This first week was our first full week in Florence. We had orientation every day and learned about living in Florence the hard way. By this I mean your true study abroad experience will not begin for a good month into your time in your host country. Every day of these first few weeks were filled with grocerystore runs, errands, and passport photos for our living visa (and of course trying restaurants around us). Our professors toured us around the classrooms of the two campuses (one near our apartment and the other on the opposite side of the river) and they advised us on the best places to buy our supplies.
Because we had more time on our hands, my friends and I got together almost every night to make dinner and get to know each other.One of the biggest parts of being abroad is that everyone advises you to meet the locals. While I do findimportance in this, it has been very hard for us to do so. The Accademia has separate classes for international students and American students. These classes are designed for students who will only be there for a term and make it hard for us to get to know students from other majors or countries. Before coming to the Accademia, I was very immersed in my communities at school but did not know many D&M students outside of the classroom. You can say that I haven’t met international students, but I have been able to get to know incredible people who I am lucky enough to bring back each of my experiences with.
One of the first nights we went out, we met up with some other Drexel students who were visiting from Rome. We showed them around and took them to Zaza’s which was the restaurant we went to for my birthday. This was so much fun because we were able to hear about their experience in a different city in Italy and they were eager to share. Their schedule started early and ended early, versus our classes that depended on the day which we went to class. Our classes could start at 8:30 or 12:30 and most of our days don’t end until 6. We went out for the first time and got to meet people from around the world at a Latino club where we danced the night away.
The first few weeks my schedule was as follows:
Mondays Italian 12:30-2:30
Tuesdays Italian 12:30-2:30 Italian Style 3-6
Wednesdays Sketching in Florence 8:30-12:20 Italian 12:30-2:30 20th Century Fashion 3-6
Thursdays Renaissance Art History 8:45-11:45 Italian 12:30-2:30
I was placed into the Advanced Italian class with a couple of the other Drexel students that came with me. This class is called advanced for a reason. I have learned so much Italian in the past couple of weeks here because we have two days of grammar presentations, one on site visit, and one movie day. The on site is on Tuesdays and is an interactive visit to somewhere in Florence. So far we’ve been to a library, a hospital, a couple of leather stores, and historical sites. Our tours are in Italian and afterwards we are required to write questions to ask other students in class about the places we’ve seen. Thursdays we watch an Italian movie and write an essay about the movie we watched. The Italian Style course is not like what I was expecting. Every week we learn a new aspect of Italian culture, whether it be the religion, customs, food, music, etc. I dropped the Sketching in Florence class a couple of weeks into the term because I felt as though the course wasn’t helping my techniqueand I was able to use this time to get ahead on other work so that I could travel on weekends. 20th Century fashion surrounds the history of fashion through the decades starting in 1900 until 2000. We have learned about the inspiration for so many classic designs and watch movies about the designers and time periods in which we are learning. Renaissance Art History is an interactive class where we are able to talk about pieces such as Brunelleschi’s last work in Santo Spirito and we are actually able to use the second half of class to go to the site and learn hands on.
This is probably my favorite part about learning at the Accademia. We have long classes, but there is always a 10 minute break in between and the second half of the class is different than the first. Whether it be a trip to a church or ancient piece of artwork or even to watch a movie to allow our understanding to grow, this way of learning makes much more sense than I have been taught in the past.