Over fall break, one of the cities I explored was Paris. It was a stunning city, but I found that one of the little sister towns hiding in its shadow was most fascinating.
Every few blocks of Paris, you’ll find a glorious piece of architecture, probably ordained with its own specific, historical details. Present-day school buildings, works of art, mansions full of art, cathedrals, and historical landmarks all make up these pieces of architecture. The rest of the streets are filled to the brim with restaurants and stores. Although I enjoyed visiting the historical monuments and wonderful museums of Paris, I had the same thought as Monet, “I need to find some peace in nature.” (That’s not a direct quote.)
About an hour outside of Paris is a little place called Giverny. As you travel there, the fancy Parisian gray buildings begin to trickle away as the French countryside fills the landscape. Giverny is a small town that contains Monet’s home, gardens, and famous pond. Colorful flowers jump out from the green background that is nature all over the property. Even his house is full of color, with a distinctly cheery, bright yellow dining room, a soft light blue kitchen, and a pink exterior with green trim. Walking around, I felt connected to who Monet was as an artist. Monet’s studio overlooks the garden on one side and a small country road on the other. When I walked into the pond area, I felt the energy immediately become calm and peaceful. The circular path around the pond is canopied by weeping willows while small delicate flowers line the walkway. I could see Monet sitting on a bench while his children played in the gardens. I imagined him perched on one of the small bridges painting his famous water lilies.
Sometimes we are too dazzled by the Champs Elysees of the world that we miss the Giverys. I took the experience as a reminder to slow down and remember my connection to nature, to peace, and to humanity. This is also how I feel about my art. On a personal level, I have to slow myself down (mentally) in order to prepare to act on stage. I have to be connected to humanity in order to portray it. As a result, the audience will also come more into the present moment and hopefully feel that same connection.
– Lily Fryburg
Over break two girlfriends and I packed up our sandals and guidebooks and headed to Greece, ready to see ruins, beaches, picturesque towns, and eat lots of feta. What I wasn’t expecting was that this was the week I would really realize I was abroad. I hadn’t even noticed that it was still surreal to me. Maybe living and taking classes with American friends 24/7 created a semi-abroad bubble of non-reality. But as we negotiated our way through a foreign country where we were unable to say more than “thank you” [eff-ha-ree-stoh, for those who were curious], where the eastern impact of the Turkish colonization was still very much felt in the Arab influenced music and food, and we were meeting other travelers who were at different points of various treks around the world, it hit me that I am really living in Europe for four months of my life. We found ourselves instinctively slipping into Italian at restaurants and in stores and referring to Arezzo as “home” in conversation amongst ourselves. Perhaps it took leaving Arezzo and the villa to realize how comfortable I’ve become here. How normal (and yet still extraordinary) life here has become.
I remember sitting in the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, mere feet away from the majestic marble throne where the head priest of Dionysus would sit to watch the first ever productions by such greats as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, and reflecting on the ancient lineage theatre has. How theatre is instinctual for humanity, and the deeply important social and spiritual role it has always had. One thing I’m grateful for in my artistic experience abroad is being reminded of the long, long history there is to theatre. From sitting in the first Grecian theatre in Pompeii to attempting headstands in the Theatre of Dionysus studying the ageless rules and techniques of Commedia dell’Arte, this semester has reminded me and connected me to western theatre’s beginnings in a whole new way. Add that to the gigantic lists of things I’m grateful for this fall.
– Julia Schneiderman
I spent my break in London. I hit up all the major sights: Big Ben, Westminster Abby, the Tower of London, The National Gallery, and many more. I was also fortunate enough to get to see 5 shows while I was there, the highlights being “Warhorse”, and Punch Drunk Theatre Company’s experimental show, “The Drowned Man”. These theatrical experiences reminded me of why I love what I do, and I felt validation as an artist when I saw that such beautiful work is being produced in the world.
All in all, my whole experience in London was incredible. I have never visited a place where I felt so at home, and yet simultaneously homesick–because it reminded me of all the comforts of home. After having lived in Italy for 7 weeks, and being able to speak very little of the language, it was so wonderful to be in a place where I could communicate confidently–knowing that I could ask for whatever I needed without any trouble. Things that seem so simple, like being able to ask for directions, or order what I want at a restaurant, seem suddenly much more significant when that ability is taken away from you.
Now after my experience in London, and now having returned to Italy, I have found it much easier to attempt interaction with the Italian locals. Before I was very timid about trying to speak in italian, for fear of being wrong and appearing stupid. Now I’m not nearly as afraid. I believe it is because my need is now greater. I want now more than ever to be able to communicate with the ease I felt it London. Needless to say, now I’ve been taking Italian class more seriously than ever.
– Jessica Bryant
Berlin is one of the greatest places on the Earth. Or at least it is now. As pleasant as the city is today, it has a dark history. The first day we arrived in Berlin, the sky was grey and the leaves were yellow and it was the first time since coming to Italy that we were reminded that it was actually October, rather than the middle of summer. We stopped by one of the city’s holocaust memorials en route to the hostel, a field of concrete prisms rising out of a surface that dipped and fell in contrast, that walking through gave the feeling of endless captivity. Despite the somber beginnings, the city has a great deal to offer to tourists willing to explore the city. On weekends down by the river the city offers a row of tens sheltering vendors selling everything from pocket watches to paintings to German children’s books. The cuisine in Berlin is largely based on meat which many Accademia students, starved of protein, can appreciate. But if you’re a vegetarian you might have difficulty finding food amongst the street vendors that flock to the streets. Traditional food for Berliners and tourists alike includes Wienerschnitzel and Currywurst, both of which are types of sausage. So between the entire island of museums, aptly named “museum island,” delicious meat, and a wonderful assortment of bars scattered all over the city, Berlin has everything one could want. This is not to mention the Tiergarten, a park large and serene enough to put NYC’s Central Park to shame. So the next time you find yourself in Europe by surprise and you have the time, stop in Berlin for a week. By the time you leave you still wouldn’t have explored all the city has to offer.
– Clay Westman