Friday, November 22, 2013

Ciao a Tutti

I would need to blog twice a day, every day, to capture the essence of my time here in Florence. The way I feel about this city has changed in a myriad of ways, as expected, since the moment I first saw the Duomo from the airplane until now. It’s easy now, so close to the end, to romanticize my time here, since it does indeed involve a lot of romance—the culture focuses on it, the men profess it, the language is even named after Romance. But, I feel like I must shed a little reality on the experience, and talk for a brief moment about the struggles and discomforts of life here.

I think I speak for everyone when I state the following: the mosquitoes are enough to drive a sane woman to violence; there is no safe way to walk around with a to-go cup of coffee without knowing how blatantly American you look; street vendors seemingly pop out of the ground whenever it rains, prompting you with “Ombrella? Ombrella? Sorella, signoria, ombrella?”; tourists crowd each square and seem to have no sense of periphery vision, no matter how obvious it is that you are late to class; every time you speak some form of broken, Americanized Italian, you will immediately receive an exasperated sigh and response in perfect English.

And yet…

The mosquitoes still persist because of the beautifully warm weather. To-go cups are not typical, because Italians would rather experience everything they do in a slow and enjoyable manner. Why gulp down your cappuccino as you walk to class, when instead, you can take five extra minutes and sip it while standing at the bar? The vendors, however annoying they might be, at least will never be as terrible as those in other cities—those that will actually go so far as to grab you by the arm when you won’t pay five Euro for a cheap plastic poncho. The tourists are only there for the same reasons I am, when I think about it, so how can I be angry? They have the right to see what I see every day, they have the right to experience the wonder I have felt for months, and I can’t really blame them for staring, slack-jawed, at the Loggia in Piazza della Signoria as I rush past on my way to Photography. Lastly, Italians are used to Americans simply assuming that everyone speaks English, so it’s no wonder that most of the time we students receive that exasperated English response. But, doesn’t this make each conversation held in only Italian, however difficult it might have been, more valuable?

No matter what small struggles I may experience here, the fact remains that Florence is, to date, my favorite place I’ve ever been. As my fellow students have already said over and over, being surrounded by history and art and beauty is not something one can get used to. The fact that I consistently use the Duomo as a meeting point for friends or Santa Croce as a landmark to get to someone’s apartment is just absurd. I am as sure as I can be that I will return to Florence, and I am even more sure that I will never, ever forget my time here. 

Grazie, Firenze.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ciao Ragazzi Belli!

Ciao mi amici! Come va?  I am here writing from Florence, Italy in my last month of studying abroad.  Let me start by how amazing of an opportunity I have had to come here.  Not everyone gets a chance to study overseas and so I am very thankful of this matter.  I really hope that if you ever get the chance to study in a different country that you take it no matter where it is, although I do recommend choosing Florence.

With a month left on my trip I have become very sad that this awesome journey in my life is coming to an end.  Since fall break, where I travelled to London, Amsterdam, and Ireland, time has been moving very quickly.  I have been making sure to make the best of all my time and appreciate every moment I have whether it is sitting through the art history of Florence at 9AM or going to the grocery store to pick up food.

Upon first arriving I was nervous and had no idea what to expect of my time here.  I did not know that I was going to be having the time of my life meeting awesome strangers and friends for life.  Living in the city center is something that I could already relate with because I am from New York City.  It has been very interesting for me seeing how another city works, especially one that has way more history than my own.  There is no Metro which is a huge difference but it makes sense because the city is relatively small and walking around to get places is never a problem, especially when there are so many beautiful sites to see.  Even the architecture of all the buildings is wonderful because many of them have sculptural designs making every building unique in its own way.

I am very interested in seeing what I will feel and how my perspective on life will change when I return to the states.  I for see it as being sad at first that I have left Florence but I am going to try and change my attitude to happiness because of the wonderful chance and experiences that I had overseas.

Here is a link to a stop motion video that I have created over looking the Arno, which is the main river that runs through Florence, hope you enjoy!

I am going to end on the note that if anyone chooses to study overseas you really have to make sure you embrace yourself in the culture and that you try everything that you would not be exposed to at home. Step out of your boundaries because although it can be uncomfortable it becomes worth it in the end.  Try your best to speak the language of the people and even try learning before your arrival (would have really helped if i followed this).  Also, try and make local friends because then you really can get a sense of the City and what the contemporary view of the city is.  I have made local friends here that I hope to have for life and will welcome into my home at any point in life.

