Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's Already Halfway Over

            According to everyone on the home front I am already halfway through my time abroad although it doesn't feel like it. I feel like I’m stuck in some sort of strange time warp.  At some points it seems as if I have been here for a week and other times it seems as if I have been here for years.  I feel that I will wake up on December 14th and this will all have been a dream.  Time feels like it has frozen back home but I know things will be different when I return.  I am in some sort of limbo…but what a fantastic limbo this is. 
            I have seen some of the most beautiful things, ate some of the most fantastic food, and met some of the most amazing people during my time in Florence.  All I want is more. I want to see more, to do more. After returning from my ten day break and barely skimming the surface on all the beauty that the world has to offer all I want is more. I wish there was a way I could wander forever; to get lost in the world but be okay with it.  I just want to travel the world and draw what I see.  I feel as if there is not enough time to see all there is to see and experience all there is to experience.  That’s just a fact of life though.  Everything seems too short and there is never enough time in a day. I just know this adventure will pass in the blink of an eye.
            Although my time here in Florence has been fantastic thus far not all of it has been a walk in the park and a spectacular adventure.  I have gotten used to the fact that I cannot understand most things people are saying or doing around me.   I have become somewhat comfortable with uncertainty even though I still get stressed with the unknown. I miss the little things at home; a simple chat with my Dad, playing video games with my brother, and getting into random shenanigans with my friends.  It’s strange that although I miss these things I don’t find myself getting homesick.  This whole experience confuses me because I am acting differently than how I would have expected.  I would have expected to be more homesick, but I would rather have my family come and stay with me here if that was at all possible. I still get half way upset when exciting things are happening back home.  Why should I be upset though?  I’m on the adventure of a lifetime, right? 
            I sit here now writing this unsure of how I will feel by the time I need to return to the States. I know I will be overjoyed to see my friends, family, boyfriend, and dogs (can’t forget the puppies).  I don’t know if I will feel lost though.  I am afraid that going home things will be different and I will have to re-adapt to a place that I should feel most comfortable.  Hopefully everything will be as it was, if not better.  One thing I do know though and I realized this as soon as I landed in Florence in August; my time here will be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  

Street Artist in Piazza della Repubblica, Florence, Italy

The Dome of the Reichstag, Berlin, Germany

View of Paris from The Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

The Louvre, Paris, France 

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France

Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain

Monday, October 28, 2013

Florence, Italy -Chloe Griffasi

Even though I am only half way done with the semester abroad I have learned so much. One thing I have learned is how ones culture greatly affects how one matures. Before I studied abroad I was used to being around people that lived in similar areas to me, had the same childhood, went though the same education system etc. However, now abroad, I am meeting people from Australia, China, California, and Texas etc. When talking to them I gain a new insight on their upbringing; I learn about their environments, how they were brought up, their education, their favorite music, what they see as appropriate/inappropriate and so much more. From talking to all these different people I realize that ones culture shapes one to who he/she is. For an example, my friend from Korea told me that because there education system is so strict there is no time or importance to socialize with others. Therefore, people coming from Korea may be more closed off to others. However in America there is an even balance of achieving a good education along with having friends. With all of the support I have with my friends I can’t imagine how life would be without them.

With such diverse cultures in the world there are numerous differences between individuals. Therefore it is important is be open to everyone’s outlook on life. By being open to others you can learn more about them and the world that you live in, which makes you a well-rounded individual. Before I left for Florence all of this knowledge seemed obvious, but from now experiencing it I have a better understanding.

Chloe Griffasi

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A World Away

So life in these past weeks has been different to say the least. I no longer have easy access to essential-to-my-life condiments like Skippy Peanut Butter, Heinz Ketchup and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, I no longer have a wide variety of clothes to choose from in the morning, and I don't have that wonderfully polluted NYC air seeping into my lungs with every breath I take. I miss it, but instead I have plenty of all natural marmalade, homemade tomato sauce and Nutella, an interesting (and growing) assortment of handmade jewelry, and... secondhand cigarette smoke making my risk of lung problems skyrocket, I'm sure. While day to day life has changed significantly in the time I have been in Florence, in the grand scheme of things, it somehow feels right. I walk through narrow streets, surrounded on all sides by buildings that have been standing for centuries. I use historical and artistic masterpieces as landmarks on my walks to unfamiliar places. I see, touch and have an entire experience with the art I have always studied and admired. It is like a dream.

I can only wish that some of the values I see existing in daily life for the Italians follow me back to the States. People here take time to get dressed, because it is important how they present themselves to the world, they take the time to shop for groceries daily, because fresh food is better for them, and they take the time to slow down, because each action is important and it should have all their attention. The pace of life is drastically slower here than in the States, particularly in New York City. I can't even remember the last time I sat with my family to have a meal. It was probably last Thanksgiving. I hope that after living here for four months I can go home and try to change that.

