Monday, October 29, 2012

new adventures new me

Over this past week 15 of my closest study abroad friends and I embarked on a seven day eastern Mediterranean cruise.  I didn’t have much time to think about what this experience was going to throw my way because the week leading to our vacation was midterms week;  my thoughts were completely consumed with art history, Italian, and creative photographic thoughts.

I am amazed by the fact that it was possible for us to have traveled from Rome, to Sicily, to Athens, to Turkey, to Crete, and back to Florence all in the matter of a week. Each day we woke up to a whole new world, completely different from the one we had fallen asleep in. When we walked off the boat each day I was overwhelmed with new and unfamiliar things. Each place had new people, new languages, new food, new scenery and most importantly new experiences. For a while we thought it would be best to go on Royal Caribbean planned excursions after some contemplation we decided it would be more adventurous for us to explore on our own and let these new countries consume us. I would not change this decision for anything. Each day we set out with no idea of what the day would bring and each day we got back on the boat with memories to last a lifetime.

The things that were the least planned and the most spontaneous proved to be the experiences that made the best memories. In Sicily it took us a while to get on our feet, we didn’t know were the train station was, we didn’t know were the trains were going, we didn’t know if the cab drivers were as sincere as they seemed or if they were ripping us off the like young naive tourists we were.

We eventually found a strange man who we soon knew to be Carmelo, he took us all over, and we were able to see Sicily through the eyes of a true Sicilian. In turkey we got a Turkish bath, one of my favorite study abroad experiences thus far, even with the large bellied Turkish men scrubbing us down. I loved the little fish nibbling away at the dead skin on my feet in Crete, even though they made my blisters bleed. I loved the shows we attended each night before dinner, even though the juggling act got old quickly. I loved our bedroom even though it was tight, crammed, and tiny. I loved hiking to the Acropolis in Athens even though it was jammed packed with Asian tourists. I loved the rocky rocky seas that brought many, including myself, a mild case of sea sickness. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

I never thought there were so many places that were so different in every possible way, it only excites me to know that there are hundreds and thousands of different places that are waiting to be explored. I am beyond grateful that I have the opportunity to experience and immerse myself in so many different cultures. My only hope is that I can forever see new things, live an exciting life, and never forget this crazy wild study abroad experience

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Special Journey

This blog entry will be a little different because I am writing from back in my hometown in Connecticut. My best friend Jonathan past away last week in a motorcycle accident. He is the reason why I chose to go abroad. I've grown up my whole life in the same town and I've never been exposed to any other culture. Jonathan was my neighbor and I would cross the street almost every day to his house. The amount of steps that I have taken coming and going from his house are enough to travel across America and back. But Jonathan knew there was more out there for me. He was right. As I stepped foot in Firenze, I felt in the air that I was embarking on something brand new. It was something that would take time to adjust and adapt to. It took a while to navigate and learn the ways of locals. From realizing to bring my own bags to the market, to finding the cheapest spots to get a panini, these little things are what help you become more independent and to broaden your perspective of this planet. As I sit at home after the funeral of Jonathan, I reflect on a journey that many dream to experience, where very few have the opportunity to do so. Being around loved ones celebrating the life of Jonathan, I can appreciate this past month and a half so much more. I am so blessed to be a part of this program and to be able to continue on this journey when I arrive back to Firenze in two weeks. I will use the memory of my friend and everyone on this earth that isn't able to travel as motivation to carry on and finish strong overseas.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yes, I Wore a Lederhosen

Words cannot describe the study abroad experience that I have endured for the past 2 months. I am not only finding my self-identity, but I am also building personal relationships here in Florence and throughout Europe with other individuals of other cultures. Thus far, I have encountered many uncomfortable situations, but these have helped me build a stronger character and become a better global citizen. The breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Chianti, Sienna, etc will leave me with a dream-like quality that I will never forget. This past weekend, a large group of us went to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. I had the time of my life drinking steins of beer and eating bratwurst and chicken, while wearing my feather fedora and lederhosen (an awesome German outfit). The lederhosen was tight but I felt like a true German with it on. I might even wear it for Halloween. Anyway, we went to the different beer tents, singing songs to the top of our lungs. At our table, we met a group of Italians and Germans who were about the same age as us. We were at the table with them from 9am to 5pm and we had a blast telling stories, while trying to translate different meanings, since no one was fluent in any specific language. In the end, we received their contact info and we plan on meeting up soon in the future. We got on the train and went back to our campsite, where we listened to music and played games until we couldn't any longer. While in Germany, we also went to the BMW museum where we saw all the new and old models. I wanted to purchase the 2012 M3 Coupe but I told the sellers that I might be back in about 10 years. On the last day, we visited the concentration camp in Dachau, which was a very emotional and moving experience. After packing up, we got on the bus and drove through the Alps, which is the beautiful mountain range that everyone talks about. Traveling on a bus, train, or plane is an experience in of itself and I always look forward to the transport. Now that I'm back in Florence, I can focus on creating more works of art and get the inspiration I need to do so. I can go to my favorite cafe and grab a pastry or even get a nice glass of wine with a side of prosciutto. Every day here is eventful and you always see something new. Now I am just waiting to go on my cruise through Rome, Sicily, Crete, Turkey, and my homeland of Greece. I don't want to go back home now as this is the most gratifying and fun experience that I couldn't have imagined in any of my dreams. Now I am in one and I can't get out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Embracing Florence!

Ciao! Everyone, it has been two months since I got here. Everyday has been an adventure for me so far. I feel like I switched from Storrs campus to a big live museum campus. Every stone on the road keeps reminding me of people who stepped on them hundreds of years ago, the smell of coffee in the morning; long lines waiting outside of an old Panini dinner not far away from school; completely different flavors of ice cream everywhere on the street; tourists from all around the world speaking different languages that I cannot recognize…… 

Those small elements have became part of Florence, not to mention great art works by great men in the history, Michelangelo’s work and Da Vinci’s; people had great influences on Florence have been buried in this beautiful church called Santa Croce church. Professor of the art of Florence took us there and along with all the other museums and churches. Standing in front of Michelangelo’s tomb was definitely the most unique experience I’ve had since I got here. The fact that Michelangelo was literally in that marble coffin didn’t hit me until I asked Ms. Francesca: is Michelangelo in there? She answered. Yes, he is. She also mentioned that Leonardo Da Vinci’s tomb was in France.

Drawing became more important to me after I got here. I start to record everyday life on a travel journal and fill my sketchbook with landscapes.