UW Rome Center

April 24, 2020

From a classroom to the city: Alondra’s story

At a time when most of us are sheltering in place because of the pandemic and our worlds can feel rather small, we wanted to connect with some of the wonderful students who have studied at the UW Rome Center.

On that note, we’re pleased to introduce you to Alondra Rodriguez. She’s a UW junior from Federal Way, WA, and is double majoring in archaeological sciences and history. Last summer, Alondra studied at the UW Rome Center with the support of a UW Study Abroad Scholarship. Her program, Staging the City: Performance, Power, and Identity from Empire to Mussolini, convinced her that it is essential to evaluate history and the present day from multiple perspectives. We caught up with Alondra to ask a few questions about her experience, and wanted to share her responses with you.

Why did you choose your study abroad program?

Throughout my time here at the UW I have taken many courses, among them classical archaeology and history courses, including a year of introductory Latin. I wanted to apply the knowledge of Rome that I had gained through coursework to the actual city itself. By selecting this program I also hoped to grow my understanding of the city in its classical context in addition to gaining new perspectives of Rome through other eras. I looked forward to becoming more observational of the art and infrastructure of a city so I can apply that to view the evolution of the identity and culture of a city. This program provided me the opportunity to expand my previous education, learn more about the relationships and interactions between people and the Eternal City, and most importantly, allowed me to share my knowledge with others during and after the experience.

What was your program like? How did you learn?

We looked at how Rome has continuously evolved its identity and created power through art and architecture. The program also explored how the city’s power and charisma connects to our present and has shaped modern living in Rome today as well as how visitors identify with and interact with the Eternal City. Through interactive and interdisciplinary activities such as studying Italian language, immersion in cultural activities, reading about Rome’s past, and embarking on tours of Rome’s art and architecture, it offered many different perspectives and methods to view the identity of Rome.

What was something unexpected that you got out of the experience

New friendships. This was unexpected for me as I am a bit timid and thus was unsure if I would make friends during the program. However, the memories I created with the friends I made were the most memorable part of studying abroad. It was these experiences that illustrated to me that the most unexpected thing that comes with studying abroad is connecting with others which in turn can help one personally grow from such interactions. I am thankful that I met remarkable people during this experience and that we still keep in touch today.

Did you have any concerns about studying abroad?

Before studying abroad I had numerous worries, however, those concerning searching for and selecting a program that would be the best fit for me were alleviated by the support and advice of my friends and family members. Having little knowledge as to how to finance my study abroad opportunity was also a concern. With this in mind I decided to visit UW Study Abroad. There I spoke to the scholarships adviser, who was very helpful in explaining how I can finance and budget for my trip. I learned that once I had submitted my study abroad application I would automatically be considered for a UW Study Abroad Scholarship. I later received the UW Study Abroad Scholarship, which greatly helped covering expenses for my study abroad program.

How was it helpful to have a scholarship?

Without a scholarship, participating in a study abroad program would have been difficult. I am a first-generation college student, meaning that my parents did not have the opportunity to continue their education past high school. I am grateful for my parents’ support of my academic pursuits, and having a scholarship helped lift a financial burden. I am very thankful to have received it.

How will study abroad help you in your future career?

Studying abroad through this program gave me additional tools to view history and culture through a distinct lens. I can now tackle issues that were created when we viewed history from limited perspectives. Additionally, gaining the skills to picture not only the history, but the identity and culture of a city allowed me to expand my knowledge of how a city like Rome can be viewed in relation to the rest of the world. It gave me a global perspective, a significant tool and a point of view that I apply when studying other cities and cultures in other courses. The skills I have learned and applied from my experience abroad has helped me and will continue to be fruitful in my educational career and beyond.