I am thrilled to be the one that gets to write about our final week on European Art Classroom. As the term comes to a close, there is sadness but also cheerfulness around the house. I think I speak for everyone that we are all excited to be going home, but we are also sad that this great adventure whipped by and has come to an end. Secretly, deep down we know that after a few days of being at home, we will start to miss our second home in Aix.
At the feet of the great Diego Vélasquez, 1599-1660
For our last week in Europe, we got to go to Spain! Another trip, on another plane was very exciting. The week before we said our goodbyes to our favorite places in town, and finished up our classes. Being away for a week was our last big outing as a group and it was a good one!
On Monday we woke up early, all packed and prepared for our sixth flight for the term. We packed the car and closed our shutters, and said farewell for now to Aix. The plane ride went smoothly and we landed in Spain safely. At once everyone started to whip out their Spanish. I, being the only one who never took Spanish, stuck with the basics and nodded Hola whenever anyone spoke to me.
Photo: Daisy Elwell
After several metro stops we found our hotel. A four star hotel, I might add! Jen sleuthed out a good deal, and we all benefitted. A very nice change from the hostel we had previously stayed in in Belgium. Soon, it was time for lunch and a little bit of sight seeing. Where we were staying in Madrid was all city so we hustled and bustled along all afternoon and in the evening went to an art museum. Reina Sofia Art Museum was very cool and had many different forms of art. Since we have studied all of the art movements, it was easy for us to point out different ones and also recognize our favorite artists.
Pablo Picasso, "Guernica", 1937
Photo: Erin Hanscom
That night we got our first fix of Spanish food. We picked a place with a very high spanish vibe. The walls were filled with bullfighting photographs and newspaper clippings. However our first Spanish food experience wasn’t the best and most of us stuck with foods that we knew. The menu didn’t reflect the Spanish feel of the place itself, but we didn’t care because our bellies were full and that was satisfying at the time. The evening stroll back to our hotel put us all in a sleepy satisfying state and we all floated to our rooms and had a peaceful first sleep in Spain. What a first day!
The next day we traveled to Toledo! Waking up early to catch a train was a little bit of a struggle, but the weather was perfect. The sun and warmth put us all in a good mood, making us feel relaxed and ready for anything. The day in Toledo was casual and go with the flow. We walked around and went our separate ways out to lunch. Finding our way around was simple and being able to sit out in the sun and sketch afterwards put a smile on our faces.
Photo: Erin Hanscom
El Greco, "The Death of Count Orgaz", 1588
Toledo is known for their metalwork, and our program came away with two new Toledo kitchen knives and one very scary looking meat cleaver that Dave swears that we need for better butchering. We bought them from an artisanal workshop from the sword maker himself. It was a bit weird watching him work with his three fingers missing...
Diego Velázquez, "Las Meninas", 1656
In the evening we went to another museum called the Prado which was a lot bigger than the one the night before. We all went our separate ways and spent several hours walking around. From Valasquez, to El Greco, to Goya, we saw it all!
The following day was less hectic. In the morning we caught a bus to Segovia. The hour long ride was peaceful and scenic. The first thing we visited when we reached our destination was the Aqueduct! It was smaller than ones we had seen before, but quite a sight.
Then we did something very special and went to visit the Spain group’s school. We unfortunately only walked up to their door because they were away on a trip, but we left them a special something.
After visiting, we split up and went out to lunch. It was a very chilly day so for the rest of the afternoon we stayed inside, drinking tea and staying warm. Eventually we had to leave the toasty, warm inside and visit the town’s cathedral. The cathedral was very grand and VERY cold. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we went outdoors because even though it was freezing outside the church made the outdoors seem warm! However, the cold didn’t stop us from admiring the inside and observing the cathedral’s architecture and paintings. Afterwards we made another stop, and walked to the “cinderella” castle (the Alcazar.)
Photo: Erin Hanscom
At the entrance we made a friend with a man dressed up as a Roman and had some laughs with him and got our photo taken. The castle was magnificent, but we didn’t go in. It was just the kind of “last look” we needed before leaving Segovia. As we made our way back to the bus station we met up with Molly and her family friend and former Proctor companion Nacho Garcia (and his very charming dog Kika.) Sadly our visit with Nacho was cut short, as we realized we mistook our bus departure time by 20 minutes! We all ran wildly to the bus, almost missing it. The long bus ride back was satisfying and perfect for reflecting on our day of exploration, cold winds, reunions, and ....”shh”... Italian food.
