Postcards

Rose Huynh, senior arts & performance major, spent her fall 2004 semester studying abroad in Italy.



Ciao, ragazzi! To finish up my Arts & Performance degree, I seized the opportunity to take my remaining six hours off-campus & headed to Rome, Italy . And what better place to take a history & art history course than the most well-known city that holds the most of it?

I began my fall semester journey with a 3-day stopover in London, England. It was cold & rainy, & not to mention, quite expensive. We received a wonderful tour of the city with plenty of time to explore it on our own.

From London I flew to Florence, Italy for my 3-weeks of intensive Italian language preparation. During this month, I went on endless tours of great museums & churches. I also made trips to such places as Venice, Ravenna, Siena, Fiesole, & Pisa - all of which were wonderful to visit.

From Florence, I transferred to Rome, Italy for the rest of the fall semester. I began classes in "Conversational Italian," "Rome Through the Ages," & "Art of the Italian Renaissance." The best part of these courses was that most of the time, sessions were held on-site - so I could be having a lecture given right inside the Coliseum, Pantheon, or the Vatican. During my time in Rome, I made such visits to places like Orvieto, Ostia , Naples, Pompeii, Tivoli, Tarquinia, & Perugia .

In Rome, I lived with 4 other girls in a gorgeous & spacious Italian apartment close to the famous market in the Campo di Fiori. I had an amazing time getting to know so many students in the program from all across the nation, as well as making a few Italian friends. I got to explore Rome almost to its fullest, making sure to taste all the tastes & see all the major, & not so major, sites. It was an awesome experience to live in the Italian culture - learning their language, history, & lifestyle.

I ate panini, pizza, & pasta (with a glass of wine, of course) everyday while in Rome . The best part about it? The freshness of the breads, meats, & cheeses are unbelievable. The majority of Italians, especially those who live in the city, know quite a bit of English. So, getting by with basic Italian knowledge is not a problem. Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by history in so many forms. "Julius Caesar was killed right over there, & here you have a bridge designed by Michelangelo."

And my most favorite part of my study abroad trip to Rome is the Italian way of living. Unlike the rush of everyday life here in Dallas, Italians like to take their time with everything. Most days are spent with short amounts of time working, lots of time eating, & the rest, enjoying walks along the streets of Rome .

 

Ahh, how I will always miss Rome...

Amir Hossein Shakouri, an undergraduate arts and humanities major, shares his experiences while studying in Florence, Italy, during the Fall 2004 semester.



Ciao, amici! After studying Arts & Performance for a few years at UTD I decided that I wanted to get closer to the subject than old pictures in textbooks and slides projected on walls. After doing some research I got the process rolling, and before I knew it my bags were packed and I was off to Florence , Italy , the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Upon my arrival in Florence I was truly taken away by how beautiful the city actually was. The streets were all cobblestone, and the buildings were crammed along the sides of the narrow, winding streets. The city was always alive, full of people walking the streets and taking in the sights. It all seemed a little overwhelming at first, but it wasn't long before I learned the ropes and felt like I was Florentine. Thinking back on it now I realize that the most enjoyable things that I took for granted were the daily routines. I loved going to the neighborhood coffee shop and having my morning cappuccino before walking my daily route to the university: passing il Duomo, the giant cathedral of Florence, the street performers playing their guitars or violins, or eyeing ancient statues that always seemed to glare back at you. Even my classes seemed like something you would do for a hobby if you had some free time; I took studio drawing and painting, Leonardo da Vinci art history, and even some Italian language classes. Daily schedules usually consisted of going to world famous museums accompanied by incredible field trips (going to Rome to see Vatican City or a trip to Milan to see The Last Supper), and spending countless hours sketching statues and architecture from the city itself. We would usually end the days by meeting up with friends for dinner, a nightly ritual that could span a few hours and several courses of food. We were usually spoiled with true brick-oven pizzas, great pastas, and desserts, all of which was accompanied by some of the world's best wine.

One of the best reasons to study abroad is obviously the great opportunities for traveling. During my semester-long excursion I had a chance to visit all the places I had always dreamed of going: London , France , Belgium , Holland , Spain , and of course all over Italy ( Florence , Milan , Naples , Luca, Fiesole , Rome , Venice , Viareggio , Pisa , etc). At the end of it all I felt like I had visited every museum and cathedral in Europe, and summing up all of the semester's highlights seems impossible: the countless train rides across European countries, going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walking through the Coliseum like a gladiator, hitting up the nightlife in Barcelona, taking a gondola ride in Venice, sunbathing on the Mediterranean coast, or even becoming fluent in a foreign language.

