Indiana University Overseas Study

Elizabeth King

Classes: the cause of necessary struggle and angst within each student’s life.

Having been a student for nearly 15 years of my 19 years on this earth, I understand the general structure of classes within the broad term of ‘school.’ The concept is fairly simple: teacher + students = learning = success. When I arrived in Italy to study Renaissance Florence and Drawing, I thought I knew what was in store for me. I brought my folders, notebooks, and pencils and was ready for the first day. Little did I know that these classes would be different than any class I’d experienced before.

My Renaissance Florence class did not meet in a classroom, per se. Florence was our classroom. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we would meet in the lobby of our hotel and then venture out into the city. Each day we’d visit a new museum or a new church where our professor would show us and explain the intended meaning of works of art. Donatello, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti; we saw it all. I saw so much of the history of this city I called home for 6 weeks and that was the point of the class.

Renaissance Florence class

A candid moment during a Renaissance Florence class

My Drawing class acted in a similar manner. Our classroom was anything that could be drawn (ahem, everything). Whereas in Renaissance Florence our time would be constrained to churches and museums, Drawing took us everywhere. We went to gardens, small towns outside of Florence, piazzas, etc. Florence was our oyster, as they say. Although extremely different than your traditional introduction to drawing class, this class quickly opened my eyes to the fundamentals of art in the most inspiring way.

Additionally, I didn’t anticipate the level of interaction between the professors and myself. I had grown accustomed to the lecture halls of 300 students and professors that seem almost out of reach. Here, with a class of fifteen, you witness the professors in a whole new light. I got to experience my professors riding a Merry-Go-Round with pure, uninhibited joy and buying our class gelato because it was just that kind of day; all things that aren’t possible in a typical classroom setting. During my classes, I was able to interact with my professors on a daily basis and in a personal way. My art professors would walk around the site each day and check on me, talk to me, and provide me hands on insight. For a novice art student like myself, this was a welcome surprise.

Although classes are typically the cause of stress and anxiety, classes while abroad are a breath of fresh air; a fresh take on a classic game.

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