What they brought back from abroad: Part Two

Living in Rome, exploring all of Europe

Our "What They Brought Back" series will look at eight students and the mementos they keep as reminders of the people, places, and experiences from their study abroad programs all over the world.

Name: Grace Zhang
Class of: 2014
Major: History and Political Science
Location: Rome, Italy
Program: Civilizations - Antiquity to Baroque
Best part of your trip in five words: It made me feel small

Although Zhang’s program was located in Rome, she did not hesitate to venture out and explore other parts of Europe. She witnessed Murano glassblowing, enjoyed the sweet melodies of Czech street musicians, and sipped hot malt wine from Berlin’s Christkindlmarket. Not to mention the fact that her name is now scribbled on the Berlin Wall. “I think in total I went to about 12 countries,” she says. “But at the end of the day, I realized that there’s no place like home.”

What she brought back:

Photo of mementos from Rome and other European locations

  • A mug from the Colosseum in Rome, which she learned was primarily a space for Roman citizens of all classes to gather and be entertained by gladiator battles. “It was really cool standing there and knowing that many years ago, people were fighting here. Real people and not just stories or fiction,” she said.
  • A harmonica from the Christmas market in Prague, Czech Republic. The instrument reminds her of the music that pervaded the city, from the talented buskers on Charles Bridge to the professional musicians of the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
  • A DIY pencil holder in the shape of a yellow school bus from the Christkindlmarket in Berlin. “One quote that I will always remember my tour guide saying was, ‘Paris will always be Paris, but Berlin will always be becoming Berlin,’” she said. The pencil holder represents the constant reinvention and construction of identity in Berlin, just as one constructs the pencil holder from its initially separate pieces.
  • A pair of bright red pants, also from Berlin. “Going overseas is like finding a new part of yourself, and you know, I would never wear red pants. I would always wear blue denim jeans,” she said. “But I think study abroad is a lot about this – trying something new.”
  • A Venetian mask that is evocative of the color-block buildings of Venice and the city’s clean, fresh air (unlike that of Rome). “You should go to Venice soon; everything is sinking,” Zhang said.
  • A keychain with the logo of England’s Chelsea football team from their match. “It’s more united [than in the United States]. And when individual players came out they had individual cheers for them,” she said. “It was as if they knew the person.”

Posted on Friday, March 1, 2013

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