Monday, September 28, 2015

A City Filled With Interesting People.

When thinking about the city of Florence before I had personally been there, I thought of the very small and pretty town filled with lots of rich history and amazing food as this is all I had heard from those that had been there for a week or less. After arriving and living here for around a month now I can say that these thoughts have been proven true. But one thing that I did not expect would be the very diverse amount of people throughout the city apart from strictly Italians that were not talked about. When walking down the narrow roadways to school it's easy to spot out people of many varying backgrounds. I really enjoy talking photos of people, as well as drawing them, so this was a great place for me to expand on this ongoing project of mine. The people here all have different interpretations of what's cool for clothing, haircuts, etc... so this was a great change from the typical American style. Also as a side note, the difference in the amount of people of smoke is quite the change as well. Along with the size of the cars.

To talk about my experience so far in terms of adjusting to the new lifestyle and becoming accustomed to the changes, I think I'm doing well as of right now. Moving into an apartment with people I hadn't met before was a little nerve racking but exciting at the same time. We all became great friends within the first few days and we still prefer to go out and participate in activities as a group. I feel like this helped a lot with the sense of culture shock in the beginning as I wasn't experiencing all this on my own. If one of us became lost, or needed help with anything, we would figure out a way to get the job done. I still become nervous in public sometimes as I am still learning the basics of the Italian language, and don't want to make myself like a fool. But most of the people that I've met in the city have been very nice for the most part. One thing that annoys me though are the "gypsies" of the town. Earlier today I had seen a man sitting by himself looking at something on his phone, and a gypsy woman walked right by him grabbing his phone from his hand. Luckily he managed to grip it correctly and not let her take it, but acts such as this really bother me.

I'm extremely excited for what's to come next in this adventure, and I can't wait to share the experience with others.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Allora, Parliamo

*Christy posting from Madeline's

 Four weeks in to my stay,  I'm reflecting on what my expectations were before leaving home compared to what studying abroad and living in Florence is really like. I wasn't expecting the adjustment to city life; the cramped sidewalks, the lack of nature. I wasn't expecting the lovely combination of homesickness and physical sickness that happened within my first week. I wasn't expecting to feel so lost sometimes. 

If you couldn't tell, this is my first time abroad and my first time away from home for a long stretch of time. I've always been the one out of my friends to write letters for their plane rides and to like every one of their photos depicting their travels. Now instead of living vicariously through them, I'm seeing things for myself. They were excited for me and I finally received plane letters in return.

 My friend Abby who studied abroad in Madrid wrote, " I think it's so great that you will actually be bored one day. While it feels like a vacation and there's so much to explore, you're really going to just LIVE in Italy. So Casual!" When I read this at the beginning of my trip I didn't fully understand and I definitely didn't ever want to feel bored. The first few weeks I would get upset if I ever thought I was taking the experience for granted. I tried to resist feelings of discomfort or sadness and make myself fully appreciate every moment. 

I'm glad that my view has shifted and I now understand what she was saying. I will never have the romantic view of Florence which people who see it for a few days have but that's not a bad thing. Instead, I'll have a deeper appreciation for it. I will have felt at home here. I will have repeatedly done all of the little things that tourists don't get the chance to do. These simple moments include sitting in the Mercato Centrale for hours, sketching and sipping a cappuccino, walking down the Arno River on my commute to class, having friends over for dinner, and leaving this city for a weekend trip and then returning home to Florence. 

Now the pressure of my own expectations is off and I can take this experience for what it is, along with all the struggles and all the beauty. 

Friday, September 25, 2015


We are officially done with our fourth week of classes here in Florence and I must say it has been an interesting journey already! From figuring out which is the best grocery store, to figuring out directions from one building to the other, to communicating with an Italian hairdresser on how to cut your hair.  These are the little things on our trip that contribute to our incredible study abroad experience.

The program has a unique set up, which allows you to learn in a completely different way than we are used to back home. Many, if not all, of our classes are on-site. We have had maybe one drawing/painting class in the studio! In Photography and Art History, we visit museums, squares and different streets in Florence one day of the week and the other day, we are in the classroom. The classes here really incorporate the Italian lifestyle, which helps you immerse with Italian culture.

All that I have seen in textbooks of the architecture in Italy does not even compare with seeing it in person. The buildings, cathedrals and statues amaze me each day I pass them. Even being here for almost 4 weeks, I feel like I keep discovering new things. Since texting and walking is not common here, you have the chance to really observe and notice new things, even when walking the same route every day.

