Emily Banach '19 thrives abroad at Binghamton's summer course in Rome
Levin grant recipient, 2018
This past summer I had an amazing study abroad experience thanks to the support of the Saul and Ruth Levin Education Enrichment Grant. I spent four weeks in Rome on Professor Hilary Becker's Ancient Italy in Context class. I chose this program specifically because as a Classical Language major, I sometimes felt that my historical knowledge was lacking when compared to other students. I no longer feel this way thanks to this class!
Our class focused on studying ancient history in the locations it actually occurred, and we followed a largely chronological path. One of our first sites was the Etruscan necropolis at Banditaccia, and I was so amazed that you could walk in and out of the tombs and explore them to your hearts content! At Banditaccia I was also introduced to what became one of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience: the stray animals that populate almost every archaeological site in Italy. Almost all of these animals are incredibly friendly and love getting attention from tourists. I was a little worried after our trip to Banditaccia; I had had so much fun learning about and exploring the tombs that I was scared that the trip had started off on too much of a high point and the rest of the experience wouldn't be able to live up to the first days. I was so, so wrong. I spent the next three weeks doing things and going to places that I could have never seen myself doing before. I climbed Mount Vesuvius, swam in the Mediterranean, went inside the only pyramid in Europe, and attended my first opera.
I didn't do these things alone either; our group consisted of eight other Binghamton students and two SUNY Potsdam students. I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of people to spend four of the most amazing weeks of my life with. Everyone got along well, to the point that on the nights before our weekly free day we would all get together and have themed dinners inspired by our love for Geta, Emperor Caracalla's brother. One night everyone had to bring food or drinks that started with the letter 'P,' and another night everything had to be blue. I can think of no other group I would rather explore ruins with.
This class was wonderful for how it combined learning and having fun. It's not listed as a 400-level class for no reason; the sheer amount of history I learned in those four weeks astounds me when I think about it. Each student was also responsible for a number of on-site presentations about various people, places, and objects (I presented on painting styles, the Lacus Curtius, the Roman calendar, and Trajan's alimenta), and we had an intense midterm and final exam. Our work culminated in a ten-page paper on an ancient subject of our choosing. Despite how much work there appeared to be on paper, Professor Becker made every moment of learning fun and I never felt overwhelmed by what I needed to get done. It's all thanks to her that I can now list the Roman Emperors in order and name all of the monuments in the Roman Forum. I cannot recommend this program enough to any student, whether they be Classics majors or otherwise, as I had one of the best experiences of my life on this program.
Alex, Oshila, Emily, Teresa, Meghan, Breanna, Dante, Leah, Alyssa, Eulanda, and Maddie in Praeneste, Italy.