Beyond the attraction of a semester away from our native country, in exchange for living in a romanticized Tuscan villa, there is a greater reason that we are all here. The 28 students that make up the Accademia dell’Arte Fall Class of 2014 possess talents, personalities, and intellect that stimulate a greater indication of what it means to be an artist. We are thinkers, creative beings, and people who are all seeking to find a deeper part of ourselves, whatever that means for us individually. While the 3 of us cannot speak for the whole of the 28, we ourselves have different purposes for being here and diverse ways of thinking about what we expect out of this experience, already proving itself to be capable of changing us in ways we certainly didn’t anticipate.
For myself, I came to Arezzo for opportunity. Before I’d even been accepeted to Furman University, I knew that I had to be a part of this program. As a musician, how could I NOT take advantage of the chance to study in the country where so much of it’s history was written? But even after receiving my acceptance letter (and subsequent tears of joy), I began to ask myself what else, what more could I hope to gain from this experience? Sure singing Italian arias in it’s native country and studying music history in it’s birthplace are great perks of the program, but let’s be honest: the collegiate years are supposedly the most developmental in discovering yourself or what you want out of life. For me, this stereotypical college life has been exactly what I’ve been handling (or forcing myself into) for the past 2 years. I’ve learned a lot about myself even in America within a condensed 4 semesters and know that there will be much more to come throughout the next years of my life. But this is a semester of a lifetime. This is an experience meant to be completely out of my comfort zone, forced into surviving in a country that is not my own, and taking this culture completely to heart. And that ultimately is what I want. I want to do more than temporarily adopt the Italian lifestyle, but to truly live in it as my own. I want to sing with more passion that I ever have before, even if it means stepping out of what I’ve been comfortable with for the many years I’ve been singing. I want to simultaneously be more than just another face in the crowd, but still seems just like any other Italian. In this juxtaposition of blending in and being noticed, I want to completely be free of inhibitions that I drew myself into at home and do whatever I feel called to do, making sure that I balance the line of being a stand-out and practicing assimilation. At the end of November, I see myself living evenly, freely, and joyously, radiating the light of the Tuscan sun and singing the history of my semester.
At the beginning of each term, I always set personal goals for myself. This year, my goal for my study abroad are to learn and effectively use the Italian language. By immersing myself in the Italian culture through various events such as the antique market, joust, and life in Arezzo itself, I hope to acquire conversational skills in Italian.
By living at the Academia del’ Arte, I will have multiple opportunities to engage in conversation with my professors, mentors, and colleagues. The Accademia is within close proximity to downtown Arezzo. It is refreshing to be able to walk into town and attempt to use Italian because there is not a reason that students should not venture out into the town to explore and engage with the locals. Also, whenever I feel insecure about my use of the Italian language, it is refreshing to know that I have the guidance of the staff at the Academia to answer my questions and assist me in perfecting my use of Italian. Therefore, the school allows me to achieve my goal of using Italian in a conversation by offering Italian courses, residing within walking distance to downtown Arezzo, and by providing me with valuable resources (staff and students) that can provide me with guidance and support to grow in my confidence of using the Italian language.
Its hard to think about how I will be at the end of this semester, even to just visualize it is difficult, partially because I feel like that in being here even one week I have changed already so much. In just these few short days I see myself as a bit more relaxed, which coming from someone who has had anxiety issues for most of my life is a big step. I have no idea what exactly I will be like, but I certainly know how I would like to change. I would like to see that by the end of the semester I would be more confident for starters, both in my musical abilities as well as in my interactions with others around me. From being around performers most of my life, I have seen how difficult it can be to balance along the thin line of contentment with oneself and arrogance. My hope is that by the end of the semester I will have bridged that gap and found comfort in my talent, instead of present insecurities.
By the end of the semester, I hope to also be less judgmental of others. I tend to definitely judge people on first impressions and then hold onto these preconceived notions, even though much of the time they are proven wrong. One our first days of class, we had our first “tramonto”, where participated in a group “speed dating” activity. We asked our peers a variety of questions, one of which was “what we were most proud of.” One of the individuals I talked to stated that she was most proud of the relationships that she had in her life. I would like to be able to say that at the end of the semester, to say that I formed friendships that I knew would last my whole life, and that I was able to push past initial judgements and see people for who they are. If I could say that I achieved all of these things by the end of this semester, my life would change forever. I don’t know how exactly I see myself at the end of the semester, but the one thing I can see myself being, for sure, is happy.