This week Olivia, MaryKate, Laura, Brandt, and Sean reflect on their time at the ADA and offer some advice and discoveries to future students.
Olivia Tyndall, Muhlenberg College
I’m already starting to think of Arezzo as a memory. We have 10 days left, yet my experiences are well on their way to becoming epics in my mind. I can feel each adventure fossilizing in my temporal lobe so that I may draw upon them whenever I am in need of a reminder of how vibrant life can be.
From biking forty miles and twelve hours through Copenhagen in search of Thomas Dambo’s trolls on bikes named Frodo, Beyoncé, and 726, to seeing Norse-pagan heavy metal band, Heilung, live, to climbing to the top of (and sprinting down) Mount Vesuvius, Naples’ volcano, to running into Morgan Freeman filming in Pompeii, to simply watching the sunset from the teatrino roof—it has been a wild ride.
It is not only the craziest parts of my three months here which are embedding themselves into my limbic system, however, but the mundanities as well: morning warm-ups with Sam that I didn’t think I’d survive; cry-laughing in Commedia at the most vulgar of scenes; gazing out the window only to see a certain Scott happily watching us work; trekking to and from town—a journey that is somehow uphill both ways.
I in fact often recall the first climb of the infamous ADA hill, and how impossible it seemed. My friends and I now arrive at the top without breaking a sweat. Perhaps this tiny victory is the best way to measure my progress here, or perhaps the friendships I’ve made along the way are. In either case, they are cemented into my mind to call upon on the gloomiest of days. Thank you for the memories, ADA. I didn’t know how much I needed them until they appeared.
MaryKate Korbisch, Coastal Carolina University
Being abroad has been both the best and hardest thing I have ever done. What’s more is that I expected it to be the best thing I have ever done, but I did not expect it to be the hardest thing I have ever done. It has been quite the crazy process of discovering myself as an artist and as a person in a whole new light. I have learned things about myself that I never would have because I have experienced things I never have before. No one can tell you what this experience will be like. That is advice I can offer for future ADA students: welcome change. Embrace change with open arms. Make friends with failure. You will come across obstacles, but take the time to reflect on why you are encountering an obstacle. Times of struggles are times of learning. And I will leave you with this, I may be far away, but my connection to home and my relationships in America has never been stronger. I am the most whole I have ever been. I thank everyone that has been a part of my journey so far.
Laura Frye, Muhlenberg College
The faculty here at the ADA has made it very clear that there will never be another time in our professional lives where we will be able to collaborate and connect with a group to this extent ever again. As the weeks went on, our entire group has bonded as artists as well as great friends. Living and working in the same location as one another every day has proven to unlock a new level of comfort. This sense of comfort is crucial since the types of things we are asked to perform here are completely bizarre more often than not. The safe space the ADA has provided for all of us has allowed for some really interesting pieces of art to come into formation. Advice I would give to future students would be to come into this experience with an open mind about their definition of what good art is. Being here I’ve turned my head away from striving for good and more towards striving for new and interesting. That is the type of art that will impact an audience and that’s a lesson I can apply to my art for the rest of my life.
Brandt Sunter, Muhlenberg College
Wow what a week, almost every class and every minute of free time was dedicated to the collaborative final that we did on Friday, which came out (in my humble opinion) as a complete success. This week has also been full of goodbyes, as the music students are all leaving this Tuesday, and its given me a moment to reflect on my time here. If someone asked me back when I was in high school, or even just last year that I was going to be here, I wouldn’t believe it, or if I tried to imagine it, it wouldn’t be even close to the experience that I had here, and thats thanks to all the people I’ve shared this adventure with. I wouldn’t have been able to share nearly as much laughs, have even a fraction of the fun, or any of the comfort that all these amazing and talented people have shared with me throughout my time here. My first vivid memory of us as a group all focused on a single goal was when five of us started belting Uptown Girl in the villa hallway, and just as we were close to fading out, everyone bursted out of their rooms one after the other dancing down the hallway joining in the song. That is such a lightning in a bottle moment that I couldn’t even think about happening with anyone else but this group, and I’m so grateful to be in the same program as them. I’ve already done a lot here, but I’m going to try to make the most out of this final week, because who knows when I’m going to be in Italy again.
Sean Cheney, Muhlenberg College
Where Everybody knows Your Name
As the semester draws to a close, I cannot help but think about my time spent at this villa. I’ve spent a lot of time at this villa. There were days when I really wished I could spend my time not at this villa. But the villa was always there for me to come back to. It was somewhere that was nice, and somewhere comforting. And it was somewhere where I could feel totally at home. There are over 50 people here, staff and students, and I know each of them by name. And they each know
mine. I never felt like I was stuck somewhere surrounded by strangers, or that I was ever beset by unfamiliar faces. Unfamiliarity was quickly tossed out the window upon arriving here.
I can always count on the routine. I know who’s working on the puzzle. I know who will be sitting on the couch at the top of the steps. I know who will be working in the Sala Danza at late hours. I don’t even have to look inside. I can tell just from the playlist. It’s a routine that I am comfortable with and a routine that I’ve fully settled into. Which is why the return to the United States will be so difficult.
I’m going to be experiencing the culture shock of returning. I will go from 8 am warm-ups 3 times a week to not waking up until 10 for all of break. I will, God forbid, be responsible for feeding myself instead of going by the schedule at the Mensa. Perhaps most frighteningly of all, I will have become accustomed to walking for 40 minutes to get anywhere. I don’t know what my legs will do when I allow them to have a leisurely 10 minute stroll. Most of all, I’ll miss seeing people and knowing them, and having them know me.
I’m going to be returning to a hometown that has become increasingly unfamiliar to me. I’ll go back to streets I no longer enjoy walking like I do here. I’ll go to a schedule that is totally foreign to me now (Leisure time at the forefront of my schedule is tantamount to sacrilege). In the spring, I’ll be back at a school where a quarter of my friends have graduated. I’ll be back at a school where I won’t know people, and they won’t know me. I’ll have to speak English again, to everyone. I’ll have to look at pictures of this sunset instead of seeing it for myself.
I refuse to say I’m leaving in a week and a half. I’m just going to be on another break. One that hopefully doesn’t last too long until I return.