We can’t believe it, but the semester is already halfway over! This means our students have just returned from their various fall break destinations, including but not limited to France, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, England, Switzerland, and Germany! Despite some travel difficulties, our students maintained positive attitudes and managed to make the best of every obstacle that came their way. Read on to hear travel tales from Physical Theatre students Genevieve, Dan, September, and Sydney!
Genevieve Wall: Physical Theatre, Muhlenberg College PA
The start of fall break had finally arrived. My boyfriend and I were just setting out to catch a train to Pisa, where early the next morning we would fly out to Paris. We left the Villa in the most joyous of spirits—and then the unexpected struck. The sky split open. Water soaked us through in seconds. Deep rivers rushing down the roads drenched our shoes. Cracked pipes in the street sprayed icy water at us from all sides. Once we finally made it to the train station, we looked like dripping, bedraggled versions of our former selves. For hours we shivered on the train, our clothes still soaking. By the time we arrived at Pisa at 1:30 am, all shuttles to the airport had stopped. We walked three miles to the airport, but right as we got there, the airport locked its doors for the night. So we tried to find the bench most shielded from the wind, and half-slept, half-shivered our way until the airport opened at 4:30. I’m grateful I had such a resourceful companion—we kept each other laughing to distract ourselves from our discomfort!
A few days later, we visited a friend of my family named Bruce. He had only ever met me a handful of times, but he quickly overwhelmed me with his generosity. He invited us over to his flat, cooked us a hot meal, and did two loads of laundry for us so we didn’t have to wear damp clothes for the rest of the week. Seeing someone who only knew me through my parents drop everything to help me out really moved me. His hospitality taught me that I have a much wider support network than I ever realized. Even in the middle of a foreign country thousands of miles away from home, I felt my family’s love touch me through Bruce’s kindness. It’s humbling to feel such love from an unexpected place.
This trip has filled me with so much gratitude for my parents. Their lives extend farther than I can ever know. Imagining their lives at my age — my father making mischief with Bruce, my mother’s adventures in hostels – makes me really appreciate the wisdom and love they share with me. All in all, that’s how fall break left me—humbled by all the love and support around me.
Dan Dobro: Physical Theatre, Muhlenberg College PA
My fall break started off strong with the worst weather Pisa airport had experienced since an apparently decades-ago blizzard. I had breezed through security and gotten to the gate with plenty of time to spare, but it didn’t matter because my flight out had a delay of 4 hours, then 6 hours, then 8 hours. But eventually, after a free airport meal and a much longer security check, we got into the air around midnight and I was on my way to Amsterdam. A good friend of mine is studying in in Cronigen at the moment, and he’d said he’d meet me at the airport. Neither of us imagined that meeting taking place at 2am, but it was joyous nonetheless.
By 4 in the morning we got to the hostel. Checkout wasn’t until 10 so thankfully we had time for a few hours of sleep and breakfast was included. The one day we spent in the city was nice. We spent a couple hours in a coffee shop, saw a couple English bookstores, and visited the Rembrandt house. Then we caught an evening train to Cronigen, where I spent the next few days. Cronigen is really nice. None of the buildings are overwhelmingly tall, and the roads seem to be built more for bikes than for cars. Plus the canals are numerous and beautiful (in my neighborhood at home, we only have one canal, and it’s gross and full of trash). My friend has a bike of his own, and luckily his roommate was out of town so I was able to borrow hers. Unfortunately, she’s very small, and thus so is her bike. By the end of a couple days of using it, my sits-bones couldn’t take any more, and my legs weren’t very happy either. But luckily, in the Netherlands, almost everything is flat. There’s hardly any terrain whatsoever. So getting around wasn’t too stressful.
My next stop was London. My girlfriend is studying there for the semester, and it was wonderful to see her. She picked me up at the airport, where I got myself an Oyster card for traveling on the Tube. Being a New Yorker, it felt really great to experience hustle and bustle and metro again. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here in Arezzo, but I’m definitely an urbanite at heart.
I had a lot of fun being a tourist in Central London and the West end. It wasn’t that difficult getting around on foot (I think we walked about 9 miles a day). I got to see a couple fantastic shows, I took a tour of the national theatre, saw a bunch of cool street performers, and ate some great food.
I was really sad to say goodbye to my girlfriend at the end of the week but fortunately she’ll be coming to visit Arezzo in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, my travel back here from London was totally stressless compared to my travel out, and it’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to getting into the swing of things again!