Photo: Erin Hanscom
Our final full day in Spain came around fast and it was time for our solos! Everyone was a little bit jittery and nervous because we hadn’t had much time in the city and didn’t really know our way around. However, armed with maps and cell phones, we put our brave, ready to explore faces on and left in the morning and returned in the afternoon with many stories to tell. Some examples of different solos were, going to the Royal Palace museum, touring the Real Madrid soccer stadium, looking into Spanish fashion, and seeking out the best guitar luthier in Madrid. For my solo, I spent the day on a tour bus, getting off at stops that looked interesting to me, and then getting back on! I got to see the city from a different perspective and have a relaxing ride! It was a great day of promenading by ourselves with many stories to tell.
For our last night in Spain we decided to get the most out of the Spanish culture as we could, so we went to a flamenco dance! We started out having a delicious tapas meal with many new foods that none of us had tried before. Then we enjoyed a long ensemble of traditional dance, guitar playing, and singing. I think most of us were sitting their with our jaws wide open at the dancers. It was nothing like I had every seen before. It was an amazing experience and I was very impressed with everything. The dancers were incredible and it was a fun playful night. Another one to add to our list of nights to remember.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), "The White Boat" 1905
The next day we packed up and left the hotel. Once again we got on the metro and traveled to Joaquin Sorolla’s house, which is also a museum. It was our last trip to look at a part of art history. Sorolla was an amazing Spanish Impressionist painter, of the late18th c and early 19c. Soon it was time to make the journey to the airport and onto the plane to head home to Aix.
When we arrived back and we started to unpack our things, we realized that we would be packing up everything again in a few days to go home.
For our last few days here, we are having our last day in town, cleaning the house, and turning in our book projects before saying our final goodbyes.
Below are some final thoughts from Euro Winter '15
It is amazing to think that our time here in Aix En Provence has come to an end and that we will be heading home in just a few days. Our time in France has shaped all of us and is an experience that we will all happily reflect upon for years to come. A big thanks to Jen and Dave for making Aix our home away from home and becoming a second set of loving and supportive parents. After witnessing the transformative power of three months in a foreign country I am so glad to be part of a community which values experiential education.
This trip has been amazing to say the least. It would be impossible to summarize all of the adventures we took and memories we made together. As an individual, I found myself stepping outside of my comfort zone and visiting places I never thought I would visit. Experiential learning has always been something I find important and this trip was exactly that. In the classroom we learned about the history of places, artists, art movements, read literature that corresponded to the places we visited and were surrounded by foreign language and culture throughout the entire term. The whole learning experience came together when we actually got to see the artists we learned about, visit the cities we studied and practice the use of our French and Spanish. I found that I wasn’t as bad of an artist as I thought I was, and I learned new techniques during our studio time that I found to be very enjoyable. Our group relationship continued to grow throughout the two months that we lived together and overall we made great memories together that we won’t forget. I can’t thank Jen, Dave, and the rest of our group enough for making this trip something I wouldn’t have experienced anywhere else. It really is going to be hard saying goodbye to this place. I couldn’t be happier with the experience that I had.
I have had the very best experience on European Art Classroom that I ever could possibly imagine. A few weeks before our trip I started to get very nervous because I had never really stayed away from home before but as I said farewell to my parents at the airport I began to let go of my longing for home and embrace this new adventure that was waiting for me! As we were welcomed at the airport in France with warm open arms, I knew that I would be very comfortable and happy here. Throughout the term I had the best time. Having a blast, laughing and giggling, visiting new places, and trying new food; we did so many amazing things! I am forever grateful to Jen and Dave for being the best “second parents” and giving us the best time we could ever hope for! There are so many things I will miss about Europe, but the one thing that I will miss the most is our little home with our comfy beds, fun dinners, movies, work in the studio, dancing, laughing, hiking, running, going to town, having classes, and just being with everyone. Oh and the very warm, nice weather and being able to keep our windows wide open! And the beautiful view! Oh and the palm trees! I am sad that we will be leaving in a few days and I try to enjoy every moment that we have left! This has been the best thing that has happened to me! Thank you to, of course Jen and Dave, my advisor, Karin, and my parents and sister!
To sum up my experience in a paragraph is simply impossible. Arriving in Southern France almost two months ago, I was not certain what to expect. But after the experience of a lifetime, here in Europe, all I can say is that I could not have had a better time. Anita Desai once said, “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow,” and I can truly say that this place has found its way deeply into my soul. I am so grateful to all who have made this once in a lifetime opportunity a reality for me. To my parents, to the teachers who wrote my recommendations, and especially to Dave and Jen. I know that without any of these amazing people, I could never have had this remarkable experience. Through the travel we have done, I have discovered my artistic side, as well as my curiosity and thirst for travel. I have made friends out of people I hardly knew before this semester and I feel that we have all greatly matured in the past two months, and we have all developed a wonderful sense of appreciation for what we are doing. Yes, some of us will return to Europe in the future, but doing so all together is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Together, we have basked in the Provincial sun of Southern France. We have walked along the canals of Bruges, gazed endlessly at the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triumph. More than just living together, we have experienced something incredible together, and for that, we will be forever grateful. I know I will be.
