Notre Dame Pre-College in Italy: High School Students Immersed in the Eternal City

Author: Jessica Lee


A group of 18 rising high school students just returned home after spending two weeks abroad with Notre Dame Pre-College in Italy.

Students connected with the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway, utilizing the facilities and resources used by Notre Dame undergraduate students during their semesters abroad in Rome. 

The journey acts as an immersive experience, exposing students to the past, present, and future of Italy. Students learn from Notre Dame International faculty and on-site historians with a focus on the built environment, architecture, art history, and anthropology. 

Grace Schlafer from Boise, Idaho is a high school junior who attended the study abroad Italy trip.

“This trip has pushed me to learn in untraditional ways. I am accustomed to learning in a traditional classroom setting, but being able to learn about what you see in the moment is extremely impactful and helps with the understanding of the content. I am also learning that no matter how long you study a topic, there is still so much to learn. This style of learning is helping me to rediscover a love of history that I forgot I had,” says Schlafer.  

Students were taken to all of the cultural landmarks one thinks of in Rome: the Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican City, and the Roman Forum.


But students also veered off the beaten path, going into the depths of the Catacombs of Saint Sebastiano, exploring underneath the infamous Piazza Navona, and engaging with the murals of Tor Marancia.

The group also spent a weekend in Florence, taking in the art and beauty of the city. Along the way, the group explored the flavors of Italy, from sweet gelato to savory calzones. 

Program Director of Study Abroad Curtis Urban reflected on the group's two weeks in Italy.

“With international programming limited in recent years, this important study abroad experience provided an impressive group of young scholars with the opportunity to once again engage in essential cultural and intellectual exchanges. Through the exploration of both the built environment of the ‘Eternal City’ as well as immersion in the rich and diverse culture of Italy, students developed a global competency critical for embracing our common humanity and becoming citizens of the world,” says Urban.  

The Italy program is just one important step for these students, exposing them to new cultures and ideas as they continue in their educational journey of becoming globally-minded citizens. And of course, learning how to order their favorite gelato flavor at their favorite gelateria! 

“Buongiorno, lampone e cioccolato fondente medio in una coppa, per favore. Grazie!”


Discover Notre Dame Pre-College Programs

Notre Dame offers a wealth of pre-college programs for current high school students. 

Check them out: 

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