This week Shalick, Morgan, Maggie, Ellen, and Robert tell us about how they’re feeling in the 2 weeks before they head home.
Shalick Smith, Furman University
Since I’ve been in Italy, I have gotten to travel more than I ever have before. I’ve seen so many operas, concerts, and had other enriching experiences that make me wish that I could stay here forever. I’ve made great friends and even built on pre-existing friendships. Most importantly, I feel like the Accademia is home; and it has been home, especially for the past few months. Time is now winding down, and I leave in fifteen days. When I think back to my last fifteen days in South Carolina, before I came to Italy, I was full of excitement, nervousness, and optimism. Being here has taught me so much more about not only myself but the world. I feel like I’ve been able to find another piece of the puzzle of life and I’m getting closer to figuring out the bigger picture.
Morgan McCauley, Furman University
I am in utter shock that I have two weeks left at the Accadmia dell’Arte. Thinking back to where I was before coming to Italy, I cannot believe how much I’ve progressed. Since I’ve been studying at the Accademia, I have not only seen progress in my musical skills, but also in my mental stability. Being around people who understand you, artists that respect one another, is therapeutic. I’m not saying that all we do is sit around and sing Kumbaya. We all work hard to practice our art and grow as individuals. Yet in the midst of large exams and recitals, I have received nothing but love from the students and faculty at the Accademia and I cannot be more grateful for their kindness.
Maggie Ramirez, Furman University
We are slowly approaching leaving the accademia and heading home. Our impending departure has left me wondering what I still haven’t done and what I still want to do while I have time. One afternoon this week I was taking a break from working on some homework and practicing, so I decided to go on a walk. I went down to the end of the driveway and decided to turn left. What I found as a walked was a new perspective. There is so much around us that I have yet to see and while there’s no way for me to see it all in the two weeks that remain, I have made it my goal to live as in the moment as possible and appreciate what is right in front of me. In the midst of all the stress of finals and juries, I will not forget to appreciate the beauty of Arezzo and I am grateful for the time I have had here.
Ellen Chamblee, Furman University
Rome with friends is always the best. Rome day two began with a home-cooked breakfast in the teeny Airbnb. We ate eggs, meat, cheese, jams, toast, you name it! We even cookedwith, dare I say it… BUTTER! After the most important meal of the day, we headed out by train to the Colosseum, and later, the Forum.
So I would like to give a shout out to Rick Steve. We found his Europe tour guide app and he had free audio tour guides (Hallelujah!). He taught us a lot about the history of Rome. The Colosseum was not overrated, as I imagined it would be. It was spectacular! I was intrigued by so many aspects of this amazing arena. Hearing about the events that took place made my jaw drop. I imagined the events of the Colosseum to be somewhat like the joust. Perhaps that’s true on some levels, but I never knew that people were out there fighting animals like tigers! Italy of course didn’t have tigers rome-ing around, but I learned that Romans brought in these animals after conquering the Mediterranean areas in which they were found. Because this arena intended to give a show, the Romans had cages that they pulled up from the ground by pullies. In these cages were the wild creatures. Having them arise from the ground was I also learned that the Gladiators got paid a pretty penny and fame when winning their battles. Becoming a successful gladiator was one of the ways that the enslaved could earn their freedom. Those who were obliged to fight wild animals were often prisoners who were sentenced to death. The Romans figured if they were sentenced to die anyways, why not make a show out of it. This show brought thousands of people. There were nose bleed seats for the less wealthy, and the rich were sitting closer to the ground. The economic seats were made of concrete and stone, while the premium seats were made of marble. The wealthy had to sponsor a lot of these events.
I was amazed by old Roman culture. I had so many questions about why violence was a form of entertainment. I wondered how I would have reacted. Would I have participated by giving a thumbs up to indicate that I wanted the Gladiators to win? Or would I have given a thumbs down which would indicate that I would have wanted the gladiator to be killed? It made me think a lot about peer pressure and how people were afraid to speak their opinions on what is right. It is important to think about culture and how it influences large groups of people. I also think about how some things like murder were normalized. I question a lot, but I do admire how a strong leader such as an Emperor can make decisions and get work done. The leadership during this time was powerful and allowed their civilization to create history that would physically withstand the test of time. Because of this history, I began to piece together the puzzle of Roman history, and I began to understand where Italian history stems from.
Robert Cushing, Furman University
This semester has been a semester of a lot of firsts for me – my first time being away from home for this long, my first time learning any Italian, my first time learning how to travel by train… the list goes on of things that this semester has taught me. So now that we have two weeks left before we return to the States, it’s been odd to hear everything referred to in terms of lasts instead of firsts: the last showcase, the last piano lesson, the last week of classes. Although I’m glad I successfully survived our (last) early morning wake up call to catch a train, I’m also sad to be leaving the experience of living and working so closely with my friends. Back at Furman, we’ll have our own schedules with their own demands, whereas I’ve gotten used to running on the same schedule as everyone else in the program. Thankfully, I know that I don’t have to think of leaving the Accademia as a hard stop. I look forward to taking bits and pieces of what I’ve learned here back to Furman: my newfound love of Nutella toast, my ability to be more flexible in terms of scheduling, and most importantly, an appreciation for what happens when you focus on the present rather than expectations. Sappy as all this may sound, I have truly loved my time here and look forward to taking part of it with me when I leave.