If someone asked me how long it feels like I have been abroad I would probably say three weeks because it flew by so fast. I then look back and think about every event that has taken place and every location I have seen and I realize it had to be more than three weeks. We have been abroad for two months and it is hard to believe that we were able to cram all of those memories into just one term off campus. Thinking back to the day when we stepped foot on the first plane in Boston, it feels like it was years ago, and yet I can vividly remember every emotion I felt. The amount I have seen here in Europe throughout the term and the amount I have grown as an individual is something that can’t be summed up. I have been asked many times what my favorite part is or was so far and every time I freeze up and can’t provide an answer. The big highlights like flamenco dance shows, painting Mont. Ste. Victoire outside in the Provincial sunshine, and climbing to the top of the Arc de Triumph all mix in with the extremely fun, small, in-between moments filled with laughter that come together to make this trip the amazing experience that it is. I have grown to love this place as my home along with loving these people as my own family and I can’t imagine leaving here in a few short days to go our separate ways and return to my home in Andover. European Art Classroom gave me the time, space, and guidance to grow not just as an artist, and a global citizen, but also as a person and an individual. I cannot be more grateful about having the opportunity to take part in this program and there is no way I can sum up my gratitude and reflections from this incredible experience into one paragraph. I couldn’t be happier with my time here in Europe, I will be leaving here with enough memories and laughter to last a lifetime, but it is hard to believe we are leaving so soon.
As I sit here now with a few days left, its hard to not feel sentimental about my experience in Europe. I didn’t really know what to expect before the trip. I knew we would be in France, Belgium, and Spain. I knew that we would study and create art. But that was pretty much it. Throughout the 9 weeks, I found my artistic voice. I found what inspires me. I got to try and experiment with different techniques and subjects that I liked. I got to see the progression of art across Europe over time. I didn’t realize before this just how powerful art was, and still is. I also realized that it was the little experiences we had that made this adventure amazing. Things like singing some odd French song in the van into town, hiking up our mountain to paint, or our group dinners made this trip special.
This term I could not have asked for anything better, I have loved this environment since the moment I got off the plane in Marseille. It seems like years ago that we stepped foot on this foreign soil and met Jen and Dave at the terminal in the airport and now we are all finished with our Final Book that has been in the back of our minds for the entire trip. I am so sad to say goodbye to our new friends and this family that we have become. We all have our ways of life and they have finally started to fit together right when it is time to leave. I am going to miss hanging our clothes out to dry on Sunday afternoons in the crisp Provencial air. I really want to thank Jen and Dave for being the best teachers and becoming our parents in this whirlwind of a term. I would also like to thank my Mom for giving me the strength to be away from home for so long and Proctor for allowing me to go on this trip and for providing such an amazing experience. This was honestly the best time of my life and I would not have changed a single thing that I have done here. I love European Art Classroom and all that it ensues with all of my heart.
This trip, no, this adventure has been so incredibly amazing. I feel so lucky that I was given this opportunity and the chance to explore new places and to learn more about different cultures. I’m grateful for Proctor, for without them I would never have been given this experience of a lifetime. Im also grateful for my parents, they have always encouraged me and helped me to make this trip really happen. Lastly I am eternally grateful for Jen and Dave. The lessons they have taught me will last a lifetime. I have grown so much here and have just begun to figure out who I am. With the help of my amazing teachers/mentors/(practically parents) I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and have tried many new and exciting things. Seeing as I was only given this opportunity once, I wanted to embrace all things new and different and to try and live completely in the moment. I can’t believe that this adventure was only two months, looking back to when we arrived seems like ages ago- but at the same time it flew right by. Im excited to go back home and to see my family and pets and tell them all about my adventures! Thank you so, so much to Proctor, my mom and dad and to Jen and Dave, this will be a part of my life that I will truly never forget.
Jen and Dave:
Making art, studying art, writing about art - this is Euro. Hungry students, experiencing what we learn, in the classroom, outside the class, foreign lands, many languages, different foods, courage, crushing timidity, group living, negotiating, compromising, pushing boundaries of comfort - this is European Art Classroom. You were a good group of gentle souls, always quick with a laugh and a need for FUN radio. "Jeffrey!" Go out and make beauty. Make art, make the world more beautiful than it already is. We will miss you for sure.