It has been a crazy few days.
I’ve been chasing classes, supplies, and textbooks all over the city.
I’ve signed up for meetings and accumulated enough handouts and forms to start a small fire.
And it hasn’t stopped yet.
Mixed Media class was a disaster. A glorified paper collage studio for aspiring contemporary artists, the six hour class seemed never-ending. And when the professor mentioned our 100 plus Euro class fee for supplies, I knew the answer. Drop the class. I haven’t quite accepted this loss and spent some time researching replacement options such as “Pairing Food and Wine” or “Travel Writing.” However, no matter what I decide, I can’t seem to escape the enormous class fees and cost of supplies. With my other four classes, I won’t have enough funds to sponsor museum visits and day trips to surrounding cities. And that is part of the reason why Florence, and Italy itself, attracted me. The history and culture is free (not monetarily of course) to explore, but I need to have some time and energy left over after classes to walk the extra mile or two.
Italian class is fresh and fun. The prof, a 27 year old Florentine, with spiky bleach blonde hair and a thick accent, is very relaxed in his teaching style. Our assignment for next class: “Write some numbers.” We asked, “What do you mean? What kind of numbers?” He only repeated, “Write some numbers, in Italian.” He already forgot about our textbook, spending his time pointing to objects, making us guess their spelling, laughing at our attempts, and then writing their names on the board. The only problem is the discrepancies in these words. For example, during one class, he placed both his hands under his head, closed his eyes, and rattled off a word in Italian. For the entire hour and a half, I juggled my Italian-English dictionary in one hand and a pen in the other and tried to keep up, feeling completely overwhelmed. Did he mean “to sleep” or “tired”? And when he pointed to the clock, was it the word for “clock” or for “time”? Since I have pages and pages in my notebook of new words to learn, I decided to make note cards to aid the memorization process. However, after walking through a half dozen school supply shops and paper stores, I have resorted to the sad truth: Italy doesn’t have index cards. Therefore, in the coming week, my room shall be properly sticky noted. A sticky note for every new Italian word.
**Side note. My new word of the day is “fede,” which means both faith and wedding ring in Italian. It interesting to learn about a culture based on word connections. Perhaps this describes an Italian view of marriage under the umbrella of the church?
When purchasing school supplies, I also found Italian copies of “Green Eggs and Ham” (a Dr. Suess favorite) and Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” (it takes place in Italy with the cute meatball scene, classic). These are to become my nighttime challenges: to slowly read through them out loud, looking up unfamiliar words as I go (which would be every word right now) until I can read them without hesitation.
Lastly, my art history course, “Renaissance Art in Florence” was absolutely amazing. My prof is a dream come true. She sat calmly in front of us, hands folded, legs crossed, and began to talk, weaving stories of ancient Florence and the birth of humanism. I was captivated. I only managed one page of notes in the entire two and half hours. Our class meets in museums and cathedrals around Florence and the surrounding cities, stressing an idea that art should be learned outside of the lecture hall, forcing students to engage and participate in the art itself. It makes art so much more of a surprise, to see what was once a colored picture in a textbook as something tactile and real with three dimensions, a length and a width and a height. Unless you are able to perfectly envision the piece in your mind, how are you to understand the purpose and influence of art if you don’t know whether it is three stories tall or three inches tall? David (the fake one standing in the Piazza) was definitely taller than I had imagined. Our prof, with short spiky gray hair (again with the short spiky hair, I don’t know), was excited about these opportunities to see everything firsthand. And let’s face it, art history can be extremely dull if you have the wrong person teaching it. I am beyond thankful to have been gifted with a professor who has a passion for her career.
And then, Digital Photography is my last unknown, my other six hour studio taking place in the digital media lab of Via Magliabechi 1. Thankfully, there is a really good and inexpensive caffe’ down the street for our break (that is, if we get a break?).