Without a doubt, taking the summer session abroad to Greece affected the direction of my studies as well as my life. Visiting the ancient cities, walking through the architecture, and seeing the objects that I had studied so diligently in books and through photographs shifted my interest in Classical Greek art and archaeology into a desire to further my studies in graduate school. Though brief, I learned more in the month we spent traveling through Greece than I ever would have if traveling alone, and I made friendships that I never would have exclusively on campus. I returned to Greece the following 3 summers, traveling, studying, and working as an archaeologist. I eventually received a Master's degree in ancient Greek art history and archaeology, and I never would have continued in that direction had it not been for my inspiring professor, John Younger, supportive graduate students, and enthusiastic fellow students in that session abroad.
Reagan Baydoun Ruedig, Duke 2001
I took advantage of two different study abroad programs while at Duke, and there’s no doubt that they both added an incomparable dimension to my course of studies. I participated in the Duke in Rome summer program after my freshman year, just after taking a seminar course on Roman Civilization. I fell in love with the city and its history and art, certainly helped by the structure of the course, which consisted of exploring on foot. We also traveled to see Etruscan tombs, suburban imperial villas, and the Roman sites near Naples, including Pompeii. After that I was hooked on classics, and returned to Duke knowing I would make it my major.
It’s unusual to study abroad during one’s senior year, but for me it was the perfect time to travel to the Mediterranean again and see more of the places I had studied in my classics courses. College Year in Athens placed me in classes and housing with other classics enthusiasts. I spent nearly every weekend on a school-organized trip or traveling on my own to see for my studies archaeological sites I had previously only seen in pictures. And nothing quite compares to having a class about the Parthenon while sitting right in front of the Parthenon. Studying abroad sparked a passion for my eventual major, and it also provided a perfect capstone.
Elizabeth Rudisill, Duke 2008
Simply put, studying abroad was the most intellectually and socially rewarding experience of my life. Until that point, everything I knew about the Classics had been restricted to texts and pictures--these gave me a good foundation but were insufficient to understand how the Romans lived. To actually go to the cradle of Classical civilization, Rome, and explore the archaeology, art history, and architecture as a Classicist contextualized my previous knowledge. The environment was fantastic. I met Classics majors from around the nation who loved this as much I did--pretty rare to find--and challenged me. My new-found lens on ancient civilizations even inspired a senior thesis about ancient medicine because of a project I did there. Overall, I'd recommend studying abroad, especially if there's a program that fits your intellectual or social interests!
Amol Sura, Duke 2011
My time spent abroad in Rome was one of my most memorable semesters, and one of the most important for my intellectual experience at Duke. One of the most exciting things about studying abroad was that most of the lectures were taught on cite. Rather than simply looking at pictures of remains and monuments, we were able to see them for ourselves and to stand in the very places where events took place as we learned about them. This immersion into the ancient world allowed me to internalize what I was learning more than I was able to at home.
As a Classical Languages major, it is important to work on translation ability, as well as to understand the history and culture of the Greco-Roman world. Studying in Rome enhanced my major because I was able to take Latin and Greek courses, as well as a quality course in Roman history, covering everything from the Etruscans to Constantine. In my Latin class, I read Juvenal’s Satires, and it was exciting to relate what we were translating to the places we’d been. For example, we saw the grotto of the Sybyl at Cumae, and the remnants of baths at Baiae, two places discussed by Juvenal in Satire III.
Living in Rome for three months allowed me to understand what a deep history the city has. Rome is truly built upon itself, with layers of remains from many different periods of history. Traveling outside of the city for class was important as well, as we spent time in Cosa, the first Latin colony, whose remains show the typical structure and layout of colonies, or Ostia, the port city, where many buildings and mosaics are preserved. Roaming through the ruins of cities such as Pompeii and Herculaneum, I could really imagine that I was living in the ancient cities, seeing where various temples, stores, and houses were located, and looking at the graffiti and well-preserved wall paintings.
In addition to enriching my knowledge of Classical Studies, studying abroad exposed me to a different modern culture and language. The Centro is in a non-touristy neighborhood on the Janiculum hill, so Italian stores and cafes where we could try out our Italian skills were readily accessible. We ate delicious Italian cuisine daily. I took a few side trips to see some of the cities we didn’t trek to as a class, and I really enjoyed traveling through this beautiful country, both in class and out. Partaking in the ICCS in Rome study abroad program was a wonderful experience for me, and something I would highly recommend to any undergraduate who is passionate about Classics.
Tara McKenna, Duke 2011