Lily Hart (ancient civilization major), a Global Access Ambassador (formerly Diversity Ambassador), participated in ICCS Classical Studies at the Centro in Rome, Italy in fall 2023.
Friday, February 9, 2024
Lily Hart

Hi! My name is Lily Hart, and I am a third-year ancient civilization major who spent a semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. My time there was absolutely wonderful, and regardless of your background, I can assure you studying abroad will benefit your college experience. This semester taught me so much, both within the classroom and beyond it. Taking classes in my major while abroad was so valuable because they introduced me to like-minded peers from around the world, and those friendships mean the world to me. Networking is a truly delightful part of studying abroad. The course material also helped me develop my interest in art history, a path I plan to continue, and renewed my love for studying Latin, which I will be taking at the University of Iowa for the first time next semester. 

"Because I was constantly aware that time was flying by, I consciously chose to stay in Rome for several weekends. There is so much to explore, from the cultural heritage to the nightlife, and I wanted to make sure it felt like my city by the end of the semester."

Beyond the classroom, I gained confidence, grit, and became a more well-rounded individual. Figuring out Rome’s tricky public transportation, meeting new people every day, constantly keeping an eye on my personal safety, and attempting to learn Italian on the fly– all these experiences (and more) taught me so much.  

Traveling independently was a huge source of growth for me as well. While abroad, I visited Sicily, France, Spain, and several other cities in mainland Italy, such as Florence, Tivoli, and Viterbo. I gained a lot of logistical skills and became a better planner, because time management is paramount when you’re abroad for just four short months. Because I was constantly aware that time was flying by, I consciously chose to stay in Rome for several weekends. There is so much to explore, from the cultural heritage to the nightlife, and I wanted to make sure it felt like my city by the end of the semester. I’d highly recommend doing this, because the connections you form by investing time in your study abroad city of choice are priceless. I also became more comfortable with making mistakes and asking for help, and now, looking back, I feel proud of my personal growth. Getting out of your head and into the world, casting off anxiety, becoming more outgoing… These are all wonderful effects of studying abroad. 

After a bit of looking, I was thrilled to find a thriving queer community in Rome and this accepting culture helped me feel at ease. It is a creative, international city, and if you look for it, you’ll find a beautiful range of politics, artistic sensibilities, and styles. I was thrilled with the political engagement I witnessed– sure, bus strikes might be inconvenient, but seeing young people march for causes that matter was so inspiring. The only source of culture shock I noticed was the prominence of religion. While this may feel alienating at times, to me it simply reflected Rome’s long, complex history. If that is a source of concern, the city is large enough that one could avoid it almost completely. I can’t overstate how layered and culturally dense Rome is– there is always more to see! In general, I found Italian culture to be extremely friendly and welcoming, and loved every minute I spent exploring Rome’s neighborhoods. If Rome is on your short list, I can’t recommend it enough! Be sure to check out the Piazza Trilussa and the San Lorenzo neighborhood. Best wishes and safe travels! 


The Global Access Ambassador Scholarship program provides awards to study abroad for a summer, semester, or academic year. The scholarships are intended to support students who study abroad with the intent to serve as Global Access Ambassadors upon return to the UI campus. Upon completion of the study abroad program and return to UI, award recipients are asked to submit a photo and an open letter to prospective students or suggest an alternate means of sharing with prospective students.

Please note that the opinions and views expressed by ambassadors are solely those of the students and do not reflect or represent the views of International Programs or the University of Iowa.


International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.