This is my first post since arriving in Italy. It has been such a long week. Internet has been hard to come by, so I guess I’ll try to make this one count.

We arrived in Rome on schedule. The flights were fine. Well.. except the part where they wake you up a few hours after you fell asleep and tell you it’s morning. Now… the sun was up and shining, which was very convincing. But my body didn’t agree. The only good part was being handed coffee immediately.

I traveled with 3 girls straight from Oklahoma City. We met up with another girl in Chicago and a fifth once we arrived in Rome. The six of us got a deal on a van to our hotel in the middle of Rome. Well, it went nearly to our hotel. I consider wandering around a city, pulling luggage, being exhausted, and looking clueless is part of the experience. Rome was beautiful. I miss it. I feel like we were there for a long time. Each day, we got up, had some bread and coffee, and started our trek with our professor through the city. The weather was beautiful, but sunny. By the end of the day, we were all covered in sweat and groaning about our feet.

The buildings and art were amazing. There was this moment, while I was looking at a Bernini sculpture, when I realized that this trip was going to be significant for me. I’ve never cared for art history as much as a studio art major should. Seeing the work in person changes everything. Photos in books can be inspiring, but standing near a famous piece of art and realizing there is a reason that it’s famous does more. It’s moving. And then it’s humbling. It makes me feel like I can never be an artist because I need to improve so much. The thing about me, fortunately, is I find being told I can’t do something extremely motivating. Even if I am the one saying it. Oh I can’t? Watch me.

I’m leaving out a lot, but just know the academic side of things has been action packed and the non-class cultural experiences have been a number of things: enlightening, complicated, confusing, and hilarious to name a few.

Next, we took a private bus to Sienna. It was such a nice place. We were only there for an afternoon, but it was worth it. We saw art in a very small museum and then our professor sent us on a mission. In Sienna, there are 17 neighborhoods that all have different animal names and compete in a horse race. We were told to ask locals about their neighborhoods and which neighborhoods were their rivals. It felt like being part of the Amazing Race. Minus the physical labor and plus gelato. There is always gelato involved. I was lucky in that no one was mean to me and several people were very helpful. Some girls said that they were kicked out of stores for asking, even if they had already made purchases.

So far, people have mostly been nice. Lots of people have been unfriendly, but not mean. Some people, specifically men, have been overly welcoming. It’s a strange thing to be blatantly propositioned and (after firmly declining, of course) not even feeling that offended. I think I’d like to deck a guy if he was so blunt in Oklahoma. Here, it is easy to brush off.

We are in Florence now. It smells like cigarettes and leather. And food, if you’re standing in the right places. I like this city. The walls of the buildings are very tall and the streets are very narrow. There are more tourists here than I’ve ever seen in my life. The guides hold sticks with flowers or decorations on the ends or umbrellas to keep from losing their flocks. It’s very strange to be in a foreign place and hear so many American voices around. It isn’t what I expected, but I’m spending time on the beaten path. I wish I had more time here to better get to know the city, but we leave on Friday.

So far, I like both of my courses. The art history professor, Kirk, is great. I think I’ve learned a lot. I doubt I’ll be telling him any time soon, but I credit his teaching style. He calls it practical. I haven’t spent much time with the other professor, Stephanie, since she won’t be with us regularly until we get to Arezzo, but she seems very sharp and kind. These people are great sources of information. This program is one where you get back whatever you put in. I’m doing my best to get a lot back.

I may not have internet for a bit, but I’ll update when I get the chance.




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