A Day in the Life of a Third-Year in Rome

Author: Randi McQueen

Other than a few rumors passed down by word of mouth, third year abroad in Rome seems like an exciting, yet mysterious time until actually arriving and experiencing it firsthand. Of course, I spoke to a couple current seniors before departing, but I had very few expectations overall. For the sake of future architecture majors, I’ve made a rough schedule of a typical school day in the Eternal City.

Unlike classes back in South Bend, three of our four classes are only once a week but in three-hour time blocks. Our fourth class is Design Studio, which is from 2:00pm-6:00pm on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s. This is our primary 6-credit class, which remains constant from second year to fifth year at Notre Dame.

I’ve chosen to log a typical Wednesday, since we have both morning and afternoon classes, all of which occur either on a various site in Rome or in the Rome Global Gateway building.


7:30- Time to wake up!

After snoozing through my alarm at least once, my other two roommates are finished showering, and it’s finally my turn.


8:10- Quick cappuccino at our favorite cafe

In order to make it through this jam-packed day, it is very necessary to stay caffeinated. Good thing the espresso in Italy is so strong!

Drinking coffee Rome


8:20- Wait for the bus to school

Although many people choose to walk, I try to take the bus as much as possible to save my legs and energy for standing and walking during class. The bus system is not the most consistent in Rome, but sometimes I get lucky and only wait a couple minutes for the right bus. If I have to wait awhile, then I start the 30-minute trek to school (although we pass the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Victor Emmanuel Monument on the way).


9:00-12:00- Advanced Graphics: Freehand Drawing with Professor Piccolo

Sketching with Piccolo

Typically for drawing class, we meet together on the fifth floor in the drawing studio to begin. At this time, Professor Piccolo goes through our drawing assignments from the previous week and critiques them with the class. After about an hour, we head to our site for the day and begin our in-class assignment to be turned in at noon. At the end of class, Professor Piccolo will assign another drawing on the same site, which is due by the next week’s class.


12:15- Lunchtime!

To save money, most people use the kitchen in the Global Gateway and cook. It is nice to have a fairly long break between classes to relax.


1:45- Caffeinate (again)

Before Design Studio, it’s critical to grab a 40-cent cappuccino or espresso from the coffee machine in the kitchen. (Bond Hall back on campus would benefit from one of these amazing machines!)


2:00-6:00- Design Studio


During this class, we work on our projects and meet with our professors for desk critiques. Usually you will share your design, your intent, and anything new you have completed with your professor in a one-on-one setting at least once or twice each class. This is mostly a work time when you can ask questions as well.


7:15- Dinner

Since all 35 of us have to share a double kitchen, we have assigned meal groups and times that rotate each week (6:15, 7:15, or 8:15). I try to cook as much as possible to save money and stay healthy since eating out most always includes bread and pasta or pizza.


8:00- Finally some free time!

After dinner I work on homework, call my friends and family, or just relax. It’s been a long day!


11:00- Wait for the 87 bus by the Colosseum


On a good night, I can leave the Global Gateway with my roommates and walk to the bus stop by the Colosseum, which is very close-by. The building closes at midnight, so no all-nighters this year!


12:30- Goodnight!

It’s been a fairly exhausting day, but luckily we don’t have classes on Thursday’s!


One of the best things about studying architecture in Rome is that each day is never really the same. Every day we go to a different site, sketch a new place, or learn about another palazzo or monument. It can be tiring, but it is so much more fulfilling to learn from the actual source instead of from a PowerPoint presentation.