“Italy is Eatily”. Of all my experiences, this sentence sums it up the best. I can’t get over how incredible the food is here. Gelato, croissants, pizza, the cappuccinos! Shopping for fruits and vegetables in the markets might just actually be on my top 5 favorite activities to do in Florence. The variety is amazing, but the taste is even better! However, buying groceries every day here has definitely been something I have been getting used to.

Although I am very excited to be here, I feel like it is going by so fast! My teachers have already all distributed the format for midterms, which means it is almost half way! I am looking forward to learning all that I can while I am here, as well as traveling as much as possible in the time that is left. I can’t wait to reflect on my experience in my next blog post. Ciao for now!

Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy

Jackson Pollack's paint brushes and paint cans on display

St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy 

San Gimignano 

Sketching in Boboli Gardens  

Studying with a beautiful view of the Duomo in Biblioteca delle Oblate

Friday, September 18, 2015


To  kick off the Florence 2015 blog, I will start off by saying Florence is unlike any place I’ve been before. I am extremely grateful this trip was made possible because I‘ve already learned so many new things here and this city continues to amaze me. We have been here for over three weeks now and I’m slowly adjusting the the new lifestyle that has little in common with Storrs, Connecticut. I admit to having the absolute worst sense of direction ever. So, navigating my way through Florence has been undeniably overwhelming. However, I’ve slowly started to get to know my way around, prioritizing my route to the grocery store and gelato of course. It shouldn’t be a surprise that food has been a major theme during my travels in Italy. I’m thankful to take a break from the dining halls for a semester, and have a kitchen to cook food we buy fresh everyday.

Tasting great food was a big expectation I had before moving in. However, there are other aspects of daily life here that I couldn’t have clearly predicted. Street etiquette is one thing that labeled me as an American. When to cross, where to walk, and how to swiftly maneuver around speeding mopeds and cars is something that took a little getting used to. Similarly to walking on the street, grocery shopping was a sport within itself, fighting through small isles and realizing that it is rude to touch produce without a plastic glove! These are small lessons that took some trial and error, but I can happily say that I am now getting the hang of things.

Besides a couple of clumsy weeks of trying to fit in, I have been constantly amazed by my new home. I heard all the stories and saw all the pictures but I really was not expecting Florence to be THIS incredible. Everything here is so quaint and picturesque that I cannot stop snapping pictures. So the food is delicious, the streets are beautiful, but the most unbelievable thing so far has been seeing art history come to life. My first week here I was very lost and unexpectedly popped out in front of the Santa Maria Novella. Cheesy as it may be, the sight took my breath away. I studied this church in Art History last semester, and seeing it in the flesh was so exciting.  I feel so fortunate to be able to live in a city with so much history and life. I definitely need to work on my Italian a little (a lot), but I am so thrilled to get this opportunity, and I cannot wait for these next couple of months.

Small Selection of 100 FACES 100 PLACES Assignment

Santa Maria Novella

Saturated Living

Buonasera amici!

Tutti e molta bene qui a Firenze! Our third week of classes is winding down as is our fourth week, that makes a month! My goal coming here was to tell myself to drink in everything that Florence has to offer. During the summer, I studied Renaissance art history so I would better appreciate what I saw here. Those moments of recognition have been incredible. But what was not written in those books was the richness that completely surrounds you. It strikes me every day (even we got immensely lost our first two weeks here!) in what history we live. For example, we learned through our art history reading this week that Brunelleschi designed the Piazza Annuziata that lies 1000ft outside our door! And our street is named after Gino Capponni, whose memorial alter I saw in the Santa Croce.
Florence is saturated. What a gift to be able to come through a wonderful art program to study in the densest area, quite possibly, in the entire world. My favorite moments here (besides speaking Italian with Florentines) are when we venture out at night to the Piazzas to sketch. What captures me these past weeks were the textures of the city and, of course, the human form through sculpture.
We are protected from the wind by Arnolfo di Cambio, sitting next to Giambologna's thoughts carved in stone, attending lezioni in a pallazzo designed by Alberti in the 15th century. Our teachers provide us with feet-propelled classes guiding us to living history and revolution. Looking below and above, I think of whose historic shoes also touched these streets that our Nikes are touching now. I haven't yearned for home, but what does leave me sad is the thought that I will not be able to comprehend all that lies before us. Even now, I find myself caught up in this thought. But I firmly believe our teachers are providing a prolific depth of knowledge to us; we then can adeptly venture on our own. Our life here is completely consuming. To have such depth of passion gushing from every crevice of cobblestone and curve of sculpture wakes you with such vigor in the morning living goes beyond living.
What more can you ask for in life?