Summer School in Rome

4 August 2020

Nicholas spent two weeks studying at the Sapienza University of Rome. Read on to learn about his experience of a short term study placement.

I recently spent two weeks studying at Sapienza, University of Rome my goal for those weeks was to become competent in spoken and written Italian. The two weeks involved subject and language classes at the university and walking tours of the city in the afternoon. This meant the experience was really busy, which although tiring at times, really meant I got the most out of the city and Sapienza.

My personal highlights were both things I wouldn’t have expected to be of considerable interest to me. I found a lecture on the Italian opera incredibly fascinating and much more complex than my preconceptions had led me to believe. Touring Augustus’ palace was the other highlight, although not really considering myself an ancient historian it was hard to not be taken aback by the tangible historic record left behind and the immense power the area projected.

 The language side of the trip was especially important for me. I am third-generation Italian but only my grandparents speak to me in Italian. I have a near fluent understanding of the spoken language, but I have struggled to speak or write Italian. I found it incredibly helpful to consolidate my understanding of the language with formal teaching, even if it felt regressive at the start when beginning with basics. This taught me that when learning something new you must master the basics before attempting to accelerate your learning with past knowledge. By the end of the course I transitioned from beginner to the advanced class, and I felt this decision was important in giving me the fullest opportunity to develop my Italian.

Speaking Italian to everyday people in Rome was just as important to my language development as lessons in the classroom. Importantly, I learnt that communicating in the language of the place can get you much further in terms of help and relationships than by resorting to English. Spending two weeks at university in Rome quickly felt like I was studying at my home university (although much hotter). Such an experience really makes you feel like you are living in a place, rather than just visiting. As a result I naturally overcame the issue of over tourism in Rome as the universities location and insider knowledge kept me firmly off the beaten track.

 I was pleased that by the end of the course I could confidently have conversations in Italian, however, learning a language is a long-term commitment and will require consistent practice.

To anyone feeling anxious or unsure about embarking on a global opportunity, do it, you won’t regret it. It is a rare and special opportunity to be able to live somewhere new, if only for a very brief period of time. The memories, knowledge of the city, ideas, and culture will stay with you for life – and you might even make some great friends in the process too !


By: Nicholas Zeolla