An interview with Chad Griffiths, TUR Alum.
Year/Semester you came to TUR, and your major/school?
I was at TUR for the spring 1998 semester. I was an Art Education major at Kutztown University of PA.
During your semester here, did you think you would one day be living in Rome again?
I always wanted to come to Rome so I jumped at the chance to go to TUR. When I first arrived I fell in love with the city and thought how cool it would be to live here. I really didn’t think it would be possible. We joked about it and said the only way was to meet an Italian girl but everyone said if you meet an Italian girl she will probably want to move to the USA and not stay in Italy.
How did you meet your wife?
It is quite a long story but here is the short version. My roommate at the time had a friend who had gone to TUR and told him to look up Gianni. We started going out with Gianni and his Italian friends often and we spent most of our time outside of school with them. My roommate started dating one of Gianni’s friends. Towards the end of our semester, my roommate and his girlfriend had invited me to go rollerblading in Villa Borghese with her cousin. This cousin and I hit it off right away and although I was leaving in a month and traveled quite a bit we were able to see each other a few more times. The first “date” was actually going to see Gianni dance a tribute to the Blues Brothers. After a lot of back and forth I moved to Italy in November of 1999.
Do you have any classes/experiences as a TUR student that really stand out in your mind?
I remember so much about my experiences. The first few days were amazing. We walked around the city and almost didn’t sleep. The amazing trip to Todi and the food at the agriturismo is still fresh in my mind. Meeting great friends (both from the US and Italy) and experiencing life in a different country with a different language. Usually I would ask for directions and then we would all listen for the instructions and say thanks. When the person walked away we would than try to piece together what we understood. We got it right most of the time but it was fun.
I loved my Rome Sketchbook class and Art History in Rome class because we spent all of our lessons exploring the city and learning about the artwork and architecture all over this amazing city. Learning Italian during the year was great as well. I had an amazing teacher.
Making local Italian friends was also something I am so happy I did. I was able live the city as a local and not as a tourist. We were able to go to people’s houses and to their private parties as well as life the night life of this amazing city.
How did TUR change your life?
Obviously meeting my wife during my semester at TUR made a drastic change in my life plans. I ended up returning to the States just to finish my degree and then I moved right back to Italy. I am pretty sure that would not have happened had I attended TUR. I probably would be teaching art and coaching football at a school in PA somewhere right now. Instead I have lived in Italy permanently since 1999 and have worked in many different fields. Now I am working in an International school here in Rome.
What advice would you have to students thinking about studying at TUR?
Take the leap. I only came because I always dreamed of traveling to Rome and thought it would be a great experience. I would definitely suggest spending time with some local Italians. They should enjoy their time in Rome and see where their experience at TUR leads them.
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