European Art Classroom and the Flemish

Posted by European Art Classroom

02/16/2015

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” Jean-Paul Sartre.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Daisy Elwell

Looking back on the sixth week of our journey, we cannot help but begin to greatly appreciate our time here in Europe. Somehow, time has escaped from us as we have been working hard, creating art, studying European culture, and most importantly, learning to be ourselves. The past week was truly an example of how we have come into our own and become more comfortable with being adventurous by ourselves. With our first solo days in a country other than France, we all had the chance in Brussels to explore our own personal interests, whether those interests be photography, theater, WWI/WWII, cars, chocolate, or music. Brussels was where the notion of becoming who we really are came to fruition. 

 “I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.” 

Thomas Carlyle

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

After the great hustle and bustle of Belgium, it is clear that we have a thirst for travel and the endless adventure that travel holds. We experienced amazing architecture and small city charm in the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges. Also while we were there, we were able to have some free time and explore the canals and find restaurants with plenty of local charm.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

Hieronymus Bosch

 Hieronymus Bosch

bruegel blinden

Peter Bruegel the Elder

Peter Paul Reubens

Peter Paul Rubens

While we were in Brussels, we had time to go to museums of our interest and see for ourselves the works of Flemish painters, Bosch and Breugel.  We also had time to discover all kinds of chocolate and waffles as well. While in Antwerp, we perused the extensive inventory of the diamond shops and toured the home of the famous artist Peter Paul Rubens.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Mary, gold Leafing her leather cover for her sketchbook.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

"Eat Well, Travel Often"

However, it is definitely amazing to be back in the quaint little city of Aix, our home in France. It is nice to be able to slow down again and take a breath from the rapid pace of the city. But without a doubt, we will be ready to get moving again by week’s end, when it is time to go to Spain. Until then, we can take a breather.

“Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.” 

William Faulkner, The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem]

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium 

When we stepped into the airport in Marseille, we were expecting to be caught in security for an eternity and have to wait at the gate for hours. However, to our surprise, the airport was practically empty. The only snag we hit was the cost at checking bags, forcing most of the group to put their toiletries in my duffel, which affectionately became known as the body bag, due to it’s black color and large size. However, that proved to be no real issue. It was astonishing to see that we were the only people going through security and to be some of the very few sitting in our terminal. The experience only became better on the plane. The seats were more than surprisingly comfortable and the passengers were quiet. It gave us the rare chance on the plane to read, write, sketch, and most importantly, catch up on some much needed sleep. Takeoff and landing were flawless and smooth. In the airport, we found our belongings promptly and made our way to the train, effortlessly. When we arrived in Brussels, that is where we ran into our first real bit of difficulty.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

The location of the hostel was unclear and no one we asked seemed to be able to give us a clear set of directions. Eventually, though, after asking a series of passers by, shop owners, and taxi drivers, we did find the hostel. It was a great relief to finally be there, however the man at the desk forced Dave and Jen to trudge through a swamp of bureaucratic mess in order to confirm our reservation.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

When we did get to our rooms, the bunk beds and the pillows were wrapped in rubber sheets that were less than comfortable and perhaps the scratchiest, unwashed comforters any of us had ever encountered. In the Men’s triple, naturally it did get a bit messy. That combined with a window that was broken and constantly open, a shower that shuts off automatically every ten seconds and a mysterious leak in our bathroom ceiling, and the fact that there was no toilet in the bathroom made for an interesting experience. Though, the environment did not detract one bit from the experience. Even in the less than comfortable bunk beds, we would be talking and laughing into the late hours of the night. Perhaps it is that when our physical conditions are uncomfortable, we seek out the comfort in friendships among one another.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

No matter where our travels take us in life, the warmth of friendship will keep us warmer than any old, unwashed, scratchy hostel blanket. 

10996682_1038795612801131_4973386527967034173_n

Photo: Daisy Elwell

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

 Photo: Erin Hanscom

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

 Photo: Erin Hanscom

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

The only other truly notable experience in the actual travel part of our travels was the flight back to Marseille. For some, further up in the cabin, it may not have been all that bumpy, but for Calvin and me, all the way in the very last two seats, we felt as if we were in a paper airplane flying in a hurricane. The flight definitely had its moments that were a little unnerving, but a quick glance back to the flight attendant, calmly reading his news paper served as a slight reassurance. But no matter how much of a reassurance it was, it was a relief to finally be back on solid ground. Our round trip had been completed. Yes, there were some parts of our travel that may have been unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or, as it was on the plane, unnerving, but it was very well worth it. We did more in Belgium than we ever could have imagined was possible in five days, and if we had the chance, we would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.” 

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium 

As we glide into our sixth weekend here in Aix, there is much to reflect upon for this past week. We return from yet another great adventure in Brussels, Belgium, having braved the cold, tried new foods, traveled to other beautiful parts of Belgium, and found our own way in a foreign city.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

Adventure seemed to come with every turn down every unknown street; a new kind of store that no one had ever heard of, an amazing work of art in the window of a gallery, or just a quaint little café. To briefly summarize, Belgium was a reminder that we are not just artists and students of Proctor Academy, but we are explorers in life, as well. The only thing that has the capacity to hold us back in our adventures is our own timidity, which, by now, has become a nonentity in our travels.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

In the past week, we have flown over the Alps, stayed in a youth hostel, visited museums that displayed art forms that we had never heard of, walked down the main boulevard of the diamond capital of the world, (Antwerp,) on our own, and taken group photos with Antwerpen students who were dressed up in costumes to celebrate only one hundred days left of school. Learning to be adventurous, inquisitive, and eager to explore has been more fun than any of us all could have imagined. We have discovered that through ambitious exploration with one another, acquaintances turn to true friendships and old friendships become even stronger.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

Through this great adventure together, we have come to the realization that we are more than just people living and traveling together. We are more than friends in the same house. We are a family on a quest to find ourselves and accompany one another along the way.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

We know not what lies ahead, but no matter what it may be, we will welcome it with open arms, and should we be met with adversity, we shall take it head on.

european art classroom proctor academy aix en provence france belgium

Photo: Erin Hanscom

Leaving the incredible adventures of Belgium, we on European Art Classroom gaze onward, into the welcomely unknown future. What lies ahead for us in these final two weeks in Aix en Provence and Spain is unsure, but what we are sure of is that as long as we face it together, we can tackle any task, finish any project, climb any mountain, and move forward through the interminable journey of life abroad.

Read European Art Classroom's Blog

     

Subscribe to Email Updates

The Buzz at Proctor

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Stories

Contact Proctor Academy Admissions