Jessie Fontana-Maisel - 2014 Program Participant

A view of a street in Rome, Italy

This is only part of the extraordinary view from the IES terrace where students can do homework, eat lunch, or just hang out and take in the city between classes. I would often come up here just to listen to the hum of the city: the seagulls, the church bells, and the honks from the Vespas.

What inspired you to study abroad?

I wanted to improve my language skills and enhance my learning of a different culture. I also wanted to explore more classes in my major (art history) that weren't offered at my home institution.

What about IES Abroad enticed you to join one of their programs?

I loved the Internship aspect of IES Rome. I participated in an internship at a nonprofit art gallery 10 hours per week, which taught me a lot about the Italian workplace and pushed my independence. I was also drawn to the field study aspect of the class structure and wanted to take particular classes that IES offered in the art historical field.

What was your favorite part about studying in Rome?

Rome hosts the art that I want to write about for my thesis - Renaissance art. Besides this aspect, I also wanted to be in a city that had a living history to it. IES even has a class called “Rome as a Living Museum” to express how well preserved the history is within the now contemporary city.

What made your IES Abroad program unique?

The internship program and it's location within Rome itself (RIGHT across from Castel St. Angelo - unreal, so beautiful).

c.r.e.t.a. rome, a nonprofit art gallery in Rome, Italy

This is one view of my internship placements. I worked for a nonprofit art gallery called c.r.e.t.a. rome. While I worked there in the fall of 2014, my bosses realized that St. Ignatius had done some of his most important writings in this very room with the distinctly vaulted ceilings! A plaque was placed outside of the gallery to explain its historical significance. It was an amazing place to work every day!

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

They encouraged us to interview at several internship locations, and helped me find a placement that would work with my interests, schedule, and level of coherence in the Italian language.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently during your time in Rome?

I wish I had more free time to do independent wandering around Rome. From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. I was at school, my internship, or on a bus commuting to one or the other. Many of my classmates who didn't intern had the free time in the afternoons/evenings to eat out more, wander the Borghese gardens, or just explore the city in general.

Describe your daily life in Rome. 

Wake up at 8 a.m., shower, pack my bag. Walk about 15 to 20 minutes to class. Have classes either at the IES Center or elsewhere in Rome if we had a field study. If field studies were happening that day, take a bus somewhere in Rome (ex. a church, Colosseum, villa, museum, etc). After class, I would take a bus to my internship and work for about three to four hours in the evening/night. I would bus home to my apartment and arrive around 7 to 8 p.m., where I would make dinner, do homework/readings, and hang out with my apartment-mates. Occasionally we would go for a late-night gelato.

What was your favorite trip you took while studying abroad? 

I loved the day trip I took to Hadrian's Villa with the Ancient Roman History and Myth class. I wasn't in the class, but I signed up to go on the Friday field-trip just to learn more about Hadrian. It was a beautiful day and an incredible experience. Pay 8 Euro to go on this trip, it's so worth it!

View of Castel St. Angelo in Rome, Italy

View of Castel St. Angelo on my daily walk to school. This building served first as Emperor Hadrian’s tomb and was later transformed into a kind of safe-hosue for the Pope during the prosecution of Christians. Now you can visit the spectacular castle to see amazing views of Rome! On my way to school I would also pass the Justice Building - a large, ornate building in the Prati neighborhood. 

What was your housing like in Rome? 

Apartment with five other girls, including an ISC (Italian Student Companion). I loved the independence of cooking our own meals, and the challenge of keeping a household clean with five people that we had never met before!

Now that you're home, how has studying in Rome changed who you are?

I feel more independent, more likely to take initiative to do things, and more cultured in terms of worldly issues.