Looking back on our time in Rome, I felt many of the same feelings there as I did on the night I sat and watched the stars in Riomaggiore. In Rome, I was blindsided by the feeling of being young, small and unaware of the wonders that I was walking above. When confronted with something so astronomical, whether it be the vast expanses of our universe or the sheer maturity of a city, it is difficult to imagine any impact you could have on the world around.
Aside from the city itself being massive, its impact and influence on history is astounding. It’s hard not to feel slightly unimportant when the ruins outside your window are more than 2,000 years old. Around every corner in this place there is evidence of the “lasagna” that the city is made of. You can physically walk back in time, from modern developments and displays of power to some of the most captivating ruins of a world long gone.
I think one of the most exciting days for all of us was also one of our busiest. Getting to experience both the vast beauty of the Vatican and the historical importance of the Colosseum and Roman Forum in one day seemed like an intense crash course in Roman history.
In the Vatican, we walked backwards in time from room to room, watching how each Pope expanded the collection and made his own mark on history. We saw the progression of art styles and techniques and got to admire not only the collections of artwork that are housed in the Vatican, but the piece of beauty that the Vatican itself is.
Then we walked further back through the centuries to explore the Colosseum. Wandering through the massive structure, still standing after almost 2,000 years, we got a glimpse into the history of this city as an empire and one of the most important world powers at the time. The streets of the ancient Roman city still exist to some extent in the Forum. It is here that we discovered the people of Rome, what was important to them and how they lived.
We also got to go back in time as a group of 16 students. We were welcomed back into our groups from Berlin, renamed and ready to take on a new city. Alpha was now Vici, and we were all slightly different people then when we first opened a map in Berlin. We got to discover each other again, much like we did with this brand new city. We were able to recognize the layers that had developed within us and explore what kind of group we were going to be this time around. One of the most important values of time travel is allowing us to see change; this change doesn’t have to be the astronomical adjustment of a city to be important. The nuanced progression of a person is just as amazing to witness.
Rome was simply incredible. Getting to experience the magnitude of the history around me with a group of people who were as enthusiastic about learning as me was a true privilege.
It was a bittersweet time for most of us. Our experience in Europe was coming to a wonderful close. We truly grew the connections that we had been building during the weeks. Saying goodbye to these people that I had loved discovering was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
So thank you Rome, for being the best place to end one chapter of our journey and open up a new one.
That’s all the time traveling for now. Till next time.