Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ciao Ciao from Jamie Girolamo

After being home for almost a week I have found it harder to adjust to coming back to America then it was to adjust to Italy. The coffee is watery and people talk too much. My mother rushes around like her tail is on fire and I want to inject a large amount of morphine into her blood stream so she would slow down just a little.
I am appreciating the experiences I have had and the friends I have made during my time abroad more and more each day. We already have a Facebook group and post funny memories from our time abroad, they were funny when they happened, they are funny now, and they will be funny in twenty years. No matter where we all go in life those memories tie us to each other, they will bring us together one day to laugh and to look back on the time when we were young, wild, and free dancing through the streets of Florence, disrespecting all kinds of historical monuments.
I have realized that I am now the best story teller in town; people come from miles around to hear me speak. Really though, it is funny the things people find so interesting because after spending four months abroad those things were a part of your everyday life. Telling about these experiences helps me appreciate them and it helps me learn from them. Study abroad has turned me into a more enhanced, appreciative, rational version of myself. Thank you to everyone who made my experience what it was. I could not have asked for a better group of people to have traveled with. We formed a family they will continue to thrive in Storrs, we formed an artistic community of our own that supports, encourages and loves; for this I am nothing but grateful. Ciao Ciao.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Con te partiro

As I look back on the events that I endured over this past semester in Italy, it feels like it was all a dream. While I was packing, I kept thinking about all the things that I did with the items I had in my suitcase. I tried so hard to jam in as many activities as possible and travel to as many places as I could, that I had to pull apart my thoughts to remember all the good times that I had. When you exert so much energy into adventuring, time flies by and you can only reminisce those fun times by talking and looking at photos and videos with the people that you were with. I consider these people my family now, as I lived with them, traveled with them, and fooled around with them. Being thrown into a new culture is a new experience in of itself. I began to find my true self-identity in this unknown place, that I now can call my second home. Being surrounded by a family-oriented community and art-filled space, I was able to find comfort in this small city. I gained many life-long friendships along the way, saw some of the most breathtaking views in the world, and ate the most delicious meals of my life in Florence. When I look through photos of me, my style changed, my mindset became more mature, and now I rock the full beard. It's strange how four months in a new place can change someone. You even learn about the people who you thought you knew. Going through the countries where my ancestors were from widened my eyes to a new world that still keeps its traditions the same. Eating the gyros with tzatziki sauce in Greece brought me back to my heritage and I will never forget that taste in my mouth. Sometimes modernity is not the key to life and it might even make us lose ourselves as individuals. The cobblestone streets and old family-style restaurants gave character to the Italy, allowing my eyes to wander in awe every second of the day. Obscurity and beauty allow you to remember everything that you witness. Europe is filled with such unique beauty that it is going to be hard for me to forget every sight.

I will miss the atmosphere of Italy, but I will always have that Italian presence in my mind. I know I will be back one day to enjoy some more sugo di cinghiale, Gusta Pizza, and fresh panini with the ones I love and maybe even the ones who I spent every minute with this past semester.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Arrivederci Italia alla prossima!

I have far too much to say about my time spent here, but studying abroad in Europe has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Summed up this trip has spoiled me, its a once in a lifetime experience that I will always carry with me. I’ve learned a lot, not just by going to school, but personal experiences I’ve encountered everyday. I have memories and stories that will last me a lifetime. I can’t wait to come back already and we haven’t left yet. Studying aborad in Italy was definately the best thing I could have done for myself. It’s made me grow up, and realize how much more there is to life. Traveling here has made me more open minded to everything, and that is something that will always stay with me. I couldn’t be more grateful and if it was at all possible to do what I’ve done and see what I’ve seen, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Ciao Italia, alla prossima!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Arrivederci Firenze- we'll miss you!

