In precisely one week from now I will be on a transatlantic flight to study abroad in Florence, Italy. Considering it is rather late in the USA right now, I will be closer to landing in Paris than I was to taking off. Who would have thought I’d be typing that, huh?! In all honesty, this opportunity doesn’t feel real; despite the fact my Four Year Plan prominently labeled this semester “ABROAD” since the second week of my freshman year of college. Again, it does not feel real despite the fact I started packing last week. It is also regardless of the notebook in my purse filled with lists ranging from photocopies I need to make, varying packing lists, to-do lists, and a rough schedule of weekends abroad. It does not feel real, although it probably does to the friends who I have pestered with questions for the past month. Even though my Pinterest has been accumulating articles such as, “The Top 15 Things You Need to Bring (or something to that measure) to XYZ” for months, I am in disbelief that this is about to happen.
(Can you tell I’m a planner?)
Before I leave, there are plenty of tasks I need to complete, such as finishing a few loads of laundry, make those pesky photocopies, finish packing/cutting down the wardrobe I want to, but don’t need to, lug with me, and even take the MCAT. “Oh, wait,” you may be thinking, “The MCAT, doesn’t that make you a person wanting to become a doctor?” Well, yes, you are right, in fact it does. Although I will graduate with a B.S. in Biology, Pre-Med emphasis, one of my minors is Art History. Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the famous Renaissance period, only seems logical.
In high school, I enrolled in a humanities course to fulfill a graduation requirement, and had little to no perception of the world around me in terms of art. Little did I know it would revolutionize not only the way I view the world, but myself. The class was taught from an interdisciplinary approach as a Debate/Speech/Art History/English teacher co-taught with a history teacher. Humanities combined sociology, anthropology, art, and world history. It was in this class that I began to examine the relationship between humanity and the creation of art.
Art is not merely an aesthetically appealing painting by Van Gogh (whom I dearly love) or a soaring cathedral, although this provides a good deal of value to our modern sensibilities. Rather, art is a response to and even a reflection of a society’s culture. We can examine the surviving art from different periods to catch a glimpse into the past and learn more about a particular society’s values, norms, religion, politics, etc. Many do not realize art has this intrinsic, revealing power, but the three semester survey course challenged me to dig past the visual and apparent What? and search for answers to the question Why? After this course, I finally saw myself as a person who was more than science or math, but someone who was, and still is, after the answers to Why?
I truly don’t think it will be real to me until I walk down the Florentine streets and see the daily life intertwined with art with each step. History will come alive and I don’t think I will get over it. My studies for the past 5 years will culminate with this experience. Then, then I will know this is real.
But first, I have to get through this one week in America and really finish packing.