Pasta, Cathedrals, and More Pasta: Oxy’s Italy Trip
Blogger: Maddy Farkas (with the help of Donovan Dennis)
You probably know me by now as the girl who writes too many blog posts and is clearly running out of ideas. If not, let me reintroduce myself. My name is Maddy and I am a senior Media Arts & Culture major with a love of Art History. I did not spend a semester abroad like many of my classmates because if I can’t have a good burrito and Chinese food every week, I will probably die. However, Oxy is great for offering short trips abroad for individual courses. When I saw that Professor Frank was once again offering his course on Michelangelo, an Art History course that goes abroad to Italy for two and a half weeks over winter break, I immediately hopped on that application. The result: possibly the most amazing experience of my life. I knew that I would end up having to write a blog about this, but I didn’t know how or where to start, so I enlisted the help of my good pal and future Amazing Race teammate, Donovan, to help me write. This is the result:
Italy: Expectations vs Reality
Expectation: There’s going to be so much chicken alfredo and breadsticks and reasonably sized portions!
Reality: Olive Garden is not Italian food, and you will never have enough room in your stomach for a five-course meal. But we have a newfound love of truffles. 4/10.
Expectation: Every turn, a beautiful Tuscan countryside.
Reality: It’s pretty cloudy and there are a lot of buildings that look pretty similar, maybe a garden here or there. 1.5/10.
Expectation: We are going to turn a corner and see the Forum and burst into tears because of its monumental size and structural integrity.
Reality: The entrance closes at 3pm and it is now 3:14pm so I guess let’s get gelato again? 3/10.
Expectation: Beautiful photos that we will frame and show our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.
Reality: What are we squatting for? Also why did we just walk by a beautiful work by Michelangelo but we’re taking our group photo in front of a wall? 1/10.
Expectation: There’s going to be an Italian male model convention happening in Florence. Will meet future husband.
Reality: Professor Frank got the dates wrong. -100/10.
Expectation: So many awesome opportunities to take an Ellen at the Oscars status selfie. Will probably go viral.
Reality: Great pic of us, overexposed background, cannot see Colosseum. 4/10.
Expectation: McNuggets dipped in olive oil.
Reality: Exceeded expectations. Nuggets tasted like chicken. Separate room with bakery selling donuts and tiramisu. 10/10.
There are many more categories that I decided to cut (such as ‘Dogs’ and their impeccable fashion taste) because I could genuinely go on for hours. Two and a half weeks seems like a fairly short period of time, but while we were there it felt like a lifetime. To be able to explore Italy (specifically Florence, Rome, Orvieto, and Siena) with our brilliant professor was an experience I would not trade for all the burritos and Chinese food in the world. We got to study, in-person, the majority of the works we saw over the course of the semester in our Los Angeles classroom. There’s something about learning about a work of art and then being able to stand in front of it and make your own judgments based on a prior knowledge that simply enhances the museum-going experience. As pretentious as it sounds, it’s true. It’s nice to be at a museum with an earpiece in that’s connected to Professor Frank as he gives a beautiful description of the art and its historical context, while standing next to another tour group with a guide who describes the work as “awesome!”
From staying at a hostel in Florence with severely spotty internet connection (shout out to the Eataly next door for coming in clutch), to a fancy hotel in Siena with the most relaxing bathtub in the world, to adorable apartments in Rome where we held communal potluck dinners, the group of people on this trip have now become some of my closest friends. I guess when I came into the program I was so focused on the assignments we would be doing every night to even consider the fact that we would have a lot of free time on our own to explore these new cities and bond with the people in our class. News flash: the assignments were not stressful and getting to roam Rome (worst joke I’ve ever made) with friends, both old and new, was what made this trip as amazing as it was. Not only will I never have another educational experience as awesome (for lack of a better word) as this, the cultural experience was just as enlightening. I’m still getting used to not saying “grazie” rather than “thank you,” and I will forever miss being given a complimentary glass of wine at dinner. I cannot express how grateful I am to have been given this opportunity from Professor Frank and our International Programs Office. At this point I’m just preaching to the choir, but if you’re an Oxy student, the next time this course is being offered, TAKE IT WITHOUT HESITATION.