Monday, November 30, 2015

It's almost finals time..

After living in Florence for about three months, it's strange to think that we'll soon be leaving this place. I am now very well adjusted to the lifestyle and can call my apartment here my home. Not only have I been experiencing some amazing places, but I have also been able to make some lifelong friends. Being thrown into an apartment with five other people whom I had never met before can seem like a challenge at first, but after traveling throughout Europe with them it becomes very easy to bond. These are people that I have traveled through not only Italy with but all the way out to Germany, Barcelona, Spain, Switzerland and even more.
This photo is from the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, which I can easily say was the most beautiful place for me. And also being able to stand only a few feet away from death was pretty exhilarating too. These cliffs really gave me a sense of what beauty the world has to offer and makes me want to continue to travel more throughout my lifetime.

Being in Florence has also given me many artistic opportunities that I may have not been able to accomplish or maybe even just realize back home. One project that I have been working on here has to do with bicycles, and their importance here in Florence. When half of the people around you, or maybe even more, are using some type of transportation other than a car it makes you quickly distinguish yourself from the people who live here, myself in particular as I need to take my car any where I want to go. But being a photo major, I saw this as a great place to start an ongoing project. I have begun to photograph not only bikes that are left alone on the street waiting to be ridden again but also owners riding their bikes throughout the city. Everybody has a place to go and a different expression so photographing these people is really interesting to me.
When I get back to Uconn, I want to photograph students and others biking around and see what the similarities and differences are if any. While I'm not fully ready to go home yet, it will be nice to get thrown back into the real world. I have been enjoying every moment here and am not ready to let that go. Florence has become my home and I hope that the next group to come here will enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Andiamo

It’s hard to believe that we are already over halfway finished with our semester in Florence, yet looking back on the day we first arrived feels distant. Now, I go about my everyday life here with much more ease, falling into the routine of navigating without a map and predominately hearing a language that isn’t English.

The highlight of this semester so far has been fall break. A combination of the most rewarding experiences I will always look back at fondly, beginning my trip with flying out to London and meeting up with my dad for a few days. Not only did I finally get to see family, but I was also able to experience an incredible city with him. Not to mention, it was refreshing to visit a city that spoke English. I felt extremely fortunate to have been able to see my dad during my time away, so naturally the hardest part of my time abroad was saying goodbye to him again. London itself was extraordinary. It was large, lively, and full of history. It was hard to visit everything in just a few days time, but we managed to see a lot and of course made time to visit Platform 9 3/4.

After admiring London for a few days, I took a high speed train out to Paris to meet up with friends for the rest of our time off. I chose to go to Paris because it had been a city I’d pictured myself visiting since I was very young. It was crazy to be traveling to Versailles one day and then the Eiffel Tower the next. So many historical locations and monuments, its still crazy to think that I was there experiencing such a widely recognized and appreciated culture.
This trip was not only significant because of all I was able to see in a week, but I learned a lot from traveling and how to get around. When I returned I chose to make my “Something New” project on different modes of public transportation that I learned a lot more about during my time away.

-Paige Kibby



Monday, November 23, 2015

Less Than 3 Weeks Away Ragazzi!

My last post I had shared was about my experience 3 weeks into the program. Now there's less than 3  weeks left! Everyone had told me that studying abroad will go by so fast and I can’t emphasize how fast it really does. 

Being busy with classes makes time fly really fast. The drawing/painting class has been interesting, as it allows us to explore new places in Florence, even two months in. We have had some weekly assignments that I have enjoyed very much. We are given an assignment with very little direction but it forces us to explore and create in a very unique way. We had our first critique in the class which was super helpful as it helped us all. It was also a great opportunity to see work done by our classmates. 

We are done with our cultural literacy workshop class. Last week we had to make a group video project about our experiences in Italy so far. This was so much fun, as our video highlighted the amazing food culture here. I enjoyed this because a few of us from the studio arts program have been having family dinners every other week with students from the other programs and so for our video, we made pasta! We all met up and made fresh pasta! Fresh pasta meaning a pasta maker, eggs, flour and a lot of teamwork. This was one of the many experiences that I will miss back home. It  allows us to meet new people and every week we do something new. 









 I finally got the hang of the pace here in Italy and know it will be hard re-adjusting in America. I love how relaxed everyone is here. My friends and I have definitely enjoyed this, as we spend a lot of time together especially during dinner and when we go out to bars. Traveling is also an example of changing the pace because although we only have weekends to travel, I don’t feel stressed traveling for such a short amount of time. You learn to enjoy the little things during the moment instead of planning too far in the future.


I know these next few weeks are going to be bittersweet. Though the holiday time is making me miss my family and home, I know that when I get home I will be missing my routine in Florence.








Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ciao!!

Ciao!  I can’t believe we have been in Florence for over two months. It’s funny how having a routine can cause time to fly by so quickly. Two months gave me enough time to learn the ropes, and try and blend in better than I was my first couple of weeks here. I know the dos and the don’ts of grocery shopping, where the best (and cheapest) cappuccinos can be found, and I have a favorite route to class.  Having my parents visit this past week was such an unexpected rewarding experience, as I was able to let someone in on my inside knowledge of the city.

