Connecting to my Major While Abroad by Cyril Langston

I’m a junior arts management major and there is nothing I’d rather be studying. Museums, theaters, concert venues— I love it all. When I decided on the CofC faculty-led English and communications study abroad program in Florence, Italy for a semester, I got a lot of questions about why I would choose a program that is outside of my major, and I’ll admit that it sounds risky; however, I couldn’t have made a better decision, and my firsthand experience of a huge array of arts events taught me more than I ever expected.

When you think of Italy you probably think of pizza and pasta and accordions. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are important parts of the experience too, but there’s a whole other side of Italy as well. Florence is home to some of the most well recognized and influential artists  and pieces of art in the world — think the Statue of David, the Birth of Venus, and Michelangelo. During my time in Europe I was able to learn things about my major I wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom. Here are my reflections on the art I saw and how it impacted me.

The Statue of David: A lot of times art that’s extremely famous can be a letdown when you finally get to see it in real life. This is not the case with The Statue of David. Florence is covered with David replicas, and even after seeing the replicas for months nothing compared to the real thing. It’s one of those pieces that you understand the hype for — even if I didn’t know it was famous, I would think it deserved to be famous because it’s so stunning.

Shakespeare’s Globe: As a theater nerd, Shakespeare’s Globe was one of my first stops when I visited London. I took a guided tour and learned about its history (spoiler alert: this is their third try at building a Globe that will last), and even got to see a sword fighting demonstration by some of The Globe’s resident actors. I didn’t get a chance to see a show while I was there, but if you do, keep in mind that they have tickets for £5. The catch: you get to experience the show the same way peasants in Shakespeare’s day would have! Aka it’s standing room only for a two and a half hour show.

Sacre Cour: This one’s a bit of a bonus because it’s not a formal arts venue, but my favorite part of visiting Paris was going to Sacre Cour and the neighborhood behind it, Montmartre. Montmartre is an artsy area up what feels like just about 1000 stairs (more realistically around 300, but still). The area has the best view of the city skyline in Paris, and when we arrived there was a busker playing music. The energy of the plaza and the huge group of people enjoying the music and the view made the walk worth it.

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