Thanks for your time =D
enjoy some pictures from around Florence as well.
ciao ciao

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gelato Anyone?

Ciao ragazzi!

Being asked to reflect on my time here when I am so close to going home is a daunting task. I've seen and done so much that’s it’s hard to remember how it felt to arrive in Firenze and experience it all for the first time. Thinking back to the first few weeks I can safely say that I've adjusted well to Italian life, though I know that I will never really blend in here. I can manage the hectic grocery store checkout line like a pro and today I even smiled at the street vendors persistent attempts to use flattery as a sales tactic. I also realized that I have no idea where I left the folded and worn down map of Florence I used to cling to. Navigating the city has become automatic, maybe from nights of wandering around in whichever direction seemed most interesting, with the Arno and Duomo always there to lead me home.

Walking has always been one of my favorite pastimes and Florence has some of the best paths to offer. I love stumbling on bits of art everywhere I go. From ancient sculptures and frescoes to scrawled messages and graffiti, the streets of Florence never disappoint. I've even found poetry written on the crumbling walls I pass daily. There is inspiration everywhere I look, not only in the art of the city, but also in every marketplace and square. From fish laid out in il Mercato Centrale, to gowns displayed in shop windows, there are countless colors and forms to add to my sketchbook or snap a picture of. The culture that I am surrounded by never fails to surprise me with something new and exciting. I will always have a new street to turn down and a gelato flavor to discover here.

I’m also discovering new things about myself, as a person and as an artist. I've gained the confidence to travel on my own and maybe just a little more confidence in my artwork. Having the amazing opportunity to shoot photos of the Ponte Vecchio and sketch the skyline that holds the Duomo has opened my eyes to all of the things that I can create. The idea of returning home is bittersweet, but I’m excited to return to Storrs with new ideas and the drive to bring them to life. I’m not saying I've discovered what kind of artist I am, but for now I won’t let that decision bother me. If anything I've simply added more options to my list of possible careers in art.

With only a few weeks left I can safely say that this semester has been unforgettable, and there’s still time to squeeze in a couple more memories(and gelato flavors).


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ciao Ragazzi!

Arrivaderci Frank!

Ciao amici, so here I am in Florence, a little more than halfway through the semester, a strange and confusing time to reflect upon. I feel as though I am already unintentially mentally preparing myself to the transition of returning to Storrs, CT and I find myself conflicted both about how I feel towards being here in Florence, and also about returning to the States.

Aside from that cryptic introduction, I want to say that the time spent here has been absolutely amazing. The spontaneous family dinners have been proof that all you need for a great meal is some pasta, vegetables, chicken, cheap wine, expensive olive oil, and maybe a language barrier. The sites and museums around the city have still not stopped to constantly deceive us with the importance of their collections inside by their convenience and attainability (apparently it IS possible to stumble upon Michelangelo’s gravesite without knowing it). Traveling has also become something that is expected of you to do every weekend, and because of how easy it is, I’ve seen and been to more places than I originally intended coming here (I’ve also spent more money than I intended as well).

It’s really interesting to compare my expectations of this experience with how it actually turned out, including what I would be doing here in terms of work, where I would travel during time off, what I would be doing with my free time, etc. One main difference is definitely present in the work that I do here. I’ve had more free time to develop my sketchbook further, but less access to studio space so the result is an entire new vocabulary of drawing that I would not have developed if I had not been in Italy. I’m also hoping that my lack of photo documentation of this experience won’t haunt me later, since each one of my drawings is a direct reflection of what I was looking at and what I experienced (at least to me, so I guess it’s a little selfish).

Anyways, I still hope to meet the rest of this semester with an open mind because I know for a fact that there are still experiences to be had, even though part of me is already looking forward to come back to a heavy work-load, multiple deadlines, and late nights. The reason for my excitement to go back is not as much homesick as it is an anxiousness to use what I’ve discovered here towards getting my career started. I do believe that this experience has had an incredible influence on me and I’m excited that it’s both almost over, and that there is still a good deal of time left to spend here