Oh, where did the time go? From the sweltering summer days and evenings where the streets were full of people enjoying the pleasures of dining alfresco and wandering late at night for gelato, to the cold and sometimes rainy days of winter, Florence has been a wealth of sights, sounds and gourmand experiences for the last four months. The changing quality of the light, the seasonal shifts of different fresh fruits and vegetables on the stands and in the markets has been a treat to watch and enjoy and believe me, we're all completely spoiled! It's been a lovely journey and life changing experience for the 10 UCONN students who decided to study abroad this past semester. They have traveled all over Italy and to other countries. They've met and made new friends along the way, and for a few it was an opportunity to meet and get in touch with their Italian roots and extended family living here.
They shopped in the leather market for shoes and back packs one of the great pleasure of being here, and in the Mercado Centrale in the wee hours to buy a turkey, and together they put together an amazing and delicious Thanksgiving pot-luck feast for visiting illustration Professor Cora Lynn Deibler, whose November visit included a critique of their work: what a great celebration- they are amazing cooks!
Now we're returning to the US and to Storrs for the spring semester. Their paintings, drawings, sketchbooks and the hundreds of digital photos are the physical remnants of their life here for those 4 short months. But the larger remnant and more important aspect of this journey they will carry for a lifetime. They were a terrific group of students and I'm so glad to have shared this adventure with them. Here are just few highlights of an amazing semester.

Professor Deborah Dancy

Friday, December 14, 2012

RicorderĂ² Tutto

Everything I have experienced for the past semester has been exciting, surprising, indulging, passionate and unforgettable.  I will always cherish my memories I have had with the amazing people that traveled with me and the jaw dropping places I had the privilege to visit.

It wasn't easy, as I recall, coming into a new culture and living with girls I've never met before.  In the end though, I know I have changed for the better, and I feel more self confident than ever before.  My views on cultures, my talents in art, and my connection with my friends were all more than I could have thought they would be when I first arrived in Florence.

If you are considering studying abroad, there is only one thing I can say, Go get a suitcase, and don't overpack it.

You will never regret this experience, I promise you. You will grow tremendously and leave knowing you did something worthwhile in your life.

You can't struggle, and second guess yourself if you think going abroad is a good idea or not for you.  It is a good idea.  And for that, I envy you for your possibility to travel. Because if I could, I would do it all over again.

Goodbye for now Florence, I will remember everything.

My Farewell

“Nothing can be compared to the new life that the discovery of another country provides for a thoughtful person. Although I am still the same I believe to have changed to the bones.”
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey

Here I am, 4 months later, reaching the end of my study abroad in Florence. An end that seemed so distant when I first arrived has finally caught up with me as if over night. I find it hard to gather all my thoughts together for a conclusion to this trip because I haven't brought myself to fully accept that it's now over. Within the next 24hrs I will be landing back in the United States and Italy will no longer be my home. Though I am ready to return, I know that once I am gone, this adventure will appear to have been a dream.

I want to thank the wonderful new people I met here, along with my fellow UConn Fine Arts colleagues who also went on this trip, for making this experience so brilliant. And the most important of all my appreciation goes out to Professor Dancy for being a mentor, a guide and a friend on this study abroad. Without her persuasion, I would have never decided to study abroad in the first place and her inspiring words of wisdom gave me the courage to not only travel around Italy, but to even venture out to Germany and Austria as well.

With holidays ahead and a month long winter break, I hope that everyone finds their way home safely and enjoys the company of those around them by sharing and listening to one another's new discoveries and stories. Hopefully we may all have this chance once again to travel and to all those who have not yet traveled, may you find the ability to do so.

Happy Holidays! Buon Natale! And a Happy New Year!

The installation at Santa Croce.

My trip to Venice.

Standing in from of the colosseum in Rome.

The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria.

My last trip to Munich, Germany.
Good bye Firenze!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Set Sail

During my time studying abroad, I along with 13 other friends went on one of the worlds biggest cruises to Sicily, Crete, Athens, and Turkey. This experience is filled with so many memories that i will cherish for my whole life. The whole trip brought us closer together and made us feel like a family. Having dinner all together every night, sight seeing together, and of course all the activities we did on the ship. 