Other than that, as everyone can imagine, I'm having an amazing time and I can't wait for the upcoming weeks here in Florence and abroad!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ciao Tutti!!!

It has been about a month and a half now and I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I am in Europe, Italy or Florence for that matter. What have I done right in my life to have fully realized one of my dreams? Anyways enough with rhetoric.

Florence is beautiful and annoying all at the same time. Some of the most pivotal, important and magnificent pieces of art in history can be seen by walking on the streets. Santa Maria Novella is around the corner with Giotto's crucifix and Masaccio's Trinity are inside the cathedral. The Duomo and the baptistery are a few blocks down and Michelangelo's David is in the Academia just a little further away. Oh and Michelangelo, he's buried here too, his tomb is pretty awesome by the way. That being said, the side walks are too small especially when Italian drivers don't give much regard to the lives of pedestrians. The vendors are relentless, everywhere and all sell the same thing. And like most cities, Florence is pretty dirty, when you look down. When you look up and there isn't a beautiful Cathedral in the way, there's the most breathtaking countryside, hills mountains and olive trees I have ever seen (the bus ride to Munich was likewise as awesome) and any annoyance I may have had with this place completely goes away.

The food here is wonderful but I can't eat out everyday. Unlike at home, though, its easy to find inexpensive fresh healthy ingredients to make food on par with the food you get at restaurants and on the street. Also with access to good ingredients and foreign ones as well I have been able to experiment with recipes I've never tried before and have shared them with my fellow students and roommates and thus become more in touch with the culture I suppose.

In regards to the people here, they are mostly nice or at least tolerant of us. I have made some Italian friends and we have exchanged language lessons while we convere. Interesting enough, or obviously maybe, Italian misconceptions of Americans are right in line with American misconceptions of Italians.

Art wise, I'm a sculpture major so painting acrylics and taking photos is not my forte. Yet I see the David, Hercules and Neptune in Piazza Signoria and I want to just crack into some rocks with a hammer but all I have is a brush. So I got some clay and I'm gonna play with that. In the mean time I push on with the painting and the photography and get better each time. The way I look at things is developing and my appreciation for what I am seeing increases. So its ok.

Well I think thats all I have to say for now.

Ciao Regazzi

A Presto!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A seriously steep climb, a confusing entrance fee and a visitor from UCONN !

Today we went to Fort Belvedere, which is behind the Boboli Gardens. The Fort, built in the 16th century, is an impressive and imposing architectural structure. It served to protect the city, the Pitti Palace, and the Medici family. The views from the grounds provide a spectacular 360 view of the city and it serves as a fantastic site for major art exhibitions. Currently the contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Huan's massive four head six-armed Buddha is situated on site here, as well other stunning works from his Soul and Matter exhibition.

After a steep climb (and I do mean steep) we reached the fort by 9:30 to discover that it didn't open unti 10am, so we rest and have a group advising session.  When the massive gates open we are faced with an almost perpendicular set of stairs. Finally arriving at the top we discover, to my surprise, there is an entrance fee! The fort is free for locals...what!? Well we're here now. 

Later, Professor Emeritus Sal Scalora former faculty member, former Director of the Contemporary Art Galleries and The William Benton Museum of Art, joins us.  His Italian travels have taken him from Sicily, where he was an Artist-In-Residence, to Florence, and then on to Venice to see the Biennale. He enjoyed giving the students a little impromptu advice.  Grazi Professor Scalora!           -Professor Dancy

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ciao, Ragazzi!

Hello, all! It has been just over a month since we have arrived in Florence and so much has happened, I do not know where to begin. I have nothing but good things to say about this place; the food is incredible, the culture is amazing and the feel that I get from this city is unlike anything I have ever experienced in the United States.

I cannot talk enough about how much I have been enjoying the food here. What we have been able to create with such fresh ingredients is so much better than what we eat at home. And one of the best parts of this whole experience is that I am actually learning how to cook! There is no dining hall where you go to eat whatever they make for you, you have to make everything yourself and I love learning stuff like that on the fly.

The culture is so different from the United States. I feel as though people are so much more laid back and they take their time. They are not driven by their job or anything else, they do what pleases them! I feel as though life is so simple here, it is such a nice change of pace to really slow down and enjoy my surroundings. That kind of life style also really reflects in the way in which the Florentine professors conduct their classes, they understand that we are here partly for education and partly to discover a new world and really take in our surroundings. I also love that the people here are so helpful to non Italian speakers, I do not know if I would survive with out that extra bit of help.

This city is so gorgeous, the architecture and the layout are unlike anything I have seen in the States. I love how preserved this place is and how much history it holds. I have wandered the streets and purposely gotten lost so many times just to see what I could find.

Well that's all for now, everyone! Ciao!