I still remember how I felt the day I left the U.S. I was a little nervous, I was leaving behind my family and friends for four months to a place I had not even seen before, but when it was time to come back I felt like it was too short amount of time. Yes, you will miss your family, your house, your car, but I guarantee you in retrospect it will all seem like nothing when compared to entire experience. I came back with a wealth of knowledge and a broadened understanding of the world, part-American, part-Florentine.

Lydia Chiu, junior biology major, shares her experience while studying at The Language Center of the University of Guanajato, Mexico, during its Spanish Summer Program 2004 Session.



I went to Guanajuato with no experience of the Mexican culture. I only knew two of the participants in the program from UT-Dallas, which was more than some of the others. I had the name, address, and telephone number of the senora whose house I would be staying in, but I did not speak Spanish and was hesitant to call. Amidst frantic shopping and last minute preparations, I could feel the rush of anxiety that came with the thought of immersing myself in an unknown situation. Knowing that my senora could not speak a word of English only escalated the fear and excitement. Luckily, the group I went with made the experience perfect. They knew enough Spanish to help me get by, and one of the students in the group had a car (his hometown was nearby), which allowed us to travel freely to the surrounding areas. Additionally, his family connections allowed me to get a glimpse of what Mexican life is truly like.

Guanajuato is a quaint colonial town nestled between mountain tops. One aspect of living in Guanajuato that I had not expected was the daily rain. The tourists would be slipping in the rain and soaked despite an umbrella, whereas the locals played around in the rain or chatted under canopies until the storm passed. The streets were always filled, so, when you were near the center of town, you could always be sure that you would run into someone you know. At the center of town was the Jardin, which had lots of cafes with outside seating where you could sip a drink and watch the people strolling by. Across from the Jardin was Teatro Juarez, a theater with Roman architecture on the outside and Arabic décor inside. The steps in front of the theater were the popular place to meet. Sometimes in the evenings, it seemed like half the town would be in the Jardin or in front of Teatro Juarez eating, talking, waiting for friends, or just walking around people watching. Life there just seemed so much simpler.

The learning environment created between the school and the home could not have been more efficient. Once you got home, you could not let your recently learned knowledge fade into oblivion and daydream the day away. Instead, you not only used it, but added to it by thrusting yourself into conversations in Spanish. Also, the school had students and faculty from all over the world such as Japan , Canada , Norway , and Taiwan . This made the program more interesting by being able to study with other people from different locations and who were at different points in their life. Hearing their stories and reasons for ending up in Guanajuato and the time spent with them was a big part of being a student in the study abroad program.

My time in Guanajuato did more than teach me Spanish and what I learned about myself made me realize that I was rushing through life without smelling the proverbial flowers. My Experience made me slow down, add a second major, and decide to stay an extra year so I could take more Spanish classes. If I had not gone to Mexico , I may have gotten to the point of having a career without realizing that there are more important things in life than just work and school. Nothing will ever make me forget the people and experiences I had this summer.

 


Robert Hager,an undergraduate historical studies major, shares his experiences while studying in Tokyo, Japan, during the Fall 2004 semester.



Daigakusei he,

(Dear students)

After spending roughly 5 months in Japan, oddly I might say I've learned much about American culture through experiencing Japan 's. The great similarity is striking; people's strongest love is reserved for their family and friends. The differences were equally surprising. One such difference is that explicit sexuality doesn't have to be vulgar. America truly is a prudish place when one chooses to see it from afar.

While there I had my personal limits smack me in the face. I am not capable of riding a bike through a typhoon with one hand on the umbrella and the other holding the handle bars. In fact I learned its quite deadly. On a more positive note, I realized that life here is quite easy when compared to the work ethic in Japan. This is equally pleasing, being a very lazy individual myself, and somewhat disheartening because I now see untapped potential for improvement in everything. Being a tourist however, I experienced very little of the social pressure to 'ganbarimasu' (work hard). The main challenges of the Japanese college kids equal those here in the states; enjoy your 'holiday,'party hard, but not too much that you put yourself in the gutter for the remainder of your life. And when studying abroad there is the whole part about learning Japanese and studying history, which was great, but I don't want to bore you with the details. I hope you take the chance to go to abroad, anywhere so long as you learn that life is amorphous and happiness only an idea that can be experienced in many things. One very important lesson that Japan has to offer is the importance of having awareness for those around you and the selflessness that should accompany it.

'Robu'