Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Le Dolce Vita

It's been about a week and a half since I've been in Florence, but all my days have been so packed with random events and class and getting used to the city that I feel like I've been here for much longer than that. I'm still trying to get used to waking up every morning and feeling the thrill of being in Firenze, the art capitol of the world. One of my professors, Tina Fallini, told us that Italy has 60% of the world's art, and half of that is in Florence! Thank you USC animation department for choosing one of the most inspirational and beautiful cities for animajors to study in!! I am actually living in the Renaissance. For example, here is a picture of the beautiful Duomo that I walk past every single day on the way to school.

I can't even begin to describe the massive size of the cathedral, or the majesty of it- the picture doesn't do it any justice at all. To see the Duomo in person is literally awe-inspiring because you feel so insignificant in it's shadow, I highly doubt I'll ever be able to take it for granted in the next 3 months that I'm here.

The first day of school for me was on Thursday, and I am happy to say that after a few days of running about between my advisor here at SACI (Studio Art Center International) and USC, I finalized my classes! I'm now taking 3d animation, Italian cinema (my professor worked on the Godfather!!!), intermediate drawing, sculpture, and creative writing (which I managed to convince my professor to let me "narrate" primarily through storyboarding :D ) Unfortunately this meant that I had to drop Fresco painting (see attached picture of my friends mixing the calcio for the fresco below)

 -which I was having a lot of fun in, but I think this will work out for the better. I am absolutely loving all of my classes so far and my professors are all wonderful and intriguing. I'm finding it really amusing that most of them are from Europe, so many of them have Italian or British accents. I guess it's just a constant reminder that I'm not in the states anymore just in case one day I forget and decide to take things for granted.

The only complaint that I have is that we work outside in the courtyard for sculpture class, and for those of you who don't know, Europe is buzzing with little terrible monsters called mosquitos this time of the year. SO half the time I feel like I'm at risk of being eaten alive. Fortunately for me though, I think I either have a lower body temperature than most people/living in North Carolina has built up my mosquito immune system so in the rare moments when I do get mosquito bites, they disappear after an hour or two. That still doesn't stop me from being paranoid though, but maybe that's because while I'm working on my sculpture I'll hear someone clap their hands on their legs about every 2 minutes in a failed attempt to kill another blood-sucking minion.

Outside of class, my friends and I have had plenty of time to meet other SACI students and get to know the city better. The funny thing is, there are about 100 students in SACI, and I think there are only about 10 guys, so you can probably imagine the weird dynamic of having a 1:10 guy girl ratio! But I guess that's what makes life interesting :) During our times off I either go grocery shopping, grab a quick brioche (a pastry) or cappuccino, or simply go wandering around the city with a friend or two. All the food here is SO good and SO rich that I almost feel bad for eating so much of it on a regular basis, but quite frankly with the amount of walking that I do every day I think I'm going to end up losing weight rather than gaining it. And just so you get an idea of what the Florentine streets look like, here is a picture of my way towards school during sunset- the streets are practically golden:

Anddd here is a picture of me and my friend Jane in a failed attempt to do a model shot!

And here we are eating our first gelato in Firenze by the Duomo

This past week I also went to a local Italian market for the first time and shopped for food in Italian! The experience was, to say the least, very unique and a bit overwhelming, but in a good way! Imagine walking into a huge farmer's market, but everyone speaks Italian and there are vegetables, ingredients, fruits, fish, ten bajillion kinds of pasta, cheeses, bread, pig heads, pork chops, roasted duck, every kind of meat you can imagine hanging from ceilings, packed in crates, stuffed on shelves, placed in baskets, etc. etc. and the thing about Italy is that everything is so colorful! The colors, combined with the really yummy smell of all the food is incredible. Thankfully, grocery shopping here is much cheaper (and healthier) than in the States, but the only thing I learned quickly is that I have to eat everything within a few days because Italians don't put any preservatives or hormones in their food. For example, my apples from 4 days ago already went bad. If I were in the US they would probably take 2 weeks to even start feeling gross, (which now that I think about it, is really gross and makes me wonder what other crap I've been putting in my body). It was so much fun shopping in the local grocery markets. I'm starting to realize how much I can get by with a little Italian, and when I'm absolutely at a loss I find that I can just resort to spanish. At one point I was desperate for olive oil and had no idea how to express what I wanted, so before I knew it I sad "Tienes aceite?" (Spanish for 'do you have oil'?) to the storekeeper, and immediately she responded "Ahhh aceite!!!!" and came out with a huge jar of it for me. At the end of the day I managed to use my broken Italian and buy a good handful of food to bring back to the apartment, and here is a picture of my first home-cooked semi-Italian dinner with a small glass of white wine!

This has been quite a long post and I still have sooo much to say about my first week but I'll stop this here and leave the rest for the next time I post (which will be much sooner I promise). But before I go I have to show you guys the beautiful view from my bedroom window and of the Ponte de Vecchio bridge. This is what I am blessed enough to be surrounded by every day for the next 3 months! 

Con tanto amore,
Kayee :)

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