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What Classical Studies Majors Say About Studying Abroad

Archaeological Dig in Turkey

Amy Nicholas, ’11
Last summer, I had the opportunity to go on an archaeological excavation in Turkey. For the first week of my research, I went to Istanbul to tour the different sites and museums and familiarize myself with Byzantine art. The other 7 weeks I worked on excavating Hacimusalar, a mound site that is thought to be the ancient city of Choma. We were divided up into teams, and I worked on excavating a building, which we knew little about. We went into it thinking it was the possibly the house of somebody important or of high status because it was large. The last week of the summer, however, we uncovered an apse, which meant that the building was a church (probably late Roman/early Byzantine). It was really exciting not knowing what we were excavating at first and getting to experience discovering what it was! The experience was awesome in general, because I got hands-on experience excavating my own trenches, recording all of the finds, making sketches along with my notes, and taking measurements. It was hard work and we had to get up at 4:30 every morning, but it was worth it to see the sun rise over the mountains every morning and to beat the heat! And it was rewarding to be able to work hard and eventually have questions answered and to discover new things.

Caroline Colton, ’12
Sometimes while I was digging, I would look up from my trench and listen to the Turkish chatter, struck by how I have never experienced anything like this before. This was my first time abroad, and I know it will be one of the most memorable times of my life. Not only was I able to learn a lot about archaeology and another culture, but also I was able to learn a lot about myself.

Janelle Sadarananda, ’12
As for the experience, I'm amazed by how much fun I had and how much I learned.  I'm even more amazed by how many cool opportunities we had while working on the site. I never imagined that I would ever get a chance to do things like excavate Bronze Age pottery, help someone excavate a burial, catalog metal and glass finds, take lot shots of architectural fragments, and just in general be working hands-on with ancient artifacts all the time.  It was very exciting!  In addition to all of this, it was also great to spend time with people from another culture and really get to know them.  I liked living in a small town where we came to understand everyday life in Turkey, as opposed to just being a tourist.  Overall, it was an unbelievably great experience, and I want to go back!  —

Study Abroad in Italy

Katie Mitchell, 11
The strong study abroad program was one of the reasons I decided to come to Richmond, and after a trip to Rome and Florence in high school, I knew I wanted to return to Italy. I studied abroad in Perugia, an exciting, beautiful city in Umbria. I actually lived right next door to one of Raphael's early frescoes. I was also able to travel around Italy on weekends and visited many cities around Europe on fall break. Some of my best experiences were class trips, including one to Milan with my Leonardo da Vinci art history class to see "The Last Supper" and one to Rome with my Roman Empire class. On our Roman Empire trip we saw the Forum, Caracala Baths, Colosseum, Capitoline Museum, and Ara Pacis. By being abroad I was able to actually visit the locations I was learning about in class and had learned about throughout my career studying the Classics at UR.

Amy Nicholas, 11
Last fall, I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy. While there, I got to further explore my fields of study (studio art and classical civilization) and take classes that weren't offered at Richmond, such as fresco painting. This class perfectly combined my majors because I got to make my own art, while also closely studying ancient Roman frescoes. For this class, we actually had a studio and individual wall space to create our own fresco over the semester. We were taught the techniques of fresco painting, from mixing our own arriccio, or plaster (sand + lime), to creating our own paintings on the wet intonaco (top coat). It was super intense and a lot harder than I thought it would be! Mixing coarse plaster and flinging it on to the wall is definitely a very physical task, and extremely time-intensive. The whole process needs to be perfectly timed and needs to be completed before the plaster dries. We not only got to create our own frescoes, but we also go to spend a lot of time studying ancient Roman frescoes and took class trips to both Rome and Assisi to study famous frescoes. Our frescoes needed to be reproductions of previous frescoes or needed to at least have content and designs that reflected Roman frescoes, so studying what the Romans did in the past was very important for our projects. For my frescoes I painted four birds that came from four different frescoes, and created my own settings/backgrounds and borders.

Studying Latin in France

Martha Crockett, 11
Having taken French since kindergarten, I knew coming into Richmond that I wanted to incorporate studying abroad into my college career. I look back on the four months I spent in Rennes, France with great fondness and gratitude for all my experiences there.  I had the unique opportunity to take a Latin class outside the international program I was in, at the university where I studied. I read, translated, and discussed Cicero’s Verinnes with seven French students and their professor. I appreciated the enthusiasm with which the professor welcomed me to the class – each week was an adventure, trying to scribble notes about the lecture or translate a passage, without using English. I feel privileged to have lived with a host family, who included me in their daily routines, exposed me to various regional foods, and helped me navigate throughout the city. My speaking skills improved tremendously, as well as my appreciation for a lifestyle very different from my own.