In Sicily, the boys went on our own and stumbled into the very bad part of town, we did find enjoyment by dancing at the top of the town. In Crete we swam in the crystal water. Athens had its beautiful historic sites, and in Turkey, did a little bit of shopping.

What i have learned from that trip is that the best memories you make are with those happiest and closest to you, and in this case, my newest of friends in Italy.

By Robert Sargent

Monday, November 19, 2012

Forza Italia!

19 Novembre 2012

Words cannot begin to describe my emotions and experiences I’ve had here in Italia. I’ve never had so many thoughts running through my mind at one time. It was and has been an ongoing feeling of excitement and anxiety. Being here has made me grow as a person. It has made me more cultured, self-aware, independent and most of all confident. Living in Firenze has made me more perceptive, I stop and actually look around and listen. This semester has been more than just school for me; it has been about going out of my comfort zone, finding who I am as a person, and who I want to be in the future. There are habits I’ve adapted to in italian culture that i’d like to keep when I return home, and there are habits I’ll be happy to leave here.

Studying abroad in Italy has been more of an a personal goal I’ve had since coming here as a teen with my high school Italian class. Coming from an italian backround, and knowing I was going to stay in Italy for 4 months, I had more excitement than I knew what to do with! To completely immerse myself into Italian culture and experience it first hand has been a real treat. I find myself adapting very well. I’ve grown up with many of the same traditions with food, hearing the language at home, and celebrating the same holidays. I’m comfortable here because of the ties I have to Italy.

There were 2 things I wanted to accomplish before I left Italy, and that was going to my familys’ restaurant Piccolo Arancio, in Roma, and visting Sicilia. I was so happy I got to do both! Sicily was one place I knew I had to visit because of my dad’s hertiage, & when I finally set foot on that beautiful island I could not stop smiling. Eating at the original Piccolo Arancio where my cousins, aunts, and uncles learned to cook was unreal. I ordered the same meal, Ravioli di Arancia, that I order at home when I go to Piccolo Arancio in Farmington, CT. Also, I met a cousin whom I’ve never met before, her name is Mara. We took pictures and drank lemoncello together. It was wonderful to share that moment with her.

Overall, I think I have definitely gotten a lot more out of studying abroad than I had anticipated. For the time we have left here i'm going to make sure I do as much as possible and soak up every moment. I’m excited for the weeks to come, things will start to slowly change over to the Christmas season (the best time of the year!) and it will be time to say “Buon Natale!” 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Euro Adventures

There are no words to describe the experience I have had in Italy thus far this semester. Hesitant about studying in Florence before arriving, I know now that I couldn’t have made a better decision. From the very first day upon arriving, I instantly felt at home. Adapting to the slower pace life that Italians live wasn’t easy, but now I find myself sitting in cafes for hours at a time and speaking Italian with random people on the streets. Walking to class, I am still amazed at the sights I see everyday. Being able to visit a different museum or church every art history class is something I would have never imagined possible.
            Being in Florence, I have made sure to take advantage of traveling as much as possible. This past weekend, I went to Barcelona. Upon arriving to my hostel, I realized my wallet had been stolen. Even though that was not the best way to start my trip, I did not want to let if affect my time in Barcelona. In Barcelona, some of the many places I visited were Sagrada Familia, Parc Geull, and the Picasso Museum. Having taken Spanish for seven years, it was a great feeling to be able to have full conversations with the locals. My favorite meal in Barcelona was Tapas. This traditional Spanish food is a variety of appetizers and snacks that you pay for individually. Even with the bad start to my weekend, Barcelona ended up being one of my favorite places so far that I have visited.
          While traveling throughout Europe is an amazing experience, I still consider Florence to be my favorite place. After a long weekend in a different country, I feel ready to come home to Florence. I still discover new things everyday here, and can never get over the beauty of this city. As I reflect on the time I have been here, I can’t believe the time has flown by so fast. Even though I never want to leave Italy, I know I will be back in my home away from home.