The most surprising feature of living in Italy is unquestionably the wonderful food. The meals at the mensa are consistently delicious and a great deal of hard work and love goes into its preparation. Italian foods in general taste fresher than back home, namely since there are fewer added ingredients in the products. As one Italian expressed to us about his trip into the States, he notes that it was very hard to find food that is just “simple”. Italy certainly prides itself in food with unforgettable taste!
I expected the Italians to be more laid back and free spirited. I had heard that many Italians’ lifestyles were more relaxed and less stressful than in America. However, I found that they’re overall body movement is faster as well as the urgency and speed of their conversations. Italians are much more lively and animated than I had imagined and are by no means lethargic. In some ways the pace of life is different and their seems less attention to detail and overall less stress.
These experiences and others have certainly influenced my view toward living abroad. I realize that Italians have a culture different in countless ways from our own. Life is very different in Italy, though it is not fair to conclude that either is better. There is natural geography, cultural events, historical sites, and a myriad of other features that make Italy an eye-opening experience for an American student. The people and the culture are simply different, and every day presents new opportunities to learn more!
– Ben Power, Clarinet Performance
Last year, I had several close friends attend the Accademia for music and I couldn’t believe how much they raved about the experience when they returned home. They were obviously changed, both artistically and personally. They kept telling me that I was going to be changed as well, however I didn’t really believe them until I walked up to the top of the “Teatrino” and saw the breathtaking view of Arezzo. And that was it. I knew this semester was going to be different. Fast forward three weeks, and I can tell you that what surprised me the most is how quickly I find myself changing. I find myself surprised by the artistic risks that I’ve been taking, under the guiding hands of my voice teacher and vocal coach. I find myself constantly being stretched to my limit and striving to truly create for the first time in my life, rather than just simply sing what is on the page. I am surprised at how readily I desire to practice, which has been more of a joy here than the chore it usually is. I find myself surprised at how easily inspiration comes. All I have to do is walk five minutes from the Accademia and I find myself in a Tuscan vineyard or go into downtown Arezzo and experience the Italian delicacy of gelato. Oh yes, the amount of money I’ve spent on gelato so far has been a rather large surprise for my bank account. In all honesty, I cannot pin point one surprise over another, because I find myself surprised every day at the ADA, and consistently outside of my comfort zone. What I am finding, however, is that I rather enjoy pushing limits, living outside of my comfort zone, and embracing the Italian culture and that is definitely my favorite surprise so far.
– Katy Wilson, Vocal Performance
Before arriving at the Accademia, I tried not to have too many expectations – I wanted to “soak it up” once I got here, and having expectations may have hindered my ability to take advantage of enjoying every moment once we arrived. Even still, however, many of the cultural differences surprised me. I have been to Rome once before, where almost everyone spoke English. Upon arrival to the Accademia, however, we were surprised to find out that few people in Arezzo speak much English. It is even slightly difficult to communicate with my Oboe professor! Even so, I do think believe that the language barrier allows us to stop and take time to listen; almost like stopping to smell the roses. Much of the time, we have to speak clearly and logically to be understood, allowing us to think before we speak. Most of all, we must learn to be patient and not get discouraged … and use our Italian that we have learned in Italian class, of course! Living in Arezzo has definitely allowed me to improve all of these qualities – active listening, thinking before speaking, and patience – in myself, and I will be forever grateful that I have been able to learn and understand these things about myself and about life in a small, Tuscan town.
– Allison Rye, Oboe Performance
It’s very difficult to pinpoint which aspect of Italy and the Accademia surprised me most. The way of life for Italians is very different from Americans. We’re used to punctuality and promptness but at the Accademia, things just seem a little more relaxed. Some might complain about the lack of communication. I see it as more of a different way of life. I believe this is very beneficial for all of us to learn how to relax a little more and to not stress out when things don’t go as planned. Probably one of the most rewarding things as a music major is the ability to practice for at least 2 and a half hours a day. At school, if I got an hour, I thought that was great. I feel like I’ve been able to focus more on my clarinet and better myself as a musician thanks to the life at the Accademia.
– Elizabeth Douglass, Clarinet Performance
While I was excited about coming to Italy, I didn’t really have any expectations about the Accademia dell’Arte. Noted this is probably a good thing, given I would have never guessed how wonderful everyone is. I am so thankful to discover how open and gracious the staff has been, even going out of their way to provide cultural experiences outside of the academic undertakings of the Accademia. Jazz, flag demonstrations, recitals, limoncellos; needless to say, Arezzo has been a bundle of fabulous surprises. On an equally important note, the Mensa food is magnificent here. Never in my wildest dreams could I have portended the mouthwatering pasta, the fresh juicy produce, or the sweet perfection that is Nutella. The food alone provides reason enough to never to leave.
– Laura Snyderman, Vocal Perfomance