like being back home. It was truly an experience I would never forget because not only did we have fun exploring the city, we were also able to create a space that felt just like home even if we were so far away. I created friendships that I brought back to the states and memories I would never forget. Besides creating new friendships, this experience was a deep relieve for me because when you’re far from home there are times where you feel scared and alone and more if you’re so far. And being able to meet them was a moment that reminds me that even if you’re far from your family you’ll always find people that would make you feel at home.

Having the opportunity to go on this trip changed my life forever. It showed me to have self-confidence, to broadened my perspective, and to live life to the fullest. Five weeks can be super challenging to be away from home, but without these five weeks in Italy, I wouldn’t have discovered this new side of me. I wouldn’t have made amazing friendships with my classmates and even with people from other countries. This program transformed me in a way where I’m now confident about being on my own in a foreign country. In a way where I can understand and engage in different cultures and environments. The experiences and knowledge I was able to obtain from this program not only help my personal life but also helped my professional and future plans. International experiences are crucial for when applying to a job in architecture, and having this program in my resume can boost my chances of getting hired. Also, it shows the employer that I’m able to adapt to different types of environments. As future plans, this trip encouraged me to keep that same excitement to discover and travel to new places.