The Final Stretch: Summer Arts Students Reflect on Their Four Weeks Abroad
Wesleigh Harrison (Hendrix College), Sydney McDonald (California Institute of the Arts), and Vanessa C. Filazzola (Texas A&M International University)
What has been the highlight of your time in Italy?
Wesleigh: The biggest highlight of my time in Italy was my weekend at the Cinque Terre, which was such a beautiful place to visit. Another memorable moment was when I coincidentally bumped into my friend from school, Annika, in Arezzo!
Sydney: One weekend, my friends and I made no travel plans–we just left the villa. We traveled to the coast, met amazing people, and just went wherever the wind took us. We would look down a street and think, “I wonder what’s down there? Let’s find out!” Two beaches, a dinner with a local family, a bizarre Italian play about Amy Winehouse, three tattoos, and a lost-and-found wallet later, I had had the weirdest and best weekend of my entire life. When in Italy, just remember to say, “Why not, my God!”
Vanessa: Leaving. (Just kidding!) I think the highlight of my time here in Arezzo was meeting people that I wouldn’t have otherwise crossed paths with. Every person here has such a special and unique quality! I have made many bonds and friendships that have made this trip truly memorable. Overall, choosing only one specific memory simply could not capture my time spent here.
What piece of advice would you like to add to the ADA Survival Guide for future students?
Wesleigh: Even if you are homesick or having a hard time adjusting to the culture of Italy, go into town and explore! I was here for four weeks, and the only thing I regret is not going into town more often.
Sydney: A scarf soaked in water is your best friend. It can shield you from the sun and keep you cool. However much coffee and alcohol you have, drink triple that in water! Bring a reusable water bottle to save money on plastic bottles.
Vanessa: If you’re here in the summer, invest in buying a hand fan. For the hot, non-windy days, this will surely keep you cool and fabulous! Also, do not travel with a group larger than you could count on one hand. Take weekend trips, don’t cry over the WiFi, take lots of pictures, and make even more memories!
Mikaela (Ball State University): Some heartfelt advice would be to take a million pictures, and take nothing for granted. You’re going to be so tired, and sometimes you will need a little time alone. As crazy as it sounds, you’ll even get used to the view. Just remember it’s a once in a lifetime chance to change your life and the way you view the world.
Jason (Case Western Reserve University): If you are here in a summer as hot as this one was, make sure to bring plenty of mosquito repellant!
Jerry (Hendrix College): Just be yourself and enjoy the setting. It can be easy to forget that you’re in Italy, but do your best not to take it for granted. Try to speak Italian to the locals, drink the wine, eat the gelato, see the sights. Most importantly, bond with your classmates and have fun.
Leya (University of California, Irvine): Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to Italians. While Italy is beautiful to look at, you can learn the most from talking to real Italians and hearing their stories. A lot of people at the Accademia were afraid of looking/acting like American tourists, but the reality is – you ARE a tourist! Enjoy it, and enjoy being the newbie in an unfamiliar setting–chances are, you will grow and learn the most from experiencing the unfamiliar.
Yiping (University of Rochester): It is fun and helpful to learn a little bit of Italian. Italian people are very friendly when they speak English, and they are very passionate when they know you can speak some Italian. Also, food here is so good and I strongly recommend taking a cooking course here!!!