Sydney Copeland-Goodman: Physical Theatre, Coastal Carolina University SC
What do I say about fall break? It was a ton of events packed into 9 long days!
I traveled with Emma Peretz and Quintessa Meekins and we started off by flying to Marrakech, Morocco. When we first arrived, of course I had a crazy feeling in my stomach of, “Wow, I’m in another country” but the feeling really hit me when I exchanged my euros to Dirhams and received A LOT of money back. That was when it hit me that I was about to spend a week in a country that I had never been to, it was thousands of miles away from both of my homes (America and Italy) and I was staying in an area that historically is known to not treat women too well.
Well one of these realizations changed very quickly.
We stayed at one of the best hostels in Marrakech and soon met a wonderful variety of people. We met people from Russia, Australia, London, Denmark, and many other places. Doing what you would typically do at a hostel, we became friends with a great group of people and traveled with them the first day. One awesome guy in our group had been to Marrakech many times before and knew many of the people that owned certain shops so he lead us around to all of the best places and introduced us to some amazing people that served us traditional mint tea (because if you take the time to talk to people who own shops, they will bring you mint tea, no doubt about it). We learned so much about the culture and even that woman have more freedom now than they did in the past which was when my thought that women weren’t treated too well from everything I read and heard before traveling, changed.
For the next few days, we traveled with more groups of people and got to know the city very well! We went to a wonderful spa that washed away all of our worries with the coolest black soap, learned how to bargain with Moroccans, had more and MORE mint tea, and made great relationships. Unfortunately, during our first day of traveling, I had breathing issues and after going to the hospital we realized I may have been allergic to something in the air of Marrakech and with the advice of my family, I decided to finish my fall break in London!
I was able to stay with my cousin and her beautiful family and I walked all around London for four days. I visited museums, walked around the shopping district, and saw shows in The West End. For the kind of person that I am, I feel as if I always need to see some type of live theater so that I am constantly inspired to keep pushing every day towards my goals. Well those shows definitely inspired me! I came back to Accademia ready to work again and do homework (well maybe not homework :D)
All in all, my fall break was packed full of fun and crazy events and I am so happy to have made those friendships and have those experiences in my life!
September McCarthy: Physical Theatre, Muhlenberg College PA
If there is one thing I have learned during this mid-semester break it is that although official classes were not in session, learning never stops.
I spent the week with my mother in two glorious cities: Amsterdam and Prague. I must admit, although I was sincerely looking forward to exploring and enjoying these new and exciting places, I was hesitant to leave the Accademia and break up the flow of my training. I was just beginning to have some breakthroughs in voice class and my brain was swelled with seemingly a million new projects that I wish I had the chance to sit down and develop. However, bringing my trusty notebook along, I made a conscious choice to make this break a mindful one. One during which I would take notes, make observations, and not let the new and over-stimulating environments just float by, but use them as fodder for new ideas and inspirations.
In Amsterdam, I took a 25 mile bike tour out into the stunning Netherlands countryside, where I got to talk with a Dutch farmer and learn how to make wooden shoes and cheese. I sifted through Central Amsterdam’s vintage stores and befriended one of the store’s owners, who is an artist and fellow philosopher.
In Prague, we took toured around the city, tasting the local cuisine, learning the history behind the architecture and how the government of the Czech Republic has influenced its cultural attitude. Around every corner was a new story waiting to be told, a history to be imagined.
Most importantly, though, this trip was a beautiful chance to reconnect with my mother and learn from her. Spending time here at the Accademia has certainly shaped my artistic growth, maturity, and life-experience, and thus has reconstructed my aspirations as well as helped me to better understand my mother’s. Our days were spotted with wonderful intellectual and emotional conversations that helped us to connect on a deeper level with each other and with the cities around us.
It can be quite easy to get in the mindset that formal training is the only way to grow as an artist. Pushing oneself to take class and work on perfecting technique is absolutely pivotal to a person’s success, however, life is just as important a tutor. Art cannot be separated from life. When we act in a play, we must summon that character’s life experiences, and when we paint an abstract picture, it will inevitably be tied to something in our unconscious that we have experienced in our lives. So, along with my goals in my classes here at the Accademia, I am going to try to make the most of the time I am free – vacation is never really vacation after all; every experience we have, if we allow it to sink in, will inevitably enrich our artistic wheelhouse.