Friday, December 20, 2013

Arrivederci, Roma. I'll Be Home for Christmas.

Well, friends, my first semester in Rome has come to a close. Notre Dame's Rome studio building is being evacuated today, the keys have been turned in and all of our supplies are boxed up. It's a bit historic because the program has been going on for at least forty years. Those of us who haven't left Lazio yet are printing out boarding passes and booking confirmations, finalizing plans, eating leftovers, and talking and laughing while we're still here together. My hotel room looks like a complete disaster. I need to pack so I passed up a chance to see The Hobbit with friends tonight. Some of us are waking up around 3:30 am so we can eventually catch 6:40 and 7:00 flights.

Looking back on this semester I simultaneously can and can't believe we are half way through. The start was really rough. I remember when they ushered us into the lecture room with all the windows open and we strained to hear their introductions and just stay awake. There was the jet lagged first week and hurting, tired feet for the first month (or however long it took to break in my shoes and get used to the fast paced sprints after professors). Our schedules were messed up in every sense and we were introduced to the University of Miami students. There was the awkward and scary informal introduction to Michael Graves in the locker room. Chaos continued until that project ended. The extraordinarily fun and exhausting field trips to Tuscany and the Veneto happened. Jokes were made, stories formed, projects narrowly completed, and both headaches and laughter were had. Along with lots of gelato, of course.

During this past project there were some times while watercoloring when I was struck by the reality of the moment. It surprised me that I am a student at the University of Notre Dame studying architecture for a year in Rome and gratitude swelled inside of me. This truly is a wonderful opportunity and it is exciting to already see and feel the affects of learning since I've entered my third year of architecture.

It's odd to think that after all of this tomorrow I will be home. I'll only be home for a week (and then on to more adventures) but there still is a good taste of normalcy awaiting me. There will be lots of stories to tell and questions to answer. I'm already trying to figure out my response to "How has Rome been?" There isn't an easy or quick answer.

Saying goodbye to friends (or realizing that you've missed the chance to wish them a happy Christmas and good break) brings a sense of separation anxiety. It's the surrealism of Thanksgiving break amplified. We have been together day in and day out for so long that there's a sort of feeling of responsibility for their well-being. I cannot imagine graduation.

It hasn't hit me quite yet that I am actually leaving Rome absurdly early tomorrow. I'm really excited to see my family. I hope everyone else who has not journeyed home for Christmas has a safe trip. I hope there is still a lot of snow back home...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Waiting is a daily part of life. Everyday at least twice I have to wait at the poorly timed crosswalks outside Sant'Andrea della Valle and hope not too many vehicles have chosen to run red lights. Then there are the three hour classes that drag on while we wait for the moment we are given leave to run back to studio.

It's a bit hard to focus on Advent with how rapidly the days are passing . I'm anxious for break when I see decorations and hear Christmas music in studio. It's also getting cold in Rome and now I'm anxious for snow weather. I can't wait to be done with my homework for all my classes. I'd really like to finish writing that post about Thanksgiving break. The list goes on. 

I have piles of trace on my desk with plans and elevations and oh, there would be sections if I had gotten on that. It's really hard to focus in general. Appropriately, Advent is just as much about focusing as it is about anticipating. It's not just mindlessly counting down the days and eating the chocolate in your Advent calendar to pass the time. I don't really have a solution for focusing mentally but it's at least helpful to be reminded to keep re-centering to stay on track.

So yeah, baby steps. Any lengthy playlist suggestions for plugging away during the next two weeks? Or favorite prayers for students?