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Collaborations Culture

Temple Rome: A Campus for Everyone

Illustration: Sana Kewalramani

Everyone who studies abroad hopes to discover a new culture. In Rome, perhaps this means attempting to converse with locals in Italian, wandering through ancient ruins, drinking unhealthy amounts of espresso, or diving into a plate of bucatini. These are the typical experiences, the ones which every student expects, and which attract them to Rome in the first place. But there are also cultures students bring themselves, ideas from home institutions that enrich classroom discussions and forge new connections.

This is one of the driving forces behind diversifying study abroad programs to include students from other institutions. Ultimately, it is one of the main pathways that Temple Rome will achieve its future goal of becoming a globalized campus. Temple University itself, as an institution, creates a culture which Temple students are members of. At main campus maybe this culture is one that is in touch with the surrounding Philadelphia community, eats at Richie’s, studies at the Tech Center, or is influenced by its strong liberal arts program. It’s a culture that thrives on the large body of students and the many different backgrounds represented.

Temple Rome is a different culture. With only around 300 students each semester, it is much closer to a small liberal arts college. It is housed in one building, allowing its faculty and staff to be well-connected across disciplines. Some classes even contain under five students. It is easy to become well-acquainted with your professors and because most of the students live together in the Residence Candia, it is also easy to get to know your peers.

Even still, allowing students from other universities to attend Temple Rome opens a door to a larger variety of perspectives. It creates a very interesting mix of people, one where students hale from Harvard, College of the Holy Cross, Penn State, and Tufts University, just to name a few. Temple Rome currently has 75 non-Temple students and 30 partnerships across the United States. During her time as dean of Temple Rome, Hilary Link has sought to protect this often-overlooked aspect of study abroad:

“We’ve had community college students. We’ve had state university students. We’ve had small liberal arts colleges. We’ve had big research universities. And that mix, along with the mix from Temple is kind of part of the special sauce of Temple Rome.”

While there might be a perception of difficulty in coming into a program with few or no friends, nearly every non-Temple student I spoke to was well-adjusted in the Temple Rome community.

“A lot of people are trying to make new friends. I think the second I got here I had friends,” says Emma Powell, a history and classics major from College of the Holy Cross, “That has not been a challenge for me.”

With orientations each semester, Temple Rome also provides more support for students studying abroad compared to direct enrollment in a local university. At the beginning of each semester, staff present on common issues students might encounter, cultural norms, and how to say simple phrases in Italian. In addition, Temple Rome has a full student support team consisting of a student life program, a counselor, resident assistants, and alumni assistants.

At the same time, students learn to be independent and grow on their own. “I sympathize a lot with our students because it’s a change in the beginning, but then the return is immense,” says Assistant Director Barbara Caen. “You learn about yourself…who you are, what your strengths are.”

Powell echoed her sentiments: “I think in general [study abroad] is a form of independent growth that goes beyond the classroom and allows you to become a better person.”

Besides the typical pull factors for study abroad students, the Temple Rome campus has become an attractive hub for other universities due to its wide-range of programs and well-established institution. In an ever-globalizing society, some students also see internationalism as an important component of career development.

“Engineering isn’t localized in the U.S. It’s all over the world. At some point, you’re going to do a project outside the U.S,” says Nathan Cordell, a biomedical engineer from Messiah College, when asked why studying abroad was important for his future.

Anna Libby, a junior biochemistry and classical civilizations major from Colby College, agrees,
“I think it makes me a more desirable employee because a lot of places will look for that international experience. It makes me seem more well-rounded.”

In addition to strides made in involving non-Temple American students, Temple Rome has also made progress in opening up the program to Italians. Hoping to eventually draw in Italian or European students who might be interested in studying at an American university, this year Temple Rome launched Rome Entry Year, a program designed to attract freshman interested in coming to main campus. Dean Link says she hopes the first cohort, who will be joining main campus in the fall, will be able to share their experiences with other prospective students.

Rome Entry Year is a part of a larger vision for the university as it transitions into a more globalized campus. Recent renovations of the downstairs classrooms have allowed Temple Rome to add Temple Rome S.r.l., a commercial extension offering adult education classes and space rentals for the local community. Local Italians as well as American adults are now able to audit undergraduate classes through the program and extend their knowledge in studio art, politics, or environmental studies.

Overall, initiatives to bring in Italians and students from other universities can only enrich an already varied population and provide a wider array of perspectives. “I think the possibilities are endless,” says Link on how Temple Rome might grow in the future, “However Temple Rome grows, it is only reflecting more positively on Temple University.”