As my parents ooohed and ahhed their way through the trip, I realized how easy it is to fall in love with this place, and why it attracts so many tourists. Florence is so aesthetically pleasing; my dad even said that every street looks like it is a part of a movie set. Living here for two plus months has allowed me to appreciate the more subtle treasures of Florence. I love the dog culture, and the way people are always meeting for a coffee or a pastry. There is just a different appreciation for time in Florentines than there are in many Americans.  To sit and eat and enjoy a coffee or a snack or meet with friends in a piazza is something that isn’t often seen in America, and I love it.

There’s so much to take in, still, and I don’t know if I could ever become immune to this city. I feel like its just constant sensory overload, and it really is hard to capture this city in a sketch or two. But, I will try! Here are a couple of sketches, and some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken of Florence.

The dog culture here is the best


What are these little truck things? I see them everywhere, I love them.

I mean c'mon, look at that view!

- Louise Astorino

Observations of Venice

By Christy Corey

In the streets of Venice near the St.Lucia train station there sat a man drumming on pots and pans. Rather he appeared to be half elephant, half man due to the plastic mask he wore complete with a trunk.We tipped him and stayed for another round of contagious rhythm. My heart melted as children approached him yelling, "Ciao elefante!" At first he seemed to disregard them but then he handed out a few pairs of extra drumsticks. The parents urged their reluctant children to play and after a moment more of hesitation, they began nonsensically banging on the makeshift drum set. The man; half elephant, half human, joined in with an energetic beat. They performed together; the children's faces glowing. Once finished, the drummer leaned back and gave the children a round of applause. The crowd that had gathered began to join in on what I assume to be the first applause received by these tiny musicians. 



Witnessing this was beautiful. It reminded me how important it is to show children support and to encourage creativity. The moment also reminded me of all the support I've received from childhood until now that resulted in me studying art in Florence. Even though it seems like a small gesture to hand out drumsticks and let kids play for a few minutes, it's so important and could have a huge impact in their lives.  Small moments of support such as this add up. I hoped for a chance to give a moment like that to a young artist. 


So we walked away in awe of the moment we had witnessed and sat by the water. We had a few hours until our train so we began sketching and painting Venice as night fell towards the glistening waters. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the family next to us struggling to take a selfie. On their third attempt I offered to take it for them and they happily agreed. As I sat back down, the little girl exclaimed, "una artista!" then pointed to the paints and continued to speak in Spanish. The mother explained, "She is a little artist herself, she has a set of watercolor at home."I responded enthusiastically and talked to them for a bit.




 I returned to sketching the green dome across the water with the darkening blue sky surrounding it. I could faintly hear the drummer continuing his catchy beat. After a few minutes I turned back to the family and I asked the girl if she would like to paint. Once her mother translated, the girl looked at me a little scared like she had been put on the spot but then looked at the paint set. I asked what her favorite color was and handed her my sketchbook as I put blue paint on the pallet. She took the brush and painted swirls across the page as the mother happily took photos of her daughter painting by the water in Venice. Once she finished, she handed me the brush and smiled. I asked her name and for her to sign the painting.  

Blanca's painting happily sits on the last page of my sketchbook as a reminder for me to be grateful for everyone who has put a paintbrush in my hand. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Avventura Vi Aspetta

Reading my first blog post, I can say without hesitation that my experience here in Italy has definitely changed into one that I have grown to love and appreciate. Unlike the initial stage of my study abroad experience, I have now adjusted to living in this urban rush of a city. The things that used to give me anxiety- the narrow streets, the crowded supermarkets, the bustling train stations- I have now become accustomed to. I am able to go about my travels with much more ease and confidence in my directionality, which is a huge step for me, seeing as how often I got lost even with a map in my hands.
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Streets of Rome, Italy
During the fall break, I was lucky enough to travel with my mom who came to visit me in Italy for the week. We traveled to Rome, Venice, and back to Florence where I got to show her around the city as if I was a true Florentine. To be honest, travelling around three cities in a week’s worth of time was pretty exhausting and quite a hectic journey. After a couple days of nonstop rigorous touring, we knew that it was nearly impossible to get to every famous landmark of each city; so instead, we decided to tour at our own pace without a set plan or destination. Travelling became so much more spontaneous as we took our time to stroll along narrow alleyways and have the leisure to enjoy a glass of wine outside while watching the people of the city live their lives with haste. Getting lost was no longer a fear but an excursion that often led to unexpected discoveries.

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The Vatican, Rome, Italy
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Burano Island in Venice, Italy
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Gondola Rides in Venice!
As my time here in Florence draws closer to the end, I feel impatient to take in as much as I can while I am here in the present moment. There is so much to see and so many places to venture to with not enough time to check off everything on the bucket list. While I am here though, I plan to expose myself to new things as much as I can. This includes trying new foods, meeting new people from different parts of the world, and of course looking at as much art as I possibly can in the time that I have left of this journey abroad.

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Some pages from my sketchbook
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One piece from my "Something New" series
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Adventures in Siena

-Soyoung Lee